ILE IFE NEEDS AN OONI THAT WILL LIVE UP TO THE STANDARD AND ABLE TO FACE THE CHALLENGES OF REVIVING AND DEVELOPING ILE IFE.>>>By Araba Adedayo Ologundudu ( Araba for the USA and Puerto Rico.) MSc. Urban Environmental Sysytems Management. Pratt. Brooklyn. NY. USA
Ile Ife is at a critical point in its history and the king makers must be very careful in selecting the new Ooni of Ife in order not to throw Ife in to a chaos. Ile Ife is just started getting some relief from the war between Modakeke and Ife. The King makers should not only rely on the Ife Chieftaincy declaration of 1957, 1977 or the one of 1980. They must engage all positive avenues in selecting the most suitable person and an Ooni that is chosen by the Oracles. Politics and tradition cannot mix. It will mess things up. Money and fame alone cannot do it. This time it must be chosen with prayers to Olodumare. They must also seek the guidance of Ifa divination as it was done in the establishment of the several Yoruba ancient towns and their Kings. For example, Osemeji was the odu Ifa that established Ibadan. Today Ibadan is still thriving. Idi Ileke was the odu that established Oshogbo. Today Oshogbo is still thriving. Ogbemeji was the odu that established Ejigbo. Today Ejigbo is still growing bigger. They must engage the guidance of the tradition. They should seek the advice of the Araba Agbaye and the other awo Olodumerindinlogun in fine tuning their efforts to select the rightful Ooni of Ife.
It has been great challenges for the king makers because of the aggravations and agitations by the ruling houses of Ile Ife about which one of their linage turn should the new OOni be selected from. But it does not matter to the people of Ile Ife which lineage or person becomes the new Ooni. Ile Ife is the cradle of Yoruba race founded by Oduduwa our great ancestor. What is important to the people is what the new Ooni will be able to do for Ile Ife and the Yoruba descendants all over the world. The Yoruba people have spread all over the world. We all believe we are Omo Oduduwa. ( children of Oduduwa). We know that our ancestors left from Ile Ife to the various places we live now. Many of our children want to come back to Ile Ife even if just on pilgrim. Ooni Sijuwade has been building the bridge when he was on the throne. He traveled far to the America and other parts of the world where Yoruba descendants settled promoting and uplifting the integrity of the Yoruba race.
During the reign of OOni Oba Adesoji Aderemi from 1930-1980.AD.IleIfe was at the peak of its glory. Ife made some significant progress. It was during the colonial era of the British Empire. It led to the nation’s independence in 1960. Oba Adesoji reign witnessed the creation of the four major state governments first established in Nigeria namely Northern State, Western State, Mid Western State and Eastern State. Oba Adedsoji was appointed the first Governor of the Western State in addition to him being the OOni of Ife.
With the support of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was the leader of Omo Oduduwa political group Ooni Adesoji was able to bring the location for the University of Ife to Ile Ife. The University of Ife is one of the largest and well funded Universities in Nigeria at the time. The University of Ife was established since before 1968 as extension of University of Ibadan before it finally decided to situate the University at Ile Ife. The University brought a lot of employment opportunities to the local people. There was influx of people from other neighboring towns that came for the opportunity at Ile Ife. The town was bubbling. For many years it was the best of time at Ile Ife. It was also the period of oil boom in Nigeria when money was flowing. Many Ile Ife people and Modakeke people were employed by the University as maintenance staff and in other areas. Money was flowing in the town and there were tremendous development in Ile Ife. Other Yoruba from various towns flooded in to Ile Ife from as far as European and American. They all came in to get their own shear of their heritage. Artists and business people came and live at Ile Ife and the town was thriving then. Yoruba Culture and Art became the way of life. Tourism was flourishing in Ile Ife. Ooni Oba Adesoji Aderemi reigned for fifty years at Ile Ife and he joined his ancestors in 1980. He managed to maintain peace between Ile Ife and Oyo throughout his reign. Tourism was flourished in Ile Ife and the other Yoruba towns around Ife like Oshogbo. The 1970s witnessed the oil boom in Nigeria and money was flowing everywhere. In 1977 we had the first Black Africa festival of Arts and culture (FESTAC). Ile Ife was one of the main towns which were mostly visited by the participants of the festival in the Yoruba land. It was a memorable period in the history of the Yoruba culture and people. Many descendants of the Yoruba race all over the world were aware of the festival. Many Yoruba people all over the world who had been anxious and curious about their roots came to Ile Ife to meet their long distance brothers and sisters. They wanted to walk on the same ground their ancestors walk before they were taking slaves to the Americas. Many people came from USA, Cuba, Brazil Trinidad, Haiti, Jamaica and several other countries were Yoruba were transported during slavery. They all believe that the Ooni is their spiritual father and their link to their ancestors and Olodumare.
Oba Sijuwade Okunade Olubuse 11 was installed as the Ooni of Ife in 1980. He has reigned for 35 years until he too recently joined his ancestors. But Ooni Sijuwade inherited not only the development that have been made in Ile Ife during the reign of Ooni Adesoji Aderemi but also some historical turmoil of the previous animosity between his lineage ancestor Olubuse 1 and the people of Modakeke over the issue of territorial rights and the right for an Oba (King) for Modakeke. Soon after the installation of Ooni Sijuwade the animosity resurfaced and misunderstanding and fight broke out among the Ile Ife people and Modakeke people. Modakeke was a settlement that was created for the war veteran of the latest Yoruba fratricidal war in the 1820 AD. It was very close to Ile Ife in distance because at time territorial boundaries and distance was not significant. The humanitarian need and settlement for the people was the priority. But after several years of expansion and population increase, territorial issues arises and began to cause conflict among the people. Then the politicians began to use the situation to manipulate the people. The politicians began to use the situation for their own selfish personal gain to get voting for elections. They used the people differences to create divisions among the people to gain their support for voting for election to political offices.. It later escalated to confusion, chaos, looting, and robberies and ultimately war began between Ile Ife and Modakeke that went on for about 20years.
During the reign of Ooni Oba Sijuwade Okunade Olubose 11, there was war and destruction in Ile Ife for more than 20 years out of the 35years he spent on the throne. Some Ife people and Modakeke people paid the biggest price of their lives. But all these were not the fault of Ooni Oba Sijuwade because it was the time of political unrest in the nation. Many lives were lost and many properties were destroyed. No manufacturing, no industries, no factories, and no job for the youth except the motorbike transportation called (okada).
For example I bought my first land at Ile Ife in 1984 along Ife and Ibadan express road hoped that it will develop in no time. Up until now 31 years later I am still hoping that development will reach the location. All those years of war in Ile Ife there was little peace and security. During that war many people living in Ile Ife had to abandon their homes, belongings, businesses and fled for their lives. Any one that drive into Ile Ife will notice a lot of the abandon houses that were burnt down from the war time .Most of those houses have not been rebuilt or fix since then. There were no compensation for the innocent people that there houses were burnt. Those politicians that gained the political position in the government did not look back to help the people that voted for them during the crisis. In the recent years Ile Ife is the only Yoruba town that witnessed a war and the wounds are still fresh. The new Oni must be able to heel those wounds .Ooni Sijuwade managed to maintain peace by allowing Modakeke to have an Oba he also install Oba in the various porous villages around Ile Ife.
The only main establishment that provides employment for the people of the Ife and it surrounding is the (OAU) University of Ife. There are no industries or factories in or around Ile-Ife. Unemployment among the youth is very high in Ile-Ife. Most of the male youth in Ife live on the transportation business with the motorcycle Called (Okada). There is serious poverty in Ile-Ife and many old compounds at Ile-Ife are turn. Since Hon. Adewale Layade which was one of the Ife indigene that became a council chairman and a house of assemble Rep. in 1990 fixed some of the Local roads and street lights of some of the compounds in Ile-Ife. Nothing much has been done to develop the interior compounds in Ile-Ife in the areas of Infrastructure like roads and other amenities in a long time. If you drive through interior Ile Ife you will testify to what I am saying.
Many of those elites from Ife that were born in those compounds at Ife after getting education and left to better place like England, America, Lagos or Ibadan, did not look back and returned to rebuild or even maintain the crumbling mud houses where they were born and raised before they become rich and successful. Rather they take the glory of being born in Ile-Ife or that they are Prince this or Princess that. Many were just praising themselves that they were born at Ife. If the king makers at Ile Ife can manage and be courageous in selecting a progressive Ooni, many of the Ile Ife indigenes will want to come back home and build Ile Ife.
All I’m trying to say is that Ile-Ife needs an Ooni that will bring about maintaining peace and development to Ile-Ife. Ooni Sijuwade was able to eventually bring peace to Ile-Ife creating opportunity for development. Several people in Ile-Ife live below the poverty line
But here at home in the Yoruba Land across West African nation, also in the international world Ooni Sijuwade was able to protect the integrity of the Yoruba people worldwide. He travelled far to the Americas and the New world and to those countries where the descendant of the Yoruba have been taking into slavery He travelled around promoting the Yoruba heritage. Ile-Ife need an Ooni that will do even more of the things Ooni Sijuwade have done for Ile-Ife >>> By Araba Adedayo Ologundudu ( Araba for the USA and Puerto Rico. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.arabaifatemple.org