youthful monarch, who is also the Vice President of Osun State Council
of Obas and Chiefs, has been swimming from one murky water to another,
attracting a mish mash of praises and criticisms essentially due to his
lifestyle, dress mode and revolutionary views on African heritage.
sync with modernity, he has drawn flaks for the same from others, who
believe, they desecrate traditions.
encounter with the monarch recently with the impression of a highly
misunderstood philosopher-king in Oba Akanbi, who spent most of his
adult life in North America, before coming home to ascend the throne in
20015. In the interview, the royal father is as explosive and even more
controversial than ever before.
today; people want to use my name to gain and drive traffic on their
blog sites. People want to use my name to sell newspapers. If you see
somebody whose glory is so high like that; a king that was enthroned
just a year plus ago and his popularity is soaring like that, what do
thing, you’ll see how many people would talk bad about him. It is the
same with Governor Aregbesola. The man is doing a great job down there
in Osun State. See the transformation! He is the best governor in
Nigeria, works 24 hours, but, is he not controversial? Do you know how
many people that would hear of Aregbe today and what they would say is
‘ah! he’s this o! he’s that o!’ or ‘Aregbe has stolen money’ or ‘puts us
in debt o!’
sometime ago, as the only Yoruba Oba known to share the wearing of the
crown with your wife. People say it’s a desecration of the tradition.
from when there was pen and paper, history when the white men came, the
history that was written down, the history of 19th, 17th centuries.
Okay tell me how do you get the real history of the 5th century? Who has
ever spoken of it in Yoruba? We lack this unwritten history, because
pen and paper, CDs, tapes and camera had not come to us then. All the
history you hear people speak of are the history written for us by the
white men and this can be distorted. So, where do you get our authentic
history? Do you know how? Spiritual. The same way Moses was chosen and
taken back by God to know of the creation of the world! Do you know that
Moses was the one who wrote about how God created humans, Who was there
when God was creating? Who was writing anything down? And yet Moses
wrote the account down.
things right in what is called kingship and leadership and to show how
the past, our history, was. And many times I’ve been taken back to know
about how things were in the past when there were no clothes, when we
were even putting on skins of animals. This is how we can know our
history, only through the spiritual. The spiritual is the only thing
that is pure.
It’s a great event. And that day when we were about to go, it was
revealed to me: “Look at your side!” and I looked at my side and saw my
wife. And it was said: “Look at her head; find a crown that you are not
wearing and wear on her head the crown.” That was how I gave her the
crown. When God reveals something, I can’t refuse, I just have to do it,
the same way Abraham was told to take his son, when he was already over
100 years old.
of Oduduwa is Odu-du-wa, Yoruba) for “he came out black.” He crowned his
first wife Yeyemoso who is now referred to as Olokun. Go and look at
Ori Olokun, the head of Olokun and see. You can even take the picture
and publish in your newspaper
and let people judge what is on her head. If you must know, Professor
Adisa Ogunfolakan who also happens to be a prince in Ife and the current
Director of Natural Museums and History at Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ife, has confirmed my statement. Archaeologists went and researched what
I said and they found an Ooni with the wife donning crowns. Even the
crown of the queen was nicer than the king’s own.
carry is not called staff of office, as people always say. The staff of
office is the one royal servants carry somewhere when the king is not
present. They would carry it there to represent him it has a crown-like a
crown head. The one I have is the staff of foundation, Obatedo
(Yoruba). You see the ones many of the kings are using now, those are
modern walking sticks that you see with everybody. Have you seen that
with Oduduwa before? The staff of foundation is with a carving of the
cockerel on the head. Every king from Oduduwa should carry a staff of
foundation and there must be a symbol, but the only thing is that the
Ooni is the only one that should be using the one with the cockerel on
top. The one being used now, I don’t know the meaning, but it is okay.
misgivings at a picture of you in Western suit, while also donning the
royal crest. They say such hybrid mode of dressing bastardizes African
ready to go to work out, or jog, yeah, I can wear snickers, instead of
wearing Ankara, because nobody does that. I am a working Oba…A man can
never be a king, only God is the King! If you are just a servant in that
capacity, can I call myself king in front of the King of the kings?
When you see me, I dress traditional all the time, but when I dressed in
suit I was making a statement. When I wear that, it is also telling
people not to do ‘follow, follow’, continue indiscriminately with the
past life of our forefathers. The issue is to sieve; the one that is
good, use the strainer , retain it, and do away with the useless one. Do
you know what a strainer is? Yes, you find a strainer and all the
things of the past, you put them in the strainer and you juggle it, when
you juggle it, the one that is good, you preserve and the one that is
not good let it go. Don’t do follow, follow pattern. Do you know why?
Because not all what the old generation did in the past is desirable
today. Look at human rituals, genocide; we are the only race in the
whole world that enslaved its own children!
slavery, do the white men sell their children as slaves and the Arabs,
the Hindus and the black Indians,? What about the native Americans? They
never sold their children into slavery and the Spanish never sold
theirs. But out of no love, we sold our children into slavery. The white
men didn’t come to our land to put us in ropes at first, the white men
were on the sea; we were first selling our children to the Arabs, then
the Portuguese found out and what did they do? They were interested and
after the Portuguese, the Spanish, then other white people started
enslaving Africans. But because the white people have love in their
heart, they couldn’t go ahead and that’s why they abolished slave trade.
We are the only country that has medicine (charm) that destroys human
life. What does modern medicine do to humans? It cures! You have
surgery, but our own medicine asks for human body parts- eyes, mouth,
nose. Now, the persons from whom you will take these body parts to make
medicine, are you going to kill them or borrow these from them? That is
called cultism! Some people believe that they can become rich through
making money ritual, or that there is something to give you money.
That’s why money rituals are so rampant in Africa, especially in
Nigeria. They kill albinos, they kill
hunchback, now they just started another one- that anybody with bald
head has a pot of gold on his head and so now, such people are not safe
because they are being hunted. These
are the superstitious killing of Africans, myth, things that don’t
exist. If there is actually money rituals or charm for making money the
way the thing is rampant in Nigeria, all of us should have been Bill
Gate. But it’s a lie, or please tell me someone that has done money ritual and that has built so many buildings and estates?
spirituality, I was born into an Islamic family, that’s why you can call
me a Muslim. I’m vast in the knowledge of the Quran and I’m vast in the
Bible, but I’m vast in other spiritual books, the history of religion,
the history of all this… it is not about religion, religion is what they
call a rule, a regulation.
on earth, I am not the king, only God is the King and when only God is
the King, it means that I am just His servant. God is using me in that
position and when God is using you, you dance for God all the time and
you are supposed to be happy that God is using you in this kind of
position. Who am I? You just said I wear suit, tell me which Oba doesn’t
use wristwatch today, which Oba doesn’t use cars, which Oba doesn’t
travel with airplane. If Oduduwa were to be alive today, would he ride a
car, or would he prefer to ride a horse, would Oduduwa just watch, or
choose to fly in a plane, if he were to travel overseas for cultural
promotion and development of tradition, would he travel in a ship? Why
are we deceiving ourselves? It is not that I wear suit all the time, it
is because I am making a statement that we should not just do ‘follow
follow,’ a leader must change things, if you cannot change the obsolete
lives and ways of your forefathers, you are not advancing, if you cannot
make amendment on what your forefathers had done in the past and make
them better, then you are stuck in the 5th century, in the past. One
must be able to initiate changes that lead to advancement. It’s the
responsibility of a leader to do so.
base in Canada to be king, an institution regarded as a relic of
tradition and what has been your experience?
is about service to humanity. The first priority, a king is supposed to
serve. When you become a king you try to define your position, you don’t
live on the glory you meet. You have to look at what we have been
doing. It is it right? If the leader cannot do a reform and challenge the status quo, he is not a leader.
medieval age…killing twins, it took a white woman, Mary Slessor, who
came about 100 years ago, to tell us to stop killing twins.
become a king. That is why they gave me the name Adewale when I was
born, that no matter where he may sojourn, he would bring the crown
home. I was given the name
Abdulrasheed, which means the one that points people to the right path.
So, was I born to do this or not? From inception before you were born
God Knows, I was born for the purpose of making amendment, to define
what kings should be, we kings should be fathers to the nation. That is
why you see the kings of the past could actually order that somebody’s
head be cut off. But, if you are the father of the people, the person
whose head is cut off, who is he to you? I am asking you? Who would that
be to you, as a king?
have we been wrong in the past or not? I am a father to my people. When
people bring any case of dispute to me, I would say I want to see the
other party. When they bring rumour to me, I don’t just judged people
based on what you have said, let’s call the other person that you want
to talk about, and when both sit, we resolve the issue. I told my people, they should only lease
the land in my domain, only for industrialization, they should stop
selling land. I don’t sell land. I am the father of the place. I am the
Oluwo of Iwoland, which means Iwo is my property. If Iwo is my property
why am I going to be selling the land? Just ask yourself, your own
property what would make you sell it. God told me not to sell any land.
less land, but employ more people. It is about industrialization. If we
all can industrialize Nigeria will be a global economic power. We are
only populous, but very small in land mass, Nigeria is not up to the
Province of Ontario which is just like one state in Canada. Ontario
redefining that seat, and raising it up, it doesn’t matter, I am a king,
as a father, people are criticizing or saying I am controversial, what
do you expect from somebody who is a leader? What do you expect them to
do to you? They must throw stones at you. Do you know that fruit that we
ate when we were small, that there is nut inside? Igi Fruit, we
call it fruit. I don’t even know the name, but when you break the inside
you will see the nut. Have you ever seen anybody taking water to it to
water? Nobody ever gives it anything, but they throw stones at it. And
what did it do for you? It will even drop fruits for you to eat. That is
how a king is, so, I am enjoying everything, as long as they are
talking about Iwo, let me be raising Iwo’s image, let everybody wake up
in the morning and talk about Iwo, when you talk about Iwo everyday it
is good, we are raising it and making it more significant.
for news, what they would do about it is to just turn any little thing
they read around. Even this interview that we are doing now, you will
see people who will turn what I said around, ‘Oh, Oluwo said we (modern
kings) are smarter than our forefathers! But, yes, we are. They will say
it’s an insult to our fathers. But, I ask, who wants his children to be
dull or to be worse than him? Even if you are Dangote; you still want
your child to be better than you. Dangote comes from the Dantata family.
Dantata was rich. Today, Dangote is richer. And Dangote should even
pray for his children to be better than him.
for this position. God made me go through a lot of experiences, prepared
and trained my hands for war, I love it when you fight me, when you are
my enemy I love it a lot, when I see battle, I always thank God, the
greater your battle is, the greater you become, If you don’t have
anybody fighting you or at war with you, you are not moving forward, ti’o ba si ogun,
it means you are a nobody. I have been trained to be independent. I
have God that trains me to be independent in life and this has been a
great asset. I have been fending for myself since when I was young.
want to go into that, but I saw myself through a lot by being
independent and fighting life.
was time, God told me this was the time, now you have to go, it doesn’t
matter, if you have the money, or you don’t, I didn’t become an Oba
through money or through connection, I am not connected, I have left Iwo
since 1981, so I don’t know anybody here anymore, so it’s not about
connection, it is not about anything, it is about the Will of God. This
is what God wants. God is the One who told me, ‘yes it was time. I was
keeping you in a secret place, so that nothing bad would happen to you,
that is why I let you move…and when it’s time for you to go back, you
are going back.’ Even when I was young, you would see people on the
street going and saying ‘that’s a crown on your head, it’s glittering.’
So many people said that and maybe that’s why God went and hid me there,
so that they didn’t see the crown on my head.
Aregbesola until the day he wanted to sign my papers. I had never seen
or talked to him, so how could government have imposed me?
I am doing. I see what he stands for, that is why I love Aregbesola so
much. I love him; I love (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu also, although I have
never met Tinubu in my life.
see him if I want to. I just believe that I will work my way and earn my
respect, for him to come and say I want to see Oluwo. I don’t run to
politicians, looking for favours. You won’t see me running to Abuja to look for this or that.
community. And we do empower a lot, in the knowledge that I am not the
king, only God is the king. The best character of God is to serve. That
is why you see me going on the road, even in the heat of the sun to fix
the road, the Iwo- Osogbo Road. The road, very good road for the economy
of my people, was abandoned for a very long time. I went there and
started fixing it. The road is now motorable.
custom is to have many wives? That was what they did in the past. If you
are a working Oba, how do you sleep with five, or a dozen women? I have
been working now from morning till night. Sometimes I don’t even get to
sleep until 1 am. The wife
needs attention. You must know the adage that, ‘ohun ti e o ni je, ema
fi run imu.’ The wife needs attention. You cannot even finish loving one
wife, you are having two, three, four five? Are those not part of the
things I tell you our forefathers did wrongly. And must we carry on with
them? As king, if all others are doing it, if the children are doing
it, me, I am the one to tell you that for love to go round, for people
to love each other, have one wife. Then a king has 50 wives. How does he
do it? He sleeps with one today and then it would take another 50 days
before it comes to that wife’s turn. He cannot even have sex everyday.
If you have 50 wives, you can’t have sex everyday. Are you not throwing
them to somebody else? Is there no room for adultery? Should we be
deceiving ourselves, saying that you want more wives because your father
and your great grandfather have more wives? Do you follow the patterns
of your great grandfather who never saw a phone? Our great-grandfathers
who never saw a plane? There are many things they never saw. These are