Mayegun Of Yoruba Land : The Facts, The Fictions, By Dotun Oyeniyi - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Mayegun Of Yoruba Land : The Facts, The Fictions, By Dotun Oyeniyi



In April 1991, The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi sought an urgent audience with the then military governor of the old Oyo State, Col Abdulkareem Adisa. The Ooni, Oba Adeyemi told the governor, was about to distort history and must be stopped. What history? Adisa asked. The planned installation of Chief Tom Ikimi as the Akinrogun of Yorubaland by Ooni Okunade Sijuade had no historical basis in Yoruba land, the Alaafin told Adisa. No Oba in the entire Yorubaland had a power to install any chief over the entire Yorubaland. Only the Aare Ona Kakanfo could be so installed and only I, the Alaafin had the power to do so, he further said.
The Governor rolled into action immediately and the late Ooni made a last-minute change. Tom Ikimi was no longer to be installed the Akinrogun of Yorubaland but that of Ife. The Alaafin, basking in his 'victory' further stated that Akinrogun was an Egba title which should have nothing to do with Ife. 
Almost three decades down the line, the Alaafin plans to do exactly the same thing he stood against in 1991 - to install K1, Wasiu Ayinde as the Mayegun of Yorubaland instead of Mayegun of Oyo. A title which, like the purported Akinrogun of Yorubaland, had no historical basis but a blatant fabrication, and distortion of history. And not just that, one of K1’s friends who accompanied him on pre-installation visit to the Alaafin added a new one. After becoming the Mayegun, K1 must never prostrate or stoop in deference to any Oba again, he said. Alaafin does not make anyone a chief for that person to bow before any other Oba in Yorubaland again, he concluded. Such sublime heights of unrestrained ridicule of the Yoruba’s culture and system.
The case of the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland is undisputable. The title had been in existence since the time of Alaafin Ajagbo, some four or more centuries ago, a time when the authority of the crown of the Alaafin of Oyo was unrivalled as successive Alaafin pressed their conquest of territories further and farther with potent military force. But Gani Adams has added his own, with a Moses-like wand in hand, Gani storms events like an Oba now. No deference to any other Oba but the Alaafin for the all-conquering Aare.
That sadly is the dilemma the Yoruba people face – the blending of fictions with facts and the danger of the former subsuming the latter which all histories and culture lacking written sources face. I reckon we must not exacerbate the already bad situation by doctoring history in a way that suits our present purpose but also plants discordant historical seed for the future by reckless award of fabricated chieftaincy titles. Luckily, a hermeneutical deciphering of ageless praise songs, poetries, oral narratives, historical relics, lineage panegyrics and others stands against fabricated history. 
When the British granted India independence, the position of the Rajas (traditional rulers) was abolished. Ours was not abolished but left severely weakened. Since independence, the relevance and serviceability of traditional authorities are increasingly bruised by self-inflicted wound as aristocratic authorities dissipate their energies on ephemerals rather than working on a productive review of what can be done to enhance their positions. 
As K1 becomes the Mayegun of Yorubaland, we are seeing again another page in the fictional history book of a people with uncountable Obas and innumerable chiefs most of whom germinate from the rubble of deliberate historical distortions. Any wonder the Olugbo claims he is the authentic Ooni?

Dotun Oyeniyi is a lawyer, writer & activist

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