Saturday, 24 June 2017

At OAU, Ile-Ife, Alaafin Blows Hot, As Ooni’s Drummers, Gong Beaters Stir Honest Nest.'’No Oba In Yoruba Land Is Superior To Me’’ - Alaafin

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 Bode Durojaiye .

Africans in general, and especially the traditional people of Yoruba land, propitiate and worship the talking drum, through the mysterious divinity they thought, has brought the art of beating the drum to the world.

Across the span of Nigeria’s South-West, where the Yoruba people are largely found, and in distant places where they hold sway, one of the most privileged aspects of the varied layers of their tradition is the unique platform upon which the talking drum sits.

While drums in other human settlements are employed for their rhythmic pleasures, the drum music of the Yoruba people is both tone-based and extends its functionalities to accommodate other uses.
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When the talking drum, in the hand of an expert drummer, traces the family lineage and ancestral history of their clients, currency notes would fly in the air and be pasted into the wet brows of the drummers.

There were occasions when excited members of the crowd remove their garments, shoes and wristwatches and freely donated them to the drummers.
But on the contrary, drummers of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, have re-defined the heritage by wearing toga of notoriety and turning the musical instruments into abusive weapons to foment trouble at occasions.

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi Ojaja11,apparently has a mistaken opinion that he is the owner of the universe. He is stretching that belief too far by habitual late attendance to every occasion where traditional rulers, including State Governors and other eminent personalities from all walks of life are invited.

There are many occasions where Governors and other invited guests would have been in attendance and the programme would have started hours before the Ooni of Ife arrived.
He would come in with myriads of singers and gong beaters disturbing and irritatingly distracting the programme, and in most cases the Governors would rise up from their seats to greet the monarch.
Even after he might have been taken to his seat, his gong beaters numbering about twenty would not stop until they satisfied themselves to their heart desires.
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Few examples will illustrate the fact that the Yorubas have now gotten a new CZAR, who must be obeyed right or wrong.
During the birthday celebration of the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, at the reception held inside the town hall, all the invited guests, including traditional rulers were seated and the Alaafin of Oyo was the Chairman at the event.
Ooni walked in after one hour and thirty minutes the programme had started with a large number of his entourage.

His gong beaters disrupted the ceremony and frantic efforts by the Master of the ceremony to persuade the Ooni fell on deaf ears, as there was near commotion at the event venue. Even when the Ooni had seated, many of his chiefs went to the chair covered with robes. That scenario went on.

Some of the invited guests at the events were feasibly annoyed, as it took about fifteen minutes before the programme could start again.
The celebrant, Olu of Ilaro, who could no longer endure the nuisances wanted to voice out, but the Alaafin cautioned him.
This bastardisation of culture did not go down well with some Obas who protested to the Olu of Ilaro, to warn Ooni to desist from his deliberate desecration of Yoruba culture.

In so many occasions, Ooni deliberately comes late and distrupt proceedings. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was at the academic ceremony last Thursday, held at the Oduduwa Hall of the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun State. It was the Annual Lecture and Award Ceremony organized by the university’s Faculty of Education, in honour of the renowned legal luminary, Are Afe Babalola, who was a Guest Lecturer award recipient.

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, and the Ooni of Ife were invited to the colourful event . As usual, Oba Adeyemi who was the first to arrive at the university with his drummers, about two and a half hours before the commencement of the event, was warmly received by the organizers and accommodated at a VIP room. While this lasted, the students were thrilled by unique beating styles of the Alaafin’s drummers who stayed at the entrance of the VIP room, as they were elated and dancing to the delightful tunes.

Few hours later, Are Afe Babalola arrived the university with his entourage, comprising about twelve Professors from the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti [ABUA].
The legal icon was immediately led to where the VIP lodge where he greeted the Alaafin, apologized, and expressed strong dismay over what he referred to as ‘’undue delay at the Ooni’s palace’’ which resulted in his late arrival and absolutely not in his character.

Shortly thereafter, they were led into venue of the event.
For about twenty minutes, the Alaafin’s drummers consisting of dundun and sekere, as well as a praise poet entertained the invited guests and students, who admired their mastery of the beats and
Yoruba poetry.

The programme later commenced, and about twenty five minutes into the event, the Ooni of Ife in his habitual lateness arrived with his large entourage, including the drummers and gong beaters.
For fifteen minutes, the programme was held back to the annoyance of some invited guests and students over abusive drumming against the Alaafin.

Consequently, Alaafin enquired from Ooni whether or not he understood the message of his drummers. But Ooni denied the knowledge.
While delivering his lecture, Are Afe Babalola, who apologized to the gathering, said he had nasty experience at the Ooni’s palace.
The Ooni of Ife who was called upon for his remark urged the students to emulate good virtues,and rounded up his address with songs.
When it came to the turn of Oba [Dr.] Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111,it was moment of excitement for both the students and invited guests.

The Alaafin of Oyo, and Permanent Chairman, Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs is a monarch with class. He is an enigma by every standard and a chance meeting with him is like an expository adventure through a school of history.
One enviable highpoint in His life is his deep knowledge and high sense of recounting historic events with facts and figures, and with an accuracy that will beat the imagination of youthful intellectuals.

The Alaafin, who will clock eighty years of age soon still remembers events of over a hundred years old, and still writes his scripts unaided.
He is a consummate reader and would pass any day, for a Professor of ancient/modern history and archaeology. One enviable highpoint in the life of this great monarch is his deep knowledge and high sense of recounting historic events with facts and figures; and with an accuracy that'll beat the imagination of intellectuals.

His Imperial Majesty started his thought provoking remark by educating the guests on the Yoruba talking drum. He said that talking drum of the Yoruba was invented from Oyo. According to Him, ‘’it was first assembled for the Alaafin, as his musical outfit whenever he goes to war. He used it to motivate his army. Today, we celebrate it because it is one of the things the Africans, the Oyo people and Yoruba gave to the world and which cannot be done by any other. It is an important cultural device of the Yoruba people’’.

Alaafin explained that in Yoruba land, the talking drum is a percussion to which people can rhythmically dance, but the Alaafin of Oyo, His royal majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi said recently that the cultural significance of the Yoruba talking drum goes beyond mere entertainment value.
The paramount descended on the Ooni’s drummers for their acts of notoriety and uncouth manners which typified their shallow-mindedness and bestiality as exhibited in their abusive drumming against him.

Oba Adeyemi who sternly warned the nervous-looking drummers to desist from such senseless display or face the dire consequences in the presence of the Ooni who was feasibly worried, declared before the large gathering that ‘’no Oba in Yoruba-land is superior to the Alaafin’’, amid rounds of applause.
‘’As a royal father and custodian of Yoruba heritage, the talking drum is an important cultural evaluation of the Yoruba people and it was given leap and pioneered by the Oyo Yoruba. When people hear of the talking drum, they believe it is just an instrument to be drummed for people to dance but it is not so, we can use it as a means of conveying message and not for acts of notoriety’’.

“Our history and oral traditions were handed down to us by purely non-literate people. So, the talking drum is an important source of history. Other sources aside the talking drums are poetry or what we call chants. Almost all the established Oyo families, compounds, lineages, can recite their Orikis, and these are done with the talking drum. The Oriki can’t be complete without the Sekere and talking drums’’.
Alaafin also narrated how he technically defeated the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade in court, through his lawyer, Afe, over royal supremacy battle.
Said he, ‘’it was a tough at a Federal High Court in Abuja battle between the two legal titans, Are Afe Babalola and late Chief G.O.K. Ajayi. All the evidences and exhibits tendered by Are Afe Babalola could neither be replied nor contested by counsel to the late Ooni, Chief G.O,K. Ajayi. While the Court had been adjourning and yet to come up with its judgement till today’’.
Oba Adeyemi who extolled virtues of Are Afe Babalola described as a tireless creative genius.
“ He is a prodigiously hard worker, tireless creative genius, worthy apostle of truth, justice and fair play, as well as an uncompromising defender of the down-trodden’’.
Acknowledging the legal icon’s pioneering excellence and innovation ib tertiary education in Africa, the paramount ruler asserted that Afe Babalola as the Aare-Bamofin of Yorubaland, from whatever perspective one looks at him , whether in Law where he had excelled to the level of pioneer Senior Advocate of Nigeria [SAN], a maker of many SANs, many Attorney-Generals of the federation; a philanthropist of no mean order, or in education, where he had single-handedly built a university which had also excelled as one of the best private universities, not only in Nigeria but, in the Africa-continent, no Nigerian lawyer, living or dead, has produced under his chamber over three hundred distinguished lawyers, all of them, in their own rights as Masters of forensic advocacy in Courts of Law”.

Oba Adeyemi further noted that besides the area of Law and Education, Are Afe Babalola ‘’is a grassroot man to the core in politics and in the area of community development. Aare Afe Babalola has not only spent his money to bring smiles to the faces of many people without limiting it to his home town, Ado-Ekiti, and without making any noise about it. He is also a respecter of of tradition and customs of his people and a detribalized Nigerian, just as he is a deeply committed member of the Anglican Communion”.

Oba Adeyemi therefore prayed to God to grant Aare Afe Babalola long life and good health in order to reap the fruits of his earthly labours.
On the history of the famous Oyo Kingdom, Alaafin said the Empire was one of the earliest and probably, the greatest independent race in West Africa, south of the equator.
At the height of its existence, he stated that the old Oyo Empire dominated all Yoruba kingdoms namely Ife, Ijesha, Egba, Ijebu, Sabe and Owu, adding that the area occupied by the Yoruba Kingdom in south-west Nigeria, is roughly enclosed by latitude 5 and 8 degree North of the equator and Longitude 5 and 21/2 degree East.

‘’The reign of Oranmiyan marked a new phase in Yoruba history as it witnessed the executive transfer of political power from Ile-Ife to Oyo, and thereafter, Oyo become the political headquarter of the Yoruba race, and that is where the Alaafin presides from. According to historical studies, the Oyo palace is estimated to be sitting on about 640 acres. We still have excavations of the old Oyo Empire, and centuries after, some of the walls of the old Oyo Empire, are still standing in its original form. That is a great testimony of the architectural ingenuity of the Yoruba race’’, Oba Adeyemi averred.

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