You are currently viewing Ifa does not pick Yoruba kings, governors do —Oluwo
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The Oluwo of Iwo land, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, is always a delight to engage anytime such opportunity arises. He speaks his mind without minding whose ox is gored. A few months to his eighth coronation anniversary, he speaks about his life, Yoruba kingship and more in this interview by TUNDE AYANDA and SEGUN ADEBAYO.

You will clock 8 years on the throne in a few months, there had been attempts to depose you and you’ve fought different battles, which of these shook you the most?

There is nothing in this life that I passed through that I regretted. I see all occurrences in my life as tests to the next level of my life. There is no peace in the world, the only place where there is peace is the grave. You wake up and fight every day, even God doesn’t sleep. So, no attack shakes me. If you are in a school and you write an exam you’ve prepared for, you must pass. I’m always prepared and God is my strength.

You mean different things to different people. Some people believe you are troublesome and some will say you are different. How do you really see yourself?

When I get to an event and I am not given the right seat, I will tell them that I am a First Class Oba; you should treat me with royalty. Anywhere I am, I always ask for my right  because nobody is going to give it to you on a platter of gold, you have to demand it. When I first became the Oluwo, I realised that this throne had no respect or dignity. The royalty and dignity had been beaten down and almost nonexistent. My first outing as the Oluwo, I was placed on the 16th seat and I said no, this is not my seat. Even in Abuja, I would say no. I know my class in the comity of Obas, so I don’t take anything that falls lower than my class. In the Western House of Chiefs, I am number three.

People can say I’m troublesome because they don’t understand what I fight for; I fight for my rights in a diplomatic way. I always tell the truth. I don’t like the situation where people ask me about myself and I won’t be able to answer.


You know that Yorubas are very deep spiritually, so our kings are chosen by the Olodumare Himself. So I was chosen by God to be king, especially for the role I am playing in Yoruba land today, which is to bring all kings back to Olodumare. My father was a prince, a very high prince from Iwo known as Prince Kola Akanbi. He was an Insurance man that worked with Marine Engineering owned by Fajemirokun. I grew up in that house beside Bovas fuel station at Total Garden in Ibadan. I attended Omolewa Nursery and Primary school. On the eighth day of my birth, somebody came and told my parents that they should not give me the names they had prepared for me. He came with the prophecy that I would be a great king and dropped the names I would be called- Adewale, because he would bring the crown home, the crown that had been lost from our family for over 400 years, and I would also be called Olusegun, because he would fall under no attack and also  Akorede and Abdulrasheed. He warned them that if they called me any other names, people would be dying. They said the man turned back and disappeared. That was what happened on the eighth day. I was at Iwo Grammar School, but some spiritual issues happened in 1981 that I had to leave, later I finished at Oba Akinyele. Along the line I lived in Akobo where I met the family of the present Ooni, it was part of my kingship journey. The Ooni was younger than us then, but his elder brother, Tunji Ogunwusi, was my friend, we used to play soccer together, he was in St Patrick’s. God later used me for them.

You contested against 40 other princes of Iwo but you emerged winner. Did Ifa pick you at that time?


Tell me one king that Ifa picked in Yoruba land. The person who is picked by the governor is the one God has ordained to be the king. There is no Oba in Yoruba land that will say Ifa picked him. It is after the governor picked you that you now become a king. Ifa doesn’t have any power over the governor. May be you watch too much Nollywood movies. Even during our forefathers, they would make the most powerful person at that time king. At that time, I didn’t even know the governor because I had just returned from Canada but I told other contestants who were far richer and popular then that I was the next king even if you know Barack Obama and the governor, it would not change the fact that I was going to be the next Oluwo.

How did you become the Oba if you didn’t know the governor?


the day I would be announced as the king. I met him at 1am and that was all! It was the work of Olodumare, the God of the Yorubas, the God of our fathers and you can’t understand it. When God brings a king, He brings him for a purpose.

Has this throne made you richer?

No, I’m just here serving and that is the purpose. I’m here to serve, nothing else.

You recently married a lady from the North, many would have thought as a Yoruba Oba, you would marry a Yoruba woman, what informed that decision?


Many Yoruba women listen to rumours. They judge. Many rumours were being peddled against me and I was judged. The former Olori was a set up, she was part of the attacks, and they paid her to do a lot. I don’t smoke, my people can attest to that, but she coerced me to help her do some things, you know she is a Jamaican and she made me believe she must smoke to survive. You can imagine a woman you don’t have problem with recording you in your own bedroom, it showed she had an agenda. All my friends back in Canada know that I don’t smoke.

I married from the royal family in Kano. I see they are loyal and honest to their husband and I married from where I’m comfortable with.


By November this year, you will be marking eight years on the throne as the Oluwo of Iwo kingdom. If there is one thing you have enjoyed about being the king of this town, what would it be?

As soon as you are made the king, you must be able to define the position you are holding and why you are being called the king. My prayer everyday on this throne is that I should be greater than my forefathers who once occupied this seat. I also pray that by the time I leave this throne, whoever is coming after me should be greater than me. When I first got on the throne, we realised that some of the things we knew were things we were made to believe but we found out that they were wrong. So, the first was to challenge the status quo by asking questions and making your research.

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What did you find out about the throne and what has changed in almost eight years?

We found out that kingship in Yoruba land is more spiritual than the physical. I am not the real king, the real king is actually Olodumare, and Olodumare cannot be seen. Kingship is not the position of humans but one that was created by God. When you greet the king in Yoruba land, they say Kabiyesi o. So who is the Kabiyesi? I can’t be the Kabi o kosi (the Unquestionable One). Olodumare is the owner of the odu, which literally means the codes of life; the owner of creation. There is nobody in history that answers that name. Olodumare simply means the one who knows where all of us are going and where it will all end. So for me, being able to define what kingship means and propagating it across the Yoruba land is a big task. Many who aspire to take the institution of kingship don’t know that they are talking the institution of God. What they don’t know is that the institution of kingship is a different one entirely and shouldn’t be compared to worshipping deities. You don’t mix God’s institution of kingship with Ogun or Obatala or Sango.


You are a monarch who doesn’t believe in worshipping deities but you couldn’t have become a king without some of the traditional rituals you don’t want to have around you. Who do you worship and how do you worship it?

I worship Olodumare without having to go through Sango, Obatala or any other deities. My role as a king is to put people who are worshipping their fathers on the right track. The king does not practice all religions. The king should not be involved in any religion that needs you to pass through another god to talk to Olodumare. When kings these days want to defend this, they will say they are following what they met as tradition but I always tell them that they are following what is from the dark age. You must learn to correct the mistakes of your fathers. As a Yoruba man, I believe that tradition can be done without worshipping of deities. Worshipping deities is not tradition; it is not culture. It is a religion of some people but worshipping Olodumare is the widely acceptable religion and way of life. That’s why I feel bad when I hear people calling on angels to come and rescue them or help them take their prayers to God. You cannot call an angel to come and do anything for you because they are not responsible to you. It is like somebody working for me in the palace suddenly disappears and when I found him and asked where he went to, he told me that another man sent him on errand. That maid, as far as I am concerned, does not have a job in the palace again. That’s the same way you can’t call angel Gabriel and angel Michael because they can’t help you. Unless his master, God sends him to you; he will not answer if you call. It is same way you can’t send an angel to God; he will not deliver your message because you are not his master.


Do you believe in juju?

I don’t believe in magic or juju. I believe magic is just like a dream come true. You will hear people say somebody attacked them in their dream but they woke up later. That’s not true. If that person had such powers to attack you in your dream, you can’t wake up to tell the story. There is so much deceit out there. These things are not real. But God made us kings over everything He created. I am not under any deity or traditional influence; I am far above all deities known to man. What people call Orisa simply means the specially chosen ones, so everybody is special in the face of God. But Kings reign supreme over those who are specially chosen such as Ogun, Obatala, Sango and other deities known to man. People erroneously say Oba alase ikeji Orisa but that’s not correct. Oba is not the second in command to any deity, he’s above all deities.

Other Obas who have not discovered that truth can continue to play second fiddle to the deities. I just want people to know and change. If you look in the Bible, who did Moses, David and Jesus Christ, Noah and even Abraham consult before having access to God? They spoke directly to God alone. So why do we have to speak through somebody before we have access to our father? So, why do Yoruba people want to see God through somebody else? God is indescribable. So, the king represents God on earth. If I go to church or mosque, I have gone there to bless their prayers because I am the only one empowered by God to bless people’s prayers as God’s representation. If a king recognises God and worships Him alone, if he goes to a mosque or church, he has gone there to bless them. That’s why I said the Yoruab race is the most blessed in the world. God blessed us so much that we don’t have to be worried about anything as long as we can call Olodumare and worship Him. Christians and Muslims need to understand that they don’t have to bow down to any other deity. The future of the Yoruba is very bright.

Recently, the Ooni of Ife and veteran actor, Pete Edochie were in the news because the latter greeted the Ooni by shaking hands with him. As the custodian of tradition and culture of the Yoruba race, what do you make of that scenario?


I believe that a king should know his office. When people see their religious leaders, they want them to pray for them and bless them. But do you know that the blessing of a king is greater than that of any religious or spiritual fathers you can think about? But the problem is that people don’t see that a king’s blessing is greater than that of any religious leader. Many kings belong to secret societies where you see that a road side mechanic is not only a member, but the boss. Kings have become so hopeless in their offices that they don’t know that the day you become a king, you are not expected to be part of any secret cult. Do you know we don’t have a Yoruba Council of Obas? We are supposed to merge the kings in Yorubaland together which will be greater than any other secret society. But some people won’t let that happen because they want to weaken the traditional institution. So, as first class kings, we must come together and take back our institution but it can never happen because the kings will never agree that Olodumare is the owner of the stool. In Ogun State,

they worship Agemo and their kings worship with them, Oyo worships Sango, Ife will say it is worshipping 400 deities. I don’t know how they came about 400 deities. They need to tell us the names of each of the deities. If all kings come under the umbrella of Olodumare, we will enjoy the respect we desire. If you attend functions in the North, only the President can sit with the traditional rulers. Ministers, governors and other political office holders will sit behind their Emirs but in Yoruba land, they relegate the Obas to the back seats, you will be seeing Senators and House of Reps members at the front, even state house of assembly members will sit ahead of their Obas. Kings have become powerless in Yoruba land. That’s why I was talking about secret cults, imagine a Sultan in the same secret cult as a mechanic, what do you expect? You can see what is wrong with the Yoruba kingship, they have signs and will signal to him, they can even tell him they would kill him, that’s why they are powerless.

If you were in that situation, what would you have done?

I will not shake Edochie. We’ve seen billionaires like Dangote, Taiwo Afolabi bows when they want to greet me. Otedola bow, even the President, Bola Tinubu bows, Baba Lai Mohammed bows, these are great men and are symbols of humility. I can show you their pictures, you can see where President Tinubu greeted me, a whole president! But If I were in the shoes of the Ooni, I would not shake hands with that man. If you are coming to greet me and you can’t bow, then keep your greeting. I have met eminent Nigerians who would greet me with humility and I will in return extend my hand to shake them.

Nigerians are groaning under the yoke of fuel price hike occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy, what do you think of this decision by President Bola Tinubu at this critical time?

Removing subsidy is the best thing to do for the survival of the country. Subsidy is an organised crime with some elites sharing the money. Who are they subsidising for? Do you subsidise petroleum products? You subsidise housing and healthcare. Petroleum is luxury, so you don’t subsidise it. Let’s build our railways with that money and our roads as well. Let the government start giving palliatives and increase the minimum wage.

You have brought a lot of class and royalty to this throne in the last seven years, but some people argued that the standard you have set for the kingdom is too expensive for the town to manage. What does it cost you to be classy?

It can cost you so much and it can cost you less if you are confident in what you are wearing and how you carry yourself. You can use an Ankara to propagate your style. You can even use Kampala to elevate your status as a king. It depends on how you move with confidence and boldness no matter what you wear.

You are a luxurious king, but they say luxury is not cheap…

It doesn’t come cheap but the way you carry yourself will make people come and ask you what you are wearing and who makes what you wear. That’s why I tell people that a king’s luxury is his people. If you are milking your people as a king, you will be enjoying luxury in fear and that doesn’t add up to being bold and confident. I am the first king in the world that the people rose to fight on his behalf when some people said they wanted to dethrone me. My people will fight for me because I don’t take anything from them. So my people are my wealth, my strength and boldness because power lies in the hands of the people and I am serving them.


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