On November 16, 2016, the ancient town of Ororuwo in Osun State erupted into joy when news of the selection of their new traditional ruler broke. The then Abuja-based Oba-elect, Qamarudeen Adeyemi Adeyanju was overwhelmed by the crowd that swam round him in solidarity. A year has passed and the monarch is still as excited as the first day; he shared his experience in the palace with TUNDE BUSARI. Excerpts:
How did your first year on the throne look like?
It was one year full of different experiences, of course, which a traditional ruler must pass through.
How did you spend the last one year in the palace?
I will rather concentrate on tomorrow than yesterday. My last one year is already in the history book. It has gone forever. Another one year is more important than the year I have spent. But in retrospection, it was a year full of events. An important event was my coronation which drew a large crowd of people to my town and large assemblage of traditional rulers too. You witnessed it and saw what I mean. Apart from my coronation, there are other activities like festivals we have witnessed, all of which made up my experience on the throne. Another big event was the commissioning of a medical centre in my town. We now have Charis Life Hospital which was built by a responsible indigene; Bishop Remi Adejumo ably supported by his wife Revd Mrs Funke Adejumo. The couple has set a high standard by bringing this infrastructural facility here. Already work has started in the hospital. What this couple has done, I believe, would inspire other indigenes to bring home projects that will improve the life of the people back home. All of us cannot live outside. And whatever one has in another town is not as valuable as one you have back home.
What particular lesson have you learnt in the last one year?
I have learnt many lessons. I have come to know that the palace is home for all sons and daughters. It is a refuge of sorts where they must run to for safety. Palace is not only for administration of justice. Everybody is free to come here because the Oba is the chief overseer, the chief security officer. He must be approachable, dependable and admirable by his subjects. Above all, he must be God-fearing in whatever he does because he has somebody higher whom he is going to report his deeds on earth to. Whatever I do here is my legacy which will live after me for generations yet unborn to read. That is why I always say that yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow is promissory note while today is cash at hand. We should spend the cash judiciously.
You sounded philosophical here. Have you had a peculiar experience in the one year to have informed this?
There was none. I communicate with my ancestors a lot. And whatever they tell me, I say it out. It is an opportunity to have ancestors who guide you on what to say and how to say and when to say it. The Olororuwo is beyond the person you see here. Do you know the number of the past Obas that had ruled here? That is telling you that life is a continuum but what we do will live after us. I am very happy that in my time, an indigene is the chairman of Boripe North Local Council Development Area (LCDA). I have attended functions everywhere and received good remarks that I have started on a promising note.
How would you describe your relationship with your chiefs with whom you administer the town?
We have a cordial relationship, even though there could be some occasional disagreements on issues. I consider these as normal because we cannot all sleep and face the same direction. There must be divergent views and we must know how to handle them without resulting into conflict. I run a tight schedule attending to meetings and other issues. But I am happy I am doing my best to forge ahead.
With your tight schedule that travelling and meetings involve, how do you unwind?
How I unwind would surprise you. When I realised that I live more of a restrictive life, I devised a means to relax. What I do is simple. Later in the evening I take to the streets in casual wear and trek. Medical experts have already advised that trekking is a form of exercise that keeps the body active and healthy. I have adopted this and it is working well for me.
What is the reaction of the people who see you?
Perhaps because it is new to them, they show surprise. They rush out to greet me. Some don’t easily identify me because I dress completely down, a contrast to my heavily embroidered agbada. They see it as a demonstration of humility. I go to some of them and greet them. On sighting me, they prostrate and chorus ‘Kabiyesi o.’
Don’t you think of security angle to this practice?
Which security angle are you talking about? I am free with my people and my people are also free with me. So, there is nothing to worry about. It is only in a place where there is no synergy between traditional ruler and his people that such questions can be relevant. I am happy being with my people and mixing with them. I always encourage them to visit the palace as often as they want. The palace is their property. Everybody should have access to this place. That is how they will all have a sense of belonging. I am in this palace because of them. In other words, there is no leader without followers. This life itself is all about leaders respecting followers and followers respecting leaders. It should not be a one-sided thing. A leader must earn followers’ respect. He should not seek it. Respect should not be imposed on the followers. Such respect is not real; it is artificial and it won’t last. To God be the glory for the bond existing between me and my people.
People seem surprised by the synergy between you and the Aragbiji. Can you tell me the secret?
There is no secret in what the public see as a cordial relationship between two of us. The Aragbiji, from day one, has demonstrated a lot of integrity which every traditional ruler must have. With this integrity alone, I am duty bound to be close to him because I know where I was coming from. Like him, I came from public service. So, if this unites us, I don’t think there should be any problem with that. Some even call us twins. But I see him more than that. He is a teacher whose words cannot be thrown away. I like his guidance; that is why I am close to him. Mind you, I am also close to other traditional rulers. You can see me in their midst mixing freely with them. That is the essence of being a traditional ruler. We are here to set standard on human relation and particularly, unity of purpose.
How about your relationship with the Orangun of Ila?
Orangun of Ila is my father. Perhaps you did not know. People should endeavor to read history beyond that of their towns to know much more. Ororuwo is a descendant of Ila-Orangun. We still have our family compound there where we attend traditional festival among other events.
Have you formally visited the Orangun upon your ascension to the throne?
Of course, I visited Baba, and the visit was home coming, historic and memorable.
What made it memorable?
It was the first time I visited him as the Olororuwo, and the kind of reception he gave me was that of father and son. I believe you know the position of Orangun in Yorubaland. If you know it, you would understand how important I felt visiting him and receiving such treatment from him. Baba Orangun spoke with me as fathers do to loving sons. I got inspired and learnt a lot of wisdom in his words of advice. So, I have the obligation to take to his word and show him respect a son must give his father.