Oba is the monarchical head of government in ancient Yorubaland. Some Obas ruled supreme over their kingdoms and subjects. Though, the role of Oba has significantly changed today, an Oba still commands respect and plays a prominent role in the society.
Ancient Obas were so powerful that nobody dared to disrespect them not to talk of disrespecting their offices.
A particular case of disrespect and affront to traditional institution occurred in 1953 when young Olabode Akanbi Thomas disrespected the then Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi II. Bode Thomas was a young brilliant, logical, astute, thoughtful, forward-looking and a workaholic lawyer then.
Olabode Akanbi Thomas popularly known as Chief Bode Thomas rose swiftly on the ladder of prominence yet he died at his prime.
Thomas was born on October 1919, and he died tragically on November 23, 1953, under curious circumstances at the age of 34.
What many believed to be responsible for his death was his disrespect to Alaafin Oyo then. On November 22, 1953, Bode, who had been made the chairman of the Oyo Divisional Council having taken over from Alaafin Adeyemi II, arrived at a meeting of the council with the Oba (king) in attendance as a member. The report holds that all the other councillors, except Oba Adeyemi in his 60s, stood to welcome him. Thomas then impolitely told the king “why were you sitting when I walked in? Why can’t you show me respect?” The Alaafin, feeling disrespected, asked Thomas “Shey Emi Lon Gbo Mo Baun? Emi Ni Longbo Bi Aja Mo Baun”, meaning “Is it me you are barking at like that?’ Is it me you are barking like a dog at like that? Keep barking. Various accounts further hold that Thomas, upon reaching home after the meeting in Oyo, started barking through the night at his Yaba, Lagos home. He died the following day (November 23, 1953) despite being taken to Ijebu-Igbo for further treatment.
Thomas, being a chief himself as at that time, must have known the time-held Yoruba practice of respecting the elderly and traditional authority as he and Alaafin Aderemi II were Yorubas. His disrespect to Alaafin then was believed to be responsible for what happened to him eventually.
The same scenario is playing itself out today.
Chief Sunday Adeyemo, known as Sunday Igboho has attacked Ooni of Ife and some other Yoruba leaders, calling them Fulani slaves. He specifically disrespected Ooni of Ife by calling him unprintable names and even threatened to attack him in a video that has gone viral. This affront against Ooni of Ife stands condemned by any right-thinking person. If the King is telling you to embrace peace as nobody has the monopoly of violence; does that make him a Fulani slave? Or does his visit to Aso Rock as a First Class Yoruba Oba to see the President makes him a Fulani slave? Ooni of Ife is the Arole of Oodua and if truly Igboho is fighting for Oodua republic as he is claiming; he should respect Ooni. Such blatant disrespect for Ooni of Ife shows that Igboho has a skeleton in his cupboard.
Seeking political relevance through ethnic sympathy has become the order of the day in Nigeria. But for some of us who know some of these agitators or accidental activists and their antecedents we decided to sit on the fence and not to be swayed by sentiments.
Dealing with our tormentors could have been done silently and strategically. But for crass ignorance, some of these agitators or accidental activists made too much noise and now we have further exposed our people to danger. Our fathers won the wars against our tormentors in the past with strategy and not by noise. All warfare is based on deception. Hence when able to attack we must seem unable. When using our forces we must seem inactive. When we are near we make the enemy believe we are far away. When far away we must make the enemy believe we are near. Appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak.” If he is superior in strength, evade him; attack him where he is unprepared. Appear where you are not expected.
I rest my case with the quote from Abraham Lincoln that says “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time