The ancient city of Ogbomoso was filled with fervor and celebration on Thursday, September 14, 2023, as Oba Afolabi Ghandi Laoye Orumogege III was officially crowned as the 28th Soun of Ogbomosoland. The coronation, which marked a significant milestone in the history of the city, saw the convergence of community members, dignitaries, and well-wishers who gathered at the main palace to rejoice and offer their support to the newly installed monarch. This remarkable event followed the approval of his appointment by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
The day of Oba Afolabi Ghandi Laoye Orumogege III’s installation commenced with solemn prayers conducted by religious leaders representing the diverse faiths of the Ogbomoso community. Right Rev’d Ademola Moradeyo, the Bishop of Ogbomoso Diocese of Methodist Church Nigeria; Sheikh Talihat Oluwashina Ayilara, the Chief Imam of Ogbomoso; and Chief Opeyemi Ifamakinde, the Araba Oluawo of Ogbomosoland, led the congregation in seeking divine blessings and guidance for the new Soun.
Prior to his installation, Oba Afolabi’s selection was marked by a notable controversy within the Laoye Royal Family. This dispute cast a shadow of uncertainty over his ascent to the throne.
In an exclusive interview, the new Soun of Ogbomoso shared his personal journey and the divine call that led him from being a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) for three decades in Washington, United States, to becoming the monarch of Ogbomosoland. Oba Laoye revealed that the realization of his royal destiny was a divine revelation he received during his visit to Nigeria in December 2021, a moment that redirected the course of his life.
The monarch recounted, “I was born into the royal family, but one way or the other, the Lord took me on a completely different path. He made me a pastor. In December 2021, I was on vacation in Nigeria, like I normally do every August and December. So, I was in Nigeria when the king of our town joined his ancestors. We have five royal families in Ogbomoso, and after the Ajagungbades, we know that it is my royal family – Olaoye – that is the next in line to produce the king.”
He further explained, “But in December 2021, people started calling me, saying, ‘Ghandi, why can’t you do this?’ – especially people who were close to me and knew that the Laoye Royal Family would produce the Soun after the Ajagungbades.”
Oba Afolabi initially resisted the idea, as he had embarked on a different path in life, serving as a pastor for 30 years. However, a divine revelation during a moment of reflection on January 2, 2022, convinced him of his destiny. He shared, “The next thing I heard was: ‘You are born for this. This is the reason for your birth.’ That was not what I was expecting, but when I hear God’s voice, it is always clear.”
At his coronation, Oba Afolabi Ghandi Laoye Orumogege III urged the people of Ogbomoso to unite for the development of the city, emphasizing that he was divinely chosen to lead the transformation and progress of the town. He expressed his commitment to making Ogbomoso a hub of development, peace, and prosperity.
He declared, “Ogbomoso will be different. In terms of development, Ogbomoso will be different. In terms of peace, Ogbomoso will be different. I want you to know it is a new thing in Ogbomosoland. Imole tuntun lo de yi (A new light has come). Ire tuntun lo de yi (A new goodness has come). Those who are aggrieved, let us unite for the development of Ogbomosoland. Let us eschew violence, if we love this city, we will rebuild it together. It is God that sent me to rebuild this city, to work for its progress.”
The Araba Oluawo of Ogbomosoland, Chief Opeyemi Ifamakinde, also emphasized the importance of religious tolerance in Ogbomoso and noted that the new Soun had pledged to respect and uphold the rights of individuals to practice their chosen faiths.
Oba Afolabi Ghandi Laoye Orumogege III ascended to the throne following the passing of the immediate-past Soun, late Oba Jimoh Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, after a reign of 48 years. Ogbomoso’s succession tradition involves five royal families, each taking turns to produce a monarch, with the current Mogaji of the Laoye Royal Family being Chief Amos Olawale Olaoye. However, the selection process for the new king witnessed internal divisions within the family, highlighting the complexity of the decision-making process.