Born to a christian family in Ile-Ife and named Janet about 96years ago, Alhaja Rafatu Ademinure Awofisayo, nee Ademiluyi, the mother of the Chairman, Osun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Prince Felix Awofisayo is a known name in the Islamic group and associations in Ile-Ife and has made immense contributions to the development of the religion and humanity generally in the ancient town.
Married to the late Jimoh Elutide Awofisayo, the aged mother of eight, said in an interview that, “I was born to a Christian family and my original name was Janet when I was in school. When it was the time to get married, it was my mother that gave me out in marriage to my husband, the late Jimoh Elutide Awofisayo. It was when I got married that I became a Muslim.
“When I was still a Christian, I was so proactive in school and in church to the extent that I was the one leading choir and some other activities until I got married. Initially, members of my family were angry that I got married to a Muslim, but when I had my first child, my family members came for the naming ceremony and they saw that my husband was so famous and nice. Subsequently, they were happy that I got married to my husband. My first child was named Abdul-Lateef Adeyemi Awofisayo, the son of Ologundudu Bada”.
The proactiveness of the nonagenarian in church activities when she was still a Christian recurred and she became more proactive in the Islamic cycle despite her Christian background.
It was her efforts in the religion that propelled the mosque congregation to honour her with respected titles and subsequently she was turbaned “Ajinawo Adinni”. She said, “Few years after, I was honoured with another title of “Agbesinga Adinni”. After this honour, I became more committed and few years after again, I was turbaned as the second-in-command to “Iyalaje Adinni”, that is Igbakeji Iyalaje. After the death of the then substantive Iyalaje, I was subsequently turbaned “Iyalaje Adinni”. Also at the mosque in my husband compound at Ita-Agbon, I am the “Iya Sunna” while I am still the head of all the wives. I now became a rallying point for everyone, both in the Islamic and family cycle”.
She said that subsequently, the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) offered to make her the Matron having seen her contributions to the development of Islam which she gladly accepted and now, she is the Grand Patron of the association in Ile-Ife axis.
To justify her desire to do more towards the upliftment of the religion, she donated an acre of land to FOMWAN and sold her house to start the construction of a Mosque for the association, which was recently completed with the help of her children and handed over to the association for their Asalatu (prayers).
On her educational background, she said, “I was also going to school but it was when I was about to be promoted to Form 2 that I was withdrawn from school and started working with my mother in her business of pap preparation and sales after the death of my father to ensure that my two elder brothers are able to further their education.
“I was into this business with my mother. Later, I left the business and started selling provisions which I did until my marriage. Later, I ventured into palm oil business, which I did until I stopped giving birth to children and using the proceeds of the business to give my children education. All my children are well educated and now doing well in their different endeavours. I struggled so well on my children and I thank God that today, they are doing very well. Later I ventured into the business of sales of beers and it was from that business that I began to build my house”.
On the relationship between her and her late husband, Alhaja Rafatu said, “the relationship was very smooth because I was submissive to my husband and that is working well for my children today. In any marital relationship, there will be period of ups and downs but God saw us through. I even married two wives for my husband; and I went to my first Hajj with my husband. It was on our return from hajj that our houses were built side by side”.
According to her, the secret of her success and mercies of God is that “I stand with nothing but almighty God and I have come to realise that once you stand with God and you have a just mind to others, everything will be working well for you as it is working well for me and my family today.
She urged parents to be patient and pay adequate attention to the care of their children, as well as to be submissive to their husband, saying, this is one secret for any woman to succeed as a mother and a wife.
Alhaja Rafatu Awofisayo is blessed with successful children: Prince Felix Awofisayo, Ganiyu Albert Awofisayo, Mukaila Martins Awofisayo, Silifat, Amudat Idowu and Sherifat.