A popular Yoruba monarch passed away a couple of weeks back. He was the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade. Not all the Royal Fathers are very popular because some are merely ceremonial with little influence, however, the late Ooni was not in that category. He had considerable influence in Yorubaland.
His demise was controversial because he died outside the shores of Nigeria and news hit the Nigerian populace before the royal chiefs of his court knew what was going on.
It is usually their duty to announce the King’s death to the subjects after putting plans in place for the rituals that must be performed. In spite of the knowledge of the Oba’s death, the council of Chiefs insisted that he was hale and hearty while they began to plan for the rites.
I was curious and asked my mother about what the drama was about and she dished some weird details about the rituals that would take place like his body would be separated into pieces and buried at various points of the town under the cover of darkness. His heart would also be prepared into a meal for the new king to consume. His family would move out of the palace immediately and would not be allowed to see the body unless they were ‘initiates’ – usually the male children.
There was also the popular speculation of a man whose sole purpose in life was to be buried along with the king. This man was said to have absconded when the news hit his ears but I honestly don’t know if that is true because if he HAD to be buried with the King, I have no doubt that he WOULD be buried with the King.
Narrated Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that :
The Prophet (SAW) said: You will be keen for ruler-ship but it will be regret and loss on the Day of Resurrection. What a good position it is when they are alive, but how miserable their state when they die (and leave it behind). – Sunan Nasa’i Book 49 Hadith 5387
At the burial, there was a christian denominational service held in the late Oba’s honour and I wondered if he was a Christian when alive because the position is usually a very fetish one with a lot of traditional religious worship to various gods. While that was going on outside, the traditionalists also conducted their rites within the palace.
I had to inquire why men were known to fight to death for such positions when they knew how they would end up and her guess was as good as mine. Strangely enough, there is already a tussle in Osun State among the four ruling families for a successor to this very throne!
Will man ever learn?