By Eric Elezuo
The ancient city of Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba heritage is practically agog today as the lively and gracefully aging octogenarian, Sir Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu, is poised to step into the big shoes of greats such as late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief GOK Ajayi and be crowned the Youth of the Yoruba House, which by implication is the revered Odole Oodua.
The Odole, an honour reserved for the lionhearted individual of Yoruba origin irrespective of the part of Yoruba land he comes from, is suited for the betting expert, who has carved a niche for himself and has been a pillar of support to not a few persons in the history of philanthropy.
The additional feather destined for the head of Sir Adebutu is premised on his dexterity, ability, agility and highly prolific nature even at the tremendous age of 83. The honour will be bestowed by none other than the respected custodian of Yoruba culture, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II in his palatial palace, Ile Oodua, Ile Ife, Osun State. The Odole Oodua is one of the most prestigious titles in Yorubaland and Ife’s highest title.
The Odole title, reputed to be conferred on prominent individuals, who have distinguished themselves in all areas of human endeavours, is the sure honour for a man of Adebutu’s calibre and status. This is because the betting businessman, has not only excelled in business but has become a rare gem when it comes to looking after the less privileged and sending heartfelt endearments to as many as that cross his path.
A peep to the past reveals that men who had been conferred with the honour were men of integrity, honour and who are blameless to a great extent. It is important to note that the title was originally held by the Yoruba Sage himself, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and was later given to Chief Godwin Olusegun Kolawole Ajayi (SAN). These were men whose antecedents are reference point. It is worthy of note that the great Oranmiyan was the first to hold the revered title.
The beauty of the present conferment lies in the fact that the last time the title was given was in 1989, exactly 30 years in history. Consequently, the title is coming as a fresh dew upon a freshly grown industrialist and philanthropist, Sir Kesington Adebutu.
Sharing his thoughts on the title, Adebutu said that it is a special office which affords the holder the opportunity to work closely with the Ooni in rallying the descendants of Oduduwa wherever they are in the world ‘for unity, peace and progress of the race’. He added that it strengthens the crusade for a united Yoruba race. He also sees the function as a ‘walk in the park’, and promised to settle down to carry out the traditional mandate immediately he is conferred.
Pioneered by the great Oranmiyan while he was a prince of Ile-Ife, the title served as a rallying point and stabilising force among the powerful empires within the expansive Oduduwa territory before he became the Ooni of Ife. After his exploits, he established his royal dynasties in Benin and Oyo kingdoms, which are still in existence till date.
He explains the grace behind the Odole:
“Etymologically, Odole is derived from the expression “Odo Ile Oodua,” meaning the youth in the house of Oduduwa. It is a contraction of the expression adopted as a title to perpetuate the ideals of internal cohesion for which Oranmiyan stood in the Oodua family of the ancient days,” Adebutu said.
Popularly known as Baba Ijebu and Omo Iya, Sir Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu, with an avanlanche of recognitions including CON, KJW and FISM, was born to late Alhaji karimu Folarin Adebutu aka “Owo-Iya” and late Alhaja Seliat Olasimbo Adebutu of Iperu Remo, Ikenne LGA in Ogun State on October 24, 1935. Sir Kesington completed his primary education in 1950 having attended the Wesley Primary School, Iperu Remo and later Ijero Baptist School, Apapa Road, Ebute-Metta, Lagos.
In January 1951, he was admitted to Baptist Academy School, but he completed his secondary education at the grand Remo Secondary School (RSS), Sagamu, Remo, Ogun State. Baba Ijebu’s career endeavour started at Cable and Wireless Limited, which later became NITEL, as Operations Clerk. He later joined Claffins Chemicals as a salesman, and through dint of hardwork rose to become the Regional Sales Manager for Lagos and the then Midwestern Region. It was his quest to provide employment for teeming Nigerian youths that led to the establishment of Face Millionaires Pool Limited with his bosom friend, Chief Solomon Ayoku in 1969.
A philanthropist par excellence, Sir Kesington abandoned his ambition to become a lawyer, preferring to ‘enjoy’ life, and today, is the proprietor of Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu Foundation (KAAF), and promoter of the popular Premier Lotto, also known as Baba Ijebu – a scheme that has put smiles on the faces of many Nigerians. Adebutu, over the years, has used every opportunity that comes his way to affect lives of everyone he meets, especially during his birthdays and auspicious occasions. During his 80th birthday, Adebutu, whose Foundation was celebrating its 10th anniversary, conducted a free medical outreach programme at Iperu-Remo, Ogun state. In addition, he gave out eight brand new cars and other valuable gifts to loyal customers of Premier Lotto.
Sir kesington’s larger than life image is always in the public view, and he has been honoured on a good number of occasions. He was rewarded as an ICON and celebrated as a man of character, kindness and generosity during the Ogun at 40 celebrations in 2016. Other feathers on the crown of the man of possibilities include the traditional title of Asoju Oba of Lagos, which was conferred on him by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu. When the man of means celebrated his 81st birthday, he wowed the congregation when instead of demanding gifts, tasked everyone to make a donation to the church, and tagged it “Adebutu Family Harvest”. His dedication to God is legendary.
In his words: “At 81, what work can I do, there is no work I can do at 81 years but the work of God”. That is how dedicated and close to his God he is. In 2018, Adebutu was honored with double chieftaincy titles as the Baba-Oba Akarigbo of Remo by the Lord of Remo, His Royal Highness, Oba Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, and also honoured as Baba-Oba Alaperu of Akesan Land by His Royal Majesty, King Idowu Basibo (Odoru V), Sagamu in Ogun State, at the sprawling palace of the royal father in Sagamu Remo.
He once again said: “At 82, what can one say? You have contributed immensely to worthy causes in the house of God. Even you have contributed to other worthy causes in the state and the society as a whole. People like you are rare to find. “What is now left for you is to continue to walk with God, love God the more, live your life for Him. So that at the end of your race on earth, you will reign with Him in heaven.”
A worthy icon, well known business brand, philanthropist extra-ordinaire, Adebutu is the head fit to wear the prestigious crown of THE ODOLE OF ILE-IFE.
The front line humanitarian is expected to use his wealth, spread and connection to positively affect the youths of Yoruba land, just as his predecessors did in the past.
“With my emergence as Odole Oodua, the Yoruba race will witness new era of sociocultural development, unity and peace,” he said.
Adebutu is happily married with a host of very successful children.
It is worthy of note that the Odole title is the last bus stop of chieftaincy titles for the holder, as a result, Sir Kesington Adebutu will not be taking any other traditional titles afterwards.
“I may not accept any traditional title after this. The importance of the exalted Odole Oodua title is beyond taking another chieftaincy title in Yoruba land,” he concluded.
We wish the Odole a glorious reign!