TITLE OF BOOK: AWUJALE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALAIYELUWA OBA S.K ADETONA, OGBAGBA II
COUNTRY PUBLISHED: Nigeria
PUBLISHER: Mosuro Publishers, Ibadan, Nigeria
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2010
NUMBER OF PAGES: 275
BOOK REVIEWER : Mof’Oluwawo O MojolaOluwa
“Awujale: The Autobiography of Alaiyeluwa Oba S. K Adetona Ogbagba II” is a recount of the life and times of an epoch-making King of Ijebuland, a kingdom in Nigeria as told by the king himself. The author, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Ogbagba II, Awujale of Ijebuland, the third child of seven children was born to Omo-oba Rufai Adetona and Wolemot Ajibabi Adetona in the year 1934. He attended Ereko Baptist School, Ijebu-Ode; Ansar-ud-deen primary school and Oluiwa College now Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu-Ode for his primary and secondary school education. He then worked with the audit department of the Western Region after which he proceeded to the United Kingdom to study Accountancy. It was from there he was called back home in 1959 to become the next Awujale having been put forward by his father, who was next in line to the throne. He became king on the 2nd day of April, 1960. He has three wives and nine (9) children and has ruled Ijebuland from 1960 till date. He has several honorary degrees including the Doctor of Law (LL.D) from the University of Technology, Yola; Doctor of Civil Law (D.CL) from Ogun State University, now Olabisi Onabanjo University amongst other awards. He is an honest statesman, an astute businessman and a symbol of peace and unity.
In the book, he explores traditional leadership against the backdrop of the colonial and post-colonial era in Nigeria. Right from the beginning of his reign in 1960, he traces the development of Ijebuland in all spheres and the role he himself as well as others play in it. He tells of his life before and outside kingship encompassing his educational background and pursuit, his social and economic life, his family, both of orientation and procreation, his political activities and roles at the local, state and national levels. He also delves into certain private issues such as his health problems, controversial business exploits amongst others. Autobiographies have over the years been described as an attempt at self glorification; no one could have told the story better than the Awujale himself. This is the story of a man who came, saw and is still conquering…
The plot of the story runs through seventeen chapters and is quiet inorganic with frequent use of flashback and prefiguration. It is a recount of the life and times of an epoch making king told from a purely objective perspective giving room for self-drawn conclusions by the readers. The diction is superb. There is a beautiful combination of formality and informality. The diction is both figurative and allusive. These can be seen in the use of African proverbs and parables (pp 60, 73, 195) as well as allusions to the bible (pp 85, 174). There is a free flow of thought. The author also pays careful attention to details which brings out the beauty of the work. He gives us the particulars- day, date and even time of events.
The work can be said to be a satire of the military and colonial regimes and a means of promoting traditional ruler ship. It is a non-fictional prose. The author has also been careful not to maliciously indict anyone and has refrained from name calling; this is sagacious and laudable. Indeed one may say he has told the story just as it is. It is not an all too serious affair however, as the unfolding of certain events provoke laughter such as the one on page 25 where the Oba had to sit still under a heavy downpour of rain in keeping with the custom of an Oba sitting still while decked in full regalia.
The Oba also alludes to his prophetic powers on several occasions as is the case in the rift with Chief Onabanjo when he said he had already predicted that he would be repaid evil for good (pp 103), so also in the case of Shonekan (pp 162), when he forewarned him of his removal from power. The author has been very respectful, according honour to whosoever deserved it in the book. Each and every person is addressed according to his or her title whether professional, political or chieftaincy title.
The transparency and sincerity with which the story is told is further exemplified in chapter Ten, (pp 143) where he describes himself as ‘a chain smoker, averaging 40-60 cigarettes a day’. Some of the themes explored in the book are preservation of cultural heritage, peace and conflict resolution, generosity/lending a helping hand, demystification of traditions and customs, forthrightness, reason and common sense as opposed to sentiments, ethnicity and deceit, gratitude/appreciation. Other themes such as the sanctity of human life, the need for traditional rulers to be politically neutral and others pervade the story.
The story is basically set in Nigeria and the United Kingdom (London in particular). Places such as Cairo in Egypt, Israel, Jeddah amongst others were mentioned as the protagonist Oba S. K. Adetona, was frequently travelling. The time setting is sometime between 1958 till 2010 when the book was actually published. The primary focus in Nigeria is Ijebuland, the seat of Awujale’s throne.
Nonetheless, we cannot accept the king’s account as the whole, true and perfect story as what faces someone backs another like the ‘gangan’ drum. If we were to give most of the characters in the story (particularly the one’s with whom the king had clashes) an opportunity to tell their own side of the story, I am sure they would tell it from a different perspective hence, the need for us to be careful and not jump into hasty conclusions. This is the story as told from the perspective of one man and we may therefore submit that for all the issues we have been intimated with in this story, our knowledge of them remains partial until we hear the other parties out.