The palace of the Alaafin of Oyo is full of mysterious beings. Alaafin, himself, is a mystery and an enigma!
One of the oldest men living on earth, taken in the palace, the man whose name is Morenikeji Lasisi but popularly known as Baba Keji.
He walks briskly in and around the Alaafin of Oyo palace. He is very popular not only because of his diminutive figure but because of his humility and he does not get angry.
Some call him a man with repository of knowledge of the Palace for he has the history off-hand and some call him the Palace library or an archive.
Welcome to the life of Morenikeji Lasisi also called Baba Keji or Baba Kekere.
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.
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.
He is one of the staff in the palace of His Imperial Majesty, Kabiyesi, Iku Baba Yeye, the Alaafin of Oyo.
He has the uncommon privilege of witnessing the reigns of three successive Alaafin.
He had been taking care of the late Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi lll since his Primary school days while serving is father Alaafin Adeniran Adeyemi II.
He doesn’t know his age but sources from the palace calculated it to be 118yrs while some argue he’s up to 200 years of age.
Baba Kéjì is not up to 200 years.
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.
Bàbá Kéjì, as a young man during the reign of Oba Ladigbolu, was between 25 and 35 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 110 and 120 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). Recall that his real name is Morenikeji Lasisi.
He used to be the Alaafins’ companion.
Some people are saying Baba Keji 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.
In an interview on what he does in the palace, the man laughed with full confidence, beating his chest and said ”I am one of the servants of the king, I run errands for him”, he declared with full satisfaction, happiness and pride.
Morenikeji Lasisi alias Bàbá Kekere is the oldest and shortest person in the Alaafin of Oyo’s palace.
- He served Oba (Alhaji) Adeniran Alabi Afolabi Adeyemi II (the father of the Alaafin that just joined his ancestors in 2022) between 1945 and 1955.
- He served Oba Bello Gbadegesin Oladigbolu II between 1956 and 1968.
- He is serving Oba Lamidi Atanda Olayiwola Moroundiya Adeyemi III between 1971 and 2022.
Baba Keji, as he is popularly called, is blessed with rare longevity.
He is still healthy and agile.
Baba Keji sees and hears well.
He walks well and recollects past events vividly.
Ask him anything about past historical events, he will tell you.
Bàbá Kéjì is happily married and has four children
The name of Baba Keji’s children are-
- Azeez (dead)
- 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.
Baba Keji spoke about his family and said none of his children lives with him at the palace, he said his children live in the Northern part of the country while his wife lives with him at the palace.
Teased further whether he wants another wife if his wife does not take care of him very well as this reporter would give him another but the old man screamed, raising objection to it, “no, no, no, I don’t want another” while hilariously noting that he only wants money at the moment.
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.
Baba Keji is still likely to serve a 4th Alaafin of Oyo.