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Princess TOYIN KOLADE Speaks On The 2022 Aje Festival

Princess (Dr.) Toyin Kolade is a charming businesswoman and cultural icon, who sits as the Iyalaje Oodua. In this interview, she will be painstakingly analyzing the true definition of what it means to be the Iyalaje of the whole Yoruba race and the fortunes that come with being the emissary and embodiment of the Aje deity. The Aje deity is the Yoruba goddess of wealth and prosperity.


Congratulations as you celebrate your first Aje Festival as Iyalaje Oodua, how has it been so far?

Thank you so much. I want to thank the Almighty God, the Ooni Orisha, HIM Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi, my husband, and my whole team for the support they have given me. Aje will not depart from our homes. It has been a fulfilling year and I have come to imbibe patience and a listening culture to help me in this course. I know it is a marathon and I pray that I do not fall short and if I fall short, people should know I am human.

Can you walk us through your title and what it signifies?

Iyalaje Oodua is a traditional title installed on someone who is an embodiment of the Aje deity, which is wealth, prosperity, and success. We can also refer to it as a spiritual title. In time immemorial, Aje was the first market woman, and she ensured prosperity was spread across all lands.

Also, she is among the 401 deities that are worshipped all over Yorubaland. She is in the same league with gods like Obatala, Sango, Ogun, etc. Aje had her first landing in Ife before returning to Benin. She is the mother of Ele (market stall) and Ere (profit). As interesting as it might sound, Aje is today found in all resources (mineral, water, and vegetation). Aje exists in rocks, known today as diamonds; in earth as gold; in trees through cashew fruits; and in waters as Aje Olokun. It is important to note that Aje is not a mere mortal, hence an individual who does not embody the Aje deity cannot become an Iyalaje. The blessing of Aje deity is very important to the livelihood of mankind. Even the kings revere and pray for Aje’s blessings. In the real world, money is a semblance of Aje and that is why commerce in the ancient world started with the use of cowries. Also, If worshippers use these cowries in their divination. Though the world has evolved to the use of paper currencies for transactions and exchanges, the relevance and prosperity of the Aje deity cannot be undermined.

Have there been persons who had formerly held the title before you?

Smiles. This is the first time that anyone would be crowned Iyalaje Oodua. So I am well honoured and I know the responsibilities and expectations the title brings.

We are aware that the Aje deity is in a way synonymous with purity and that is why white regalia is often worn to its shrine. This is also evident in you as you always wear white dresses. Are other colours considered taboo to the Aje deity, especially around its shrine or it is based on personal preference?

Well, it is not that other colours are considered taboo to the Aje deity, but every deity is characterized by a colour description. For instance, the Ogun deity and its worshippers are identified by red and black colours. Sango worshippers are identified by a red colour. So the Aje deity and its worshippers are defined by a white, and as such with white attire. As an emissary of the Aje deity, I must lead by example, as a model to all. That is why you can always see me donning in an all-white outfit.

How do you pray to the Aje deity?

Saying a prayer to the Aje deity is very similar to how Christians and Muslims make their applications to God. You just need to have your quiet time while you stay keen to make your prayers to Olodumare. As it is often said, cleanliness is next to godliness; this narrative is valid while praying to the Aje deity. You must be clean from all. You start by appreciating Olodumare for all the blessings of the past, the blessings of today, and the anticipated blessings of the future. Showing gratitude as a prelude to your prayer is very important because it moves the Aje deity to do more for you. This is in a way similar to we humans, when you praise someone, you tend to get the best from him/her. You can then pray to Olodumare to send Aje to your life. Let’s remember that Aje is synonymous with a metaphor of prosperity and wealth. So our prayer is directly linked to supplicating for Aje’s prosperity in your life. To speed up the answering of your prayer, it is crucial to make a promise to Olodumare to support your family and people around you if He answers your prayer(s) by blessing you with prosperity and wealth.

You can always repeat this prayer every Monday. The Yoruba name for Monday is “Aje”. So you can see how significant the day is to the week and our lives. Therefore, if you pray to Olodumare for Aje on Mondays, this is the bedrock of your exploits for the week. That is why it’s sacrosanct to immerse yourself in the aura of Aje every Monday, if not every day. Finally, always stay kind to people. Don’t always offer assistance to earn rewards.

Are there restrictions at the Aje Shrine, maybe there Is an age bracket or certain persons that must not set foot at the shrine?

The Aje Shrine is home to all, so far you are not evil. You can see that the shrine is adorned with all-white features, and white represents purity. So you must have clean hands and a clean mind. Although there are some places of the shrine where you can’t enter with your shoes on, the shrine is just a sacred ground that must be devoid of sacrilegious acts.        

What has informed the ideas behind the events scheduled for this year’s Aje Festival?

Thank you. Let me use this opportunity again to thank my father, Ojaja II, Oba Ogunwusi for his support and advice. Aje is the deity that brings economic wealth to the world and as an ambassador of the deity, chosen by my father; I became deliberate on the kind of legacy we want to leave. The immediate question that came to me is how I bring trade, investments, and economic prosperity to Oodualand. In the course of ruminating on the question, I arrived with my team to hold an economic summit on how to achieve economic prosperity. The business world has changed. The way of doing business has changed and we must change with it. The steady growth of the digital economy is a game-changer for local and international trade. Therefore, the summit will bring the importance of technology in some vital sectors of the economy.

How have you been able to use the Aje Festival to bridge the disconnect between the Yoruba people at the home front and those in the diaspora?

Aje Festival has helped in closing up the gap. It is not that people living in the diaspora have not been connected with the root through the festival, over the years, but the turnout has been significant in the last few years. As the Iyalaje Oodua and even before my installation, I have travelled to countries like Brazil, where we have a large population of Yoruba descents who are finding it difficult to get aligned with their ancestral heritage. I have on many occasions been in contact with these people so that they can have some sense of belonging. This is even evident in the 2021 Olojo Festival when several people came from Brazil to fully participate in the cultural event.

Many ideas have been initiated to further increase the number of people living in the diaspora who are itching to stay connected to their roots. This is what birth the Iyalode Oodua Worldwide, which is the platform through which there would be an adequate linkage between us at the home front and those across the Atlantic. And with this Aje Festival, I believe remarkable progress would be rolled out in that regard.

Many people believe every prayer said at the Aje Shrine speedily comes to pass, what can you say about this? Are you a testimonial to this?

I’m a living testimony to that. You can’t adore what you don’t believe in, neither can you be embodied with something you don’t manifest. Also, what you believe is what you become. The Aje has been magnanimous in answering every prayer said at the shrine. You can even come to the shrine with salt which will be prayed upon to add to water to bathe or cook. We have seen people who practiced this return the following year with their testimony and offers. I have seen the manifestation in my businesses. Aside from being a successful businesswoman, my ordination as the Iyalaje Oodua and a believer of the Aje deity has opened many doors of prosperity to me, and the story is the same to others who believe in Aje.

As the Iyalaje Oodua, what are the initiatives you’ve mapped out to ease the livelihood of people, especially the underserved?

Thank you. Connection is power, and the hallmark of the Aje deity is the provision of prosperity and wealth. That being said, my office is committed to making the basic needs of life accessible to people. This is we working towards the ideal of the Aje deity, which is supporting people. Towards the end of 2021, we had a health outreach targeted at girl students who don’t have adequate access to sanitary pads to keep them healthy. This was achieved by selecting some schools in the rural parts of Southwest Nigeria. During this health awareness program, I and my team enlightened the girl students on the importance of hygiene practices during menstruation.

But many programs would be rolling from our sleeves this year, so watch out for them.

Aje Heritage Summit will be having its maiden edition this year, what are the steps taken to make this a yearly event and ensure Yoruba people across the world can effectively participate?

Let it be known that this Aje Heritage Summit has come to stay. We saw the need for our market men and women to advance in their businesses through creative ideas, so that is why we deem it necessary to curate this summit to the economic success of our cultural value. Its maiden edition will be held this year 2022, and we have been in contact with business executives who are vast in the research and development of business. The summit is geared at maximizing our potential with the blessings of the Aje deity. So going forward, the Aje Heritage Summit will be an encompassing event that would pitch business creativity to the global society, albeit Aje Heritage 2022 would be a litmus test to the subsequent editions of the summit.

In my trance of getting our people living in the diaspora connected to the root here in Nigeria, especially Yorubaland, I met top-ranked

entrepreneurs who are thriving in their crafts, we are already making plans to bring these industrious individuals to the summit to share

their wealth of experience with emerging and existing traders. May Aje see us through!

What are your plans after the summit?

Well... the plan is to implement the workings of the summit. I want to make a difference. We want to produce a working document that will be like a blueprint for the regional economy for Oodualand. This is not to rival any government but we will complement the workings of governments in Oodualand. Our joy is the economic prosperity of our land and people.

As a busy entrepreneur, do you think you can achieve this?

I will also be busy making sure we have a working document to present to governments in Oodualand by mid-year.

After the working document, what is next?

Thank you for that question. We aim to drive investments and trade into Oodualand. Promote locally produced items and encourage

export. We have plans to drive Foreign Investments into Oodualand by engaging with investors and selling the attractiveness of Oodualand to them. The world is engaging. We must engage. We must look beyond our traditional networks. We must be able to compete out there. We will not leave the governments to do it all alone, we will complement them and bring investors to them in vital areas. I think Governments should keep reviewing policies and keep those that create enabling environments for investors. The incentives must attract investors. We are blessed and without being political, Oodualand is suited to be prosperous and we have called the Aje deity to bless our land.

As an emissary of the Aje deity, we would love you to say a word of prayer to everyone.

You are blessed already. Ki Aje wa wa ri, ki owo wa wa ri. A ni f’osi logba. Eni ti oti ni Aje, koma f’aje pitan. Eni ti ko ti ni, ki Aje wole wa fun gbogbo wa. Olodumare maa bukun fun gbogbo wa.Ase!!!

Oodualand is proud of you!!!


-Culled From Brochure

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