“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits, you will know them.” That was Jesus in Matthew 7:15-20.
The Doc, John Pemberton, had an enduring fruit. The Atlanta, Georgia-born chemist lived between 1831 and 1888. In his search for a cure for headache, hangover and nervous prostration, especially a mixture that would be great for “ladies”, he ended up with “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.” Three years before his death, his state banned alcohol and his brand was no longer marketable. It took a “mistake of mixture” by his young assistant for the world’s most popular brand-Coca Cola- to be born through the mixing of carbonated water with Pemberton’s concoction.
Around the period the Coca Cola “mistake” was being made, Akure was transiting from the 38th Deji, Ojijiogun Arakale to Odundun Asodedero Osupa, as the 39th. Then about 14 years back, the deities “fumbled” and gave the prominent Yoruba town, a cantankerous, indecorous Deji. About four years after, the yoke he represented was thrown off his own’s neck, though he tried to use the genteel in staging a comeback. Everybody had enough of him.
Are the gods really to blame? Ola Rotimi does think so. How can the ones who have lost their roles to greedy kingmakers carry the can. If the deities are allowed any roles at all, in picking kabiyesi today, it is merely to deceive the gullible, so that the kolanut can flow from all, including princes, with XYZ (difficult to explain) claims to the thrones.
If royal stools are going rogue today or mostly populated by known rogues and better-without strangers, the appointing authorities should take a rasping rap, not absolving the greedy chiefs in Agbada and Amotekun chieftaincy beads.
The problem is that everything in our existence is gradually settling on a tripod of religion, ethnicity and politics, all dictated by wads of cash. Characters pop up in official public spaces and you don’t need the investigative ability of the DSS to mark them as unfit. When public officials are involved and the unfit emerge as the preferred choices of the appointive authorities, the consolation has always been that there is a tenure to it. That is why there are plenty of men of yesterday as loafers around where they used to take commanding heights. But when you are about to be stuck with a wrong choice for a lifetime, the rarity of the intervention Akure people had, makes it compelling to shout it from the rooftop that more openness must be injected at every phase of making a choice for the people, even when the irunmales are going to be involved. The celestial beings should be incorruptible when choosing for mortals, regardless of who is behind the mask and the guttural voice.
Governors as the appointing authorities are always quick to redemptive moves once traditional rulers in their domains assault decency. While such steps would be deemed commendable for the sake of what is left of the tattered image of the affected thrones, sacking or suspending occupants would remain an act of tokenism, until rigorous vetting process is put in place to ensure that revered thrones do not become a haven of drugsters, fraudsters, bellicose and belligerent fellows, with little or no self-control.
We can Golgotharise royal fathers for every staking pole available in our vicinity, the fact remains that these people were “ordinary” princes, managing their foibles in some dark corners, before thieves in the garb of afobaje went after their illicit harvest in the name of ifa so pe (the oracle says), when osanyin (deity) has remained as dumb as it has ever been, since some conmen in the name of tradition, turned a dirty corner of the community to their ATM, in the name of shrine. Now, all manner turn up from Europe and America, anytime there is a vacancy and you start hearing strange prophecies from osanyin, without moveable lips and tongue.
Until the picking process is cleaned up and the selection process coming with open transparency, incredulous acts would still fill everywhere, North, South, East and West. Nobody is asking for a perfect Kabiyesi or self-styled emir; just a decent human being, a prince with full consciousness of royal demands and a king that won’t bring shame to his own. A trend is also emerging of confirmed corrupt princes bolting from public offices, when about to be nabbed by the law, to third-rate thrones. A former chief judge, who was caught in corruption acts, hurriedly resigned to go and wear some sky-scrapping turban as emir of a barely-existing community. His tenure was such a stench the National Judicial Council (NJC) had to convict him in absentia and reverse his resignation to compulsory retirement. Another senior judge also bolted to a jejune throne in a Middle-Belt state. On the superior court bench, he was as shady as they come.
Yes, the prevailing sentiment may not favour arraigning an “emir, yet thrones everywhere must be rid of the undesirable, especially when the psychomotor of the occupants, is beginning to become a major concern.
The governance structure we have today, treats traditional rulers as mere public ornaments, only fit for a colourful display in public gatherings and as tooth-pick by governors like Wike, when just done with a bowl of nkwobi. Yet, their people have a special attachment to their existence that the throne can’t be wished away, regardless of how it has sunk, in credibility, relevance and prominence and the desire of individual community to have it all back, is pushing the people into accepting “anything” in the garb of a “successful” prince from the kingmakers, without asking questions that should be answered before anyone is moved to ipebi (coronation shrine).
Recent history shows certain communities are better off, without their so-called influential kabiyesi. When a town is consistently raking negative news due to the act of a man who is supposed to be noble in deed, that community is losing a future. Why can’t such a people summon courage and discard a today that will surely affect their tomorrow. Though the dramatis personae were different, there was a May 30, 2010 on Hospital Road, Akure, and then, a June 10, 2010, at Alagbaka Government House. Iwo people should dig more into that recent history. Wish the town of Odidere, a future without rancour.