In Yoruba land, a kabiyesi is revered with royalty, authority, respect, command, finality and imperialism and other characteristics that connote excellence and supremacy. “Kabiyesi” simply means “question not”. It is a title only ascribed to Yoruba kings because their words are laws. It is therefore a tradition that you don’t question, challenge or debate the pronouncement of a king (kabiyesi). Yoruba kings are treated and considered second in command to God almighty. Every thorough-bred Yoruba son and daughter grows with this myth and demonstrate it by giving deserving honor to every Kabiyesi. Like him or not, once someone is installed king, it’s customary for the Yorubas to pay such person due homage and respect. Modernization has indeed made the world a small place. We now see people of other tribes and climes paying homage to Yoruba Kings as a way of respecting our tradition.
I received with shock therefore the news that the sitting Governor in Ekiti state trampled on tradition in the most sacrilegious manner. He didn’t just question or challenge the Kabiyesi, he told him to shut up with a stern warning never to repeat what he said earlier. What a condemnable, inexcusable and unforgettable abomination. The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.
Four years ago, he was everywhere begging and prostrating for forgiveness. He told the Kabiyesis and those that matter in Ekiti that he is a reformed person that will serve if given the second chance. Unfortunately, our man has gone back to his old self. He is now lord unto himself. The unquestionable emperor. Power without love (respect) is reckless and abusive. How did our Kabiyesis become objects of ridicule? They suddenly became toothless bulldogs under the emperor and maximum ruler of Ekiti state. Kabiyesi, if the present is not the future you desired back then, same opportunity is re-presenting itself through the forthcoming election.
Ekiti has had Governors before this Goliath and there will be Governors after him. None has ever rubbished our common heritage in the manner he has done /is doing.
Yoruba kings, like their contemporaries from other tribes, are usually the mouthpiece of their communities and the bridges between the government and the people they lead. Yoruba Kings have never been this voiceless, not even under the most dreadful military juntas. The likes of Alaafin, Awujale and recently Olubadan have always maintained their stands and positions whenever they have contrary views or opinions from that of the Governors or even President. The Kabiyesis in Ekiti state also did their best playing the customary advisory roles to successive Governors until now. Ekiti Kings suddenly became voiceless in their state. They have been demoted and now treated as appointees of the Governor that can only follow instructions without having a mind or opinion of their own. The show of shame that took place at the palace of Ewi a couple of weeks ago was a generational embarrassment.
Better be a respectable simple man than a paramount ruler with a voice that is not paramount. “Kabiyesi, e ma so bee mo.” Kabiyesi, don’t ever repeat that! The King was as shocked as his subjects who hitherto considered him as their last hope and succor. The insult metted on Ewi wasn’t as bad as the deafening silence of other kings in Ekiti state. The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die. None was bold enough to raise his voice to condemn or correct the Governor that you don’t talk or treat a King like that. It was a collective insult on Ekitikete but more importantly indigenes of Ado Ekiti. No matter how brilliant and advantageous your ideas or opinions are, once you laze your presentation with insults, it naturally loses its substance and import. Ewi is to Ado Ekiti, what Sultan is to Sokoto, what Akiolu means to Lagos, what Olubadan means to Ibadan, Awujale means to Ijebu, what Ataoja means to Oshogbo or what Deji means to Akure. No Governor can insult or rubbish any of these paramount rulers without consequences.
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. The Governor keeps having his way the crude way because we collectively misplaced our priority. Ewi has been insulted but no king, not even Ewi himself, was bold enough to raise a voice in defense of the throne.
As if the Ewi’s show wasn’t enough, then came the Orji Kalu’s drama. I am not a fan of Orji Kalu but his visit further exposed what Ekiti Kings have turned to in the hand of the Governor. The Governor gave a matching order that no King should welcome, receive or entertain Orji Uzor Kalu in Ekiti state; and pronto like a coward that our Kabiyesis have become, none was bold enough to allow Orji Kalu into his palace. What a shame? The visit of Kalu is inconsequential but the fact that our Kabiyesis chickened out and hid themselves by staying away from public glare in order to escape the wrath of the Emperor is pathetic and ridiculous. If the Ewi of Ado Ekiti can be treated like that, then other Kings and lesser mortals should be careful. By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest: second, by imitation, which is easiest: and third by experience, which is the bitterest. You have all witnessed the bitter experience. Kabiyesis, you should rise and fight for your freedom in Ekiti state to regain your voice or you remain perpetually voiceless. It is not enough if you just live life as it comes to you like a floating leaf in a pond. Make use of the powers bestowed on you and regain your freedom. Your voice must be paramount because you are our revered and highly esteemed paramount rulers. Until our kings know where they are going, they will not know how to get there. I am sure you all know what is good for you. A leopard will neither change its skin nor give birth to an antelope. Election is around the corner, Kabiyesis of Ekiti, the choice is yours.
Eniola Fadipe wrote this piece from Ajilosun, Ado Ekiti.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org