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Lasisi Olagunju

On Wednesday, 8th December, 2021, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, the Orangun of Oke Ila in Osun State will be 15 years old on the throne of his fathers. I am not from his kingdom, but I am very connected to his domain. It was in the forested corridors of Ila and Oke-Ila Orangun that dawn met me and I discovered my ori inu. Oba Abolarin is one king who knew before the very beginning that obaship in its pristine, unadulterated form in Yorubaland has a synonym in ‘I-surrender-all’. We spoke before his climb onto the sacred stool of his fathers. “Eru nba mi. I must not fail,” he told me during one of our nightly calls. And I responded that he was too good to entertain any fear of failure. But that feeling was normal. Men of sterling resolve, at that stage of liminality, grapple with such foggy fears. What shall tomorrow with its vagueness of looming roles birth? “Our doubts are traitors,” said William Shakespeare, “they make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” This Oba’s sword slashed through the doubts; it was sharp and strong and swift; it cleared all forests of fears. He took the crown.

It is the tradition of the Yoruba that an oba be free to choose the colour of his reign. At his installation, Oba Abolarin was in firm partnership with his ancestors – we call them, the alaseku, the present-past who gave him the torch to bear. His good head made the consummation of the transition rites easy for him and his guides. The option he chose was a calabash of honey (igba oyin lo gbe); then Dokzy became Oba Aroyinkeye I. An authentic Yoruba would have no problem connecting with the positive spiritually of that cognomen; Aroyinkeye roughly means ‘one who has honey to pet the throne.’ The fact that his first 15 years have redefined obaship roles in Yorubaland should, therefore, not be a surprise. That he built a free-everything school for children of the nameless poor is central to his mission of using the crown to mint gold coins out of roughened yokels. That he has planted himself as the connecting rod between the present and the future is still in furtherance of his bridge-building destiny. That he became oba and still holds the hands of his friends and constituencies – town and gown, teaching and mentoring – attests to his genuineness as an omoluabi. He has just started. And you know how original and long lasting honey’s sweetness is.

Choosing a king is like choosing a spouse. It is a marriage of destinies between the chosen and the selectors; and it is for good or for ill. If you are in doubt, ask Nigerians how they arrived the present shore. Oba Abolarin superintends a small community of giants in personal and communal progress. Between the people and the palace, there is no curtain, there is no veil. They have no problem singing the same song of light. The oba loves his people; his people thank their stars – they did not make a wrong choice. At 15 years, his reign has just started. The journey ahead is very far but his Maker is in the driver’s seat. Congratulations, Kabiyesi.

– Olagunju is a respected journalist with Nigerian Tribune

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