From book, pageant to musical theatre, Moremi Legend takes full flight
The launch of the book Queen Moremi Ajasoro provided the backcloth for His Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi’s (Ojaja II) christening the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun, ‘the new Moremi’ for her courage, humility and amiable character, which he noted as qualities she shares with the legendary queen of Ile-Ife, Moremi.
While the renaissance of the legends of the renowned Yoruba queen in beauty pageant and musical theatre performance has been largely due to the spirited effort of Oba Ogunwusi, it got much needed fillip from the active participation of Ogun State’s first lady, whose sense of history is enhanced by her effort to inspire the younger generation to self-realisation and positive action.
“When I was asked to lead the dedication of the book in July 2018, the call came as I was working through my own place and role as a woman, mother and First lady of Ogun State,” Mrs. Amosun notes. “I felt my call was not just to dedicate the book, but to commit my energies and resources to the rejuvenation of the legend of Moremi.
“Today, we are witnesses to sights of unimaginable horror, where the world devours our women and children like wasted morsels of avarice and abusive power. We must harness our models and acts around a more profound recognition of the heroines of our past and those of our present.”
According to her, the exemplary qualities of the legendary queen deserve all the necessary attention they are getting now, saying they are also inspiring.
“Moremi, the heroine Queen of Ile-Ife, is all three, endowed in one perfect frame of absolute beauty, industry and heroic character as expressed in the Yoruba worldview – Iyaniwura/Iyaloja/Iyaagba. She was a wife, mother, chieftain of war and a queen, who would sacrifice all to save her people, redeem her land and trigger a lasting legacy of prosperity.”
She further states that Moremi’s qualities have helped her in her capacity as the Frist Lady of Ogun State, saying, “As the First Lady of Ogun State in the last eight years, I have personally strived to be a model in all three areas of womanhood. It is from the illustrious and royal House of Oduduwa that I have found my guiding light and inspiration. That light, whose heroism cuts through time, is one of the great models from the rich history and pride of Yoruba land.”
Stating that she finds resonance with Moremi’s story, Amosun believes that the clamour to have more women at the helm of leadership affairs is as a result of the recognition of the capacity of women to cause change in the society and offer quality leadership and guidance.
“Often, people clamour to have more women in visible heights of power, running government and business,” she argues. “They do that as a purely natural, instinctive call and as a recognition of the fundamental and incomparable gifts of womanhood. We know how much we women bring to the table every day, everywhere, every time. We are the beginning, the middle and the infinity. We are the beautiful ones. We are the mysterious ones. We are the brokers who need not proclaim all of our powers and gifts all the time.
“In Yoruba world, we still remain the President of the Chamber of Commerce – Iyaloja. At home and to the knowing world, we are the source of harmony and prosperity adorably called Iyaniwura. And, where the kings are crowned, where power is conferred in the sacred places of wisdom, we are Iyaagba.”
Being recognised as the modern day reincarnation of the great queen comes with a lot of responsibilities. Amosun, however, affirms that she is up to the task. She recently demonstrated her readiness for the roles by hosting the maiden edition of Moremi Beauty Pageant in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to her, “It is now my life’s work to walk in Moremi’s shoes, as large as those shoes are. Moremi’s story must now live again in our collective consciousness to inspire and empower us in building a brave new Yoruba world and a great new Nigeria. We have very successfully dedicated the legend in the book for posterity. We have underscored the fact that beauty, courage and industry are naturally inherent in our womanhood by hosting the first ever Moremi Beauty Pageant.”
She also expresses her elation at the Broadway-style musical theatre production of the Moremi story by Bolanle Austen-Peters Production (BAP), while also affirming the full support of Ooni of Ife in the production.
“I am happy that Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters readily accepted our offer to direct the production,” she says. “We could not have hired a more fitting choice of director than a woman of courage in the business of the arts. His Majesty’s vision has brought the House of Oduduwa and Rejuvenee to the table as our full Executive Producers.”
Amosun also reveals her desire to follow up the theatrical production with a film production that will be seen across homes in Nigeria and beyond, adding, “My ultimate desire is to develop the Queen Moremi legacy into a play and film. The first has been realised and the musical being directed by Mrs. Austen-Peters will debut on December 21. Subsequently, a film will be developed to be watched in cinemas worldwide and a TV series to be watched in homes.”
Only recently, Mrs. Amosun hosted Queen Moremi Ajasoro (QMA) Cultural Pageant in Abeokuta, which produced Miss Adedamola Toluhi, an English and Literature student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, as winner of the culture-conscious pageant.
And in concert with Moremi Ajasoro’s bold vision of sacrifice so her people could be free, Toluhi has pledged to help young ones, especially investing in young ladies, who have been molested, raped and those carrying unwanted pregnancy. Her noble vision for young women is a true reflection of the pageant’s objectives in replicating, advancing, and espousing the essential Moremi legacy of Iyaniwura, Iyaloja, and Iyaagba.