Royal highness: Then and now

What drives our decisions to behave certain way and not the other? Nigeria has a culture that relies on oral transfer of important events, which is fantastic but too much reliance on narratives based on mixed up memories is why we have repeated problems in our land. Here’s my way of keeping the history alive so we don’t fall into the same pit again.

My father was 45 years old when Oba Okunade Sijuade was crowned as Ooni of Ife. Two years prior, my parents decided to move to town in Modakeke. I was very little at the time so everything was exciting: the tarred roads, the NEPA (that was when it meant electricity), the tap water (in front of our rented house was a public tap water, that is history now).

For strategic reasons, my parents chose to live in the heart of the town, Akarabata Street, for its proximity to Idi Omo meaning easy access to transportation to my sister’s school at Oluorogbo High School (had to be transferred to Modakeke High School shortly after Sijuade’s intention was apparent), walking distance to Seventh Day Adventist Grammar School for my older brother (this school was partly burnt too between 1997 -2000)

LA Primary School Alapata, Modakeke

LA Primary School Alapata, Modakeke, photo 16/04/2015

My only younger sister at the time  attended LA Primary School, Alapata – this same school looks like the photo on the left today after the last big showdown of Oba Sijuade 1997 – 2000.

We all have stories to tell. While Oba Sijuade’s praise singers talk of his socialite lifestyle, my story is a familiar one to thousands of people both in Modakeke and Ife. Thankfully, the man did not hold the key to everyone’s life, today many people including myself have been blessed but I still think of so many people who have never recovered fully even after 18 years.

Earlier this month when Prince Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi was tipped to be the next Ooni. I wrote about it here. Not too surprising he is the chosen one in the end, seems to be the best of the bunch.

My congratulations to the Prince. I’m sure he has plenty of time for reflections at Ilofi where he stays for the next 21 days as part of rites of passage.

Is there going to be improved relationship now? I can only take people by their words after all what can we achieve without trust?

The other day I read Ogunwusi’s acceptance speech, there are a few points that are noteworthy. Ogunwusi talked briefly about being a father: a father learns to protect and care, I have never thought of Oba Sijuade as a father. I used to believe he didn’t have biological any child, not only because of the local side talk which was just a deliberate cheap joke, but because of his attitude towards youths i.e paying out of town youths and handing them sophisticated guns to fight in crises he started while his own children were tucked away.

I appreciate that Ogunwusi does not ignore the obvious, in his words: “In recent history one cannot mention Ile-Ife without acknowledging the Ife and Modakeke conflict. It’s unfortunate that lives were lost during the war between Ife and Modakeke; a war that had no economic value and displaced many lives.” Ooni Ogunwusi.

He further talked about visiting youths that were affected by this crisis. This is more than Oba Okunade Sijuade ever said after the crisis that he initiated at any time since 1981.

All sounds promising.

The more I read about the land ownership problem in Nigeria and other developing nations, the more I realise the enormity of work that must be done. It is a job for Nigeria government to set implementable rules that all must follow in order to bring dead capital to tangible asset.

The mid age adults of 1980 are now officially old, children of that time are mid age now. What an exciting time to be alive, wishing Oba Ogunwusi all the very best.

I agree with Delai Lama:

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

Categories: A Yoruba Monarch, Africa, Nigeria

Tags: , ,

12 replies

  1. Hey FK, thank you that was a very cool piece, no bitterness and no undue skepticism, open-minded and fair. Coming from someone with ‘close-up’ experience of the Ife-Modakeke conflict such as yourself.

    We can only hope that Ooni Ogunwusi makes more progress on this matter than his predecessor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Fola, for your insight into the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your tenacity about the Ife-Modakeke “wars” not only because you’ve handled the story since I came upon your blog and decided to read all you have written which are nothing but objective and straight to the core of the story but because you have approached the long-running battles with what to me has been one goal: that peace must be given a chance.
    Now, accepting the very young new monarch, Ogunwusi, with open mind and without trying to second-guess him on his intention to visit displaced youth of the heavy-handedness they’ve suffered during Oba Okunade Sijuwade is, without doubt trusting and magnanimous.

    Other Yorubas must wish the new Oba well, I feel certain just as you do.

    Thanks for having shared what you know as a Modakeke daughter on the imbroglio of over a century between two neighbors who have intermarried and whose physical boundary exists only in the minds of people than is evident. Yes, I lived at Ife in 1969-70 and in 1973; I had to ask a person to show me where Ife ended and Modakeke started. He showed me a small stream, if memory serves me right.

    Such waste of lives and damages to lives and properties!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the nice comment. I’m glad that the underline message behind my narrative is obvious, thank you!

      On the boundary, that same story is what I know after four decades – nothing beats being at peace with neighbours.
      Your time in town was before I was born/moved to town. Lots of the areas considered heart of the city at that time were torched, they are still there today empty/partially occupied.

      Anyway, we thank God for all and hope for better years ahead. I, too think Yoruba Obas have duty to rally round the Ogunwusi.



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