By Daud Olatunji
Osile of Oke-Ona Egbaland, Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuosho, is one of the traditional rulers in Nigeria who are very deep in Christianity. He clocks 80 shortly.
The first class Oba, who hosted some media chiefs in his residence ahead of the 80th birthday, explained that he takes off his crown and leaves his head bare in the public in defiance of the rituals he performed at the time he was ascending the throne, saying, it is to emulate Jesus Christ who, according to him, was not known to have worn a cap in his lifetime. The monarch also shed light on his family life among other issues.
You are turning 80 but you are not really looking old. What is the secret?
I thank God for useful life; I thank God for making me relevant to him, the world and my people. In another two weeks or thereabouts, by the grace of God, I should clock 80 years. I did not think I will get this far, but the grace of God has led me and I cannot but be grateful to Him. I am particularly grateful to Him because He has allowed me to serve Him; a lot of people want to serve Him but are not given the opportunity. I am happy.
I feel fulfilled but my fear is that, just like Moses who God started using at 80, I hope my work is not just starting, because, if it is just starting, it would be an uphill task; but I know I can do all things through God who strengthens me. My prayer is that no matter how long I stay on the planet earth, I will always be in good health because that is why some people don’t like to live to this age. By the time you get there, you feel like people asking you ‘when are you going? Have you not done enough?’ But if you are living a healthy, successful and fruitful life, then the sky is the limit.
At 80, what is your wish?
God has granted me a peaceful family. I have many wives but I think I am more fulfilled than some of those who have many wives because all my wives are in Christ; it is the Christ that lives in me that also lives in them, it is the one ruling the lives of all of us. And the Bible says if a house is divided against itself, it shall not stand. If you accept Christ into your life, you have only God to fear and nobody else. My wish for everyone is to live long and attain the Kingdom of God at the end.
It was said that you belonged to12 Lodges. Do you regret renouncing them?
When I gave my life to Christ, I renounced the devil and all his works. Of course, what inspired me to do that was what Jesus Christ told his disciples in John that unless he went back to the Father, the Holy Spirit will not come to us. We all know Jesus was not a sinner, sin belongs to the devil. Anybody who harbours sin has the things of the devil in him and the devil will take control of his life and he will die. We must all aspire not to keep anything of the devil; otherwise, that is what the devil will always use against us.
At 80, how has the journey been?
You must know that no leaf will fall from the tree without God’s consent. You know that God knows all of us by name. I have only 24 children, and people credit me for knowing their names and their dates of birth, but that is only 24. The Creator of the world knows the population of the world; He knows everyone of us by name; He even knows how many strands of hair on your head; so, what will you do that He does not know of? You cannot hide from Him; even if you wear suit, you are naked before God.
God knows exactly why He created me; He knew what he wanted me to come to this world to do and I hope that I am on the right path. Maybe he just wanted me to be a king for His purpose and not for our purpose. What I have come to understand is that I have to serve Him. I happened to have been born in a Christian family and I thank God that he is using me for his work and I am enjoying every bit of it, but some people will not understand; the Bible says the cross is foolishness to those who are lost but to all who are saved, it is the power of God.
Talking of personal principles, what is the secret behind this magnitude of success you have achieved?
It is not me, nobody can be saved by working; we can only try to finish the work of Jesus Christ. Once you give your life to Christ, you are crucified with him, you experience death; momentarily, your head is dipped in water and they leave you there until you start feeling choked, then they pull you out. So you identify with the death of Christ with water baptism and also experience his resurrection. So, in the process, the Holy Spirit gets into you and continues to live in you.
It assumed that an Oba is for everyone. How do you cope looking at your depth in Christianity?
Well, God knows He sent me here. You said you discovered certain things about me; you should have also seen that at the time I was ascending the throne, I wasn’t a born again Christian but I was quite religious. I was going to church not too frequently, but I was very prayerful and God was always answering my prayer. Of course when I ascended the throne, it was mandatory for me to go to school which we call Ipebi for three months. There, I was to be trained in the rudiments of kingship in Oke-Ona. I went there and during that period, there were some rituals I was supposed do. God told me I should go through all they asked me to do.
I was later informed that God showed somebody a vision that I was covered in black throughout my stay in Ipebi. After I finished the three months, I came back and my eyes started opening and I saw why I should not be part of that. After some months, another person saw another vision and saw me covered in white. For instance, you will notice that I am never afraid to take off my crown in public.
If I didn’t go through those rituals, I will not know why Obas usually keep their crowns on the heads. But when I was in Ipebi, they gave me something like powder. Of course when you get to Ipebi, the first thing they do is to shave your head and give you this small cap to cover your head simply because, every morning, you have to put your hand in that powder and use it to form a cross in your head and cover it. In a nutshell, I stopped it sometime after I left Ipebi. If I have been entrapped in those things (rituals), you will never find me outside taking off my crown. And my reason for doing that again is that it just occurred to me that I am trying to be like Jesus who never wore a cap or dressed differently from people around him. If he was doing that, Judas Iscariot will not have had a problem identifying him. All he would have done was just to describe him with his different way of dressing.
Talking about being king only to Christians, I say often that I am the king of Oke-Ona Egba which means I am king to Christians, Muslims, traditionalists, everybody but I know of only one God. I am a leader who leads from the front. When I see something good, I follow it and wish you will follow and believe that I will not lead you astray.
I am not a blind leader; therefore, I cannot lead you into a pit. And when I say blind, I am not talking about physical eyes. I have inner eyes which Jesus gave me to lead the way and he is going to lead me to the Kingdom of God. I should try to ensure that everybody behind me does not go to hell but I cannot force them.
At 80, any regrets?
I don’t know how I should answer that question but I doubt if I have any regret as to how I have lived my life for the simple reason that, when I was ascending the throne, to be precise, when I was coming to Ipebi on February 20, 1989, it was a Monday, it was a day after my 51st birthday… we have a chapel in our house at Surulere, Lagos where a send-off thanksgiving was held for me.
It was then Archbishop Adetiloye who preached and, at the end of the service, almost everybody there burst into tears, including me, and Adetiloye said my watch word should be Psalm 32: 8 which quotes God as saying He would show me “the path to follow, He would guide my steps and He will guard me with His eyes”, and that has been what has been inspiring my life.
God has been guiding my steps; He has led and guarded me with His eyes. And that has made me to understand that I am not likely to have any regret. Every disappointment is an appointment from God, there is no coincidence in the spiritual realm; everything has been planned by God. So, whatever you think is wrong is probably a step that was meant to take you to your success; every blockage of your life should be a stepping stone to your glory. In that respect, I will say I have no regret.