Indigenes of Ogbomoso, Oyo State, have consoled with the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, on the death of an age-old tortoise in the palace.
Tortoises are believed to have about 150 years lifespan but a giant tortoise at the palace named alagba said to be 344 years old breathed its last on Thursday, October 3.
Alagba which attracted many tourists to the palace was the reason some people visited the palace located at the centre of the ancient town of Ogbomoso.
Speaking with Amuwo Parrot News (APN) on Friday, Mr Toyin Ajamu, who is the Private Secretary of the Soun of Ogbomoso said friends and indigenes of the town had been calling the monarch on the telephone to commiserate with him over the death of the privileged tortoise.
He said some residents, who heard the news of the tortoise’s demise, kept visiting the palace to confirm, including journalists who wanted to know more about alagba.
Alagba, unlike its mates in the forest, lived longer and was cared for by the monarch. The tortoise was said to be well taken care of by two attendants dedicated to feeding it and cleaning its surroundings. An indigene of the town, who said she visited the palace to play with the tortoise, said alagba was always taken to a veterinary clinic whenever it was sick.
Ajamu said a veterinary doctor who came to examine alagba on Thursday broke the news of its death to the palace.
He said, “Kabiyesi was saddened when he was told that alagba has died. It was a pet that attracted many people to the palace and they will miss it. It is normal for anybody whose pet dies to feel sad. Those who have dogs know what I am saying. If you have a dog and it dies, you may not be able to eat for a day or two, depending on the value you place on such dog. Pets are considered to be members of the families of their owners and alagba was loved by even people outside the palace.”
He said the remains of the tortoise would not be thrown away or be buried like any animal. He said it had been embalmed, adding that the palace would keep the remaining to showcase to tourists who come in the future to see the remains.
Ajamu said, “The remains have been embalmed for future preservation for tourists to the palace. We don’t want it to just go away like that. We are planning to put it in a place where people will be able to see it clearly whenever they want to.”
Asked if rituals would be performed on the creature, Ajamu said there was no spiritual attachment to the tortoise, stressing that it was a pet and nothing more. “There will be no rituals for alagba. It was a pet and there is nothing more than that,” he added.
Ajamu said there was no other tortoise in the palace or pet when our correspondent asked if the place was planning to replace the dead tortoise.
Explaining how the age of the dead tortoise was arrived at, Ajamu said, “Nobody was there when it was brought into the palace. But we calculated the year the Soun who brought it to the palace reigned and arrived at that age it was estimated to have lived. It was brought by either the first or second Soun. I can’t remember that now except I check. But it was estimated to have lived for about 344 years. People outside Ogbomoso have been calling kabiyesi to sympathise with him and our people in Ogbomoso have also been visiting since the news of its death was broken.”
A former Vice Chairman, Ogbomoso Central LCDA, Chief Ademola Olawale, said the real age of the tortoise could be determined if it was preserved. He said archaeologists could determine its real age but if the remains were thrown away it would be lost.
He said, “I want the remains of the tortoise to be preserved. We cannot throw it away like that. I am sure scientists can later date it and we will know how long it really lived.
“But alagba will be missed by many people. Many people come to the town to see the tortoise because of its age. But now that it has died. I think it should be preserved so that we won’t just throw away everything about it.”