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I’m redefining what ‘Erelu’ stands for in Yoruba land —Onaneye

How did you come about the title, Erelu Oodua?

I am the Erelu Oodua of Aye Kingdom. I am a royal ambassador and a custodian of Yoruba culture. I am, by providence, the Irawo Oni Oodua as endorsed by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II. I was born in Ode-Aye in Ondo State, Nigeria, but was raised in Lagos by my aunt who was a business tycoon. My father, Mr Shadrach Ogunleye, was married to Mrs Alice Ogunleye.


 Why did you leave Nigeria to seek greener pasture elsewhere?

Nigeria, the one-time giant of Africa, was indeed green at that time. The only greenery associated with our land now is on the Coat of Arm. Well, I left Nigeria for England, not actually to seek greener pasture because, frankly speaking, I was already green. At that time, I was already swimming in the streams of affluence. Don’t forget I own an expansive business empire, Shalice Venture, at Ikoyi which is still very booming up till date. From England, I moved to the United States where I decided to pursue a higher degree. I worked and schooled at Tarrant College, Texas, USA, where I studied Pharmacy Technology. Now I work in a hospital doing care and some humanitarian stuff. With a view to be self-employed, I became an entrepreneur who majors in the import and export of liquor from France and Italy.


What informed your consideration for the titles of Erelu Oodua and Irawo Ooni Oodua of Yoruba?

Permit me to set the record straight. My present position is not honourary but rather hereditary; it is a family chieftaincy title. Personally, I don’t cherish the opulence attached to royalty but you know the course of destiny cannot be altered. I have been involved in some charity works in my hometown for a very long period. I worked with a foundation in the US that offered free medical outreach to African countries with my hometown as one of the target communities, courtesy my recommendation.

It was one of the usual medical trips we made to Ondo State around 2012. On completion of the free medical services, I was invited to the oba’s palace at Ode-Aye. There, I met Admiral Akin Aduwo, Dr Mike Adenuga, the CEO of Globacom, Professor Omogoroye, Dr Salewa Olafioye from USA and some palace high chiefs (Ijamas) in a meeting with Oba Williams Akinmusayo Akinlade, Halu of Aye Kingdom. I was in the dark about the essence of the invitation until when I got to the palace. However, my brother was put in the know all along. On that day, I was decorated with the pre-coronated insignias as the Erelu Oodua of Aye Kingdom. I wasn’t happy with the development, but I had no choice but to accept it reluctantly, especially with the influence of the community elders present. It took me three years before I came for my eventual coronation.

On November 11, 2015, Oba Babatunde Ogunlaja of Noforija Kingdom in Lagos State, who had been my source of encouragement, impressed it on me to take up the title without any further delay. Also, upon seeking spiritual guidance, a prophecy was made that I should not entertain any fear. On the coronation proper, more than 35 personalities followed me down to Nigeria all the way from the US. The ceremony lasted for three days and I underwent all necessary traditional rites before I was pronounced as the Erelu Oodua. A year after my installation, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi Enitan Ojaja II, endorsed me as the Irawo Ooni Oodua.


What are the functions assigned to your office and what differentiates you from other erelus?

Statutorily, I am more or less the oba’s designate; I represent him when delegated. The Erelu Oodua promotes the cultural heritage, value, tradition of the land and also to protect the kingdom worldwide. You know I don’t need to be the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land before I protect my father land and I must commend the giant strides of Aare Gani Adams since his assumption of office in this wise. Above all, I am a royal ambassador who can be the regent of my kingdom, if occasion demands.

Like I said earlier, my title is not honorary. That is enough an indication that I am from a royal lineage. Going from the limit of traditions to a more civilised definition of my office, I advocate better life for the society, embark on sensitisation for the youth, emancipation of women etc. Candidly, I am redefining what ‘erelu’ stands for in Yoruba land.


 Recently, a traditional ruler in Ondo South senatorial district installed some obas in the diaspora, what is your take on this?

I am a member of a platform known as HRM-Heritage; we speak on royal matters. When the news of the oba in diaspora came up, I was one of those that kicked against it. I used every medium and connection at my disposal to oppose such an uncouth act. You see, my obvious criticism drew the attention of some Yoruba paramount rulers, I mean the Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo and the Deji of Akure, and even the Yoruba Generalismo, Aare Gani Adams, to mention a few. They all pledged their support for what I stood for. I will be glad to meet these wonderful royal fathers in the forthcoming national convention of the whole Yoruba obas in Oyo. There, the beauty of our culture and unity will be showcased to the world.


What then is your view on some people living in Europe, the US and even Asia claiming that they are Yoruba obas?

Please, let us do away with that. There is nothing like Yoruba oba outside the shores of this country. Oba in Diaspora or whatever is it called is a forgone issue.


You have been living in the US for decades and you still believe in African culture and tradition, how are you able to do this?

I value the way I was raised right from cradle, especially the blue-blooded upbringing. We were raised as princes and princesses. Everything about African culture is peculiar. Looking at my name, Princess Tinuade, you need not be told that I am from a royal family. Back to our culture, is it the festivals that are sites for tourist attraction, the language or the traditions which span ages? There is this fulfillment right there in my heart. I am happy each time I think about it. You can’t believe that for the past 30 years that I have been in the US, I still speak my original and undiluted dialect up till now; even my children do. In fact, Yoruba has the best and most sought-after culture in the world. My adornment of coral and beads is enough indication that I am purely an African princess with rich Yoruba cultural values.


As a female representative of royalty worldwide, don’t you get intimidated by the male royals?

There is this popular saying that only the courageous act valiantly without regret. I am a courageous woman who is not a slave to intimidation and threats from the male royals. I speak truth to power. Of course, royalty comes with respect and humility, but courage is needed to drive home salient observations. I speak where I am supposed to speak. I do respect the royal stools, but I hardly back down on what I think is right. Going down the memory lane, there was an oba in Yoruba land that was paid a courtesy visit from Abuja. The oba was without a cap or his royal crown in the group photograph taken. I had no option but to humbly call him to order. I did that all the way from the US.


It’s about four years that you took up the title of Erelu Oodua, how has the journey been so far?

The journey has been tough and rough. But let me say this: if you want to occupy a house abandoned for long, you don’t just get into the house. You have to do a whole lot of cleaning. So for now, I am still at the cleaning state, though not without carrying out my statutory functions as the Erelu Oodua. I have overtime been the mouthpiece of the obas.


You are a fashionable person with high taste, what are the things you consider before you go for a particular dress and accessories?

Yes, I am fashionable and there is no regret about that. My fashion styling depends on the event. I don’t imitate; I like to be me. As an apprentice, you definitely have a unique dressing sense. The Pope in the Vatican has his striking and sacred religious regalia. So, being the Erelu Oodua, a title which is a sacred and spiritual stool, putting on white colour apparel is significant with a spiritual implication.


It is generally believed that people who are into culture and tradition are fetish, is that true?

Being cultural is not the same thing as being fetish. Isese (cultural norms) cannot be eroded, though I am not into performing sacrificial rites (ebo) or what have you. That to me is never the true representation of our culture. Before I forget, the royal insignia you see in my hand is my staff of office handed over to me on the day I was installed. That is to tell you that my title is a high ranking one.


What is your advice for women?

I encourage women, either educated or not, to always see themselves as forces to reckon with in the larger society. Womanhood is beyond the four walls of your husband’s house. Women are best leaders, managers and administrators in the world. In a family, the woman manages the home. Also, the outstanding performance of women is a common phenomenon across the globe. Coming back to Africa, women are segregated and discriminated against. Nigerian women are treated as second class citizens. I bet you, no nation can come out great if women are not given a leading voice. Take a cue from Great Britain, Germany just to mention a few.


As a lover of the African continent, do you still believe in a better and stronger Nigeria despite our obvious challenges?

I weep for my home country home; we will go a long way. If we are determined to make a change, change will come. That said, I have never lost hope in the country called Nigeria. If our attitude and character change, Nigeria will change for better. This popular saying that God will do this or do that for Nigeria should be jettisoned. I am never an unbeliever of what God can do but religion cannot solve our problems. God will only answer us if the right steps are taken and round pegs are put in round holes. Change has to start from our various households, ule ebi (family house) to the community. God will not come down from heaven to effect the change He had deposited in us to make happen ourselves. Prayer, vigil or any form of spiritual rite will not change anything. Nigeria, aside political reasons, is worse today because of the proliferation of churches and mosques. Churches and mosques will not cleanse us but our attitude will do. In the 60s when I was born, there were few churches and the fear of God was evident unlike now that the decadence in the society is a product of the unfaithfulness in most of our churches and mosques.


Looking back, what would you always thank God for?

My appreciation to God is unlimited. He has done so many things I cannot mention. You see, anybody that says some people are bad is actually the bad one. I mostly extend my gratitude to God for the good people I have around me.

I’m redefining what ‘Erelu’ stands for in Yoruba land —Onaneye
Tribune Online

source https://tribuneonlineng.com/im-redefining-what-erelu-stands-for-in-yoruba-land-onaneye/

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