A smooth trip to Erinmo town, a quiet community in Oriade Local Government Area in Osun State was indeed, a journey made to see one of the oldest men in a community that is blessed with enviable longevity.
Not only that the town is blessed with mountains that attract tourists, but it also has lots of elderly that are over hundred years of age, still agile and moving around.
These among other cultural attractions make Erinmo town, a budding tourism destination any time, any day.
Baba Joseph Adeyemi Bojesomo is 101 years old. He is the Baba Ori-Oke Agbara in Erinmo (The Spiritual head of Ori-Oke Agbara Mountain). Ori-Oke Agbara is one of the several spiritual mountains surrounding Erinmo-Ijesa Community. There are five world-acclaimed spiritually potent mountains (Ori-Oke) in Erinmo town to which ardent worshippers from all over the world troop for prayer. These spiritual mountains include Ori-Oke Orito; Ori-Oke Agbara; Ori-Oke Koseunti; Ori-Oke Anu and Ori-Oke Maberu.
Erinmo is an agrarian community surrounded by these great mountains. It is located at about two kilometers from Ilesa within the rain belt region of South West, Nigeria. It enjoys its heaviest rainfall between July and September. The mean annual temperature is about Seventy degrees Fahrenheit and forty degrees centigrade with the highest temperature during the dry season, between December and March.
The tropical nature of the climate favours the growth of a variety of food crops ranging from rice, cocoa, palm fruits, cassava, etc. Erinmo boasts of some of the best quality cocoa and rice in Nigeria. The people are hardworking, peaceful, warm and hospitable, hence the long lifespan of the residents.
A community of Centenarians
Pastor Joseph Adeyemi Bojesomo may look his age at 101 due to frailty, but he is not the oldest. There is also another person, a woman who is about 118 years, called Mama Lydia Bamgboye, popularly known as ‘Iya Shekere’ or ‘Iya Asoju.’ They are among the noticeable elderly in the town that moves about in good health. One may argue the authenticity of their given birthdates, but their sharp memories and history surrounding their childhood days support their given ages. Moreover, the Elerinmo, through cultural research, can confirm their ages.
Baba Bojesomo does not communicate fluently in English, but through an interpreter, the spiritual knowledge and wisdom in him flow. With sharp memories, Baba Ori-Oke Agbara could tell every story of his life from childhood.
Sitting beside the Erinmo monarch, Oba Michael Odunayo Ajayi in his palace, Baba Bojesomo beams with smiles as he gives account of his longevity. According to him, he is a native of Efon-Alaye, a nearby town in Ekiti State that shares boundary with Erinmo where he resides now, because of old age, and still functions as the spiritual head at the Ori-Oke Agbara spiritual Mountain in Erinmo. “I was a farmer and hunter back then. That was the only trade I know until God called me to serve him,” he said.
He did not start as a preacher, but through a divine happenstance, he became a credible vessel in God’s vineyard. His humble, obedient and upright lifestyle aided his calling to serve God. “Since then, I have only followed God’s instructions. I do only the things he asked me to do. I have healed the sick by His words. I don’t do anything without hearing from Him,” said Bosejomo.
“I have had many great memories. God once told me he would buy a car for me which he did. The day He promised to bless me with a house, I was meant to descend from the mountain that day but He told me to stay put until He tells me otherwise. I have been here ever since. There was once a leper whom God sent to me and told me that I should eat with him from the same plate every time I am having a meal. It was very hard for me, but I had to obey God’s instruction so that His will would be done in my life. This, I did obediently and before it gets to thirty days, he was healed of leprosy. God also told me to give the healed man a bell from the altar and let him go with it, which I did. I later met the man at his church in Ekiti and it was a great testimony.”
My journey to the mountain
“Coming to this mountain was by God’s instructions. I was a cocoa farmer then and my wife was a worker in a church. On a fateful day, just before harvest, I was called by God to spend seven days on the mountain. This was precisely in May 1955. My thought was to quickly spend the seven days and leave for my farm. As they say, man can propose, but God’s decision would always supersede. I obeyed God, but little did I realise that his superior decision was to plant me on the mountain as a seed.
“I have been on the mountain ever since. God told me His own seven days are not like mine and that He will tell me when it is time. I agreed, because I had beheld His glory. I have also been a partaker of His goodness. I commune with Him like a son. I only tread in His words and He has always been my strength. I would not have thought I would head even the smallest of churches on earth, but He told me I would head a nation. His words came to pass after ten years and He has established me. The church is called no other name than “Ori-Oke Agbara.” It is a sanctuary of the Most-High God established at the top of a very High Mountain.”
Activities on the Mountain
“Before I came to the mountain, the place was used for fetish practices. It was where traditionalists go to offer sacrifice to their gods. The mountain was dreaded by people because of the fetish practice that goes on there. There were about 16 gods that have been worshipped there, among whom were Arinyan and Obaisa. Human beings were also sacrificed to these gods back then. But to the glory of God almighty, the mountain is now for God and will always be His forever. I did not realise that the reason God wanted me to go to the mountain was to sanitise the place for his glory.
“The mountain has so far turned into a spiritual tourism hub. Many people from all walks of life throng here for prayers and spiritual needs. Many influential people in the society, politicians and government officials including former leaders in the country have come here for prayers. It is not necessary to mention names because everybody on earth has one spiritual need or another. Some tourists outside the country, out of curiosity, have also visited the mountain, and when they come, they always have one or more experiences to tell.”
God’s sustaining power
“Although there have been challenges with my old age, fact remains that I have only depended on God; He has sustained me in his mighty arms. Nothing else could account for my long life other than God. I will also say humility and obedience to his will have been a major factor for my long life.
“Before God’s sustaining hands, I also apply human factor. I always make sure I get enough rest. When I was younger, I combined hunting, farming and God’s work. I would hunt in the night till morning, after which I would go to the farm. During evening time, I will hold church service with the people of God. Although that has been a healthy sustaining routine back then. Now, old age has prevented me from doing that. I am only doing the work of God now, and it has enabled me to get enough rest to replenish my energy.”
Lessons for longevity
“Patience, godliness and righteousness are some of the things you can do to be in tune with God and long life. For me, I abhor lies in every form. Many have become wealthy and prosperous through my words as they have modeled their lives after me. For any man or woman on earth, be it a youth, adult or an elder, live a life of truthfulness can prolong your life. Avoid unnecessary frivolities. Vanity of vanities, says the Bible; all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:12). When you fear God and keep his commandments, you will not be afraid of anything including death. Death is inevitable, but while seeking longer life, you must observe the rules to long life.”