The city of Ifẹ̀ and environs wore a festive look all through the weekend. You couldn’t expect less for the coronation of the Ọọ̀ni, the spiritual head of all Yorùbá, Ọba Adéyẹyè Ẹniìtàn Ògúnwùsì (whom we last met here as an energetic tour guide of his expansive resort in Lagos). For one moment on Monday, everyone who was anyone in the Yorùbá nation was going to be around to celebrate one man as he receives his staff of office, officially, from the governor of the state: a mostly ceremonial occasion as the real “coronation” has been performed in the form of rituals and rites over the last couple of weeks.
On the way to Ilé-Ifẹ̀, I pondered the unpredictable creativity of life. I’d visited the town a number of times as a student, as a visitor, as a tourist, and as a passer-by on the way to somewhere else. On this visit, I was visiting as family, to celebrate a man I’d called “Brother Yẹyè” while we grew up in Akóbọ, Ibàdàn, in the eighties, and whose only daughter is my oldest niece. It brought new meaning to serendipity, interconnectedness, and certainly to the dynamics of family. It was also a nice reunion with other friends and family from far and wide who had come to honour he who will now be called our king, Ọba Adéyẹyè Ẹniìtàn Babátúndé Ògúnwùsì, the 51st Ọọ̀ni of Ifẹ, and successor to the throne of Odùduwà.
Late Sunday evening, along with a number of royal guests, the Ọọ̀ni flagged off his new Ifẹ̀ Grand Resorts construction project at a location on the outskirts of town, with loud fireworks and a cultural display. The aim is to replicate the success of the Lagos equivalent, and turning the city into a tourist destination. The resort, according to him, is one of many planned projects to give the ancient town a modern look while also providing employment for the youths.
These are a few photos from the weekend.
Here’s to a long and successful reign for the king over Ifẹ̀ and all of the Yorùbá nation. Here’s also to a subsequent return to the town – for me – at a less crowded time in order to properly appreciate the architecture and expanse of the palace and surrounding areas, and perhaps the thinking of the man himself now tossed into the global spotlight with an enormous crown over an ancient institution.