No Lying-In-State For Ooni Of Ife
THOSE who are expecting to see the remains of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, the Olubuse 11 and pay him their last respects, should think of better ways to do so. Reason: There will be no lying-in-state for the monarch, a palace source disclosed yesterday.
Although the source still maintained that the monarch is still alive and urged people to discard social media reports that Oba Sijuade died in a London hospital, he also pleaded with Nigerians to respect the rich culture of Ile Ife that believes that Ooni is still alive until 16 elders (Agba merindinlogun Ile Ife) of the ancient town, announce the transition of the monarch, “if indeed the monarch has joined his ancestors as being rumoured”.
The controversy about the state of health of the monarch continued yesterday as there were indications that some of his personal belongings might have been stolen by those a source described as “palace rats”.
A high chief and one of the leading traditional priests who spoke with The Guardian in Ile Ife yesterday, disclosed that the remains of the late monarch will be buried according to Ile Ife age-long tradition which forbids members of the public to witness the funeral rites.
He said: “Ooni is not a Christian or Moslem monarch. I can confirm to you that he would be buried as the late Sir Adesoji Aderemi was buried in 1980. Then the family and various organisations can hold social engagements after the traditional rites. But it is a taboo to bury an Ooni in the presence of none initiated members of Ife palace cult”.
When asked why people would not be allowed to see his remains and pay him their last respects, the priest laughed: “Ooni is a deity, not an ordinary human being. There has been a traditional way of burying a monarch in Ile Ife since the 11th century and it cannot change. But after the burial which I can confirm to you will take place at the palace, people can go and see the tomb but not the body.
“Ife is the source of Yoruba, Ooni is not just a monarch but the foremost traditional priest in Yorubaland. That is why we are amazed at the way people trooped into the palace because they can’t see anything. But mark my words, Oba Okunade Sijuade is still alive as far as we are concerned at Ile- Ife.