I spent 64 years in Owo-Obè Àkùko

                 Obè Àkùko

 ……. Why I set my bed and mattress ablaze
 ……….Why they call me an eunuch 
 ……..I have spent over 64years in Owo
…..Story behind Obè Àkùko 

Obè Àkùko’

 Not many people  know his name except his appellation ‘Obè Àkùko’. The Octogenarian speaks  how he came to Owo, his nickname and many others. Taiwo Abiodun reports

 His name was   household name in  Owo , Ondo State in the ’60s till early 2000 , for he was among the best few  watch repairers in the ancient town.  In his shop located at the  Late Pa Oladoyinbo Ojomo’s house opposite St Patrick’s Anglican Church, Ijebu-Owo, where one could see different types and sizes of ancient  wall clocks, table clocks and wrist watches for repair where the high and the low come to repair their watches.
He is a man of average height, rich in Òwò proverbs and poetry . Not only this ,the  octogenarian could speak Òwò dialect fluently despite the fact that he is  not  a native. Popular and loved by the old and the young because he is jovial and had never been angry. 
  He was so popular that if he contested for the  post of a Counselor he could win. When hailed ”Obè Àkùko’!, Obè Akuko!! Obè Akuko !!!” his response would be”You will partake from it”. “You will be great” .You will not faint”, “Your wife will not run away”, ”you will not fall down like coconut”  etc .

But then  if you try to abuse his simplicity , degrade him and  shout ”Obe opolo”[toad’s soup], then he would reply you thus  ” You will keep it for your father. That is your father’s delicacy ”.
He always  wear six or seven wrist watches and that was the way he advertised his business.Mind you all these watches had different time , some were not  even working . Ask him to give you one  of the wrist watches  he would promise to give but  you will never be given. That is the ever jovial and smiling man who harbors no-ill feelings against anybody,  Obè Àkùko   


The 80 -year -old man said “My names are : Alfred Wadai popularly known as Obè Àkùko. I am from Ohodua in Ishan ,  South – East Local government . I was born in 1939 but I don’t know the day for my parents were illiterate and did not know the date either .


” I learnt the watch repairing skill from an Ibo man when I was young and  after my freedom in 1955 I came to Òwò. I did the work for over 50 years before I pensioned myself .Today things have changed as nobody repairs watches again. I am married to one wife. I have one head and as God created Adam for one wife so I am “, he said as everybody in the vicinity burst into laughter.


 ” I came to Òwò in 1955 after my training as a watch repairer under an Ibo man in the then Mid -Western state, and started my job as a watch repairer”.

     STORY BEHIND  Obè ÀkùKo
On how he earned his nickname , the 80 -year -old man gave a roar laughter and started his story: “One day, I think it was in 1965 I went to the late Òwò billionaire , Chief Jide Fagboyegun’s poultry farm to buy a live chicken and people who saw me on my way back home were shouting on top of their voices” Obè Àkùko!, Obè Àkùko!! Obè Àkùko !!!” , in a mockery way. They  were curious and   asked  what I wanted to use it for, because I was not rich and buying live chicken then was exclusively for the rich .
I replied them ” Wa  jobe, Aye a ye, Waa dagba etc” .Since then I have been called Obè Àkùko and only  few people know

my real name”.


Obè Àkùko was fond of writing the dates he rented an apartment on the back of the door of his room , he said ” Any house I packed into I always write the date at the back of the door. I was once living in Baba Bayode’s house ( Baba Sola) at No 12, Èhìn-Ogbė before I relocated to Ìjèbú- Òwò because business activities in Èhìn -Ogbè was dull for they soon go to bed between 6:30- 7pm ”, he continued ”but for people living in Ìjèbú it was jolly , jolly and I said I must come to Ìjêbú that was how I went to live in the late Pa Oladoyinbo’s house ( the father of the present Kabiyesi Ojomo Oluda ) at Ìjèbú where commercial activities were at the best and they sleep late as workers would come for their watches. I was not driven away or ejected from their house or any house in Òwò throughout my period of my tenancy”, he said with confidence .
For Obè Àkùko who was serious and dedicated to his job , because he ignored women , he was blackmailed and called eunuch , he said ” in those days ladies called me eunuch because I did not chase them or go after them or press their    ‘organ’ “.

   Whenever he is praised or hailed as ‘ Obè Àkùko , ‘ he will respond by saying ” wa a jobe”,( you will eat sumptuous soup), ”we nii jabo”( you will not fall), ”Òrò re ti dayò ”( your case has turned to joy ) , ”Waaaaye”( You will survive) etc.But when you shout Obe opolo (toad’s soup) be ready to hear his  response like ”Your father will partake in it”.


     According to Obè Àkùko, he is no longer a tenant in Owo where he spent all his life . He with all gratitude to God and full of humility said ” one of my children built a house for me in GRA, and when I was packing in I burnt my mattress and bed , and moved in with a new set”.
            As he said this he gave thanks to God. He stood up , looked at everyone as he was hailed by this reporter , and he responded in Òwò dialect” Wàá dàgbà, Wàá jobè, wéé níí wè sú Òràn, Wàá gbóóó” etc.( You will grow old, You will eat sumptuous soup, you will not be in trouble,  You will grow old). 
           As the old man was  walking back to his residence, those who met him along the way and those who were in their houses and heard his voice continued hailing him saying , ”Ooobe Akuko! Oooobe Akuko!!”, the old man too was responding  ” Waa jeun pe, aya re ni salo, waaa dagba, weee ni we sun oran”, [ meaning You will live long, you will grow old,your wife will not run away, you will not be in trouble ). 
But when a rascal boy  cried ” Oobe opolo,Oobe Opolo‘ (toad soup!, toad soup!!) he too responded ” waa gbede B’are, waa jeee”[ When he was greeted toad soup, he replied ” You will keep it  for your father, you will eat it ). What a wonderful and a witty  man loved by everybody.

What happened to me in Owo, Lagos and Branson!


No bottled palm wine or gourd hung on the tree or displayed  on the table to advertise  her product ,  palm wine  .There was no signboard or any sign post to show the way to Mama Elemu’s place. By 10 am  on that Saturday her shop at Idashen  , Owo  had been jam packed  by   customers who wanted to eat  cornmeal (egidi) or pounded yam, bush meat  and to drink palm wine.

How did they know they sell locally brewed palm wine here for there is no  bottled palm wine  hung on the tree and no gourds (akemgbe ) of palm wine hung on the tree as some used to .Yes ,that is the practice – from distance one could see bottled palm wine or an empty gourd of palm wine hanging loosely advertising  that ‘palm wine is being sold here’!. No wonder , the Yoruba proverb that a good palm wine does not need an advertisement.


Chief Adewale, Mama Elemu and BoN during the interview

For the Owo natives who love palm wine  this place is their choice. For visitors this place is where they would enjoy their evening with full satisfaction. For Owo  natives in diaspora especially those  who   live in Chicago, Illinois, Texas, California,Las Vegas,Missouri , Carolina or Washington DC   the moment they landed in Owo ,they would all go straight to Mama Elemu’s place in Idashen. If you live in  the European countries   and come to Owo your  enjoyment is not complete if you have not been  here to  taste the undiluted palm wine called aroso.

BoN eating egidi with local soup

Emu abiwarapa  abito fun fun lenu ‘ emu lawa nmu , Ero ya wa me mu oo.

Elemu nget on Ka ma rise …

Se kan ko mi ko tun sekan kora re ka jo maa mu loo

When this reporter got there he burst into  Kegites songs , singing while eating the  cornmeal (egidi) wrapped in a leaf  with local soup (obe oogun) and egunsi soup .The  fresh bush meat ( grass cutter and antelope ) were cut into pieces and tied with strings to avoid falling off. Seeing how she displayed the bush meat in a special pot  could make a customer be salivating !

Chief  Niyi Adewale a popular radio presenter described the place thus”Mama’s palm wine is as sweet as honey.She does not  advertise her product but her product advertise  itself!.Her palm wine is original. It  is not diluted and if she does not have to sell she would not sell.!

She is  very neat and at her age, in her 80s   she  still possessed good retentive memory. She is jovial ,she  loves visitors and sell what you can hardly find in other places.Yes, she sells bush meat, fresh and undiluted palm wine.


As she alighted from the cab, the driver assisted her to offload two rubber kegs of palm wine , all  ‘foaming’ from the mouth. The aroma wafted in the air and immediately the customers stopped to drink the water they held in their hands  and rushed towards the octogenarian woman asking to be served .This is Mama Elemu.

She is a woman of few words , she said “My name is Bako Rachael, I am over 80years .I have been selling palm wine for the past 50 years.I am well known in OWO.I sell original palm wine .From the proceeds of the my business  I have trained my children in school and have a roof over my head” .She continued ” I sell bush meat and with local soup and use leaves to wrap my pounded yam or cornmeal and their  taste is different from the ones wrapped with a nylon and kept in a cooler.Big men come here to buy my Palm wine and food”, she said as she was cleaning the leaves to be used to wrap the cornmeal.

As she brought out the drums of palm wine  and one could see the palm wine ‘foaming’ from the mouth and the body  of the container ‘sweating ‘ too.

Ask her for a cup of palm wine, she will tell you ”My palm wine is a special one.I don’t dilute it .I also sell bush meat with native soup [obe oogun] that goes along with egidi (cornmeal). Yes, you are at home for she will not put the egidi in nylon but wrapped in a  green leaf  , as everything is local.


When I  got to Lagos in the evening and   brought out the five litres of  palm wine I  bought  along  with the bush meat  and I entertained my friends with it and we    started    dancing and singing . The evening gathering was turned to Tales by Moonlight as friends told  stories and the most interesting one was why  an empty palm wine  gourd should not be  placed sitting like  the full one . I  told them  the story behind it “One day Ogun was coming from the farm , and the sun was hot , very hot. Ogun was thirsty , very thirsty. Ogun  passed a palm wine joint ,passed a palm wine joint( repeat)   but was neither greeted nor invited for a drink by  these drinkards , and this was according to the instruction and rule that there should not be greetings at that Ajo Oriki Spot, and this was according to Ogun’s instruction too!.  While   Ogun moved on but suddenly  he heard them laughing hysterically. Ogun thought he was been mocked . In annoyance Ogun went back to these drinkards and beheaded all the nine .As he finished the  massacre he sat  down to drink from the ‘sitting’ palm wine gourds.But lo and behold , all were empty , but the deed has been done. Ogun lamented.He regretted his action. and since then he  instructed all palm wine drinkers to always place the empty gourd lying down”.

As I finished the story shouts of Babalawo  of the Nation (BoN), Bobo T, T Bobo, Babalawo of the World (BoW) , Babalawo of the Universe (BoU) rent the air .



My head in bandage

A I opened my eyes at the hospital bed  I discovered my head had been bandaged as well as my nose  and my  left eye. The surgeon said my skull had cracked .My left eye was to be replaced with artificial eye.My left hand was as heavy as lead  and  in   plaster of Paris ( POP) .Will I be able to move the hand again? Will I regain my eyes again?.I looked at the doctor and broke into tears.I am finished ,I soliloquized. I looked up and saw Intravenous Fluid (IV)  hanging loosely  .Haa! , my  right leg had been ‘decorated’ with Plaster of Paris (POP), and according to the doctor ,the right leg  has fracture  and it may  be amputated. My head is ringing like a church bell .I did not know when I said ‘Kai   my  enemies had eventually captured me’.

What happen? When and how did I get here?.All I could remember  was when I was in my  velvet suits and  at a gathering entertaining     my friends  who came from Texas and Chicago  to visit us   .  I  told them the   story of my Owo trip and how we ate delicious food  ; pounded yam, bush meat and egidi ;and how we all gulped it down with fresh palm wine. Then I started showering   panegyrics  on palm wine ”emu abirawarapa abito funfun lenu, Ogun Onire Oko mi, Ogun olomi nile f’eje we..” We  were dancing to the music of  Orlando Owoh’s music of Money  for hand …Ero ki yeye mi oo,E get as  E  Be …..Suddenly  a fight broke out  between two ladies .One of the ladies who was pregnant  traced her husband to the gathering , they exchanged hot words and this led to fisticuffs . The husband of the first one threw a broken bottle while the other  man drew  out  his pistol from his waist band leather  holster  .The whole place was  in  chaos. Mr. Ade brought his sword from its scabbard  while Mr. Ahmed in annoyance brought out a keg of petrol and wet the living room. Insanity took over  as everywhere became the Devil’s home! .Their eyes turned red, some were screaming , others were shouting that it was Devil’s work. A woman was seen kneeling down in a corner praying and speaking in tongue to let God take control.  Suddenly one of  the ladies  fighting  fell into labour , she was screaming as she held her waist. Before you say Jack Robinson we heard the blaring of siren from Police Cars ,  Fire service  vehicles and Ambulance .The noise of the siren buried our  noise as  the Fire fighters were trying to put out the fire as the whole building was in flame.

I called my neighbors for help but nobody turned up!.I called friends on phone  the phone was dead!. infact I called the Pastor of my church. 20 of us  were  arrested . The house was razed as the gas exploded and sparks from electricity did not help matter cum the lightening  that came with thunder . It was bad as 20 cars were burnt .

Many were arrested .It turned out to Court case. The woman who started the fracas  and    fell into labour later delivered twin babies but was fined. The man with sword was sentenced to two years imprisonment with  hard labour  while the man with gun had fled into the thin air and was never seen again.The  other man was on Watch list.

My underwear was cold  and  ‘water’ was flowing from the mattress .Then I heard my name from a  female voice calling , ”Babalawo of the Nation  , get up its time to go and  catch our flight back home, its now 11 o’clock .I  realized  this was Ronnie’s voice. I remember we came to  the tourist town called  Branson  where we  visited  Silver Dollar City ,a big amusement Park where I rode  the roller coaster and  visited   the Cave of ‘No Return’ .  I had taken some oyinbo kain kain .I now remembered that  I ate bush meat, pounded yam, cornmeal , egunsi soup, in Owo about two years ago .Then I burst into tears and started another song

Oooh my home

Oooh my home 

When shall I see my home

When shall I see my native land 

I will never forget Mama Elemu , sorry , I will never forget Owo my home