West indian culture

Yoruba royalty, culture and traditions; counter the “morbid symptoms”, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

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In the immediate future, we must make our voice heard on the selection of the new Alaafin. If we miss this, the Yoruba may never recover. We should let those who appoint political allies and likenesses to sit on revered traditional stools know that they are not to play with the Alaafin stool. Those who seek to transplant or destroy Yoruba culture by installing less than stellar characters should be warned not to approach this one. Those who sell the throne to the highest bidder should respect themselves.

The transition of Alaafin Adeyemi, who rode the throne for fifty-two years, was a mix of history and political shrewdness. His journey into eternity brings up, once again, the conflict between tradition and an interpretation of “modernity”. The irony that the Oyo Kingdom stool is once again under the light beam is not lost. For it was in Oyo that the melodrama that was then played out in the colonies gained prominence. In 1953, the quest for dominance in the political transition from traditional mores to the new institutions of the colonial state and modernity played out. As chairman of Oyo local government, the courteous and intelligent lawyer and deputy leader of the action group, Chief Bode Thomas had insisted on administrative supremacy and, indeed, protocol over the then reigning Alaafin who, in another pinch of irony, was Alaafin’s recently deceased father. It didn’t end well, that’s well known.

The suspicious tragic death of Bode Thomas eventually led to the withdrawal of the Alaafin. Further down the road, in the heady 1960s, the government of the same Western Region, with macabre humor, reduced the government fee at Ishara’s ‘problematic’ Odemo to one penny (1 pence ). Subsequently, tradition and the evolution of administrative and constitutional arrangements led to clashes in all directions. During Ghana’s post-colonial consolidation, the ruling Convention Peoples Party (CPP) cemented its supremacy, especially in areas where it was electorally weak, by embarking on a ‘demolition’ spree which continued until the coup that overthrew Osayegfo Kwame Nkrumah’s government in 1966.

The response in post-colonial India, after many twists and turns, was the eventual abolition of princely states and the rule of Maharajahs, most of whom shunned to places like New York to settle in less salubrious circumstances. than the massive campus-style palaces in which they had been raised. With the aforementioned developments, one phase of the space contestation has been resolved.

Recent developments highlighted by the discord over Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi’s rites of passage a few days ago, have brought new dimensions. This is to be expected. The struggles for cultural hegemony in the postcolonial state reproduce the foreboding of the Italian political philosopher Antonio Gramsci, a tragic figure who reached his peak in the 1920s, who declared that “the crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum appear a great variety of morbid symptoms.

The new era of monarchs, often imposed by political forces acting for self-interested electoral reasons and as checks and balances, seems to aim to undermine, if not completely dismantle, the traditional essence and spirituality of monarchical institutions. Many of these new monarchs are a far cry from, say, the current Awujale of Ijebuland or Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi and Ooni Adesoji Aderemi, both of whom transited to the other realms of existence.

New conflicts have emerged in the clash of cultures. The struggle in the post-colonial state between traditional institutions and the new political elite was resolved in favor of the latter. More recently, the battlefield has shifted to the struggle between Abrahamic religions and indigenous spirituality. The question was latent in the past, but has now come to the fore.

What “morbid symptoms” are revealed here? Is it the reinvigorated and assertive Christian Pentecostals or the nascent Islamic fervor, the two religions often interpreting each other at the limit? How about the echoes of fundamentalism rooted in “morbid symptoms”? Unfortunately, the indigenous religion must now compete for a living space. All of these things converge and raise troublesome issues and questions that need to be answered about compatibility. Isn’t it presumptuous and a contradiction in terms for adherents of Abrahamic religions to step onto the traditional stool and then try (insist?) to mold it to the mores of those Abrahamic religions? Since money and politics have replaced the oracle of Ifá, maybe we should have them sign contracts with terms and conditions with the people.

The new era of monarchs, often imposed by political forces acting for self-interested electoral reasons and as checks and balances, seems to aim to undermine, if not completely dismantle, the traditional essence and spirituality of monarchical institutions. Many of these new monarchs are a far cry from, say, the current Awujale of Ijebuland or Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi and Ooni Adesoji Aderemi, both of whom transited to the other realms of existence. These men were examples of the effectiveness of guarding what they inherited or bequeathed to them. Many of the new Yoruba kings are dubious figures who come with baggage that the political establishments that installed them know and find useful, as a potential means of blackmailing them – a sword of Damocles suspended above their necks to control them. This Machiavellian strategy is shrewd on the part of politicians but has already begun to erode Yoruba confidence and authority. Sadly, there are now few places in Yoruba land with the deep institutional roots demonstrated by the Kingdom of Benin, which is necessary to resist their undermining by often destructive politicians and transient figures.

The imperative of the current generation of Yoruba is that we raise our voices, do something to counter this burgeoning decadence, and preserve our traditional institutions for future generations. It matters, otherwise, that there is massive disorientation, a lack of concentration will set in, making us easy prey for predators. This is already manifesting itself in the current political season.

The imperative of the current generation of Yoruba is that we raise our voices, do something to counter this burgeoning decadence, and preserve our traditional institutions for future generations. It matters, otherwise, that there is massive disorientation, a lack of concentration will set in, making us easy prey for predators. This is already manifesting itself in the current political season. Any society that is myopic, that throws away its pads of institutional and spiritual stability, plays with extinction and engages in a political turf war of annihilation.

Now is the time to speak out against those who seek to devalue our culture and traditions from within and without. The Alaafin stool is revered. The time is over when boys were installed as kings. We cannot continue. Many people are psychologically and emotionally immature these days. We Yoruba people don’t want kings announcing themselves on Instagram and YouTube. Being a king and sitting around all day, sequestered in a city for a long time, is no job for guys who play video games. It is serious work. We should look at the issue of age and set the minimum qualifying age at 50.

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In the immediate future, we must make our voice heard on the selection of the new Alaafin. If we miss this, the Yoruba may never recover. We should let those who appoint political allies and likenesses to sit on revered traditional stools know that they are not to play with the Alaafin stool. Those who seek to transplant or destroy Yoruba culture by installing less than stellar characters should be warned not to approach this one. Those who sell the throne to the highest bidder should respect themselves. They should abstain now! We don’t want kings who abuse psychotropics, kings whose raison d’etre is money, land grabber kings or those who can steal the dawn from God. We’ve had enough!

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú, a lawyer, strategist and political analyst, is Commissioner for Regional Integration and Diaspora Relations in Ondo State. Twitter: @BamideleUpfront; Facebook: facebook.com/Bamidele. BAO


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