Thrones of Ife and Lagos: Courtesy not boundaries

Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu

Sir: I don’t enjoy sensational stories. I pass them by, many times, but I had to watch the Youtube video which showed the Oba of Lagos dismissing the greetings of his Ife counterpart with the waving of his hand only because it was forwarded to me by someone who sits on a pedestal.

He wanted my humble opinion. I told him even without a knowledge of kingship rules in Yoruba land (and I may be wrong) that I felt the highly revered Oba shouldn’t have treated the Ooni that way. And, that he might have done that because the Ooni is a young man. That he didn’t look beyond the young man to see the larger-than-life office he occupies.

I was able to say this, for the reason that a cursory look at the video revealed, even though palace aid and, the revered professor from University of Lagos who wrote in The Guardian to defend the Oba of Lagos opined that the greeting is an age-long tradition and the Oba only revived what has been the norm, but the Oba never smiled, didn’t eye-ball the Ooni, was straight-faced and wore a puckered brow.

I was taught different styles of communication for different occasions especially when not to propitiate people. One which is necessary to unsettle some people is to create a buffer zone to ring-fence some people out of your presence. I have had to keep a straight face when people asked me silly questions. In order to avoid idle chatter, not acknowledging or repeating what people say to me especially if they are out of kilter. This is to show that I am not interested in what they tell me. Acting nonplussed. The video showed clearly who created a buffer zone.

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” Bob Dylan sang. With that in mind, I concluded that there was a seeming beef between the two thrones.‬

The Ooni wouldn’t have attempted going to greet the Oba if he feared prejudice against the throne of Ife. You could see his shock at being waved off like a pupil.
Now that we know it is customary to wave off a fellow Oba, could both palaces bury the seeming sensation this episode still generates.

One way to do so is for all thrones to let palace aides know in advance that hugging, extended banters aren’t welcome at certain occasions in particular domains in Yoruba land and acceptable elsewhere under certain conditions.

If culture is part of the Yoruba heritage, it should matter to Oba (I don’t anglicize local names) if they propagate the spread of these cultures quickly and now. It is out of place to begin indoctrination at public events where locals do not know why this is so. Some of our cultures are sleeping and it is incumbent on our royal highnesses to revive them, and that for me is the greatest act of benevolence and form of reconciliation that the thrones of Ife and Lagos can give to the Yoruba nation.‬

Simon Abah, Port Harcourt.

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