History & Culture

Oba Saliu Adetunji, From Tailoring to Kingship

History they say, will never forget a man who turns a village into a city nor a man who turns a city into a village. One of those that will always be remembered in the history of Ibadanland is Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji Aje Ogunguniso I.

Just like every other child, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji was born on August 26, 1928 into the family of Raji Olayiwola and Suwebat Amope Adetunji, in the Popoyemoja area of Ibadan, Oyo state. He was the first of the seventeen children born into the family.

The monarch who died after a brief illness on January 2nd, 2022 at the age of 93; had risen from an ordinary local tailor who hustled on the streets of Lagos, to become the Olubadan of Ibadanland, one of the top royal positions in the Southwest region of Nigeria. He was said to have succeeded Samuel Odugade, a retired army officer and political elite.

He grew up learning vocational skills, until he followed his father’s footstep in tailoring, which was his source of livelihood after moving to Lagos. He was described as a master craftsman versed in making both native and English dresses. He had learntthe art of tailoring from a prominent tailor in Ibadan, DisuIgbalajobi, before migrating to Lagos in 1949.

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He worked as a fashion designer in the Agarawu area of Lagos for a number of years until he met an iconic music producer and the first Nigerian to own a record label, Badejo Okunsanya, who brought him into the music industry. He marketed musical records produced by Okunsanya’s customers and later started his first record label, Baba Laje Records in 1957.

He was said to have promoted successful and popular Fuji musicians such as Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, Salami Balogun, Amoda Shijuade, Daudu Epo Akara, Saka Olayigbade, and many more.

Some people have said that the late Olubadan had no educational background while some other people argued that he attended Ibadan Memorial Grammar School (IMG), Oke-Ado for his secondary education and Chicago College of Performing Arts to study Marketing Strategies between 1974 and 1976. Regardless of his educational background, he surprisingly ruled over the largest city in West Africa, competing with other prominent kings, who have more exposure and academic background in the African continent.

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The event that led to how Oba Saliu Adetunji became a monarch has been described by many as that which was intertwined with fate, having jumped the queue of succession to become the king of the land. 

In 1976, he became the Mogaji of the Adetunji family, three years after he was first summoned to do so. The late BalogunOlubadan, Sulaiman Omiyale had pressured him to become the Mogaji of his family, after convincing him that taking the chieftaincy role would not affect his booming business in Lagos.

But, as fate would have it in 2015, the highest-ranking high chief in the Otun Olubadan chieftaincy line, Omowale Kuye, died two weeks after the demise of another high chief, Balogunof Ibadan land, Sulaimon Omiyale. Considering the royal succession system of the ancient city, the duo were qualified to be the next Olubadan. This incident transitioned Saliu Adetunjifrom the ‘Balogun’ of Ibadanland to Olubadan of Ibadanlandand was crowned on March 4, 2016 as the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland.

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As a king, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji was known for his Pan-Yoruba ideologies. He had joined other prominent monarchs in the region to criticise the violent agitation for the self-determination of the Yoruba race.

The late Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji who reigned for five years, was married to Olori Rasheedat Adetunjiand was blessed with 24 children.

Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji will therefore always be remembered for his wealth of experience, his immense wisdom and his commitment to seeing a greater Ibadan and a better Oyo state.


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Oyo Affairs is an independent news media with the main focus on Oyo state news, politics, current events, trending happenings within and around Oyo state, Nigeria

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