Ado-Awaye will soon regain its glory in culture, tourism —Oba Folakanmi
The newly-installed Alado of Ado-Awaye, Oyo State, Oba Ademola Folakanmi, Makuledoye II, speaks with MOSES ALAO on how a 34-year-old vacancy on the Alado stool has affected the town; the abundant tourism opportunities in the historic town and how giving traditional rulers constitutional roles can end insecurity in the country.
You introduced yourself as a reverend; is that just a title you acquired as a fad or you were an active cleric before becoming an traditional ruler?
Well, I don’t think that is a title one can just acquire. Secondly, your question about whether I was an active minister before becoming an Oba suggests that once one becomes an Oba, then he should no longer serve God or be active in ministry; that is wrong. By the grace of God, I founded the Royal Lamb Apostolic Church International in 1998 and I also had the grace to found Agbarada Prayer Mountain located in Ado Awaye.
Is it possible to be a man of God and a traditional ruler? Can the two work together without one affecting the other?
The Bible is a complete book that gives examples and patterns, which Christians can follow today. In Ecclesiastics 1, Solomon said “I the preacher, I am a king in Israel.” So, someone can be a king and still be preacher; the same way a devout Muslim or an Alhaji can be an Oba. Being a preacher and being an Oba are meant to offer service to people; to better lives and to give people hope and good future. It is even interesting if we have Christians or devout Muslims as kings, because they will be able to lead the people with the fear of God.
But what about the belief that to become an Oba¸one must be involved in sacrifices and rites, like eating the heart of a dead king and all that?
Yes, there is a belief like that but I can tell you that it is not everyone that becomes an Oba that goes through such rites. Such rites have no place in law and they are not made compulsory in all towns or communities; the rites vary from town to town. The prerequisite for being an Oba involves receiving the approval of the governor of the state and the consent of the consenting authority. At the outset, when the first Alado of Ado-Awaye, Oba Koyi, a crown prince of AlaafinOluaso, who was the Alaafinin around 1300 AD, was installed in 15000 AD, he introduced Ifaoracle to what is now known as Oyo State, there were many rites. But as time went on, things changed bit by bit. Today, the principle of division of labour has made it quite easy for a religious person to become an Oba; as there are people who manage traditional affairs in the town without the Oba having to participate if he does not want to. When I became Oba, there were traditionalists who were doing what was expected of them and the Muslims and Christians were doing theirs too.
And to answer your question about having to eat the heart of a past king, in our community, that rite was abolished in the 18th century. And I was to become an Oba, I prayed and God told me that as he chose David, he had chosen me and that he would make the crooked ways straight. And that was what happened.
Ado-Awaye is a historical town with cultural and tourism potentials that should have placed it high among towns in Oyo State, if not the South-West. But for 34 years, it was without a traditional ruler. Have you been able to take a stock and quantify the damage that interregnum did to the town?
We cannot quantify the damage and let me tell you that it is beyond what can be repaired in the next 50 years except by the grace of God. Ado-Awaye, as you said, is a historical town and it is blessed with various tourist attractions. There is the Ado-Awaye hill, which is like no other in the entire state. We have Iyake Suspended Lake, which is the only on Nigeria; it is a bottomless lake. We have the Ishage Rock, we have the elephant tree. We have the foot of the elders and Ibiti Oba nyira [where the king rolled]. All these places are amusing and should have attracted tourists from all over the world, if they had been given attention. Unfortunately, the governments both at the state and federal levels have not been able to harness the tourism potential of the country. We started Nigeria with agriculture; now, cocoa and groundnut are gone. We switched to crude oil and oil will go too. But tourism will last forever; so I encourage the government to develop the tourism potential of Ado-Awaye.
As far as your question is concerned about the damage that had been done to the town, much damage had been done but we believe that now that God is ready by allowing me to occupy the vacant throne through the support of the executive governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and the support of 99 per cent of the community, which I enjoy, we will soon restore the glory of Ado-Awaye.
Many people know about the Suspended Lake, what is elephant tree and feet of the elders?
The elephant tree looks exactly like an elephant; if you see it, you will think it is an elephant but it is just the trunk of a tree that looks like an elephant in colour, posture and size. The footsteps of the past dwellers of the mountain are also in one section of the hill. Some people say that in Mecca, there is a place where there are footsteps of past Islamic heroes; I don’t know how true that is though. But in Ado-Awaye, you could see the footsteps of past dwellers; the mortals and dilapidated buildings are also there. Ado-Awaye should have been a beehive for tourism and archeological activities but unfortunately, I am the first literate king. And now that I am on the throne, we will bring all these things on board.
You said you enjoyed the support of 99 per cent of the people but there was a controversy recently that you were not supposed to be installed as the Alado. What really happened?
There is no controversy at all. The last Alado joined his ancestors in 1983 and there were heated protests among the contenders, which almost led to what could be likened to the Owo crisis. As a result of the protests, the military government of the time instituted an enquiry, which ended up as a Declaration on the Ado-Awaye Chieftaincy. That declaration provided that mu ruling house, Maku, should be the first to present the subsequent Alado. But immediately the declaration was issued and registered, the contending family who just left the throne went to court. Ado-Awaye started on top of the Ado Hill. But Oba Olaogun brought the people down the hill. After him, one of the ruling families presented the next Alado and then the next and the one after that. That same family kept on presenting the Oba, which was what led to the heated protests in 1983. The declaration saved the situation but they went to court to challenge it and few years ago, the suit was struck out in favour of my ruling house. But they refilled another suit challenging the declaration and eligibility of my candidature. That suit too was dismissed in 2016 and based on the dismissal of all suits; I wrote to the government and it proceeded to take the necessary steps, which led to my installation. So, whatever anyone is doing now is trying to draw the development of Ado-Awaye, which is what has been done for 34 years. Anyone that is not satisfied with my installation should go back to the court.
What is the position of the Alado among Obas in Oke-Ogun?
Ado-Awaye is a historical town; it started in 15000 AD. At the outset, Alaafin’s crown prince, Koyi, who was supposed to become the Alaafin was denied and his younger brother, Onigbogi, took over. In anger, he left Oyo with one of his father’s crowns and decided to go and settle in Otta, his mother’s town. He went through plain grounds until he got foot of the Ado Hill, where he saw a smoke. He climbed the mountain and there, he met some escapees from Dahomey. Having agreed and discussed with them, they said since you left Oyo because you were denied from becoming the Alaafin, you can be our king here. Anywhere in Yoruba land then, wherever a prince of the Alaafin got to, it was accepted that it was the Alaafin that was there. So, they rallied and made him Oba. And so he decided that instead of going to Otta, he would stay. From day one, he started as crowned king and subsequent Alado continued to wear beaded crowns until sometime later when a king threw the crown into a bottomless because he had a crisis with the people. In 1920, Alaafin Ladigbolu reissued a crown to the Alado in 1920 and up till 1920, there was no Oba in Oke-Ogun that had a beaded crown. In Oke-Ogun, Alado is the first king that Alaafin gave a beaded crown and the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas, also confirmed this during my coronation. So, I am appealing to the government of Oyo State under the leadership of His Excellency, Governor Ajimobi, to do all that is necessary to ensure that the Aladoregains his place among the Obasin the state.
What is your view on the continued call for a constitutional role for traditional rulers?
In the past, that was how things were done; traditional rulers played roles in the development of the country and the state. The late Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi was a governor. When things were done that way, there was order in the polity. Involving the traditional rulers made them to be able to put things in order and ensure security in their domains. But now, politicians have reduced Obas to artifacts that they only visit during election periods to make promises. When and if traditional rulers are given constitutional roles, you will see that social vices will reduce.