Alhaji Agboola Alausa is the Balogun of Ijebuland. He is a big man in Ijebu. He is from a very prominent and illustrious family in the town. He is from one of the horse-riding families. As Balogun, he is their leader and he usually has a vital role to play on Ojude Oba Day, because he has to ride his horse and lead other riders to pay homage to the Awujale of Ijebu, Oba Sikiru Adetona.
When the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, made Alhaji Agboola Alausa, the Balogun of Ijebuland in August 2016, it was a big and colourful event in Ijebu-Ode. The Awujale promoted him from being Otun Balogun to the Balogun status to succeed the late Alhaji Chief Jimoh Adebowale Odunuga who had passed on then.
Since the past 3 years that he has become Balogun, Alhaji Agboola Alausa has added Glamour, Prestige and Colour to the office of Balogun of Ijebuland. What do you expect from a versatile man of great experience, who has been famous since 1976, when as a young man, Ebenezer Obey Commander, the Juju maestro, waxed a record in his honour, eulogising Agboola Alausa. Before he became Balogun 3 years ago, he had seen it all. He had been a successful real estate guru, a businessman, a vibrant politician and a socialite of repute. In those good old days, he used to attend major society parties along with his friends.
Last week, City People’s Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, met him at the Awujale’s palace during the Ojude Oba World Festival Press Conference in Ijebu-Ode and got him to talk about his life as Balogun, and what to expect from the forthcoming Ojude Oba festival. He has a rich pedigree. His late father was well known. He was also a big player in Ijebu. Alhaji Agboola Alausa himself is well known in Ijebuland as a staunch Muslim and a mover and shaker of society. He commands the patronage of Ijebu, both old and young.
In those good old days, he was not only a notable politician, but he was also a kingmaker with regard to Ijebu politics. He was a politician with a lot of clouts. He has always been an Estate Surveyor, who has engaged himself in philanthropic gestures towards fellow Ijebu and has immensely contributed to the socio-economic and political development of Ijebu-Ode. He has always been a peacemaker and bridge-builder, among the various groups, both religious and political associations. He has shouldered community responsibilities since he relocated to Ijebu-Ode from Ibadan in the ’70s after working in the defunct Western Region.
In 2016, Alhaji Agboola Alausa became the first educated Balogun of Ijebu. He is a graduate of Estate Management from the U.K. He worked with the defunct government Western-Region before he retired. He was President, Rotary Club of Bodija 1990-1991. Paul Harris fellow. Seriki of Ijebu in 1987. He was also the Balogun, Zumratul Hajjaj Zumaratul- Hujaji of Ijebu-Ode. Below are excerpts of his interview.
How do you see the forthcoming 2019 Ojude Oba Festival?
It has become usual with us. It has been with us time immemorial. It has been a longtime that we started it. We thank God for Awujale who has always been expanding it to the international level at which it is now. We wish him well. We wish ourselves well also.
You are one of the best-dressed men in Ijebu. You have been consistent in your dressing. How do you do it?
We thank God. I was formerly based in Ibadan with the Shokas Lace people. So, any new lace fabric that came I would buy it. We have tailors. Once I see the fabric, I will buy it. We had tailors. Immediately I buy the fabric, I would call the tailor to design it. I will tell him what I want. I would tell my tailor to go and bring another fabric to match it and we would combine it and when you see the end product, you would say wow! You would be amazed.
What fabrics do you like?
I used to travel a lot. When I went abroad I buy fabrics. I would buy a Jacquard. When I travelled from London to the US and back to London. When I was with my children in London, they usually take me to the market and I would choose the best fabrics that is that were in the market. I like the Jacquard. It has been in fashion for a very long time.
How about your Abetiaja Cap? How did you come up with it? Why did you choose this kind of cap?
(Laughs) we are copying our father, the Awujale ooo. He wears it. That is the kind of fila he likes to wear. He is always changing his caps. If you see him today, he would spot his cap like this to the left, tomorrow it would be to the right.
He is always changing it. This palace is our home. We come here almost daily to see him. So, we copy him. We do whatever he does. He is our role model. We copy his fashion style.
This is the latest style of Awujale, as a Yoruba Oba. We copy him.
What is the secret of your refreshingly young look? You look fit and healthy at 79. What are the things you do?
It is the Grace of God. We thank God. I have 4 children who are Doctors. They tell me what to do and what not to do. They are from the same mother. They call very early in the morning to ask after my health. They will say Baba, how do you feel this morning?
I will tell them, I slept well. They will send me text messages. They will give me instructions. Baba, buy this. Baba doesn’t take this. Baba eats more of this. Take less of that. They will say drink more water. Reduce your intake of this and God is granting their prayers and wishes. It’s only God that can allow it.
You cannot determine how it will be. God is a merciful God. I believe I will be 80. After 80 Baba God has the right to say come back home. I wouldn’t mind because I have done all that are necessary to do. I have driven the best Car. I have built a big house. I have done everything that is humanly possible.
So whenever God wants me to come back, I will be smiling home. I don’t worry about going back. I am preparing daily. I have trained all my children. All of them are graduates. Apart from those who are doctors, there are Engineers, Lawyers. One is a politician. He was in the Ogun State House of Assembly. One is England now doing Masters in Nursing and the last one just finished in Babcock.
I always tell people that the secret to good living is think of what makes you happy don’t think of what wouldn’t make you happy, because you cannot change your life. I have good doctors who I see. I had Hypertension many years ago, but it is controlled now since about 10years ago. I live a good life.
How do you cope as the Balogun of a big town like Ijebu Ode?
Its God who leads me. I was Seriki of Ijebuland. Many people put pressure on me then to take up the Balogun title. I told them then that I didn’t want Balogun, because I could not afford the expenses, I cannot do the Wahala. But when the late Sote now came to be Balogun, he invited me. I thank God has granted it for me. It’s the work of God. I have done 3 years now. But I have been Seriki since 2001. I took Seriki title then.
I was not interested in the Balogun line, years back. But I started with Otun Balogun, and when Alhaji Sote died as the Balogun then, I was made the new Balogun. It’s God. He knows what to do for people. Just has faith in God and don’t think negative. Always think positively and pray always. No man can change what God has ordained. I am going to be 80 early next year. I am looking forward to it. Insha Allah!
How has life been as the Balogun of Ijebuland?
It has been exciting to be Balogun of Ijebuland. I just started about 3 years ago. Balogun Odunuga died a while ago, about 3 years ago and Kabiyeesi was so interested in my person and said I should be promoted to become the Balogun. In this community, we have a system where you get promoted. Ijebu community is divided into 3-there is Okewade, Orogun, and there is Itumetala. I am Porogun now. He is Itumetala. There is a vacancy now because of the death of the immediate past Balogun. So Okejasi now will come up to be Osi Balogun, automatically if the Kabiyeesi is in tune with your personality and he is happy with you, he will promote you to the next rank. I pray I will be Balogun for years, then this young man, Otun Balogun Shote will be Balogun after me. That is the pattern. It is not that when the Balogun dies they will start to look for another person. It is within the system that you get promoted. That is why I said it’s very exciting.
It is really exciting to be Balogun. In history, it is the Balogun and the Awujale who have been controlling the community here, before, in the history of Ijebu. By that, I mean Kabiyeesi Tuwase and Balogun Kuku. In the colonial days, they even wanted to make the Balogun, Kabiyeesi Awujale, but the Kuku family rejected it. They said they would stone them because for one thing or the other, they had been banished before. And if you now want to make a Balogun Awujale it could cause trouble. But all that has changed. There are so many chiefs, so many Otunbas. That notwithstanding, the Balogun’s position is still unique, very, very unique.