•Gospel Singer, Evangelist (Dr.) RACHEAL OLUBUKOLAMI AKINADE
•Set To Celebrate 20 Yrs In The Ministry
Everyone calls her Senwele Jesu. But her real name is Evangelist Olubukola Rachael Akinade. She is one of the most sought-after gospel musicians in the industry. Senwele Jesu is a mother of 3 who turned 45 this year. She has had her high and low moments in life and her overcome many challenges in life especially in her singing career. She runs the BUKOLA AKINADE Music Ministry.
Last May, she was a Guest on City People Instagram Live Chat where she laid it all bare about her marriage, Ministry and how she has been coping with the Covid-19 pandemic as a music minister.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
You’ve been doing this for how long now?
Officially 20 years.
Wow… that’s a long time. How has it been especially considering the early stages and now?
I want to thank God for choosing me as one of his minstrels, it has been so wonderful. Although there have been a few challenges, but they made me stronger in him. Thank God for the hurdles that I was able to cross at the inception of the ministry. Thank God for his strength and grace in my life, I’m doing well because he’s with me. All the glory to his name.
Let’s talk about how you started. How did gospel music start for you?
Well, everything started from the church, Saint David’s Church, now a cathedral at Kudeti, Ibadan. I was a member of the children choir then. The started was that you join the adult choir once you attain age 15 but I was converted into a member of the choir because of the little light they saw in me. From there, they started giving the opportunity to do solo performances whenever we have special programmes, then I started building the courage and I became what I am today by the grace of God.
What are the things that helped you get to the height that you are today?
Of course, the grace of God, my urge and passion for the gospel as a whole, not the music alone; my passion for Christ himself. I derive joy personally when I find myself doing this, despite the fact that it is supposed to give joy to everyone, I as an individual derive this joy in it first, before any other person.
Let’s talk about the Senwele Jesu brand, how did it emerge?
Well, in the year 1999, I was on my way to Lagos when a friend who was invited to minister at a church shared his slot with me. He had a 30-minute ministration and decide to allow me use 15 minutes while he uses the rest. But on getting to Ketu, at Tipper Garage precisely, I saw a crowd gathered there and I was afraid, thinking that trouble has started as usual but then, I summoned the courage to move closer to them and I realized that they were listening to a particular song by Mama Aladuke. The rhythm of the song was quite fascinating and it just spurred my love for the Yoruba culture. I immediately fell in love with the song, the rhythm and dance steps but the lyrics didn’t go down well with me because it doesn’t add-up religiously. So I had this particular thought that if God can help me change this particular song to the gospel, I will be grateful to him. Firstly, I knew it was going to be the first of its kind in the gospel genre and secondly because of the fact that it will enable me take the gospel down to the grassroots and interpret the message to the rural people using music as a tool. Then I got home and slept over it then after many days, it was as if someone woke me up and instructed me to take my pen and write. Although I didn’t buy Mama Aladuke’s audiotape that day but the lyrics of the song and rhythm came back to me and it was as if I was instructed to start changing the lyrics to suit my own religion and I started adding some scriptures to the lyrics that was how it all started.
Let’s talk about FiyinFoluwa 2020. What are we expecting?
I have two major programmes that come up annually. The first is FiyinFolu that comes up every third Saturday in June while the second is ‘praise banquet’ that comes up every 5th of December. It’s going to be a 2-in-1 event this year because I will be celebrating my 20th year on stage while we also have our annual FiyinFolu programme on that same day. FiyinFolu is an altar of praise meant to thank God for the first half of the year. We celebrate God for the first half and commit ourselves to his able hands to see us through the second half of the year and God has been so faithful. This will be the seventh edition if I’m not mistaking.
Let’s talk about COVID-19 lockdown. How did you cope with the first two months when everything was almost at a standstill?
Laughs… uncle it was not a palatable experience yet, we thank God for the grace. It’s not about the money now, I’m not talking about the monetary aspect of it. But when you are forced to do something you are not used too, it is always challenging to adapt. I’m usually not the sit-at-home type but I was forced to do that. The first week of the lockdown was so terrible for me. I hated myself because I couldn’t cope but I started adapting gradually from the second and third week. Since it wasn’t what I could change, I just had to learn to live with it. Although it affected my travelling to some states and also hit me financially because some of the programmes I’ve been paid for earlier before the lockdown had to be refunded while some were thinking of changing their date. It won’t be as easy as we think when we fully resume because there are workloads already awaiting us that we cannot escape. The beneficial aspect of it was that it gave us some beneficial time to move closer to God, to think deeply even about ourselves, rebrand and look at the way forward. It gave me the opportunity to plan for the next 10-15 years (if Christ tarries) for myself, family and ministry. For someone like me who was always on the road, I had a beautiful time to spend with my family.
What are the lessons you think we should all learn from this experience?
Personally, I have discovered that whenever God says yes, nobody can say no. if you don’t pick a time to rest, some situations can do that for you. Though you may not like it but there is nothing you can do about it. I know you are not a sit-at-home kind of person but you just had to abide by this. This is somehow natural and we cannot change it but we are expecting the hand of the Lord to bring a solution as soon as possible. The other one is that it really gave me the opportunity to know my children better. I have been able to discover somethings about them that I have kept at heart so that I can nurture and guide them appropriately. It also gave me ample time to know who God is. I can see the Lord in another dimension during this period. So, I have no regrets at all sentiments apart, it made me more beautiful because I am not stressed at all. It has also improved my personal hygiene. There are somethings I take for granted before now that I can’t again. COVID or not, we must all take our hygiene seriously.
Let’s talk about your marriage with Pastor Akinade’s family, how have you find it?
Wow, it has been so interesting. I do tell people when you are married to your friend, the journey will be interesting. He happens to be my friend and vision interpreter. He understands this vision better than I do. So it makes the journey easier for me. He had been in the music ministry before, he plays several musical instruments. But when we were about to get married, he said he was going to step down for me. He encouraged me to move on and decided to work at the background for me. He said if we are both singing, who will take care of our children and what will happen to our home? These are the things some men cannot do, they cannot pay such a sacrifice for their woman. I want to celebrate him again because he’s the only one that can tolerate my stupidity.
Why that statement?
I’m a woman and women are funny. We tend to make a mountain out of a molehill, we create scenes from issues that are nothing but when you have an understanding spouse, he will just say that is her kind of behaviour or her moment of madness, you understand? We fight, we argue but there is no room for the third party to step in because the understanding is there. It has been a wonderful moment with him. He is now a full-time minister of God, he is the G.O of a ministry, a very busy man but still, he is my producer, he arranges my songs, he does some of my compositions; so he’s made my job easier, I want to thank God for him.
A lot of your fans are willing to hear from you again, what is your message to them?
I want to thank God for you all and thank you for your supports always. Because you are there, that is why I’m here. Truth is even if I sing like an angel and no one is patronizing me, it doesn’t yield anything. So thank you all for being there for me and for your prayers. I also want to use this medium to appeal to you all to please move closer to God. The whole thing is coming to an end. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic is no more, a day is coming that the whole world will fold up. If you are not in a cordial relationship with your creator, what will be the end for you? The end product may be disastrous. I’m not talking about religion this time, move closer to your God, ask from those who know better than you about him, and if you know that you have been treading the wrong path, please come back home. There is still room for you to make amendments now, the Lord will bless you in the name of Jesus, amen.
Apart from the major shows that you do, do you also sing in certain churches or you sing with other bands?
Yes, when we have concerts, we do work together, we do collaboration in albums and stuff like that. We also go to parties and functions together.
Now that you have not been able to go to concerts or events in the last three months, how have you coped with that reality?
Thank God for technology. We are still able to reach out to our fans and friends on social media. We do Facebook, Instagram and others and life goes on.
Tell us about where you were born and where you grew up?
I was born in Ibadan, I’m an Ibadan indigene left and right. To the glory of God, I will be 45 this year. I had my primary and secondary education in Ibadan and proceeded to the Polytechnic, Ibadan at AdesunOgundoyin campus, Eruwa in 1994/95.
I studied secretariat administration but thank God, the calling of God upon took over everything and there is no regret at all.
Is that to say you didn’t have any work experience before going into ministry?
After my secondary school, I worked with a pharmaceutical company here in Ibadan, later I worked as a nursery school teacher while awaiting my JAMB result, those are the experiences (laughs).
As we round off, what’s your takeaway for your readers and fans?
I just want to tell them that tough times never last but tough people do. This pandemic has come and it will go. Let’s just adhere to all the safety precautions from the government and our medical personnel. And personally, I must emphasise the fact that this is the moment to move closer to God, he is the only best friend you have. I’m sure that very soon, we will be laughing over this COVID-19 pandemic because there will be an end to it in Jesus name. Those that know their God will do exploits, that’s what the bible told me. So with God on our side, we are always a winner.