Oshodi Chieftaincy Controversy, The Moral History of Icarius and the Sun – By: .


By Mufu Tijani

Mythology, folk tales, and even stories from religious books are full of warnings against excessive pride in individuals, groups, or organizations. Also known as pride, there are enough lessons to be learned from literary figures such as Captain Ahab in Herman Melville. Moby-Dick and Satan in John Milton lost paradise on dark themes of vanity, ambition, power, insolence and disdain.

But perhaps the best-known example is the Icarus syndrome, with its characteristic lack of humility. He felled many leaders who had planned grandly but failed miserably by overestimating their knowledge, foresight, and ability.

The origin of this terminology is from Greek mythology. According to the story, Icarus and his father, Daedalus, were imprisoned on an island by King Minos. To escape, Daedalus – a master craftsman – created two pairs of wings made of wax and feathers. He warned his son not to fly too close to the sun or the wax would melt. He also warned Icarus not to fly too low, or the feathers might get wet in the sea. His warnings, however, went unheeded. Icarus was so intoxicated by the experience of flight that he went higher and higher and got too close to the Sun. When the wax on his wings melted, he fell into the sea and drowned.

The saying “don’t fly too close to the sun” refers to Icarus’ recklessness and disregard for limits.

Now, one might ask, what does a tragic Greek hero have to do with the rumblings on the vacant stool of the Bale of Oshodi in Lagos, Nigeria? It has a lot to do with it, as we’ve started to see. Lagosians have been gripped by what amounts to a daring assault on a time-tested hereditary succession that has produced all past Bales of Oshodi by latter-day strongmen and their political allies.

Despite warnings and public protests from the Oshodi royal family, the dailies report efforts by some people who are not family members – but who seemed to have created their own alternative scenario – to seize the stool of Oshodi. One such notable effort is being spearheaded by the Lagos State Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Musiliu Akinsanya, Alhaji (MC Oluomo), who – according to media reports – has the backing of the President of Oshodi LCDA, Kehinde Oloyede (Kendoo).

In fact, following widely publicized reports of Akinsanya’s endorsement for the post, the regent of the Oshodi Kingdom, Alhaji Biliamnu Akinola, took to the media to distance himself from such.

“I have received calls from far and near following a report on social media platforms which claimed that I, the regent of Oshodi land and other ruling houses, have agreed to install MC Oluomo as our Oba,” Akinola said. “The report is nothing but false and misleading. It was invented to manipulate the whole process and misinform the general public.

This also happens to be the publicly stated position of the Oshodi Tapa family, the owners of Oshodiland. At a recent press conference attended by family leaders, Oshodi-Tapa family chairman Alhaji Maroof-deen Oshodi who went down in history to tell how the family came to own the land and how its ownership was affirmed by multiple court judgments, said the only previous attempt by a foreigner to ascend the throne had also been overturned by a court ruling.

“We are not unaware of several bizarre claims to the throne, including Alhaji Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya’s bet to be installed as Oba of Oshodi. We want to publicly distance our family from this campaign,” he said..

Perhaps more strategically, he also sent a message to politicians who might be colluding with those he called “the budding usurpers of the throne” to renounce what could only turn out to be a mad dash.

Oshodi said: “We are confident that the authorities of the Lagos State Government – or any sub-judicial authority would not take any action which would result in a breach of law and order in Oshodi and beyond and which would raise doubts about their oft-stated belief in the sanctity of the rule of law.

“We recall with great respect for the sanctity of history and justice that the truth stands eternally and defies repression no matter who may be involved. This has been amply illustrated by the recent Magodo saga. The moral of Magodo’s situation is that the mills of justice, like that of the gods, might indeed grind slowly, but they grind extremely fine.

Of course, ambition is to be supported and even encouraged. But such ambitious energy needs must be concentrated on legally acceptable projects. The Icarus Syndrome characterizes leaders who launch overly ambitious projects that come to nothing, harming themselves and others in the process. Often these leaders have let adulation go to their heads (what the Yoruba call the “Maa jo lo, mo n wo eyin re” syndrome). Fueled by excitement, these leaders are unable to rein in their misguided enthusiasm before let it not be too late.

They exhibit symptoms such as: Having excessive confidence in their own judgement; nurturing feelings of omnipotence; become reckless and restless; showing contempt for the advice and criticism of others; and ignoring the practicality, cost, or adverse consequences of their various efforts.

All of this is on display in the current scheme to hijack the royal Oshodi stool from rightful owners. So one can only hope that saner heads would prevail and that the temporal powers would support Bale of Oshodi’s established succession plan and do nothing to distort or disrupt it. But they may not pay attention, until reality hits them hard in the face as it did for Icarius in Greek history.

Mufu Tijani writes from Lagos

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