Book launch celebrates relevance of Ile-Ife in Yoruba history

From left, Chief Alex Duduyemi; Otunba Yemi Lawal and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, at the event.

They had all come to pay homage and celebrate the highly-revered Yoruba traditional ruler, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, on the occasion of the launch of a book, O ti See Se (It is Done), which captures his ascendancy, as the 51st Ooni to the throne and also showcases the rich cultural heritage of Ile Ife, the ancestral home of the Yoruba people from the South Western part of Nigeria.

Interestingly, not even the absence of some of the state governors, earlier slated to be part of the the event, could dampen the air of enthusiasm  and camaraderie evident at the main auditorium of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), venue of the book launch.

Giving reasons for the book, one of the authors, Mr. Babajide Macauley described the book as a special publication, designed to capture the historical perspectives of the royal ascendancy and the associated history of traditional rulership in Yoruba land.

According to him, “It is a conscious effort at delving into the historical background of Ile-Ife, chronicling all its monarchs from the time of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race, till the assumption of office of Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the 51st monarch of the ancient town.”

He described the book as a documentation of all the accolades and the goodwill messages that greeted the selection and coronation of the young and amiable traditional ruler from within and outside the shores of the country.

Macauley argued that the deluge of well-wishes and the increasing popularity of the relatively new Ooni, bear eloquent testimonies to the fact that the kingmakers of the town were diligent in searching and picking the right candidate for the much exalted throne.

“It leaves no one in doubt that the Ooni in Yoruba parlance, without error of judgment is Atobatele, regal and successful in every ramification of the word. The outpouring of these goodwill messages from presidents and heads of governments of the United Kingdom, Cuba, Brazil, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago and virtually all African countries, further attest to the fact that Ooni Ogunwusi portrays the picture of a colossus bestriding the entire universe,” he stated.

The book, he added, details the monarch’s profile: his humble beginning, family background, business and entrepreneurial activities, while also documenting all Ife  honorary chiefs from the time of Oba (Sir) Adesoji Aderemi, through the reign of Oba Okunade Sijuade.

According to him, the book also captures the administrative and political structure of Ile Ife, listing other traditional rulers within the kingdom who assist in the day-to-day administration of the ancient town, “ensuring the Ooni  is not encumbered or overwhelmed in ruling over his domain.”

Calling for the support of the attendees at the event to enable the organisers take such documentation of the history of the Yoruba further, the author noted that such support had become imperative, if the coming generations were to be equipped with a sense of history.

While commending the authors for their attempt at documenting the past for posterity, the chairman of the event, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, believed such documentation and history had become imperative for the country to really achieve her developmental goal.

The nation’s former Vice President, who was represented by Professor Adeolu Akande, argued that unless there are conscious efforts, on the part of Nigerians, to interrogate the past, the much desired progress might be a mirage. Atiku charged the authors, the traditional ruler and other critical stakeholders, on the need to make the rich historical documentation in the book available to the younger ones in schools.

“As a society, we should learn to celebrate our icons, as it is being done in this book. But, while doing this, we must also remember that our society cannot make the much desired progress unless we make conscious efforts at knowing our past,” he stated.

In his remarks, Oba Adeyeye commended the authors of the book, for their attempt at documenting history.  While restating his commitment towards empowering the people, especially the youths, in the society, the monarch argued that such empowerments had become necessary, if the future of Nigeria was to be guaranteed.

While stressing the need for Nigerians to strive and maintain positive image for themselves, the traditional ruler charged the youths in the country to work hard to be able to achieve their dreams. Citing the late politician, Chief Obafemi Awolowo as an example, Oba Adeyeye noted that the late sage remained a reference point in the history and politics of the country because of the positive impact he had made in the lives of his people, while alive.

“Few months ago, I was in this auditorium to join others in celebrating the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. It is on record that decades after the elder statesman had passed on, people still remember him because of his hard work, legacies and the fact that he did everything to enhance humanity,” Oba Adeyeye stated. He added that the slogan ‘O ti see se’, (It is Done), adapted as the title of the book, typifies his belief, that with God, nothing is impossible.

Describing the monarch as the new face of Africa’s peace, the book reviewer, Gbenga Onimole commended the authors of the book at putting history in its right perspective.

“The book is apt and the authors are worthy of commendation since history is being documented here. The fact remains that any attempt at distorting the ascension of the 51st monarch of Ife will be highly unacceptable. I believe this book serves as one of those measures at truly putting history in the right perspective and not distorting it,” he stated.

He added that the monarch was clear of his vision for the people at his coronation on December 5, 2015, when he vowed to serve his people “with everything.”

“His vision is vividly clear: ‘I will serve you with everything.’ That was his mission statement at his coronation. He is committed to using the Yoruba culture to foster peace and unity within the continent,” the book reviewer stated.

He however appealed to stakeholders to join hands with the Ooni in his bid at empowering the people, especially the vulnerable youths, in the society.

One of the highlights of the event was the decision of Oba Adeyeye to honour some prominent Nigerians from the South-West with the Distinguished Award for Outstanding Yoruba indigenes. The awards, which are in different categories— Distinguished Yoruba Role Model, Distinguished Yoruba Public Officer and Distinguished Yoruba Entrepreneur— according to him, represent his modest way of appreciating Yoruba people who  are not only successful in their endeavours, but have also carved a niche for themselves in Yoruba land.

While the Distinguished Yoruba Model is for  the Yorubas worthy of emulation and who have served both at private and public capacities, the Distinguished Yoruba Public Officer represents a modest way of acknowledging illustrious Yorubas who have excelled as public servants with good records of achievements. Distinguished Yoruba Entrepreneur is designed to honour outstanding Yoruba business men and women who have been consistent employers of labour.

Some of the dignitaries at the event included leader of the Odu’a People’s Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams; an Afenifere Chieftain, Yinka Odumakin; Professor Banji Akintoye; Chief Alex Duduyemi, the Asiwaju of Ile Ife; Honourable Commissioner for Housing, Lagos State, Gbolahan  Lawal;  Executive Secretary Board of Trustees, New Era, Mrs. Grace Giwa and other traditional chiefs from Ile Ife.

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