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Sunday, 11 October 2015

chinedu iroka


By Lekan Bilesanmi

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 aware.

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.

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