It is not a life of royalty that has never known hardship. His is far from having two distinct parts with a common feature of ease. One spent in childhood shielded from the vagaries of growing up. The other of opulence as a king. For as a young man, Chief Saliu Akanmu Olatunpo Adetunji encountered the challenges of life.
He was once a tailor. Adetunji who was recently promoted to the exalted position of the Balogun of Ibadan land, by the late Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade, is next in line to be crowned Olubadan, the traditional ruler of the ancient city, of Ibadan.
The former Balogun, Adetunji, who had been involved in creative endeavours all his life was a tailor by training and practice, around the Agarawu area of Lagos Island. He was also a musical record merchant and later founded and managed his own record label.
The incoming Olubadan, who jumped the queue in the line of succession to the throne due to the demise of the Otun Balogun of the land, Chief Sulaimon Adegboyega Omiyale, was versed in the making of both native and English dresses until when he met the late Badejo Okunsanya, the scion of a record label owner and veered into the music industry, marketing of records produced by his customers and later founded his first record label, Baba Laje Records in 1960. Thus ended his tailoring profession as he stepped into alluring and flamboyant music industry.
He later founded and became the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a conglomerate of three music marketing companies with subsidiaries known as Omo Aje Sound Studio, Adetunji Label . The Olubadan-to-be is well known for his humility, a trait that turned his life around for the better.
Being a managing director and big boss notwithstanding, he was known to execute his customers’ orders to the letter.Another trait that put him in good stead and which set him apart from others, was his entrepreneurial spirit which propelled him out of the lowly placed tailoring vocation and turned him into one of the biggest record label owners in the South-West of Nigeria.
In an interview he granted last year, he narrated how he benefitted from his initiative and quick thinking.“A record seller had given me some records to play so as to entertain my customers when they came to sew or pick up clothes I had sewn for them. But to my surprise, rather than listening and enjoying the records, many of those customers were more interested in buying the records from me.
“I sold everything and took the money back to the man who supplied me the records. That was in 1960. The man then revealed to me that he and my dad had been in business together in 1940 and thereafter took me to other record marketers. That was how I started,” he narrated.
Chief Adetunji was later to be known as the man behind the discovery and success of popular leading Fuji star West, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, and before him, the likes of Salami Balogun, Alhaji Amoda Shijuade, Daudu Epo Akara, Saka Olayigbade, and many more.
The system that would see Chief Adetunji as the next Olubadan is not hereditary, but rather a graduated system in which descendants of certain households graduate through 21 stages to mount the throne of the ancient city.
In promoting the incoming Olubadan, his predecessor had a brush with the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, when in defiance of the directive of the Oyo State Government that all high chiefs wanting to be promoted and installed by the Olubadan should surrender themselves to security check and a medical report, the late Oba Odulana Odugade, late last year, installed nine chiefs to fill the vacancies in the Olubadan-in-Council.
Those installed included the former governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja, as Osi Olubadan of Ibadan; Chief Saliu A.O. Adetunji as the new Balogun of Ibadan land; Chief Lekan Balogun as the Otun Olubadan; Chief Akinloye Owolabi Olakulehin as Otun Balogun and Chief Olufemi Olaifa as Osi Balogun of Ibadan land.
He also elevated Chief Eddy Oyewole to the rank of the Ashipa Olubadan; High Chief Tajudeen Abimbola as Ashipa Balogun; High Chief Kola Daisi as the Ekerin Olubadan and High Chief Solomon A. Adabale as the Ekerin Balogun.
Two high-ranking chiefs, the Balogun Olubadan of Ibadan and Otun Olubadan, Chief Sulaimon Adegboyega Omiyale and Chief Omowale Kuye had died shortly before the exercise in November, last year.
When asked, the Olubadan explained that the presentation of health certificate as pre-requisite for promotion of chiefs in the Olubadan lines was alien to the culture and tradition of the town.
A full-blown conflict was, however, averted when some prominent indigenes of the city waded into the matter and settled it without further acrimony.
Ajimobi retraced his steps and softened the state government’s earlier hard stance, by allowing the elevated chiefs to maintain the status quo, while the chiefs also made some concessions, by agreeing to follow procedures as laid down by the state government.