Art-loving Princess Ronke Ademiluyi is easy going and level-headed. She is the Vice Chairman of House of Oduduwa, a Non Governmental Organisation. Of course, this Ife Princess has impeccable manners but never afraid to express deep-seated opinion. Though, Princes Ademiluyi is a very private person, she agreed to an interview with Adedayo Adejobi to speak about her passion- Women for Women project – a charity mentoring young women and offering them positive role models. Princes Ademiluyi also speaks on how she plans to leave a lasting legacy on the sands on time
What was it like growing up as a princess?
Growing up as a Princess was super amazing, although I did not grow up inside the Palace, I still enjoyed all the privileges of being a princess.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
As a child I wanted to be so many things but the two main ones were a newscaster because I used to watch a lot of news and loved watching the likes of Ronke Ayuba, Sienne All-Well Brown and Ruth Benamesia-Opia and a lawyer because my mum’s sister now a judge, was a lawyer. When I was growing up, I used to accompany her to court during the holidays.
Who shaped your outlook on life as a growing child?
My parents in terms of behaviour, manners and discipline, my family were also involved while growing up as we always had aunts and uncles around living with us. Our culture too had a huge impact on my growing up, how to greet; making sure you kneel down to greet elders, how to be respectful, the Yoruba culture teaches us to respect a lot.
What values have shaped you?
For me value is something I consider important and that impacts my life. Compassion is another. I show a lot of compassion to those around me to the best of my ability. Consistency and commitment are vital. I am consistent in everything I do. My Africa Fashion Week London has been on for nine years and we have not missed out a single event despite all the challenges, My Africa Fashion Week Nigeria is six years running without missing any year. I apply consistency to everything I do. Moral Values too, which include integrity, treating others well and not looking down on people because of their class, honesty, etc.
What particular trait singles out a Princess?
Leadership. Being humble without calling so much attention to oneself.
What is the meaning of your family name?
Ademiluyi- my Crown Has Dignity.
Are there stories about the origin of your family name?
My great grandfather was an Ooni of Ife and his name was Ooni Ademiluyi Ajagunlawarikan. He was very proud of his crown and that is where the family name Ademiluyi came from.
Have you ever had any nicknames as a child or as an adult? Where did they come from?
Rookie, growing up I was very naive with not much experience and believed everything people told me so I was nicked named rookie.
How are you like your mother? Unlike her?
My Mother is an amazing woman and like her, I am very accommodating, but unlike her, I make very spontaneous decisions. My Mother will always weigh things and give them a fore-thought before she makes her decision.
How are you like your father? Unlike him?
My Father of blessed memory was a risk taker when it comes to businesses and I inherited that from him. I remember nine years ago when I came up with the concept of Africa Fashion Week London, so many people tried to convince me otherwise that it would never work, but to the Glory of God, it’s in its ninth year. If I had not taken that risk, who knows what would have happened.
My Father was a very flamboyant Prince; he loved his Rolls Royce’s and was always showing them off. Growing up, we lived in Sussex Gardens, a very highbrow area of London. He was a show off but he worked so hard so why not, but I am more of a reserved person.
What was most important to your parents?
Their Children, they played an important role in our lives, ensuring that we had the best of everything, but also instilled discipline and prepared us very hard for the future challenges.
Do you feel you’re like any of your grandparents?
I only had the privilege of meeting one of my grand parents- my mum’s dad, who was a retired headmaster and who used to tell us ancient stories. I guess that was where my interest in our African stories started from.
How are your children like you?
My daughter is innovative and creative like me. But unlike me, she is very glamorous, trendy and outgoing, I am more of an introvert and introverts make better leaders.
Why did you leave the shores of England to return fully to Nigeria?
While growing up in England, I always had it at the back of my mind that I was going to live in Nigeria. So, making that decision for me was not hard at all.
Share the experience of how you are settling into life in Nigeria?
Initially it was difficult in adapting and getting things done effectively. The level of incompetence was so new to me and I remember my mum always telling me that London was different from Nigeria and I would have to adapt if I wanted to stay. So here I am almost 15 years later.
If you dropped everything to pursue your dreams, what would you be risking?
I thrive in taking risks, I am a huge risk taker and my ultimate dream is to become a writer of history.
Describe the next five years of your life, and your plans, in a single sentence.
As history is always written by winners (Winston Churchill), I want to be a successful writer of History.
You seem to love the Arts. What do you owe to African paintings and artworks that adorn your space?
I recently became interested in arts after I was contacted by Bonhams during the recent discovery of the African Mona Lisa – TuTu Ademiluyi painting. And at the moment, I am working with Alexis Galleries on a traveling exhibition for Moremi. We will be working with 30 top artists who will all be painting their interpretation of Moremi. Aside UNESCO’s Mandela project, it’s never been done where you commission 30 artists to paint the same figure, this will be history in the making, our aim is for this exhibition to tour the world and end up in the Metropolitan Museum.
You are a purveyor of culture and African tradition. What spurred your expedition?
His Imperial Majesty the Ooni of Ife has had a huge impact on my expedition of African culture and tradition. I have learnt so much from him and especially by making me the global ambassador for the legacy of the legendary queen Moremi Ajasoro.
With so many books littering your table, you sure come across as a woman of letters. Which are your favourite books?
I just started the habit of reading recently especially with my latest passion of wanting to be a writer of history. So, eventually, after being inspired by my mum’s sister, I ended up studying law and you can’t imagine how many law books I had to read to become a law graduate. So, I got put off reading as I never really practiced as a Lawyer.
What is your philosophy of life?
My overall vision and attitude towards life is we came with nothing and we will go with nothing, so for me, the most important thing is to impact as much as possible and leave a lasting legacy.
What inspires you?
God inspires me to be creative. I look at the magnitude of the earth, I watch national geographic channel a lot and I get so inspired by the magnitude of God’s creation, and I keep saying to myself, God is my Father and I am created in God’s image so my creative mind should have no boundaries and this has really helped me.
What’s your plan for the Nigerian theatre, Arts and movie industry?
This is something I have just ventured into, I decided to tell the story of the legendary Queen Moremi in a musical format, similar to the lion king and Bolanle Austen Peters interpreted the story into a musical form for me, with His Imperial Majesty the Ooni of Ife and Mrs. Olufunso Amosun as the Executive Producers.
Any particular collaboration with industry stakeholders in and outside Nigeria?
Yes we have a few in the pipeline.
If your entire life was a movie, what title would best fit?
The King & I.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
An introvert with great leadership skills. Introverts charge their batteries by going within and taking time alone. Extroverts charge their batteries by being with people.
What makes you smile?
Lending a helping hand.
What terrifies you the most?
You are known for African fashion for woman, what is the impulse behind your attraction towards a ‘cause’ to engender women supporting women?
When I hear of the recent concern and outburst about the extent of disconnect among women most especially the rate at which women feel the urge to tear down another, I feel the need to explain that this is not a problem that just surfaced in recent times. Most people tend to think that this surfaced as a result of more women having to step up to higher positions and because of the limited opportunities offered to them out of stereotype attached to females they have been pressured to disunity causing mutual hate but no, this had started way back in the 12th century.
We all know of the queen warrior, Queen Moremi Ajasoro for her popular story of her fight for the liberation of her people, she took ownership not undermining her strength and wisdom as a woman. Her undercover duties at the enemies’ kingdom were successful after allowing her deliberate capture by them.
It was recorded that her victory came with a personal prize from her as she had to sacrifice her only son to Esinmirin the river goddess. At first, the whole village wept and mourned with her but history has it that she was later mocked by the same women who praised her who totally ignored her sacrificial pain. It would have been expected that the women would have rallied around her till the end as they are in the best position to have clearly related to her unpleasant situation since they face and understand equal challenges.
Women yearn for support from men, they want men to praise them, they want to be equals yet they aren’t ready to lift one another. It is important for women to understand that to earn respect in the society, be it equality or in any other conversation, there is a high need to show more love and togetherness in lifting one another up past their struggles.
Women have to understand that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, with unity they can achieve more and learn to stop this generational cycle of putting down another. Action speaks louder than words it is not just enough to say or use hashtags on social that preach support among women, it takes real action to achieve this. Women bring each other down so how can you expect men to support you when you can’t even support yourselves.
Until that narrative changes, we will still be where we are. That warped mind -set needs to be changed first. They frustrated Moremi’s life and she ended up committing suicide. Do you know what the women of Ife did to Moremi when she returned and became the queen consort of Ooni Oranmiyan? I am also using the story of Moremi to encourage women to support women. There was not a happy ending to the story of Moremi. Despite the fact that she gave her only son as a sacrifice for Ife, the women still taunted her that she was childless and she eventually committed suicide. Women need to support each other. History tells us that Moremi drowned herself in Esinmirin River in order to be with her son as the torment from other women was too much.