My journey to Moremi’s place
Taiwo Abiodun recounts his efforts to interview Chief ( Mrs) Biodun Duro – Ladipo ( aka Moremi) wife of the late Chief Duro Ladipo in Ibadan that lasted four months .
In the Bus , on my way to Ibadan
For months a lot of phone calls were made to book an appointment for an interview with Chief ( Mrs) Biodun Duro – Ladipo. Her son, Yomi Duro -Ladipo who was the link made effort too but the goddess was still in America when the calls were made.However, she promised to talk to this reporter whenever she is back.
A call came -in three months later that Mama was back. I was excited and traveled from Owo to Ibadan to their residence at Bode Wasimi, behind NTA in Ibadan . But lo and behold she was not there. According to the tenants , Mama was no longer living there as she has relocated to her son’s house . I was disappointed .I was dispirited .When did she relocate? .I had been there to interview her few years ago. Another appointment was scheduled.
At the Oyo State’s Secretariat, Ibadan
Will my journey from Owo to the City of Seven Hills be in vain?. What would I write in my website taiwoabiodun.com everybody was anxiously waiting for? . What would I feed into my page everybody was salivating for?. Why did I do the promo?. Many thoughts ran through my mind. Well, to kill boredom I went round the ancient city to feed my eyes. I went to the University of Ibadan Bookshop to purchase some of the late Oladejo Okediji’s Yoruba novels. I also visited the University of Ibadan Zoological garden to feed my eyes ,there I saw animals like Lions , hyenas, snakes and where the popular Gorilla’s ( Aruna ) body was mummified.
At Agodi Gardens , BoN feeding a Baboon
When Aruna died many were sad because the animal used to entertain visitors , years later it was mummified with a short story . I went to have a look at the historical Bower’s Tower constructed by a British , Captain Lister Bower who came to oversee and control the affairs of Yorubaland in the 1800s. From the Tower one could see the whole Ibadan from their rustic iron roofings , yes , this story is for another day. I visited the dreaded Agala Forest where people were killed and bodies dumped in the 60s .The Forest was known for ritual killings and criminal activities in the 60s. My adventure took me to Ogunpa Market which was popular for its flood ( Omiyale ) in the 80s that destroyed houses and swept away goods worth millions of naira, in fact many musicians waxed a record about it. I was at Oke Mapo ( Mapo Hall) to see the historic buildings built by the Colonial masters . I visited the State’s Secretariat. I went to the popular Oje Market which is over 500 years in existence and known for selling Yoruba local fabrics and where a mysterious crocodile is being kept . I spoke with many market women and an old man who claimed he saw dead people or spirits (?). I visited the popular Yoruba Poet Pa Olatunbosun Oladapo of Aroye Akewi whose Books were used by secondary school students in the 70s to date at the popular Shopping complex along Ibadan/ Lagos expressway .
A Lioness at the University of Ibadan Zoological garden
I was at the University College Hospital ( UCH) Ibadan …I was told the Teaching Hospital has lost its past glory . I wanted to interview some of the doctors but there was no time again .I was at Orita Mefa , Agbowo Shopping Complex. I saw the statue of the dreaded woman , Efunsetan Aniwura the Iyalode of Ibadan who was not favored by history , she was said to be wicked . I went closer to her and wanted to ask why they now honoured her since she was alleged to be wicked . Hypocrisy , in my mind . I soliloquized, her own people forgot her good deeds but for a singular sin she committed she was hated. I wanted to ask her why she killed Adetutu and Itawuyi -two of her slaves , that caused the public uproar in her days and made her to commit suicide .I went to Efunsetan where she was standing and touched the mystical juju gourds tied on her biceps and the powerful scepter she was holding,but when I remembered it was a statue I was disappointed .I had wanted to ask the officers at the Cultural Centre why her statue was shifted from Orita Challenge its former place to Ring Road .
At Agodi Gardens I saw Baboons in their cages, I stretched out my hand to one of them and called him ‘my brother’.But I couldn’t stay long for when I heard the roaring of a lion , I thought it was behind me and I quickly left not minding the gate fee I paid .The fact is that the place was not taken care of as many complained , and what if this lion escape from the cage ?. Infact when I remembered the Prophet who was ‘armed’ with his Bible years back and went into the den of lions and tried to lay his hands on the beast but met his Waterloo, I quickly turned back as when I heard a voice saying Babalawo Of the Nation pada sile ( Babalawo Of the Nation go back home ).Again I heard another voice in OWO dialect saying iyi wo gho’ran yi ti to, ya d’ehin s’uli( You have fed your eyes enough , go back home). I quickly went back home, after all a word is enough for the wise.
At the University of Ibadan Zoological Gardens
When I woke up in the middle of the night the panegyrics or praise of Ibadan came to mind
Ibadan Omo a je igbin yoo ,
Omo a fi ikarahun fori mu.
Ibadan maja-maja bii tojo kini ,
Eyi too ja aladugbo gbogbo logun …..
Ibadan kii ba ni sore ai mu ni s’ogun…,
Ibadan beere ki o to woo,
Nibi Ole gbe njare Olohun,
Omo Ibadan ti ko jale roju ni
Bi Ibadan gbonile bee lo ngbalejo …..
I visited Oyo State Cutural Centre
Again, in the morning I made another phone call. Yomi Duro- Ladipo tendered an apology for not telling me where his mother was , and again booked an appointment and the place is a new site in Ibadan.I started a long journey into the belly of the largest city in West Africa, the city of Ogunmola the Generalissimo of Ibadan . Ibadan where the thief is not guilty but the owner. My journey to Mama’s place took three hours , after taking many rides on Okada and Bus I arrived there .Immediately she sighted me , she knew I came for her, but another bombshell as she humbly told me she was not properly informed of my mission and another appointment was booked .
Moremi was from Offa- Biodun Duro- Ladipo
Moremi’s Statue at Ooni of Ife Palace
Chief Biodun Duro -Ladipo is a very popular and respectable theatre Artiste in Yoruba land.She is also called Oya, Moremi .She spoke with taiwoabiodun.com
……The story behind Bode Wasimi
….Duro Ladipo used to appear to me
….Moremi Ajasoro was from Offa
……Duro Ladipo’s role during the Civil War
As the ivory -faced and silvery -haired with fair -skinned septuagenarian Artiste who with her velvet voice rendered two of her songs from her Plays : Moremi and Oya , her complete set of whitening dentition showed as she rocked on the chair she sat upon .As she sang , the living room’s atmospheric condition changed , the whole place suddenly became quiet as if we were at River Esinrinmi where Oluorogbo ( the only child of Moremi ) was sacrificed in Ile -Ife .
One could feel the chill breath of that day blowing , this reporter developed goose pimples as there was an eerie stillness in the house. Again , there was crimson on the brows of this fair woman’s face as she rendered that thought -provoking and emotional song that could make the strong become jelly and lily -livered. Her song which was melodic and tuneful could make sympathizers shed tears when the voice of Moremi whose only child, Oluorogbo was heard before the innocent boy was sacrificed to Esinrinmi River with tears rolling down from her mother’s cheeks .She sang:
Moremi Ajasoro (2times)
Omo o fun mi ma ma gba o,
ewure o fun mi ma ma gba o,
When she finished the song , she shook her head, burst into a prolonged laughter and said ” I acted the role of Moremi Ajasoro who was the wife of an Ife Monarch .The story of Moremi is the story of how Moremi gave herself away to be captured by the Igbo Monarch and as a spy got the secrets of their enemies ( the Igbo) and gained freedom for Ife .This is the story of a woman called Moremi Ajasoro who rescued Ife from being plundered by the Igbo.She made a vow to sacrifice her only son to Esinrinimi river if Ife people conquered the Igbo and she painfully and dearly paid for it as she fulfilled her vow. In those days there were actors and we did a lot of research before ever going to stage any play .We traveled to many countries like Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, America .In actual fact we toured the world, we toured , irin nbe ,l’ese alajo”.
Moremi ‘s Statue at Ooni of Ife Palace
IN THE BEGINING
Chief Biodun said her late husband , Duro Ladipo was a school teacher when he started his Mbari Mbayo Theatre Group , “he loved culture and tradition but that does not mean he was a traditional worshiper , there is a big difference between Culture and Religion, whatever you bowed to is what you worship but culture and tradition is a different thing entirely. God says you should worship Him .Duro’s father was a Catechist, Duro was conversant with the Bible, he knew Genesis to Revelation.
“Infact I have been acting for him in his Mbari Mbayo Theatre Group before we got married..I am happy to say God used him for me and it is vice versa”.
HOW HE GAVE MONEY TO NIGERIAN SOLDIERS
Asked to describe her late husband , Moremi as she is popularly known and called screamed ” Ah , my husband ? , he was a giant man, very tall .He was tall and handsome ,he did not bend .He was not a lazy man. Ha!, he was a very strong and powerful man. He was a loving man. He loved helping people. He always wanted to assist people. I remember during the Nigeria Civil war , I remember this very well, then we used to play in Obisesan Hall, in the University of Ibadan .He would take the money realized from plays to the soldiers at the war front . Yes , here I am telling you ., then at home we would eat whatever we saw .He has done many things to assist people , he assisted the disabled that is the kind of a person he was.He knew his job. He loved people , he was respectful, he respected all the Monarchs ,as young as he was he would sit at their feet and they were ready to assist him then”.
DURO APPEARS TO ME
But does he see him in her dream or ….t he reporter asked this question which she quickly hijacked and responded “He used to come. I remember a woman came one day and said she is a prayer warrior , Aladura and wanted to pray for me .I who used to pray for me .I then advised her and said ‘ Is your husband a pastor and she said no,I now told her to quickly go back home for only God that can assist human being . And she said my husband has come , but I told her that my husband would deal with any humna being that would come here to harm me.Yes, he appears to me and defends me ”
MY BEAUTY IS GOD’s GIFT
Reminded that at her age, she still retains her beauty , the woman then burst into laughter and said ” It is God’s beauty and a gift from God .It is different from artificial one. It will not fade , may be that was what Duro saw in me then.My husband was on my neck when he was dating me because I told him I could not marry him because he was older than me . He came to me one afternoon, I was surprised because he was very old , very older than me . I was afraid . He used to say that I was born when he started teaching , and that means he was much older than me . He once said ‘you this lady if you refused to marry me I would report you to God because you will not let me get to where God destined me to be’. I burst into tears and said I was not his mother , but he knew why he married me.That was why it was difficult for me to marry another man, it was a vow, no man can be like him, none. No man can do it”.
BODE WASIMI WAS A FOREST
For this goddess, she can never forget the fight she fought over their land before they could settle down at Bode Wasimi . According to her , the Duro Ladipo Group used the place which was a forest then as their location . It was this place we used as location , where we were acting. There was no road leading to the place , we constructed the road , it was a forest then. The land where Basorun High School is built or occupied today was firstly sold to us .When we learnt that they had resold the land and wanted to refund the money to us , I rejected it .You see , the land speculators had sold our land to two people , they now returned our money and but we rejected it . I told them that we were not going to collect the money until they later allocated another place for us and that was where we had our building today. And the area is called Bode Wasimi . The story of Bode Wasimi was based on the advent of Christianity , that is why we called the place Bode Waasimi , and this was a place where my husband decided to be a resting place for him.
I WILL MARRY DURO LADIPO IF THERE IS REINCARNATION
While many would swear to high heavens that they would not marry their spouse again if they come back to this world , but it is not the case with Biodun, when asked whether she would marry Duro Ladipo if they meet again, she declared “Yes” to the great Artiste in case they met in future , she without mincing words replied “Yes, I will marry him if there is reincarnation because he kept to his words and promises”.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGION AND TRADITION
Mama frowns against the misuse of the two words -Christianity and Culture, and said “there are lots of differences , Culture is knowing one’s source, origin and the type of person one is and what we bow down for is God , they are not the same thing, though they look alike but not the same thing ”, she argued .She continued ” He who created us , we know , this is the Creator and we will bow down for him and whatever He asked us to do we should be ready to do it. But Culture is to know where we were born, how we act here is different from other places . that is the differences.
MOREMI WAS FROM OFFA
For Mama, she is a Born Artiste therefore you cannot remove her symbol or signature from her which is her hairstyle. She said “the type of hairstyle on my head is called Moremi Ajasoro, while Oya style is different too. Moremi was a woman and a Queen , It is the story of Moremi , she was from Offa. Look at a woman’s journey . May God be with them.I acted the role of Moremi in the play when she went to rescue the Ife from the Igbo”
MOREMI A GODDESS
Asked to act one of her roles in Moremi’s play she acted , she accepted and immediately her countenance changed as she transformed into the Moremi , she gazed straight into this reporter’s eyes as her eye balls rolled in their sockets,and strange voice came out from the goddess thus
N’wora o kete Ufe ,
Aije aimu ogede ibaje nse wi lee pon
Aye dori kodo
Se la mu le ponti , la f’ona rooka …..
Ka ‘kara see dehin akayin e si degungun bayi? Heen, e wa nkan se si..
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK WITH VIDEO
We started the ANTP, Problems we encountered, my mother, When Duro died etc