• ‘l miss my freedom’ • Narrates how he shuttled between classroom and palace
Oba Oloyede Adeyeoba Akinghare 11, the Arujale Ojima of Okeluse Kingdom in Ose council area of Ondo State, is the youngest monarch in the country. His appointment was ratified by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in 2019, following a process overseen by kingmakers in the community when he was 16 years old, and after the demise of his father. Akinghare 11 was in secondary school then. Now he just finished and aged 19. The young monarch is the only son of his father, and it was believed in the community that if his installation was delayed till he was of age, manipulation could set in. Findings show that the tradition of Okeluse entails that if a king passes on, his younger brother would act as regent while the heir to the throne will be on exile for 90 days to undergo traditional rites. However, from experience, the leaders of the community took precautions to avoid crisis and decided to make the first daughter of the late king the regent, the first time such would happen in the history of the town while the heir went into seclusion.
A family source said: “In Okeluse, the Obaship title is from father to son. It is the Oba’s family who exclusively handles the installation of a new Oba in Okeluse”.
Sunday Vanguard spoke to the young and shy monarch on his background, ascension, how he’s coping, shuttling between school and the palace, plans for his community and relationship with teachers and female friends. Excerpts:
I was born in Benin City (Edo State). Later, we came to Okeluse where l actually grew up. I attended primary school here, and for secondary education, l attended Greater Tomorrow International College, Arigidi-Akoko where l just finished.
I was very much surprised when appointed because I was very young then. It looked like a dream; I was in school then (JSS 3). It was a Tuesday morning, they told me in school then that my dad said I should come home. I was surprised and asked myself, “what is going on?” The reason is that I went home only when we had holidays, so saying my dad asked me to come home was surprising to me. Though I knew he was in hospital then, I didn’t know he had passed on. They told my manager (guardian) not to tell me. Actually, I was 15 years plus during my enthronement because it was two months to my 16th birthday. The tradition of my town stipulates that the first male child of the reigning king is automatically the successor of the king and, in my own case, I’m the only male child in our family. That is how I became king by succeeding my late father.
It has not been really easy but God is always in control. He has been guiding me through. I am not used to this kind of life before but I have been coping. I have been asking questions from my chiefs (who are elderly) on the things to do and they are putting me through. I thank them. I do ask our leaders questions on what to do on many things, they would advise me: “do it this way, do it that way” and I take to their advice. I understand the tradition, but I’m still learning to know more every day.
Between school and the throne
l was in boarding house (in school); so I stayed in school. I had people doing things in the palace while l was in school, and if it was necessary for me to be present, l would quickly go and come back to school. At times, l would go for meetings and come back to school. Every last Tuesday of the month, I would go for traditional rulers meeting and if there was an occasion that I needed to attend, I would attend and return to school. The school knew my position in the community and they released me whenever I asked for permission. I attended the last meeting of the 130 Crown Obas with the governor which was held in Akure recently.
Relationship with school teachers, classmates, friends
l played with everybody but when I became king, there were little changes with the way I related. For instance, we used to play and touch one another’s head before but that stopped.
Also, before, when l wanted to greet teachers in the morning, l would bow down but I stopped bowing down because of tradition.
I want to go to university. I have written the UTME. I want to study public administration. I would have loved to become an engineer. I was in the science class and some people also advised me to study law but I don’t like law. So I later left the science class for the art class.
Plan for community
My cardinal plan is to bring development to my community, to bring investors to this place and make it developed more. The people of my community have really been giving me support since I ascended the throne. I really thank them for this. The sons and daughters of the town who are outside too, I am enjoying their support and I do appreciate them. For six years, there was no electricity supply in this community but since I came on board in 2019, we have been having power supply at least 12 hours every day. Also there was no communication network before, but now we have network. Now, we can call, chat on our phones unlike before. I will also like to use this opportunity to call on well-meaning Okeluse sons and daughters to come home and develop the town.
l don’t move around. I stay in the palace even though it is somehow boring. When I was in school, I played with my friends but when at home I don’t have them around me. Movement is restricted because of my present status. I love playing football, but can’t anymore. I love to sing and l also like playing Ludo game but now I can only do those hobbies in the palace.
I have a lot of them, but I want to grow a bit older and get more mature before I get involved with women, l mean get married. For now I don’t really like to talk to girls, so to woo a lady is hard for me because if you see me you will know I am a shy person.
More than one wife
Yes it is compulsory I will marry more than one wife. In our tradition here, it is compulsory for a king to have more than one wife because the first wife, if she has a male child, the male child will become the next king and the second wife’s first male child will become what we call Eleki and, if the first wife does not have a male child and the second wife has, it is the first male child of the second wife that will become the next king. The Eleki is the second in command to the king; if the king is not around, the Eleki will be in charge.
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