My Encounter with Alaafin

Alaafin Adeyemi

By Akinyemi Onigbinde

I met with Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, who has gone to join his ancestors, in his palace, sometimes in May 2005. As the publisher of a newly established weekly newspaper, I had gone to intimate the foremost Oba in Yorubaland with the Mission Statement of the unpretentiously pan-Yoruba newspaper, aptly titled, ‘The Westerner’. Once I stated the reason for my coming to  Atiba, the revered Oba assured me that I had come with the message of Catholicism to the Pope, right inside the Vatican, as the paper’s message of ‘articulating Yoruba position  to Nigeria, and unapologetically  defending our hallowed interests in a restructured political arrangement that allows for equity, fairness and justice amongst the federating units was well suited with his political outlook, as unity, for him, does not foreclose the essence of our traditional and cultural diversity that is rooted in the ethnic-nationalities that were cobbled together by an alien power

Once he got acquainted with me as a philosophy teacher, the further discussion shifted to Greek philosophy. As one who has gone through pre-Socratic philosophy, Socrates and his antagonists, the Sophists, Plato and Aristotle, the deep knowledge of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi on Greek mythology and the Athenian society was confounding. He effortlessly weaved together all of Socrates’ search for truth, and located his efforts in the Yoruba Ifa corpus, insisting that the west notion of epistemology was inferior to Yoruba’s understanding of ‘Imo, Oye and Ogbon’.I departed his presence, convinced that the Kabiyesi is a living encyclopedia on African philosophy, and I did not  shy away from telling him that he must document such rare knowledge, freely delivered to me and my entourage

Now, a man of letters has departed the earthly space, to be with his ancestors. With his departure, hardly anticipated by those close enough to the palace, a major library on Yoruba culture and tradition is incinerated.

Personally, his departure has a tinge of a surprise because, just a day before his journey to baara was inappropriately made public, I was still asking after him, and extending my regards to him through a friend heading to the palace. He probably left without receiving my greetings. My consolation, however, lies in the cherished memory of my privileged meeting with you, as I bid you journey mercy to the land where a befitting welcome reception by the gods awaits your coming. It is well with your soul