Oba Abdul-Rosheed Adewale Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo in Osun State, recently clocked 50.
Seen as controversial in some quarters because of his public statements, Oba Akanbi claims that his joy is that the people of Iwo love him.
He visited the Emir of Ilorin to consolidate the cultural and religious ties between the two communities during which he spoke to Sunday Vanguard. Excerpts:
How has it been occupying the Iwo throne?
First, when you ascend the throne, you have to know the definition of king, because if you don’t know the definition, there is the possibility that you will have problem. I am just getting to know why I am king. God has asked me to come and redefine kingship.
In the olden days, there were no kings and poverty was rampant. Then one man came who God sent to us, and that man was Oduduwa. God chose him to come and liberate us at a place called Ile-Ife. Oduduwa brought love and it was the crown that he used to establish the place.
The meaning of kingship is service to the people. Though kings used to have money, if you serve the people, it will take care of your business because kingship in itself is a lot of work. I went to repair a road. The prayers of the people who pass through that road are enough for me. So, do I need to pray for myself again?
I see myself as the face of God on earth, that God has sent with a specific message. The ways of God are very difficult for man to understand unless one is very deep in the spiritual and it is what you do in the spiritual that manifests in the physical.
Road to the palace
Becoming the king is just the will of God..You can see the signs. Like the 16th ruler of Ife, Ooni Oluwo
Gbagida, who happened to give Telu the crown, I am the 16th Oluwo of Iwo land. When I wanted to do my coronation, I gave two dates and the organisers chose the 16th of January 2016. Again when my child was to be born, I was told that he was a boy and that his name will be Oduduwa. The boy born on the 16th February 2016.
The recurring 16 that you see around me is nothing but 1 plus 6 which is 7, which stands for completeness. God has shown me so many things about people. Do you know that there is no physical hell fire? The hell fire people talk about is a proverb .Why don’t you call God a controversial God? If there is physical hell fire, it means people who died thousands or millions of years ago will still be burning in the hell fire.
God prepared me for the throne because he made me to go through all that I went through in life. I have traveled wide, in Africa. Growing up, I was independent and God made me to go through thick and thin. As a 50-year- old man, what I have passed through in life, I don’t think a 400-year-old man has passed through.In 1981, something happened and I had to leave Iwo and I was lost for four months. I was even kidnapped twice by ritualists who rejected me. The ritualists involved in the second incident, I can remember it clearly anymore, said ‘he’s an oba,hes a king’.
Ties with Ooni of Ife
Oluwo is a household name and I thank God for that.
When we were growing up in Ibadan,Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi,the current Ooni of Ife, was younger than me by almost eight years. We both attended Holy Trinity Grammar School,Ibadan. Senator Soji Akanbi was our neighbour.
So, we thank God that we are all great people today.
Question mark on royalty
The traditional rulers of the past worshiped the lesser gods. But you cannot call me Igbakeji Orisa,I will say no, I am alase lori oosa lemi. The traditional rulers of the past assumed that name, Igbakeji Orisa, because they didn’t know kingship means service. When you serve the people, you will get due respect. Have you ever seen my convoy when I am going out? Everybody will prostrate and shout, ‘kaabiesi’. If I pass 20 times, that is the respect.
Me serving them doesn’t make me less. I am writing my own story. Oduduwa served the people, but remember that he was not the first Yoruba man because he had a wife. He had subjects, he didn’t give birth to them but he served diligently, he loved the people, and that was why they said Oduduwa conquered Obatala and other gods with love to the people.
Monarchs are wrong
The king is the father of everybody in a given community. But, today, kings are not active, they are dead;
they sit down in the palace whereas the office of the king is in the town. It is only God almighty that is in the palace. Palace is the abode of God, not the church or mosque. This is one of the things people don’t know and they wonder what kind of monarch is this? I once said the real representatives of God on earth are the kings and some people are shocked. Pastors and alfas are mere messengers of God.
Oba is the eye of God because God is king over everything. God chose the king; to become a pastor, you can go to the college of theology, you can read the Bible and then start a church; you can also become an alfa if you go to Quranic school,but can anyone become a king through that process. NO. Nobody can go to school and become a king, so, kings should serve the people without looking for worldly gains. But it is unfortunate how some kings behave, acquiring people’s lands and property all in the name of being the king, and to increase their own wealth. It is wrong. What you deserve, the people will give it to you when you serve them. When you are a good father to your son,he will take good care of you when the time comes.
Relationship with fellow monarchs
To the ones among them who have the understanding, this king is liberating Yoruba land and I have very good
relationship with the Sultan and some northern Emirs. I just visited the Emir of Ilorin. When the Sultan of Sokoto came to the Iwo palace, he said ‘I saw the spirit of Oduduwa and Othman Dan
Fodio in this palace’. Our progenitor didn’t worship any lesser god; its not about being a Muslim or a Christian. Abraham and Moses were neither Muslims nor Christians and they did great things. Humans are the creators of lesser gods.
Some monarchs are greedy
People are suffering and one person wants to amass so much wealth, that’s why we have to stop corruption now. Our kings ought to have stopped corruption long before now. If the kings had done that, Nigeria won’t be where we are today.
The truth is that the kings are the problem of Nigeria. If the kings had truly served the people, the white man would not have come to rule us. Our system is very good if the kings are truly the ones serving their communities and not vice versa.
Why is it that every human race praise God every time, its because God is serving us, for you to be a leader that people will respect and serve you for life,you must be a good servant.
When are we going to find the father of the Yoruba who will love the Yoruba and lead? There is nobody to lead us in Yoruba..is it good that we have not seen any Ooni of Ife up till this 51st, and say, yes, Oduduwa has truly come back? There has not been, all of them are passing away and people forget about them.
Stand on culture
Whatever I am doing or saying is not to kill our culture. Let me also say the sacrifice and all those things that herbalists ask people to place at the junction of the roads in the midnight or whatever is to invite curse on the owner of the sacrifice from the people.
You may not know. When you put the head of the rat, the fish, and others inside something and pour oil on it and put it on the road, the first person to see or sweep it will surely invoke curse on the person that put it there,so whoever you directed to go and do that, why don’t you ask him to go and be filling pot holes on our roads and do other things that will invoke the prayers of the people on him?
When our eyes are opened, what next? We will go up. When the white men’s eyes were opened, where did you see them? Up. We that our eyes are not opened have been under developed. Our structure is okay, we only have problem with our belief system. There must be love among the people,they must be made to develop.
You are listening to me, but other kings are not, they are saying something else. If kings are not active, obaship will go into extinction, people will say we don’t want them again because people will say they are using them to acquire property for themselves and their families, that they are useless to them.