Owojori Alaba Asindemade is the first Ile-Ife indigene to make a living out of making crown for the Ooni of Ife and many other traditional rulers. The 46-year-old, popularly called Asindemade, in an interview with TUNDE BUSARI, speaks on the knitty gritty of the making of beaded crown and other paraphernalia of traditional rulers. Excerpts:
How did you start your career as a crown maker?
My father, John Owojori, the Obalubo of Ile-Ife was behind it. As a chief who was very close to the palace of the Ooni, he understood that only one person made the Ooni’s crowns. The man was from Efon Alaaye. His name is Ajao Adetoyi Olowuro. One day, my father called me and said he liked one of his children to learn the vocation. He said he had observed me as a thorough person who was not in a haste to do things. He said it won’t take me much time to learn the trade. That was how he convinced me.
Did you not have other option?
Because I was also familiar with the palace, I understood what he said. And also because he knew that I like art work and other vocations that involve craft, I took my father’s message as divine. So, I agreed and he took me to the crown maker. The man was already my father’s friend.
How many years did your apprenticeship under the man last?
I started from 1986 and became independent in 1990. Since then, I had started doing it on my own and making a living from it.
How can you describe your experience on the job?
The experience is good. I thank God that I have no reason to regret my decision to go into it. I am the first Ile-Ife indigene in history to have gone into it. This record, to a large extent, is an achievement in its own right. Through the job, I have access to many traditional rulers who patronise me. Another experience is that the job is not meant for the lazy ones. I also make horsetail, staff and other royal insignias. Despite the fact that it does not require much energy, impatient person cannot do it because it needs a lot of patience. Also, through the job, I have attended exhibitions where I showcased my works and made contacts.
Can you name some of the traditional rulers on the list of your patrons?
The past and current Ooni of Ife, the Oluwo of Iwo, the Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom, the Ataoja of Osogbo, the Elegushi of Ikateland, the Osemawe of Ondo, the Deji of Akure, the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, the Ogiyan of Ejigbo, the Alake of Egbaland, the Olufon of Ifon, the Akinrun of Ikinrun and others.
Is any of your children understudying you?
I am not one who forces children to do anything but I am happy to tell you that my daughter knows the job.
Did she show interest?
In fact, I didn’t know how she got to know it. I never knew she was watching me. I later learnt that she tapped the skill from my apprentices.
Does she have her own workshop?
No. She is still a student of the School of Nursing here in Ile-Ife.
Have you any challenge that can force you out the job?
Nothing can force me out of the job my father insisted I must do.
That must be established but I am afraid the job would be infiltrated by quacks because our young ones are not ready to make the sacrifice needed to learn the job.