On Saturday, February 13, 2016, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, a consummate politician and member of Lagos House of Assembly and his beautiful wife, Yetunde, were honoured by His Royal Majesty, Oba Isiaka Adetutu Oyero Balogun, the Ilufemiloye 1st of Ketuland with the chieftaincy titles of Otunba and Yeye Otunba of Ketuland respectively.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with the lovely couple on the joy of being honoured with such chieftaincy titles.
We congratulate you on your installation as Otunba Alaketu of Ketu.
Thank you very much.
How does it feel to be made a traditional chief of your community?
It feels good. That title is about my 13th chieftaincy title from so many communities. My first chieftaincy came in 1996 and I am still counting. My first chieftaincy title was in a community at Erukan in Mile 12 area, where I was made the Akeweje. Later, I became Oluomo of Kosofeland, Oganla of Lagos, Akogun Bameto of Ibadanland, Okenla of Oworosonki, so many titles.
But this one (Otunba) is spectacular just like the Oluomo of Kosofeland. This title too is from my community, my core area. So, I so much appreciate and value it like my other titles.
I am not a covetous man when it comes to titles. I never asked for any title, I never paid for any title. But I don’t reject titles that are germane. I have rejected so many titles with all modesty. But I have always taken titles that are relevant to me.
I always take titles that I know I am truly deserving of. When you relate with people very well and a title comes from such quarters, it is a mark of honour and respect and you must reciprocate it. Not only reciprocate it, you must also conduct yourself in such a manner as to justify the love, confidence and admiration reposed on you by the giver of the title.
This one from Ketu is specifically relevant to me because the Kabiyesi, His Royal Majesty and I have a very good relationship.
We have contributed our own quota to the development of Ketu Kingdom. One is seen as an ally of the oba and one is seen as one of the closest advisers of the oba and one is seen as one of the collaborators of the oba.
So, if a title comes from that quarters, I know within my heart of hearts that it was the resultant of my relationship and as an appreciation for the little one has been able to do in the development of the community.
So, when the title came like that, I gave thanks to the Kabiyesi and Oba in Council and all the leaders and stakeholders of the community for deeming it fit to approve a title for me. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t covet it but I appreciate it.
Since you said you didn’t pay for this title, what then did you owe to this title?
What I owe to this title is to continue to be relevant, to be humble, to be available, to be amiable, to be affable and to be adaptable to issues and matters that can bring growth and development to the Kingdom of Ketu.
It is to continue to uphold the dignity of the traditional institution. To see that Kabiyesi is revered, respected, have peace of mind wherever he is, to be able to perform his functions to his subjects. I want to say that I owe it as a duty to do more than I have been doing to confirm that I was more than deserving of the title.
Does this traditional title now make you a member of the traditional council of the oba?
Of course. I am a member. Though, I may not be regular as some other chiefs but I promise to do my best to make myself available so that I am not seen as someone using the title for decoration alone. I intend to use the title to support my work.
There is this general impression that getting or receiving traditional titles involve some rituals. Did you do any ritual?
No, I didn’t. My title is not per se traditional. It is honorary. I am a honorary chief not a traditional chief. My own Kabiyesi is a very religious person. Himself is not a ritualist. His wife is an evangelist and he is an alhaji. When you see him and the olori, you will know that they are decent people. They are not people given to fetish practice.
I am even an honorary title holder. So, I belong to the council of honorary chiefs and not the council of traditional chiefs. So, no ritual was offered and I did no ritual.
We know you as a muslim. Is there no clash between your religion and your honorary chieftaincy title?
To me, there is no clash. Even in Saudi Arabia, there are chieftaincy titles. They have a unified system that combines traditional and religious roles together just like we have here in the northern part of the country where the spiritual head is also the political head.
But here (in southern part of Nigeria), we separate the two. We separate politics from spirituality. But if you can conveniently combine the two in such a way that there will not be clash of interest, there is no problem. It is accepted.
Islam preaches togetherness with people around you, your family, friends and your community. Religions, especially Islam preaches cohesion and integration of people. Islam does not preach segregation, seclusion and separation.
I don’t think there is any clash between religion and tradition as long as you don’t overstep your boundaries.
As a member of Lagos House of Assembly and a politician, you are a political leader who has influence and control over the traditional rulers. But now, as a chieftaincy title holder, the traditional ruler has influence and control over you. How do you manage these two roles?
They are mutually respecting positions. I am to employ my position to enhance and to propagate the status of our king. In all the communities where I have been chief, it is incumbent on me to see that I employ my clout as a senior politician to enhance or propagate the position of the traditional institutions that I represent.
It is an interwoven thing. It is a situation of you rub my back, I rub your back. They cannot be distinctly separated. But you should employ one as a privilege to make the other better. As a politician, I should be able to use my position, I should be able to use my position to bring to the attention of the governor or the president the needs of Ketu Kingdom as propagated by the traditional council.
On the other hand too, if the president or the governor needs anything within the Ketu Kingdom I should be able to mobilize the other chiefs and the people to get it for them. If I am a credible chief, I should be able to let the Kabiyesi and other chiefs know what the president or the governor wants. It depends on how integrated you are or how cordial you are or how relevant you are in the society.
It is a very delicate role that you have pointed out. It’s a web that you must be able to navigate in such a way that you don’t run foul of one in other to please the other. Rather, you must use one to enhance the other.
Is your traditional title from Ibadan in line with the 23 lines of becoming an Olubadan?
No, no, no. It is a honorary chieftaincy title. My uncle, who is now Otun Olubadan, High Chief Senator (Dr.) Lekan Balogun is the head of our family. He is alive, we pray for good health for him. I pray that by the grace of God, he attains Olubadan. He is on the line and very close to the throne. He is on the line already. I cannot be on the line (of Olubadan) yet.
‘Nothing will change about me’ – Yeye Otunba
Congratulations on your installations as Yeye Otunba of Ketuland.
Thank you very much.
How do you feel being made Yeye Otunba of Ketuland?
I feel happy. I feel elated.
Is that your first traditional title?
No, this should be the fourth or the fifth. I think more are still coming.
Now that you have many chieftaincy titles, will it in anyway affect your lifestyle, particularly your chic look?
No, I have always been a chic person. It doesn’t change anything about me. I will still continue to do my normal routine. It doesn’t change anything specifically.
But definitely, it will change your appellation? Your friends will now be calling you Yeye o?
Of course, I have always been Yeye but the Yeye has now been multiplied (general laugher).
Doesn’t the acquisition of these tradition titles in anyway affect your religion?
No. it is not really a traditional chieftaincy title. It is a honorary chieftaincy title. It is not the ritual type. So, it doesn’t affect my religion.