By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor & Chukwuma Ajakah
From the circumstances surrounding this review by two pastors, we are persuaded to believe that the honor of having to review these God-inspired literary works of Oba Dr. Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, Karunwi III, Oranmiyan, OsileOke-Ona Egba, did not come by accident.
Only a few days before the three intimidating volumes of the publications titled “My 30 years of stewardship on the throne of my fore-fathers” were hauled down to our Arts desk for review, the two reviewers had been engaged in an intense theological debate concerning the relevance of the Old Testament of the Bible to the Christian faith, especially the continued payment of tithes today by Christians.
One co-reviewer (the editor) had argued, with scriptural backings, that the Old Testament, together with its tithe payment injunctions, has been abrogated and replaced by the New Testament. The other reviewer did not agree with the editor’s theological position. So, the matter was left hanging, only to be resurrected and somewhat put to rest now by Providence through these writings of Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, who devotes pages 701-722,volume 1 of his books to deal broadly with the issues of the Old Testament and payment of tithes by Christians today.
Strangely, the reviewers found the Oba and the editor on the same page on the issue: That the dispensation of the Old Testament, together with its tithe payment commandment, has passed – a biblical truth many men of God today do not like to accept because of the financial rewards it brings to them.
In meeting Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, one is almost encountering another King David of the Bible, not necessarily by the reason of his material wealth, but on account of his anointing by the Lord Jesus – who is no doubt, the source of his immense wisdom as is discernible from the three volumes that make up this compendium: “My 30 years of stewardship on the throne of my fore-fathers”.
An unshakable believer in Christ, this outstanding man of God on the throne of his fore-fathers has shown great capacity and wisdom in accommodating the traditional demands of his stool and faith in the Lord Jesus by recognizing a distinction between idol worshipping and culture.”People confuse idol worshipping with our culture or tradition,” he writes on page 736, vol. 1 of the book. “Certainly, idol worshipping has nothing to do with our culture or tradition…. A religious tradition is separate from the tradition or culture of our fatherland. And when we talk about tradition and culture it depends on where your focus is.”
Born in 1938 to the family of Pa Joseph Somoye Tejuoso and Chief (Mrs.) Esther Bisoye Tejuoso, 3rd Iyalode of Egbaland, HRM Alayeluwa Oba Dr. Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso attended St. George’s Primary School, Zaria from (1941-1946), Abeokuta Girls School, Ake – beforethe boys were separated (1946-1948), Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti’s Class (1949-1950) and the Prestigious Abeokuta Grammar School (1951-1956) where he served as Senior Prefect, thereby, inadvertently honing his leadership skills.
After his secondary school, he proceeded to West Ham College of Technology, London (1957-1958) and later Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland (1958-1964) for further studies. He qualified as a medical doctor and worked with Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) as a Senior House Officer before establishing Teju Industrial Clinic (now Iyalode BisoyeTejuoso Memorial Hospital) in 1970.
Before his ascent to the throne in1989, this adorable leader had effectively combined the administration of the hospital with his responsibilities as the Managing Director of Teju Foam Industry which was established by his mother.
Although the story of his commitment to the Christian faith sounds incredible to many, Oba Tejouso’s spiritual attachment to Christianity is in tandem with an age-long tradition of recognizing and serving the supreme God as demonstrated by his predecessors. Chief Adeyanju, author of the Creoles (Kiriyo) and the Gospel in Nigeria, reveals that “The ‘Go Ye’ command of Jesus Christ has always been given its due attention by the rulers of Karunwi Dynasty.
King Karunwi I, the Osile who reigned between 1897 and 1899 loved the Creoles. His palace was not far from Wasimi-Ake where the Creoles lived. They were therefore able to meet regularly and exchange ideas on several issues which included the need for a better life for the citizenry. His association with Rev. D.O. Williams, the vicar of the ‘Exeter’ church at Ake the year he ascended the throne ignited his interest in education and that was why he encouraged the people of his domain to emulate the lifestyle of the Creoles.” The monarch died in 1899, leaving many in no doubt that “he would have made an impact in the educational and spiritual development of his subjects if he had been privileged to reign for much longer than two years,” Chief Adeyanju says.
Moreover, that account reveals that King David Sokunbi Karunwi II (1904-1918) was the first educated monarch in Egbaland. He was a Christian and had attended the CMS Grammar School, Lagos. King David Sokunbi Karunwi II was reputed to have played a pivotal role in ensuring that his people received the immense benefits of both gospel and Western education. He also played a pioneering role in the establishment of both the famed grammar school and the African Church in Abeokuta: “He identified with the objectives of the creoles.
When Abeokuta Grammar School was to be founded in 1908, he encouraged the founding fathers who believed that the standard and level of education available at CMS Grammar School, Lagos should be introduced into Abeokuta to replace was transferred to Lagos in 1867, following the house breaking episode perpetuated by idol worshippers. He was present at the divine service at which Abeokuta Grammar School was inaugurated and he presided at the reception… King Karunwi II used his good offices to make sure that the good news – word of God – was brought to his domain. This was how St. James’ Church, Idi-Ape, Abeokuta came into being on July 17, 1917. King Karunwi II laid the foundation stone of the church building.”
A further proof of the family’s Christian religion antecedent is that King Karunwi III’s grandfather, Moses Tejuoso, Oluwo Ago-Oko, was one of the leaders who donated plots of land for the building of St. James’ African Church Cathedral, Idi-Ape, Abeokuta, where he was buried when he died at the age of 85 in 1945. Conversely, the devotion of the rulers and descendants of Karunwi Dynasty to Christian evangelism is legendary. The Kabiyesi’s father had taught at St. John’s Primary School, Igbein, Abeokuta where he met one of his pupils whom he later married, the quintessential Esther Busoye Tejuoso.
“My 30 years of stewardship on the throne of my fore-fathers” records that that the mother of the reigning monarch, Chief (Mrs.) Esther Bisoye Tejuoso (nee Karunwi), a famous industrialist and philanthropist was known to have been an active promoter of evangelistic activities beyond denominational boundaries, revealing the matriarch as an iconic model: “The giving culture of the third Iyalode of Egbaland towards the church and church functionaries was imbibed by her son, HRM Oba Dr. Adedapo Tejuoso, CON, Karunwi III, who began to demonstrate his love for God and his ardent desire to execute Christ’s command on evangelism from his youth. He had been a member of the choir in his primary school days and when he was in Abeokuta Grammar School, he distinguished himself in everything evangelical by implementing to the letter every directive of Principal Kuti who was not only an educationist but also a great evangelist.”
The celebrated monarch made a definite dedication of his life to God when he clocked 50 years in 1988. As he marked the 50th birthday, he donated two houses in Lagos to the church in fulfillment of his pledge to “build a house of worship at his residence”.
In a prophetic letter he wrote to General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) dated May 21, 1996, accurately prophesying Obasanjo’s freedom from incarceration in Abacha’s gulag, the Oba, Dr. Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, made a profoundly significant statement which captures the whole essence of who he is and the secret of his power: “Eni ti o ranni ni ise la nberu, aki nberu eni ti ama je ise na fun” (When you fear the Lord, you have no one else to fear).
On ascending the throne in 1989, King Tejuoso declared his spiritual stance by denouncing idolatry and renouncing any association with every questionable group. He commenced his mission to preach the gospel to all nations by setting up the Oba Karunwi Evangelical Organisation, which has over the years proved to be a veritable platform for his evangelistic exploits via crusades and related missionary engagements in diverse places including remote heathen villages where the gospel had either never reached or faced resistance. The anniversary book also reveals that “Testimonies have always been given by converts to confirm that they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior as a result of the evangelical efforts of King Tejuoso, Karunwi III.”
The Oba also organizes outreaches that help satiate the spiritual needs of his contemporaries within and outside Nigeria as he invites them to acknowledge, accept and celebrate the King of Kings. Moreover, in compliance with the great commission, “Preach the gospel to all nations”, he founded a Bible school which grooms many evangelists for the task. In addition to the Kings’ Day of Praise celebration he observes annually, the Oba still hosts regular Bible study and prayer meetings.
In propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ, Oba Tejuoso also embraces other aspects of social responsibility as he extends his activities to strengthen the health, education and legal sectors for the benefit of the less privileged. For instance, he engaged in the fight that resulted in the eradication of guinea-worm in some rural communities of Egbaland, awarded scholarship grants to indigent students and advocated for the rehabilitation of prisoners in the society.
Although the amiable monarch must have been preordained for kingship, he was never inordinately ambitious. He lived his childhood days without attaching much importance to the significance of the royal names he bore. Speaking of royal dreams in the 30th anniversary book, the Oba says: “As for becoming a king, it never occurred to me. I never gave it any thought.” However, he admits that others might have dreamt on his behalf: “The people I have in mind are my parents. My mother, the third Iyalode, Egba, Chief Bisoye Tejuoso, is a princess and she hails from the Ayokan Ruling House; that house had produced two kings out of seven so far in the 120 year-old traditional history of Oke-Ona Egba…the Osile (Oranmiyan, Oloko of Oko) had reigned right from the ancient beginning at the source, as Alaafin of Ile-Ife, then as Alaafin of Oyo and later as Alaafin of Oko before becoming the Oloko of Oko and then the Osile.”
The Kabiyesi postulates that his father might have also envisioned him becoming a king: “My late father, Mr. Joseph Somoye Tejuoso missed being a prince because of his father’s reported distaste for the travails of kingship. From what I have been able to gather from family history, my grandfather Moses Tejuoso did not refuse the first citizenship position of Oke-Ona Egba out of pride. Rather, he was an unassuming, quiet and peace-loving gentleman, who feared the turbulence that was characteristic of the Oko people. He considered himself too young to die and leave his children like sheep without a shepherd.”
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