The Ooni of Ife needs to straddle tradition with modernity.
The crash of the Ooni of Ife's marriage to former Olori Wuraola has grabbed so much attention both on social media and the press.
Monarchs in Nigeria normally don't get this type of attention. Well, there was a moment when the Alaafin of Oyo caused a stir whenever he stepped out with his many wives. Apart from that kings do not makeup Twitter gist and the cover of soft sell magazines.
Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is a different type of king. The position he holds as the supreme ruler of the Yoruba race has always called for conservatism. It's a position that requires your presence to be felt and not to be seen.
From his first months on the royal throne, we all saw that the new Ooni of Ife would not be one to hide behind the curtains and paint himself as a deity. Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi has made so many public appearances within his short reign. The young monarch (he is 42 years old) has embraced modernity and social media.
This strategy has gone through some turbulence. The handshake-gate between him and the Oba of Lagos was well played out on social media. His very colourful entrance on board a plane was a spectacle to millennials.
His marriage is now a trending topic on Twitter, unusual for a top ruler of such an ancient heritage. His age also adds to extra attention and focus towards him. And this is a new terrain for the royal institution.
The Ooni of Ife is a direct descendant of Oduduwa, the father of all Yoruba people. By extension, the Ooni of Ife is seen as the paramount ruler of the Yoruba race, a dynasty that is reported to have started ten thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Whoever wears the crown is seen more as a demigod than a human being.
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Therefore it is odd to see the Ooni of Ife's marriage become a sensation, a topic for gossip and back room talk. The Ooni of Ife is not a celebrity but a spiritual ruler.
The challenge before Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is how he can balance the ancient royal institution and modernity. If the Oba tilts towards tradition he would become a relic and he tilts towards modernity, the danger is that he might be a hashtag.
The Ooni of Ife has to be a modern king who pays respect to the tradition and his office.