The funeral rites for Olori Agba Marian Ayeyemi Ododa Anipele Ogunwusi, grandmother of the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, begin in the ancient city on Friday, with a service of songs at Oduduwa College. The service will start at 4:30pm with renowned clergymen, officiating.
Since she died on February 8, the family has been planning a befitting funeral for her. The funeral service will hold on Saturday, at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Aiyegbaju, Ile-Ife, at 11a.m.
Her remains will be interred at the church cemetery. Reception follows at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Ground, Phase 2, Gate, Ile-Ife. Queen Ayo Balogun will be on the band stand. Guests are expected from Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Kano and other major cities.
The late matriarch of the Ogunwusi Royal family was dear to many. Her children, grand children and great grand children have not stopped mourning since she died. Mama was not a run-of-the-mill mother. She was an epitome of motherhood. She was their friend, confidante, adviser and role model.
Since mama lost her husband, Prince Joseph Adefisibe Olaobaju Ogunwusi about 18 years ago, she had been the family’s rallying point. Though frail because of age, she remained firm and decisive till death. The children know that they have lost the only person they could turn to in adversity or when they need guidance. They are, however, consoled that she lived a good life, affected lives and loved God.
Across Ile-Ife, Iya Alaso as she was popularly known, was a devout Christian who committed her time and resources to the service of God. While alive, she never missed daily morning prayer pronounced by her peers as ‘Piria’, a dialectal distortion of the English word ‘prayer’ at St Paul’s Anglican Church, until age set in. She was an active member of the ‘Egbe Cornelius, Obinrin Moore’ and the Egbe Ajumo Gbadura of her church.
A reputable community leader, mama was accommodating and generous. Nothing was too big for her to give out. Thus, till her death, her house was always a beehive as people trooped in. Everybody was her child. She never discriminated.
In their grief, the Ogunwusis are yet grateful. Mama lived a fulfilled life. Apart from making peace with her Creator, she lived long to see her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her offspring prospered and multiplied before her eyes. The culmination of her glorious life was the crowning of her grandson, Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, as the Ooni of Ife last December 6.
Towards giving her a befitting burial, the Ogunwusis, particularly Prince Adetunji Adeyemi Ogunwusi, chairman of Primewaterview Holdings in Lagos, are leaving no stone unturned.
Born about 104 years ago into the family of the late Pa Prince Joshua Omibeku Ishadipe, a prince of the lineage of Ogboru Ruling House, Alaka Compound in Ilode quarters of Ile-Ife, mama’s mother, the late Madam Tinuomi, who hailed from Awiwa Compound, Ikogun, Ile-Ife, died when she was an infant. Her father ensured that the vacuum created by her mother’s death was filled.
Her father saw her through her childhood. When she came of age, her father committed her to the care of an aunt, the late Màmá Sàágín, a renowned textiles dealer in Ile-Ife in the early 20th century. Under her, mama was trained in the business of wholesale and retail of textiles materials.
Her enterprising skills were honed under another aunt, the late Mama Nírúnolá. Not long after, she became independent and her drive and entrepreneurial spirit combined to ensure that she soon cut wide swaths in the textile business and she became known as Iya Alaso.
As the years rolled by, her business and fame grew and she was soon attracting the finest and most successful young men around. Princes fell over themselves to woo her. So did young, urban professionals. But it was the late Prince Joseph Ògúnwùsì, a successful produce buyer, transporter and farmer from the Giesi Ruling House, and grandson of Oòni Òjájá the first, that won her heart.
They were soon married and the couple, understandably, looked forward to having a family. That was delayed as Mama waited on the Lord for 10 years. Expectedly, her in-laws showed concern, but her husband stood by her.
Recalling that period of her life, mama said she threatened to stop holding a yearly feast in remembrance of her mother, if her misery continued. Meaning: “If I will not have a child to celebrate my memory, why should I continue to celebrate yours too?” God eventually answered her as she had kids in quick succession including a set of twins, that didn’t however make it out of infancy.
She gave birth to her first child under the midwifery of a Cherubim and Seraphim Prophet Oretu, at the prophet’s popular worship centre known as ‘Ilé Àdúrà Bàbá Ládi”, in Wanikin compound, Ile-Ife. Mama had two sons who made it to adulthood: John Oluropo, father of the present Ooni, and Isaac Oluwafemi. Prince Oluwafemi died in 1995, and he is survived by five children.
Mama had a chequered motherhood. She was a lover of children and she took others’ children as hers. She enjoyed the support and confidence of all, including her customers and neighbours, because of her exceptional attributes.
If the Ogunwusi children had a million roses and were to give one to someone who did something for them, they would give all to Mama because she was a rare gem. But they are consoled that she is in a place where she would get more beautiful roses for her earthly sojourn than they could ever give. Adieu Olori Agba. This is a long night that will never find a day!