He was born to be a king. But he never knew. Oba Adedapo Tejuoso, the Osinle of Oke Ona, however, got a prophetic hint that he would become king when he was just 35. That was when his predecessor was sick. A friend had asked him what he would do if invited to be King. Prince Adedapo, shocked at the question, said he was too young, but would not hesitate to ascend the throne after he might have turned 50. At 51, he was unanimously chosen as the Osinle Egba.
When he turned 75 in 2013 he granted BREAKTHROUGH NEWS a birthday interview in which he revealed a lot about his life. Below are excerpts of the revealing interview.
What was your growing up days like!
My growing up? I was born on 19th day of February, 1938. I was born in Lagos to Mr. Somoye Tejuoso of blessed memory and Chief (Mrs.) Bisoye Tejuoso, the 3rd Iyalode of Egbaland, of blessed memory. She joined her ancestors on the 19th of September, 1996, while my late father died on the 27th December, 1968, when I was barely 30 years of age. I was born in Lagos, but at the age of 3 in 1941, my father, having been transferred to Zaria a year later, my mother, myself and late sister at that time went to join him in Zaria.
Barely a year after or thereabout, I was taken to St. Georges Anglican School, Zaria to start my Primary School. By 1946, at age 8, my late sister was 6 years of age, we were taken to Abeokuta to continue our education. It was for want of any boys school to attend, I was atAbeokuta Girls School with my sister. Abeokuta Girls School was at Ake at that time, I was in Standard 3. The following year, 1948, when I just finished Standard 3, all the boys were told to leave Abeokuta Girls School. I suppose the management of the school was afraid that we were getting old and probably more knowledgeable and didn’t want to take any chance with us, so we all had to leave for other primary schools. My mates went to St. Peter’s Primary School Ake, but my parents felt that I should go to Ransome Kuti Primary School in Kenta, Abeokuta. As an obedient son, I went and was placed in Ransome Kuti’s class, where I had to repeat Standard 3.
But my parents knew better because by the time I was in Standard 4 in 1949,and my other mates were in Standard 5 at St Peters College, I gained admission into Abeokuta Grammar School, where I resumed in January, 1951, while my mates at the other school were in standard 6.By the time I got to class 2 in Abeokuta Grammar School, they just entered the grammar school, so it is good to listen to the voice of the elders otherwise I would also have lost about 2 years. I went to Abeokuta Grammar School in 1951 and by 1956 I became the Senior Prefect of the Secondary School. I did my school Cert examination. and passed in Grade 1 and fortunately since my result was good, I was admitted into Trinity College Dublin in 1958 where I studied Medicine. Trinity College, Dublin is the 3rd oldest university in Great Britain and Ireland then, the first being Oxford, second being Cambridge. They all had a system that whatever course you were doing you have to do an Art subject along with it, so by 1962 at the age of 24 I graduated with my B.A. degree, while I graduated as a medical doctor in 1964, 2 years later. I came straight to Nigeria where I did my house manship job at LUTH, Idi Araba. LUTH was founded in 1962 so I was about the 2nd or 3rd set to do my house job there. 1964 -1966, I was at LUTH and went back to Britain for my post graduate studies and finally came back to Nigeria just immediately after the war in February, 1970.
You are a qualified medical doctor with a thriving hospital. Why did you abandon the medical profession for Obaship?
I didn’t abandon medical practice. I qualified in 1964, came home and went back in September, 1966 by which time I was doing a small private practice. By the time I came back in 1970, I established Teju Industrial Clinic at Ilupeju and that, of course, metamorphosed into Iyalode Bisoye Tejuoso Hospital, which is still there up till today. It’s just that I am not personally involved, but fortunately I have a son who is a medical doctor and fully in charge with several doctors working with us to keep the hospital going. The hospital is there as a permanent memorial not only for my mother, but for me and after me my children’s children by the grace of God. As I said, I came back finally in 1970, but by 1968 my late father joined his ancestors, 1968, December 27th, so I came home briefly to attend the funeral as he was buried on the 4th of January, 1969. I finally came back in February 1970, only for me to become the Managing Director of Teju Industries Ltd, manufacturers of Teju Foam and my mother was the chairman. At the same time I also established my Teju Industrial Clinic. I was the MD of the company, the production company and at the same time in the same compound, I had the medical clinic and was the medical director, but, of course, I could not occupy two important positions at the same time. I occupied the position, but needed to have some delegation done so I delegated the medical practice mostly to other doctors to run, while I was supervising what they were doing and at the same time looking after the industry.
Thank God that both of them still exist till today. I am now the chairman of the two groups, since my mother departed. We thank God for everything that is happening.
At what point did you become an Oba?
I came back in 1970 and became an Oba in 1989, 19 years after I returned to the country. I never in my life thought I was going to become an Oba.I became an Oba at the age of 51. When I was about 35 years of age, I remember I was in front of our hospital in lIupeju discussing with some friends of mine and one of them suddenly said, “by the way your Oba, Oba Adedamola, the 7th Osile of Oke – Ona Egba, was ill in the hospital” and said that “if he dies, he’s sure they will come and ask you to become a king”. I looked at him and asked what do you mean, to become a king at the age of 35? “What would I be doing if I become a king” and I said “never If I were about 50 years and above, and they said I should come and become a king I will understand, but at 35, what have I done, men, forget it”
Fortunately, as if I was talking prophetically, the Oba got well, was discharged from the hospital, went back home and lived until I became 50 years and 4 months and immediately they told me he had died, that was the first thing that struck my mind, ah, that day you were saying if you were 50 and above, you wouldn’t mind to become a King, you are now over 50, what do you want to do? There was a spirit in me telling me that, and there and then I said, God I surrender, if you want me to be King let it be, but father do me a favour, one, never allow me to go and beg anybody to make me King. Two, don’t let me need to give anybody bribe to become King. God answered my prayers. They sent for me and I was there. They went for their Ifa divination, said I was the one chosen. My name was sent to the government, only my name. Thank God the rest is history.
By the 15th of February 1989, my name was announced and gazetted as the next Osinle, the 8th Osinle and became 51 years of age on 19th February, 1989 and the following day was the day I was to come to Abeokuta to Ipebi. On that day I was 51 years and 1 day. The following day, which was a Monday, we had a small church service in the chapel in our house in Lagos. It was the late Archbishop Adetiloye who preached the sermon on that day and one thing that has kept me till now was the passage he used for the sermon, which he said was given me to keep and be my guide for the time of my reign. Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shall go; I will guide thee with mine eye”, Since that day that Bible passage has been my guiding principle and it is evident that the prayer has been answered. The pathway of faith and being an ardent follower of Jesus Christ. To go along the narrow path so that at the end you can get into the kingdom of God. And that he will teach me in the way. That has been very evident in my life style and pattern today. I pray that it will be my guiding principle to the end, I also pray that I will attain the Kingdom of God.
At what point did you give your life to Jesus?
I had always been a Christian as I was born into Christianity, I was in the choir as early as age of five, but specifically I remember I gave my life to Jesus on the 5th day of August 1992 when Kabiyesi the Alake, Oba Oyebade Lipede, was celebrating his 20th Coronation Anniversary at St. Peter’s Church, Ake. I didn’t remember that until about 3 years after when I had the opportunity of being invited to the Redeemed Camp by Pastor Adeboye.
When I met Pastor Adeboye on that day, one of the first things he told me was that he had always admired me and he reminded me of that day, that he was surprised I was the only Oba that responded to his altar call that day. That’s why I can never forget that day. That day has remained indelible in my heart and shall forever be in Jesus Name.
As a born again Oba, how have you been able to cope with the customs of the land that involves rituals, sacrifices, etc?
God has helped me. Christ has helped me. Remember I told you I was appointed by Divination. People consulted If a oracle.
Prior to that, God had sent messages to me that I should go through whatever they wanted me to go through at the Ipebi. When he said so, I went and did everything that had to be done over there at Ipebi. When there, there was this white cap you had to put on and I discovered why they have to do that later. In any case I was there for 3 months to get myself educated in all the rudiments of what they
were doing and after about 2 to 3 months, God sent another message because before I entered Ipebi, I was dressed in black. So, by now the black had been removed and I was then in white. I got to know why you have to put on the cap. As a traditional ruler, who followed the rituals, a calabash was given with white powder which I had to put on my head every morning and naturally after putting on the white powder, they don’t expect you to go about like that so you have to put on the cap.
What incident would you regard as the most painful to you? Painful? That has to be the death of my late sister because we were together for a long time. I was 2 years older than her, but in education, I was about 4 or 5 years her senior. By the time I left the university to return to Lagos, she joined me a year before then in Dublin. I came here to do my housemanship and only after about one year of her admission into the university, I learnt that she had cancer of the cervix and had just been operated upon in the hospital, so I had to travel to England in 1955, May 21 to be precise. I know that day because it was the day I had my third child. I travelled to England to bring her back to Nigeria. It became very painful because as a medical doctor, I knew what was wrong with her, as I arranged for her to be admitted at LUTH, I knew that it was Cancer of the cervix, the prognosis was bad. She had about 6 months to live, but I couldn’t tell my parents that your child is going to die in 6 months time. So, I had to ‘tag’ along with them just to console them, but I knew what was to happen as a medical doctor, but then I am not God. So, it’s not easy for me to come and tell somebody that your child is going to die in 6 months, what if she doesn’t die? That was very painful. After about two months in the hospital, they saw her condition deteriorating, no hope so they took her out of the hospital to try other medications. I could not say stop worrying yourself, don’t bother she can’t survive it. You can imagine how painful it was until she finally died on 30th December 1965 at the age of 25. She was buried the following day. I would say that was probably the most painful part of my life