By Dipo Awojobi – The first anniversary of the death of His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, the 50th Ooni of Ife, has been fixed to hold next week.
The two-day event will kick off on Thursday, July 28, 2016, with a thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Ayegbaju, Ife, Osun State.
This will then be followed by a grand reception at the Castle of Mercy, Ede Road, Ile-Ife.
The following day, Friday, July 29, a Colloquium, titled, “The Life and Times of Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, The 50th Ooni of Ife, will be hosted by The Institute of Cultural Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, at Oduduwa Hall, OAU. Another reception will follow at Motel Royal, KM 4, Ede Road, Ile-Ife.
It will be recalled that Oba Sijuwade joined his ancestors, last year on the evening of that fateful Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at around 7pm. He was aged 85.
The revered royal father passed on at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, United Kingdom (U.K), where he was being treated, after he was flown out, when his health reportedly suffered a relapse.
Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade was born on 1 January 1930.
He became the fiftieth traditional ruler or Ooni of Ife in 1980, taking the regnal name Olubuse II. He was crowned on 6 December 1980 in a ceremony attended by the Emir of Kano, Oba of Benin, Amayanabo of Opobo and Olu of Warri, as well as by representatives of the Queen of England.
Oba Sijuwade was born on 1 January 1930 in Ile-Ife to the Ogboru ruling house, grandson of the Ooni Sijuwade Adelekan Olubuse I.
He studied at Abeokuta Grammar School and Oduduwa College in Ile-Ife. He worked for three years in his father’s business, then for two years with the Nigerian Tribune, before attending Northampton College in the United Kingdom to study business management.
By the age of 30 he was a manager in Leventis, a Greek-Nigerian conglomerate. In 1963 he became Sales Director of the state-owned National Motor in Lagos.
After spotting a business opportunity during a 1964 visit to the Soviet Union, he formed a company to distribute Soviet-built vehicles and equipment in Nigeria, which became the nucleus of a widespread business empire.
He also invested in real estate in his home town of Ile Ife. By the time Sijuwade was crowned Ooni in 1980 he had become a wealthy man.
Sijuwade was a Christian. In November 2009 he attended the annual general meeting of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria accompanied by 17 other traditional rulers.
He declared that he was a full member of the church, and said all the monarchs who accompanied him would now become members.