Many see April as the month of rebirth and renewal; the intersection between spring and winter, or, well, the dry and rainy seasons. Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi, the urbane king of Ikate Kingdom in Eti-Osa, Lagos, simply deifies April. It is a month that holds a special place in his heart.
April is, indeed, symbolic for Oba Elegushi. He and his father cum predecessor, the man who turned the once swampy dukedom into a modern city, Oba Yekini Adeniyi Elegushi, were born April 10, of course, many decades apart. Even more significantly, Oba Saheed Elegushi was crowned the 21st Elegushi in April. The celebration of his 10th anniversary comes up later this month.
Today, however, it is about the birthday of a monarch who has continued to hold his head high; effortlessly infusing modernity to the royal stool while holding very dearly to the traditional principles that define the Yoruba monarchical system for centuries. This, he is doing at a time when the roles and responsibilities of traditional rulers have become subjects of public scrutiny.
Like the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi and the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, who ascended the thrones of their progenitors in their youth, Oba Saheed Elegushi was also enthroned in his early thirties and, like these revered monarchs, he has evolved into a symbol of royal excellence.
Hence, Oba Elegushi continues to champion the course for respect for traditional rulers both from their subjects and government, at the same time supporting different programmes and initiatives of the government designed for the benefit of the people while not failing to air his views when in disagreement albeit using the appropriate channels of communication.
As the youngest monarch at the time of his coronation, the expectations were high; the hopes of a people were heaped on his shoulders. How he has fared will be properly analyzed in the next few days as he celebrates the 10th anniversary of his coronation, which the main celebration has been postponed due to happenings around the world at this time.
However, as the king celebrates his birthday today (Friday), it is worth reiterating that the years are just numbers, Oba Saheed Elegushi continues to represent with flair and flourish all that is expected of a 21st Century monarch.
This is wishing him many more years in good health and sound mind as he continues to pilot the affairs of Ikate-Elegushi.
Happy birthday, Kabiyesi
Ìgba odun, èni ni
Temitope Oyefeso is the Special Assistant, Public Affairs to His Majesty