“Traditional rulers don’t die. They go on hunting expeditions or join their ancestors” – Dr C. Oleh
That’s his response to the story Gatekeepers News published on the passing of the Alaafin of Oyo. By the way, Cyril Oleh is a Veteran journalist who teaches journalism and has been my friend and teacher for many years. That statement, as always, got me thinking. I have a background in Philosophy and with biased toward epistemology. I still recall my thesis on the Philosophical Analysis of Truth. What’s the truth? Is there more than one truth? Oops! Did I digress?
You know, really, I don’t care about these things. Dead. Dies. They are all the same, and it’s crazy how many claim to be people of faith; Muslims and Christians would prefer the ‘ancestral thing’. Why do we segregate even in death? Death is for ‘commoners’, we are told. So, even in death, these Kings don’t die? Aren’t we all commoners in death but Kings and the ordinary before death?
Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediauwa – 2016, Olu of Warri Ogiame Ikenwoli I – 2020 and Ooni of Ife Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuade Olubese II – 2015 who even died in a London hospital, was denied. Some cultures and traditions have changed or have been tweaked. It’s not peculiar to us Africans.
Did you also notice that these murmurings over death, passage, and hunting with ancestors are peculiar to the southern part of Nigeria? Do you remember the unfortunate incident of October 29, 2006, in Nigeria? That’s a date many, especially those in Sokoto State, will live to remember. It was the ADC Plane crash. On that day, a passenger aircraft of the Aviation Development Company (ADC) took off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, with Sokoto as its destination.
Onboard the ill-fated aircraft was the then Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Maccido, the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State Garba Muhammad, Senators Sule Yari Gandi and Badamasi Maccido (a son of Sultan Maccido). That piece of news wasn’t delayed, nor were we told that the revered king had joined his ancestors.
So, those, especially journalists who used “dead” and “dies”, are in order, which should be the correct headline as we advance. Don’t be bullied by the “outsiders” who quickly react to such news. We can use the phrase “joins ancestors” inside the story.
The release from the palace can be likened to dejavu. Haven’t we seen that before? What has happened is that the media beat them to the protocol and tradition of announcing his passing. No, you cannot ask the press to wait for your release if and when they have the news. The Alaafin’s palace statement is typical. They would have wanted to report it themselves. Pardon the media. This is 2022, and things have changed so that even the traditional institutions have embraced some of these changes.
God bless the Kings and bless the commoner.
Sulaiman Aledeh is an International Journalist, Editor-at-Large, Strategic Media and Communication Consultant