‘At 80, I still kneel to greet my Spouse’Olori Sabinah Oyetunji is the wife of Oba Nathaniel Oyedeji Oyetunji, Ariwajoye11, Olu of Araromi-Owu, Osun State. An octogenarian, she speaks with TOLUWANI OLAMITOKE on her role, challenges and what has changed about her. Excerpts.
Do you have a background which prepared you for the role?
Yes, my mother is from a royal family at Ipetumodu while my husband, Kabiyesi has been a baale since 1983, before he was elevated and crowned oba in 2006. As the wife of a baale then, I was carrying out duties expected as a wife of a leader and these were in a way similar to that of an olori.
Did you have any inkling he would be made an oba some day?
And how did you receive the news?
I initially thought it was a joke. The reality dawned on me on the day of his coronation. It was a colourful event which had many obas in attendance. He was crowned the first oba of the town.
What would you say is the difference between being the wife of a baale and an oba?
Kabiyesi as baale was dealing with obas and this gave us an idea of what was expected of us when he was made an oba. There’s a wide difference between been wife of a baale and an olori. I now operate at a higher level looking at the duties I now handle. More responsibility is bestowed on me as an olori. As the mother of the people, I see to the welfare of the community while I’m expected to give everyone attention regardless of age or class. Again, I serve as a role model for women and the young ones, so I ensure whatever I do or say must be that which will impact lives positively. I don’t have a time of my own. Whatever time I have is to ensure the palace is well run and the kingdom is peaceful through the support I give to kabiyesi.
What has changed about you since you took up your role?
In the past, I used to call him by the name of our children, but now, I address him as kabiyesi anywhere and at anytime. In addition to this, I now have to kneel down to greet him.
How old are you?
I would be 81 years this year
How easy do you find it kneeling at your age?
It’s not been easy, but I have to do it.
What other things have changed about you?
I now avoid open quarrel with people while my manner of dressing has changed. In the past, I might not be completely dressed up while at home. But now I have to.
Do you have a set rule guiding how you wear your hair?
No. I can plait, perm and set or do whatever I like with my hair so far it’s decent.
As a Christian, how far do you go in supporting traditionalists in the town?
The town is made mostly of Christians and Muslims. Although-ugh, I’m not ruling out the fact that there are still some who still worship idols.
But these do it secretly. As Christians, we don’t engage in or encourage such practices.
Can you shed light on your duties and activities?
In the palace, I wake up by 6:00 am everyday for the family prayer. After this, I set the palace in order. Sometimes before we are up in the morning, we have people already at the door waiting to have our attention. Women come to me with their different problems. I handle those I can and refer those I can’t to kabiyesi. Occasionally, we entertain. I try as much as possible to meet peoples need spiritually, physically and financially. It’s an opportunity to serve people and do it with delight. I inform him of things happening in the palace and community.
Sometimes information on things happening in the town get to me through people. I pass these to kabiyesi especially if it needs urgent attention.
What in your view are the qualities needed in carrying out your duties?
Humility, love, experience, divine wisdom and God’s grace.
As a mother to all, in what ways have you impacted the youth?
I’m working on a youth forum where the youths will be informed, educated and enlightened on necessary issues. These will also be constantly taught of the way of the Lord. As a mother, I have made it a duty to preach the gospel to the people and have written tracts both in English and Yoruba languages under the auspices of the Shepherd Home for Bible Students Prayer Centre. This has touched and changed lives.
What privileges do you enjoy in your office?
People accord me with respect and go out of their way to help me. There are times I need things from the government offices and these are attended to speedily. Women, even those who are older than me kneel down to greet me and do things on my behalf with eagerness and sincerity.
In what ways does your weekend differ from the week days?
We attended functions.
Who does kabiyesi’s cooking?
I’m the only olori and so, I prepare his meals.
What is Kabiyesi’s favourite meal?
He doesn’t have a stable meal. It could be pounded yam, grounded rice, or poundo yam. But every morning, he takes moin moin and a slice of bread. I prepare this with fried red oil.
The norm is that traditional rulers have more than one wife. What would be your reaction if your husband chooses to take another wife?
If kabiyesi chooses to have another wife, she’s welcome. But as Christians we are expected to live a life according to the dictates of the bible so I don’t expect he would do that.
Do you practice the act of reciting the oba’s oriki?
As Christians we don’t recite Kabiyesi’s oriki because it’s like making incantations.