‘Alaga Iduro industry has evolved, now a multi-million naira service’

Amoke Alaga is a popular name in the marital entertainment industry. Real names Olaoluwakitan Deborah Abiola, she is the owner of Amoke Alaga events which includes ‘The Exceptional Alaga Conference’ (TEA) held annually to enhance collaboration among stakeholders. She told ROTIMI IGE how the industry has evolved, with more young people taking up the ‘Alaga’ role as a profession.

Your ‘Alaga’ conference has inspired so many young people to take up the ‘Alaga’ job. What spurred you to do it?

Some years back, as a young Lady who had just trained to be an ‘Alaga’ (as at then it was older people dominated field), it was difficult for me to find footing because then, only a few young people were in the field. The market was strictly for the elderly ones because most parents didn’t want someone who was not married as their ‘Alaga’; those days, parents had 100 percent influence on the choice of vendors. There was no social media to showcase our skills like we have now, so it was a tough time as no one was ready to listen to a young girl who had no bearing.

I understood what having a mentor meant and I approached a lot of people who were ‘doing well’ in the industry to mentor me. I faced a lot of rejection for years as many people were not ready to collaborate or give clues. Collaboration was not done them. One day I got tired and decided to pray about it. I asked God to give me a mentor and a few weeks later, I met my helper at an association meeting and the rest is history. She held me by the hands and I also made myself available around her, I volunteered my service and also learnt by observation.


So are you also changing the narrative by giving back?

After two years, I got the leading to give back to my industry by helping other ‘Alagas’ who are in my shoes. The instruction was clear. The voice said, ‘Now that you have been strengthened, do same for your brethren’ and  that was how ‘The Exceptional Alaga Conference (TEA)’ came into existence. From the conference, we formed the ‘Exceptional Alaga Tribe’, a business support tribe for ‘Alagas’ where we learn, support, collaborate and help ourselves to grow. Our main message is collaboration, it looked impossible initially but today the message of collaboration is being widely spread around.  We have had three editions of TEA conference and the fourth edition tagged ‘The Landmark’ is set to hold on March 2 by the grace of God.


You just acquired a Ph.D. How does it make you feel?

It is a dream come through and I return all the glory to God, the one who makes something out of nothing. He turned the stone the builders rejected into a cornerstone.  It can only be God. I want to encourage everyone that whatever you aspire to become, keep working at it daily no matter the challenges and turbulence around you, as long as your trust in God doesn’t fail. He will make it a reality.


What are your aspirations for the ‘Alaga’ craft?

I’m looking forward to collaborations on the international scene as a custodian of culture. I am also looking forward the partnership and ambassadorial deals with culture oriented organisations.


Many say that the ‘Alaga’ job is for older women…or may tie spiritual inclinations to it?

Gone were the days when it was only old people or retirees that played the role of an ‘Alaga’. Nowadays, we have so many of the younger generation in the industry. Most of them even balancing being an ‘Alaga’ with a regular corporate day jobs. Social media has really helped a lot of young ‘Alagas’ bring their creativity and quality service delivery to the spotlight.

About spirituality, an ‘Alaga’ is the minister-in-charge of the traditional engagement. You are standing in the position of a pastor or an Imam by uniting family and joining two people together. So, if you are coordinating an institution ordained by God, godliness should be your watchword.


Why are there not many men in the ‘Alaga’ business?

Before the inception of ‘Alaga’ in Yoruba land, it was an ‘iyawo ile’ job, a duty carried out by the outspoken wives of the family. It’s a job of talking, singing and dancing, which come naturally with women; the men of the house were expected to attend to the more tasking jobs but along the line, in anchoring intertribal marriages, we discovered some tribes where women were not allowed to talk. They only permitted a male spokesperson, so men came into the picture. Today, we have quite a number of male ‘Alagas’, both young and old that are doing well in the field.


What’s next for you?

I am looking forward to having TEA conference hangouts in other states outside Lagos and even on the international scene, God willing. Also, having our own property for the ‘Amoke Alaga Academy’. Our office spaces in Ibadan and Lagos are rented apartments and it’s becoming small to contain us. What God cannot do doesn’t exist.

I am also seeking collaboration with ministry of arts and culture to showcase more of our works and to empower other interested youths and women in the arts, so the legacy can be sustained.


Tell us a bit about your fashion sense?

I love to look good and beautiful at all times. I dress for beauty and for glory always. I am an advocate of modest dressing because I was raised by a mother who regularly told me royalty doesn’t dress to expose one’s body and she used the Queen of England as an example always.

Being a custodian of culture, I dress appropriately to suit the culture I’m representing but always in a non revealing manner, bearing in mind that I will always be addressed the way I am dressed.

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