By Hon. Alderman Erelu Lola Ayonrinde (Conservative UK)
The memories that hang heaviest are the easiest to recall. They equally have the ability to change lives. Even when you try to shake them out, you cannot for they have through excruciating pain left permanent wrinkles in the fabric of the soul.
Through the pain, you learn a lot about yourself – things you thought you never knew. You might even find yourself with experiences you will rather not go through. That was exactly what happened to me five years ago when a brief illness led to the death of a very much loved one – my Kabiyesi, the then Alaye Ode-Remo in Ogun State, Nigeria,- HRH Oba Sunday Funsho Adeolu – Sataloye II (affectionately known as Chief Eleyinmi) on 21st August 2008 at Kings College Hospital In London.
Prior to his coronation in 1990, he was born into a Christian Methodist Family. He grew up in a vicarage with a father who was a clergyman. From childhood, he and his younger brother were aware that they were potential heirs to the throne of their ancestors. He was a student of Ahmadu Bello University and The London School of Journalism. A Sports Commentator with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and a widely celebrated television actor; his role in a TV series known as The Millers brought him into spotlight.
He took part in many film productions including, Things Fall Apart and Son Of Africa, and was popularly known as Chief Eleyinmi in a TV series called “The Village Headmaster” written by the late Ambassador Olusegun Olushola.
He was indeed a Statesman who deserved a State funeral worthy of a King.
Unfortunately, his funeral rites remain a secret, a Taboo subject.
No one dare speaks about how he was laid to rest, if one can say he has been laid to rest
This practice is not uncommon in significant parts of Yoruba Land of Nigeria.
Whilst many potential victims bury their heads in the sand and console themselves with ”what happens after my death is no concern of mine”
Onlookers questions the relevance of Traditional Institutions in Nigeria and other developing nations. They believe that fanatics would argue that the role of the Traditional Ruler is to uphold the Customs and Traditions but we are now at a different time where some of those previously obsolete beliefs no longer stand the test of time.
Likewise, that some of those traditions were rooted in fears and coercion designed to maintain control which gave rise to absolute power, and that the influence wielded by the early traditional rulers was in part attributed to slave trade, human sacrifice and various human degradations by the so called rulers.
Here is an American viewpoint: Nigerian type of Aristocratic system was shunned by the early pilgrims who escaped from Europe to the new found land called America for freedom. Yes, no system is perfect but the dream of the pilgrims created a free world where they have thronged over the years to seek for better life hence America is still the greatest country on earth. It is against this background that most people of the world continue to pray for America to remain and sustain freedom and quality of life.
Nigeria cannot maintain the kind of multi-tier government it operates from the Local Government to Council of Traditional Rulers to State and Federal Government and still do what is right. Our resources go into administrative costs and what is left is either stolen and stashed away or used to put a band aid on the system. The Traditional Institution is corrupt and evil, it has lost whatever relevance it once had. Time has uncovered that it is nothing but a glorified Occultism and pathway to witchhunt and crime. It has lost its religious, legislative, judiciary and executive roles it played because we now live in a different time. Some of the culture it pretends to uphold is not only obsolete but useless in today’s digital era.
Unfortunately, the level of cultural ignorance is very high amongst Nigerians worldwide. Many readily accept every practice deemed cultural or traditional when they lack accurate and adequate information.
Many who claim they are of Royal Ancestry think that automatically gives them enough knowledge about the Institution based on a lot of secrecy. This has now culminated to abuse by the privileged few.
The Royal and Traditional Institution in Nigeria needs to learn many lessons from their counterparts in the UK where the Royal Family is a quality institution with readily available information to all the members and the people of Britain and beyond and there is a sense of ownership of the institution.
The practice of Customary Rituals in Yorubaland is very shady and requires investigation of the Truth. It is about time Yorubas stop accepting fake customs and traditions.
This is a sufficient reason why it should be the concern of all law abiding Nigerian Citizens to represent the potential victims of customary rituals most especially the Monarchs in areas where customary rituals, idolatry are of concern, with a particular focus on currently serving Yoruba Kings who following their death are at risk of becoming victims of barbaric, secretive, valueless, obnoxious, fake and unfounded customary rituals.
- The Awujale of Ijebuland, Kabiyesi Oba Sikiru Adetona a practicing Moslem.
- HRM Kabiyesi Oba Dr. Adedapo Tejuoso, The Osile of Okeona Egba, a devout Christian and Evangelist.
Since the mysterious disappearance of the body of my late Kabiyesi, at least these two likewise:
- Elerunwon of Erunwon – HRH Kabiyesi Oba Awofeso – former Primate of Cherubim & Seraphim Church and a Revivalist.
- HRH Oba Oladele Olashore – The Owaloko of Iloko Ijesha – a devout Anglican and former Finance Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
My late Kabiyesi was a distinguished Elder Statesman who like many monarchs, responded to the call of Almighty God and his ancestors through Ifa (eefah) / the Oracle of Orunmila – a spiritual ancient Yoruba method used to confirm heirs to the thrones in Yoruba Land. He wholeheartedly served his communities, state, nation, and country, yet when he joined his ancestors/died, instead of a befitting burial, the whereabouts of his remains is still unknown. What we know is that the body was brutalised, treated like that of a criminal, dragged around on the streets of the town, his head left hanging for many weeks until the neck was rotten to allow the neck to come off naturally without the use of a sharp knife. Once the head came off, the body was cut into pieces, his heart removed to be eaten by his successor. His head is still in captivity somewhere in Ode Remo, Ogun State. He has no grave.
We are told the Kings of of Remo-land (Ogun State, Nigeria) are not entitled to an identifiable final place of rest, so do not have graves – a tradition which is not in accordance with the practice in ILE IFE or in OYO, the historical origin and source of all Yorubas including those from Remo-land.
The perpetrators of the fake, barbaric, and uncivilised inhumane act against the remains of dead Kings of Yorubaland are a group of individuals who are Slaves known as Afobajes / Kingmakers, Abobakus (destined to die with the King) Olokunesin known as Odis (slaves) of Ode Remo / Ijebu-land.
In the case of my late King, the ritual was without the involvement of the Chief Priest / Oluwo of the town who was then a very frail 90-year old, living in fear because he expressed a wish for Christian funeral rites. This was refused by the Traditional Council (Osugbo) of the town. All the attempts of the frail 90-year old to involve the State Government in the negotiation of his burial arrangements prior to his death was almost futile. In Nigeria today, regardless of the fact that in 1852, slave trade / human sacrifice were abolished, it is disgraceful that human sacrifice and uncivilised acts have become everyday occurrence.
To perpetrate the inhuman ungodly act experienced by my late King (Kabiyesi) required a mandatory imposition of a curfew from 12midnight to 6am. It is unclear who provided the legal authority to impose the curfew.
However, following the death of the immediate predecessor of current Alake of Egbaland, late HRH Oba Oyebade Lipede, who had an expressed wish for a Christian burial, his loyal and dutiful wife – Olori Bimpe placed his body in the boot of a car fled to Lagos, in order to facilitate a Christian burial rite for her late husband. Unfortunately she failed, the body was removed from her and handed to the ritualists of Egba-land.
The curfew which took place for consequential customary rituals was later declared illegal in Ogun State via a court settlement in a suit between:
All Concerned Christians Of Egba-land as Plaintiffs, and The Governor Of Ogun State, Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice Ogun State, a Mr. Donaldson Abiodun Ajayi, and Abeokuta South Local Government, Ogun State as Defendants.
A copy of the enrolment of judgment by Chief Judge C.O. Jacobs is available for reference in my archive.
The existence of such a court judgment could have served as a catalyst to prevent the curfew imposed when the body of my late Kabiyesi HRH Oba Sunday Funsho Adeolu was brought back to Nigeria from London in September 2008.
Nigeria is a country with a legal constitution. Section 38 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution confers on every citizen the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; while Section 17 (2b) declares that the sanctity of the human person shall be recognised and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced.
A Constitution is the instruction book for how things work. It is a plan which provides the rules for the government. A Constitution dictates the law.
The constitution is in the interest of the public and for the purpose of its citizens. In a lawful country, we have a group of terrorists, gangsters, perpetrating ungodly acts under the cover of customs and traditions. Similar occurrences exist in Edo, Cross River, and Bayelsa, where it took one year of wrangling to lay to rest HRH King Hon. Justice St. Sgbae – Okpo XX of Okpoama, Bayelsa State.
Many Royal Majesties are neither given befitting funeral rites nor allowed to be laid to rest according to their religious belief – a breach of the constitution as it stands.
The current 1999 constitution does not offer all Nigerian Monarchs any security or basic human rights, the dividend of a democratic nation. The role of the monarchy remains in the dark. At the moment, the Traditional Institution is technically illegal. Nigeria is yet to offer the monarchs the constitutional backing of a Federal system of government. Perhaps the country does not have the capacity to do so, if that is the case we must go back to The Westminster Parliamentary system of government. It is a disgrace to have Our Royal fathers to be subordinates of Local Government Chairmen or expect by the State protocols to be on their feet when a Governor of the State makes a grand entry to all State functions.
In the meantime and in the interest of natural justice, there is a pressing need to prevent a recurrence of the burial rites that my late Kabiyesi went through.
This sensitive and controversial issue requires a law to give all Monarchs the right to opt out of customary rituals during installation and funeral rites, as well as curtail the powers of the ritualists – Afobajes, Odis, slaves, and Abobakus, who once upon a time would have been buried whole with my late Kabiyesi.
Nowadays, there is a Chief’s Law which provides for the appointment and approval of Obas. Consequently Obas are fully part of a democratic system of governance, which does not approve of Choice By “Ifa” (Eeefah).
There is no shred of evidence in line with the YORUBA – “IFA” religious doctrine which recommends the way in which Oba Funso Adeolu’s remains were treated.
The traditional mode of African / Nigerian administration was through a paramount chief – HRH (OBA). Pre-colonial days in Nigeria witnessed an autocratic / semi-Afrocentric system of governance, consequently an Oba (King) had absolute powers. Nowadays, Obas are on the payroll of Local Governments – he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
There are many Monarchs who want and should have the right to be installed and buried according to their religious beliefs. This is a basic human right which the government of Nigeria should enforce. We a need a legislation to eradicate this fake uncivilised cultural practice – perhaps, “TRADITIONAL RULERS (Installation & Burial Rites Law).” This law shall give the Traditional rulers the right to opt out of any Installation rite or process which does not conform to his religion or belief and give instructions as to the disposal of body in accordance with religion or belief.
For further information, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org; or telephone +447405365994 or +447985194089.
Hon. Alderman Erelu Ayonrinde (Conservative UK)
Erelu Tunwase of Ode-Remo (Ogun State Nigeria)