Ayiba Mojisola Adams, wife of the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land and leader of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Gani Adams, is an Interviewers delight. She is forthright on issues. In this interview, she parts the curtain to give us a glimpse into her life as the spouse of the Aare and bares her mind on some other issues.
What do you do professionally?
I have my personal business. I am engaged in textile sales, focusing mainly on Aso-ebi.
When you first heard the news that your husband would become the Aare Ona Kakanfo, what came to your mind?
I was bothered. I have read that in men who carry the title of ‘Aare’s have short life span. This means that there are lots of things attached to that position. When the news filtered into my ears, I told him I was not in support of him taking the title. I gave examples of the late Moshood K.O. Abiola, Ladoke Akintola and the rest. I pleaded with him that I didn’t want to be a widow at my youthful age. He explained that he had done research and his own Aare-ship would be different because he’s not a politician. He explained there’s nothing to worry about. Three days again he asked for my consent about his ambition. He said as a Yoruba man he holds the culture and tradition of the Yoruba race in high esteem and urged me not to be afraid of the title. At the end of the day, we all embraced his opinion and to God be the glory, it went well.
As Aare’s wife, how do people relate with you?
People have different opinions and that is normal. In church, at times, people look at me strangely. I have heard people say, ‘Iyawo babalawo ti dee’ (wife of herbalist has entered) and I would pretend that I did not hear because I believe in my God and God sees it all. You can pretend in front of people but God sees everything. The most important thing is my heart and my service to my God.
How do you relate to his position as Aare and OPC leader?
There is a difference between being the Aare and being OPC leader. Being an Aare is wider than OPC. OPC is within a family, where the members see him as their boss. They have a cause they are fighting for. Aare is wide, it’s heavy and it’s a big task. His service to humanity has now widened. At times, people will not give notice or phone call they just come with one problem to be solved. It could be financial, moral and all that. These days, people accord me so much respect as his wife and I do tell them to soft pedal, especially my friends. I always ask them to call me Ayiba not Olori.
Sometimes, they call me on the phone to say that something is happening somewhere; for instance, they could say that Fulani herdsmen were operating somewhere and plead that I should tell the Aare. On the security aspect, my friends call me at intervals, to inform the Aare about a problem somewhere. People didn’t expect much from me at social functions when he was OPC leader but these days they expect too much from me. They believe there’s a lot of benefit from the federal and state governments coming to him or to his wife. If others are contributing or giving a particular amount and I do same, they tell me, ‘don’t do this, ooh.’ Even members of my family say the same thing, and expect me to do more than before. But we give God the glory.
How do you see him now as a husband?
As a wife, you have to give respect to your husband. With this title I accord him more respect than before. Even those older than him prostrate before him, I have to kneel down to serve him food, and the age difference is not taken into consideration anymore. It’s as if I’m relating with my dad. I’m on my knee all the time now to accord him respect. I didn’t do that while he was only OPC leader. Sometimes, I feel like talking back to him in argument but then I have to restrain myself and swallow my words.
What has life taught you in all these?
I have learnt a lot of things. I give kudos to some of my friends. When people send me text messages asking for money to pay school fees for their children or house rent and I tell them to wait till I finish settling the commitments I already have at hand, they get angry. Sometimes, they get my phone number from people to make these demands. But at the end of the day, I go out of my way to satisfy them.
Memorable moments you shared together as husband and wife
At times, we disagree to agree. He has this style of dealing with me. He believes in dialogue but most times he has this attitude of ‘She’s my wife, she has to do whatever I want.’ I behave like an ‘Oyinbo’ girl, I like to be blunt. He tried to tell me to be diplomatic and not blunt. Sometimes, we would have hot arguments but to God be the glory we have our way of settling the issues and we just laugh over it the following day.
What do you admire in him as a husband?
The way he plays with children and not only his children. He loves old people and he loves history. When he tells a story you probably think this is not his first time of coming to the world. He tells stories of 18 century and when he starts his story everybody wants to listen to him.
When he wanted to marry you, I’m sure people warned you about his OPC history, especially the association with herbalists. Do you have any regrets today?
Oh definitely, people warned me. There’s no marriage without its own differences. There are periods when you step on each other’s toes but the way you handle it makes you the woman or the man. There is no regret. If I had married someone else, automatically there might be the same challenge. There’s no regret except that there’s no privacy. Our house is jam-packed. He promised us that by the time he gets another house he would give us our space.
What is your kind of fashion?
I had always loved to wear gown. But because of my husband, I started wearing iro and buba. I love jewelry a lot.
You stayed without children for almost nine years. How do you feel today seeing your children?
I thank God. It was a period of lots of stories, gossip and badmouthing. People said I was an ogbanje, a witch. That maybe my husband had initiated me and used my womb for ritual to get power and fame. When I eventually got pregnant after waiting for so many years, they changed their story, saying, ‘she is not pregnant ooo, doctors gave her injections so that her stomach would get big.’ All these things were said to my face. Some people even went to the extent of touching my tummy when exchanging pleasantries. It got to a stage that I stopped wearing maxi dresses or maternity gowns because of these side talks. I decided to wear tight fitting dresses to let them see my tummy (laughs). I took a lot of pictures to show my pregnancy belly.
Your husband is influential and it’s generally known that women like to cluster around such men. How do you handle such issues?
To me, I don’t focus much on that aspect to avoid distraction. It’s something that would definitely happen. Even men that are not as influential as him, women still disturb their marriage. To me, I just pretend I don’t see. But, if I notice that the distraction is getting much and I notice a kind of hidden game from him, I just lightly tell him, that I know what is going on oh, I’m just overlooking it, (please watch it.) And it stops there. I sometimes show my anger in a stylish way but I don’t talk on top of my voice. I also remind him of an incident that happened 18-19 years ago. He was arrested by Okiro’s team and during that period there was a TV programme and ladies were asked, if they would marry Gani Adams? They all said, ‘God forbid oh, he’s a blood sucker, he’s a flesh eater, he’s this and that.’ I watched the programme. Today, I tell him, ‘those women that said you are a blood sucker and flesh-eater are now all over you.’ That is what I do tell him. When I met him, he was not rich, he was not in money. The fame was not much and he was not polished the way he is today when we started dating. He was being called a series of derogatory names: hoodlum, thug, tout, but I stood by him and married him. Where were the ladies then? I always tell him to think twice.
How do you unwind?
I watch series of movies at home. Sometimes, I take my children to cinemas to watch movies. When my friends are having parties I’m there. With the series of events I have had in the course of this marriage, I can plan events very well.
Do you still go to church?
Yes. I’m a CAC person. I attend CLAM too. Pastor Wole Oladiyun is my father in the Lord. He’s a man with a large heart. When I don’t attend CLAM, I go to the CAC close to my house. But these days, my husband also wants me to attend Redeemed Church Christian Church because of Baba Adeboye.
So your husband permits you to fellowship with Christians as a traditionalist?
Yes. I go to church with my children. His mum was a very good Christian. She was a prophetess in Aladura church when she was alive.
You have a lovely skin. What is your beauty regimen?
I don’t have a beauty routine. Not even powder. I’m a Brand Ambassador for Bertnam Cosmetics, which is owned by my friend. She provides me with the soap and cream. She’s into pure organic products that have no side effects. I started using the products last year. I used her Papaya oil this morning (referring to the day of the interview) with no makeup.
How do you start your day?
I don’t go to shop most times. In the morning, I move around to see what my domestic staffers are doing before leaving the house. If I’m not in the shop, I’m home watching movies, or go out. I have an organization called Oasis. It’s for womanhood. We give financial and family support to widows. We have empowered over 100 people. We do that annually.
At times, we tackle marital issues. I also have little knowledge on counseling, because of my experience with my husband; I meet lots of people, the old, middle aged, young ones that I have settled their marital issues. I have a wide experience in marital affairs and I talk on issues like that. One thing is to talk another thing is to listen. We have restored so many marriages.