Mythopraxis, which is the practice of myth, according to patterns residing in the collective consciousness of a group of people is an inherent tendency in human beings. This inclination has been identified in important first generation post-independence politicians of Western Nigeria. Awolowo, for example, was thoroughly delighted by the expressed belief that the statue of Oduduwa looked exactly like him. He boasted in fact that his election as the Leader of the Yoruba identified ‘a reality, which he personifies, because, for the first time since Oduduwa, the Yoruba have one leader’. The idea of Awolowo as Oduduwa proved to be a powerful metaphor of unity of all the formerly warring subgroups.

Different Kakanfos in history have suited the roles expected of them too. They are supposed to go to war once in 3 years to whatever places the Alaafin named, to either conquer or have their corpse returned home. The legendary obstinacy which Kakanfos are known for is being demonstrated by two popular modern time Kakanfos; Ladoke Akintola and MKO Abiola. When attempts were made to unseat him as Premier of the Western region in 1962, Akintola, surronded by his followers, continued to sit at his desk as usual in defiance of the governor’s authority. Like Aare Ona Kakanfos of old, he died fighting back gun men who besieged his Ibadan home during the January 1966 military coup. MKO Abiola, another Aare Ona Kakanfo winner of the annulled 12 June 1993 presidential election, practised myth when he died holding on to his political mandate in detention.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer