Son of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, Prince Aderonmu Aderemi, has said the Ife tradition seriously forbids the disclosure of the death of an Ooni as the “Ooni never dies.”
He said the tradition of keeping the news of the death of Ooni from public knowledge was so strong that even when the then Premier of the defunct Western Region, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, sought to see the remains of Oba Aderemi shortly before his burial, he was denied access.
The crown prince, in a chat with our correspondent, stated that the Ooni, from time immemorial, is likened to Oduduwa, being the first son of the father of the Yoruba.
According to him, among the over 200 Orisas (deities) in Yorubaland, the Ooni remains the first, a reason the stool is considered sacred and most revered till date.
The junior Aderemi recalled that when Oba Aderemi (I) joined his ancestors in 1980, the news of his death was concealed for weeks without anyone having a hint of what had happened until his death was formally announced.
He said, “When my father, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, died in 1980, what we did was to quickly take him out of Ife to Ibadan where we did the embalmment and kept him in a safe place. Nobody knew of it until few days to the burial after the formal announcement was made.
“I still remember that the former Premier, Chief Awolowo, came and wanted to see him. He was very close to my father because they were both strong promoters of progressive politics in the Western Region. Even with such a kind of closeness, he was not allowed to see the Ooni.”
The prince stated that although the social media ‘falsely’ broke the news of the death of Oba Okunade Sijuwade (Olubuse II), the fact remained that the Ooni never died.
The junior Aderemi lamented that the breaking of the news of the death of Oba Sijuwade by the social media and later by some Nigerian newspapers “slightly assailed the tradition of Ife on royalty.”
He said the custodians of the Ife tradition, which he described as a means of preserving the aura of reverence around the Ooni, were scandalised and jolted, a reason the rebuttal they published thereafter was a necessity.Copyright PUNCH.