‘I worship Esu, I am the Spiritual head of Esu Devotees’
Known as the strong man of Osogbo, he is loved by the old and the young because of his love for his people and his honesty. The septuagenarian, Pa Omokayode Idowu Esuleke is called The Boy . He is the leader and Head of Esu devotees. He spoke with Taiwo Abiodun
I swore with Ogun, god of iron
As the septuagenarian walked along the streets he was hailed ”The Boy! The Boy!!” while he responded and prayed for his admirers. Simple, witty and down to earth, he said he abhors cheating and dishonest lifestyle.
He told a story about when he was sworn –in as a Councillor some years ago ”at the swearing -in ceremony of public officers and Councillors in Osogbo, I rejected the Holy Bible and Holy Quran when I was asked to pick, I instead opted for a cutlass to swear with. He told The Hope, adding “I believe in the Yoruba gods that are effective unlike the Holy Books that are slow to react, punish or easily forgive.
So when we were asked to swear an oath, I demanded for Ogun the Yoruba god of Iron, and I was given a cutlass to swear with to the amazement of others while other political officers-to-be demanded for the Holy Bible or Holy Quran to swear with .
Throughout my tenure in the Local Council in Osogbo I did not steal a kobo while my action forced others to be loyal, and money did not miss or reportedly got lost. The record is there, you can ask”, these were the words of the septuagenarian who also bears a fearful name , Esuleke ( from Esu) as he said he worships Esu and he is the Baale Esu in Osogbo. The man is also the head of Masquerades.
Why he is called ‘The Boy’
For Esuleke, his beard had covered his facial marks which could not let him be easily recognized .Esuleke said he spent 25 years in civil service before he retired, he is popular among his colleagues and among the youths in Osogbo, he is known and called ‘The Boy’, but in real sense of it, he is a grandfather, but because he plays with everybody thus his humility earned him the nickname ‘The Boy’, he is a man of the people and like a drama as he goes about one could see young men and women greeting him and calling him ‘The Boy’ which did not annoy him, but instead thrills him as he would wave his hands in response.
Asked why he called himself ‘The Boy’, Esuleke said he does not believe he is old, “whoever claims to be an old man will not enjoy the support of the people, and whoever is looking for his mate should go to the cemetery”, he stated.
My powerful parents
Esuleke said his parents were traditional worshippers he said ” my father was powerful physically and spiritually. He was the former Baale Esuleke, he worshipped Esu. He married 23 wives and my mother was the last wife. While I am the first and only child. My late father was so powerful that if he sent any of his wives on errands to fetch water and the woman felt reluctant then she would have a miscarriage.
Or when angry and only say ‘ha! me?’ to any of his wives the woman would suffer miscarriage. But when my mother conceived, a powerful Juju man was consulted and he revealed to them who and the manner of human being I would be. The man asked my parents to give me the name, Esuleke. I inherited the worshiping Esu from my father, he was the (Spiritual head) Baale Esu, and Esu worshipper”.
Worshipping Esu in his bungalow which is made of mud-bricks are burning oil lamps that will never quench as the flames goes up in all the corners and rooms.” This is one of the Shrines of Esu, we also have that of Masquerades. While we have other pots where we prepare our herbs too. My compound is full”, he said.
Esuleke boasted ‘I am the Baale of Esu in Osogbo’, Esu is a powerful god in which only the faithful can worship him as he does not entertain liars and a liar cannot worship him .
The worshippers of Esu is like worshipping other deities, Babalawo has its leader or head of worshippers who is Araba , so also I am the head of those worshipping Esu, it’s not new it’s like calling somebody an Imam, a pastor, and they answered, the head of Babalawo is Araba, and Obatala has its head/leader so also other gods , so what stopped me from answering to my name, my callings and profession?. I am the spiritual leader of Esu in Osogbo; I am the Baale of Esu in Osogbo.”
He said that though he did not go to any higher institution, and did not go beyond Standard Six and Modern School yet he was able to perform and achieve what a university graduate could do, he said “When I was very young I read Holy Bible from Genesis to Revelation in 1955 I finished reading it and I also read the Holy Koran.
When I had digested this I said nobody can come from a foreign land and tell me his own religion is better than mine. I have no regret of what I am doing. I am a devotee of Esu. I worship Esu and I am the Baale of Esu in Osogbo “
According to him, he receives many clients everyday as they come to inquire about their future and problems, ” I find solutions to their problems that is how African traditional religion and culture is being helpful. I am always invited to give talks or deliver lectures and seminars on our culture. I have been to university of Ilorin, University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife and other foreign countries to deliver lectures on all these .Different people from kids to the elderly visit me as well as those who are sick for healing. Muslims and Christians do come here, there is nobody that is exempted from coming here ”.
Some of the church leaders’ hypocrisy
The Septuagenarian said “Christians and Muslims do come here at night, but one does not need to mention names, it is not ideal. Before the advent of the orthodox medicine whenever there was a snake bite, or if someone fell from the tree or had gunshots/wounds we had our traditional methods of treating and caring for ourselves before the advent of this so called orthodox medicine .”
Esuleke admonished some of the pastors who deceive their followers and gave an example ” There is this head of a Church in our area here ( Osogbo) who used to preach that his church members should not take medicine whenever they are sick .
But he was caught red-handed when my friend who was his church member and I went to pay a visit to a patient in the hospital, Lo and behold we saw this Pastor but we hid ourselves from him. We monitored him until we caught the pastor while collecting drugs from the counter.
My friend was surprised and annoyed so he went ahead to challenge the Pastor why he was misleading them by advising them not to be taking drugs whenever they fall sick? Since then my friend had stopped going to the church”.
“Another example is that of a pastor whose Church is along Gbongan, the pastor once predicted that the world was coming to an end and asked everybody to go and throw their television set and properties away of which they did, in the end the world did not come to an end. Now, the church has become empty as everybody has deserted it .Whoever is worshipping his god should be allowed to worship what he likes. Nobody should impose a religion on anybody. “
I am contended the old man counselled that running after wealth is not the best.”We should be contended with what we are doing. I am contended and known all over the world.
Where is Awolowo now? He’s gone but he is always remembered, the story of Awolowo is not new to many people, it is the good name one leaves behind that is important, not money.
Whatever god one is worshipping and did not encourage the younger ones to go into it would go into extinction, the children would be raining curse on their parents if they are not allowed to know what they are doing.
On the Babalawo that are always caught assisting and using human beings for sacrifice or who are patronised by robbers, the man said “what always ends them is terrible death! Is there any religion that asks you to go and steal? In the days of old, robbers were stoned to death. If any lady passes an hotel in those days people would rain curses on her and called her a prostitute.”
Why the profession is despised
Asked why old herbalists were always unkept, the old man replied “in the days of old the act of practicing Babalawo was not for profit or money making or business and was not taken as a profession.
Those ones of the old did not take it as profession but assistance …now WHO accepted that our traditional medicine is good and efficacious but we still have problem of not having dosage, that is why some look down on us, it is because there is instruction, we don’t label our drugs like the orthodox” .
On Thunder Balogun
Esuleke claims he was once a footballer “I play football When I was young , I was even a Captain of Araromi All Stars .I could remember the great ones like Thunder Balogun, Teslim Balogun who were my coaches then.”
Asked whether the story of Thunder Balogun a great footballer whom they rumoured kicked a ball and came out from the back of a goalkeeper, Esuleke gave a loud laugh and denied the story “It was not true, We were together in Ijebu Ode, Olu Onagoruwa was part of us .I could play Table Tennis very well as .
He defends his mud house building when asked why he still live in an archaic building, he defended himself “I remember Bisi Akande, who built his house with bricks, before my father died he said I should not leave his house. This is my father’s house, and he had instructed me not to leave this place.” This is preservation of our culture and antiquity.
”See how our children are dressing, while going to the church they will almost go half naked, they will not eat our traditional food, they are after money .If you don’t have money you cannot talk in the mosque or Church.
I have disciples learning under me and they are doing well. “Attitude of foreigners to our culture
Asked whether the foreigners who come down here to learn our Culture and given Yoruba titles are entitled to that privilege, he said “Leave them alone you cannot be holier than Pope.
That time (Olden days) they said our culture was bad and they brought Christian Religion, now they are accepting our own religion and now they can see.”
Esuleke said he was once embarrassed In London when he wore his Yoruba dress, he said “the Oyinbos appreciated it, and they would give me Schnapps.”
Baale Esu Gbojeniyi, who had authored many books added.