Tue, 10 Jun 2008 Feature Article

RE: New chief for Yoruba community in Kumasi

RE: New chief for Yoruba community in Kumasi

MY ATTENTION as the secretary of the Yoruba Community in Kumasi has been drawn to series of publications in your paper. The first was on May 16, 2008 by a faceless person and the second one which appeared in the June 2, 2008 was jointly authored by Abdallah Alin-Tofa, secretary to the Zongo Palace and Alhaji Issa Sarkin Shanu, Senior Cabinet Member of the Sarkin Zongo Palace.

They were all in reaction to a story your paper published on May 12, 2008 under the title as above and wish to react to same hoping that the records would be set straight one and for all.

It must be made clear first and foremost that the Sarkin Zongo, Alhaji Ibrahim Tahir, Chief of Zongo has no power to choose an Oba for the Yoruba community in Kumasi or else where. The fact is, it is not his priority or a part of the Electoral College.

Much as it is true that the Sarkin Zongo did not receive the Yoruba delegates it is also undeniable fact that the delegation was received by Alhaji Issa Farin Goro, Sarkin Shanu and Alhaji Farouk Waziri who also received gifts of money and cola nuts on behalf of the Sarkin Zongo as confirmed by Alhaji Awudu Idris.

In any case, the delegation was at the Sarkin Zongo's palace out of respect and not for his approval. The Sarkin Zongo must be told in plain words that he has no capacity to react to the installation of Alhaji Amin. So far as Elders of Yoruba are concerned no chief has been installed in March this year.

It must be put on record that never has Sarkin Zongo installed any head of the Yoruba in the history of the community. Simple put the intervention of the Sarkin Zongo is uncalled for. He is merely interfering and must put a stop to the practice of taking sides in matters of this nature.

We are aware of the intervention by the Nigerian Ambassador in Ghana and the Baba Adini of Accra to resolve the disagreement between factions of the Yoruba people. We are also aware that the Sarkin Zongo has admitted before Alhaji Adewale Wahab, head of a delegation appointed by the Oba of Yoruba in Accra who visited Kumasi recently to investigate the impasse that he has no capacity to choose a leader for the Yoruba community. As it is, his intervention is uncalled for and must stay clear from the issue.

We also want to react that it is not true that there is a Yoruba royal family which produces chiefs in Kumasi.

The true picture is that Zarikin Sulemana , a Yoruba from Ilorin became the deputy of the then Zarinkin Zongo, Mallam Salao during the colonial rule which recognized the role of Zongo chiefs.

Oba Sulemana ruled as head of the Yoruba community for 40 years. By way of explanation there is no such royal house that produces Yoruba chiefs in Kumasi and that Yoruba headship is not hereditary as the author of the purported rejoinder of May 16 seemed to claim.

After his death, Sulemana's children (Wahab and Issifu Adeo) did not become chiefs.

Instead, after Sulemana, three contestants namely Alhaji Adakere from Ogbomosho, Tiamiyu from Ilorin and Aliu Alao also from Ilorin vied for the leadership position. He also reigned for 30 years.

Again, three persons Alao Zaki from Ilorin, Aremu Ilorin and Adeoba from Ogbomosho contested for the title and even though Adeoba was considered he was rejected by the seven Yoruba groupings which formed the Electoral College on the grounds that he was a Christian.

Malik Alao, who was then performing the pilgrimage in Mecca was called and the title of Oba (chief) of Yoruba was bestowed on him. His reign ended with his demise in March last year after 33 years as chief of the Yoruba.

I also want to place on record that the Yoruba community has no permanent palace and that whoever becomes the Oba decides the siting of his palace.

All persons and members of the public are therefore cautioned against any interference in the affairs of the Yoruba chieftaincy affairs.

The Yoruba chieftaincy affair is purely our own business and that people of other tribes must stay clear from it because the Yoruba Community, would want to remain a law abiding entity, and want the prevailing peace among members to be disturbed.

As it was rightly reported by your reporter, the installation of Alhaji Ahmed Amin Olugbon was closely monitored by the Regional Security Council to ensure that the right thing was done.

The leadership of Yoruba community like the Imams and heads of Zongos are not hereditary. As a matter of fact, of all the 12 Zongo chiefs in Kumasi only one lineage produced three chiefs. The rest are from various groupings.

Mallam Rufai Alao, from the Ilorin group and a brother of the late Malik Alao, who proclaimed himself Oba of the Yoruba community soon after the death of his brother and paraded himself as such has, since been suspended from the Federation of Yoruba groupings for arrogating to himself the functions of a chief.

He was suspected to have teamed up with some unscrupulous persons to derail the installation of a new chief for the Yoruba community.

From the above, I wish to state that the Yoruba Community has laid down rules duly accepted by the seven Yoruba groupings which govern the choice of chiefs and that it is not correct that the right to leadership of the Yoruba is a birthright. Instead it is by choice as explained above.

I, therefore, entreat discerning members of the reading public to treat any such contrary claims to rights to leadership roles in the Yoruba community with the contempt they deserve. I hope this would put matters to rest.

For and on behalf of
Yoruba community, Kumasi.