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Why ‘Abetiaja’ Has been my Symbol And Not the Crown—ALAAFIN
Oba Lamidi Adeyemi has revealed why the abetiaja cap has become the symbol of the Alaafin of Oyo, explaining that the crown must be ‘sparingly’ worn for its distinctiveness and cultural essence. He added that some monarchs have their crowns into fashion objects.
In a recent interview with Nigerian Tribune, the monarch disclosed that “the crown is a sacred object. It is the most prized paraphernalia of kingship. It connotes the essence of the Oba. Yoruba Obas wear crowns for cultural, traditional and religious purposes.
During festivals, the attraction and indeed gravitational pull of the crown are unparalleled.”
According to Oba Adeyemi, who is close to his 50th year on the throne, “the subjects must be eager to see the type of crown the Oba would wear. An average subject must see the crown of the Oba once in his lifetime. Subjects can only see the Alaafin putting on his crown in pictures.
How many times is Her Imperial Majesty, the Queen of England, seen wearing her crown? What you see on her is her hat. It is not right to find traditional rulers wearing their crowns to just any kind of meeting or social function. Some monarchs have turned it into fashion objects. You will also find them carrying the same staff but with different colours everywhere. Even if their subjects don’t publicly talk about it, they are not happy about it.”
Speaking on why he sticks to the abetiaja cap, he noted: “The abetiaja cap is a way to send a message. You can see that it is designed in a manner resembling the ears of a dog. The way I shape each piece sends a message.
There is a specific message attached when one piece is shaped vertically and the other horizontally. If the two pieces are shaped vertically or horizontally, there is a message to be communicated. These messages are coded; only those who are versed in Yoruba culture can decode them. This is one of the intangible cultural heritages of Yoruba.”
Oba Adeyemi said the Yoruba nation is one of the strongest ethnic groups in Nigeria. ”What you call the Yoruba question is not as simple as you asked. At the same time, it is not that complex if we are ready to listen to the truth and adhere strictly to it. Anything short of this will not and will never address the question. It is unfortunate that despite our western education, we address issues based on sentiment and emotion.
All of this will not take us anywhere in search of the truth. I think it is better we leave it at that. Before we leave it, I must say that I have said a lot and written a lot on this. But I must say it again that there are some important people who love to search for knowledge.”
The reverred, however, revealed that his first decade in office as Alaafin was very rough. Hear him: “My first years were rough, very rough. That period was characterised by some challenges and trappings occasioned by royalty. I met practically an empty palace. So, I had to start from the scratch. You could understand what that task meant.
“I survived the challenges with my uncanny ability to confront them well. I survived the challenges with hope, determination and belief in God.”
He added that living in the palace of the Alake of Egba and other places prepared him for the throne. ”Apart from the palace of the Alake, Oba Adedapo Ademola, I lived in other places, all of which influenced me. I lived with a doctor, a lawyer and one of the principals of Saint Andrew College, Olateko. When I was living with these people, I imitated them but I was being mocked, but I overcome all the challenges.