The Oasis Reporters
September 6, 2021
To give an honest appraisal, it is appropriate to say that there are now more chiefs ‘this’ and ‘that’ of Yoruba land, which is a very lovely development.
Yoruba people have no problem with this.
Disagreement only surfaced when a foremost king in Yoruba land publicly laid claim to a sole and monopoly right to confer such titles ‘on a worthy individual, man or woman, to cover the whole of Yoruba land’. I have read some of the reactions in online media and I think they are of three categories.
One supports and emphasizes the claim of monopoly and located it in the claimer.
The second feels monopoly is wrong and the right should be with a select fewsome oligarchy.
The third category emphasizes the right of responsibility of each traditional ruler in their respective kingdoms (See allafrica.com for a report of these reactions.
These three categories represent three different perspectives on leadership and the development and advancement of communities generally. The first which supports monopoly, thinks of and feels traditional authority and political power generally as a call to domination of other people and alien lands; what some people would call imperialism, which is outdated at best and anachronistic in practice.
Today, leadership is about developing and defending your domain, as the challenges of human life in contemporary society particularly of Africa now hinges on human-focused leadership rather than those movements of seizing other peoples environment in the name of empire-building which to modern minds is ordinary gangsterism.
The second category which prefers that a select few have that right, have a conflict of interests: they would not like the spirit of imperialism identified above to be exercised over them, yet they would like to exercise such powers.
The third feel that in light of the challenges of leadership in contemporary times, bickering on that claim of monopoly is unnecessary, since that power is pointless in the first place.
Is this power necessary?
This is the question concerned Yoruba people should ask themselves, not who should have the power. If this power is indeed necessary and valid, certainly someone or some people would claim it. But we should be sure that what we would bicker about has substance.
In simple terms, every town and city has been known to face their problems and challenges of order and community development by themselves alone. It only makes sense that the king of the whole Yoruba land should be in all these localities solving problems. But no, each king in every locality finds himself alone with God in the face of occasional hell and ever present demand for solutions. It could be that these communities are too insignificant to be seen and attended to by the overall power of Yoruba land.
If so, then such communities should be too insignificant to qualify as part of the Yoruba land the overall king commands. Therefore, such insignificant communities are not Yoruba in the ‘Yoruba land’ way and are therefore not under the rule of Yoruba land. As a matter of fact, maybe far more Yoruba kingdoms than one can stipulate actually face their problems by themselves and are therefore insignificant in this way and not subject to the rule of ‘Yoruba land.’
But if there is at least, a Yoruba town that is too insignificant to be subject to the rule of ‘Yoruba land’, then either such a town is not Yoruba or ‘Yoruba land’ is mythical. But we know that these communities are Yoruba, therefore, this Yoruba land that has one king is mythical.
I am sure that those who love hairsplitting about history would not receive this well. They would deceive themselves that there is some history that either supports or bedevils the claim of monopoly to confer titles that cover all of Yoruba. Our concern is the point in the idea of rule that cover Yoruba land not who should have the right.
However, a question of equal and resounding importance is: is the power to confer chieftaincy titles that cover the whole of Yoruba people safe?
Look at it this way. Chieftaincy, honorary or portfolio is a call to representation. A chief is an ambassador of the bloc from which he comes. So somebody is saying that one king can consult with his chiefs in his domain to appoint someone to be the ambassador of people of a far away kingdom!
What a logic!
Sounds more like trying to give life to a derelict first generation ship. Now look at it this way further.
You appoint someone a chief, unilaterally, on another people’s behalf. The chief goes about carrying the badge of those other people. then the chief misbehaves, as is typical of humans. The chief subjects the people you claim he represents to embarrassment, but those people don’t even know such has happened, since they are not aware they have a chief of such.
Today, leadership has become responsibility and the subjects must be able to connect with their kings and chiefs. A king and chiefs out of radar must either be a thing of old or some imperialism of the digital age.
And it can be so huge how a supposed ‘chief this’ of Yoruba land may carry that badge to places where they endorse wholesome and unwholesome cultures.
If ‘chief this’ of Yoruba land does some funny thing, the thing probably wears a good light by so doing, thereby producing a new culture, possibly of vice and corruption, in the Yoruba matrix which of course could be a direct counter-culture to what the various peoples who rightly identify as Yoruba cherish.
The idea of chieftaincy titles that cover the whole of Yoruba therefore is not only pointless, but also dangerous. The pushers of the trend can say they act for the advancement of the Yoruba culture and heritage, but the practice actually is several steps backward in the odyssey of advancement of leadership and community in the Yoruba society.
If we give this matter a genuine thought, being people who love our heritage and are steep in our concern for the advancement of our people, most of us, including those who promote this trend as well as future candidates of such benefits, would find it dangerous.
Written by Ola Oludele.