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TheCable

One king, two Oloris and counting…

One king, two Oloris and counting…
December 28
14:15 2021

Last week Thursday, December 23, 2021, Prophetess Naomi Silekunola, announced her separation, (or is it divorce?) from the 51st Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II. Until that announcement, since their marriage three years ago, she was known and addressed as Queen Naomi Morenike Silekunola Ogunwusi. Now, she says: “I, at this moment, announce that I shall no longer be referred to as wife to the Ooni of Ife or as Queen of Ile-Ife but as the Queen of the people and mother of my adorable Prince.” This announcement as can be imagined has generated and is still generating hot debate. For those who find Queen Naomi’s announcement untraditional, it’s not that out of character for the couple. Apart from the Ooni being young and upwardly mobile at 47, the couple was very active in the social circles. The Ooni and his Queen were also on social media. I guess it only made sense to break the news on social media.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have been interested in this story, at least not enough to write about it here. But I haven’t been able to escape the commentaries about the erstwhile Queen of Ile-Ife’s announcement. From unknown bloggers to Nigeria’s mainstream media. A pattern is beginning to form: the more unknown and obscure the medium, the more the accusations aimed at the 28-year-old Queen Naomi or her mother Deaconess Funmilayo Ogunseyi. The usual questions query Prophetess Naomi’s decision to marry the Ooni in the first instance, considering that the Ooni according to Yoruba history is the spiritual head of the Yorubas. Who can forget the picture of the then-new Queen walking over a pool of some animal’s blood into the palace in the early days? So, naturally, the questions have been: “What did she hope to achieve?” “How could light and darkness mix?” “How can she say she didn’t know what she was getting into?” There are even less charitable comments. For instance, a female Youtuber (won’t bother to name her), blamed Prophetess Naomi’s mother for not taking a backseat and competing for the limelight with her daughter. The story is that the former Queen’s mother moved in with her into the palace. What has this got to do with the issue at hand?

Meanwhile, speaking of mainstream media, ‘I took particular notice of ‘Trending with Ojy Okpe’ on Arise News of December 24 which had the headline: “Ooni of Ife’s Wife Announces Split, Following the Monarch’s Suicidal Story.” That was followed by the in-story caption: “Ooni of Ife narrates suicidal tendencies.” Someone was obviously trying to be creative but suicidal tendencies are wrong for what the story was alluding to. There was a story where the Ooni at an event was giving advice and encouraged people to have hope. He then talked about how he nearly committed suicide or words to that effect. This was because a project he’d taken a bank loan for went sour and he lost everything. How is this ‘narrating suicidal tendencies?

Anyhow, the other reason I had more than a passing interest in the story of another Olori leaving Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi is that the first Olori who left the Ooni was Olori Wuraola who has since reverted to her pre-Olori name of Zaynab Otiti-Obanor from Benin-City, Edo State. As an Edo woman myself, I’d felt some of the embarrassment that resulted from Olori Wuraola’s exit in 2017 after 17 months of marriage. Former Queen Wuraola married the Ooni in 2016 after his coronation in December 2015. She had a lot to say on Instagram (where else?) about the allegations of infidelity against her then. Even though it may not have been loudly expressed but I felt there was a general belief that if she had been from the right tribe, that tribe being Yoruba, things may have turned out differently. Well, for what it’s worth, Olori Naomi is Yoruba and the right tribe. Now that tribe is not the issue, some people have jumped on their religious differences.  However, the one thing that remains constant is how much some commentators are ready to blame Queen Naomi. Hers makes Ooni’s third marriage fail. His first child 27-year-old Princess Adeola Aanuoluwapo Ogunwusi is by Omolara Olatubosun whom he wasn’t married to. They were teenage parents. I stumbled on a story about Ms. Olatubosun’s statement correcting Ooni’s claims about him being a single father:

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“A couple of weeks ago, on his Instagram and Facebook pages, he once again wrote that he was a `single father` to my daughter — a mendacious claim that has no basis in fact but has gone on for too long. I want to put it on the record now in public that there’s not an iota of truth to that claim, and I challenge him to prove me wrong. Yeye Ogunwusi was never present in Adeola’s life for the first ten years of her growing up which makes the `single father` narrative shocking, annoying and disrespectful to hear by all who know the truth of the story. I, Omolara, took care of my daughter physically, financially and emotionally, with the moral support of my mother and my siblings.”

“I was a pregnant teen, but he was nowhere to be found, and I bore the responsibilities for our child and paid the physical and social cost of raising her alone in my mom’s house. Yeye Ogunwusi saw Adeola for only five minutes at the hospital when she was born. The next time he saw her was when she was already four years old and ten years old respectively.” As for Princess Adeola, she speaks highly of her father. Does any of this mean anything? Everyone is going to have to draw their own conclusions.

Yet in all this, people are not talking enough about how many traditional rulers are becoming demystified as they focus on being celebrities. Back in the day, in Edo State, when someone says, “You’ll see Oba,” it meant you were going to suffer, you’re going to have a tough time achieving whatever the task was.  This was because it was difficult, almost impossible to see the Oba (king) back then. The Oba didn’t make public appearances and it would take something serious to sight him. Now, Obas, Ezes and Emirs are toasts of parties. They even have a social media presence as they want to be seen and treated like regular celebrities. And we the people are so ready to accept their opulent lifestyles, many of which can’t be justified. It doesn’t matter if the Oba is wealthy. It should bother everyone concerned when kings live in opulence surrounded by abject poverty.

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