By Uche Amunike
A viral video showing Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Enitan (Ooni of Ife) and veteran Nollywood actors Pete Edochie and Kanayo O. Kanayo exchanging greetings through handshakes has made the rounds on social media and stirred great controversy all over the cyber space as netizens on the Instagram website have mostly condemned the act and attributed it to a lack of respect for the distinguished monarch.
The video was shared by Kanayo and the Ooni of Ife, separately on their verified Instagram handles. It showed the actors as they walked into the venue of Elizabeth Jack Rich’s birthday Party and approached the Ooni’s table as soon as they recognized him in order to exchange pleasantries with him.
Concurrently, they shook hands with him and also greeted with the traditional and popular Igbo handshakes done with the back of the hand.
After posting the video, Kanayo gave it this caption: ‘Last night was awesome @peteedochie @babarex0 @chidimokeme and the very outstanding His Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Enitan, Ooni of Ife.’
Most netizens found the post offending, while some others said it was not a big deal among high profile personalities.
One of the comments by a netizen, Yinka Poyigi, disagreed with a majority of the people who found the handshake between the Ooni of Ife and Pete Edochie as well as Kanayo O. Kanayo, insulting. He tried to rationalize the act by asking some pertinent questions. Hear him: ‘I visited different palaces in the east during the course or a project I was working on, and each time I want to greet the Igwe, I will ask to prostrate like an Omoluabi. Surprisingly, the Igwes always decline because it is not their tradition. The chiefs will gently ask me to stand up and greet, introduce myself and sit down.’
‘What a culture shock! But that’s their tradition, so before you walk with your heads instead of your legs, ask yourself certain questions. 1. Was Ooni in his palace sitting on his stool when this happened? 2. Are the people in question from the same culture? 3. Is Idobale (Porstrate) always a sign of genuine respect? 4. Is Ooni a king of the two veteran Actors? 5. Was this event in Ife? I understand that Ooni is a king to some kings in Yoruba land and even a recognised first-class king in Yoruba land and if I meet him anywhere…my chest will be on the floor.’
‘I don’t expect my Ibo brothers to do the same except when in his palace. When we travel around and experience different cultures, our exposure and ways of thinking will change’, he said.
Other Instagram users disagreed with him. They maintained that the exchange between the reverred Ooni of Ife and Pete Edochie was unwarranted. According to a netizen, Noel Enomheonse, it was a great mark of disrespect. His words: ‘It looks like this king doesn’t know what his culture expects of him. I’m still thinking of that man in Nigeria who shake hands with the great Oba of Benin in that manner. Even the president and other world leaders bow before him. Sorry to say! Pete Edochie just disrespected the king.’
A user that simply called himself ‘Maxwell’, put the blame on the monarch, saying: ‘The blame is on the Ooni of Ife for going to that kind of place and for also accepting a handshake from people. I’m not against the Nollywood stars but they are supposed to bow before the stool of the king of Ife. if it was the former Ooni of Ife who could try this and even give him a handshake?’.
Contrary to popular views by netizens, another user, ‘Ugezujugezu’, saw nothing wrong in the manner in which the Ooni of Ife and Pete Edochie exchanged greetings, just like another user, Lincedochie, who termed it a gathering of elites.
The event was the birthday party of the very successful CEO of Elin Group, Elizabeth Jack Rich.