The final burial rites of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, was performed on Friday, but his wives, children and family members were unable to pay their last respects as they were barred from the programme.
Some other people who had expected to see the body of the monarch lie in state were also disappointed as his remains were neither brought out for people to see nor was any casket displayed during the burial service.
A source at the palace told Punch that no member of the royal family was allowed to see the remains of the monarch since he was brought back to the palace.
“As we are holding this interdenominational service here, those concerned are performing their own rites inside the palace where the body is kept.
“You can see that the gates of the palace are locked and nobody is allowed to go inside. Nobody can see him again except those who will bury him.
“The wives and children were not even supposed to see his corpse at all but tradition was broken this time around because he (Sijuwade) died in London. But no family member can see him again. Those performing the rites are there now and they will complete it today (Friday). He will be buried in the middle of the night, but nobody will be there apart from those who will lower him into the grave.”
The source said those who saw the bodies of the previous Oonis were attacked by smallpox and did not survive the ailment.
A monarch in Osun State, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said,
“Nobody can see the Ooni, not even the US President, Barrack Obama. We are with him. It’s only the initiates who can see him. His wives and children cannot see him.”
But as the interdenominational service was about to take off, there was a mild drama as worshippers of Oro cult in Ife, also called Isoro, stormed the venue and attempted to stop the service. The worshippers claimed that it was a sacrilege to hold an interdenominational service for the departed king. And as the service went on outside the palace, the traditional worshippers sang and danced inside the palace.
The worshippers of Oro cult in Ife, also called ‘Isoro’, clashed with residents who were erecting tents for the interdenominational burial service at the frontage of Enuwa Palace.
A prominent chief in Ife, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the ‘Isoro’ descended on the people who erected the tents because they (initiates) wanted to observe a seven-day burial rites for the departed king.
The chief said,
“The ‘Isoro’ saw the erection of tents for an interdenominational burial service as a sacrilege against custom and tradition.
“They descended on the people erecting the tents and flogged them heavily. They destroyed the tents and swore never to allow anybody do any interdenominational service at the palace.”It took the intervention of officials of the state government, who appealed to the ‘Isoro’ to allow the people to hold the interdenominational service before the issue was resolved. If not for the intervention of the state government, the interdenominational service would not have been allowed.”
Meanwhile, it was learnt that Sijuwade’s family members flew to see his body immediately after he transited in a highbrow hospital in England.
It was also learnt that the family members flew down to England to pay their last respect to the departed monarch. The Araba of Osogbo land, Chief Yemi Elebuibon, who spoke with Punch on Friday, disclosed that the corpse of the Ooni belonged to Ile-Ife and not his family.
“The traditional burial rites of the kings of Ile-Ife and Oyo are strictly complied with and they are comprehensive.When the Ooni dies, the body becomes that of the town. The ‘Isoro’ cult group will take over. The ‘Isoro’ initiates are the ones who worship the ‘Oro’ deity.
“It is the ‘Isoro’ people that would inform the various deities, who were worshipped and appeased when the Ooni was crowned, that he (the monarch) is no more.
“It’s a rite. Nothing must stop it.”
The Araba dispelled the belief that the heart of the late king would be fed to the next Ooni.
“The eating of the heart of a departed King by an incoming one belonged to the past. It no longer exists. People still make this insinuation because many are barred from witnessing the burial of a king.What the incoming king will eat is the heart of an animal and not that of a human. Nobody would be buried with the Ooni. Nobody would be killed for any form of sacrifice.”
Elebuibon explained that animals are now used for the burial rites of Yoruba Obas because of modernisation, noting that Christianity and Islam also stopped the use of humans for sacrifice when God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, Isaac.
Meanwhile, a cleric, Evangelist Toluwase Akeredolu, had disputed insinuations that Sijuwade, as a prominent monarch, was in the cult. Akeredolu had said that Oba Sijuwade died as a born-again Christian. Akeredolu said this on July 29 after the transition of the monarch was announced by the media.
The cleric, an evangelist with the Christ Apostolic Church, said the monarch had few weeks before his transition, confessed all his sins to God after he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to him. Akeredolu said he was privileged to have ministered to the monarch few weeks before his death.
“Oba Sijuwade told the congregation at the last crusade we organised in Ile-Ife that he had forsaken sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and personal saviour. He confessed publicly that he would live the rest of his life to serve the Almighty God.
“During the revival, Oba Sijuwade said he had committed the rest of his lifetime to Christ, the saviour of all and had sung the popular song ‘All to Jesus, I surrender.’”
It will be recalled that the late monarch dropped the title of ‘Oluaye’ (owner of the universe) in 2010 in deference to the Almighty God.”