AKENGBUWA was undergoing in his old age an experience common to men who have more than one Wife.
Ambitious Mothers always hope that their Sons will succeed their Fathers however remote they may be from the succession.
If this is a recurrent factor in polygamous homes, it becomes even more pronounced in the palace of a King where the eldest Son succeeds his Father while the rest had to fend for themselves as best they may. AKENGBUWA had to reconcile the interests of his Wives with those of the Children.
Each Wife was anxious to have as many Children as possible. Wives not lucky enough to have any resorted to their fetish for aid. Sometimes the local fetish failed to solve the problem; then the Wife, if she had adequate resources imported a Doctor from another Territory.
William Moore has narrated an incident in which one of the Olu’s Wives called IROLI, the young childless wife of an ageing Husband, sent to IFE for a Native Doctor. Ife was particularly noted for the great fetishes of the YORUBA.
….. The Native Doctor arrived, prepared his ingredients and treated the King’s wife. At this time one of EMAYE’s Daughters, IYE, was also having difficulty in having Children and her Brother OMATEYE hearing that a Powerful Native Doctor had been brought to Warri in order to cure IROLI of her barrenness asked him to treat IYE as well.
He did this without consulting IROLI who had brought the Doctor in the first instance. The news reached the King’s wife who was furious. She went at once and confronted the Prince and in the heat of the argument that ensued she slapped OMATEYE.
She had no right to slap the Prince. What she ought to have done was to take the matter to her Husband who would have adjudicated.
OMATEYE was equally furious and was not content to slap his Father’s favourite wife but had her thrashed.
According to ITSEKIRI Tradition he had committed a very serious crime. The action could be interpreted as thrashing his own Father, the OLU.
IROLI ran crying to her Husband to report what had happened, AKENGBUWA was greatly incensed at what the Son to whom he had given so much responsibility and trust had done.
*In his anger he cursed his Son: “If the OBA sails away today, the ferry man shall sail away tomorrow.”
This meant: that if he died, his son would follow soon after.
Thereafter there was deep enmity between the Prince and his Father’s wife and no attempt was made to reconcile them.
IROLI was still not satisfied. The Native Doctor by treating IYE without her permission had not only forfeited his right to continue to treat her but had become a Traitor.
She went to her Husband again to demand that the poor Man should be executed forthwith. *Olu AKENGBUWA, who never refused any request which she made, ordered the execution.
The concerned Man, knowing that his end was near, warned that his blood should not be shed in the Kingdom or there would be dire consequences not only for the King but for the Kingdom itself.
“I am willing to die at your Majesty’s command,” he said, “but in justice to god and the continuity of Your Dynasty and the ITSEKIRI, let me be removed from Your presence and be killed outside the City, or, if I am to be beheaded here, see that my blood is not allowed to touch the ground”.
Despite this warning, he was beheaded in Warri. According to Oral Tradition, the Doctor’s head disappeared.
The element of fact in this story is that there probably was a clash between OMATEYE and some of the Olu’s Wives which made the Olu reprimand his Son in very sharp terms. This was not unlikely because the Prince was arrogant and he behaved as if he were already the Ruler of the realm.
To illustrate the Prince’s impatience, William Moore, writing long after the incident, narrated how the Prince plucked out some of his own grey hair and sent it to his Father to make him aware of the fact that he too was growing old and wanted to succeed to the throne.
*For a second time, the King was forced to curse his heir to the Throne.
These stories related by Moore were believed by many ITSEKIRI who hated the Dynasty and wanted to give a ritual interpretation to the conflict in the AKENGBUWA Family which resulted in the series of mysterious deaths and succession disputes that took place after the death of the King.
OLU AKENGBUWA was himself a very ambitious Man and came to the Throne without performing all the rituals.
It was the unexplained death of his older Brothers and the fact that he had great wealth which gained him the Throne.
He in turn had some very ambitious Children.
There was mutual distrust and animosity among the Children.
Moreover some of EREJUWA’s own Children were still alive and had some claim to the Throne when it became vacant.
The succession was a matter of sufficient controversy to motivate the ritual poisoning which many people believe took place.
To add a further dimension to the conflict, AKENGBUWA in his bid to Centralize the Administration had offended many of the powerful Chiefs who had sworn that none of his Children should Rule after him.
THE END OF THE SERIES
CREDIT: JERCY EYIDOYO KPOGHO