Oro festival: Adeleke should help Oluwo of Iwo find peace

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by Sodiq Adewale Chocomilo

On Tuesday, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo, ignited some controversy when he ordered that the town’s annual Oro festival not take place any longer. The local ruler, who affably refers to himself as the Emir of Yorubaland, also outlawed any kind of sacrifice made to please a god or deity. He further ordered that anyone found with a sacrifice should be forced to consume the ingredients.

A segment of his audience, which was primarily made up of Muslims, applauded as the monarch gave the directive. They were delighted that yet another group of religious believers would have their unalienable right to exercise their faith denied. When I watched the video carefully, I recognized the same group of individuals that organized the demonstrations to support Muslim girls’ right to wear hijabs in missionary-founded schools. At the time of their uprising, they mentioned the rights to religion, thought, and conscience.

I could recall that these Muslim youths cited Chapter 4, Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution in their demonstration against the banning of hijabs in schools, which states that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance.” Even if there were responses, they still prevailed because of the constitution. We might infer that hypocrisy is a problem in Nigeria because the same people cheered a decision that went against the very thing they condemned.

Sincerely, when the news was initially posted, I believed that the person doing so had significantly aided the spread of false information on Nigeria’s social media. My second assumption was that this word had been spoken by a religiously intoxicated or mischievous person looking to become an internet phenomenon because of the ongoing struggle for commercial survival between certain Muslims and some traditionalists. I still did not trust them when they said that Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo, gave the command and that it was reported in a media outlet as news. I reasoned that a Yoruba monarch as a whole couldn’t be that irksomely callous. Before watching the aforementioned video, I had been defending the king’s character and preoccupied with exaggerating his capacity for reason and emotional and innate intelligence.

What gives the Iwo king the authority to interfere with Nigerians’ freedom of religion? When I dug a little more, I found that Oluwo’s issue is not one of education or a dearth of cultural or traditional knowledge. Someone who posts eye-catching images to his social media accounts in the hopes of garnering views and comments, in my opinion, should be more aware of their rights to free speech, conscience, and religion, or at the very least, should Google it.

A person who spent days in Ipebi (a customary isolation) before being crowned, where he consumed food and beverages, through spiritual cleaning, and learned about customs, in my opinion, ought to be aware of better. Oluwo of Iwo’s issue is clout-hunting or cheap recognition.

Being a true Yoruba by birth, I can empathize with the king’s incapacity to consider more effective strategies for gaining notoriety than mocking the process that led to his coronation, such as community development. One wonders what the Iwo king was taught in seclusion or who his teachers were when one pitifully observes him.

Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi must cease portraying the residents of Iwo as narrow-minded bigots who have a very difficult time accepting members of different religions. Iwo, a Yoruba community known for its commitment to justice and fairness, would not follow a course that would deprive others of their unalienable rights to free speech, conscience, and religion.

Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi needs to understand that he is just a regular king, and that his ostentation and the wearing of large Agbadas give him no unique authority. He needs to be aware that the head of the local government in Iwo is solely in charge of him, and that the State Secretariat’s ministry of culture and tradition is his line of accountability.

There is never a better time for Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi to distance himself from those who grant him authority that he does not actually exercise. First off, Oba Abdulrasheed lacks the authority to compel the traditional Oro feast to be cancelled. Second, the king lacks the authority to prohibit any kind of sacrifice made to please a deity. Thirdly, the king lacks the legal authority to restrict the Oro people’s freedom of religion.

Therefore, the monarch shouldn’t incite unrest in his town by making statements that violate people’s rights. To curb his urge to constantly spout violent phrases, a buddy suggested that the monarch lick sweets like tomtom and zorro. I beg Senator Ademola Adeleke, the Executive Governor of Osun State, to assist Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi in finding tranquility if he is unable to lick candies every time. The state administration should warn the Iwo king at this precise moment. I think he should be allowed to go back to Ipebi.


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