•OLUWO Of IWO, Oba ABDULRASHEED ADEWALE AKANBI
It was just like yesterday, when Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi was made the Oluwo of Iwo. He came in as a young prince from Canada, he was in his late 40s at that time, and he came in to fill a big void that had existed in Iwo. Many were skeptical whether the young king would be able to step into the big shoes of his forbears.
3 years after, no one is asking that question again because Oba Akanbi has come in to transform the Obaship institution. He has also transformed Iwo town from the rustic and sleepy town it was then in 2016. He has done so much that many forget that he is only 3 years on the throne. It holds like he has been there for close to a decade, observed a close watcher.
What happened was that Kabiyeesi injected youthful zeal and energy into making sure that Iwo quickly regained its lost glory. He was in a hurry to make his mark and in 3 years he has accomplished a lot. Since he came in, he has done a lot to change the way many view the Obaship institution. He brought it closer to the people. Rather than waiting for his people to come to the palace, he went out there to meet them. He visited their homes and paid them unscheduled visits. He chose days of the week to feed Iwo indigenes at the palace.
He introduced food bank. He also gave out clothings to the less privileged. He also galvanised them to repair Iwo roads by direct labour with Kabiyeesi leading them in Jeans and T shirt. He has been an unusual kind of Oba. He has also helped the youth get employment and he made sure that all the companies and educational institutions in and around Iwo, employed his people.
He has also espoused very, very controversial views about the need to separate religion from culture and tradition. He has also told his fellow Obas repeatedly not to worship idols again because they themselves are the ones to be worshipped by the people.
He wants Obas to regain their rightful pre-eminent positions, to regain their supremacy by going back to what the institution was originally set out to do.
If there is one major thing the Oluwo has been able to do in the last 3 years it is to put Iwo back on the map as an important Yoruba town, as it was then in history. Not only did he remind Iwo people of how important the town is, he has been attending major events across Nigeria educating people about the new roles Yoruba Obas should be playing. He has also excavated historical facts about the origin of the Obaship institution in Iwoland and how the Iwo monarchy is linked to Oduduwa in Ile-Ife.
Of course, the coming in of Oba Akanbi as the new Oluwo has rattled many because of his strong views. He is known to hold strong views as regards Yoruba history and culture and he expresses them as they occur to him, not minding who disagrees with him.
All of these have made the Oluwo to be hugely popular. He also made headline news when a few years back, he created a crown for his wife to wear to public events. He said he took after Oduduwa whose wife also wore a crown.
Last Tuesday, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE visited the Oluwo at his palace and spent quality time with him. And for 2 hours he spoke about life as the king of Iwoland. He is a 1st class king and he has so many other kings and Baales under his authority. His new palace is a beauty to behold. He left the old palace the way he met it and beside it built a modern palace. Below are excerpts of the interview.
A few minutes ago you said to me that you have repositioned Iwoland in the last 3 years. Can you explain this?
Historically, we have done that. We have not only repositioned Iwoland, but to put the town where it properly belongs in history. One of the paramount rulers of Yorubaland was the Iwo stool. Today, in over a thousand years history of Iwo in existence, we have connected this our stool to the stool in Ile-Ife. We have made people to know that it was a Prince from Ife, Adekola Telu, that is the founder of Iwo. I can tell you authoritatively that I have made the Iwo Princes to know that they have access or they have rights to 2 stools – which is the Oluwo Stool and also the Ooni stool.
Alade meji ni wa. (2 crowns), which is for future reference. Today, in the history of Iwo, nobody has ever connected, Owodo ruling house, which is a sub-section of Lafogido ruling house to Iwo history. Today, I have done that through spiritual revelation and divine inspiration that God has given me to be able to solve issues in our history. Its not only the history of Iwo, but history of the Yorubas. You can see that I am the one that brought the awareness of the need for the crowns for the Olooris. How did I know this. It is through divine inspiration. Many Professors went and checked and they met it to be so, that the code of kings in Oduduwa. He is the first one to wear the crown and anything he does is what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to be like him.
We are supposed to take after him. I am the one that told our people to give me any deity they know that Oduduwa worshipped then other than Olodumare. No one has been able to answer me.
I am the one telling the Yoruba race today what they haven’t known about our history. We are confused. We have too many Gods. We are supposed to have a rallying point. Its the same thing, that since time immemorial after Oduduwa, there was no leader in Yorubaland. We only had warlords.
But there came a time that there was a leader, in Yorubaland. He was not even a king. His name is Awolowo. He was our leader in Yorubaland. But today I am making another history, I want to tell the Yorubas that we have a new leader in Yorubaland again, who actually loves the Yoruba, who loves the Yorubas to the core of his heart. He is a leader who has made many leaders. His is a leader who has changed Yorubaland, the Yoruba setting. He is a leader who has produced other leaders. There is no leader who has come out of him that has never been a leader.
That leader that we have today is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and there is no other leader.
Yoruba must appreciate it when they see a leader like him, when they see one. He is not just a leader in Lagos, he is the leader of the Yorubas.
And we need to know now and to acknowledge this man, when he is still alive, to help him. Yorubas need to help him more. Both the Hausas and the Igbos wish they have someone like him. Yes. I believe the Northerness too have a leader now, but I don’t know if they know that. Buhari is also the leader of the Northerners. Buhari is a leader that I love because of his ways and what he believes in. He is a leader that stands for something. Tinubu is our leader in Yorubaland. And if we want the best for Yoruba race, Tinubu needs to be supported and to be helped. People should rally round him.
We the Kings have a role to play in helping to shape our society right. We need resourceful kings. Kings that have travelled. Kings that are well educated. Kings that are exposed. We need exposure.
Each time I visit this palace I see how you attend to hundreds of people who come to see you daily with their problems both old and young, both men and women and you listen to each and every one of them. And you even give them money to help. Where do you get the energy and the strength to cope
When you are anointed, when you are appointed, when you have been sent to do this, you will have the strength. God will give you that strength Olodumare will do everything that you need. Actually, God had prepared me for this role. He has made me to see the world. He has made me to travel. I have lived have in Africa before I travelled abroad. I know my culture. He took me away to make me see how things operate abroad. He actually prepared me to be able to know how to lead our people from darkness into light.
How did you mark your 3rd year anniversary?
I marked it by empowering people. There is so much suffering here. People are dying. People don’t want to accept civilisation. Iwo was late to accept civilisation. And that is why you see us fighting for more development to come to Iwo because in those days, we were driving away the white people who came to bring civilisation.
There was a time in the history of Iwo that Iwo didn’t have an Oba for a long time. Didn’t that slow down the development of Iwo?
Its not only that. We had leadership issues a long time ago. We had some challenges with some of our previous kings, which is not their doing. We had Oba Abimbola who was the first educated king. He had some health challenges. This went on for a long time. That one made him not to be very active. After him, there was a 10 year interregnum. There was no king. Then, when the next king came, which was my predecessor, he was an educated man and he had many issues too. There were issues of he been sick, many court cases, people fighting him. He had to contend with a lot of issues. So, what he was supposed to do, he couldn’t even do. There were a lot of issues. That is why you have seen Iwo having slow development.
And when I came, I came with a revolution to lead Iwo well, to lead Iwo into reckoning. Firsts, we have achieved significance. At least today everywhere you go, you will hear them talking about Iwo. I have succeeded in making Iwo the main issue that people talk about.
Today, Iwo is significant and the Oluwo stool is significiant also. People now know that the Oluwo is a very ancient monarch and one of the first natural paramount rulers in Yorubaland. Yes, he is one of them. That was when there were not so many kings, when there were about 10, 15 to 20 kings. Yes kingship is from us, especially from we the Yorubas.
The Hausas got their kingship through Islam. For we in Yorubaland, this is the real home of kings. It is an ancient, ancient stool. Before now, people do have leaders. That was when there was no Nigeria, people do have leaders. But we started having kingship from the time of Oduduwa and we are the first. And that kingship stayed. Osun is the cradle of all crowns.
Today there is a lot known about Iwo, Iwo is very, very spiritually sound. There is authority here. In this palace people come here to pray. Yes. People know that there cannot be any idol worshipping in this palace because me and idols we are not of the same rank. I am a king. I represent God on earth. They can be in the town with people, but in the palace, no. This is the abode of God on earth. This is where people come and ask for Ase. Mind you, not Ase to destroy, or kill people.
But Ase to make people better in life. Yes. People come from far and near because they know there is the authority here and that their prayers can be answered with authority here in this palace. My palace has been defined as the abode of God on earth. I am not God. But what I am saying is that I am the physical representation. Only God is Kabiyeesi. And that is why when you come, you will greet, by saying, Kabiyeesi
When you came in as Oluwo, you preserved the old palace, you didn’t destroy or tamper or alter the look of the old palace. You only built a new palace beside it where you live. Why did you take that decision to do it like that?
We just want to have our old palace intact, though there has been little renovation done to it. But we just want people to feel the old look of the palace so that people can remember how the old palace looks. I don’t throw away my culture. I don’t throw away things of the past. I still have things from our father, and grandfathers inside this palace. Do you know what you do it? You don’t worship them. What you do to it is to preserve them. Where do people preserve things of the past? In a Museum. The ones that are stories you put them in the Museum of the mind. They are priceless things. That is the way I preserve the culture and tradition, in the Museum of my mind, which is a priceless place where I keep things that are so dear to me that money cannot buy.