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The Legacy of a True Royalty: Olubadan Olalekan Balogun (Alli Okunmade II)'s Impact on Ibadanland and Beyond

Introduction


This article is written to capture the essence of the life and rule of the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Olalekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, highlighting his remarkable life, leadership, and legacy, while also emphasizing the impact he had on his community and beyond.

Ibadanland refers to the city of Ibadan and all its surrounding areas, which are historically and culturally significant to the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Ibadan is the capital city of Oyo State and is one of the largest cities in Nigeria. It has a rich cultural heritage and a long history dating back to the 18th century when it was one of the powerful ancient towns of the Yoruba people. Today, Ibadanland is home to many people from various ethnic groups and is an important cultural, economic, and educational center in Oyo State of Nigeria -- a prime state in western Nigeria, bordered by Kwara State to the north, Osun State to the east, Ogun State to the south and Edo State to the west.


Entitlement to the Title


The title, Olubadan of Ibadan is a traditional and spiritual leadership and rulership of the town of Ibadanland described above. The qualifications for becoming the Olubadan are so expansive and demanding, including 5he following:


1. Lineage: The candidate must be a member of one of the royal families of Ibadan.

2. Age: The candidate must be at least 60 years old.

3. Wisdom: The candidate must be wise and knowledgeable in Yoruba culture and tradition.

4. Leadership: The candidate must have demonstrated leadership qualities and experience in governance.

5. Integrity: The candidate must be of high moral character and integrity.

6. Religious knowledge: The candidate must have a deep understanding of Yoruba traditional religion and culture.

7. Acceptance: The candidate must be accepted by the people of Ibadan and the traditional council of chiefs.

8. Approval: The candidate must be approved by the Oyo State Government.


These qualifications are based on tradition and custom, and are used to ensure that the Olubadan is a respected and capable leader who can maintain the cultural and spiritual heritage of Ibadanland.


His Royal Majesty, Oba Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, is eminently qualified and fit to ascend to the esteemed throne of Olubadan of Ibadanland because he, over and beyond, met all criteria listed above. With his impeccable lineage, wisdom, leadership experience, and deep understanding of Yoruba culture and tradition, he is the epitome of a true Olubadan. His dedication to the welfare of his people, his commitment to peace and unity, and his unwavering integrity made him the perfect Oba when he was crowned. He, indeed, led Ibadanland into a path of bright future. Even at death, he remains one of the most wholeheartedly endorsed Olubadan and have no doubt excel in his esteemed role as Oba.


His Royal Majesty, Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, the 42nd Olubadan, passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2024, at the age of 81. He was a respected figure in Yoruba land, and his death marks the end of an era for Ibadanland. He will be remembered for his contributions to the community, and his legacy will continue to shape the present and future of one of Nigeria's most prominent cultural hubs.


Some characteristic traits of baba, the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, that have become lessons from his life include, but are not limited to, his being:


1. A Great Leader:


He demonstrated effective leadership as a monarch, guiding his people with wisdom and compassion. This he demonstrated through various community development projects, philanthropic gestures, and successful business ventures. He also showed diplomatic skills in conflict resolution and maintained peace in the community. Additionally, he was a respected figure in Yoruba land and his legacy continues to shape the present and future of one of Nigeria's most prominent cultural hubs.


2. A Humble Follower:


Greek Philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) said, “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” Instead of rushing to the finish line and declaring yourself a great leader, take the time to be a good follower and learn important skills along the way so that you don't lose yourself. Beside the fact that the late maintained a cordial relationship with the Executive Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency Engineer Seyi Makinde, as a show of genuine followership, the two leaders worked together on various projects and initiatives to promote the development of Ibadanland and Oyo State as a whole.


In fact, Governor Makinde had often sought the counsel and guidance of the late monarch on matters of state and community development. The Olubadan, in turn, had always been willing to offer his wisdom and support to the governor.


Together, they launched several initiatives aimed at improving the lives of the people of Ibadanland and Oyo State, including projects in the areas of education, healthcare, infrastructure, and economic development.


Their collaboration was a testament to the importance of building strong relationships between traditional leaders and elected officials, and demonstrated the positive impact that can result from such partnerships.


These are all possible because, the monarch had great respect for constituted authority. As a traditional ruler, he understood the importance of working within the framework of the law and respecting the authority and position of the government. He was known to sustain such cordial relationship with the government and its institutions till the end, always willing to work with them to promote the well-being of his people.


In fact, he was a strong advocate for the rule of law and the importance of respecting constituted authority. He believed that traditional leaders had a responsibility to support and complement the work of the government, rather than working against it.


This was reflected in his approach to conflict resolution, where he would often work with government officials and other stakeholders to find peaceful solutions to disputes, rather than taking matters into his own hands.


Overall, Olubadan Lekan Balogun's respect for constituted authority was an important aspect of his leadership style, and helped to build trust and cooperation between traditional leaders and the government.


3. Cultural Preserver:


He was a strong advocate for Yoruba culture and traditions, working to preserve and promote them throughout his reign. One example of this is his efforts to preserve and promote the Yoruba language. He established the Olubadan Adult Education Centre, which offered classes in Yoruba language and culture, and encouraged the use of Yoruba in daily life and official settings. He also supported the development of Yoruba language programming on radio and television, and was a patron of Yoruba cultural groups and festivals. Through these efforts, he helped to ensure the continuation and celebration of Yoruba cultural heritage.


4. Community Developer:


He was committed to the growth and progress of Ibadanland, initiating various projects to improve the lives of his people. He played key roles in establishing the Ibadanland Development Foundation (IDF). The IDF is a non-profit organization that aims to promote economic development, improve infrastructure, and enhance the quality of life in Ibadanland. Under his leadership, the IDF implemented various projects, such as:


* Building and equipping schools and hospitals

* Providing clean water and sanitation facilities

* Supporting small and medium-sized enterprises

* Improving road networks and transportation systems

* Promoting agriculture and food security


These initiatives have contributed significantly to the growth and progress of Ibadanland, improving the lives of its residents and making it a more attractive place to live, work, and invest. Olubadan Lekan Balogun's dedication to the IDF and its mission demonstrates his commitment to the well-being and prosperity of his people.


5. An Outstanding Diplomat:


He showed great diplomatic skills in resolving conflicts and maintaining peace in the community. His role in mediating the 2016 Ibadan chieftaincy crisis. The crisis arose due to a dispute over the selection process for the next Olubadan, and it threatened to tear the community apart.


Olubadan Lekan Balogun, with his wisdom and experience, stepped in to mediate the conflict. He brought together the warring factions and facilitated a series of dialogues, which ultimately led to a peaceful resolution. His ability to listen to both sides, his patience, and his commitment to finding a solution that benefited the entire community helped to restore peace and stability to Ibadanland.


His diplomatic skills were also evident in his efforts to promote peaceful coexistence among different ethnic and religious groups in Ibadan. He worked tirelessly to build bridges and foster understanding, and his efforts helped to create a harmonious and inclusive community.


Overall, the late monarch's diplomatic skills played a significant role in maintaining peace and stability in Ibadanland, and his legacy continues to inspire future generations.


6. A Man of Humility:


Despite his position, he remained humble and approachable, earning the respect and love of his people.


One example is the fact that he continued to live in his family home in the Gbagi area of Ibadan, even after becoming the traditional ruler of the city. Despite his high status and position of power, he chose to remain in the same modest home, surrounded by his community, rather than moving to a more luxurious or isolated residence.


Additionally, he was known to regularly walk the streets of Ibadan, interacting with his subjects and listening to their concerns. He would often stop to chat with people, share a meal with them, or offer words of encouragement. This approachability and willingness to connect with others on a personal level helped to endear him to the people of Ibadan and earned him great respect.


Furthermore, he was also known to attend community events, weddings, and other celebrations, where he would mingle with guests and show his support for the community. His humility and approachability were a hallmark of his reign, and he remained a beloved figure in Ibadan until his passing.


7. Depository of Wisdom:


His words and actions reflected a deep wisdom and understanding of life, which inspired many.


One example of this is his famous quote: "Life is like a river, it flows and it meanders, but it always reaches its destination." This quote reflects his understanding that life is a journey with ups and downs, twists and turns, but ultimately, it has a purpose and a direction.


Another example is his approach to conflict resolution. He believed that "a wise man does not seek to win an argument, but to resolve a conflict." This approach reflects his understanding that true wisdom lies not in being right, but in finding common ground and building bridges.


Additionally, he was known to often say "a tree does not make a forest," while this is not original to him, by his constant use it, he often highlights the importance of community and collaboration. He believed that individual success is not as important as the collective success of the community, and that we should strive to lift each other up, rather than trying to stand alone.


These quotes and sayings demonstrate his deep wisdom and understanding of life, and his ability to distill complex ideas into simple, yet profound, truths.


8. A Man Given to Service:


He dedicated his life to serving his community, demonstrating the importance of selfless service to others.


To baba, success includes having all aspects of your life (influence, business, relationship, family, faith, and your place in your community) working together to serve your people. This philosophy explains why he used his life to serve his community through numerous avenues including establishment of the Lekan Balogun Foundation. The foundation provides educational scholarships, healthcare services, and economic empowerment programs to underprivileged individuals in Ibadanland.


He also used his position as traditional ruler to advocate for and support various community development projects, such as the construction of roads, schools, and healthcare facilities. He worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his people, often sacrificing his own personal interests for the greater good.


Additionally, he was known to regularly visit the sick, the elderly, and the bereaved, offering emotional support and comfort to those in need. He also used his influence to mediate disputes and promote peace and harmony within the community.


Through his selfless service, Olubadan Lekan Balogun demonstrated the importance of putting the needs of others before one's own, and inspired countless individuals to follow in his footsteps. His legacy continues to live on through the many lives he touched and the impact he had on his community.


9. An Acon of Legacy:


He left a lasting legacy that will continue to inspire future generations. Posterity will continue to remember how he established Lekan Balogun Institute for Leadership and Development. The institute aims to promote leadership, entrepreneurship, and community development, and will continue to inspire and empower future generations long after his passing.


Another example is the numerous initiatives and programs he launched during his reign, such as the Ibadanland Development Foundation, which will continue to benefit the community for years to come.


Additionally, his legacy is also reflected in the many lives he touched and inspired, including young people who grew up under his guidance and mentorship, and who will continue to carry on his legacy.


His impact on the community is also reflected in the many tributes and accolades that have been paid to him since his passing, demonstrating the high esteem in which he was held and the lasting impact he had on those around him.


Overall, Olubadan Lekan Balogun's legacy is one of selfless service, leadership, and community development, and will continue to inspire future generations to make a positive impact in their own communities.


10. A True Royalty:


The Yorubas say, "a king is not made by the crown, but by the content of his character." This saying is true for the late monarch. Our fathers say that a true leader is not known by his wealth, but by his wisdom. Unfortunately, trees that are straight and firm, the Yorubas also say, do not last long in the forest. But despite his short reign, Olubadan is a true monarch, a king who rules with compassion, a good ruler, who is like a good farmer that cultivates his people, a king who listens to his people. These proverbs highlight the important qualities, character, wisdom, compassion, and good leadership, which are essential for true royalty in Yoruba culture.


Indeed! Olubadan Lekan Balogun personified and exemplified all thise. He was a true royalty in every sense of the word. His dignity, grace, and leadership qualities were exemplary, and he embodied the values and virtues of traditional Yoruba royalty. His commitment to his people, his culture, and his community was unwavering, and he worked tirelessly to promote their well-being and prosperity. He was a shining example of what it means to be a true leader and a noble soul. His legacy will continue to inspire and guide future generations, and his memory will be cherished forever.


Conclusion


As we celebrate the life and legacy of a truly remarkable individual, Olubadan Lekan Balogun, a man of great wisdom, compassion, and leadership, who dedicated his life to serving his people and his community. Who, as a traditional ruler, was a shining example of what it means to be a true leader. He listened to the needs of his people, and worked tirelessly to promote their well-being and prosperity.


Baba led a larger than life lifestyle model of leadership. He was a guiding light to so many. His kindness, his wisdom, and his infectious smile touched the hearts of everyone he met. The world will miss him dearly, but we take comfort in the knowledge that his legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched and the many initiatives he launched.


His legacy continues as he is survived by his loving family, devoted community, and the countless lives he touched throughout his reign. His wisdom, compassion, and leadership will never be forgotten.


From his immediate family, he is survived by his beloved wives: Olori Kafayat -- a pillar of strength and wisdom, known for her kindness and compassion in the community; and Olori Aisha -- a shining star, admired for her grace and intelligence, and her dedication to preserving Yoruba culture.


His Royal Majesty is also survived by his cherished children: Prince Adewale -- a rising leader, following in his father's footsteps with his commitment to service and justice; Princess Adebisi -- a beacon of hope, using her talents to empower women and girls in Ibadanland; Prince Ademola -- a young prince with a heart for the people, already showing great promise in leadership; and Princess Adeola -- a bright light, shining with creativity and a passion for preserving Yoruba traditions. His family was a source of joy and strength to him throughout his life. May they find comfort in his legacy and the love of their community. Each one a testament to the Olubadan's love and legacy.


O great man you were, dear Olubadan. Your impact on our world will never be forgotten. And these lessons we now kearn from you will continue to serve as a reminder of the impact one person can have on their community and the importance of living a life of purpose, compassion, and service.


Adieu, baba!


Adieu!


Dr. Simon Wale Olatunji

Vice President

Yoruba Cultural Center of Dallas Inc

Yoruba Arts And Heritage Museum

7111 Marvin D. Love Fwy # 209

Dallas, TX 75237 USA

Tel.: +1 (817) 822-8441

Cell: +1 (407) 360-8280


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