Why The Oba of Benin is number one by Odia Ofeimun

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By Odia Ofeimun
Odia Ofeimun
I am a Republican, not a Royalist. But, in a country in which we have all conceded the coexistence of Republican and Royalist values, it should be considered quite unseemly to watch one set of the interacting values being rough-handled, muddied or treated with improper decorum without feeling a need to intervene on behalf of rectitude. I have been so challenged since the eruption of the controversy ignited by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, who allowed himself to do a ranking of Yoruba Obas that placed the Oba of Benin as third in the hierarchy. In one sense, as Chief David Edebiri, the Esogban of Benin, immediately retorted, it is wrong to rank the Oba of Benin among Yoruba Obas because the Oba of Benin is not a Yoruba and therefore cannot be placed on a list of Yoruba Obas. I call it ‘in a sense’ because the Esogban’s position may be disputed on the grounds, as will soon be clear, that there is too much siblinghood between Yoruba and Benin traditional rulers for the ethnic difference between them to be rendered in cast-iron terms.
The special relationship between Yoruba and Benin obas, not unlike the relationship between Benin and Onitsha kings, or between Lagos and Edo kings, makes it all the more impolitic to do a ranking of the Benin monarchy in Yoruba royal affairs without abiding by certain inter-subjective and shared norms. And let me note, very quickly, that it is the presence of such norms that makes it quite normal for Chief Edebiri to put the Oba of Benin as Number One without appearing to contradict himself. In his response to the Alake, Chief Edebiri has argued, quite simply, that the term oba was not used …Read More

Source:: PM Newspaper