By Lateef Dada, Osogbo 

To some people, Oba Abdurosheed Akanbi, Oluwo of Iwo in Osun State, is a controversial monarch. He has been at loggerheads with traditionalists and his colleagues on the issue of idol worship, preaching that monarchs are not supposed to be promoters of idol worship.

Oluwo did not only campaign against idol worship, he has been consistent in condemning the worshippers of idols, insisting that only the creator, Eledumare, should be worshiped. He has castigated monarchs who keep idols in their palaces, with public criticism against traditional worshippers, which led to accusations and counter-accusations.

On January 16, 2023, Oluwo finally took the monarchs and the traditionalists to school as he launched his book, Code of Kings, in Lagos, where he set standards for traditional rulers and also tutored the traditionalists on the history of idols. The launching, which coincided with his seventh year on the throne, had the Etsu Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar, and other prominent Yoruba obas in attendance as well as government functionaries from far and near.

His position did not change. He wants all traditional rulers to stop worshipping idols. He maintained that “kings are answerable only to Olodumare; a king bows to none except the creator.” 

“Olodumare is big. In fact, he is bigger than the biggest of all beings. One of those taboos a leading father (monarch) must eschew is idolatry. You must start speaking to God the day you are crowned a king. If otherwise, check yourself.”

Oluwo, in his book, posited that “a monarch must stay out of membership of secret societies; it is never an option but a necessity if one wants to maintain a voice of commandment as ordained by God. A king is entitled to accommodate all religions, mostly on festive receptions exempting deities worshippers. A king leads all congregational festivities; to be laconic, none of these faiths abhors idolatry. 

“In addition, the only and most sacred place of God on earth is the palace; it is a sanctified abode where prayers made are granted without hindrance. Of importance is the fact that the asset is reserved for a monarch who dignifies no other deity above God, such a monarch bows to no gods but God. 

“My stool is greater and more sacred than that of any gods. I am a pure monarch and a representative of Olodumare on earth.

“Let me throw this challenge: the day anybody brings to my knowledge the deity or deities Oduduwa worshipped while on earth with empirical evidence, I will leave my palace and will no longer reign as a king. Oduduwa, as far as I know, practiced and perfected spiritualism directly to Olodumare, alongside our other progenitors practiced in the days of old as there was neither Christianity nor Islam during the period in question. These people heard directly from God and this is no other thing than spiritualism.”  

According to Oluwo, it is an abomination for an Oba to bow to other gods in the presence of the real God; palaces are the first place of God on the earth.H hence, no gods should be associated with it. 

“Our palaces must be clean and devoid of any idol. There is an authority in the mouth of any monarch who is pure and who shuns idol worshipping; our palaces must be devoid of idols. An Oba must not kneel before anybody to pray because they are symbols of authority. This is a message to all the kings and let me tell them that their palaces are the habitation of God on earth as God was dwelling with us before churches and mosques were built.

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“I would like to be shown the deity or deities Oduduwa worshipped while on earth. The source of our crown and progenitor is Oduduwa. Why are people in the habit of imposing the practices

they did not get from Oduduwa in the name of obaship? What most of our royal fathers are worshipping today are things created by human beings; they are all superstitions that men have created,” he maintained.

A foremost journalist, Alhaji Liadi Tella, backed the actions of Oluwo against idol worship, saying “Oluwo has demonstrated that he is not a bastard.”

At the book launch, Tella explained that Oluwo is not fighting with traditional rulers but points attention to the fact that the obas in Yoruba are not submerged in Orisa and they’re superior to Orisa.

According to him, the Iwo kingdom is the light of Islam in the entire Yoruba race. “That he as a king is a true representative of God and therefore he is not submerging to any Idol. Whether you like it or not Muhammadu Lamuye banished traditional worship in the whole land and he was one of the longest-serving obas that spent close to 100 years on the throne. So, from that period, there’s no idol worship in Iwo.

“The mosque in Iwo was built in the 15th century. One of the earliest in west Africa. So, he is acting typically to the tradition of his father. Although those kings that came after Muhammadu Lamuye were cowed this one refused to be cowed. 

“This is the first senior paramount ruler of Yoruba land to chronicle a book on our side. They did it in Ijebu-Ode. About one or two others did it. What Oluwo has done is reincarnate the ancient history of Yoruba land.

“The superiority of Oluwo is not in question but we lost the right when we didn’t have Oba for 10 years. This one now has come to re-enact the status of Iwo in Yoruba land,” Tella added.

The book, according to Oluwo, has set a standard for the monarch on how best to worship God. For the umpteenth time, Oluwo has challenged the traditional rulers that they should abandon their gods and face the worship of Olodumare. He has documented his evidence in the Code of Kings, expecting contrary opinions on the history of gods explained in his book.