•Popular Traditional Marriage Anchor, FOLUSO OGUNJIMI (SOKOYOKOTO)
She is a popular broadcaster, turned professional traditional marriage anchor. She is the CEO of Alarede Engagement Academy. Her real name is Foluso Ogunjimi. But she is famously addressed as Sokoyokoto. She granted City People Reporter, TITILOPE OSHUNLALU an interview on Tuesday, 31st January, 2022 during the Thanksgiving party of her training school, Alarede Engagement Academy, at her Oregun, Lagos office. She revealed how she started her career and how ALAREDE ENGAGEMENT ACADEMY came to be. Below are excerpts.
How do you feel today?
Oh my goodness, I feel so grateful to God, for God to have kept us till today, we are grateful.
What edition is today’s thanksgiving?
It is the 12th edition today. But, due to one reason or the other, we could not hold the party last year, but, this time last year, we were like 100 in number, but, today, we are over 120. Also, this year , we have been certified and approved by the Lagos State government, by the grace of God, we are the First & the only Certified Alaga School, I mean government approved We give all glory to God.
What is the duration of your course or courses?
We have 2 different categories. For graduates, we have 6 months duration, 3 months for practicals, where you go to the field to know how it is happening.
And 1 year for non graduates.
How is the school fees like?
The school fees is very affordable, but, we still see people who cannot afford the payment. Some people are on scholarship, some people pay stipends, some people don’t even pay at all. We have a particular class where we meet to share our stories, if you hear some people’s stories, you will not mind to teach them free.
Any support from the government?
We don’t get support from the government.
How did you start as an engager?
You know what, I did not choose to be an engager ( alaga) I think the industry chose me , to the glory of God. I am a broadcaster by profession, I am a Journalist, and because I worked for like 12 years with Lagos State Television (LTV), and they refused to staff me for the 12 years, I was working as an artist, pay as you go, at a point, I needed to do something extra, and at that time, somebody introduced me to the job, she is like an angel to me, her name is Mrs Sunbo Adeshina, known as Iya Ewe. She is presently in Canada, she asked me to join her for an engagement job. I went with her, she was singing and I was backing her up with the little I could. A month after our first outing remember, I have been going out with her, the alaga Iduro was not available for the traditional marriage, and she asked me to act as the alaga Iduro, that was all, and I did it well. As at that time, I was the youngest, I came in at the age of 24 or 25, and then, alaga’s are like 55 & 60 years then, people started praising me and said, I did it well, that was how the journey started, I never learn the job.
But, my project at the University of Ife was Ekun Iyawo and I think that really helped .
For Alarede Engagement Academy, I just sat down one day and I thought, there was need to do something different , from the way people do it. We need to bring people together. I can take you out for an event, to see the way I am doing it, but, we can do that for 5 to 6 years and they may not learn anything because of the distraction. So, I decided to have a school where we can bring students together, rub minds and after the class they will go for practicals, and I think, we are doing well. If you see Alaredians officiate, you will see the difference, no waste of time, no extortion, and I think we are doing good.
Alarede Engagement Academy is a force to be reckoned with, we have almost 200 students, some students joined us today.
Our vision, mission and principle is quite different, we may not affect the society much now, maybe in the next 10 years, if you want to use alaga, it must be an Alaredean
But now, we want to move forward. Before now, we have been training students, now, we want to partner with the government. We want people to know that our culture matters, its not about dancing & talking, we want people to know that, we are home makers, we build homes.
Mode of dressing matters in Traditional marriages, it is not about entertainment, it is about joining 2 families together.
In the course of discharging your duty, have you encountered dispute among family members on their children ‘s wedding day?
For me, I don’t wait till the very day before I know about my client. I have their information before hand, I visit the families at least once before the wedding. In the course of our interaction, they must have informed me if any of the parents has passed on or is alive and who will be representing the person that day or maybe the parents are separated. That is when I ask questions and then give my opinion. I usually advise in the case of divorce, that the parents should sit together for the day. You can’t replace your father or mother , unless any of them is no more. If any of the parents is late, the stepmother or father shouldn’t be the one to represent except the bride or the groom was raised by either of the step parents. In that case, there won’t be any controversy. In the case of late parents, the younger person to the father or mother should sit and that settles the case.
Those are areas where dispute arise on a wedding day.
Are all your students graduates?
No, they are not all graduates, though, my assistant is a Microbiologist, we have lawyers among us, we have a PhD holder. Why they all speak good and tush English is because, we teach them communication skills, so by the time ,they officiate outside, you will think they are graduates.
Appreciation to your loved ones?
I want to appreciate almighty God, who am I, if you are chosen, you have to be grateful, I want to appreciate all ALAREDE ENGAGEMENT ACADEMY students, one thing is to teach, another thing is to interprete the character. Our students are doing well, they are very good ambassadors,
We have some of them them in Canada, we have about 5 in the UK, and in the US as well.
I want to thank City People, for making out time to celebrate with us, by his grace, the best is yet to come. And for those of you out there, don’t say one job or vocation is for a group of people, you can actually make a difference any where you find yourself. To the glory of God, I have dined and wined with the high & mighty in the society, with men and women of timber & calibre, governors and presidents and very soon, you will see me in the white house (laughs)
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