His royal highness, Alayeluwa Oba Shefiu Olatunji Adewale Bamgbopa Esinlokun 1, the Olu-Epe of Epe kingdom was born to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Adewale, in Epe area of Lagos State. He started his life as an administrator when he was fully employed as an educationist.
But, he ended up as a king in his home-town, Epe, Lagos state. He is the 19th ruler of Epe that is also known as Eko-Epe. He is our ICON in this edition of Past Perfect as he speaks on his life and the circumstances behind his ascension to the throne. He also reveals how Epe came into existence. And according to him, Epe has two communities: the Ibejus and the Ekos. Excerpts
Life was good as a child. We enjoyed life to the fulness. Then, the dichotomy between the people of Ijebu and Epe was not as strict as what obtains today. The relationship was cordial and people were friendly to one another unlike what obtains today.
I never believed I was going to be a king until five years ago. It wasn’t in my plan. Therefore, becoming a king was dramatic and ordained by God. I started my venture as an Otun Balogun. But, the story of my life changed when the king who was the Olu-Epe died. So, I was enthroned as the 19th king of the Epe community within two years.Epe was a fishing village before the coming of King Kosoko in 1851. It was King Kosoko that popularized Epe.
Th story of my life started when my mother died in 1957. I was in form two. But my father took it upon his shoulder to finance our education at least to the secondary school level. My father was a disciplinarian too and wouldn’t take nonsense from any of his kids.
My life was moulded by both my father and my elder brother. He was an apprentice under UAC as an engineer and with the little money he was getting as salary, he was sending pocket money me every month to me in school which was one pound at that time. He became my backbone and therefore it is wasn’t difficult to go to school. He was financing my education. We were five children from my mother’s side and my brother was financing our education.
My grandmother was also there to take care of us and my elder brother stood by me. He was receiving salary every month and he never forgot sending one pound postal order to me at that time. So, it was only God that saw me through. But, my brother died last year.
I I met my wife at a party in 1966. She was then in the nursing training school while I was at the Advanced Teacher’s College. Although, we were not on talking terms before then,the party brought us together. We went to the party and unknowingly, we started exchanging pleasantries. We were going to each other’s house and before we knew what was happening, we were planning our marriage.I knew her family house in Epe and she knew mine too. I believed I was old enough to know what I wanted. I was about graduating from the college likewise herself. So,I could take care of any relationship at that time I believe could be permanent. So, the courtship lasted for two years and we got married.
My wife has been there for me. We understand each other and as a result, she is the one keeping the home-front and taking care of the children. It will interest you to know that before I ascended the throne, all my children had finished higher institution except some of the children of my late brother who I have taken the responsibility to shoulder their education. Their father sponsored my education and therefore, I believe it is necessary to reciprocate. One of them has just completed her university programme. My responsibility is to take care of those children because that is the only way for me to be grateful to their father.
As a seasoned civil servant in Lagos State, I started as an inspector of Education, I then became administrative officer and I was being transferred from one place to the other. And during my time, I was appointed as the administrator of Badagry local government for one year. Then, I became a commissioner in the civil service commission before coming to Epe. That was the post I held last.
I was a teacher for six months in Ansar-ru-deen Grammar school Surulere before joining government as an Inspector. And as a disciplinarian, I am very happy that the group I taught at that time, still remembers me. I taught the 1961 set and I am happy that the group liked me, perhaps at that time, the age difference was not too much. So, I inculcated the act of discipline in them.
As a king, I am still learning. I now know that general administration is different from what I know as a civil servant.