Being a royal father/traditional head is not a joke. Do they still do what they use to do? Only God can tell.
The final burial rites of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, was performed on Friday, but his wives, children and family members were unable to pay their last respects as they were barred from the programme.
Some other people who had expected to see the body of the monarch lie in state were also disappointed as his remains were neither brought out for people to see nor was any casket displayed during the burial service.
The event was attended by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Rear Admiral Akin Aduwo (retd.), Gen. Alani Akinriande (retd.), Senator Babajide Omoworare, Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko and many other dignitaries and government representatives.
Traditional prayers were offered for the late monarch by Tadimole Awo Ilare, Chief Faloba. The event was conducted in less than three hours.
A source at the palace told one of our correspondents that no member of the royal family was allowed to see the remains of the monarch since he was brought back to the palace.
He said, “As we are holding this interdenominational service here, those concerned are performing their own rites inside the palace where the body is kept.
“You can see that the gates of the palace are locked and nobody is allowed to go inside. Nobody can see him again except those who will bury him.
“The wives and children were not even supposed to see his corpse at all but tradition was broken this time around because he (Sijuwade) died in London. But no family member can see him again. Those performing the rites are there now and they will complete it today (Friday). He will be buried in the middle of the night, but nobody will be there apart from those who will lower him into the grave.”
The source said those who saw the bodies of the previous Oonis were attacked by smallpox and did not survive the ailment.
Traditionalists clash with residents
The worshippers of Oro cult in Ife, also called ‘Isoro’, clashed with residents who were erecting tents for the interdenominational burial service at the frontage of Enuwa Palace.
A prominent chief in Ife, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the ‘Isoro’ descended on the people who erected the tents because they (initiates) wanted to observe a seven-day burial rites for the departed king.
The chief said, “The ‘Isoro’ saw the erection of tents for an interdenominational burial service as a sacrilege against custom and tradition.
“They descended on the people erecting the tents and flogged them heavily. They destroyed the tents and swore never to allow anybody do any interdenominational service at the palace.”
The chief revealed that the state government had to wade into the crisis before the service was allowed.
He said, “It took the intervention of officials of the state government, who appealed to the ‘Isoro’ to allow the people to hold the interdenominational service before the issue was resolved. If not for the intervention of the state government, the interdenominational service would not have been allowed.”
The Araba of Osogbo land, Chief Yemi Elebuibon, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Friday, disclosed that the corpse of the Ooni belonged to Ile-Ife and not his family.
He said, “The traditional burial rites of the kings of Ile-Ife and Oyo are strictly complied with and they are comprehensive.
“When the Ooni dies, the body becomes that of the town. The ‘Isoro’ cult group will take over. The ‘Isoro’ initiates are the ones who worship the ‘Oro’ deity.
“It is the ‘Isoro’ people that would inform the various deities, who were worshipped and appeased when the Ooni was crowned, that he (the monarch) is no more.
“It’s a rite. Nothing must stop it.”
The Araba dispelled the belief that the heart of the late king would be fed to the next Ooni.
He said, “The eating of the heart of a departed King by an incoming one belonged to the past. It no longer exists. People still make this insinuation because many are barred from witnessing the burial of a king.
“What the incoming king will eat is the heart of an animal and not that of a human. Nobody would be buried with the Ooni. Nobody would be killed for any form of sacrifice.”
Elebuibon explained that animals are now used for the burial rites of Yoruba Obas because of modernisation, noting that Christianity and Islam also stopped the use of humans for sacrifice when God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, Isaac.