Is the former Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Okwudili Onyejekwe the father of former President Olusegun Obasanjo? The pictures of the two statesmen show a striking resemblance, but that is no DNA proof. This puzzle has remained for several years, with the former president keeping sealed lips, until last week Thursday. At a book launch in Lagos, Obasanjo said he is not an Igbo man and that the former royal father who has been mentioned in some quarters as his father, is really unknown to him. Obasanjo spoke during the presentation of a book on him titled “Baba’s Story: Nigeria is 50.” The book is written by a Ghanian, Abyna-Ansaa Adjei.
Three years ago, The Nation had published the picture of the former Obi of Onitsha who some people claimed was Obasanjo’s father. It was alleged that the Obi, who died in 1970, was an Igbo police officer who lived in Abeokuta around 1930s, the period the former President was born. He was alleged to have had a fruitful affair with an Owu woman. He later became the Obi of Onitsha, but as a prince, was prevented by the dictates of tradition, from marrying a woman alien to the custom of Onitsha people. Obi Onyejekwe, described by those who knew him as a tough, domineering and a quarrelsome leader, had ruled Onitsha from 1962 to 1970. Palace sources remember him for his mood swings and strength of character.
Last week, Obasanjo tried to put the debate in the trash bin by affirming his Yoruba ancestry. He said: “I was born in a village called Ibogun-Olaogun in what was then Abeokuta province and which today is part of Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State.”
At least, the former President is the only highest living authority that can talk about his own origin. No one else is better placed, since the late Obi of Onitsha and Obasanjo’s mother are no longer alive.
Obasanjo spoke last week about his rise from a poor, backwater village boy, who later became twice the leader of Nigeria and one of the country’s most vilified figures. He said: “This village is only 30 kilometers from Abeokuta. As a child, I lived in Ibogun-Olaogun with my parents and my younger sister, Oluwola. Our childhood was a simple one spent in a typical Nigerian farming settlement. Our village had less than 50 huts built with mud walls and mostly thatched roofs and the only jobs at the time were farming or petty trading in farm products. By age five, I started going to the farm and that was when he began to teach me about the history, culture and traditions of my ancestors and our land. Our village, though small, was composed of other ethnic groups such as Itsekiri, Urhobo, Igbira, Hausa, Igbo and Ijaw who were also either petty traders or farm hands.”
He said his father was by every measure the most successful farmer in the village at the time. He described him as a “proud Yoruba man and he told me about Oduduwa, the founder of the Yoruba nation. Papa had heard this story from his own father, Baba Alarobo, who had heard from his father, Baba Elesin.”
However, historians may need to do more research about Obasanjo’s origin.
Historians may need to dig deep to establish if the issue is a matter of a biological father whose offspring was adopted by his mother’s relations, after all, adoption legally speaking would make him to permanently cut the cord that links him with his taproot.
Like every leader of his status, many are anxious to see the picture of Obasanjo’s father and to read more about the missing links of the former President’s paternal ancestry, which the new book seems not to have fully unraveled. Perhaps the late Obi of Onitsha’s resemblance of the former President is likely to be one of the world’s most intriguing cases of look-alike, that is, if Obasanjo’s claims are true. But if those questioning his origin are correct, yet without a DNA proof, it means Obasanjo’s bona fide lineage may remain one of Nigeria’s best kept secrets.
Source: THE NATION TRUTH IN DEFENCE For FREEDOM http://thenationonlineng.net/web3/news/17573.html
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