Iya-Laje of Oyo, Adesoye-Orija, dies at 84
The family of Chief (Mrs.) Comfort Titilola Adesoye-Orija has announced the death of their mother who passed away on December 28, 2022.
Adesoye-Orija’s son, a British-based artist, Lanre Olagoke, who made the announcement, yesterday, said his mother died quietly at her Oyo town house in the early hours of Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at the age of 84.
According to Olagoke, Adesoye-Orija was installed as Iya-Laje of Oyo by the late Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, over 20 years ago.
“Mama lived a good life as a devout Christian and philanthropist who also bonded with her immediate and extended family.
“We will miss her, but God knows the best. May her soul rest in peace,” he prayed.
Chief Adesoye-Orija, until her death was the founder of Oranyan Heritage Foundation (OHF) of which the late Alaafin was a grand patron. She will be remembered for her project, Museum of Black Women in History, which the Alaafin launched in 2020 as part of activities marking the monarch’s 50th anniversary as Oyo king.
Born in Lagos on March 18, 1939, as the first child of a famous family of Late Mr. Edward Omolaja Orija (father) and Late Julianah Omolara Orija (mother), the founder of OHF is also a first grandchild of Papa Samuel Bamigboye Orija. Her Father was from Abeokuta, whilst her mother (nee Adeyemi John) had Oyo ancestry.
She was tutored by her aunt, a renowned teacher, the Late Mrs. Aina David, under whom she had her childhood (along with many other known personalities, including His Imperial Majesty Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, and Late Lanre John), who all lived with Late Sir Kofoworola Abayomi, her mother’s uncle.
Chief (Mrs.) Adesoye-Orija attended Ireti Primary School, Breadfruit, Lagos, as well as Yaba Methodist School and Abeokuta Girls’ School. In 1959, she went to London to continue her education at Balham and Tooting College for the Distributive Trade to study Trade Art and Design.
She worked for John Lewis Partnership where she was the First Black African at that time to work with the company considering the high level then of racial discrimination in London. She returned to Nigeria in 1964 and joined A. G. Leventis, Marina, Lagos for a short spell before she proceeded into entrepreneurship wholesale (Hayes Head-ties).
In 1984, Chief (Mrs) Adesoye-Orija returned to London to care for her seven children, who, to the glory of God, today, are respectively doing well. She continued her hospitality business by being pacesetter in the marketing of African Take-Away Dishes in London Her pioneering effort then has, today, generated quite a lot African restaurants in London.
In 1990, she was inspired to form an NGO named ‘OVER 50s WEST AFRICAN WOMEN FORUM”, which she modified into a “62 WOMEN STRONG WEST AFRICAN WOMEN ASSOCIATION” (NAOWA) with six other women from Gambia, Namibia, Ghana and Nigeria. This strategic platform, formed about 5 years ago, is aimed at bringing about speedy socio-economic development to the Yoruba ancestral states of Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Lagos in Nigeria as well as globally, beyond the African continent.
As the Iya-Laje of Oyo, Chief (Mrs) Orija-Adesoye, in 2015, founded Oranyan Heritage Foundation (OHF) as a major vehicle to drive the socio-cultural and economic responsibilities of her office. Traditionally, the office of Iya-Laje empowers her to lead the community through economic prowess. But Chief Mrs Orija-Adesoye, being from a rich cultural heritage is using the OHF in a broader format to touch nearly all aspects of developments, starting with the Museum of Black Women in History (MoBWIH).
Recently, she was appointed as he Chairperson of OHF in partnership with Lumin-Artica, a consulting firm, which will oversee the structuring of the Museum of Black Women In History. OHF is a Non-Governmental Organisation, with the main objective of promoting and making the people of Oyo aware of the good work that His Imperial Majesty Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, Alaafin of Oyo, is doing in Yorubaland, for the Yoruba and to leave a good legacy for the younger ones. “My vision is to build a Museum for Black Women all over the world, celebrate their achievements from the past and present and the legacy will carry on from generation to generation.” the OHF founder stated.
Meeting with Dr Bonnie Greer and Dr Hartwig Fisher Director of the British Museum was a confirmation for her to keep pressing on with her vision and her heart desire which is to leave an indelible legacy for generations and generations to come.
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