The transition of the immediate past Baale Sango of Yorubaland, Oyebamiji Akano six months ago created a leadership vacuum for Sango devotees in Yorubaland, both in Nigeria and in the diaspora. However, a new head has just been installed in the event held in the ancient Oyo town, Oyo State. Nigerian Tribune’s TUNDE BUSARI who witnessed the installation reports the significance of the event.
Last Thursday, January 24, 2019, despite his long meeting with a group of traditional rulers, over whom he is a consenting authority. The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, regardless of his advanced age of 80 years and three months, showed no air of fatigue.
Sooner had he rounded off with his royal guests than he walked to the venue already prepared to host the scheduled installation of the Baale Sango of Yorubaland in his palace. As Oba Adeyemi emerged in flowing white agbada to the high platform, the waiting audience spontaneously rose from seats and chorused K-a-b-i-y-e-s-I ooo after which the guests in groups paid homage by prostrating and kneeling down before the Alaafin.
Evidently, due to the time factor, the programme kicked off when two traditional aides to the Alaafin brought the new Baale Sango, Sangobunmi Alabi before Oba Adeyemi and did what is not different from oath-taking with him.
The duo led him to prostrate three times before Oba Adeyemi after which they performed other rites to the amazement of the audience who were watching with keen interest. While that was ongoing, a band of bata drummers was interjecting with relevant beats, bringing out the value of the occasion.
The Alaafin’s aides read out unwritten laws guiding the post of Baale Sango to which the 72-year-old, clad in all red-attire, answered in the affirmative. Oba Adeyemi would later also perform royal rite using kolanut, bitter kola and alligator pepper including water and gin as it was done by his forefathers.
Before the post-installation traditional dance by Baale Sango during which Oba Adeyemi appreciated him with Naira notes, the revered monarch dwelled on the history of Sango reiterating his status as the symbol of sango who was one of his predecessors. also reading from a record which, he said, was kept by the leadership of Sango devotees, the Alaafin reminisced the harmonious relationship between the palace and Sango leaders. Specifically, he read out a letter written to him in 1974 to inform the palace of the sango Festival held in the month of July of that year.
Alaafin also read his reply to the Sango leaders to further drive home his point, admonishing the new Baale sango to tread the path of his predecessors.
“I kept this record because of occasion like this. I am not a king who does things without precedence. all you need to know about how your fathers conducted themselves during their lifetimes are contained in this record. and I am reading it to you so that you would understand better the significance of today. I am going to present the certificate of appointment to the new Baale Sango to also serve as official document legitimizing his post,” he said.
True to his words, a certificate was brought out, and the Alaafin called Baale Sango who quickly rose and again walked to him. again on his kneel, he received the certificate amidst ovation by the enthusiastic devotees after which bata drummers took over the floor and entertained the audience until the programme was rounded off, and the people dancing out of the palace to their residence of the new Baale Sango.
The Alaafin stressed that Sango forbids devotees to engage in criminalities including hypocrisy against one another, adding a great punishment awaits culprits. He also explored the opportunity of the occasion to descend heavily on anti-Yoruba religion section of the public, describing them as ignorant and slave of foreign religions. “these people who criticize traditional religions are like a bat.
That is what I call them. They dangle between two religions. They are neither here nor there. they should stop the blackmail of calling our religion fetish. Yoruba has one of the best cultures among the races in the world; only that we don’t appreciate what God has given us the two religions of Christianity and Islam came and realized that for them to win us they have to recognize and go through our metaphysical practices. that is why they claim to pray into the water to heal sickness. that is why an Alfa would wash inscription on his black slate and ask Muslim to drink it,” he further stated.
However, Oba Adeyemi warned Sango devotees and other traditionalists to prac- tise the religions in the transparent way with which their ancestors were known in order to achieve the same results it gave them. He clarified that Sango initiation (Osu) is conducted for 17 days in contrast to three days, identifying abuse and carelessness as the reason the religion has lost members to Christianity and Islam.
He made reference to the south-American countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago as nations which place high premium of Yoruba traditional religion just as he reminded the audience the elevation of Yoruba as an official language in Brazil.
The Aare Isese of Oyo, Aare Morakinyo Fatokun Jayeola called on sango devotees to respect and support the new Baale with all they are blessed with. “They should be conscious of his old age, which means there is a little he can do now, in terms of running around. therefore, the devotees should also extend kind gestures to him. He must not lack basic things of life. He needs to live more meaningful life,” he stated.
Sàngó is a divinity among the Yorùbá Òrìsà Pantheon, related to the mythology of the Yorùbá Indigenous Religion. Based on this Yorùbá theological concept, sàngó has delegated the function of creating the storms, being known as the divinity of thunders, rays, rain and fire.