Bunmi Akinnanu-Adeoye, better known as Omije Ojumi, speaks to MOBOLA SADIQ about her decison to leave a banking career for full-time gospel music and other issues
Why did you choose to be a gospel artiste?
After my National Diploma at Lagos State Polytechnic, I had my Industrial Training with Ecobank. While I was working at the bank, I just knew that was not my place. While working, my boss encouraged me to go for a part-time course at the Lagos State University where I studied Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Over time, some of my colleagues knew that I had the gift of singing and they were also telling me that the banking sector was not my place. I started praying fervently and I think that I did the right thing by quitting. The day I made up my mind about quitting banking was when we closed after 11 pm. It was then I decided this was not the life for me anymore. I’ve been singing right from my childhood but 11 years ago, I became a professional. I worked for more than 10 years in the banking industry.
What were some of your fears when you were abandoning banking?
A lot of people discouraged me, but thankfully I don’t share my dreams with people. This is due to some experiences I had in the past. I also didn’t have motherly care because my mother died when I was four years old. It was my father who trained me and he taught me not to discuss my dreams or plans with anyone. That was my guiding principle when I was growing up. But when the dreams materialise, then I can share the good news with people. I really prayed for so many years before I decided to go into gospel music.
A report claimed that your mother knew that you would be a servant of God because it had been fortold.
Yes, that was what I heard from my daddy. He shared this information with me when I was grown. But he must have told me this after he discovered that I was always preoccupied with church activities. I was really guided by my father.
Evangelical Church of West Africa was my father’s church, but I left after I got married. My husband does not stay in Nigeria so I had to travel out to have my babies. I have never left ECWA, it is still a part of me. A lot of people didn’t know what happened. That was why they circulated funny tales about it. About two to three years ago, I was still invited by the choir.
What have been the highlights of your career?
There’s been a lot of testimonies about my ministry. I don’t want to go into details but a lot has happened since I started. For example, I have a ministry for women trying to have children. Even when I post positive messages on social media, people believe those good things will be theirs. I don’t keep a record of all these testimonies.
Is there competition in the gospel industry?
For me, I don’t compete and I have never believed in competition. There’s an adage that says ‘the sky is big enough for all birds to fly without touching one another.’ What my song preaches is different from that of others. Our messages and calling are different. I also believe that I’m unique, and personally, I think competing is not the best strategy. Gospel music is a full-time career for me
Did you ever think your song, Omije Oju Mi, would be such a big hit?
No, I didn’t know that ‘Omije Oju Mi’ will put in the limelight. I did the song for the church and surprisingly, I started hearing the song everywhere. Afterwards, pastors and churches began to invite me for ministrations. From there, I discovered that God was leading me into something. I picked the key and he started opening doors for me. So yes, ‘Omije Oju Me’ opened more doors for me.
How do you get inspirations for your songs?
I usually get inspirations during my quiet time.
What are the challenges of being a gospel artiste?
People believe that gospel artistes don‘t have much (in terms of finances) because we work mostly with pastors. So, if you’re not sure about what you want, you’ll get discouraged. As for me, I go for ministrations anywhere whether there is money or not. The least I can do is to inform my host that I’m coming with some band members. Some will say I should not bring my whole entourage so they can accommodate and sort us out. I go anywhere for ministrations because I have a passion for what I do. I believe that God has a way of compensating me with bigger ministrations afterwards.
What’s your general perception about dressing?
I feel that one should dress modestly. If you have money, you can buy whatever suits you. In the past, I heard that gospel artistes were not dressing well; that we would use scarfs unfashionably. But I advise all gospel artistes to start dressing well. There is nothing bad in that especially if you can afford it. Your makeup should not be loud, so people don’t get distracted or question your belief when on stage. When I dress, I make sure that people can’t even see my underwear no matter how beautiful my dress is.
Why are gospel artistes rarely used as brand influencers/ambassadors?
I am also concerned about this trend in Nigeria. I’m personally open to such opportunities but I think some people will say that gospel artistes are now doing things of the ‘world.’ There are brands that can accommodate us and it will not affect our standards. I have heard some companies say that they don’t deal with gospel artistes. There are companies that sell lands, cars, wristwatches and other things. One must just decide on the kind of brands they want to represent to avoid embarrassment.