Nollywood Actors’ Handshakes with Ooni of Ife Spark Controversy on Social Media
A video of two Nollywood actors greeting the Ooni of Ife, the traditional ruler of Ile-Ife and the spiritual head of the Yoruba people, with handshakes has sparked mixed reactions on one of the giant social media, Instagram.
Some users criticized the actors and the Ooni for not following the cultural protocol of prostrating before the king, while others defended their action as a sign of respect and friendship.
Instagram users have expressed different opinions over a viral video that showed how veteran Nollywood actors, Pete Edochie and Kanayo O. Kanayo, greeted the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Enitan, at a birthday party.
The video, which was shared by Kanayo and Ooni on their verified Instagram handles, captured the moment the actors approached Ooni’s table to exchange pleasantries with him at Elizabeth Jack Rich’s 40th birthday party.
The actors, who were delighted to see Ooni, extended handshakes simultaneously and ended with the traditional and popular Igbo backhand handshakes.
Kanayo captioned the video, “Last night was awesome @peteedochie @babarex0 @chidimokeme and the very outstanding His Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Enitan, Ooni of Ife.”
The video, which was posted on Wednesday, had garnered over 20,000 likes and 1,141 comments on Kanayo’s page.
However, some netizens were not pleased with the way the actors greeted the Ooni, who is the 51st and current Ooni of Ife and the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people. They argued that the actors should have bowed or prostrated before the king, as it is customary in Yoruba culture.
A user, Maxwell said, “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?”
Another user, Noel Enomheonse, opined, “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.”
On the other hand, some users defended the actors and the Ooni, saying that they were showing respect and friendship to each other. They also pointed out that they were not in Ile-Ife or in a formal setting where such protocol would be required.
A user, Yinka Poyigi, said, “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 added.
Another user, Ugezujugezu, saw nothing wrong with the action, he even commended Edochie saying, “When you hear OKWU OTO EKENE EZE…now you understand it.”
Another user, Lincedochie said it is a gathering of elites.