Absolute power of a Yoruba king

*Aroba ni baba itan. Most of Yoruba stories are orally based, this no doubt leave room for manipulations of narrative, each time a new person tells a common story, there is always key points missing and in place will be additional information based on the narrator’s mood. Because of this I take some of past history with a grain of salt – they are Chinese whispers at best.

In 2004, I decided to visit Ogunsua of Modakeke, Oba Francis Adedoyin. The sole purpose of my visit was to learn more about my town and its relationship with Ile Ife. How it all started and how long are we going to remain in our situation of being strangers with no entitlement to farmland. I wanted to understand some of the questions that keep popping up in my young person’s head – I tried to shake them off and just ‘get on with it’ but I could not because the reminders were too compelling to ignore.

I was really impressed with my king, the fact he was educated was added pleasure listening to him. Despite no prior appointment, he was accommodating answering my questions. Oba Francis Adedoyin expressed his joy seeing a daughter of the soil interested in our story. Glad I made the visit.

A few days after the visit, I sat alone in my father’s backyard, listening to the recorded conversation. At the end of the tape, I have never felt so depressed in my life. It is all wrong – I said to myself. I saw no escape in the rat trap. I blamed the universe. I blamed my great grandparents for their choosing career of On the Road Warriors – settling wherever their help is needed. Then I blamed God for making my parents a couple, them being together is fantastic but why do they both have to be from Modakeke?  No where to run.

I wrote the story down as told in Yoruba, also translated to English.

So I decided to tell Modakeke and Ile Ife story based on what I have seen and lived through since 1980 when Oba Sijuade was crowned – better for my generation this way, we can not keep suffering from the decisions our grandparents made which I believed would have been mutual at the time. We deserved to be treated like a person we are NOT 300 year old On the Road Fighters.

All royal families around the world have lots of not very nice stories about them, some gruesome, however, today things are changing fast so are the attitude of royals around the world – mostly for the better, appreciating humanity rather than suppressing everyone around them.

I wish this is the case for Modakeke and Ife. Today, Ife-Ife is still as oppressing as it has always been, only that it is subtle, perpetual killings still go on, chasing of Modakeke’s farmers still is the norm, imposing non local indigenes as chiefs is the new addition to penetrate into Modakeke.

Oba Sijuade is 84 years old now, but *Oka ti b’imo s’ile, o ti b’oro.

Of course I am aware of the danger that comes with talking about the truth of Modakeke and Ile Ife relationship especially when mentioning the *Oluaye of Ife. I know exactly what happened to my uncle – he was burnt with him in his house. I know what happened to Ade, my childhood friend – he was shot during 1997 crisis and died of the gun wound. I know what happened to my extended family at Ogudu village – they were cut into pieces in the early hour of the morning and a few that escaped still live with the horror and now wander the streets with no land to farm.

This is my stand now – Joy runs deeper than despair by Corrie ten Boom. I am obliged to credit Elaine Random Thoughts as I learn about this wonderful quote of from her blog, thank you Elaine.


*Oka ti b’imo s’ile, o ti b’oro – Baby cobra is as poisonous as the parents

* Oluaye – Owner of the world (Irony)

*Aroba ni baba itan – stories are at its best when retold (or something like that)

21 thoughts on “Absolute power of a Yoruba king

    1. That’s a good question. I am not too sure what being ‘under’ means here.
      But I’ll try, given our history, I would say Ogunsua is on its own. Having said that, Ooni Ogunwusi today has the highest authority amongst traditional Obas so Ogunsua, like many other title holders look up to Ooni.


  1. Standing for what you believe to be right is never wrong though it carries danger. I am very aware that many of the issues that afflict Southern Africa are a result of my forebears and their desires for riches 😦 Sadly I suspect that we opened the door for those persons who currently oppress Africa in the way that we addressed independence for many nations – they’ve used the independence argument to cover for their actions against their own citizens. Mr Mugabe illustrates the point. We need to all find a way forward because African nations have a hugely important part to play in the world.


  2. Wow, just done reading this and yes i am still in shock. massive shame it is…that we seem to stuck and no one that can make or shake off such nasty oppressiveness are doing anything. Sadly i am not even sure what to say…just so unfair that the ones that should protectors are seemingly the criminals.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Hmnn, I have never been to Ooni’s palace as it has never occurred to me to be a welcoming place, however I plan to visit now that we have a new king next time I’m in town. Having said that, I imagine Ooni’s palace to be a lot bigger with more historical artefacts.


              1. Thank you. The two times that I went inside, I was only in the front room where the Ogunsua came to meet me. You know ‘big’ is relative but one thing I notice is that the palace can do with a much bigger yard both in the front and back but that is probably hard given the location.


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