The monarch’s death has caused a stir on social media as many have wondered what would become of his wives.

The Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi III’s passing, has been described as a significant loss to the entire Yoruba race.

The monarch’s death has caused quite a stir on social media, just as many have wondered what would become of his wives.

However, some Nigerians have taken to social media to raise their concerns about the fate of the numerous wives of the late monarch.

Oloris’ fate

Ifayemi Elebuibon, an Ifa priest, in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, spoke about the position of the Yoruba tradition regarding the fate of the late monarch’s wives.

Mr Elebuibon, based in Oyo State, said the queens could either remarry after the late king’s burial rites or remain in the palace where the new king would inherit them as his wives.

He said: “At present, they will be mourning the departure of their husband. After the ceremonies of the right of passage, those who wished to stay back in the palace can stay, the new oba will come and take care of them, and those who wish to remarry can go and remarry.”

“The new monarch would inherit them as part of his inheritance to the throne,” he said.

He explained that the wives of the Alaafin could only remarry after fulfilling traditional sacred rites of atonements and disassociating themselves from the palace.

They are not allowed to marry any member of the royal family or ruling branch.

Burial rites, transition of power

The Ifa priest also said the traditional burial ceremony and rites of the late monarch have since commenced.

“It is the third day already, and every day comes with its traditional rites and rituals. The ritual would last for three weeks or three months,” he said.

Further explaining the roles the king’s wives play during the burial rites, Mr Elebuibon, who is also a historian, said the Oloris are supposed to be indoors, away from the eyes of the people, until the traditional burial rites are entirely over.

“After the rites and rituals are concluded, the queens would decide their fate; remarry or remain in the palace and become a bride to the new king.

“The new King comes from the various branches of the ruling house. All the ruling houses are like one big family, so from the various branches of the ruling house, they will select a new monarch, where the kingmaker and the Ifa priest would pick him, give him some orientation, and hand over the entire palace to him, including the wives of the previous king.”

According to the Ifa devotee, everything in the palace belongs to the new king when he assumes the throne, the wives and properties alike.

‘Runaway’ queens

In November 2021, the latter, Olori Damilola, tendered a public apology to the monarch on her official Instagram account.

The mother-of-one walked out of her marriage shortly after her co-queen, Aanu, left in November 2020.

For months, rumours were rife that both queens in their 20s fled to Lagos because they wanted to be “free”.

But this is the first time that the queen would publicly confirm speculations that she had walked out of her marriage of barely five years.

In addition to the apology, she pleaded with the Alaafin and the royal family to be allowed to return to the palace and accused her friends of leading her astray.

Peter Fatomilola, dramatist and ifa priest
Peter Fatomilola, dramatist and ifa priest

Burial controversies

Many Yoruba traditionalists frowned at the reports that the late monarch was buried that same day he died in accordance with the Islamic practice.

Similarly, Peter Fatomilola, a Nigerian dramatist and an Ifa priest based in Ile Ife, told our correspondent that traditionally when an Oba dies, the announcement was supposed to be made at midnight.

“Immediately the Alaafin passed away, they announced it immediately, which ought not to be so, also, immediately the Alaafin died, they buried him as a Muslim,” he said.

Mr Elebuibon said the Alaafin was not buried as a Muslim, clarifying the rumours about the monarch’s burial.

He said the late monarch was open to diverse religions and was given a traditional funeral.

‘‘They allowed the Imam to say the prayers. Immediately the Imam finished making the Islamic prayers, the traditional people took over, so Alaafin was buried with the Yoruba rites, the way his ancestors were buried.

“Alaafin’s death was announced on the internet and via telephone calls. Traditionally, the announcement is supposed to be made by a particular set of people in the middle of the night; there is a certain drum which they have to beat in a certain way, and there is a trumpet which they had to blow that they use to announce his death.”

Mr Elebuibon also expressed his regrets about how the news of the monarch’s death broke to the public.

‘‘It is rather unfortunate that immediately the king passed on in the teaching hospital, and the news of his death went viral. That’s the problem with social media.

“Immediately after they announced the Alaafin’s death, the traditional burial rites will commence. The head of Ifa priests will come out to commence the rituals so that he would be welcome in the domain in heaven. Some people are supposed to prepare the King’s body.”

PREMIUM TIMES broke the news of the death of the prominent king on Friday shortly after he died at the university teaching hospital in Ekiti in the late hours of Friday.

A family source would later confirm that the monarch passed on after complications associated with prostate enlargement, which he managed for years.

He was 83 years old and the longest-reigning Alaafin ever, having ruled for more than 51 years.

He ascended the throne during Robert Adeyinka’s tenure as the military governor of Oyo State in 1970.

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