The institution of the Aláàfin is a powerful and unique one in the history of the Yorùbá people. The historicity and epistemology of the institution is an area that should interest all Yorùbá people especially youths of this generation.
The centre for black culture and international understanding, Osogbo Nigeria organised an international conference to commemorate the 80th birthday of the current Aláàfin of Ọ̀yọ́, Ọba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III.
The conference which was titled, ‘The Aláàfin in Yorùbá history, culture and political power relations’ was graced by distinguished personalities like Professors Toyin Falola, Tunji Olaopa, Akin Ogundiran, Lorand Matory, Mr Tunde Kelani (Mainframe Productions) and a host of others. The Aláàfin of Ọ̀yọ́ himself was in attendance.
My love for the Yorùbá culture, religion and history was revitalised during the conference. As a participant, I presented a paper (co-authored) titled, ‘An appraisal of oath taking and its religious implications in Ọ̀yọ́ empire’ which falls under one of the sub-themes of the conference.
The keynote speech by Professor Toyin Falola on the opening day of the conference was intellectually gratifying and didactic. The topic, ‘Aláàfinology: The Ideology and Epistemology of Kingship’ focused on the creation of Kingship studies. A proposal Prof Falola recommends to help entrench indigenous concepts of governance, transitions of governance in different historical kingdoms, relevance of kings in modern democracy into the academic curriculum. He concluded that we need a knowledgeable citizenry who brings the knowledge from the past to address the problems of the present.
In Prof Tunji Olaopa’s speech, he emphasized the persona of the Aláàfin as a representation of the Yorùbá people. He discussed the importance of indigenous philosophy and how the institution of the Aláàfin can serve as a perfect template for restructuring and restoring the local government system which be believes is dead in our democracy today.
The conference was an opportunity to gain new insights about the Yorùbá people with different paper presenters discussing a variety of issues that made the Ọ̀yọ́ empire thrive and factors that eventually led to its fall. The democratic principles that characterized the empire and moral values inherent in the empire were fully discussed.
In his speech, Ọba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III stated that the Ọyọ empire gave the world a system of checks and balance that made it difficult for an Aláàfin to be despotic. There was little room for the abuse of power.
He also noted that the Nigerian constitution is not indigenous to us and until we address that, we will continue to have problems.
He ended his speech by saying, “we have moved from the era of aristocrats of power to the era of aristocrats of intelligence. Those who will rule this country in the near future will be people of sheer intelligence ‘.
This conclusion was met with a thunderous round of applause and it is indeed a food for thought.
Wriiten by Alausa Issa Sanni
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