Few years ago, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi conferred on Dr Paula Gomes, a Portuguese researcher, title of cultural ambassador. Gomes has since lived up to that responsibility being an interface between Oba Adeyemi and traditional faith. In an interview with THE TABLOID.NET she describes the monarch as a special creature. Excerpts
When did you meet the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi?
I met him in 2011.
Under what circumstance did you meet him?
The circumstance under which I met him was that at a point, I felt a pinch which eventually led me to do some research on Oyo. The result was that I got to the town.
Did you have a previous contact with the town?
As a scholar, you don’t need to physically be at your target before you go there. A scholar depends and relies much on research than any other things. That was what guided me down to Oyo. I first located the Sango worshippers. When I found them, I told them of my mission here in the town. I said I needed to see Baba. They were surprised to hear that from a white. They told me that they did not have the power to take me to him directly; they said there was a process to that arrangement.
What was the process?
They then led me to the house of Baba Basorun. You know Basorun is an important position in Oyo. According to the history, he is the prime minister. I understood their explanation, and I followed them to Baba Bashorun’s house. What would surprise me was that Baba Basorun too said he would need to each out to another important personality in the town; that was Baba Bishop, that is what I call him too. I think you know ArchBishop Ayo Ladigbolu. Baba Basorun explained to him why I came to the town. In short, that was the layer of my meeting Baba Alaafin.
How did he receive you?
He received me warmly.
Did you expect that reception from him?
I cannot really explain that but I was positive that I would get what I wanted because my mind towards him was pure. I was surprised when he told Baba Basorun and Baba Bishop that ‘look, my forefathers sent this white to deliver a message to me.’
What message did you bring to him?
The message was clear and simple. I told him to preserve his cultural heritage; I told him that his history is rich, which required him to guide religiously against distortion. That was the message which I brought to him, and I was very happy that he got the message and appreciated it by telling his chiefs that his forefathers sent me to him.
Was that all?
Yes, That was the beginning of my relationship with him, and I am very happy that 10 years after, we have covered some meaningful ground as regard my mission. He has provided some supports which are needed to make my presence here in Oyo meaningful. I cannot imagine him not giving that support. Of course, I would not be here.
Can you expatiate on this?
One of the supports I am talking about was his appointing me as his culture ambassador.
How did that happen?
It was a surprise to me too. I am telling you, Baba is a special creature. I have said this at different for a where I presented papers. I would always tell my audience a lot of things which they did not know and probably could not access about Baba Alaafin. I see him as a special being who is endowed with a lot of things which cannot be found in many people. I did not expect it when he called and told me that I would henceforth serve as his culture ambassador. I said to myself that ‘this is not what I am here for.’ But in the end, I considered it as a privilege and honour to have been so appointed despite my background. That recognition showed him as one who does not see difference in human beings, regardless of colour of our skins. My further interactions with him have proved that point. He does not discriminate against anyone, including different religions. He is well pleased with everybody that comes his way.