The Bobapitan of Ondo Kingdom
We have learned — through history — that the most sustainably successful empires and kingdoms are those where the symbiotic relationship between the crown and the people is recognized. In essence, there is no king without the people, and a people without a ruler are nothing but neighbours living in the same area. The regrouping of a people’s experiences, histories, personalities, qualities, language, fashion, religions, and cohabiting characteristics is what distinguishes Ondo from Akure and Akure from Ilaro. In essence, human towns and cities, people and societies do not just exist because Akure could not contain everyone in Ondo State, and so some had to move to other places to form their cities. Granted, the growth of a town or city influences the formation of another. However, a slight divergence in interests, beliefs, and way of life are the biggest factors that lead to the formation of new cities.
Earlier, I wrote about Ondo as a conglomerate of desirable values. However, the praises for the city would not be complete without the recognition of the descendants of Pupupu, who have, through their valuable qualities and illustrious characters and personalities, kept the city alive and growing. Many towns and cities of the world have gone extinct. It takes more than having indigenes to sustain a settlement and see it grow from a mere settlement into a kingdom.
Ondo, a city within the heart of Nigeria, is where an exceptional lineup of Nigerians call home. Where one calls home says so much about one. It is not surprising that Ondo indigenes are proud of their roots and ancestry. I can understand why Professor Femi Mimiko, a renowned political scientist and a former Vice-Chancellor, speaks Yoruba with Ondo intonations. Our long-time Austin family friend, Mrs Fola Ogunrinade, Mama Stephanie, speaks Ondo-Yoruba while she does not miss any Ondo-related events in faraway places. I know many more. In Ondo, excellence is innate.
The People of Ondo Kingdom: Honor-Bred, Excellence-Instilled
At the core of the average Ondo indigene are enviable values of honour, self-worth, integrity, resilience, intelligence, and an unwavering spirit of communalism. For an outsider, these qualities might often come off as pride — what such an outsider lacks is the contextual understanding of the worth Ondo people place on themselves, emanating from the pride they have in their heritage, culture, and history. This beautiful tapestry of qualities sets them apart and reflects the very soul of the great city.
In the face of challenges, you will always find the Ondo people resilient and indomitable. It is no surprise that they have upheld their cultural heritage to this moment. Aside from their resilient and persevering spirit, Ondo people are some of the most culturally conscious Nigerians I know. They have a deep sense of community, watch out for every and all members, and put forward a united front. This unity has manifested in the development of the city.
These custodians of culture are proud of their cultural heritage and affiliations, evidenced in how they publicly acknowledge the blacksmithing and brass-smithing trades and the kingdom’s loyalty to its chosen deity, Ogun, the god of war and iron. Sunny Ade of Ondo has made Ogun, via his famous song, an iconic god. I was not surprised when, drinking beer at a pub in Bahia, Brazil, Sunny Ade’s song was used to entertain all, and the people who knew few words of Yoruba sang along. I emptied my wallet.
The Yoruba people are arguably one of the most educated people in the world, and still, within the Yoruba cosmos, the Ondo people rank among the most intellectually sound. To crown it, the hospitality and warmth of the Ondo people cannot be overlooked. Days ago, I had the opportunity to experience this hospitality and warmth yet again, and it got me reminiscing on the loveliness of the Ondo Kingdom and its people.
The people are the pride of any self-surviving kingdom. In Ondo’s case, its pride lies in the quality of the people it has produced and the goodness of its ancestry and heritage. Today, we will sing the praises of these proud sons and daughters of Ondo kingdom. Do you remember Chief Henry Fajemirokun? You cannot forget he was the richest man of his time. What about the Lamofin of Ondo, Chief Gani Fawehinmi? Yes, you do—the greatest activist of his time.
High Chief Lisa Bayo Akinnola was an illustrious son of the Ondo Kingdom. A name synonymous with philanthropy and community development, High Chief Akinnola enjoyed a successful career with a highlight as Chairman of West African Portland Cement Company, among several other personal companies. His steadfast commitment to contributing to the good and welfare of the Ondo Kingdom was highly felt through several initiatives he launched for his people, especially in the areas of education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship.
Similarly, Emeritus Professor Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe, a textbook definition of intellectual prowess and academic excellence, was a distinguished medical doctor, scholar, and administrator of Ondo descent. Professor Akinkugbe pioneered several discoveries in the field of medicine, especially in relation to hypertension among Africans. Emeritus Professor Akinkugbe was a well-respected and highly decorated Nigerian who earned the title of the Commander of the Order of Niger for an illustrious career and his dedication and lifelong commitment to the advancement of medicine.
Henry Yemisi Fadamiro, a celebrated entomologist, is the quintessential definition of innovation and excellence. His groundbreaking achievements in pest management have been instrumental in revolutionizing agricultural practices all over the world. Dr. Fadamiro is yet another proof that the Ondo Kingdom breeds exceptional and illustrious people. His work has served as a foundational component for combatting food insecurity and promoting economic development.
Bimbo Oshin, a beloved actress who has graced our screens for years, is also an illustrious daughter of Ondo Kingdom. Bimbo’s passion for bringing characters to life is an embodiment of the hardworking and excellent spirit of the Ondo people. When Ondo people commit to a cause or a path, they strive to excel in it. Her contributions to the Nigerian entertainment industry cannot be trivialized, especially in how she has inspired others after her.
In the Ondo Kingdom, the people are not just the pride of the land; they are also the source of inspiration and hope for a brighter future. These indigenes that have been spotlighted serve as a reminder of how one person’s life can make an enormous impact that will ripple through generations, influencing lives and leaving positive marks on others.
Of a truth, Ondo Kingdom is not just a place; it is a community of exceptional individuals, and I am more than proud to have transcended from merely being an admirer of this kingdom to now having a strong affiliation with it, as its Bobapitan. Congratulations once again to the Osemawe on his 70th birthday. May the reign be long, and may the heritage and exceptionality of this kingdom continue to be sustained under his reign.