Behold, Mother of Owo Culture
………First female chief
…….Prays to clock 100
…….Still observes Igogo festival
Chief Christianah Fehintola Famulagun Abiodun, the Obajereuwa of Owo is a custodian of Owo culture, a griot , a library and a wiseacre in the ancient town , Owo, Ondo state. She narrates her story to taiwoabiodun.com
In the 60s to 90’s she was agile and would dance round the ancient town of Owo during the annual Igogo festival. Infact she was always the cynosure of all eyes attracting crowd and spectators from all Yorubaland and overseas not only because she knew how to dance but because she was the only female chief , has high qualities of traditional costumes. Visitors from all walks of life; the media , students and researchers made her house a Mecca of sorts. Today she hardly go out as age has curtailed her movement thus making her to slow down.She has become aged , at 96 , and can no longer do all these .
Welcome to nonagenarian Madam Christianah Famulagun’s life.She is an historian, an encyclopaedia of Owo culture, a poet, and a living legend. She is not only a chief but the first woman chief in the history of Owo, She became the Obajereuwa of Owo in 1965.
She looked around her smiled , shook her head and said ” how time flies, I knew when I was still agile running ups and downs during the annual Igogo festival but age has dealt a fatal blow on me “. However she still observes the festival it at home.
When asked what exactly her names , she said “some call me Famolagun , some too call Ifamulagun, Falagun or Faalagun but the fact remains that since ‘ Ifa’ ( oracle) is there thus …it has told you about me” she told taiwoabiodun.com
Chief Famulaagun during the 2017 Igogo festival
Ageing with grace
Despite her old age she does not suffer any dementia like her age mates.She is still eloquent and thinks straight. Her skin glitters .She said ” I don’t use hearing aids and don’t use recommended eye glasses since I can see clearly , while my dentition is complete , none is missing “, she opened her mouth to convince this reporter.[ with a loud laughter ]
Notwithstanding her age and her height , (5:7 feet tall ) she does not use cane to support her movement until recently when she started using a walker to support herself since she has broken her hip few years ago. Not only this she has good retentive memory that makes her still be very relevant.She could tell you dates of events offhand without looking at calendar.She reminded this reporter of an episode when the Queen of England came to Nigeria , spoke about Macpherson Constitution , the 1966 operation Wet e .No wonder a professor who went to her for research said this woman is still relevant in the society . .” She must not die now and I have pleaded with her children to make sure they document all what she said in paper”, the professor advised.
Mama said ”I pray to be up to 100 years if God wishes”
Mother of Owo Culture
The woman; First Woman Chief is witty and with sense of humor.She would sing her native songs , laced it with panegyrics ( Oriki) , uses proverbs and anecdotes to support her stories and counseling . According to her she has over 20 different types of coral beads with different names , she also has dozens of handwoven native Owo traditional clothes with different names,” I have different traditional clay pots ,over 20 different of Owo coral beads ,and Owo handwoven clothes”, she boasted. In addition she knows all the historical sites and names of families and their heads as far back as 1930.She would tell you the story as fresh as they were.
Igbo Nla house( house thick forest )
Chief Famulagun’s house at Ogbondaiye is called Igbo Nla ( literary means house of thick forest full of many things ) which harbours people of different characters[ not criminals] .The house , a bungalow is an antique , she said “though the frontage is made of brick while the backyard retains the old local red brick used to build it , thus retaining the over a century building”, she continued “In spite of the modest building the place has haboured the good, the bad and the ugly .It harbors aristocrats, great people and intellectual in the community . In the morning this place is always full .In the evening it is like a political rally being organized, or celebration is going on .While some come to me for research, some for advise “, the wiseacre added jokingly ” this house is like nose that never dry, a stream that never ceases to flow” . The griot said “while some too only come here just to relax and listen to stories like Tales by moonlight and Tales by “Daylight” that is why we call this house Igbo Nla. Infact politicians and so many people have lived here.My house is for everybody irrespective of who you are “.
Culture inherited by children
Madam Christianah Famulagun is a griot, a library for Owo culture. Her thoughts , actions, dresses smell Owo .” Infact my song , my water , my food everything about me is Owo”, she declared to taiwoabiodun.com
In actual fact some of the children , grandchildren and great grandchildren of the nonagenarian are politicians , theatre guru and are neck deep in cultural activities .Yes , they inherited it from the Mama , who is a politician, custodian of culture and a chief in the ancient community . Mrs “Morenike Oladimeji said “Mama ‘s house is where researchers must visit If you are writing stories about Owo and if you have not been to her then your story is incomplete”, she swore,
To approach the woman of Culture is simple , as you go into the building you will meet a woman who look 60 on a three seater foam chair with her costumes like coral beads or chains dangling on her neck .She is ever neat and wears perfume always .Yes, you could take her for a young girl looking for husband but when you get closer you will know she is going to a century .
Olowo of Owo is God’s gift for us
Asked to speak on the present Olowo of Owo, hear her ” I appreciate Oba David Victor Folagbade Olateru- Olagbegi III.He is a peace maker.He is a soft spoken man that will never hurt anybody’s feelings .I love him.He is very, very brilliant and a lover of peace. I wish him years and years and years of more ..He will,live longer than his fore fathers” , she prayed and continued “During his time Owo has more banks , and many things have improved in this town.During his period the town developed , the roads are tarred and graded, there is functioning street light and this makes us sleep late as the town has become El dorado .Owo is progressing and I thank God for doing this .I am very proud of him , he is Yemi, my son’s childhood and intimate friend .Olowo has performed excellently well, he is after the progress of Owo. He is wonderful and believes in God the almighty.He is recognizedboth home and abroad, no wonder the federal government awarded him CFR . We should honour and appreciate him the more”.
I want to write a book
Madam Falagun said ” I want to write a book .My stomach ( touching her tommy) is full of many things .I can’t divulge anything again.I receive visitors from America, Brazil, India who do come here to ask questions about our culture.Recently a lady who is a native of Haiti came to Owo here to marry my cousin.The lady was so fascinated about our culture and language .We are rich in culture , ours is fantastic ,the Benins are following us behind in costumes’
My tortoise- Mayamije
The chief for many years kept a pet , tortoise called ‘ Mayamije’ , the story about the which was once published in The Nation’s newspaper
She said”The mysterious animal acts like human being , at times it would stand on its two hind legs like human being,at times it would be running to where I am and I would scream that it should not come to my side and I would ask whether it wanted to bite me .It was an interesting but a mysterious pet.Unfortunately it died some years ago after living for 20 years .I love keeping pets”.
To be continued ,
In the next edition Mama Falagun speaks about her being only child of her mother, Politics , Owo Culture, her Christian live cum tradition and culture , UPN,why she decided to take the chieftaincy title , her bitter experience in life, What ‘ Ajo’ means , the secret of her living and what she is doing now and many more .
If you want this story to continue please notify us