On Saturday 8th October 2016, Prince Adegboyega Abimbola Ogunwusi, the eldest brother of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi would be installed the Sooko Laekun of Ile-Ife. It is a very powerful position.
The title makes him the head of the princes of Ife and the right hand man of the Ooni. The conferment will take place at the Oonirisa Palace, Eruwa, Ile-Ife and going by the plans which City People is privy to, it promises to be a grand event. Why did the Ooni choose this easy going gun? Who is Prince Adegboyega Ogunwusi? Why has he been quiet all these while? Last week, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE and ISAAC ABIMBADE spent quality time with the Ife Prince and for the very first time he spoke about his life. He told us how his journey started from his days on old Ife Road, Agodi Gate in Ibadan to the early years at 7th Day Adventist School, to his days at Fatima College and Oscas in Ile Ife. He also reviewed his Khaki Days to the Blue Days, and the merry-go-rounds with the Reverends, to coping with the nitty-gritty of VI’s Geography, to the beautiful days at Romford.
Though the road was rough sometimes, though there were travails at some of the turns , he learn t to live and love life “Emi O M’ayele Ni Temi” “Modesty is my water word because Bintin Laye” Bintin Laiye even when there is much to savour.
This is because he was never forgotten the days of his small beginnings in Ibadan. For 2 hours last week, Prince Adegboyega told us his story.
Congrats on your new chieftaincy title. Tell us about your forthcoming Chieftaincy Award?
I will start by introducing myself. My name is Prince Abimbola Adegboyega Ogunwusi of Geesi ruling family, Ile-Ife.
This forthcoming coronation and installation coming up on the 8th of October, 2016 is very significant title in Ile-Ife, they call it Sooko Laekun. The history of the title is dated back in the olden days. In the olden days, people are not allowed to see Princess just like that. Where the Sooko comes in, in the olden days people are not allowed to see the Prince easily, that’s why they called them Soroko.
Sooko means Prince in Ile-Ife. We have so many ruling houses in Ile-Ife and from each house there are Princess and Princesses.
Apart from King, Oonirisa, there is Prince and Princesses, the head from each house/compound is called Sooko. For example, from Geesi now there would be one or two Sookos and that would be the head of other Princess.
Everybody that comes from the ruling family are Princes. So there will be one head there. Association, collective group of them has Sooko.
The leader of Princess from each family is called Sooko. The Laekun is a title used for somebody very close to Kabiyesi, which would act like a confidant to Kabiyeesi. Like right-hand man to Kabiyeesi. He can advice Kabiyeesi on so many issues relating to the throne, to the community. Somebody’s Kabiyesi can trust. When Kabiyeesi is not around he would be the eyes of Kabiyeesi. All the Sookos are not entitled to see Kabiyeesi directly, they have to come through someone and that someone is Laekun. That is why they call it Sooko Laekun. Somebody that will represent the whole Sookos (head of Princess) overall, that will link them to Kabiyesi, the Oonirisa.
Does that mean you will be relocating to Ile-Ife?
I am in Ife already. I have been shuttling Ife back and forth before the coronation of Oba Adeyeye Enitan, Alayeluwa, the Oonira, and after the coronation I have moved down to Ife. I have my family in Ife. I still have some of my businesses in Ibadan and Lagos here.
How has it been for you since your brother became Ooni, in terms of the role you play and that has impacted on the family?
God has been so kind on Ooniresa and people has been very happy with him, because he has been able to unite the Yoruba people, most especially the Yoruba Kingdom, the Obas. Apart from that, his legacy has come in place, in empowerment of youths. From that we have gained so much. He has showcased the family and the entire Oduduwa race. He went to America, I went with him. He went to Ghana just to showcase the Yoruba as a culture and Nigeria entirely. President Buhari is so happy with him.
Concerning the family, he has been God sent. We appreciate him and we will continue to support him because he has been destined to be the King and God has been giving him wisdom and knowledge.
Your family has been quiet, you are not known for public and flamboyant lifestyle. But suddenly, your brother position has put you in public, how have you adjusted to this new role?
I give glory to Almighty God and I would thank my parents because that is the way we are all brought up. That is the way we were brought up. So, coming to limelight has not changed us. Anytime you go to Kabiyeesi he would say “Uncle Kehinde”. Nobody has changed because that is the way we were brought up by our parents, by my late mum, Sidikat Abegbe Ogunwusi. We were brought up to love each other, to love people and to trust God. Coming to this time, when we are now at the limelight does not really change us.
Can you tell us about your life, the school you attended and how it all started?
I was born over 50 years ago in Ile-Ife, to Geesi ruling family. I spent some few years in Ife. I’m the first born of Oluropo Ogunwusi and Madam Sidikat Abegbe Magret Ogunwusi (she is late now). I am the first born of six children, follow by my younger brother, Adetunji, follow by Folashade, follow by Adeshola, Kabiyeesi Oonira and our last born, Adebimpe.
I went to Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, Ibadan. I went to Fatima College in Ikire, where I graduated. Then I went to Oscas in Ile-Ife to do my A-level, From there I went to University of Ibadan where I graduated and went for Youth Service in Enugu State. It was called Anambra State then, Enugu was the capital. I did Geography Science. After I graduated, I did a couple of works. Within that period I worked in a bank, during my school day, they called it vacation job.
So, when I graduated I did ICAN. I worked in some few places before I travelled. We were the ones that started Access Bank. We started in Apapa then. I worked in a Mortgage Finance, which was the final place I worked in Nigeria before moving to the UK. I did my Professional Education and ICAN before I travelled, when I got to UK with my late wife I had to re-educate myself because no matter your certificate in abroad you still need to get familiarise with the way of living.
So, I did IT, I did Programming and Microsoft and some few software textings. That was what I did until I came back when I lost my wife in 2009. I joined the business of my brothers, Adetunji and Kabiyeesi, Adeyeye. So we were doing the property business together before we branched out and I was looking after the quarry in Ibadan. I have been doing all sorts of job, property, mining construction works. Now, I am into a big farming in Ile-Ife and Lalupon, just on the way to Iwo. I have a big farm there.
Have you left property business?
During the time I was doing the property business I wasn’t doing it on a large scale, because my two other brothers, Prince Adetunji and Kabiyeesi were really involved in it and I didn’t want to upset anybody. I didn’t want to do what they were doing. there may be a class of interest. I have been doing my own underneath, renovate property, and sell it off, which I did abroad. That is what I have been doing.
How has it been carrying the responsible of being eldest and taking care of your siblings?
That has not been easy but I give thanks to God where we are now. I will say it in Yoruba “taa ba ni olori to da, gbogbo e ma’daru”. We have a good leader in Kabiyeesi. If there is no good foundation the whole things will crumble. I will give kudos to myself because I have been able to bring all my siblings together. My mum used to tell me something that, we should hold ourselves like a broom. She gave us an example that if you remove one stick from a brum that it can easily be broken. She said we should always remain together, love each other, call each other if you have any grievances and sort it out.
Tell us a bit about your dad, I know he is a disciplinarian?
My dad, Prince John Oluropo Ogunwusi, I thank God for his life. I believe God has a purpose for everything in life. He is a very disciplinary man. He believes in never say fail. I remember when I was trying to get admission to the University. I didn’t have cut off mark because I wanted to do Medicine. All parents then wanted you to do Medicine but I didn’t get the cut off mark but he said you were going to do it again. My dad used to say you have to have education, You have to respect people, don’t look down on people. My dad is a wonderful man and my mum to both of them would not tolerate indiscipline.
What can you say about yourself, how do you assess yourself?
I don’t really do my own accessment, I prefer people from outside to access me. But I will say I am an easy going person, I mind my own business. I don’t like cheating. I don’t tolerate rubbish. That is just me. I don’t have much friends but the little I have I trust them.
Are you sociable?
I can adapt to any situation I found myself. If you say don’t rock, don’t party, fine but if you say let’s party down it’s also fine. you have to adapt to every condition you find yourself.
What life has taught you at over 50?
Life has taught me to be patient. We all have roles to play in life. Things don’t come easily, you have to struggle and work hard, and you have to be lucky at times. Don’t believe in people, people might want to help you but something might come up, don’t place all your hopes in people.
You mean in your few years you have seen a lot in life?
I have seen a lot but thank God for where I am today. What can I say! I have seen so many things, wealth, sadness, happiness and that is part of life, you have to go through that in life. I lost my wife couple of years back, I lost my mum couple of years back. I lost couple of friends, but thank God they have legacies. I thank God I came through them. Life has been good because you should give thanks to God.
How do you relax?
I travel a lot. I listen to music, oldskools, jazz, Davido, D’Banj. Nigerian artistes are very talented. I do sports, I played tennis. I love driving, I love cars, and I drive a lot. The main thing is I travel a lot.
How do you cope with helping your brother in terms of talking to people, how he handles event,?
I am used to do everything when I was still in the industry, I used to do meetings and when I was abroad I used to do meetings. I do meeting every morning. But this one is more of cultural things.
Has that changed your fashion style?
That has really changed my fashion style. Before, I don’t travelling abroad in native dress and I hardly wear Agbada, but I have to go to market to shop for materials.
I am a very simple person. Most of the time I am back from abroad to airport, once they open my passport and see my name they will say Kabiyeesi. I am not really a public guy compared to my other siblings, I just keep to myself, do my things underground.
How come you didn’t show interest in the throne and we didn’t hear your name during the period your brothers showed interests?
I said, that kind of lifestyle is not for me. Somebody that has all that kind of life-style is not me. Somebody that is going to do that kind of lifestyle should be somebody that is destined to do it. I thank God, God chose the right person and God has been wonderful to Kabiyeesi. God has been able to help him, guide him and we just need to support him.
Coming back to your question, I was working underground because 2 of my brothers were contesting. We thank God, we are victorious, and the Obaship came to our family and to our compound.
Would that also explain you are contented with what you have in life?
One is to be happy with what you got today Because you never know what will happen tomorrow. Who knows that, one day I am going to be Sooko Laekun. Things come to good people at the right time. When there is life there’s hope. But whatever we have in life just be happy with it. Be contented, be prayerful and leave the rest to God. We have our destiny, what belongs to you will surely come to you, in one way or the other.
As the eldest, what were the things/signs you noticed in Oonirisa while growing up?
The good thing is that, we all have our various talents, I know where I am good at, but we also have our shortcoming, we have where we are good at. We knew right from time that when you are born a Prince you can become a King, so, once you go to any Church or Mosque to pray, once you are from a ruling family they just said one day you will become King, but only God choose a King. All of us can not be a King. When Kabiyeesi was young, he was very inquisitive. He wants to know what is behind something. I will tell you a story. There was a time when he was young, there was wall sockets, and he (Ooni) usually saw people go there, one day, he went there with screw driver, trying to loose it and see what was inside. He removes the socket, put his hand and got shocked, he shouted! We had only one TV then, he would go to the back, trying to dismantle and he would get beaten. Then that showed promise he was going places. Thank God for his life. There are so many things to talk when he was young.
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