TITLE: AWUJALE (THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALAIYELUWA OBA S.K. ADETONA OGBABA II
AUTHOR: OBA SIKIRU ADETONA
PUBLISHER: MOSURO PUBLISHERS, BODIJA, IBADAN, NIGERIA.
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2010
NO OF PAGES: 275
NO OF CHAPTERS: 17
NAME OF REVIEWER: EWEJOBI DORCAS IRANWO-OLUWA
The greying of the hair is wisdom, the dimming of the eye is knowledge, the shrinking of the skin is understanding. The book AWUJALE is a great gift to posterity having being bore from a womb of experience and age. The writer, Oba Sikiru Adetona takes his reader through a tour of fifty years, without losing their interest for just a minute. Awujale is a product of the sum total of the life the writer has spent on the throne as the Awujale of Ijebu land (A sit which is the apex in the Ijebu Kingdom). 50 years filled with hopes, faith, trials, favour, celebration, joy, fulfilment, dedication, work, political disruption, military cataclysm and democratic mayhem.
The writer, Oba Adetona encapsulates his views, experiences and thoughts in seventeen chapters which stems through ‘The road to the coronation’ and ‘closing’. He starts his work by making his reader understand the fact that he did not lobby for the position of the Awujale nor was he aware of his eligibility. As a matter of tradition, his father or uncle was to be the next Oba after Oba Daniel Robertson Adesanya, Gbelegbuwa II joined his ancestors. Probably, based on advice from friends, level of education and exposure or genuine love, whatever the motive was; Omo-Oba Rufai Adetona stepped down in favour his son Sikiru Adetona. Little wonder he was one of the persons the book was dedicated to.
From the words screaming for attention in the first chapter, the reader gets to relate with the childhood years of the writer. From the words relayed, we see the nostalgic feeling of the writer for his happy childhood. The reader gets to film how interesting it was growing up in the western Nigeria of the 1950s. With the techniques of a good writer, Oba Sikiru Adetona juxtaposes his growing up years, his educational career and the process of his coronation. The reader is made to value the richness in the Yoruba-Ijebu tradition. However, the writer reflects that some of these traditions need to be done away with. On the 2nd of April 1960, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona was installed the Awujale Ogbagba II of Ijebuland. At which point, he could not fully appreciate his new role and the task ahead of him.
The writer, in succeeding chapters, brings to light his great ardour for Ijebu kingdom, his adherence to time and his enthusiastic nature to learn fast the duties and expectations of the Awujale which previously were un-disclosed to him. Briefly, the reader gets to see Oba Adetona as a family man as he struggles to perform his fatherly love but joyfully performs his grandfatherly role. We also see him in the light of his extended family. The writer portrays his African blood by housing his parents at their old age and taking responsibility of their welfare and burial when they passed on.
On the scene of governance the writer expresses the challenges involved in ruling ones ‘fathers’ as well as the joy of waxing in their cauldron of wisdom. Oba Adetona also recounts his experience outside the shores of the country; the rate of development and technological know-how of the Israelis. He tells of the trials and challenges of the early independence era; the importation of western religion and the marginalizing rule of language, culture and education. He recounts, ‘this displacement marks the beginning of a nation not at ease with his roots’. The crisis between the AG (Action Group) and the NCNC (National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons) as well as the battle between the two principal actors of the AG, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola were told from what the writer saw as an Oba.
The writer laments however that the coming of the colonialists brought about a trend towards the gradual whittling away of the powers of the traditional rulers. The Obas therefore needed to find an alternative so as not to solely depend on their salaries which might invariably reduce them to political machines. This led Oba Sikiru Adetona to the boardroom where he became a master. With the advent of the military taking over, governance became a one-man show. Traditional rulers, according to writer, had to face a great challenge in sovereignty. The writer and Chief Onabanjo resented each other for a period which he (the writer) deemed fit to devote a chapter of his book to. This misunderstanding directly or in-directly led to the suspension of Oba Sikiru Adetona as the Awujale of Ijebuland.
According to the writer, in 1983, when the Military took over, things to a large extent returned to normalcy: the resentment between Oba Adetona and Chief Onabanjo was settled. The plan and building of a new Aafin commenced. With the demands of building a new Aafin also comes the challenge in the Oba Adetona’s health. From the June 12 debacle to the Obasanjo’s government, the writer played a key role in the flow of power. Being a significant head, his advice, opinion and consent was sought from time to time. On national duties, Oba Adetona played his role for Ijebuland and for the nation at large. He was part of a delegation which sought peace with Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu for the maintenance of one Nigeria. Oba Adetona also served as the Vice- Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Yola and currently serving as the Chancellor of Crescent University, Abeokuta.
In the concluding chapters of AWUJALE, the writer relays the importance of the Oba to relate with his subjects irrespective of religion and status. An Oba is a symbol of unity and continuity. The writer on the other hand, made it a point of duty to reflect the rich tradition of the Ijebu Odes in ‘The Regberegbe’ which is being paraded at every year’s Ojude-Oba ceremony. To the credit of the entrepreneurial skills of the Ijebus, the Microfinance scheme is a success. The writer, Oba Sikiru Adetona, strongly advocates for the Ijebu state and states strong points of reasons why the Ijebus are worthy of having their own state.
In whole, it can be said that the book, AWUJALE is a historical masterpiece which transcends the traditional and the political sphere of Nigeria between the year 1960 and 2010. It should be noted at this point that the writer did an accurate job in the correlation of dates, places and names. Age has not deemed his memory; this is a great challenge to the younger generations. If the Awujale of Ijebuland can painstakingly out of his tight schedule write a book for posterity even at his old age then youths have no excuse giving back and leaving something for the generations un-born. The book, AWUJALE mirrors the great chain of personalities and individuals who have in their own way contributed to the making of the man, Sikiru Kayode Adetona. This reflects in a long way the Yoruba belief that not just the parents of a child own him but the whole community.
Every reader is challenged from the works and actions of the Awujale to be a patriotic Nigerian. The writer did not mince words in expressing his love for his people, the Ijebus, who are also believed to love their leader in no some measures, as related in chapter 10 of AWUJALE. The book gives an in-depth expose into the life of Oba Sikiru Adetona but failed to vividly mirror his immediate family. The reader is given a very brief account of the wives and children of the writer where a detailed account is necessary. AWUJALE is a captivating account of the story of a man who dared; fought for truth and believes in a better Nigeria – the Ijebu state. A must read for every youth, diplomat, ruler, politician and patriotic Nigerian.