Firdaus Akanbi is the wife of Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abulrosheed Akanbi. She tells Bola Bamigbola about life as the queen of a monarch outside her tribe, among other issues
Before your marriage to Oluwo, not many people from this part of Nigeria knew you. Can you tell us briefly about yourself?
My name is Firdaus Abdullahi Akanbi. I am from Kano State. I am a 28-year-old mother of one. I studied Business Management at Modern University of Science and Technology Cairo, Egypt. I am married to Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abulrosheed Adewale Akanbi.
It was reported before your marriage to Oluwo that you were a princess from Kano. Can you throw more light on this?
I am from the Bayero family in Kano State. My dad, Alhaji Abdullahi Sarki Sani Yola, was Madakin Kano while he was alive, and my grandfather, Dr Ado Bayero, reigned as Emir of Kano. I grew up in the palace.
Can you share some of your fond childhood memories, growing up in the palace?
I grew up in the royal family. We hardly go out. I had a lot of fun as a child growing up amidst love and affection from everyone. I enjoyed spending my holiday at my grand-parents house because we used to have so much fun being around them.
What informed your decision to study a business-related course at the university?
Well, I grew up to like business and that was why I chose Business Management. I like to manage businesses. It is something I have passion for and I was doing that before I got married to Oba Akanbi.
What kind of business were you involved in before marriage?
I had a cooking/catering business, actually a restaurant before I got married. Being a business woman is my passion and I love to do business, especially the one that will create opportunities to earn decent living for other people. It may not be so big a business, but something that will create jobs. It is my passion.
With the marriage now, has that passion not being killed?
I just have to let it go for now, not killed. The passion is still in me and I want to continue it in future since it is my passion.
What informed your choice of husband?
My marriage to him is God’s making and I am grateful to Allah. Kabiesi is the best choice of husband for me. I am here and I am happy with him. Whoever gets to know him, stays with him, will know that he is a good man and I always thank God for bringing him to my life. It is a miracle.
How much of him did you know before marriage and how did you meet?
Well, I met him through my aunt, Mrs Hadiza Bayero Dambazau, wife of Lt. Gen. Dambazau (retd), former Minister of Interior. She introduced him to me and other things followed in quick succession after the first meeting and we got married.
What was your first impression the day you met him?
I was wowed by his appearance and personality the first time I saw him because I never thought he was that cool. Kabiesi is a very playful, kind and jovial person. It was a case of love at first sight. I fell in love immediately I saw him.
Did you harbour any scary thought, marrying a Yoruba monarch going by the differences in his culture to the one you are used to?
To say the truth, at first, I was scared because I did not know the culture or anything about Yoruba land before my marriage to Oba Akanbi. But gradually, I am beginning to understand that Yoruba people are very accommodating, nice and pleasant people. So, I got no reason to be scared again, rather I felt at home being here; everything is just normal.
Despite being a young woman and a queen, you will have to manage affairs of many elderly women and other queens. How are you handling that?
It is not difficult. People accord me my due respect and I treat people with respect too. It is just that I have to understand the people and know how to relate with them and accommodate them because our cultures differ a bit. I am trying my utmost best to adapt to Yoruba culture.
In the last one year of living in Yorubaland, what is your impression?
There are a lot of things that I really appreciate in Yoruba land. I love the people, their culture and tradition. Being here is not different from being in Kano State.
What do you do in your capacity as Queen of Oluwo?
In my capacity as queen, I coordinate the free feeding that the palace provides for the people. We feed people on Mondays and Fridays, every week. Also, to mark special occasions, the palace organises parties for children. We do that during Children’s Day. Like Ramadan period now, we feed orphans and the less privileged. I support and complement my husband in the running of the town. It is a big task.
That is my nature. I don’t really like going to public outings much. I like to have my space and peace, but gradually, I will learn to mingle with people. Also, I conceived few months after I got here and I would not want the public to see me during that period. Now that the baby is here, I will be seen more outside.
What has motherhood changed in you?
It has not changed many things about me, but it has not been easy doing many things that motherhood demands. However, I still love everything about it. I am coping well. Remember I said earlier that I grew up in the palace and that gave me the opportunity to take care of my aunts, sisters, uncles’ children and that made it an easy task for me now.
What do you know about Oluwo that you feel people outside don’t about him?
To me, he is a loving, charming, accommodating and an easygoing person. Maybe he has a different personality in the reckoning of someone else, but to me, he is a wonderful person.
Do you know some people will disagree with this your description of him, as some will see him as a fearless, tough and controversial monarch?
I try my best to take good care of him and listen to him. His calm personality made it easier for me to get along with him easily.
Will you say being raised in the palace prepared you for life as a queen?
While growing up, my father used to say that I will become somebody important because I hardly fight with people or do things that will hurt anyone. I am a peaceful person. Whenever anyone does something bad to me, I will just leave it to God to judge and my father will look at me, and say that one day, God shall reward me with something big. Maybe, that is the reason why I am here as a queen. Moreover, I am a princess and I also deserve a king as husband.
After meeting Oluwo, did anyone among your people or from elsewhere opposed your choice?
No one objected to me marrying him from my side. Though there were some things that were being said about him, I do not care about that. I know who he is and what is being said against him is just meaningless to me.
What are those things being said about him?
Let’s leave that.
Oluwo is known as a fearless monarch, who is openly oppose to traditional rulers worshipping idols. He does not entertain fear in opposing whatever he doesn’t like. Do you at times fear he can be harmed?
Yes, I do get scared, but when you believe in God, nothing will really scare you again in this life. I am a prayerful person. I do hear a lot of scary stories, though not about deities, while growing up at the palace. However, since I believe in the God that I serve, I do not allow anything to get me scared again.
Since I got to this palace, nothing has got me scared like that, but I do pray for him and I think what he is doing is what God has commanded us to do. He is doing it right; I know God won’t allow any evil thing to befall us because what he is doing is what God wants him to do.
You said you don’t like to attend many social functions, and you are married to a flamboyant monarch, who is also attractive. Do you at times get jealous seeing his pictures being surrounded by pretty women at social events?
Of course, (I get jealous), but I just believe in myself and I have told him that whenever he wants to marry another wife, he is free to do so because in our religion, a man is allowed to marry up to four wives. I will prefer him marrying another wife, instead of mingling with different women.
Are you afraid that he may soon bring in another woman?
I can’t be afraid, even if he marries more women. I am open to it anytime he wants to marry another wife, though it is not easy (having to share husband).
What are you future plans as queen?
I want to be supporting women especially the less privileged ones and widows. I will like to support them through small scale businesses that will be set up. Women empowerment will be my main focus.
Do you speak Yoruba language and why are you not wearing a crown like Oluwo’s past wife?
I have already started learning the language. Whenever he wants me to start wearing a crown, I will wear it. I love it (crown) because it is beautiful.
Is your new status as a queen drawing more friends towards you?
A Iot of people want to be around me, talk to me because I am a queen now, but sometimes you have to be careful with the kind of people you allow to get close. However, my friends are still my friends and I am getting to know more people here. I have to be very careful so as not to allow wrong people to get close. Everything is normal just like before, but there is just a little bit of change.
What is your advice for women?
My advice for them is that they should listen to their husbands, be respectful, submissive and accommodating to their husbands’ families, friends and the public.
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