Otunba Joseph Adedayo Ogunfuwa, the Babalaje of
Remoland, celebrated his 75th birthday, penultimate Saturday. In an
interview, shortly after the birthday lecture, Ogunfuwa said he is a
devoted Christian, a member of the Anglican Communion and a strong member
of the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity. This, he claimed, his church is
What inspired your celebrating your birthday with a lecture?
I conceived the idea of a birthday lecture 15 years ago when I
clocked 60 years because I thought I would die before 60. My late
father died at 62 and, to me, when you clock 60 and die, it is
not a premature death. Initially, the birthday lecture was
restricted to my immediate family and close friends. But when I clocked 65,
people, mostly friends, advised me to extend the invitation beyond my immediate
family so that it could be a legacy that will not only benefit my
immediate family but should be passed on to generations
because of my experiences on knotty issues like world peace, religion as well
as other issues that will always give people food for thought.
I also want to say that none of the fraternities that I belong to is against
any religion or government. They all affirm the supremacy of God and
oppose discrimination of any kind. The world needs
peace and not insurgency and the battle for God among different religions
must stop if the world must know peace.
So, this year, I changed the pattern of the lecture. I saw the need to
invite knowledgeable persons to deliver it. Professor Dayo Adekole
talked about religion and fraternities and explored the notion of a
conflict. Professor Rom Kalilu talked about religious intolerance –The Muslim
point of view. I spoke on religion intolerance =The Christian
view point and religion and world peace. The whole essence of this was to
see how we can all bring about world peace. Without peace, nothing meaningful
can be done, either as an individual or as a nation. What exactly is your philosophy of life?
Do my best in all circumstances for everybody and without doing wrong to
anybody. Your dad died at 62. Did you envisage you will
live this long?
Nobody knows how long he or she will live. People die through
many causes. You cannot predict also what manner of death you will have. One
can have the best of health and still die young. When you live and
abstain from what is not necessary, you can live long. For instance, I
gave up smoking over 30 years ago, and I was a bad drinker. My elder
sister kept warning me and weeping because of these habits because of the fear
that I might die young. But, today, she is alive and I am also alive. I
had to stop smoking because I had medical challenge. As a child, I was
always ill. My mother died of asthma at 32. The doctor
advised me to stop smoking, but I didn’t stop immediately. I,
however, gave up the habit when I realised that I was pushing myself to
the grave. One does not need much education to know that smoking is dangerous
to health. And it is not right, but it took me long time to be convinced
that I needed to stop the habit. At 75, would you say you are fulfilled?
I have been a fulfilled man as far back as when I clocked 60.
Death did not matter to me after that. People tend to associate
fulfillment with wealth or monetary worth. It is whatever you set out to
achieve in life that makes you fulfilled. I set out to be what I am, to be kind
to people, to be generous to live according to my conscience. I listen to
advice but I don’t take every piece of advice. I am not rich and I don’t
have to be rich to be a fulfilled man. I have 14 children and 23
grandchildren. I have always told my children, ‘what I have done for you, go
and improve on it yourselves’. Being the Babalaje of Remoland, what are the factors that
shaped you to make you who you are today?
I don’t know why they conferred the title of Babalaje on me because I told
them I didn’t want it. Babalaje is given to people who are rich. I am not. What is that thing that your parents inculcated in you while
growing up that you have also passed to your children?
That is a secret. When my father was about to die, he compelled me to love
all my siblings because he was a polygamist. Today, I am successful and my
siblings are also successful and my children too. So when you die, how do you want to be buried?
I have given my children instructions on what to do when I die. Not only
that, I have consistently openly said it. Nobody should say after my death that
I renounced any of the fraternities I belong to. I am a Christian
of Anglican Communion; when I die, my fraternities’ members should come in
their full regalia and, if the church will not permit that, let the
fraternities bury me.