Almost 20 years to the day of Diana’s death, the kingdom of Ife, the famed cradle of Yoruba civilization was shaken by the confirmation of the marriage breakdown between His Imperial Majesty and his Queen. Questions have been asked and theories have been formulated as to why a marriage filled with pomp and panache and all the trappings of mysticism could come down like a pack of badly arranged cards.
Why does the circumstances surrounding the Ife Queen bear much semblance with that of Diana, the Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, and Countess of Chester?
Born in 1961, Diana was engaged to and later became the wife of His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, then and now, the heir apparent to the British throne in 1981. It was dubbed as the Marriage of the century seen on live television by over 750 million viewers around the world, a world record at the time.
In a matter of years or some commentators say months, the Marriage became bogged with allegations and counter allegations of infidelity amongst the couple. At some point, Diana stated that her marriage has become a bit crowded by the antics of the Prince. The marriage was formally ended in 1996 after an uncontested divorce.
Back to Nigeria, Itohan Sonia Wuraola Zaynab Otiti Obanor the delectable daughter of the Bini Kingdom was stated to be the choice of the Ife oracles for a wife for the Ooni. But that is not to shift any blame to the gods for as it is said, the gods are not to blame.
At a colorful Bini traditional ceremony performed by the Esogban of Benin who is also the Oracle and Chief Wizard of Bini Kingdom, and monitored closely by the entire Yoruba race in Nigeria, Dahomey, Togo, Ghana, Seirre-leone, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, the USA, the Americas and the Yoruba world, Zaynab Otiti Obanor became Her Majesty, the Yeyeluwa Oduduwa and the Olori of Ile-Ife. After the wedding came the honeymoon which made several admirers to conclude that the King has finally found his true Crown. Indeed this Jewel of inestimable value was closer to the Ooni than the Oduduwa staff. The romance was intense but for how long?
Then came the signs of tension and unease between the couple, followed by allegations of infidelity and infertility and crowdiness by third parties in the Marriage. Just as in Diana’s case, the rumor mill reached terrific levels fuelled by the friends, aides and associates of the couple trading accusations and denials of wrong doing on the part of their patrons. Then push came to shove when on the 30th day of August, 2017 when the Queen announced to the world of the end of her matrimony with the Ooni. Just like Diana who became stripped of her Royal titles upon her divorce with the Prince, the Ife Queen renounced her chain of titles and signed off her statement simply as Zaynab Otiti Obanor, thereby reverting to her maiden name.
During her reign as Queen, a striking aspect of her endeavor was her charities and commitment to the welfare of women and children. This is another area where she threads in the same path of Diana. Diana’s record in charitable causes is still unequaled to this day. The erstwhile Olori through her Queen of Ile-Ife Foundation (QIIF) has committed huge funds into the uplifting of the impoverished. Today the foundation has spread its tentacles beyond Ile-Ife to several rural communities across Africa and beyond.
Indeed some commentators have attributed the collapse of the Royal matrimony to the humanitarian and philanthropic causes of the Queen which had made her become easily susceptible to diverse interests and a loose canon towards her donors. This it is further posited has put the Odu’a stool in a position where things are no longer at ease.
This was exactly the same allegation against Diana which lent credence to several conspiracy theories to the effect that the accident that led to the death of the Princess of Wales on 31st August 1997 was pure blue murder, a highly coordinated black-ops that bore the unmistakable imprimatur of the British Crown.
Can a person challenge or walk away from a decision ascribed to the gods? Or was there a mix-up somewhere? How the House of Odu’a deals with this novel situation will definitely determine the course of the custom of the Yoruba world in an ever changing society.
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