|Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II|
Arrangements have been concluded to bring the remains of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, into the country this weekend from London where he died of an undisclosed ailment for which he was being treated last Tuesday. Saturday Sun reliably gathered that despite its denial of the death of the foremost monarch, Ile Ife traditional high command had dispatched a five man delegation to go and coordinate efforts at bringing the body of the revered monarch back back into Nigeria.
The team, led by the Balogun of Ife, High Chief Bisi Omidiora, reliable sources said, left Ile Ife for Lagos on Wednesday night enroute the United Kingdom to fetch the corpse. It is, however, uncertain, when the traditional council of Ife titled chiefs will formally announce the demise of the traditional ruler, but knowledgeable sources hinted that it may be “in a matter of days” for the current wind of controversy to blow over and fulfill traditions.
The Secretary of Ife Royal Court and Laadi Adimula of Ife, Chief Adetoye Odewole insisted there was no development or anything to add to the position of the palace, when contacted for update. This is as controversy continues to rage over the propriety of the manner in which news of the reported passage of the Ooni was broken with traditionalists, intellectuals and cultural activists divided on the role of the media.
Ife residents are also agitated over the perceived silence on the true condition of the monarch if indeed he was still alive. A cross section of the people said they expected the chiefs to come out with the true state of health of the Ooni rather than put everyone in the dark and suspense.
The Ooni’s chiefs had denied news of the monarch’s death which came via the social and mass media, saying even if it was true they would be the first to know and the only authority to announce it.
Some experts and cultural activists who spoke with Saturday Sun yesterday on the issue backed the position, berating the media for being too hasty in going to town with the news without regard for the tradition.
Others, however, although supporting the traditional council’s insistence on cultural procedure, said journalists could not be blamed for doing their job and ascribed the development to the inevitable conflict between modernity and tradition, which, they reckoned, may need to yield ground to emerging realities. Those who spoke include a Senior Researcher in African culture and medicine at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Dr. Obafemi Jegede, a Historian in UI, Prof Tayo Adesina; the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland, Senator Lekan Balogun and an Ife prince, Tope Eluyefa.
Jegede noted that there was a special method by which the death of a king more so of the Ooni’s status must be announced “It must be done specially because a king is the representation of his people of the society he ruled over. Announcing his passage anyhow or through the media, therefore, without complying with this condition is denigration, not only of the king himself, but of the people.”