The royal marriage involving Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife and his queen, Wuraola Zaynab Otiti (nee Obanor), for many reasons, deserves to form a fulcrum of a weighty social discourse.
Typical of what obtains in other African ancestries- a king’s honour is complete only when he’s got a queen (or queens). God forbids that a king be worried. But on December 7, 2015, when the Ooni ascended the throne of his ancestors without a known queen, you could tell the biggest heartache of His Imperial Majesty.
In line with tradition and not out of favour of the oracle (Ifa), names of maidens were collated for a king wouldn’t sleep more days without his queen. The oracle purportedly chose a graceful socialite, Sonia Itohan, who’s today known as Zaynab Otiti Wuraola from Obanor family, a famous Edo clan.
There could have been a preceding investigation of the maidens where it wasn’t unlikely that the Ooni would recognise that the favoured one was at that point in time still married to a wealthy Lebanese domiciled somewhere in the United Arab Emirates.
After all, a king is a king over all (Oba ba l’ori ohun gbogbo). The king’s father accompanied by top members of the palace went to pay the dowry, performed all requisite rituals and brought the king his queen 17 months ago.
In the splendour of royalty, the couple traversed the world and their reception everywhere they stepped as spotlighted by the social media was some awe-inspiring spectacles. That this pair looked good together is an understatementtheirs was a marriage made in heaven. But hell was let loose in early August, 2017, when a daring blogger reported that the royal marriage had packed up.
Unbelievable! What happened to all the razzmatazz that made this duo become envy of many? This report was followed by a statement from the media handlers of the queen who threatened fire and brimstone on anyone found spreading ‘falsehood’ and then another from the palace claiming it was a concoction from some unscrupulous elements but that the king was unperturbed.
Perhaps because there’s no smoke without fire- a celebrated Nigerian journalist, Mr. Dele Momodu, went all out to find the queen, who had obviously moved out of the palace and that meeting signalled the end to all speculations.
Lo and behold, the queen confessed to the Basorun of Celebrity Journalism, “the Ooni and I are no more” after which she wittily posted on her Instagram page that her marriage was over with a damning riposte to those believed to be her foes in these trying times. She exonerated herself of allegations of infidelity and infertility while asking that her accusers should look the other way to find the one guilty.
Why Olori cannot remarry
“Whosoever that acts contrary to the wishes of kings or have sexual intercourse with his wife will not go scot-free for his vengeance comes through deities who are not ordinary mortals,” he added. Speaking on the significance of Iyaafin in the palace, he shared the same sentiment with Elebuibon but added that if the king in power still wants to marry them, he has the right to do so despite the fact that their husbands who were former kings had joined their ancestors. In his own submission, Dr Oluseyi Atanda, Ajana Awo of Osogbo land and Secretary General, Traditional Religions Association of Osun State, said: “When such occurrences of divorce or separation happen in the palace, it’s a shame and nobody talks about it.
“The palace serves as role model and what is the joy in celebrating a failed marriage in the palace. “On the fate of the woman; traditionally it is because the gold fish has no hiding place. The whole society knows she was the wife of a king and the dilemma is, who wants to marry her without being accused of contributing to her failed marriage? “Finally, in olden days when we kept the sanctity of our tradition, this was not restricted to only kings, there were some traditional compounds too that their wives could not be inherited.
“It is family taboo and whoever goes against a taboo should face the consequences. In such tradition, there are complementary roles to be played by the husband towards the woman in such marriage captivity. “This is to protect her also.
However when the marriage breaks down, the future husband must be careful not to be involved in sacrilege.” “Iyaafin is the name given to a married woman otherwise called Mrs. Literally, it is translates to mean mother of the palace. It is a revered title describing the ability to be the mother to all members of the palace.