From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

In the palace of Alaafin of Oyo, Oyo State, there are more than 200 aides. They work day and night to ensure smooth running of the palace and make reigning king comfortable.

One of such aides is Pa Morenikeji Lasisi, described as the longest serving errand man at the palace. In an interview with Daily Sun, he said he had served Alaafins Bello Gbadegesin Ladigbolu, Adeniran Adeyemi II and Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, who joined his ancestors on Friday, April 22, 2022.

Lasisi, fondly called Baba Keji, is said to be 118 years and had served in the palace for scores of years. But some people said he is up to 200 years. Though, the exact years he served the palace could not be ascertained at press time, some said it could be between 77 and 100 years. He too neither knew his age nor the exact time he got to the palace.

The house in which Lasisi lives, is adjacent to the Alaafin’s residence probably depicting he was very close to Oba Adeyemi III. He got to the palace during the reign of Oba Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II. He is married and has three children.

His wife is still alive. He said both of them still live in a house given to them in the palace: “I was very close to the Alaafin despite the fact that I was a servant to him in the palace. The job I do in the palace is to cut grasses. The late king usually sent me on errand. 

“Everyday, I go to abattoir to get meat for my late boss in the morning. I have served three kings now. I got to the palace during the time of Oba Adeyemi Adeniran, the father of the late Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi. 

“I also served Bello Gbadegesin Oladigbolu and Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi who died on Friday. I am always happy whenever I was with the Alaafin. He used to spend money and resources to cater for the people. There was always enjoyment in the palace during his reign. We were always enjoying ourselves. I will miss all the merriments. 

“I have no regrets working in the palace. I have never sat one day and thought that I was in a wrong place. As I am here now, if anyone tries to take me abroad, after telling my people, I will go. But I will surely return to my base here in Oyo town.”

But how was the palace when he got there? He said major parts of the palace were covered by thick bush. He added that it was the immediate past Alaafin that brought modernity to the palace through clearing of the bush and erection of modern structure:

“I was young when I served Oba Ladigbolu II. Here in the palace was full of thick bush. We used to kill snakes in the bush. Again, snakes used to bite people. We used to go for hunting in the bush in the palace.

“But Oba Adeyemi III came, cleared the bush and built modern houses. The place where we have the field used to be a bush. So, he tried and really built the palace. It was during the time of Adeyemi III that the palace was fenced.

“In those days when an Alaafin joined his ancestors, we would say ‘Ile ti baje’. (The land has become desolated). When somebody said ‘Ile ti baje’, we would respond by saying ‘Olowo mi ti lo.’ (My lord has gone to the world great beyond”).

Lasisi, apart from being called Baba Keji, an abbreviation of Morenikeji, he is also referred to as Baba Kekere, probably because of his smallish stature. Though he is not lettered, he is a repository of tradition. He recollects everything that happened in the palace. But he is very discreet about divulging palace information.

When he was asked about the functions he performs in the palace, he mentioned some and kept the others. However, when the reporter asked him about going to abattoir every morning to collect beef for Alaafin, he responded: “It is true. I did not want to tell you that one before. But since you have said it, I need to confirm that it is true.”

Though he could not vividly remember when he got to the palace, it was said that he was about eight years old at the time. According to him, among the three Alaafins he served, Oba Adeyemi III was the only one who was educated and was highly influential:

“He was an exceptional human being. It is rare to have people like him again. He was responsible for my welfare and the education of my children. He did not discriminate. We were treated equally in the palace.”

The post Alaafin: My life as longest serving palace aide appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

Source: news