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Baba Kekere: Adeyemi III most outstanding Alaafin I’ve worked with

By Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
01 May 2022   |   2:25 am
Mr. Morenikeji Lasisi, better known as Baba Kekere, is the longest-serving aide in the Alaafin of Oyo’s palace. Lasisi, who arrived at the Alaafin’s palace as a teenager, ran errands for Oba Ladigbolu, Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II...

Baba Kekere

Mr. Morenikeji Lasisi, better known as Baba Kekere, is the longest-serving aide in the Alaafin of Oyo’s palace. Lasisi, who arrived at the Alaafin’s palace as a teenager, ran errands for Oba Ladigbolu, Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II, and until two weeks ago, did so for Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III. He told ROTIMI AGBOLUAJE that of the three monarchs that he has worked for, Oba Adeyemi III affected his life the most, and described him as his source of livelihood, a benefactor, and a very good listener, who also married a wife for him. He added that the Oyo kingdom would miss the monarch’s wise counsel, style, and panache.

Apart from being a royal aide, not much is known about your ancestry? Could you let us into your origin? 
My name is Morenikeji Lasisi. I hail from Oyo town. From Lagbondoko Compound.
I am not from a royal family I am just a palace aide and domestic worker of Alaafin. So, I am part of emewas Alaafin.

Considering the number of years that you’ve served in the palace, many are now guessing your age, so how old are you now?
 When I was born, there were no records and that is why I don’t know my exact age, but I was around during the Adolf Hitler World War. As you know, a toddler or baby can’t give any history about what happened when he was born. What kind of story can a boy that is being breastfed tell? 

What were your parents into before you arrived at the palace?
 My parents were farmers and hunters. But when they heard about World War II, they hid for safety. I was also into farming with them. Any time that my father killed animals, he would give some of it to Alaafin Adeniran. He later handed me over to Alaafin Adeniran for me to be assisting him with his domestic work, and run errands for him. So, that is how I ended up serving three Alaafins. 
  
The Alaafin that reigned that came before Oba Lamidi Adeyemi was Oba Ladigbolu. Before him was Adeniran Adeyemi II. By the grace of God, Adeniran was on the throne when I got here.
  
Surprisingly, the third one’s contributions to my life are tremendous and exceptional. I have been enjoying the privileges of being in the palace. 

What are your duties in the palace?  
  I have my work cut out for me, and they include ‘go and bring meat, bring food for Alaafin. Generally running errands for Alaafin’s wives, and calling the hunters. Those are the things that I do, I’m not under any aide, and no aide is under me.

How many wives do you have?
I have one wife. It has not been too long since I got married. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III married the wife for me. Her name is Kemi. She bore me three children – one boy and two girls. The boy is no more, but the two females have gone on holiday. One is married, while the other one is still in primary school. The one that got married finished primary school, and her name is Fatima, while the one that is still in primary school bears Modinat. 

What can you say about Adeyemi III?
Succinctly put, Oba Adeyemi III stood out among his peers. He did what seemed impossible. There are a lot of positive things and comments that I can say about him. He did whatever I requested for me. It was during his reign that I got married, and he married a wife for me. He did tremendous and spectacular things for me.

Can you compare Baba Lamidi Adeyemi with the other monarchs that you have worked with? 
They are incomparable. Oba Adeyemi III was exceptionally different. For instance, he would explain things, give instructions and talk about issues in detail. Even if one is not learned, he would explain things to the point to the extent that the person would understand what he was talking about. 

  
If he wanted anything, he would tell you exactly what he wanted and his explanation would become so clear and easy to understand. He would talk to us on how best to deliver the message. I enjoyed him more than the other Alaafin’s that I’ve worked with. I enjoyed every aspect of him in spirit, soul, and body. I was so close to him, and he was so close to me. He was a great monarch. To me, he was a phenomenon.
  Alaafin Adeyemi was responsible for my welfare and the education of my children. He did not discriminate. We were treated equally in the palace. But since I became old, I stopped going out with him. 

Have you travelled out of the country with him?
No. We’re just planning to travel abroad before he went to meet his ancestors. 

Is this where you have been living since you got to the palace? 
 No. Where I was staying is under renovation. Hence, I moved here. Alaafin asked me to be living here, having ordered the renovation of my abode to make it look habitable. The work is ongoing.

How would describe your relationship with the other workers in the palace?
Everyone that is working here, starting from Kudefu, who is the head of emewas. We have a good working relationship. 

How would you describe the progress that Oyo made during the reign of Oba Adeyemi III? 
His reign brought unprecedented peace, progress, and development to Oyo town. He used his influence to engender development in this town. Before, Oyo was not as developed as this. But now, the town has moved forward. It has become another Lagos. 
  Many houses are springing up right, left, and centre. Many schools, universities, private institutions, a radio station, and others were brought here during his reign. 

What do you think Nigeria has lost with the demise of Alaafin Adeyemi III?
Nigeria has lost a monarch with uncommon love, a large heart, care, and a huge father figure of all. He was called father and he was demonstrating the attributes of a real father of all. He travelled widely and was highly exposed and knowledgeable. Many of the aides did travel with him. 

Did you have any premonition that Alaafin Adeyemi would go to meet his ancestors at that time?
There was no sign. No one had the premonition that it would happen that way. If we did, we would not have allowed him to even go to the hospital in Ado-Ekiti. We would have preferred he die in the palace so that we could hear some words from him. It is painful he died outside the palace. We could not talk to him before he died, and we would not able to talk to him forever. He left here alive, but we can’t see him again. It’s highly painful.

What are the qualities expected of the new Alaafin? What can they emulate from Alaafin Adeyemi III?
It will be very hard to have someone like Alaafin Adeyemi III. Nothing we asked him that he would not oblige. But the new Alaafin we do not know what he will be up to. We don’t know where he will be picked from. But whosoever is the person, we would pray that he enjoys longevity and a peaceful reign like others. I advise him to emulate Alaafin Adeyemi III. He should love the development of the town and should be loving, accommodating, knowledgeable, and exposed. The development of Oyo should be his uttermost priority, and he should build on what Adeyemi did. We pray that God gives us the best.

What are your final thought words? 
Alaafin Adeyemi III has gone to rest. I don’t have any means of livelihood anymore. I don’t have any other person except Alaafin. Let the government come to my aid. Any way that the government wishes to help, and support me, be it in cash, accommodation, or in whatever way, I would be grateful. I’m eagerly awaiting what government will do for me because the person that was taking care of me has gone to meet his ancestors, and who knows, I may be asked to leave this palace. So, where would I be staying if that happens? There is nowhere to go. Since we don’t know the person that is coming, we can never tell what he will do. However, if they can renovate where I live now, that would still be okay.