Sister Stella Oluyemisi Adeogun was recently inducted the President of Lagos Anglican Diocesan Guild of Stewards, (LADGOS). This makes her the first female president of the guild in its 30 years existence. Aside her church activism, she manages Defuntoks Travels after her 22 years in banking. In this interview, she talked about her new role as president of the guild, her childhood and lots more.
From banking to hospitality how and why?
I love meeting people. I love traveling, I love getting to know people, I love exploring places and making sure my clients are comfortable on their trips. I have been running Defuntoks Travels since I left banking in 2006 but I must say banking is more interesting. There’s no pressure in the banking world. In travels and tourism, if your customer is traveling and he/she misses the flight you are in trouble. It might not be your fault, it might be your client’s fault but you have to make sure they get the next available flight. But in banking, it’s easier. You come to the bank, take your money and you go and now with the ATM it’s fun, because I do all my transactions online now. In hospitality, the travels aspect of it is a little demanding.
Tell us how you became president of LADGOS?
I graduated from Holy Child College, Obalende in 1980 and I discovered I needed to do something in the house of God. I liked being an usher, ushering people to their seats and giving them bulletins. I got involved with side men and side ladies in the 80s. I registered with my parish as a young girl. Our duties then was to put all hymn books back in the cupboard, make sure all the cords are back in the cupboard and count offering/tithes/donations after service. My parents waited in the car every Sunday while I did these.
My mum in her testimony at my investiture recalled how I kept her waiting in the car while counting money after every service hitherto. She knew I’m passionate about serving the Lord and I won’t come near the car until I finished counting money. I attend the first service, second service and evening service every Sunday. Attending the three services was the requirement. I did all that until I got married and I switched to my husband’s church and continued from there.
I was a member of Bishop Adelakun Howells Memorial Church by birth but immediately I got married, I switched to St Peters Church, Faji. I have always been a devout Christian from age 16. I rose through the ranks and eventually became the first female president of the guild.
Later I was made Secretary to the Archdeaconry. I worked as the secretary for 12 years. I worked with three presidents and this made it easy for me to become the president. As the secretary I was the focus. They used to call me the engine room of the Guild of Stewards in those days. I had to work and close with my presidents. You have to be efficient, punctual and able to communicate well with people to belong. If the bishop has a function I must be there. You must be there at any occasion.
Was the position elective?
Yes. The election was keenly contested. I contested with three men. I have been involved with the menfolk all through . I’m the only girl in my family. I have three brothers all in the USA. Growing up with them challenged me to contest with the men I vied with, because I have been living with men all my life, so it wasn’t difficult for me contesting with men.
There’s nothing I want that I don’t get from my brothers. I told myself from the outset that these three men I’m contesting with would give me what I wanted as well and it came to pass.
Could you tell us more about your childhood?
I grew up in Ikoyi and attended St Mary’s Private School in Lagos. Subsequently, I attended Holy Child College and graduated in 1980. Afterwards, I attended Lagos State Polytechnic and read Accountancy. Incidentally, at Holy Child, I was the queen of the tracks. In Lagos State, I was the queen of the tracks in 100 and 200 meters races. I made sure I was undefeated. I stopped running when I was admitted to study Accountancy.
What does your new position in the Anglican Church entail?
I go round different dioceses. I can’t say I worship in a particular diocese. If there’s any programme in any diocese that involves the bishop I have to be there. If am not worshipping in any particular diocese then I go to my parish. If there’s an occasion in any diocese, I have to worship as number one. I have to be there with the bishop.
It affords me more opportunity to meet people. When Mama Awolowo died, I was among those that officiated at her funeral. I met more Nigerians and officiated with other presidents in other dioceses and that’s the climax for me. You see, officiating is not the same in the different dioceses. As the foremost steward of the diocese, I have a permanent seat in any church I’m worshipping.
Is there any dress code for the job?
Yes, black suit and cream hat for the diocese and for the province of Lagos, it’s black suit and red cap. I have found myself wearing black suits in the past one year. Every Sunday, I’m always in black suit.
What’s your favourite colour?
My favourite colour is red but because of church, I wear black almost every Sunday. On other days , I wear any other colour. I wear my jeans and other outfits. I like a little bit of makeup when I’m socializing. On the day of my investiture, my makeup was nude. I didn’t want to be flashy.
What has life taught you?
To be humble and prayerful. I didn’t think I could win being a woman. I was vying for the post of vice president to be candid. I don’t live in Lagos; I live in Abeokuta with my family. Every weekend I have to be in Lagos for service.
From who did you inherit church activism, your mum or dad?
My mum too served the Lord as secretary of a parish. My father was a lay reader but I just went further to pursue my passion and I’m stuck with it. It’s good to serve the Lord.
Aside LADGOS, you are first female president in Lagos State (Mainland and Badagry) how do you cope with the home front?
My husband understands. He gave me all the support I needed to get to this level of my service in the Lord’s vineyard. His support gives me the confidence to be bold and strong anytime.