Lessons from Ijebu-Jesa
“Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Ijebu-Jesa has a new king and his name is Moses Ilufemiloye Agunsoye! May God’s name be praised! To start with, I doubt if I had the opportunity of meeting Oba Agunsoye before his appointment as Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa in the State of Osun. However, what influenced his eventual choice as successor to the throne of Agigiri Egboroganlada has been eloquently summarized by Oyeniyi Ajifowobaje: “When you live in Lagos, work in Jos, still worship at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew’s, Ijebu-Jesa every Sunday; when you’re a director in a Federal Government parastatal, still, you relate with the young, old, rich and the peasants of Egboroland; … when the door of your house is wide open to the needy; when your house in Mushin is secretariat and hostel to applicants of Ijebu-Jesa descent in Lagos,” then you’re the people’s choice for the throne.”
With the passing of Oba Taiwo Aribisala on March 11, 2017, the Elegboro stool became vacant, which in turn opened the space for the ruling houses in the ancient town to vie for the exalted throne. Oba Aribisala was from the Ajigiteri Ruling House and he was the 23rd Oba of Ijebu-Jesa. He was 88 years!
Before all else, let me join other well-meaning Nigerians in congratulating Governor Rauf Aregbesola for ensuring a level playing field while the process lasted. In my view, that’s one of the important attributes of a good leader. That the people celebrated its outcome was a confirmation of Oba Agunsoye’s approval by our ancestors.
At a time like this, it is pertinent to thank God for the life of our king. For the avoidance of doubt, Oba Agunsoye has paid his dues. Thank God: providence has now crowned his efforts. A man of unmistaken vision who prefers to lead by example, Agunsoye is tantalisingly rich in humility and unquestionably plush in generosity. In his own little ways, Kabiyesi now belongs to the class of the Nelson Mandelas, Oscar Romeros, Jamie Cardinal Sins and Oladele Olashores of this world who, even at great risks to personal comfort, opted to side with the downtrodden.
Nikos Kazantzakis once prescribed belief in one’s capacity as a prerequisite for success. My journey through life has brought me face-to-face with how ignorance could prevent some people from having a human face. For instance, it was Oba Olashore who sponsored my first degree (Ref: ‘Oladele Olashore at 70’, ThisDay, February 18, 2005); while Akin Fatodu of ‘Olufemi Fatodu Foundation’ lent a helping hand during my postgraduate studies. Archbishop Olukayode Akinyemi and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah’s contributions on my way up the ladder of life were also immense.
If I may expand my argument, twice I wrote to the late Umar Ali Shinkafi (on November 7, 1994; and December 24, 1996) to seek financial assistance for my first degree programme. In two separate letters, dated December 14, 1994 and January 20, 1996; and signed by Ngozi Asoya, his Special Assistant, Marafan Sokoto merely conveyed “best wishes” which, of course, I gladly accepted. My letter to Oba Otudeko, dated January 8, 1991 and a follow-up chat with one Seyi Oduntan at Honeywell’s Ilupeju, Lagos-office ended at the level of opening a file! Earlier, I had written a letter to the-then Colonel Abdul Kareem Adisa in his capacity as the Military Governor of the old Oyo State. Adisa was so “concerned” about my “plight” that, in a letter dated April 25, 1991 and signed by one T.A. Oyeleye, the governor directed me to my local government for assistance. I did as directed but nobody did anything! For the constraint of space, let me stop here!
I decided to tell this story to show how small-but-constant drops of water could help make a hole in a stone. For instance, Oba Olasore’s total financial support for my pursuit was N19,000.00, spread over a period of four academic sessions (1992 – 1997); and Fatodu ‘supplied’ N23,500.00 during my postgraduate studies (2000 – 2003). In truth, but for these Good Samaritans’ interventions, I probably would have ended up a dropout in life.
Well, this is the kernel of my argument. Olashore did not fight for Ajagbusi-Ekun stool after the death of his father before his antecedents bequeathed it to him. Even, after Oladele’s passing, the stool was reportedly reserved for his eldest son. It was after all entreaties to persuade Olakunle failed that the kingmakers contemplated a replacement. In like manner, our preference for Oba Agunsoye is a call to greater service to humanity.
Unimpressed by the state of our youth in Ijebu-Jesa, I was once compelled to write a letter to the late Oba Aribisala. In the letter, I pleaded with him
to rally the rich and the affluent in the town with a charge to rise to the plight of our youth. On December 31, 1997, I had the honour of meeting the late monarch in his private residence and he assured me that all hands were “on deck” to ennoble “the young and the old.” On an auspicious occasion like this therefore, one can only enjoin Oba Agunsoye to look into the plight of our teeming youth who, though employable, remain terribly unemployed, primarily, due to the selfishness of the socio-economic and political leeches who latch around the corridors of power for transient, pecuniary conveniences.
Like Nigeria, our major challenges in Ijebu-Jesa are not unconnected with poverty, despair, helplessness and hopelessness. But how can the Ijesaness in us shun expression of pains and anguish in a chat-show of fluidity, pettiness and emptiness? Why should we continue to pray with empty stomachs in the wilderness of abandonment and a terrain replete with vanity and debauchery?
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant His Royal Majesty, Oba Moses Ilufemiloye Agunsoye II the wisdom to pursue the prosperity of the people of my Native Nazareth!
• Komolafe wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.
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