Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Traditional rulers perform a number of functions that are connected to culture, customs and tradition of his community. Several ritual activities are done before someone can be pronounced King in Yoruba land, which include the visitation of important locations in the town such as; shrines of the gods in that community and the use of diabolical chieftaincy leaves that would be placed under the cap of the incoming King. In this dispensation, we heard of several traditional rulers who claimed to not only be a Christian but also a minister of God. One of which is His Royal Majesty, Samuel Alamu Oloyede, Traditional Ruler of Kosofe Land, in Kosofe Local Government Area, Lagos.

“My journey to the throne was ordained by God, because I was a minister of God before I was called to be the next King. I resisted and asked for confirmation from God; as it was written in the Holy Bible by King David and Gideon. I seek God’s face and got confirmation through dreams before accepting to sit on the throne. This year makes it the 13th year on the throne of my father, though my installation was done by Former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola but it was Former Governor Bola Ahmad Tinubu that signed my documents to the throne three days to the end of his two term tenure.
“It was easy for me to combine the duty of a King with that of a Minister of God because I have been able to schedule my time judiciously and have asked God for direction. Monday to Friday has been dedicated for attending to issues of the community in the palace. Tuesday and Thursday of every week is specially meant for complaint, but I do attend to the members of the community anytime they come. Except Friday nights that I do go to Church for vigil and remain there till Saturday, and on Sunday, I will worship there and a times I may have more than two invitations. I always try to shuffle things and honour all invitations. At times I may have one ministration in Lagos and another in Ibadan the same day but because I have asked God to help me, he has been making things easy for me,” says Oba Samuel Oloyede.

Many chieftaincy titles involve ritual practices though one cannot be specific because most towns have their own traditions. Some Christians and Muslims are comfortable with traditional practices and are not afraid of associating with deities as long as they are not forced to participate actively in their worship. This is evident in the marriage rite of Prophetess Naomi Oluwaseyi (now Queen of Ife), who walked on blood spilt on the floor during the marriage rites ritual to Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi in 2018. If Queen Naomi, who was formally in Charge of an inter-denominational Christian ministry based in Akure, Ondo state could agree to be the second wife of a first class monarch in Yoruba land, then one will wonder what would happen to her Christian faith, when she would be required to visit the Olokun shrine (the river goddess) as it is customary for the queen. Ọba Samuel Oloyede should be able to tell us what he would do whenever the god of Iron (Ogun) worshippers come to him for prayers and vetting of Ogun festival.

The role of a traditional ruler and a minister of God can’t be said to be equal though they both strive to assist government to maintain peace and order in the community. Traditional rulers play relevant roles in mediating between the people and the state, enhancing national identity, and resolving minor conflicts; while Ministers of God are meant to conduct special services/ceremonies for religious festivals, holy days and events, such as birth, marriages and deaths. This implies that Kings and Pastors are the main custodians of values and beliefs, to explore collective tactics to peace in a time of crisis.

A Public Affairs commentator, Aborishade Kolade believed that it is not reasonable for a king to also double as a Minister of God. That in the actual sense, a King is a god in his palace and should therefore not be subjected to any authority except for that of God almighty. The equivalent of a Minister of God is the Chief priest in the traditional setting. So how can someone be a King and also be the Chief priest.

“Kings in Yoruba land are the head of all cults in his community, they are fortified with spiritual power which makes them untouchable for witches, wizard and other evil spirit. Yet civilization has led several of them to be reduced to a normal human being, a typical traditional Yoruba king in some communities must undergo several rituals and be an initiate of some cults. With this as a prerequisite, how can a king still double as a minister of God? How can he go to the altar of God and be preaching to the audience when he still directly or indirectly supports the activities of other gods? I’m not saying it is bad for him to be a Christian, but I did not support him ministering in the church,” says Kolade.

In Yoruba traditional setting, the King is regarded as the second in command of all the gods in his community. Hence, the appellation ‘Aláṣe ìkejì òrìṣà’ the second in command to the gods. Though civilization has drastically reduced the political might and influence of Kings in Yoruba land. Yet, he still rules and sees to the affairs of his community. If as a Christian King, worshipers of all the gods in your community still seek your consent to celebrate the festival of their gods and you grant it to them. Then where is your Christian faith? The Holy Bible sees the worship of any other god as idolatry. How many of the so called Christian Kings can adhere to the doctrine of one wife, one husband as required in the Holy Bible? If a Yoruba Christian King decides not to participate in any form of rituals, what of his subjects, will he place a ban on such activities in his community or allow them to continue the worship of their gods under his watch. It is obvious, there are Ogun, Obatala worshipers and their shrines in Kosofe Local Government area of Lagos State under the watch of a born again Christian. Ultimately, the Yoruba Christian King would consistently be put to the test in both adhering and enforcing his faith. One question now remains: will the king take the side of his ancestry or his colonizers?

By Ife Adewole

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