They grew together in Ijebu Ife like brothers and sisters; they loved each other so much and later became husband and wife. They were married for 55 years, but death, the ultimate end of everyone, a few weeks ago, took Olori Yeyeluwa Olayinka Oguntayo; wife of Alayeluwa, Oba Adegbesan Afolorunso Oguntayo, the Ajalorun of Ijebu Ife, away from the arms of her loving and devoted husband, during a protracted illness of eight years. In this interview with MONICA TAIWO, Kabiyesi, reminiscenced about their years together; things he cannot forget about his dear wife and how much he would miss her. Excerpts.
Kabiyesi, e ku araferaku sir, we greet you on the demise of your wife, ojo a jina sirawon sir. Kabiyesi, I will like you to talk about your life together with Olori.
Mama was very close to me. So close to my heart. We are from the same town and started dating ourselves when she was in the secondary school at St Agnes College Maryland, Lagos. She was a professionally trained teacher and she was also from my family. So, initially it looked like I was marrying my sister in Ijebu Ife. We were married for 55years and she gave me six lovely children; three boys and three girls and we have nine grandchildren as at the moment.
So you can see that this is a successful marriage. We were so close that people remarked after her demise that they have never seen me without her and vice versa. This has endeared her to many people.
Before you became a king, what were you doing?
I am a Chartered Accountant by profession; I am also a businessman I set up some industries especially in Ijebu Ife here. I make Ijebu Ife my priority. I am also into oil business; I worked for the British Petroleum (BP) before I retired in 1969. So I am more or less a businessman and chartered accountant before I became the Ajalorun of Ijebu Ife.
During your younger days before you got married and became a king, you must have more than one female friend; typical of young people, can you tell me why you chose Olori as your wife. What were the qualities you found in her that made you make her your wife?
She was a Christian from the catholic faith; we all grew together in Ijebu Ife. As you said in those days when we were young and such brilliant person that I am, there were many other girls whom I was courting and we all played together, but I saw her as my choice. Patient, religious and a properly trained teacher and so, I was convinced that she was my wife, I knew she would become a good wife to me, she also knew and was convinced that I will be a good husband too. And in fact during courtship, when we were married and even until her death, she always told me that she was convinced that I am from heaven and her God ordained husband. She was so devoted, so loving to me and I tried to be the same to her.
I want to take you back some few years, can you remember the day you proposed to her, what was her reaction and how did you feel?
Normally, typical of women, no matter how much they love and want you, they never say yes the first time. But like I said, we grew together. We were looking at each other, trying ourselves and when the time came that I decided to take a wife, I asked her and she also made up her mind to be my wife and it clicked. We believed God joined us together and we decided to be husband and wife.
What are the things you cannot forget about her? You must have had your differences, how did you settle and what are those things she did that you feel other women cannot do?
My wife was very loving to me, like I said earlier, she was convinced that I am her God ordained husband, everything in my life pleased her.
When we were young, I always told her that “I know you love me and if you love me, you must love my dog,” she did just that. She loved everything about me, she was so caring and to show you how loving caring and devoted she was to me,; even when she was on the sick bed a couple of weeks ago, she was asking her son, “ what is happening to Kabiyesi, has he eaten”? She makes my food her priority; she was so concerned about my life that she never wanted anything to happen to me. And that was why I was so devoted to her and gave her all the support she needed and I am happy that until her death, we were together.
Can you remember any of your clashes and how you made up?
We couldn’t have been married for 55 years without clashes, but as I said, I wouldn’t want to call it clashes, because there was never a quarrel, because the love was there and the respect and regard for each other’s feelings was reciprocal; we always resolved our differences. Throughout the 55 years of our marriage, there was no occasion, no day when people or anyone interferred in our private affairs. Never! So you can see why we had a successful marriage.
Did you have the premonition that she was going to leave you when she did?
Well, she had been sick for the past eight years. She was a strong woman; even her doctors confirmed it that she was strong; a great fighter. We fought the illness but it was at the last moment that her doctor told me and her son who resides in London about three or four weeks ago that her chances of survival was between 30 to 40 per cent.
When you are told by a consultant and specialist, you have no choice. Then I prepared my mind that anything could happen. Even when I went to London two weeks ago, I went with the intentions of bringing her back home; to Ijebu Ife, since I have been told and my mind had been prepared that she may likely not make it. Despite the fact that we were told that she may likely not make it, I never told her. I made arrangement that we would leave London on Thursday to arrive here on Friday, hoping that she would pass on here at the palace, but as God would have it, I was with her on Sunday the 30th of October and early on Monday, the 31st of October, we got a call from the hospital that she passed on peacefully in her sleep.
That was how I lost her. We are making arrangement to bring her body back home on the 16th of this month. The wake keep will be on the 17th and she will be buried on the 18th of November. Being the Iya Ijo; the head of the women section of our church, Christ Anglican Church, we will have the thanksgiving service on Sunday, the 20th of November.
Are you permitted to remarry after her demise and would you want to?
Look, mama was 77 years old and I am 79 years old now, what marriage do you want me to go into again? We had enough of married life. The marriage had been blessed, we had a happy married life, so…..
With everything you have said, you must have enjoyed your lives together and enjoyed your marriage; can you share the secrets behind this and then what do you have to say to young people about marriage and how to manage matrimony?
Our marriage was very, very successful, because we loved ourselves. Once there is love between the couple, the marriage definitely will be a success. One very important thing is that both husband and wife must work to keep the fire of love burning. With my wife, she was my partner, my friend and my mother. Everything about me pleased her. I also appreciated her in every aspect. I know beyond conviction that she loved me as much as I did. That is the secret of our successful marriage.
Mama was a wife in a million, a Christian, caring, loving and it was natural with her, she didn’t love me for a purpose. She loved me right from her heart and definitely, I will miss her. I am already missing her, but for all our years and loving period we had together; I want to immortalise her name so as to be a good example to other young couples to emulate the sort of life we had together, because people who knows us know that you can never see me without her; even after becoming the Ajalorun and people appreciated that and credited that aspect of our union. We had a loving and happy marriage.