A Frolic On The Red Sea, By Femi Adesina

 a gust of chilly wind that said Akwaaba (welcome, in Ghanaian language) to me in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, that night of December 1, 2017. We had flown for about five hours from Abuja, as President Muhammadu Buhari was to attend a summit on combating terrorism in West Africa, convened by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The presidential plane touched down at King Hussein International Airport at 8.15 p.m local time (7.15 p.m Nigerian time) and a cold embrace was what Aqaba offered. It was winter, and the city gripped you in a forceful bear hug that was icy cold. Nobody taught me before I made a dash for the vehicle that was to take me into the city.

I had checked the weather condition online before we left Nigeria. I was told 11 degrees cold. I was ready, but nearly not ready enough. That cold hug was more like six degrees. Incidentally, that turned out to be the only very cold evening, till we left Jordan three days later.

Three state governors-those of Osun, Kogi, Niger- had accompanied the President on the trip. I was in the same car with Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State. Did the protocol people know that this was my own very governor, or it was mere coincidence? Well, we had a good conversation as we rode into the city. The governor talked about the historical significance of Aqaba, how some ceasefire had been negotiated in the city in the past, how it is the economic nerve centre of Jordan, how the country has no petroleum or many other mineral resources but was quite prosperous, and above all, how Jordan was an oasis of peace in a region characterised by almost perpetual turmoil. I was intrigued, and decided to write a travelogue after the trip.

So, this piece you are reading, was inspired by my discussion with Gov Aregbesola of the State of Osun, during the 15 minutes ride from the airport to the Intercontinental Resort, Aqaba.

Presidential trips are normally busy, very, very busy, as you have to keep Nigerians back home and those in the Diaspora updated on the activities of their President. But this trip was peculiar, in that it was about security, and not everything needed be reported. There was, therefore, some time for leisure. I used it. Wouldn’t you?

My room at the hotel overlooked the Red Sea. You only needed to draw your curtains (which I did on Saturday morning) and you were confronted by the majesty of the sea, with the waters shimmering in the early morning sun. The poet, John Keats, had written about feasting one’s eyes on the glory of the sea.

“O ye that have your eyeballs vext and tir’d,
Feast them upon the wideness of the sea.
O ye whose Ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody-
Sit ye near some old Cavern’s mouth and brood,
Until ye start as if the Sea Nymphs quired.

And that was what I did. I feasted my eyes on the wideness of the sea. It was blue, expansive, as far as the eyes could see.

Blue? But this one was supposed to be red. Well, in 2011, I had visited Israel, and while heading for the Taba border to cross into Egypt, for an expedition to Mount Sinai, I had passed by the Red Sea. It was blue, and I had taken our tour guide to task. This was how I conveyed the explanation in a piece published in Daily Sun on December 2, 2011:

“But is that sea really red? Not actually. Why is it then called the Red Sea? The water is actually bluish, as in any other sea, but the surrounding mountains are brown in colour, something like the hue that is called ox blood. So, in the afternoon hours, when the sun is at its peak, the mountains cast a reflection on the waters. The incandescence turns the waters almost red….So, what better name for the sea? The Red Sea.”

Since there was some time on our hands, before the bilateral meeting between President Buhari and King Abdullah II, on Saturday, I called some of the media people on the trip: Abiodun Oladunjoye, a deputy director in the Media Department of State House, Ismaila Chafe of News Agency of Nigeria, Rashidat Yusuf of Mitv, and her camera man, Kelvin Okeke. “Let’s go tour the city!” They were game.

We trooped into a bus, accompanied by a guide named Mustapha Abughalion. For the next hour, we were footloose in Aqaba, seeing many points of interest.

First port of call was the bank of the Red Sea. Aqaba is a desert city. In fact, it is said that it experiences rainfall only about twice or thrice a year, but God has compensated with the Red Sea, which brings some moistness to the atmosphere. And the sea is the source of commerce for the country. Different holiday resorts dot the long coastline, and these are patronized by people from all over the world. In 2010 alone, it is on record that Jordan received over 8 million visitors. Aqaba was also named the Arab Tourism City for 2011.

There is also the Port of Aqaba, which is the only one in Jordan. It was rated as Best Container Terminal in Middle East by Lloyd’s List in 2006, and we saw brisk business going on there.

Jordan is located on the tip of the Red Sea, between Asia, Europe and Africa. Aqaba is in southernmost Jordan, with a population of about 200,000 people. Another major city and capital of the country, Amman, has about 4 million people. In a country of about 9 million, Jordanians are five million, while the rest is made of people from Palestine, Syria and Iraq, most of whom came as refugees. Jordan is quite hospitable.

Aqaba is neat, squeaky clean. Street sweepers are seen on duty, picking even the tiniest specks. The traffic is very sane, with disciplined drivers. No stress.

A city called Petra is a World Heritage Site. Other tourist attractions, about 100,000 nationwide, include the Dead Sea, near Amman, the River Jordan itself, where Jesus was baptized, in fact, Jordan has been custodian over some holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924.

The two main world religions, Christianity and Islam, have venerated sites in Jordan. Al-Maghtais is believed to be the site where Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, while Mount Nebo, Madaba and Machaerus, are also in the country. Moab, Ammon, and Edom, in biblical times, were located in today’s Jordan.

Archaeologists have found what is believed to be the site of the world’s oldest church in the country. It dates back to 3rd Century AD, slightly older than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Both date back to 4th Century AD.

Though Jordan is about 98% Muslims, there is an indigenous Christian minority, about 5,000 of whom live in Aqaba. The city has several churches, and one Christian school, Rosary Sisters School.

Among holy Islamic sites in Jordan are shrines of Prophet Muhammed’s companions (Peace be upon him) like Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah, and Muadh ibn Jabal.

Aqaba is about 20 minutes away from Saudi Arabia, and we drove till we were five kilometres away, before turning. One could see the longing in Rashidat Yusuf’s eyes. She would have given anything to be able to get into Saudi, and perhaps, do a quick Umrah. Some other time, Hajiya.

Surrounded by tumultuous countries, bordered directly by Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq and Syria, how come Jordan is so safe? Apart from the November 9, 2005 bombing of three hotels in Amman by Al-Qaeda, killing 60 people and injuring 115, there have been no incidents. Internal security is quite high, and Jordan has good relationship with the West. It also has a peace treaty with Israel. King Abdullah II is known as a man of peace.

Health care in Jordan is world class. In fact, medical tourism yielded over 1 billion dollars in 2010. Jordan is rated top in the region, and 5th world overall.

I had some options in my spare time on the third day. I could go scuba-diving, or take a cruise on the Red Sea. Scuba-diving? I shouldn’t be like the cricket that got so well fed, and burst its own tummy. Any form of diving was ruled out. You go diving so faraway from home, and mischief happens to you, the wailing wailers would have a field day, laughing till they fainted.

With Oladunjoye and Chafe, we paid for a cruise in a glass boat on the Red Sea. Why is it called glass boat? The bottom is made of glass, so you could look at the seabed. One could see all sorts of creatures in the sea, the flora and fauna. We saw different species of fishes, water snakes, sea turtle, sea weed, wreckage of boats, and so many other things. Under the sea is a treasure trove.

The boat was captained by a teenage boy named Yahaya. I could feel my heart moving into my mouth as we got into the middle of nowhere. Coward! Yes, I agree. I have sailed on the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and many other seas. But I am still a coward where water is concerned. Chinua Achebe wrote that we often stand in the house of a coward, to point at the ruins of the house of a brave man. I agree. Yahaya obviously saw the fear in my eyes, and he gestured that I should not panic.

I chuckled as I remembered my wife. If she could see me, she would have exclaimed: “This man, is this what I sent you to Jordan to do?” But she didn’t know until I was back from the voyage. Men and their escapades!
Human beings can fear, instead of exercising faith. It is natural. In the middle of the deep, I began to scare myself. What if a mighty wave came, and submerged the boat? What if the engine suddenly stalled? What if fire broke out? What if the boat ran out of petrol? What if… Get thee behind me, Satan!

The only fright we had was when we met a military gunboat on patrol. It was at top speed. The waves it created made our boat bob up and down, and it was an uneasy experience. It subsided after some time.

To appreciate the glory of God, take time to go out on the sea. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament His handiwork, says the Good Book. In another place, it says “they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonder in the deep.” Every man needs that experience.
There were big seafaring vessels we met. Only God knows what part of the world they were coming from, with all sorts of names. Chakra. Costa Mediterranea. Shark’s Bay. And many others.

After about an hour, when we sighted our hotel right by the seashore, it was pure relief. The sail had been good, I’ll recommend it to anyone who has the heart for it. It sure has therapeutic value. But was I glad to step on solid ground again? All other ground is sinking sand. This was terra firma. Water was terra incognita. I’ll rather have my feet planted on solid ground at any time.


  • *Femi Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari

Holiday Makers Trampled Upon By Elephant While Taking Pictures

A Dutch and a Belgian tourist were trampled to death by an elephant in Zambia as they got too close to the animal when trying to take pictures, police said on Sunday.

The holidaymakers, whose identities have not been released, were killed on Saturday while on safari at Maramba River Lodge in the tourist town of Livingstone.

“A lady from Belgium aged 57 and a 64-year-old man from the Netherlands were killed as they went close to the elephant trying to take photographs,” police spokesman Danny Mwale said in a statement.

Mwale said police who visited the scene found the bodies lying on the ground with multiple injuries.

Cases of tourists killed by wild animals while on safari are often reported across southern Africa.

Some people have been mauled by lions while attempting to take pictures.

Google Maps Will Boost Tourism in Nigeria- Lai Mohammed

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has stated on Friday at the launch of the Economic Value of Geospatial Services in Nigeria that the nation needs to leverage on technology, particularly digital mapping and Street Views to boost tourism in Nigeria.

He said “As we look to make Nigeria a major tourism destination in Africa, technologies such as Google Maps, but more specifically Street View put forward by Google, will become increasingly important on that front. We hope to see even more value as increasing numbers of people use tools like Google Street View to explore Nigeria,” he said.

“We know this because we’ve seen the impact that Street View has had in destinations around Africa. In South Africa, for instance, people can take a guided tour of Robben Island, the prison which held Nelson Mandela and many other South African freedom fighters during apartheid”.

“In Kenya, meanwhile, users can take virtual treks through some of the country’s most famous game reserves. And in Tanzania, people can get up close and personal with the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park as a result of partnership between Google and the Jane Goodall foundation”.

“These are all examples of how giving people a taste of a place they have not visited is a powerful incentive to get them to experience the reality. We look forward to doing the same in Nigeria, as we show off our own natural and cultural heritage.

“It also promotes and encourages patronage of local agriculture and creative industries as well as manufactured products by operators in the tourism industry. That’s especially important as we look to cement our place as Africa’s largest economy”.

He also stated that “Events such as this one offer a powerful reminder of how impactful partnerships between government and private companies like Google can be – to grow our local businesses and strengthen our economy. If digital mapping services have made such a difference in the last five years, we can only imagine what the next five will bring. We look forward to growing this fruitful relationship in the coming years and seeing what Google comes up with next”.

Meanwhile, Mr Dirk Friedrich said the lead product which is Street View and google map is being used by about 1 billion people worldwide monthly. “At Google we are always looking towards Nigeria, trying to make the service easier, especially, the mapping. Also, the service of mapping has reduced traffic in affected cities, created jobs among other benefits”, he said.

Making Osun Tourist Destination Is Our Dream – Oluga

The State of Osun, under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has said the present administration in the state would not rest on its oars until Osun is turned to African tourist destination.

The Special Adviser to the governor, Hon. Taiwo Oluga on Friday made this disclosure while speaking on the efforts made so far by her Ministry.

According to her, the Ministry has gotten approval from the Governor to ensure overhauling on the tourist sites across the length and breadth of the state.

Hon. Oluga made the statement on a telephone conversation with our correspondent while speaking on the efforts made so far by her Ministry.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism and Culture said her Ministry has designed programmes and policies that would turn around the socio-economic potentials embedded in tourism and culture.

Oluga maintained that the state is working assiduously to ensure that tourism plays its due role on the economy of the state, saying her Ministry has mustered efforts to make tourism the mainstay of the state’s revenue base.

She described Osun as number one state in Nigeria blessed with rich culture and tourism potentials which according to her has real capacity to bring positive effect on the state’s economy.‎

“Our determination to turn Osun to African tourist destination has in no doubt reached the zenith in view of the positive results on the steps taken so far.

“My emergence in the last four montths has witnessed series of interventions. We have redefined the system. We have designed a workable template as we pursuing right course to turn Osun to cynosure of all eyes in tourism and culture”, she added.‎

Enumerating some of the achievements made so far, Oluga said, “the new leadership under my watch has secured approval to revamp the sector and as I am talking to you,we have made a move to actualize this initiative”.‎

‎”We believe strongly that the renovation of our tourist sites will not only give a befitting look but change the direction to effective and efficient management of the sector.

“If our tourist sites were given the required beautification, renovation and  modern look, thus, the idea of turning our state to African tourist destination will definitely come to fruition.

“And for this singular reason, we will not rest on our oars to ensure that tourism sector wear a new look that will serve as best means of generating revenue for the state.

‎”Within the space of four months, our Ministry has participated at 2017 edition of Drums Festival in Abeokuta; we also participated at Lagos maiden edition of Music and Film Fiesta.

“Our Ministry also sponsored the 2017 edition of Eid-il-Fitr Carnival, 2017 edition of Easter Carnival, 2017 Olojo festival as well as the organization of the maiden edition of National Conference in collaboration with the Institute of Hospitality and Tourism”, Oluga enunciated.   ‎

 

Osun Govt. Commences Accreditation For Oyotunji Cultural Festival In US

By Toba Adedeji

 

The State Government of Osun has commenced accreditation exercise for delegates from the State to participate in Oyotunji-Nigeria cultural heritage festival in United State Of America in October 2017.

 

 

The preparation for the festival had been at the top gear following the official letter issued by the State government confirming her support for 2017 Oyotunji festival.

 

 

According to the formal letter sighted by our correspondent, the festival is slated to kick off on the 27th October 2017 with the arrival of the state delegates on the same date.

 

The Ambassador of Oyotunji festival, Mr. Rotimi Vaughan speaking to OSUN DEFENDER at the Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Osogbo, Osun State, the venue of the accreditation, said, the Oyotunji-Nigeria Cultural heritage festival coming up in African Village Sheldon, South Carolina, USA is what we are preparing for and the principal partner of the programme is the State of Osun.

 

 

“We have our corporate sponsors, culture enthusiasts and individuals who will pay the bills of those delegates.

 

 

Oyotunji festival, he said, is to create cultural revolution in America, a lot of African-Americans are basically ignorant as to their root but this festival would encourage these people to come back to Nigeria to develop our economy.

 

 

Vaughan stated that the state government has agreed to work expeditiously with the organizers in ensuring that delegates which will be led by Special Adviser on Culture and Tourism, Hon. (Mrs.) Taiwo Oluga, are well catered for.

 

 

According to him, Osun is wonderfully blessed with historical ecotourism, festivals and historical cultural heritage, stressing that the participation of the state in the cultural programme will eventually attract more tourists to Osun, especially the Afro-Americans who desire to connect with their roots.

 

 

 

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Taiwo Oluga who has earlier presented an official letter confirming the support and participation of the state, explained that the approved delegates include stakeholders and cultural performers are expected to display outstanding cultural performances thereby showcasing the unique and rich culture of Osun.

 

 

She added that the state government remains committed to the development of Culture and Tourism with the hope of getting alternative income to boost the economy of the state.

 

 

“It is interesting that our culture is being promoted and celebrated in far away America. Our state participation will enhance robust bilateral cultural relations.”

 

 

“Tourism is a great tool to combat poverty and government is aware that tourism thrives when there is conducive and secured environment. Hence the government investment in good road network, security of lives and properties, rehabilitation and upgrading of existing sites, beautification of cities, creating new socio cultural entertainment parks among others” She stated.

 

Why Stolen Art Cannot be Returned to Africa- US Museum Director

Contrary to expectations that Nigerian arts and artifacts looted by colonial officials to Europe and America will be returned, the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Arts in the United States of America, Johnnetta Cole, has said such stolen art would instead be used to “market African history and culture” abroad.

Cole said they would rather send the replicas of such artworks insisting that the museum has a comprehensive documentation of all artworks in their possession.

She also said it was important in their museum to honour where each and every object came from, adding: “If we are ever aware that an object is in our museum because it was stolen, we make enormous effort to protect them.

“We have two figures and we went to the government of Mali saying we were prepared to send them back.The government of Mali said thank you, we know where they are, we are proud that they are in the National Museum of African Art. If every work of African Art is returned to Africa, how will the rest of the world know about your arts, your culture and history?

“I cannot speak for the British Museum, I cannot speak for the museum in Belgium but I can speak for our museum that we have enormous respect and we have documents of every work. We do everything within our powers to use them well to tell your story. It is with enormous respect we document where every work has come from.”

Oluwo Visits Emir Of Ilorin, Establishes Brotherhood Tides

The Oluwo of Iwo-land, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale, on Thursday stressed the need for the Ilorin Emirate and his kingdom to come together in a bid to further promote economic and manpower development between the two communities.

The monarch stated this in Ilorin when he visited the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari at his palace. Oba Adewale was accompanied by over 50 traditional rulers and Chiefs of Iwo land.

He noted that the visit was to solicit the support of the people of Ilorin especially through the Emir in order to ensure that areas of common interest are identified.

According to him, “In Iwo land, all that we stand for is Islam and we discovered that Ilorin Emirate is a front-runner in the propagation of Islam. With our proximity with this revered city of knowledge, we can’t afford to loose out in the numerous opportunities that are available both at national and international levels.

“Iwo has the first mosque in the whole south-western region which was converted from a shrine in 1655. On several occasions, I have condemned the worship of deities in its entirety. Not that I said that we said forget our culture but my advocacy I’d for us to belief in God and always ensure that we use our stools as traditional rulers to promote peaceful co-existence in our domains.”

He however extolled the virtues of the Emir in making life more meaningful for the people of Ilorin Emirate through his quality leadership roles among his subjects even as he pledged his unalloyed loyalty to further foster and actualise robust working relationship.

In his response, the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman Kwara State Traditional Council, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari , publicly announced that, “As from today, I hereby declare that Ilorin Emirate and Iwo land have become one.”

He added that, “This become because of common identity of Islam which binds us together and we have to ensure that we hold each other as one. On out side, we shall always see you as a brother and friend in Islam.”

The Emir therefore assure the Oluwo that as the gateway between the north and south, Ilorin will continue to play leadership roles in the propagation of Islam and morality vis-a-vis peaceful co-existence in the country.

Source: ROYAL NEWS

Sallah: Fun Seekers Besiege Nelson Mandela Freedom Park In Osogbo, Lauds Aregbesola’s Social Protection Initiatives‎

The social protection projects of the state Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has once again been commended by the residents of the state particularly the Eid-El-Kabir holiday makers who besieged popular Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo for Eid-el-Kabir celebration.
The ‎residents also extolled Governor Aregbesola for being aggressive towards rejuvenating the economy of the state through his social protection initiatives.
The Park has in the last few days witnessing an impressive influx of people who have come for one or two recreation, refreshment and relaxation from across the state
It is not an hyperbole to say that the 2017 Eid-el-Kabir was enveloped in funfare and celebration galore with mass participants at the park.
While eulogizing the state government under the leadership of Governor Aregbesola for putting in place such recreation centre, those at the park described the centre as first of its kind in the state.
Speaking intermittently to express their delights on the centre, Comrade Ibrahim Muslihudeen Olayinka; Miss Mufliat Adeniyi, Mr Jooda Nurudeen Olaniyi, Dr. Olawale Sulaimon, Mrs. Romoke Anjonrin, Mr. Salaudeen Sakiru and Engineer Nureni Adebiyi said with the construction of the Park, the state has opened a new ‎opportunity for tourism sector to thrive.
In his words, Dr Sulaimon said the emergence of the  Park in the state capital will in no measure have a great impact in the economy of the state.
According to him, “I am highly impressed to be here with my family. This is impressive and it has to be commended because since the creation of this state, nothing as such was done.
“Despite the fact that this park is still under construction, the facilities therein are in no doubt suitable for refreshment.
“As you can see, we have had a lot of nice times here. We have taken pictures at different locations and my family are in no doubt feeling fully at home.
“Though I don’t stay at home but each time I come home for one thing or the other, I am always impressed with pace of development especially in the area of infrastructure”, Dr Sulaimon added.‎
In the same vein, Comrade Olayinka an indigene of Ilobu in Irepodun Local Government Area of the state, described the Park as unprecedented in the history of the state.
He hailed Governor Aregbesola for turning Osogbo to a real state capital through the provision of physical infrastructures, saying the construction of the Park at a conspicuous location has given Osogbo another face-lift of development.
Olayinka added, “to me the successful construction of this Park has justified the genuine intention of the present government in the state to transform the state capital into mega city.
“Aside massive roads construction that cut across the nooks and crannies of the state particularly Osogbo which is the state capital, this Nelson Mandela Freedom Park is another giant stride that deserves commendation.
“My visit to this Park has opened my eyes to reality that our governor and his government meant well for us because if a government could nurture such a lofty ideology of turning a sawmill to this marvelous garden, then such administration deserves kudos.
“I have been coming here for the last five days I have been in the state, but today I felt like bringing my family here to catch fun, and as I am talking to you, we have all enjoyed our stay at this Park.
“Since it costs no dime, we have freely moved round the facilities especially at the fountain pools that are not only exciting but significant.
“I am a citizen of Osun and I have lived in this state for so many years before I traveled to the North where I am currently working, but through out the times I was at home, no government thought of this.
“So, I really appreciate the political sagacity of Governor Aregbesola that yielded this, it shows that we have a visionary leader at the helm of affairs because if not, many of these initiatives would have been aborted half way”.‎
Corroborating similar gestures, Mrs Anjounrin said the construction of the Park has added another accolade to Aregbesola’s profile, nothing that the history will continue to remember his good works
Mrs Anjounrin, a retired Immigration Officer, said she was very happy to be at the Park where liberty and freedom is prioritized.‎
She said her visit to the Park has made her to further interact with masses most especially the hawkers and streets petty traders that brought their goods to the Park for sale.
“Since this place is free for all, then it is good to be at an amusement park like this where one will meet people from different backgrounds.
“I have come; I have seen and I have benefited from some of the facilities in this garden. Though it is not yet completed and commissioned, but the little facilities here are worthwhile for recreation and refreshment.
“I came from Ikirun though not really because of this park, but when I got to this area, I found a lot of interesting things that hooked my attention.
“I have toured round the Park and I am impressed with the goal which the state is dreamed to actualise on this project, because when it is completed, it will be the best centre to be by all,”Mrs Anjounrin stressed.‎
While appealing to the people in the state to support the state government in its effort to rebuild Osun, a groundnut hawker, Mrs Silifat Kasali, said the influx of the people to the Park has increased her sales.
According to Mrs. Kasali, sales had improved greatly since the volume of the people to the Park began to increase particularly about three days ago.
She attributed the development to a huge investment made by the Aregbesola led government to turn around the Park for the betterment of the citizenry.
“Though Salah celebration is still fresh and people are still coming to this Park in large number,  but how I wish that this Salah continues so that large people could be visiting this place, thus increases sales.
“Over three days ago, my sales has been on the increase and I am happy that my state has such a big and attractive Park like this”, she submitted.‎

God Used Me To Remove 800-Year-Old Palace Diety, Correct Distortion Of Iwo’s History – Oluwo of Iwo

The Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdurasheed Akanbi, in this interview with FEMI MAKINDE, shares his experience before and after he ascended the throne of his forefathers

How was growing up and where?

I was born 50 years ago into a royal family. I can’t tell you that my growing up was very rosy because a royal family is usually a wealthy family. But I went through so many things but I thank God, I acquired a lot of experiences while growing up and I believe that God wanted me to go through those in order to prepare me for my present position.

What are some of those things?

Let me just say that I travelled a lot. I have been to many places and during my growing up years, I had to do a lot of things by myself. I have trained myself to be independent; I have done a lot and I went through life by myself as a young boy and this actually made me to be able to resolve knotty issues. Although I am just 50 years old, I have a wealth of experience more than most people of my age. If I ask some to pass through what I went through, they may not be able to make it except by the grace of God, which I also enjoyed.

How did Iwo come into existence?

The history of Iwoland had been badly distorted until God put me on the throne and used me to amend the distortions. You have to dig deep into the root before you know the history of Iwo Kingdom and to know who the Oluwo is. Anybody can become a pastor or an alfa but not everybody can become a king. Where is the crown of Iwo from? Iwo is actually from Ife. The crown of Iwo is from the first female that ever became a king in the whole of Yorubaland and the entire West Africa.

What was her name?

Her name was Luwo Gbagida. She was the only woman that ever became the Ooni of Ife. Her history is so unique because there was no respect for women at all when she became the Ooni.  She was the greatest woman in history at that time. Where did she get her crown from? She got her crown from her father’s lineage, which is the House of Oduduwa. Oduduwa was her great, great grandfather and if she got her crown from her father’s lineage and her great, great grandfather was Oduduwa, then where is the Oluwo’s crown from? Then that means Oluwo’s crown is from Oduduwa because the crown that was given to Telu, the son of the female Ooni, was from Oduduwa. Telu can be said to be a child of a chief in Ife but the crown that was given to him was from Oduduwa.

Telu was the only son of Luwo Gbagida. His mother (Luwo Gbagida) was the one that gave her the crown and told him to take the crown to the land where the only creature that speaks besides human beings could be found. The only creature that ‘speaks’ apart from humans is the parrot.

Is it a taboo to kill parrots in Iwoland?

We don’t kill parrots in Iwoland. Iwo is called the land of the parrots. We tame them and look after them.

Is it a taboo?

It will be a taboo to kill a parrot. Why will you even say you want to kill a parrot? It is inhuman to do that. Another thing is that you must know that the crown of Iwo is from the House of Oduduwa. It was a distorted history before I came and they said the crown was from Obaloran. Obaloran had no crown. In Ife, all  the chiefs under the Ooni at that time had what was called ‘Ooro’. That was what they put on their heads. All the baales in Ife at that time did not have crown, they had the Ooro. It was the Ooni Sijuwade, who upgraded them to the status of Obas. It wasn’t so from the beginning.

Luwo Gbagida, after she had ascended the throne, asked one chief, Obaloran, to  have sex with her and that was how she gave birth to Telu. Telu was his only son. The woman suffered the agony of releasing  her only male child to go and establish another town. There was no bicycle or vehicle then and she did not give Telu any description of how to get to where he would find the land of the parrots. She just told him to keep on going until he would come to the place. She was losing her only male child, Telu and Telu was also losing his mother because they knew they might never see again. So where is the origin of her crown? Remember that Luwo Gbagida was an Ooni at that time and it means that Oluwo is a prince of Ife. The Orangun is a prince from Ife; the Alaafin is a prince from Ife, the Owa is a prince from Ife, the Onisabe, Onipopo, Ajero, Alaketu are all princes  from Ife and Oluwo is also a prince from Ife. Oluwo was given a crown by the authority from Ife.

Not all kings are natural kings. Some people somewhere say Baale of Iwo but Oluwo has never been a Baale at anytime. He has a natural crown from inception. All the Obas with natural crowns in the whole of Yorubaland cannot be more than 10.

You always speak against idol worshiping, are you saying that you were not made to perform some rituals or rites before you ascended the throne?

Ninu ikoko dudu ni eko funfun ti n jade (the white pap is prepared from the black pot). But once the pap is out of the black pot, does it have anything to do with the black pot again? You can’t eat the black pot but you can eat the white pap. Let me tell you, Prophet Ibrahim known as Abraham came out of an idol worshiping background. Jesus Christ was born into a background of people worshiping idols. Look at it, all the kings after Solomon turned against God and worshiped idols. That is why you see in the Bible that God punished the Israelites by allowing their enemies to take them into captivity anytime they worshiped idols. God used the Chaldeans, the Assyrians to punish them. So, it was Mary, who gave birth to Jesus and who gave birth to Mary and what were her parents doing then?

To be specific, were you made to perform some rites or rituals?

There were some rites they would ask you to perform. But there were some I told them I could not perform because they were against my religious belief. There were some rites that did not conform with my religion and I did not perform those ones. Whether you perform the rites or not, the day the government announces you as the king, that is settled. That is why God made me the king, there are some things that we need to sieve out of our rich culture.

You were turbaned the day you were announced as the Oluwo and we heard that is the practice were. Does it mean a non-Muslim cannot become the Oluwo?

If God says you will become the king, nobody can stop that. It doesn’t matter what you are, it is God, who makes the kings.

How many days did you spend at Ile Onto (seclusion)?

I spent the number of days I was supposed to spend there. I did everything I was supposed to do. I did all.

Can you tell us some of the things you did while you were there?

Those ones are not for public consumption. Those things that happened there were just for me and not to be relayed to the public. I can’t ask you some certain things now. I can’t ask you how you did certain things in your own house.

What role did Iwo town play in the propagation of Islam in Yorubaland?

Islam spread to every part of the South-West from Iwo town. Islam came to Iwo in 1685. The first mosque in Iwo was in 1665. Iwo had been in existence long before some bigger towns came into existence. Let  these towns go and find out if they were in existence in the 11th century.  Iwo’s crown is natural, it has never been elevated. Some were baales before they were elevated to the status of Obas but that is not so with Iwo. The Oluwo has never been a baale.

From where did Islam come to Iwo town?

The missionaries that brought Islam to Iwo came from Mali. You know that they speak French in Mali and the people of Mali are called Malians. So Yoruba people called the religion the Malian brought to Iwo ‘ Esin Imale’ .  What they meant by Imale is the distorted way of referring to the Malians. The Malians were the first to bring Islam  to Iwo town. Muhammadu Lamuye was the first to build a mosque. Iwo Central Mosque shares the same background with the mosque in Mecca. Just like the mosque in Mecca was built on a ground where idol was formerly being worshiped, the Iwo Central Mosque was also built on the spot where idol was being worshipped before.  Where Iwo Central Mosque is situated was formerly known as ‘Ile Baba Olorisa’. Orisa was being worshiped there before the mosque was built on the same spot.

Is it true that you are planning to change the obaship status of Iwo monarch into emirate?  There are insinuations that you are planning to make Iwo oba an emir. Is it true?

Change to an emirate? You can even say I am an emir now because I am the leader of all the Muslims in Iwo. In Iwo, it is the Oluwo that installs the Imam and all other chieftaincy titles in the mosque. The central mosque in Iwo belongs to the Oluwo. It was the king at that time, Muhammadu Lamuye, that built the mosque. The central mosque is owned by the Oba. If there is no Oba in Iwo, and there is also no imam. There will never by an imam until there is an Oba in the palace. During the interregnum of 10 years when there was no Oluwo, there was also no imam. Iwo is different because chieftaincy titles at the central mosque belong to the Oba.

Are you saying the Oluwo can lead the prayer at the central mosque?

The Oluwo can lead the prayer at any mosque in Iwoland if he wants and if he is clean. I am clean because I am not an Idol worshiper and I don’t believe in any other gods. That is why I am advocating that the dirty aspects of our culture should be removed. Every aspect of the culture or practice that asks you to sacrifice another person should be thrown away. I am not Igbakeji  Orisa. (I am not second in command to any gods.) I am above them. I tell them where they should be put. I am a commander over Orisa, I command them, they don’t command me. I am the one to tell them the location where the idol worshippers should put their Orisa. I relocated the Orisa that had been inside my palace for over 800 years. I told them to remove it and put it somewhere outside the palace. There must not be any other lesser gods in a king’s domain. God is a jealous God and he will not watch you elevating an idol to his equal.

How many wives do you have now?

I have only one wife and I should have only one because I want to be a good example to all my children.

Are you not planning to marry more wives as a king and a Muslim?

I am not planning to marry another wife. The king must be the best in all things; that is how God ordained it to be. I am the father, so I must be the best. Even at ceremonies, the king should be the best dressed. If the President or the governor is doing anything now, as the king, they are all my children. The president is my son, the governor and others are all my children. If they are celebrating anything, I should be the best dressed because as their father, my joy should be the utmost because if your children are doing good things, won’t you be happy?  That is why I dress in my best all the time because I must be the best dressed at all occasions.

That was why I called for prayers when President Buhari was sick I did that because Buhari is my son and it is only a stupid father that will be happy when one of his children is sick. Whether the President is a Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo or anybody, I am their father and I should not be happy when one of them is sick because I am their father.

Why did you give your crown to your Olori (wife) to wear?

Go and look at the ‘Ori Olokun,’  it is Yeyemeso, the first wife of Oduduwa. When Oduduwa came to Yorubaland, he won the hearts of the people with love. He brought civilisation because he came from where there was civilisation. His name means ‘O du du wa’(He came out black); that is the meaning  of Oduduwa. He was called Oduduwa because he came out black and all his siblings had fair skin like those in the Middle East. He was civilised from where he came from. He showed many people love and he started government and wore the crown. He showed them that where he came from, the queens wore the crown. Go and check Cleopatra and others. Oduduwa brought that idea to Yorubaland and gave his queen the crown to wear. Prof. Adisa Ogunfolakan corroborated this. He is from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife and he is also a prince from Ife. Prof. Ogunfolakan is in charge of the museum and natural history in Ife. He came and said, Kabiyesi, what you said was true. He himself brought the image of an Ooni and his wife, both of them wearing the crown. He said, ‘Oluwo, you are right. What you saw in the spiritual is actually true. Do you know why many kings don’t allow their queens to wear the crown? They think there is no equal opportunity for male and female in Africa; many of them have more than one wife and they don’t know who to give the crown to. Some of them don’t want their wives to be more successful but Oduduwa that started this crowned his wife. But many kings, because of their conservative nature, treat women like second class citizens.

Is there any lifestyle that you miss since you ascended the throne?

What kind of lifestyle will I miss? I love this kingship. What is kingship is not a human making. If God can bring me to himself and make me a king, what lifestyle will I be missing?  Why won’t I thank God for what he has made me? I can’t miss any low life after God has brought me to the throne. Which life is better than being a king? You just tell me! In this world, there is no life that is better than being a king. If you are a President, after your tenure of eight years or so, you leave the office but it is not so for kings. Do you know why Mugabe wants to die in office? It is because he yearns to attain the status of a king because kings are the only ones who occupy their positions for life. No president can be in office forever and that is why some leaders want to perpetuate themselves in office forever. But it is only kings that can be on the throne from the day they were crowned to their last breath on earth; no political office has such provision. Kings are the representatives of God on earth, God is forever and the same way my throne is forever. When there is an occasion when others have prayed, the king is supposed to be allowed to pray over it because he represents God.

This is why kings must also go back to God. They must be clean and be free of idol worshiping. Kings must not be found to belong to any secret cult. The youth took cultism from their leaders because they knew it from their leaders. That is why I will propose what is called the Enlightenment Act. It is an act that will take us away from poverty of the mind. It will take us away from superstition and myths that are killing Africans.

Some still believe that there is a spirit that brings money through money rituals even if you don’t work. Secret societies have to be outlawed. That was what Britain did through the 1732 Enlightenment Act. Imagine that some indolent people still believe that there is money-making ritual that can make you rich even if you don’t work in this 21st century! The person that wants to do the money ritual for you is living in abject poverty; he is in one room in a slum and you carry N20m to give him to make you rich. Do you think he will not make himself rich if he knows the way? Some of these herbalists are criminals and they should be outlawed

What has been your contribution to the development of Iwoland since you ascended the throne?

Bringing people out of the dark is enough achievement for me. I can’t count my achievements because they are too numerous. The road repair is there. The road linking Iwo to Osogbo, the state capital, I fixed it. I repaired the State High Court and I don’t know if there is any Oba who has done that. I fixed the High Court and spent millions of naira when they threatened to close it down due to dilapidation. The National Open University in Iwo, I sponsored it to be brought here. I spent my money on the building. I gave out laptop computers to schools, tertiary institutions and secondary schools. There is Iwo Children’s Day which is celebrated during the Children’s  Day. I am the first king to visit all the schools in his domain in the whole world, I am not just talking of being the first in Nigeria.  The free food to orphans, widows and everybody that is poor is going on three days in a week. Just get to the palace from wherever and whoever you are, you will be served. There are many others, the free medical equipment. I visited the neglected people in the society. I visited inmates at Ilesa Prison because people don’t care about them.

What are the challenges facing you since you became the king?

I don’t see challenges, so there is no challenge that can overcome me. I see opposition’s criticisms as the tonic to be stronger and better. God has planned my life and I am just living it.

What is your relationship with other Obas in Yorubaland?

One thing is when you believe that something is right and you pursue it, you don’t need to apologise to anybody for doing it. But if people don’t understand you, they tend to say something against you. But kings must know that they are the ones representing God on earth and they must be clean. President Muhammadu Buhari came with the war against corruption but you can see how some people wage serious war against him. So it is expected. A leader was sick and some wished him dead. If civil servants are sick for three months, should we ask them to resign? If a woman goes for maternity leave of three months, should we ask her to resign? But if Buhari was their son, brother or relative, would they wish him dead?

Source: PUNCH Newspaper                

Ooni Declares Olojo Festival, Pennsylvania House, 150 Black Americans To Participate

By Toba Ajisafe

 

Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II has declared Olojo festival adding that Pennsylvania House of Representatives and about 150 other black Americans indicated interest to participate.

 

Ooni Ogunwusi through his Director, Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Moses Olafare made this known in a statement on Friday in Ile-Ife, state of Osun.

 

He said “some members of black caucus of Pennsylvania House of Representatives and about 150 other black Americans have already indicated interest to participate during this year’s Olojo festival.

“During Olojo, the sacred Are crown, regarded as the oldest crown in the world is worn by Ooni once in a year.

 

He therefore called for total repackaging of African culture to remove negative tag put on cultural beliefs of the black race and proper education of the younger generation on the significance of major cultural celebrations of Yoruba people.

 

“Contrary to the view of many people within and outside the continent, dieties and forbears of the Africans were all servants of God, who did exceptionally well in delivering on the mandate given to them by God.

 

The festival which was slated for 30th of September, he highlighted activities and events lined up to make the festival a rewarding outing for tourists and participants alike, Ooni said 2017 Olojo will feature reorientation workshop for the youth on culture, football competition, ayo Olopon, fashion show and traditional musical night.

Eid-il-Kabir: Osun Govt Announces Free Train Ride From Lagos To Osogbo

Few days to the festival, the Government of Osun on Sunday announced that it has concluded arrangements for 2017 eid-il-Kabir free train ride from Lagos to Osogbo.

The state government, through a statement signed by the Commissioner for Commerce, Industries and Cooperatives Hon. Ismail Adekunle Jayeoba-Alagbada, said the gesture is in furtherance of Governor Rauf Aregbesola administration’s commitment to the welfare of the ordinary people who deserve this form of support from the government.

Jayeoba-Alagbada’s statement explained that the free train is expected to move from Lagos twice to Osogbo and will operate only one trip for the post-sallah return journey.

“The first train moves from Lagos on Wednesday, August 30th, 2017 at exactly 10am from the Iddo Terminus, Lagos enroute our usual Ikeja, through Ogun and Oyo State to end the journey in Osogbo. Another one leaves at the same time on Thursday, August 31st, 2017