“Most men didn’t understand that aspect of the gift in me initially but when the Ooni made me Yeye Olokun, they now understood why I keep to myself.”
Princess Latifat Momodu is a well-known face in Nigerian social circle and a fashion aficionado who loves promoting culture in all ramifications. This year, she became the Yeye Olokun, a title bestowed on her by the Ooni of Ife. In that capacity she graced the public presentation of the book on Queen Moremi, held at Ile-Ife. She spoke with Sunday Sun after the event on her new role as Yeye Olokun (Ambassador of Olokun). Read on…
You have been away from the social circle for awhile. What happened?
I have been busy outside the country. I decided to live abroad for a while. While there, I promoted our culture to the white people by promoting African fabrics and fashion designs. Now that I’m back, I would continue with what I have been doing, which is to promote culture. I have a dance troupe and a live band. Now,I hold concerts with my dance troupe. My next show will hold at Eko hotel before end of this year. And I will perform for the audience.
Shortly after you came back, we heard that you were appointed the Yeye Olokun. Could that be why you came back?
It was not because of that. I think God just directed me to come back home. God is directing my life, telling me what to do. When He said ‘go outside the country, I had to go and when He said, ‘it is time to go back home,’ I obeyed.
How did you become the ambassador of Olokun?
The Ooni of Ife, Kabiyesi Enitan Adeyeye Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, sighted me and just knew that I am Olokun. He decided to give me what he thinks rightly belongs to me. He made me the ambassador of Olokun and that’s how I became the ambassador of Olokun.
What is your role as Olokun ambassador?
To promote the Olokun festival. It is a yearly festival and it is my duty to look for sponsorship for the event. My job is to make Olokun festival lively by letting people to know about it. Also, I educate people about Olokun because a lot of people don’t know what it is. Olokun is very pure. They are not wicked people. They fight oppressors and I’m one of them.
But some people see Olokun in bad light. What is your take on this?
We have problem in this country. We love the Western religion and Western way of life. We have forgotten that in the days of our forefathers, they worshipped Olokun and what happened? They were healthy. Olokun is one of the angels of God sent to the world by God. They are pure.
If you had come to this year’s festival, you would have seen the miracles that happened at the event. When Kabiyesi (Ooni) went into the temple and called to God, it was sunny and kabiyesi prayed, immediately the sun went down and the rainbow came out full. Everybody saw it and it started to rain. People said they had never see such miracles. If Olokun is not pure, God would not listen, to give that rain.
Most people who don’t know anything about Olokun, they just say rubbish. They are scared. When people see you dressed in white apparel, white beads and cowries they are afraid. A chief once told me to forget about my beliefs since I came from the western world and look elegant but I told him that Olokun is what makes me special. I believe in Olokun and I’m going to be in it for a long time, all the days of my life. That was why Ooni chose me when he set eyes on me. Kabiyesi can see. He sees everything. He’s very powerful, that is what I want to tell you now.
Were you born into it or you just developed interest in it?
I came to the world with it. I know so.
Does it mean you do not go to church or mosque?
It doesn’t disturb me from going to church. It doesn’t disturb me from worshipping with people who call on God’s name. We all came from God.
Olokun believes in Almighty God. Anywhere they call Almighty God, I will be there to worship with them. There’s no problem about that, it’s just that I’m Olokun, so accept who I am. When I had my festival, some of my friends who have been inviting me to functions, did not come to the festival because they called it idol worship. And I said to them, if I was worshipping idols, God wouldn’t be answering my prayers and blessing me every day. They are even more evil than I am, yet they say I am engaging in idol worship because they go to church every Sunday. People just think Olokun is fetish and dirty, but it is not. Olokun is white. White is pure and clean. And that is the way olokun is.
The general belief is that Olokun people commune with mermaid spirits. How true is this?
Let me not lie to you, Olokun is from the water. Whether they call it mermaid or any name they attach to it, it does not change anything. But all I know is that they are clean, in and out. They are pure people, they fight for people. Like we have some wicked people in the world, the Olokun people can fight for them and God has given me that power to set people free. You can never find an Olokun harming people. If you even have a neighbor that is Olokun, you are blessed, because all they will be doing is praying and blessing their neighbours all the time.
As chic and elegant as you are at what stage did you start as Olokun?
Right from when I was young. In school, most of my friends knew that there was ‘something’ about me and they wanted to cling to me because anywhere they were with me, nothing happened to them.
One day, my bosom friend asked me to pray for her and I said I knew her dream was to travel to America after school. I assured her that her dream would come true. Immediately we left school, she traveled to America and till date she is still in America. People have been coming to me for prayers. I did all these spiri- tual stuffs too and would tell them things about themselves. I have seen that a lot of people are tied down by enemies and wicked people that don’t want them to move forward. But when they come to Olokun, Olokun prays to God and God gives the power to heal.
Have you encountered any challenges since you accepted this role as Yeye Olokun?
I don’t think so. Anywhere I walk into they accept me gladly. A lady pastor who came with me to Ile-Ife during the Olokun festival woke me very early the next morning that she couldn’t sleep. I said, you are a pastor, you can’t sleep, what is the problem? She said she saw what happened the previous day and that as a pastor she wasn’t supposed to be there. I said to her, shame on you. If you know you are sent by God you shouldn’t discriminate. Jesus was dining even with the tax collectors. I told her that she did not know God if she couldn’t sleep because of the festival. I told her, I’m a godly person, I’m not a religious person and I know when I call to my God, he answers me. People come to me and miracles happen when I pray for them. If you invite me to come and worship in your church or mosque, it doesn’t stop me. Even Jesus said, give unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. At the festival, all my Olokun people were present – the Ogboni, Obatala and other traditionalists.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a designer who promotes Nigeria and African culture. I bring expatriates from the Western world, to invest in Nigeria.
You are a very pretty lady, does being Olokun affect your relationship with men?
My Olokun is very pure and very clean. I run away from men. Because I have to be very pure and clean all the time so that I can communicate with God and he answers me quickly. Most men didn’t understand that aspect of the gift in me initially but when the Ooni now made me the ambassador of Olokun, they now understood why I keep to myself.
What has life taught you as a person?
Life is very good if you know how to live it but we complicate life. I tell people that they should try to be nice to everybody they come across. There’s one particular thing I have been saying for many years: Eni afe la mo, a mo eni to fe ni de nu (You only know those you love, you don’t know those who love you genuinely). I’ m a very jolly person. Any one that does not like my person must be an evil person. I always tell people to be careful in life.
Be nice to people, watch your step, don’t trust people totally. Because a friend sitting close to you might be your worst enemy. I handled a case that involved a lady recently. Her best friend dropped something in her drink and she died. The case was brought to me, and I asked the lady why she killed her friend. She said she was not the one. I did ‘something’ and before she knew it, she was confessing. Life is so beautiful if you live it well, but be careful.
How do you relax?
I listen to cool music. I like R ‘n’ B. It goes into my soul. I’m always happy, nothing disturbs me. Olokun is always happy, smiling, never worrying about anything. I will never let the devil make me unhappy.
You are from Benin, and the Olokun ambassador in Ile-Ife, what is the connection?
Do you know your history, where did the Binis come from? Go and read about Oduduwa. They went to settle in Benin. Olokun started from in Ile-Ife.