A delve into the life of Osile Oke Ona Egba, Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso

A review of Oba (Dr) Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso’s My 30 Years of Stewardship on the Throne of My Fore-Fathers (Volumes One, Two and Three) by Adewale Oshodi.

THE Osile Oke-Ona Egba, Oba (Dr) Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, CON, Karunwi III, Oranmiyan, recently clocked 30 years on the throne of his forebears, and to celebrate the occasion, the royal father released a compendium in three volumes, My 30 Years of Stewardship on the Throne of My Fore-Fathers which according to the chairman, Oke-Ona Egba Dynasty Trust Foundation, Chief Olalekan Ogundimu, is a special focus on the achievements and challenges Oba Tejuoso have faced since his installation.

Chief Ogundimu, in his introduction, says the book, coming in three volumes, is like a diary as all the activities of the traditional ruler published in newspapers, his interviews with journalists, correspondences, celebrations, evangelism, lectures and other comments from people in general are included.

Chief Ogundimu, the Akingbotun of Oke Ona Egba, says the books are written to teach accountability, need for documentation of history as opposed to oral history, to preserve the culture, tradition and legacy, and to serve as a note for future generation.

The book, which is also an autobiography, opens with pictures of Oba Tejuoso from different occasions. Among the pictures are the ones taken with his mother. There is also the picture of his late sister, Rolayo Tejuoso, as well as that of the young Prince Tejuoso celebrating his 18th birthday on February 17, 1956 with his friends at a boarding house. Other pictures include those taken with eminent personalities, like Chief Ebenezer Obey, among others.

Oba Tejuoso begins his profile with a quote from Professor Oladele Kale, who says: “Those of us who are friends of and close to the Osile, like his Majesty’s acclaimed literary adviser, Chief Lekan Ogundimu, can readily testify to his transformation from a carefree and easy-going individual to a genuine evangelist and unalloyed follower of Christ.”

This submission by Professor Kale about Oba Tejuoso’s evangelism will later be noticed throughout the volumes.

In this section, it is revealed that Oba Tejuoso’s forebear was a high priest who led the Ifa high priests that confirmed the suitability of the Egba to settle in Abeokuta.

It is further revealed that the Egba arrived in Abeokuta (under the Olumo Rock) on August 5, 1830, that is, Egba Alake, Oke Ona Egba and Gbagura. Going by history, the Owu later joined in 1834.

Oba Tejuoso’s maternal great-grandfather, Karunwi I, was crowned as the first Osile Oke Ona Egba in Abeokuta in 1897, which ensured that he was one of the four Egba Obas who formed the core of the establishment of Egba United Government (EUG) on January 31, 1898, under the authority of Governor McCullum, who was acting on the orders of Queen Victoria of England.

The Karunwi dynasty and evangelism then follows, with that part revealing that the command of Jesus Christ to ‘Go Ye,’ has always been given due attention by the rulers of Karunwi dynasty.

This then details the life of Oba Karunwi I, who ruled between 1897 and 1899, as well as Oba David Sokunbi Karunwi II, who reigned between 1904 and 1918.

It is noted that while Karunwi I loved the Creoles, as well as his relationship with Reverend D.O. Williams, who later became the Vicar of Exeter Church at Ake in 1897, Karunwi II was the first educated man to become a monarch in Egbaland, as he attended the CMS Grammar School in Lagos.

Karunwi II also ensured that he used his position to bring good news of the word of God to his domain after the establishment of the Anglican Church. Therefore, the Karunwi dynasty has always been involved in evangelism, and it is not a thing of surprise that Oba Tejuoso, Karunwi III is doing the same thing.

In fact, Chief (Mrs) Bisoye Tejuoso, a princess of Oke-Ona Egba and the third Iyalode of Egbaland, who was also the mother of the current Osile Oke-Ona Egba, was a great industrialist and philanthropist who used her wealth to promote the spread of the word of God.

Oba Tejuoso then ‘transports’ readers to his younger days before his ascension to the throne, as he admits that prior to becoming king, he never gave it a thought and didn’t allow it define his way of life.

He says: “As for becoming a king, it never occurred to me. I never gave it a thought. Curiously though, some of my teachers in those days, with their actions, did tread a prophetic path. I remember now very vividly that in the school drama groups, whenever there was a king’s role in any of our plays, my teachers or whoever was in charge would give me that role.”

However, while his teachers leaned towards that prophetic path, Oba Tejuoso says his mother, and father, Mr Joseph Somoye Tejuoso, might have dreamt on his behalf, before it also suddenly dawned on him that he is the reincarnation of Oba Karunwi I.

However, in 1984, the first sign came to Oba Tejuoso that he might actually be the eighth Osile.

He says: “One day, I woke up and went to my mother’s apartment. It was very early in the morning. As I entered her sitting room, she was not alone. With her were some very elderly people who had come visiting from Abeokuta. Immediately I entered, all of them, old enough to be my father, got up and prostrated, and said ‘kabiyesi.’ I was taken aback, so I prostrated and left.

“After their departure, I went back to my mother to enquire about the riddle behind that peculiar greeting. My mother disclosed to me that she had been informed that the Ifa oracle at Ago-Oko and Oke-Ona had given me the nod as the next Osile after the demise of the incumbent.”

Several other instances came that showed that Oba Tejuoso would definitely ascend to the throne of his forebears, including one in 1973/74, when the then incumbent Osile, Oba Adedamola II, from the Kebiodu Ruling House, took ill and was admitted at the hospital.

So, one day, at a gathering of mostly Egba people, some people were discussing generally and somehow got talking about the Osile.

“One of us then said, ‘Dapo, ma duro na, Osile ti won l’ara e o ya yii, to ba ma ku, won ma le so wipe Oba kan e. (Meaning: If the current king dies, you Dapo may be called upon to be the next king.

“I retorted, ‘you must be joking, at the age of 35/36, mo sese be’re aye mi. Se maa fi gbogbo eleyi si’le, maa wipe mo fe lo j’oba? Olorun maje. To ba je wipe mo ti le to 50 years ni, ti won ba ni kin wa je Oba, a gbo yen, but at 35/36, kini mo fe fi Oba se? (Meaning: What would I do with being a king at 35 years of age? If I were 50 years old, I might have considered it.)”

Oba Tejuoso says the late Oba Adedamola later recovered from his illness, but finally joined his ancestors when he (Prince Tejuoso) became 50 years and five months old on July 27, 1988.

“Again, this could just be coincidental or was God deliberatly moulding things to make it impossible for me to refuse to become the next Osile?

“The first time I was told about his death in July 1988, the first thing that struck my mind vividly was my statement in 1973/74. Why did this man wait for me to be 50 years? Why did I not say 60 instead of 50 during that discussion 14/15 years ago? Maybe he was waiting for me to mature enough and be ready to shoulder the responsibilities of kingship.”

The author then travels back in time to his early childhood, his profession, connection to Rotary International, where he served as a district governor, his love for sports, his politics for the Nigerian project, among others.

As a believer in the Nigerian project, Oba Tejuoso takes readers to what transpired during his participation at the Abuja National Constitutional Conference of 1994/95. During the conference, he had highlighted those things he believes are part of the problems facing the country.

In his speech on July 12, 1994, Oba Tejuoso began with his remarks that “the source of the country’s problems is that we have forgotten God in all aspects of our lives and we have not given respect to the elders and the traditional rulers”

He then went on to condemn the protocol list which puts traditional rulers behind governors, commissioners, directors-general, local government men and councilors and urged this to be rectified.

Oba Tejuoso’s submission angered a section of participants at that conference and he was unduly and rudely interrupted by heckling delegates, mostly from the North, and this led to a walk-out by Yoruba delegates, except Oba Tejuoso himself, who was later invited to lead the Yoruba delegates back to the hall after some necessary agreements were reached.

The author further dwells extensively on that conference and the efforts made for all political detainees, including Chief MKO Abiola, to be released unconditionally.

He, however, reveals that a member of the delegation spoke against the recommendations made and asked the Head of State, General Sani Abacha, not to intervene by releasing Abiola, but rather leave the court to handle the issue as it was a criminal matter.

“The move culminated in the aborted release of Chief Abiola after an Abuja High Court had granted him bail. The ripples from this process caused tension within the High Command and led to the eventual retirement of Vice Admiral Allison Madueke, Chief of Naval Staff, and Major-General Chris Ali, Chief of Army Staff.”

Some of the awards of Oba Tejuoso are also documented in the first volume, as well as his diary of events from February 15, 1989, as well as his family tree.

Also included are activities from the Oba’s first year coronation programme, as well as some of his speeches at different occasions.

Oba Tejuoso also tells his mother’s story in full, including newspaper reports of how she was murdered in her Lagos home.

There are several developing reports to the murder of Madam Tejuoso, and the steps taken to reconcile Oba Tejuoso and some Egba chiefs.

The second (420 pages) and third volumes (516 pages) are a continuation of the first volume (861 pages), and the compendium IS probably split into three volumes to make it easier for readers to carry about.

The remaining two volumes include newspaper interviews of Oba Tejuoso, especially the one he granted on his 73rd birthday.

Oba Tejuoso also delves into the issue of tithes in the church, something he describes as “an Old testament practice that has no relevance to today’s church.”

It is also important for readers to truly understand Oba Tejuoso’s evangelism, and the challenges he faced when he destroyed an Obatala shrine in his domain.

The reader, through the book, is taken into the life of Oba Tejuoso, as everything about him is included in details.

The book is, therefore, an encyclopedia on Oba Tejuoso, the Karunwi dynasty, the Oke-Ona Egba, Christendom and Nigeria as a whole.

History students and researchers, as well as lovers of the traditional institution will definitely find the compendium useful.

 

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