Being Olori comes with pleasure, pains —Olori Akamo
The Olu of Itori, Oba Abdulfatai Akorede Akamo, hardly makes a public speech without a mention of his Olori, Barakat Faderera Akamo, whom he describes as ‘a strong pillar behind the throne.’ Olori Akamo in this interview by TUNDE BUSARI, speaks on the secret behind her unassuming disposition to life despite her beauty. Excerpts:
YOU are always seen as an elegant woman who does her things in her own way without making noise about it. Have you also observed this trait in yourself?
When you talk about me, I think you should expect me to know myself more than others know me. I don’t mean any offence here. I am only saying that I must know myself better. But in terms of assessing what you just called elegance and not making noise, that judgment should rather be left to the people who see and observe me. But generally speaking, I need to give thanks to God for creating me in His image. If He had decided to create me in another image, I would not query Him because He is the creator of all creatures, living and non-living things. To Him be the glory for who He made me to be.
You sound somehow religious. Are you that religious?
What do you want me to say? If I sound religious to you. That is your observation. Well, it is not about sounding religious but about being faithful to one’s religion. I want you to know that it is only God who is the owner of all religions that knows who is genuinely serving Him. I don’t like to be at gatherings where religion is the topic. I know religion is a matter of you and God. It is a matter of me and my God. But by the time somebody is making noise about one’s religion, I see that person differently. And you cannot see me join issues with such a person except that I would tell him or her to respect right of others. I am a Muslim and I try as much as possible to live along that line. I do what Islam prescribes and leave the rest to God who has final say on how we practice His religion. It is not a matter of being religious but a matter of knowing God.
That must have informed your recent trip to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj?
I want to believe that you know that I did not go to Umra alone. Kabiyesi led me there, in the first instance. But I can tell you that it was in continuation of our faith that God answers prayers. We were approaching Kabiyesi’s 16th year on the throne, and felt the need to rededicate ourselves to God. You know Kabiyesi is an organised person. How he does his things is best known to him. He would have something in mind and start planning it in his mind. By the time he comes out, he is almost through, leaving you to wonder when he started the thing. He said we should go on lesser Hajj without making noise about it, and off we went. I must tell you that I enjoyed myself, in terms of moving closer to God because that was the only thing we were there for. When we returned to Nigeria, I had a special feeling which prepared me for the coronation anniversary and other functions. You can see that God helped us to have a smooth anniversary.
How can you describe the last 16 years in the palace?
You probably want me to write a book. Let me start by saying that life comes in phases and stages. The last 16 years in the palace has a phase that combined pleasure and pains. The pleasure aspect of it is the glamour which is attached to the throne by our custom and tradition. Everybody greets you with respect, a kind of respect they would not give you if you were not an olori. I know it is all about our custom and tradition and I have to thank God that I have never allowed that status to control me. I can say that I am always in charge of my reaction to the status. I am not saying I am perfect. I cannot say that, but I do as much as I can to be conscious of the fact that only God promotes one to high level of life. There are pains which are associated with the throne, including exposure to everybody. The day you become an olori is the day you lose your privacy. It is even better as Olori. It is worse when you watch what Kabiyesi and other traditional rulers pass through on daily basis. But let me say we thank God for how far He has taken us. Sixteen years now looks just like yesterday. We thank God for His support because without him supporting us, we would not have found the journey easy.
What are some of the memorable moments you have experienced on the throne?
My sincere answer to this question is that every day comes with different experience, which can be memorable, depending on how one looks at it. I will rather give the glory of every moment to God. But like any other person who should appreciate good gesture, the 15th coronation anniversary remains an event which cannot be forgotten in a hurry. That occasion brought the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Elegushi of Ikate, Oba Saheed Elegushi and other notable traditional rulers to Itori. Can such gathering be seen always? I doubt it. So, if I say that anniversary is my memorable moment, I am right but other glorious things will still come to this town.
You always sound confident. What is the inspiration?
There is no other inspiration than trying to always be myself. One can be confident when one is at peace with oneself. Without sounding immodest, I am a focused person who knows what she wants. I thank God that I married somebody who understands this and gives me support.
I also observe that you could be humorous. Are you?
Yes, when the mood is right, when I am happy, there is no reason I should not show happiness when I am happy. But there should be moderation in whatever we do. If you say I am humorous in that context, I am good.
What is your beauty routine?
I cannot say I have a beauty routine, if I must say the truth. Like I said earlier, there should be moderation in everything we do. I am a moderate person, and I can say it anywhere. I wear good clothes. I wear good shoes. I wear jewellery. But everything must be done in moderation. If you know Kabiyesi well, you would understand that you cannot afford to be extravagant. Kabiyesi prefers to spend more on human development, especially trainings. He appreciates education, and can spend his last penny on education. So, beauty routine is secondary but as a woman who must look good at all times, I am conscious of how I look.