How would you describe your experience on the throne?
We thank God as everything has been going on smoothly with the help of the people of the town , particularly my chiefs – the ‘ Afobajes . ’ So with the assistance of God and the various segments of the chiefs in the town , things have been going on well . Everything depends on God ; we serve God so He is faithful to us . Everything has been made easy for me.
What have you enjoyed the most about being the King of Ikole ?
I enjoy serving my people because the essence of being a leader is to serve the people . I serve them wholeheartedly and in return , I am appreciated by my people for my little contribution to the town .
When you got to know that you would become the king , what went on in your mind ? How did you feel?
Initially , I never thought in that direction, but when it happened , I thanked God for the blessing and I was very grateful to Him . It was a thing of joy to me , but I was not desperate for it at all . And for what God has done , we give glory to Him . I thank God for everything and I kept thanking Him for the glory bestowed upon me .
How did your wife accept this news?
I got married to my wife as far back as 1977; there was never a day I told my wife that I would become a king . So when my name was brought up; we began to pray to God that if it was something that would bring progress and development to Ikole – Ekiti and not bring any problem to the people, let it come to pass. But if it is the other way round , God shouldn ’ t let it be. So , when it came to pass, we appreciated God and my wife and I were happy about it .
You were working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation before you ascended the throne. How difficult was it to leave your job when you were told that you would be king of Ikole -Ekiti ?
Everything is in the hands of God , whether you are in a lucrative job or not , if you have been destined to become something in life, definitely it is going to come to pass. So I didn’t mind that I was working with the NNPC at that time. It was the working of God and not by my making . When your people ask you to assume such an important position , they are giving you recognition and you must honour it. So serving in the NNPC was never going to go on forever because one day I would have to leave . At that time, I was getting close to my retirement age so it was my pleasure to come home to serve my people, and I thank God for everything.
You are a chartered accountant and also a lawyer , how has that helped you in governing your kingdom ?
Yes, being a lawyer and an accountant has really been helpful. All professions are good; you will enjoy your profession if you make good use of it. I have made the best use of my profession in governing and I am enjoying it . Being a lawyer , particularly on the throne , a lot of disputes are brought to you for your intervention and judgment . One of the basic things of understanding a dispute is to listen to the two sides; it is when you listen to both sides that you will be able to air your own view on the matter . If someone is angered , you do not just pacify them ; instead , you allow them to state their case . It is only after that has been done that they would listen to you . Also , you cannot be a judge in your own case ; basically , you have to listen in order to pass a fair judgment
As regards accountancy , you have to make sure you are transparent ; if a leader isn’ t transparent , that isn’ t good because the people will not have confidence in such a leader . You have to be accountable for any money that comes into your care . Also , the ability to speak the truth is really important as a leader and you have to carry your people along likewise .
I also studied business administration in school ; this shows that all along , God has been preparing me for this role . It is His making and I thank him for this .
There are many kings now in Ikole Local Government Area now unlike in the past when it was just the Elekole of Ekiti . Does it undermine your authority in any way?
Up till today, I have not done anything without consulting with others . I get the chiefs as well as the other kings in the local government involved in whatever decisions I make. I carry them along and we work as a team; this is why we haven’ t had any problems . In other places , they have been asking me how all the kings have been relating with one another without acrimony because we have kings in every local government . I just tell them that it is by the grace of God and not by my own power .
Also , I believe in the principles of delegation , every town has its own king . For instance, as the king of Ikole -Ekiti , I cannot go and ask the Oni of Ife to assist me in leading my people , just like how I cannot go to any town in Ikole to be the king of there . I must allow the king of that town to function , but if there is any need to contact me, then they can do that . This is how we have been operating here .
To your question, things have changed now , life isn’ t static. Even the things that are permanent change. Several years back , we used to have the baales ( chiefs ) , and Elekole was the only paramount leader at that time . Before 1960, Nigeria was under Britain . That was before our independence and then , we became a republic in 1963. Nigeria was a country on its own , just like these other towns moved from having baales to kings and they are being recognised as towns on their own , so no town in Ekiti is under any other town ; this is how we operate and there is no problem at all .
Could you tell us a brief history of Ikole?
Ikole is one of the towns in Yorubaland and all the towns in Yorubaland started from Ile -Ife, where Yoruba people migrated from . And that is how we migrated from Ile – Ife to this place . The first Oba of Ikole is Oba Akinsale and he was from Ile -Ife . When he came from Ile -Ife, he came with 240 deities. He first settled at Ita Juju and then moved to Igboyeye, then to Erinjiyan, then to Obaofo and eventually, he settled in this palace .
We have chiefs who handle the administrative aspect of the kingdom in Ikole , we have the king as the paramount ruler and he is supported by six kingmakers . We call them
‘Iwarafa mefa’. We also have the seven eku ( quarters) in Ikole , these are the senior chiefs and we also have other chiefs supporting these ones.
What are the unique characteristics of the Ikole people , in terms of culture ?
Ikole people believe in culture a lot; in the past, they believed in 360 deities. Ado is noted for masqueraders, while Ibadan is noted for the Sango festival . This is very unique because most of these festivals are still celebrated in Ikole till tomorrow, particularly the one called ‘Odun Oba ’, formerly known as ‘ Odun Ogun’, which is known as the Ogun festival . Ogun is very important to everybody and everyone who worships him . There is no day that we do not touch Ogun ( iron); we are surrounded by it even in preparing our food, we make use of knife, which is iron.
We have other traditional rites that we perform apart from the Ogun festival . We have a particular one usually done early in the year, in March /April; it is called the ‘ Oro Olukole. ’ These traditions have their significance; it is now that religion has taken over everything. In those days, we had peace rituals were performed to bring peace to Ikole . All these rituals are to pray for the progress and happiness of the people of Ikole and nothing other than that. It is a taboo in Ikole to use cutlass to kill anyone.
Also here in Ikole , every morning we go to ‘ Oki ’ to pray for the peace and progress of the town, and also to pray for all the citizens of Ikole . Oki is a special form of prayer where they pray for the kings and the whole people of Ikole . There are usually four groups of people present at the prayer session every morning. They are the king , the Agba Omowa , the Emese, and lastly , the Omowas.
Are there taboos that strangers need to know about the town?
There are certain places that strangers are not allowed to go to . At times when our traditional rites are held , strangers are not allowed to be there . Apart from strangers , during certain rites , not all people of Ikole are allowed to be there except members of the families involved in performing the ritual. There is one ritual called ‘Ere Ile . ’ You are not allowed to be out when the ritual is going on whether you are a visitor or even the son and daughter of the soil . We have another ritual we perform during which women are not allowed to come out; it is called
‘Isemole .’ They do it in other towns in Ikole too . A notable town where they do it is Ikorodu . They announce that women should not come out during the period .
With modernisation , are these rituals not being questioned?
If they say this what happens in a town , and you disagree , it is for you to question it, and you have the right to question . But if you have been told what should be done and not to be done in the town and you dare to do them , whatever consequences that follow should be accepted. There was someone from a royal family who did it, she thought she could use her influence as some from the royal family to do it . Women were told not to come out, but she went out and dried up immediately. She died immediately. If they say they don’ t something in a community, don’ t say you want to go and do it. You have been warned and whatever repercussion you see, you are on your own .
Are there things that you used to do before , but do not do anymore by virtue of your position?
There are lots of things that I can no longer do. I cannot go out anyhow . For instance , I can be told not to go to a place . And when I am told not to go out , I do not do so because there must definitely be a reason for it. If I dare try to disobey , I would definitely pay for it and I would never do it again . There is a saying that ‘ Ikole would never reject my advice , so also I would not reject their advice . ’ I know of a town in the northern part where I used to work before, the Emir was warned not to go out , but he disobeyed , on getting back home, one of his wives had died . Even about a month ago , I was asked not to go out and I didn ’ t . Being a king is different from being a pastor . You can believe in God ; but you are not a pastor . So if you want to become a pastor , go for that . If you want to become an Oba ( king ) , then go for that. Even as a king , if you want to change things, it has to be gradual, you cannot just decide to change everything.
The Oba cannot just do anything, there are people called ‘ Eso;’ who look over my activities to ensure that I do not do certain things.
What are the things that you used to do in the past , that you probably miss doing now ?
I miss being able to move freely. In the past, I used to move freely without any control. I could decide to buy corn on the main road to eat , but I cannot do that now . I am no longer a free man, I am now a symbol of honour and authority, and people look at me to imbibe good behaviour . I shouldn ’ t be seen where there is commotion or chaos , because at the end of the day, the rift would be brought to me.
We know that you loved sports when you were young and participated in sports competitions while you were in school . How are you able to keep fit now considering the fact that you are now a king?
Like you rightly said , I used to run to represent the Western Region when I was in Ifaki Grammar School, Ekiti State , before I moved to Oyemekun Grammar School ( in Akure , Ondo State ) . I was a sportsman at that time . I used to run what we call 500 and 800 metres now , representing various schools, states , and region. But what I can say is that our time was a wasted generation and where I was at the time contributed to my not being exposed to things happening in the world of athletics . When I was to go to Ghana for a competition, I was still a student of Ifaki Grammar School. As some people will say – once a soldier , always a soldier. I still try my best to keep fit but not by running up and down as it is not advisable to do that at this age . I wake up in the morning and do some walking, stretching and breathing in and out. That ’ s just the basic exercises I do .
What do you do in your free time ?
There is no free time for a king . At anytime , you can be called upon . But when there is no activity, I take my rest by sleeping .
Did you know your predecessor , Oba Adetunla Adeleye ?
Yes, I knew him .
What kind of relationship did you have with him ?
He was like a father to me , and he used to call me Jameson then because my name is James. He had a lot of interest and respect for me and I equally took him as my father also. In fact , when I was asked to come and become the king , this is one of the things I thought about . So I was very reluctant to take over from him because of the intimacy between us .
People often say that when a new king comes , he would eat the heart of the late king , how true is that ?
I cannot say anything about that because nothing like that happened to me and nobody told me anything about that . So , whether it happened in the past or not , I do not know .
Why did you decide to still go for law even after studying business administration and accounting? What attracted you to it ?
There were so many things. It is like being a young man and having nobody to guide you . When I was in school, I was taking three examinations together. I was taking an internal examination in business administration. I was also reading for an examination of the ( Chartered) Institute of Marketing in London, and also Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, when I was in Yaba, Lagos . I knew that once I passed the intermediate examination of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, it was automatic admission to go for my Higher National Diploma . Where I worked before, I was a marketing officer , so that introduced me to marketing , so I developed passion for marketing .
As students at that time , once they were studying business administration, they registered for the ACIS ( Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators examination) , and I thank God I passed. Then , the examination that gave me the most problem was that of the marketing institute in London. In it, we had certain courses in law , such as Commercial Law and English Law. By the time I finished my ACIS examination , it was only few subjects that I didn ’ t do in law. By the time I went to study law proper, it made it easier for me . We used to have a law course then – it was equity of law – which I have even applied here on my throne . You cannot come to complain about somebody when you yourself have committed the crime or have been committing a similar crime .
What do you remember most about your childhood that makes you smile?
I thank God for my parents; we were not indulged at all . Whenever I was wrong, they didn ’ t fail to beat me or correct me to make me realise my foolishness. I also thank God for the life and education that I have had. Those days in primary school , I didn ’ t know that when you got home, you had to read anything other than to play around , but when I went to modern school, we started studying hard. Our parents gave us good training and took us to church to serve and believe in God .
Like you said that you are a Christian, most kings have more than one wife but you have just one, is it a personal decision to have just one wife ?
I have told you that things are changing. Even in those days , our fathers who were not kings had several wives because of the situation at that time . Then , wives were taken to the farms , and the kings then had so many wives . What is the essence of marrying so many wives ? If you are a 60- year -old man and you still have new children, how will you train them ? And if you want to have peace of mind, why would you have so many wives ? You will never have peace . I thank God that when I was being interviewed for this position , nobody spoke to me about marrying more wives . So this is the trend in the country- one Oba, one wife , if you want to enjoy yourself .
In those days , some kings even inherited the wives of their predecessors. Does that happen here ?
Those are the dark days . How can you inherit the wife of your father or an Oba? It is very dirty , it is a dirty habit . There are traditions that are bad and those habits should be taken away. There is where if man wants to marry a woman , he will be stripped naked and beaten to show that he is capable or strong enough to control a woman . Does that make sense ? Is that what he needs to have a wife ? What he needs for marriage is maturity , education and experience.