The Nigerian pastor, Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye, who left pastoring to take up the kingship of his ancient town, has been officially crowned.
Pastor Olaoye was on Thursday 14 September installed as the 21st Soun of Ogbomoso land at a well-attended ceremony despite fears in the Christian community that he could compromise his faith.
He was the pastor of the “Jesus House” Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Washington, United States before his appointment as traditional ruler on September 2 by the governor of Oyo State, South West Nigeria, Seyi Makinde.
He succeeded Jimoh Oyewunmi, Ajagungbade 111, who passed on in December 2022.
Performing traditional rites and installation
The new king entered the Soun palace after he performed the final series of traditional rites that marked the conclusion of the compulsory seven-day seclusion for the new ruler, who also visited some historical compounds in the town.
During the installation, Olaoye, who had arrived the town in a private Chopper which landed in Ogbomoso Grammar School very early in the morning for the ceremony, was dressed in a golden agbada with a white royal cap and a pair of black shoes and also holding the white horse whip.
The whip was handed over to him at the “Abata” shrine where all previous kings of the city were buried. He had arrived at the back gate of the palace where he performed a rite while surrounded by the kingmakers and other subjects.
The new king then danced to several traditional local tunes drummers beat for some minutes before moving to perform other rites inside the palace.
High chief, Sobalaje Otolorin, the Areago of Ogbomoso, who led other kingmakers to perform the installation, subsequently proclaimed Olaoye as “His Imperial Majesty, Oba Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye, the Orumogege 111 and the 30th Soun of Ogbomoso.”
“God brought you here….”
Preaching at the event, a cleric and founder of Peace House, Brother Gbile Akanni, enjoined King Olaoye to live above board by exhibiting exemplary conduct in ruling the ancient town.
Drawing from some biblical references, notably Deuteronomy 17:16-17, the cleric noted that the Ogbomoso people would expect their new king to be a true custodian of tradition, culture and values.
“You are to display a high level of decorum and avoid any form of covetous attitude,” Akanni said.
He further advised King Olaoye against taking more wives and acquiring material wealth for himself.
Akanni, who spoke in Yoruba, also recounted the story of King Solomon, saying the King of Israel had issues with God because he married strange women who turned his heart away from God. He asked Olaoye not to follow Solomon’s footsteps.
He said, “God has brought you here to be a blessing to the people. Here is the word of God for you. This is not the word of man. God is saying the king must not acquire wives. This is what God is saying.”
The cleric said Olaoye was already blessed before becoming king.
“It was not hunger that drove you to the throne. You were successful in your former engagement but because you are from a royal home, God has made it possible to get to the throne,” Akanni stated.
He lamented that many people got to the throne and became something else and said the new king should not do the same.
According to him, “The king must not acquire silver and gold. If the blessings come, let it be from the people of the town. We pray that the people of Ogbomoso will experience something new in your time. Those who are hungry should be fed during your time. God who blesses us abundantly will rain his blessing on us.”
The cleric then handed over a big Bible to the new monarch, saying, “I know you have different kinds of Bible but this Bible I am giving you must be placed on the table in the palace. As long as you think about what to do about this town, God will give you wisdom on what to do.”
God sent me
Address the mammoth crowd that witnessed his installation, Olaoye thanked the people of the town for their love and support just as he assured them that a new light was set to shine on it.
He asked the sons and daughters, both at home and in diaspora to come back home and contribute their quota to the development of the city.
The new monarch said, “This is a new dawn in the town and factories shall flood the town to ensure that sons and daughters of the town no longer beg for jobs as there would be enough to accommodate them.
“It is God that sent me and asked me to make sure I give you a new Ogbomoso land to make the town a new brand in the comity of its peers.
“The much awaited development has started immediately. Factories are coming, not just one, but in several folds.
“It won’t be that you will be crying for employment henceforth, because it is already here with us in Ogbomoso.
“I don’t talk much, but I assure you that you will henceforth be seeing action that will give everyone a fresh hope and that will make everybody proud of coming from this town called Ogbomoso.
“I want to thank everybody for the acceptability and your show of love since I was announced till this moment and I pray that we shall all be living witnesses to our new Ogbomoso land.”
Ifa didn’t choose Olaoye
In an interview with BBC, the Mogaji of Olaoye family, Amos Olaoye, said the seven-day seclusion was only a time the new king is put through the basics of what is expected of him when he mounts the throne.
He added that it is not Ifa that dictates who becomes king.
Ifa is the divination system and Yoruba religion that represents the teachings of Orisha Orumila.
“The choice of the king is done by the kingmakers. They always come from the ruling house. It was the Olaoye family that chose Ghandi Olaoye, not Ifa. We presented him as the choice of the family. He is the most qualified in the family.”
King Olaoye was crowned despite a court order restraining the installation. The kingmakers said they did not receive any injunction hence they went ahead with the event.
Some family members who opposed his choice had approached the court, saying Olaoye was not part of the process right from the beginning and therefore he should not be crowned against their wish.
The family members in the suit number HOG/27/2022, in July 2022, cited various irregularities in the process that produced Olaoye. They prayed the court to, among other reliefs, set aside the nomination and order a fresh process of picking the next Soun.