- As National Museum Cultural Ambassador
Come Friday July 7th, 2017, Agbaakin Olubadan of Ibadan land and the retired pioneer General Manager Corporate Affairs of O’odua Group, Oloye Olalekan Rasheed Alabi, will be decorated and presented with the insignia of office, as new Cultural Ambassador of the National Museum, Ile-Ife. The event, which is slated to hold inside Oni’s palace where National Museum Commission’s office is located, promises to have in attendance notable celebrities, traditional rulers, curators as well as different guest speakers. It’s also going to be an event with massive display of drama, cultural dance, music and Yoruba culture. The grandson of late Sakara exponent, Alhaji Yusuf Olatunji aka Baba Legba, Abideen Yusuf Olatunji and the Sakara Band, is billed to be the main artist of the day.
Lekan Alabi’s new appointment, since it was announced some weeks back, has been receiving commendations not only from traditional rulers across the South Western part of the country, but also from many prominent personalities. The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja 11 has endorsed it and will also participate in Oloye Lekan Alabi’s decoration as cultural ambassador. So also are Olubadan of Ibadan land Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogungunniso 1; Awujale of Ijebuland Oba Sikiru Adetona Ogbagba 11; Alaafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111 and other traditional rulers across the Yoruba land, have all endorsed the appointment and gave their blessings.
While the appointment is seen by many as a welcome development and a well-deserved honor for Oloye Lekan Alabi, as he has always known to be a great promoter of Yoruba values, tradition and culture. Because for about 32 years now, Oloye had been wearing English dresses, having worn suits for a large chunk of the thirty two years and wore the best of the best according to him. ‘’I wore suits for 32 years and without being immodest I think I wore the best of the best. I stopped wearing English dresses in December 14, 2002, that was the month I was promoted from Mogaji to Jagun Olubadan by the late Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Yinusa Bankole Oladoja Ogundipe Arapasowu 1.
That was when I said good bye to anything foreign and in saying bye, I have borrowed from the knowledge and wisdom of a former Harvard University trained Minister, we conversed and he owns the credit that we should boycott the boycottable. So my decision must have been prompted by the fact that we must have genuine love for what God has done because He created me to be an African man; a Yoruba and an Ibadan man for that matter.’’ To Oloye Lekan Alabi, the appointment is nothing but a noble call on all in promoting Yoruba culture and tradition. He explained all these in an encounter with him last week; the significance of figure 7 in his life, the new appointment and Ile-Ife. Why the 7/7/17 investiture date and the main reason the decoration will take place in Ile-Ife.
“’I stepped into in Ile-Ife for the first time in my life as a ten-year old primary three pupil of Seventh Day Adventist Primary School Oke-Foko. The school used to have an annual program called ‘Camp Meeting’. I am a Muslim, I was born a Muslim; my parents were Muslims. But I attended Seventh Day Adventist Mission School. Our parents will pay; the NYSC program of today is similar to the Seventh Day Adventist Mission Camp Meeting, very, very similar. And this was how the camp meeting used to go.
I left primary school 1963 so I wouldn’t know what it is today if they still go. But when I was there, our parents will pay and am talking of Western region. So Seventh Day Mission will pick a school, Seventh Day School because it is during the long holiday in December. They will pick a school, for those who had paid, they would take us to that school, the classrooms would serve as our hostel because we would bring mats, dresses, cutleries and co. So they will now mix all campees of the schools on the field of the chosen school and they will just pick at random.
So by the time you are going to be segregated into groups, your mates from your school may not be more than four. That is why I said NYSC is very similar. We went in 1960, then I was 10 years old and Ile-Ife was the camp meeting. Kabiyesi Oba Adesoji Aderemi was the Oni. So wherever we went, it was two weeks program, in a day we would visit the Oba at the palace. The first camp meeting I attended was 1958 primary one was in Ede and we went by train. Remember 1960 was Independence year and we met with Kabiyesi, he welcomed us and I remember he was asking questions about the independence.
I was part of Seventh Oke-Foko pupils that matched at Liberty Stadium too. And he was asking who was Premier Western Region? Who was Minister etc. then he now asked how many of you want to become Premier? And I remember raising my hand. Second visit was in 1970 when kabiyesi was celebrating the 40th anniversary on the throne. One of his sons, Prince Popoola Aderemi who is my friend invited me to the palace. Then remember Oba Adesoji Aderemi has seven letters, A-D-E-S-O-J-I A-D-E-R-E-M-I, then P-O-P-O-O-L-A also has seven. So 7/7/17 you can see the significance’’.
On why the event is holding at Ile-Ile and not Ibadan, Oloye Lekan Alabi has this to say. ‘’After my formal reply to the National Museum’s 29th March, 2017’s nomination letter, I got another letter requesting me to give a date for them to come and decorate me and present to me the insignia of office and other protocols that goes with the appointment in Ibadan. I replied them that I accept the kind offer. That you are situated in the palace of the Oni of Ife since 1954, even when we too were young or we were young reporters, we were coming there and you are still in the Oni’s palace.
So you want to leave, not Ile-Ife, the Oni of Ife’s palace, come to me in Ibadan and decorate me. I thank you for the honor but my sense is telling me no. You will decorate me in Ibadan, it would be in newspapers, magazines, radio, television and then Kabiyesi, the Ooni they now see this. Please go to kabiyesi that I said ‘’I appreciate your proposal but I want the decoration, investiture, not only to hold in his palace, but Kabiyesi to be the royal father of the day, he accepted. So kabiyesi now furthered honored me and I pray that God will continue to honor kabiyesi, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja 11. He now told the National Museum officials to tell me to pick a date suitable to me for the investiture. That is why we arrived and humbly proposed Friday July 7, 2017, to Kabiyesi which he accepted and which is by the grace of God is my investiture as Cultural Ambassador of the National Museum in Ile-Ife’’.
What are the things expected of Oloye Lekan Alabi as Cultural Ambassador? ‘’ Cultural Ambassador of National Museum from citadel of Yoruba, is great privilege and duty but the task is for all of us. And by this, we will now strive to appeal to all concerned authorities they must reintroduce History into school curricular, they must encourage the teaching and speaking of mother tongue; our dresses, our food. All these fast foods, they are now saying they are the major cause of foreign diseases you have never heard 60/70 years before. Why won’t it happen when you are eating uncooked or not well cooked stew, meat?.
These are the things we plan to do by the grace of God; we want to reawaken, because all over we have swallowed, all manner of chemicals. We must stop all these foreign negative cultures and values because people are afraid of being tagged not ‘exposed’. Look at the average age that people are dying now and the diseases and the economic side; when we are importing foreign foods at the neglect of our own.
Is it not a taboo for us to be shying away from our culture while the foreigners are now running after our culture and value? White ladies are now plating their hair, wearing designs of dresses in Ankara. The Chinese, they are cutting corners to now give us soft copy of Aso-Oke but in the design of Etu, Alari, Sanyan. It is time for us to wake up from our slumber. Put our tradition and culture in the proper perspective and position.
This appointment, I want everybody to believe that it is for all Yorubas, for all Nigerians, for even non-Nigerians. Because God created all the tribes and races of the world and gave each tribe their culture; culture is an umbrella. Under it, mother tongue, dress, food, music, names then philosophy. In Yoruba we have what they call ‘Omoluabi’; Omoluabi encompasses godliness. So our own ancestors were not Atheists or pagans, as claimed by the former colonialists. If they are talking about paganism that they brought to religion, no, Yorubas were not Atheists. Because they believed in Olodumare which is translated to God, Allah, Yaweh.’’