Modernity versus royal incongruities

Only people without the blue platelet exclusively reserved for royalty in their veins would call for the abnegation of the monarchy. It is an established delusion that while the rest of humanity run red blood cells in their veins, the noble run on blue plasma. You’ll never find out even if you try, except you were there when Marie Antoinette was guillotined in Paris for the high price of baguettes. The poor girl did not know the route to the bakery.

Many years ago, the monarchy died, so long live royalty. According to available records, there are 40 sovereign nations running on royal orders across the globe. Sixteen member-nations of the Commonwealth run on the fuel of aristocracy. Barbados is celebrating its first Christmas as a republic 55 years after flag independence.

Wherever there are commoners, royal gossip titillates especially when royals behave badly. Harry and Meghan’s opulent wedding amused commoners as much as the young prince’s renunciation of his royal privileges. Such moves lead to imperial anaemia.

Royalties are a pleasure to unfold – the ceremonial display of golden carriages, exquisite furniture in ornate castles, exotic cars, and of course the tiara bedecked with precious gemstones regally expropriated from unwary colonies coerced into signing them off – pro bono.

Royals have been behaving badly since humanity braced up to reporting them. They married children to consolidate the royal lineage. King Henry VIII’s libidinous attempt to annul his first marriage without the Pope’s approval led to the birth of Protestantism. The King always had his way. If that is too far, check the antics of the Prince of Wales and his lady, Camilla.

Perhaps behaving badly is inherent to royals. Kings were answerable to nobody but the invincible, unquestionable gods. In our lingo, this is where the expression ka-bi-e-si, or unquestionable was derived.

His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife depleted his harem by one Olori before Christmas. To fill up the vacancy, the royal bard announced that the spiritual head of the Yoruba has crowned another one in her place. The newly crowned Queen has a love child outside wedlock just like her husband. Indeed, the mother of the Ooni’s love child challenged him to a lexicographer’s court for using the tag ‘single parent’, a summon that the royal court ignored. In the heyday of true kings, a woman challenging a king suffered a worse fate than France’s Marie-Antoinette. Today, they are met with royal snobbery.

Plebeians think they diminish royalty by alluding to them as employees of their local councils. They forget that even elected council chiefs are subject to executive governors who love inherited, honorary or stolen chieftaincy titles!

In fairness to Nigerian kings, they display no stolen jewelry. They’re decked in turbans, beaded or woven crowns. Sometimes, they claim the crowns descended from the heavens, which from a design point of view, make the celestial designers very poor artists. Unlike in Sierra Leone or Malawi, Nigeria’s royalty is an all-male club. Yorubaland has had female regents in the past, but no ruling Queens.

Only in Zazzau has royal chauvinism found its balance. Here, the legendary Queen Amina remains unbeatable, a legend that would never be repeated given the disposition of her kingdom’s present citizens who count it haram to live under the reign of a woman.

Like its western counterparts, northern Nigeria’s kings are not without their royal foibles. At the zenith of his reign, in 2015, Kano’s now deposed Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi accepted the ‘gift’ of a 18-year old damsel to consolidate an age-old tradition between his kingdom and the Lamido of Adamawa. Again, plebeians’ hurled darts of disagreement and the shrewd Amir announced he was sending her to London for further studies. That ended the ruckus.

Lately, the Emir of Daura, President Buhari’s hometown, reportedly spent N1 million as bride price for a 20-year old addition to his harem. Commoners gave their unwarranted views but the King has kept his Queen. Royals have never needed the opinion of plebeians any more than lions are bothered by the opinion of their prey. One million Naira cannot save all the almajirai in Daura, but at least it has crowned one queen.

It is benign that royals behave differently from commoners. King David of Israel ‘employed’ Abishag the Shunammite to lie down with the old king and pass her body heat to him but the King was too cold to be stirred. Emir Faruk is well within his traditional and religious rights to consummate his marriage to a 20-year old. God bless him.

King Solomon the ultimate polygamist had over 700 wives and 300 concubines. As good as the fable goes, today’s critics living on kayan mata and synthetic aphrodisiacs have nothing on the guy. A female TikTok sensation calculated that it would have taken three years for Solomon to go round his harem if he took them like a tablet one per day, wondering how he could still deal with his concubines. I guess we’ll never know the way of the ancients. How did they build the Aztec and the pyramids of Giza? As the saying goes, God works in mysterious ways!

The Ooni’s royal brother, iku-baba-yeye (death father, mother), the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi has punched his way through matrimonial controversies. At 82, Oba Adeyemi a retired but not tired pugilist has been pulling punches in the ring as well as the other room. He is married to 13 wives, some young enough to be his granddaughter and frequently flaunts them. They add pizzazz to his entourage and get the tabloid journalists prying into alleged dalliances with common celebrities. Not to worry, says royal historians, a king’s wife, divorced, abandoned or widowed is forbidden fruit to mere mortals except the one that is ready to meet the gods.

On the surface, Nigeria is a republic and monarchs are supposed to be relics of an ancient era, but they are not. In Japan where Princess Mako recently dumped her royal privileges to be unequally yoked to her commoner heartthrob, Kei Komuro, she was forced to commit cupidkiri or amorous seppuku. She had no chance in hell of becoming Queen and has now been bled off her blue blood and its opulent privileges just like common Harry.

In Cameroon, King Nabil Mbombo Njoya ruler of the Bamouns ascended the throne of his fathers as a young lass. The Lah Kam tradition of which he is custodian demanded that he drop any affection for any woman and be yoked to a 14-year old virgin specially groomed for the purpose. Not Sultan Nabil. He chose to defy tradition offering to sponsor his consort to school and set her free to marry for love. As a modern King, he says he wants to set good examples that children should be in school not cooling the bed of kings.

Apparently, the end of this matter is that monarchs are not answerable to plebeians or written lore. Laws are made to protect kings, not to subject them to its contents. Kings are only accountable to the gods. If they choose reform, well and good; if they stick to arcane tradition, as long as it is not repugnant to natural justice, they should be left alone.

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