His local accent in a meeting with his traditional chiefs and subjects is a sharp contrast to his long sojourn in Canada.
He speaks as if he never ever stepped out of his hometown.
Conversely, during an interview session with journalists, he is simply a white man in black skin.
His choice of words, eye contact and total comportment are incredibly amazing.
These attributes, more than any other thing, make the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdul Rasheed Adewale Akanbi (Telu I) a monarch with many parts.
Pleasant, tolerant and intelligent, he is a traditional ruler effortlessly connecting the past with the present and minding less whose ox is gored.
Though deep in Yoruba history and those of other nations, his word, action and dressing style naturally stand him out as a unique king determined to make important statement in cultural harmony.
Given this reason, he is at home with attires that suit his desire and he does it with candour and a superior explanation that disarms his army of critics.
His ascension to the throne in November 16, 2015 and coronation two months after on January 16, 2016 followed a path severally described as manifestation of destiny.
This he often stresses to reveal the role played by God in the journey of his creatures.
It is believed in some quarters that an Oba must be seen in certain attires. Is an Oba actually restricted to wear certain dresses?
If you are not wearing rags, you are okay. What you wear as a traditional ruler depends on what statement you want to make. I don’t wear anything without making a statement. When I put on something, people should not rush to judgment but ask questions the way I ask questions on what is not clear to me. You see me in jalabia but you don’t ask me question. Is jalabia our dress? But when you see me in English dress, you make an issue out of it. If our forefathers had the opportunity to wear suit, they would wear it. If, as a traditional ruler, who cares for development, you are invited to the United States during winter, the weather will force you to wear jacket. Is that jacket from here?
What does culture mean to you as a traditional ruler?
Culture is something spiritual; something embedded in human existence. It is interwoven even with our religious beliefs.
Do you think it is right to call yourself an emperor?
Does government give anyone ‘his royal highness’ or ‘his imperial majesty’? No! Everybody picks what suits his dream. Emperor tallies with my dream and vision for Iwoland because I have a picture of an empire. The history of this town has not been told and I am telling it. I will continue to emphasise it that Iwoland is a special town of authority coming into existence since 10th century.
Kabiyesi, you always talk of your town as being special. What do you really mean?
Unfortunately, what I observe is that people have penchant for distorting history. The history of my town is very significant in Yorubaland. Our history is very beautiful and my pride. I am straight from Ile-Ife. I am not upgraded but born a king. The Oluwo was born a prince right from the source in Ile-Ife. There is a lot to Iwoland. The Oluwo is the only king that took the crown from Ife. The Oluwo is the only one that still has a ruling house in Ile-Ife.
What is the name of the ruling house?
It is Lafogido ruling house. Mother of Oluwo Gbagida came from that ruling house. Iwo did not emerge from nothing. It was predicted that we would settle at the land of Parrot. There is no other animal that speaks like human beings apart from the parrot. The same crown Ooni wears is what the Oluwo wears. Iwo can still go back to Ile-Ife and join Lafogido ruling house to contest Ooni stool. I want you to note it well that Owodo ruling house in Ile-Ife under Okerewe falls under Lafogido. It is the next ruling house after Giesi. Oshikola, Ogboru, Giesi and Lafogido are the four ruling houses in Ile-Ife. I must also tell you that there are 27 traditional rulers under Iwo.
Can you name some of them?
Oluwo of Iwo-Oke, Akire of Ikire-Ile, Olu of Ileigbo, Olupo of Oluponna, Olowu of Kuta, Agbowo of Ogbaagba, Olowu of Telemu, Adatan of Asa, Ola of Ajagunlaase, Olubode of Bode-Osi, Olu of Ile-Ogo, Oluwo of Adatan, Olu of Ile Ogo, Onikoyi of Ikoyi, Onifin of Ikonifin and Olowu of Ilemowu among others.
How can you describe your relationship with those traditional rulers?
It is fantastic. It is very, very good. We have a cordial relationship. We see often and go to functions together. We cooperate. We work together. I don’t say they are under me. We work together in greater Iwo Empire though I am the president.
Between January 16 when you received your staff of office and now, what has the experience been?
It has been beautiful and I am extremely happy. We are moving forward. I am a working Oba. I think everyday on how to better the lots of my people. We started from the Palace and built a befitting Palace that my sons and daughters are proud of. You can see how beautiful the palace is now. But I cannot be in a palace like this and my people remain poor. So we move to health care need of my people. When my people are free from sickness, they have strength to carry on their daily jobs. Then we went for food. We have food and clothing bank for them. When you put these together, health, food and cloth you have happy and motivated people. You can see the hope in them. You can see the enthusiasm in them. I have a dream and I am happy the dream is coming to a reality gradually. Already, the National Open University (Study Centre) project has been completed. We are only waiting for the federal government to inspect the place. It has been equipped with computer, library and other equipment needed to operate. There is a revolution going on in Iwoland and I am very happy my people are taking note of it. They are appreciating the passion with which I mounted the throne when I was on the streets personally filling pot holes on the roads. Some were mocking while majority were sharing my vision.
What does public opinion mean to you, as regards recent comments on social media?
Positive comments and negative comments remain people’s right of expression. This life is all about two sides. Is it not interesting that varied opinions are expressed on me? Today, it is difficult to ignore Iwoland and for the right reason, regardless of few funny opinions. I have a job to do. I have a big task on my hand for my people than devoting time to any distraction. What is important to me is total concentration on my vision for my people and doing it right.
When it comes to chieftaincy title, I tell my chiefs that it must be based strictly on right and the truth. I tell them that they should, under no circumstance, compromise these two elements–right and truth.
Is there any difference between the Oba of today and that of the past?
There is more information today. We tend to have more knowledge about other environment. Many Obas have come and some are not popular at all. It depends on your reign. If I am going to spend one day, I want it to be exceptional; that history will always talk about me. If it is 100 years, it must be beautiful and exceptional years of achievement. My era will sell Iwo to the world beyond your imagination. This is my vision and it is already playing out. I have a huge responsibility. I have set a high standard for myself and God willing I won’t disappoint in delivering the job because my people need transformation that will match their status as Iwoland. We are building an empire that is going to be famous not only in Osun State or Nigeria but also in the whole world. They will know that there is Iwo. They will know the rich history we have here. They will know how important we are. They will know we have a king. They will know we have an emperor.
Can you expatiate on the health care scheme you earlier mentioned?
It may interest you to note that over a billion naira worth medical equipments have been shipped in from Canada in collaboration with Mr Sola Agboola. It is going to be here on May 23. It is a 40 feet container we have shipped in. We have healthy environment with state-of-the-art-machines and electrical beds and other medical equipments. Ile-Ogbo, Ogbaagba, Oluponna and other towns are going to benefit from this scheme. I am not dealing with sick nation.
The Sultan of Sokoto was here few weeks back. Have you any relationship with him?
Of course, there is a relationship in our faith. The Oluwo first accepted Islam and officially spread it among his people. Till date, Iwo is a respected town of Muslims and Islamic scholars of note. When the Sultan came for the commissioning of the Palace he was impressed with what he saw in my people. We even took a ride round the town and he was very happy with the reception. There is a bond between us as Muslims. But we should not forget that there are also Christians in Iwoland. Baptist people found Iwo comfortable, hence their settlement here to the extent that they have Bowen University here. I am repeating it, Iwo is going to reach its promise land soon.