I have hawked rice, sugar on the streets of Ibadan – Ooni of Ife
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has recounted his growing up experiences and challenges which according to him shaped his life. He recalled how he hawked for his mother, noting that his upbringing was quite humble and not as people would imagine. He told The Punch, “I used to help my mother, who was born into a family of business people. My two grandmothers were business people in Ife. My maternal grandmother used to go to the North to buy rice and beans and sold them in Ife. I hawked for my mother because whenever she came back from work, she resumed business and I was very proud of doing that for her.
“I would hawk the commodity in some communities in Ibadan and I am very proud to have that kind of experience. I used to make shoes too. I have always been enterprising ever since I was young. I made shoes for friends and families with jeans material; I made canvas with jeans material too. I went to learn how to do it at a shoemaking shop. I used my leisure time after school to do those things and I was very good at them.
“I am always a very passionate person and I did travel in a ‘molue’ on many occasions. After my service year, I lived in both Ibadan and Lagos because I was a rice and sugar merchant. I love to take up challenges and my growing up shaped my life.
“I did not hawk in a molue but I used to board ‘molue.’ Last year, there was a time I boarded the BRT bus in Lagos. The reason is very simple; I am quite passionate about mankind, so I developed a concept to live like the common man at least once every month because I believe we did not come into this world with anything.
“I would drop everything I have to live like an average man struggling in life. I would visit people under the bridge, ride on a motorcycle, and board a ‘molue’ to wherever I was going in Lagos. It was very stressful but those times were my best moments in life because I got to relate with the real people. I saw their sufferings and felt their plights.
“When I ascended the throne, I requested the elders to grant me the opportunity to continue the concept, but they did not agree, so I coined a new one that would go in line with the throne, which is stopping my convoy whenever I get to a particular open place with moderate crowd and buy ‘boli’ (roasted plantain) and ‘dundu’ and other basic food items because we don’t have to forget where we are coming from in life. Which position are you that nobody has never been in life?
“When you serve mankind, you serve God. Our people have disconnected from the less-privileged and the downtrodden. Each time I stop, the people are always happy and my security men are usually afraid and they caution me to get into the car, but I always make them realise that I cannot be harmed by these people. They are just excited and I am always happy to be in their midst.
“At times, I would not come out of the car, but most times, I do get out to shake people’s hands and I would buy from them what they’re selling and pay them higher than what they have sold. I will be sick if I am not with the common people; it has always been my lifestyle,” he said.