Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Atanda Adeyemi III, has joined his ancestors after a glorious 52 years reign on the throne of his fathers.
The curtain has therefore fallen on an inimitable era for a preeminent Yoruba traditional ruler whose forebears presided over the most powerful and most advanced empire ever formed in Africa South of the Sahara.
Oba Adeyemi was an elegant and colourful monarch. He was a bridge between the ancient and the modern. He encapsulated the totality of the recorded Yoruba history dating back to the 11th Century. He was also urbane and cosmopolitan, moving seamlessly between the two worlds.
He would speak and act as the patron of Yoruba traditional institutions in one breath and in another, he would be seen in a trendy sportswear, practicing the most advanced aerobic exercise. Of course, he was a boxer.
He was also a moving encyclopaedia of Yoruba history, culture and values. He could reel out events and dates in Yoruba history, ancient and modern, including significant milestones, without leaving anything out. He probably knew everything about Yoruba history.
He was a father and mentor to me. He had a special liking for me until he passed on. In 2013 when I was governor in Osun, we organised Oodua Children’s’ Day on May 27 to commemorate that year’s Children’s’ Day during which we brought participants from all Yoruba native and speaking parts of the world. Oba Adeyemi graced the occasion with Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Oonirisa. They both acknowledged it was the first time they would be together in a public outing.
He honoured me with the traditional title of ‘Omoluabi of Yorubaland’ and was one of the pillars of my administration, supporting us with wise counsel and prayers.
He was a major player in the effort to settle the rift between me and my principal and he was still working on it till he passed on.
My last moment with him was on March 7, in Ibadan, earlier this year, at the birthday ceremony of Dr Yunus Akintunde. As usual, he was colourful and mirthful. His warmth, effervescence and royal aura permeated the environment.
He was physically active and agile, never giving the impression of any impairment of old age. We therefore had no inkling that he would join his ancestors any time soon.
My deepest condolences to his immediate family, the government and people of Oyo, Yoruba people worldwide and his admirers across the globe.
I pray for the repose of his soul and unending comfort for him at his next station.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola