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“SOWORE AT ILE-IFE: BETWEEN AN ACCEPTED MISNOMER AND WHAT IS RIGHT”

What has been the household topic in the last 48 hours is the unusual occurrence that took place at the Ile-Ife palace following the visit of Omoyele Sowore and his TakeItBack movement to the palace. The question raised has been on whether Sowore was right or wrong. What then is obtainable from the scene?

What has been authenticated is that the movement had fixed a schedule with the royalty for 12PM on Monday. It is also authenticated that the team got there about ten minutes before 12PM. This should serve as a moral standard enough for the citizenry that the team had kept to time.
It then happened that the royalty did not attend to the campaign team until three hours later after the scheduled time. This ordinarily should be a reason enough for any responsible and civil person to get angry. It was expected of Ooni to be humble enough to apologise before the team for his late appearance. This could have earned the royalty more respect from the crowd that followed Sowore and even send a moral and responsible signal of Ile-Ife to the world. Sowore out of his dissatisfaction with the lateness chose to bow for the king at his appearance rather than prostate as expected of every person who visit the palace. Sowore reportedly took the mic and express his anger, sighting that he has seen the Ooni attending to people far away outside the country accordingly to fixed schedule and why should he deny him and his team the same respect. He afterwards oblige to the tradition by prostrating thrice. It was at this moment the palace was pepper sprayed to the extent that three persons from the TakeItBack crowd fainted. It only took some minutes before the palace regain its normal atmosphere.
Ooni however said that he understand what had happened as regards the pepper spray. He further advised Sowore to be more patient in subsequent time.

What lies here is an issue of culture being misinterpreted with what is right!

Sowore and his team had visited Sanusi Lamido, Emir of Kano, and they were not suffered to such embarrassment. He has being to the far Eastern part of the country as well and didn’t experience such abnormality. Why is the Ile-Ife palace different? This should bother us that our culture and royalty has been subjected to the influence of political cabals who plays major role in the installation of the Ooni himself.

In a sane clime, the pepper spray incident would have been a national assignment of the police force to investigate such matter. Does this mean the palace of the Yoruba origin is not safe anymore?
Rather than approaching the incident objectively, a lot of Nigerians has chosen to accuse Sowore of being rude to our culture. How valid is this accusation?
This question would leave one to wonder if Yoruba culture itself promote or discourage time defaulting or not. We must understand that while we try to be conservative with our culture and respect the royalty, we must not allow the sentiment of overlooking the right things to set it. It is demanding from Sowore and his team to prostrate before Ooni at his appearance before them. But at the same time, it is even wrong for the Ooni to have appeared late. And in fact, Yoruba culture emphasised liberty of fair hearing at all instances. Yoruba indigenes are not subjects of the royalty but citizens of the empire. This clearly distinguish between the Hausa/Fulani culture of subjectivity (and paying of rites) from Yoruba’s culture of citizenship (and paying homage). This gives Sowore the liberty to have express his dissatisfaction with the royalty. An insult could have been accepted on Sowore if he didn’t perform the homage after all. But he did by prostrating three times, each for Ooni, the Chiefs and the last one for the people of Ife as stated by him. I would suggest my readers read more on Yoruba culture to get a clearer view of this.

However, it is not a surprise that our fellow countrymen are criticizing Sowore for demanding for a just treatment from a status quo that emphasis preferential treatment. Some people are already insulting Sowore as being rude to the tradition just for demanding for an equal treatment from that same tradition. I do not really blame them. This country has been led into disarray for so long that our people do not have mental capability to differentiate what is good from the bad. Rudeness and partiality has been adopted as a standard character of displaying your social importance. It could have been understandable if the Ooni had been humble enough to apologise before the crowd and state a convincing reason enough for such. I doubt if he would ever be so busy to keep a Saraki or Tinubu waiting for a minute. Our people don’t see this because we have been subjected to the anomaly in this clime. No wonder we even create space for the uncivilized “African Time” syndrome in our daily life.
This is not to justify Sowore’s anger either. But as he expressed his anger in a responsible tone and later prostrated thrice for the Ooni should be convincing enough that the man is not rude to the royalty. By the conduct of our culture, every citizen must be treated equally.

If not for respect for Sowore’s candidacy and show of homage to the Ile-Ife by taking cognisance of the importance of him to visit the palace to seek royal blessing, the royalty by now should have issued an apologetic statement to the public for the teaming Yoruba and other Nigerians that were subjected to that long wait and pepper spray embarrassment in the palace. This is expected to be the demand of a progressive citizenry who are calling for a democratic and equality of human being in this clime.
Unfortunately, we are born in a clime where personality is a sentiment in any judgement. Very sad, that we have been subjected to accept misnomer as a way of life rather what is right.

Nigeria will rise again!

Soneye Abdul-Azeez Lekan LAS.

A political science student from Tai Solarin University of Education

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