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The Alleged Escape of the Abobaku: What you need to know

The death of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, has been surrounded by controversies and intrigues.

The palace officially announced the monarch’s death on August 12, Wednesday. The Royal Traditional Council of Ife maintained that the Oba is alive and in good health for two weeks after reports about his death surfaced.

While controversy rages about the Abobaku, who has reportedly run away after the death of the monarch, Lanre Akintilo commented on his Facebook account about what now happens with the trusted stewards of the Obas.

He said: “Quite a number of no-truths and distortion has been written regarding the eloping of an entity called ‘Abobaku’. In Ile-Ife, the person so referred to is called ‘Saarun’, head of the ‘Emeses’ who are stewards to a reigning Ooni. The Saarun is the head and closest aide who must go everywhere the Ooni goes. It follows in the days of hold that upon the demise of an Ooni, his most trusted aide and steward will be interred with him to continue his life of service to his master and as well show his loyalty.

“I personally know the Saarun that served late Oba Adesoji Aderemi (late Chief Yaya Arasanmi) While Oba Aderemi passed away in 1980, his late Saarun passed on in 1987, and seven clear years afterwards. The current Saarun will not be buried with late Oba Sijuade as the practice has since been stopped in Ile-Ife. So there is no need to elope. I am a proud son of Ile-Ife and I am well grounded in the traditions and cultures of my people. It will not happen.”

Balogun Jr., the senior manager of business development at Global Media Mirror Limited, publishers of National Mirror, also reacted to the Abobaku saga.

Read what he has said on the development: “When the Abobaku saga started, I was so sure someone was just being funny, I mean, anybody with a passing knowledge about Yoruba history would surely get the joke.

“But days later, the story was still trending, and somehow, some very senior, and well respected journalists also join the fray.

“I can excuse the quasi or emergency journalists, those who have gained notoriety and fame neither for their unique turn of phrase nor for any intellectual bent, heck, some cannot even write a complete sentence to save their lives, but just because news reporting, like almost every thing else, has been dumbed down to sound bites.

“I can also indulge those who are not Yoruba, the Omoluabi concept is complex enough for some freeborn, not to talk of strangers.

The first thing I expect an average educated and enlightened mind to do is to mentally fact check the story.
“The Abobaku is exclusively an Old Oyo template, and was never a practice in Ife. Even in Oyo town, it is no longer in vogue. Any student of yoruba history would tell you that the practice of the crown Prince of Oyo dying with the Aalafin was the immediate cause of the Yoruba wars, which lasted a hundred years.

“I know fake news is the order of the day, but sometimes you begin to question our ability for critical thinking, spreading a story because it is popular, not because it is true, is one of the pitfalls of using the social media as a primary news source.”

Yoruba tradition has many beliefs and customs concerning the death of the Ooni.

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