t is very important to correct some erroneous notions in what some people have been spreading about Bàbá Kéjì. This becomes pertinent, in order to set the records straight and avoid distortion of history. Let us go to some of these blunders.
Pronunciation of His Name – Kéjì: For those who understand how signs are etched on words; Kéjì is pronounced “mi do”. Bàbá (do mi) Kéjì (mi do). Bàbá Kéjì (Do mi mi do). This is the correct pronunciation of Bàbá Kéjì’s name.
Another Name? He is not called Baba Kekere. He is called Baba Kéjì. Kéjì means a companion. In his heyday, while he was relatively young, Baba Kéjì was always around the Alaafin. He was Alaafin’s companion. At times, he usually joined the Alaafin on brief hunting inside the palace. That was when the palace was surrounded by bush, where you could hunt snakes and others.
His Age: Baba Kéjì is not up to 200 years. How did I know this? I have listened to him, while rendering his account of stewardship in the palace. He categorically stated it that he was quite young during the reign of Oba Siyanbola Ladigbolu, the 42nd Alaafin of Oyo, who reigned between 1911 and 1944.
How old is Bàbá Kéjì? Bàbá Kéjì, from the above assertion in no 3, as a young man during the reign of Oba Ladigbolu, was between 20 and 25 years. Oba Siyanbola Ladigbolu joined his ancestors in 1944. That was about 80 years ago. Let’s add his age at that time to 80 years. Bàbá Kéjì is between 100 and 110 years old.
Bàbá Kéjì does not mean ‘second father’. Keji, in this context, means companion. It is just the way we pronounce Morenikeji (I’ve got a companion). He used to be the Alaafins’ companion.
Head of Palace Servants: Some people are saying Bàbá is the head of the palace servants. No, he is not. Kudefu is officially the head of the palace servants. In the Old Oyo Kingdom/Empire, Kudefu is a special position. Kudefu has a dedicated quarters in the palace, just like the head of butlers in the Buckingham Palace of the ancient British Empire.
Some people have asked if Bàbá Kéjì is married. Yes, he’s married. He has four children – Azeez (dead), Fatimah, Madinah and one other child. His wife is still with him. Baba Kéjì is not a eunuch (impotent). He is as fecund and potent as anything.
In conclusion, Bàbá Kéjì is a loyal steward and unrepentantly dedicated to his primary duties in the palace of His Imperial Majesty, the Alaafin of Oyo. He performs his duties, diligently, as assigned by the Alaafin.
Story by Adejare Ibrahim