The selection of a king in Yoruba land is a very serious affair as the role is very significant and has a major impact on the people in that particular community. All kings in Yoruba land are referred to as Obas and their role in society cannot be under estimated because of the power they yield when performing their duties.
The situation is not different in Lagos Island when it comes to how important the Oba is to the society. The Oba of Lagos Island is considered as the highest Oba in terms of hierarchy among other Obas in Lagos State and that is why is always referred to as the Oba of Lagos.
The Oba of Lagos may not have much political will power to have an impact on various issues and conditions affecting his community and people but he is greatly sought after by politicians in power as his views are highly appreciated. The Oba has the confidence of his people which is very important to the government as through the Oba they can know what the people are feeling, their aspirations and what they expect from the government.
Over time especially in recent years, the duties and roles of the Oba of Lagos has reduced a bit with the advent of colonial rule and the rise of democratic institutions.
However, despite these facts, there is still a major duty the Oba of Lagos Island performs which is awarding of chieftaincy titles to people who are deemed worthy of such honor. The chieftaincy titles are most times given to men and women who are considered highly successful from a particular area. Although once in a while it is possible that someone not from that particular section may be chosen for a chieftaincy title.
During any ceremony for the award of a chieftaincy title, the Oba takes center stage and is cynosure of all eyes. On that day he is recognized more than officials and dignitaries invited for the ceremony.
The event is usually a big affair with a lot of coverage from media houses. The Oba along with his other chiefs are all well dressed in their expensive attires looking nice and good. There are a lot festivities including drumming and dancing to welcome in the new chief.
Choosing an Oba is not an easy process at all as it involves various activities to be done before the right person is found.
Before an Oba is chosen, various ruling houses in the community are consulted to know who among the members of their family can become the new Oba. When each of the various families has been contacted, they are asked to produce or choose a member of their family who they feel is worthy to represent the family on the throne.
It should be noted that nobody can be crowned or made king without involving the oracle of ifa because it is part of the tradition of finding and crowning a king.
The names of the person chosen by the various ruling and royal families are given to the king makers who will then take those names to the ifa priest who will go to the oracle for consultation.
The reason why the ifa oracle is consulted is to enable the king makers make the right choice and choose a candidate that will lead the people very well.
Through the ifa priest, the oracle is consulted and whoever is revealed as the person deemed worthy to be crowned king will be accepted by the king makers.
While they will be patiently waiting for the priest to bring back the result of who has been chosen by the oracle, the king makers will be making preparations to welcome the new Oba when he is chosen by the oracle. Also interested in who becomes the new Oba are the members of council of chiefs to the former Oba who would have passed away.
Another thing to note is that nobody or person can be chosen and crowned a new Oba if the present Oba is not yet dead as this goes against the tradition and norms of the land.
When the oracle reveals the name of the person chosen to become Oba, the ifa priest goes ahead to inform the king makers. At this point the king makers will then start the preparations of the traditional rites needed to be done to appease the deities of the land. This is done by the king makers so that the new Oba coming to the throne has a peaceful, successful and happy reign over the land.
Once the rites has been accepted by the deities, the ifa priest informs the king makers of the good news and he then gives the signal for the king makers to start or continue with preparations of crowning the new Oba.
With the coast now clear for the new Oba to be crowned there is jubilation in the land as any tension or apprehension in the land over who will be the new Oba greatly reduces creating a peaceful atmosphere.
The people are not left out of the preparations as they are duly informed about the king makers who their new Oba is and are usually in a jubilant mood when they get such news.
Sometimes, when the king makers know the new Oba, they take him round the town so he can meet with the people. The king makers also do this so that the people can have a sense of belonging which makes them feel that they were part of the process of selecting and choosing a king and that their opinions are very important to the leadership of the community.
Coronation of the Oba is always an eventful and special affair. The celebrations can be compared to a carnival like atmosphere with lot dignitaries, celebrities and political big wigs present at the event.
The event is usually done over a few days, with various activities marked out for each day which is something always special. A major feature of the event is the presence of masquerades as well as various youth groups who come up with a lot of different performances to entertain the guests who are also entertained by groups of drummers and dancers.
After the coronation is done and ended, the new Oba gets down to the serious business of trying to make the life of his people much better with the assistance of his palace chiefs.