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I’ll love to meet Tope Alabi -Roadside plantain seller who forayed into gospel music

The trajectory of Motunrayo Adeleye’s life is anything but easy. Despite the odds that dodge her paths, she has continued to weather the storm and seems poised to take the gospel music by storm someday. Read her inspiring story

It was a sunny afternoon in the city of Lagos. I had just closed from work and was rushing home to eat the delicious okra soup my mother had sent to me.

I didn’t have breakfast earlier in the day because I wanted to beat the traffic, and while at work, I only had a little snack. So, as soon as I passed through Iyana-Ipaja [in Lagos] garage a little after BRT Bus Stop, I saw a woman roasting plantain  (commonly known as boli) by the roadside.

It was irresistible, and without a second thought, I walked towards the seller. I noticed she was not a grandma. Rather, she was a young woman. I quick engaged her in a conversation.

“Good afternoon, ma’am. How are you doing today?” I asked.
“I’m fine o…” She responded slowly.

“Okay. Please give me four plantain and add enough stew,” I said.

“Will you eat it here?”

“Yes! I want to spend some time with you, or do you want me to go?”

“No! You can stay here and work as my assistant,” she responded.

“But you have to pay me o. Even if it’s for one hour,” I said jokingly.

“No problem, my dear,” she responded.

As I ate, I noticed that she looked worried. Due to the current scarcity of cash, her customers were very few. So, I decided to engage her in a conversation to cheer her up. During the discussion, she narrated the struggles of her life.

Mrs. Motunrayo Adeleye was born 38 years ago in Lagos State. She hails from Ifo local government area in Ogun State. She is the third of her parents’ five children and the only female.

The journey of her life has not been easy. She grew up in a humble family. Her father worked as a driver at Hallmark , while her mother was a trader who sold all kinds of food items and had supported the family with her income until she died suddenly.

After her death, Motunrayo’s widowed dad struggled to take care of the children. Due to his poor income, he resigned from his job and used his savings to buy a car. Then, he started working as a cab driver.

Education
Motunrayo attended Hope Primary School, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos. After obtaining her First School Leaving Certificate, she moved to the State Senior High School, Agege, Lagos.

“I stopped going to school when I was in JSS3. Initially, I took over my late mother’s shop, but I couldn’t manage it properly because I was young. As a family, we ate some of the food items in the store and squandered the business capital.

“When the shop closed down, my father suggested that I learn hairdressing, but I was not ready at that time. We were living in abject poverty, and I wanted to work and earn money. So, I got a salesgirl job and worked there for a few years before opening a provision store in Iyana-Ipaja.”

Marriage:
While Motunrayo was struggling for survival, her main prayer point was to meet a rich man who would take her to his paradise and make her wildest fantasies come true. So, in year 2010, a young man came along and promised to give her heaven on earth.

Although he wasn’t a prince, his sweet words melted her heart, and she accepted to spend the rest of her life with him.

“Just like most young girls, I used to think that marriage was a bed of roses. I felt my role as a wife was to stay at home and take care of the family. However, I realised that I was wrong a few months after I got married.

My husband had done many menial jobs before he became a tricycle driver. One thing I love about him is that he is hard-working. Unfortunately, he hasn’t hit a jackpot yet.

After we got married, I was unemployed for a while. So, when I started giving birth, I noticed that the financial burden was too heavy on him. There were times when we lacked food.

“Do you know what it means to watch your child cry due to hunger pangs? I still remember those days when I used to drop my children off at a neighbour’s house, hoping that she would feed them.

“We lived from hand to mouth. I cried and prayed to God to make a way for us.
After a while, I got inspired to start a trade. I met the people in charge of this place, and they permitted me to sell roasted plantain by the roadside.

“I have been selling plantain for two years now, and I’m grateful that our financial status has improved. Although I’m not rich, I don’t beg for food or owe people anymore.

“Also, I’m not a liability to my husband, and he loves the fact that I’m supporting him.”

Challenges
Running a business is risky. If you are afraid of challenges, then don’t ever start a business. There are physical, human, and financial aspects to consider. One of the major challenges that Motunrayo is experiencing is the lack of funds. She hopes to expand the business into a big restaurant and employ people to work for her.

Over the years, she has experienced both good and bad days. There were times when the plantains got rotten and she couldn’t sell them. So, on such occasions, she counted her losses and moved on.

“Since I started this business, I’m grateful to God for the strength and protection. I buy the plantains at the Idi-Oro market and take them to Ipaja. So far, I have not experienced any accidents on the road.

Another challenge I’m experiencing is the heat of the fire. Sitting close to the charcoal grill leaves a burning sensation on my skin. Also, while roasting the plantains, my hands have been burned many times. It hurts me so much, but what else can I do? I can’t leave this business, which has taken away hunger from my family.

Musical talent
Everyone has a talent. Many years ago, Motunrayo discovered that she enjoys singing and writing songs. So, she joined her local church choir and became the lead vocalist. In the year 2014, she released her first album titled Arugbo-Ojo [Ancient of Days]; and in 2021, she released another one titled Odun Ayo Mi [My Year of Joy].

Although her songs are very inspirational, selling them has been very challenging.

She explains, “I have been marketing the songs by myself, and that’s why the sales have been low. I hope to hire the services of a professional recording company to promote my next album.

“Singing is my spiritual calling, and I believe that one day, God will use it to bless me. If I had the opportunity to meet a public figure one- on- one, I would love to meet Evangelist Tope Alabi.”

Leisure
Relaxation is a big part of living a healthy and successful life. Motunrayo doesn’t work on Sundays. After returning from church, she relaxes at home. She enjoys watching movies and hanging out with her kids.

She tells Iya Magazine, “Being a mother requires you to become stronger than you were previously. You also have to make a lot of sacrifices for the well-being of your family. No sacrifice is too small or too big as long as it is done for love.”

In Motunrayo’s case, she has vowed to remain a super mum who will go the extra mile for her children, even as she continues to pray for better opportunities.

“Are you a mother who is still looking for legit ways to make ends meet? If so, keep trying and don’t ever give up. God will show up before it’s too late,” she enthuses.

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