How Offa celebrates Olofa's victory years after

Date: 2016-12-18

The palace of the Olofa of Offa, in Kwara State,for a first time visitor, may be mistaken for a party ground because since the Appeal Court ruling on the authentic Olofa was given in favour of Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, Okikiola Esuwoye II, it has remained a celebration galore there and around the town.

One may attribute this to the youthful age of the monarch but a deeper look at the activities at the palace and around Offa revealed that after the long legal battle over the throne, the people of Offa are ready to do anything for the present Oba to succeed.

The Olofa, who was seen amongst his people dancing at the palace, without any special occasion one fateful Friday, revealed the secret behind the merriment at the palace.

"All these people you see with me are the princes and princesses of Offa who selected me to be the king and every Friday we all gather at the palace for a one-hour prayer, from 10am to 11am. They pray for me, the community and all the sons and daughters of Offa both home and abroad.

"This type of gathering has been on for more than 200 years but I dance with them just to show happiness and to show them we are all the same though I am the king, I am their servant. The merriment is what my people want and that makes them happy and my essence of sitting at this palace is to make the whole community happy," Oba Mufutau said.

The ancient town, whose ancestors hailed from Oyo, according to observers, had been known for divisive tendencies but the present king has been able to unite the town during his short reign.

On how the Olofa was able to achieve the unity, he said, "Uniting my people has never given me any headache because before I ascended the throne, I didn't know anybody, so nobody can say I have offended him or her in anyway. It is only when people know you before you attained a position that they will want to vent their anger over what they perceived you did to them in the past. But I donít know anybody in town, including the king makers.

"The only person I knew among the kingmakers is Eesa who is my second in command and he was in India receiving treatment when I became the king.

"I lived all my life in Lagos doing my business and when I ascended the throne, my past good deeds made me have substantial support of my people who do not have anything bad to say about me. The other 10 percent is the Olugense House that were dragging the throne with me and even there I have 5 percent support from them too because many of them were working with me before I ascended the throne," he said.

The new found unity has continued to surprise people in and around Offa because if there is anything that has baffled the people of Offa, it is the reconciliation among the people in the town.

The king, who never had any premonition of becoming the monarch, as a big-time business man, related to Daily Trust on Sunday his encounter when he was invited to contest the Olofa of Offa stool after the late Olofa passed on.

Oba Esuwoye said he started visiting home in 2000 and that whenever people came to him for help he usually sent one of his brothers to them but never met them one-on-one. "While I was growing up, I never dreamt about becoming a king because I believed that when a king dies, they will automatically pick one of his sons to replace him but that did not happen when my predecessor died.

"I was in Lagos doing fine with my business but when the king died they called me and I told them to select one of the sons but they said I had to come and contest for it which I declined. "We dragged it for about a week because in Offa, when a king dies, they have only 21 days to select another one. Out of that time, I wasted seven days. The clincher was when my father wanted to place a curse on me because of my refusal. So I accepted and gave them my credentials because the rule says that contestants for the kingship position must be below 50 years of age.

"I went back to Lagos after submitting my documents because I didn't know anybody around. I later heard the whole town supported and wanted me and I was selected." Six years into the reign of the monarch and Offa as a town has not been the same as a lot has been achieved. Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the Olofa has been instrumental to many projects in the town, among them; construction of the new palace, the central mosque, the Offa Descendants Unionís town halls, establishment of Open Univers

"All these have been achieved within six years and it was made possible because of the people's cooperation. The money we are using is not my money alone, it is the contribution from all the sons and daughters of Offa," the monarch revealed.

"Every Friday I feed 800 people at the palace because once they come at 10am, they don't go home until 4pm. So I give them lunch; pounded yam, amala or semovita. And by the time they leave this week they will want to come back another week because they will not be here for hours without something to eat. That makes them happy and that was not happening before in Offa. We will have Ijakadi festival this month. I am doing all that to bring them together and see smiles on the faces of everybody in the community. My people's happiness relaxes me," Oba Mufutau said.

"I want to take Offa to a greater height. By the time you come here next year, you will see some changes again because we are planning to build a museum where we will have Moremi artifact. We will make it a storey building: the ground floor will be for the meeting of the princes and princesses; first floor would be for artifacts while the last floor will be a library. The place won't be a shrine for any worship as many people think," he explained.

Oba Mufutau Gbadamasi is also known to be instrumental to the reconciliation of the long age crisis between the late Ooni of Ife and the Alaafin of Oyo as the duo graced his coronation where they embraced each other, something other monarchs had not been able to achieve. "I did nothing big; it is just because of my belief. I have good faith because both of them never knew me before that time.

"I only sent invitations to them for the coronation but they have been hearing about me and they could not wait to see the man they had heard so much about. I didn't even know that they had problem but they both came, embraced each other and everybody enjoyed the ceremony," he narrated.

He added: "Once I am sitting on the throne, God gives me inspiration on how to go about doing whatever I want to do and it has really been helping me."

"Like this tax they are now making mandatory, we introduced it in Offa since 2011 because I saw it coming. Every son and daughter of Offa that can afford it pays N10,000 annually and that is what we have been using to do all what we have done".

Unlike some other traditional rulers, the Olofa has only one wife which to some people is not the tradition. "Who told you it is not the tradition to marry one wife as a king? You only do whatever you want. I have only one wife and I intend to stay with her because we are happy with each other," the monarch said.c

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