Home Opinion Lessons From Ibadan | Anthony Kila

Lessons From Ibadan | Anthony Kila


Dear Readers The coronation of the 42nd Olubadan has finally happened so we say Long live the King and God bless Ibadan. No need to pretend, messages have been exchanged privately, but as a Balogun, it will be odd for me not to publicly say Kabiyesi! KAde pe Lori, ki bata pe lese, ki irukere ko dokini.

The ceremony was truly rich and interesting, as expected and rightly so, from across the country and even from outside the country, many celebrities and notables made time to go to Ibadan to pay homage and to celebrate with the new King and the people of Ibadan.

Not all the VIPs are the same: In Ibadan, we saw the popular as well as the notorious, some of the top guests are respected, others tolerated by the people of Ibadan. In all, the event brought Ibadan to the Centre of the national and indeed international discourse.

A lesson here is that Kingship can add value, if truly royal, if well managed. A lot more can be learnt and gained from the process of coronation. Our media houses, especially the print media, did a lot to inform people about the kingdom and kingship in Ibadan, a lot more could have been done and should be done especially by TV and radio. Beyond reporting topical facts strictly connected to the coronation, television and radio could have used the opportunity of the coronation to take their viewers and listeners into a journey that will explore and rediscover the history of Ibadan, its kingship and military structure, arts and literature and perhaps uncover the influence of Ibadan on some of the finest of our literature.

Wole Soyinka, Tola Adeniyi, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, J.P. Clark-Bekeredemo and even Harry Garuba are some of the names that readily come to mind. A very unique feature of the Ibadan monarchical system is the process of accession to throne. Unlike other Yoruba Kingdoms, accession to kingship in Ibadan has been and remains certain, predictable and based on ranking.

It must be said that the ranking allows for thorough preparation induced by experience and endurance that the kings in waiting acquire during their decades of waiting. Right after the 41st Olubadan joined his ancestors, Mobolaji Aluko, a Professor of Chemical Engineering and pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Otuoke in Bayelsa State, in a musing shared with those willing to learn and think, about the uniqueness of Ibadan quipped: “The Kabiyesi is dead, long live the Kabiyesi!; We can truly say this in Ibadan, not in many places” then melancholically added that “(…) certainly not in many of the 150-odd towns of Ekiti with Obas.”

The popular and respected Professor is however being euphemistic and deliciously politically correct in observing that the declaration, (first used in 1422 to declare the death of Charles VI and the ascension of Charles VII in one single phrase) is not applicable in his own Ekiti. He omitted others: The brutal truth is that from Gulf of Guinea that wets Badagry and Epe passing through the cradle of Ile Ife to the mountains and hills of Ekiti and Ondo up to the rivers closing Kabba and Jebba, ascension to and management of kingship has become messy and most time heart wrenching for some us.

It is now difficult to find a king in Yorubaland whose accession to the throne was not marred by undignified struggles, contentions, petitions and even court cases. Things should not be this way. It is time for those who can to come up with a plan that will save the monarchy from such shameful and petty demonstrations. Though, eventually and swiftly resolved, even ascension to the 42nd Olubadan throne, had its hiccups, I am sure to the chagrin of many at home and abroad. Herein lies another lesson: Good sense and dignity prevails when matters of importance, like kingship and tradition, is managed by people who have a sense of history and genuine ties to tradition.

The fascinating Ibadan system designed to be a rancour-free succession monarchical system might be a tall order to imitate or emulate as a whole because it is without the onus of bloodline qualifications, a lot can however be learnt from the profile and the composition of those involved in the selection, installation and “supervision” of the Olubadan. There is an open sore that our monarchical system has to deal with across board: the intruder called democracy. There is a major flaw and a virus in how we have decided to resolve the cohabitation of our traditional values and institutions with the values and institutions of a modern state. From symbolism to substance and across the land, I personally cringe when I see elected Governors hand over the staff of office to a King.

I will like to ignore those sadists that take joy in reminding me that a King is technically responsible to the Chairman of his Local Government Area. Even if you are not a royalist like me, I am sure you will notice that there is something shockingly wrong intellectually, and morally flawed in a system wherein someone elected to an office for a maximum of eight years, if everything goes well, has the power and duty of installing, funding and maybe even sanctioning someone that is meant to be in power for life. It is time we rethink our monarchical system in a way that allows us to define and apply new ways of accommodating the present and future while conserving the best of our past.

The future has its root in the past; the monarchical system of the future must be managed by people of recognised intellect and appreciated character with a demonstrable commitment to history and tradition. King, Council and community must not only find ways to sever the link of dependency with the government of day, characterised by stipends and control, but aspire to transform the monarchy into revenue centres from cost centres.

There is no kingdom worthy of a king that has no cultural and physical asset. Let us help the monarchy to learn to conserve and promote these assets while maintaining their royal dignity, that way when we call our kings custodians of our culture it will be true.  Anthony

Prof.Kila is Centre Director at CIAPS Lagos

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