Ooni of Ife Wears Shoes Made By Local Ikorodu Cobler

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Ooni of Ife Wears Shoes Made By Local Ikorodu Cobler

Ooni of Ife Wears Shoes Made By Local Ikorodu Cobler
April 12
10:08 2016

…meet the man behind Ooni of Ife’s locally made customized shoe

Adesola Omotayo Benson is an Ikorodu-born shoemaker who is gradually carving a niche for himself and His passion for shoe making spans three decades.

Benson is living his dream with a vocation that is tagged with school drop-outs and is a living proof to doubting Thomas’ that one can actually excel in any field if one is determined. He spoke to THISDAYLIVE about how he started making shoes and how he finally got the Ooni of Ife to wear his brand of shoes…Very Inspiring story!

The Journey into Shoe Making
I was in Junior Secondary School two (JSS 2) when I stumbled into it and I have not looked back. Honestly, it wasn’t my initial ambition, dream or plan to go into shoe making. My mother was working with the then former military Governor of Lagos State, the late Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudasiru. I went with my mum to visit the governor that fateful afternoon and I joined the children in their playroom. After a few minutes, the governor’s wife came to remind the children not to forget to pick up their shoes at the shoe maker’s place. She asked me if I wanted a pair and I said yes.

So I followed them and saw how the guy was making shoes and I got interested. I got that pair of sandals and when it got spoilt, I went back there and got another one. Of course, my passion was ignited and I looked for a shoe maker very close to my house. Every afternoon I spent four hours learning shoe making. And I was going there throughout my secondary school days. My mum didn’t know that I made shoes. But when I got to class five she caught me with a pair of shoes. Since then I have been doing shoes.

On The Ooni Of Ife Wearing His Shoes…..
Well, I had made shoes for APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. But the one that brought me to the limelight was a pair of shoes that I made for Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi. He is a man of humility and peace who believes in the unity of Nigeria. His humility humbled me. He is a young man that encourages others to grow. I don’t know him personally. I just admire him from afar and was looking for someone who knows his size. You know everybody kept telling me it is not possible, and somebody even discouraged me that he doesn’t wear made in Nigeria shoes. That put me off.

I took up the courage and made a pair of half shoe for him and looked for a way to get it across with a proposal on developing a footwear industry in Ile-Ife. I was happy when I learnt that he embraced it and he loved the shoes. Up till date, I have taken six pictures of him wearing the shoes I designed for him. He wore the same shoe when he met with the Cuban Ambassador and wore the same shoe at his traditional wedding to Olori Wuraola in Benin City recently. When he went to see President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, he wore the shoe. That has been my major breakthrough. Since that day, I have been getting calls from people that I should make shoes for them. They said the fact I could make shoes for a man of timber and calibre shows that I can make shoes for them as well.

Supporting the call for made in Nigeria goods…
Yes. On my part, I have been able to train about 10 shoe makers who stayed with me for four years. Training is my area of specialisation and from time to time I have been able to ensure that I supervise them. The local shoe makers will have breakthrough if federal government can encourage local manufacturers like us to make shoes for para-military personnel instead of importing. This will not only encourage us, it will also boost the nation’s economy by patronising made in Nigeria goods.

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