Ogbomoso relies on law, not Ifa, to choose Oba – Areago, debunks Ipebi is ritualistic
The Areago of Ogbomosoland, High Chief Sobalaje Otolorin, has dispelled the rumour doing the round that the newly installed Soun of Ogbomosoland, Oba Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye Orumogege III, is currently locked up in some secluded mystical rooms in the palace undergoing the mandatory ritualistic ipebi rites for seven days in order to fortify him and confirm his status as new King of the famed City of Valour. That is how it is expected to pan out according to the Yoruba tradition and customary belief. So, not a few have slammed and mocked the new monarch for submitting to such “fetish” practice being a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. It is perceived as an abomination and he is mournfully looked at as having failed the Christian precepts. The seven-day rite it is believed, involves offering of blood sacrifices, pouring of satanic libations, performing of frightening rituals, making of incisions on his body and all fetish things considered abominable to either a Christian or Muslim moreover an acclaimed cleric of high rank. However, in this interview by ogbomosoinsightonline.com on Monday the Areago, who is also the head of the kingmakers, debunks the insinuation describing it as mere speculation. He notes different communities have their tradition and customs which guide the installation of a new king while emphasizing dynamism is an exciting feature identified with the world. He stresses the seclusion rites being undergone by Oba Pastor Ghandi Olaoye, if at all it contains aspects of rituals, is about invocation of prayers – for him and for the city, for prosperity, for peace and tranquility; and that if there are libations poured they are supplications to God to provoke blessings. In similar vein, he counters the notion that Ifa oracle was consulted before Ghandi was selected underlining the fact that rather than Ifa, the Chiefs Law and Soun Chieftaincy Declaration constitute the instruments that guided his selection, quipping that Ifa consultation is not captured in the laws guiding selection of Soun, describing those he calls rumour peddlers as mischief makers any rational person will disregard. He also urges those aggrieved to let go of their grudges and embrace peace positing only one person can sit on the throne at a time.
A pastor undergoing ritualistic rites in seclusion (ipebi) is seen as something abominable, can you shed light on what the ‘seclusion’ is all about?
The ipebi they are mentioning is not part of our tradition in Ogbomoso. Because the new king is at his residence or the place he chose observing the tradition. There are adherents of the three main religions in Ogbomoso, will you now tell me a Muslim will kill another human being for sacrifice because he is performing rites to become king? And neither a Christian nor a traditional worshiper do that, it is just figment of imagination. So, there is no truth in it, it is unfounded rumour. Rather, prayers are being offered at the place.
It is also said Oro worshipers are out and that anyone who falls victim is sacrificed to pave way for the new king, how true is this?
It is another wicked lie. The custodian of Oro in Ogbomoso is Baale Ijeru chieftaincy family and no one contacted them for Oro outing. We don’t celebrate Oro in Ogbomoso unless during its festival. Or have you seen Oro or any sign of it since the Oba went into seclusion? They are just amusing themselves and feeding their ignorance.
So, religious leaders are visiting the place of seclusion to offer prayers!
People have access to him. We have a strict outline for that.
And he is not undergoing supernatural fortification presently, that is what we thought too.
Nothing like that. It is mainly rituals of prayers. Muslim clerics will go there, Christian clerics too and traditional religion clerics. They pray for him and for the city for progress and prosperity. That is the outlook; he is not in the palace, it is not anything hidden. Another embellishment of the process is to impart him with the culture, customs and traditions of the town, the mannerisms of the Soun, histories of the community, the festivals and things like that. His memory is refreshed with these teachings. Even for someone who has lived all his life in Ogbomoso that aspect is mandatory, he needs to undergo the learning, refresher process.
After that we now have what we call ikije or iwuye, what is the significance of that?
You have spent seven days in seclusion, first seven days as the Soun, you are now entrenched and well acquainted with your new role and you come out to celebrate it. If it is a chief you come out to prostrate before the kabiyesi in appreciation after which merriment begins.
So, during ikije/iwuye ceremony, the Oba will be decorated with (akoko) leaves as symbol of his new title because all the photos that emerged after the installation did not show any with leaves?
No, no, no! In Ogbomoso, we don’t install the Oba using leaves, that is customary with installation of chiefs but not the Oba. Rather, we have Igba Iwa (calabash) that contains various items which the persons who pass it over the king’s head must not also look at; we chiefs also undergo that at our installation.
What about the visit to the ape tree and climbing/crossing of a symbolic ladder?
All those have been observed.
People are also wondering why or how Ifa oracle will choose a pastor to be king!
Ogbomoso doesn’t consult Ifa when it comes to selection of its king. Ask them, did Ifa choose Itabiyi? Did Ifa choose Ladunni? (The two are the immediate predecessors of the new King). How many past Obas in Ogbomoso did Ifa choose? They were chosen by the kingmakers after which they were enthroned. So, we don’t have such embedded in our tradition! But that does not mean traditional worshipers will be denied their rights, we all own the town together. But we don’t consult Ifa in Ogbomoso when choosing our monarch, rather the kingmakers use their discretion guided by certain criteria. In addition, there is the Soun Chieftaincy Declaration that guides us on how to get it done. And mind you the Chieftaincy Declaration does not mention consultation with Ifa oracle at all, so, we are guided solely by the declaration.
Those bitterly and fiercely challenging the selection of Oba Ghandi claimed you usurped their role by not allowing them to make the selection.
Yet they could not come up with a candidate and forwarded twenty three names, if they could resolve it they would have picked only one person. It is the role of kingmakers to make the final selection in the case the family is not able to arrive at one person. Even in the Chieftaincy Declaration it is stated explicitly that if the person they chose is not suitable in our estimation we ask for another person. But in this case they transmitted twenty names.
Twenty three or eleven names?
Listen. That is not our concern, we received 23 names, the list was attached to their report given to the local government and which they copied us. The list is the same no difference, they listed the 23 persons who bought forms, and the law did not say they should screen anyone if no one accepted to step down. But in the situation each bloc wants his person to emerge, if they had brought only one person there wouldn’t have been problem but they brought several names and we used our discretion guided by the declaration, we chose the one we felt is manly, is most suitable. Many also like to accuse us of taking bribe. There was nothing like that. Prince Ghandi did not bribe anyone at all. We chose him based mainly on merit. But whoever likes to live in denial of that is free.
You went ahead to install the new king despite an injunction restraining the action? Is that not contempt?
We did not receive any exparte order in regard of that. If we were served the order we dared not go against it knowing the implication but no one served us anything like that. So, we see it as rumour because up till now nobody has served us any restraining order and it is even belated now since the installation has been carried out. We thank the governor for the approval and since he granted the approval, the kingmakers who have the mandate to nominate and install the king saw no reason delaying the installation any longer. When the approval was not granted did you see us proceeding with the installation?
Do you think Ogbomoso people are happy and satisfied with the installation especially with the person who emerged because of the insinuation of crisis?
Come on Thursday and verify this at the iwuye ceremony. On Friday, we didn’t inform anyone or make any announcement we would be performing the installation ceremony but look at the massive crowd that thronged the palace that we had to lock the gate of the palace at a point.
Advice for the people of Ogbomoso and the new King?
I enjoin everyone to cooperate and unite for the progress and development of Ogbomoso. Also, I plead with the people aggrieved to sheathe their sword. They should imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship, it’s a game in which only one winner will emerge. It could have been anyone. They should realize that if another person had been selected others too would have come up with reasons to also challenge the process. They should be placated. We pray the new King will not disappoint us. I am assured Ogbomoso will witness monumental development during the reign of the new King even beyond our expectation.