The “letters to my niece” series – Tola Adenle


[“Why do immigrant kids perform so well in America (2): The Nigerian example]


The “Letters to my niece” series from my old newspaper columns, need a brief introduction since I’ve already presented a couple of them on this blog.  Many more will follow.

In Emotan – the magazine – I decided to adopt an ‘Aunt’ whom I portrayed as mythical although my “Auntie Fola, dear” was real flesh and blood.  While she was not related by blood, Auntie Fola was like a real one to whom I could turn for perspectives on the Nigerian situation, the challenges of being a professional woman and other general social issues.

Even though I portrayed her as an older mythical person, I was surprised some years ago – many years after the magazine had been rested – to discover an academic paper on the web that showed at least one person knew this “mythical” Auntie Fola to be none other than Late Mrs. Fola Akintunde-Ighodalo, an Ondo State indigene and Nigeria’s first female first permanent secretary!  The researcher was right on the mark.

True to her character of modesty and respect for others, Auntie Fola never discussed the ‘letters’ with me even though she was an avid reader of Emotan who presented the magazine at its public outing at the Trenchard Hall of Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan on July 13, 1977.  Auntie Fola greatly encouraged me both personally and professionally.

The “Letters to my Aunt” were not as frequent as the offshoot “Letters to my niece” that I started in The Comet on Sunday to which I started contributions in 2002.  A mythical Yewande was the recipient of the many mails in which I gave my own perspectives of the world from that period through my essays in The Nation on Sunday.

While readers never got to read Yewande’s mails – mine to her always gave glimpses of what she had written about – my mails showed glimpses into her young professional career over a period that included a wedding, emigration to Boston in the USA and her own kids.  I must mention that before I embarked on the series with the younger woman, I did send Auntie Fola  to eternal rest in The Comet with her words to me to “adopt” a niece and carry on our kind of relationship.

It was apt that I would sign off weekly newspaper essays started in the mid 1970s at the Western Nigerian-owned Sketch group of newspapers which included dailies as well as The Entertainer, [edited by Tade Makinde] the forerunner to today’s Nigerian tabloids with “A Letter to my niece: the writing life & saying ‘goodbye’” on December 26 last year.

On the 5th anniversary of her passing in February last year, I paid Mrs. Akintunde-Ighodalo – no, not as “Auntie Fola, dear” – in “Fola Akintude-Ighodalo: A Foundation as Tribute” in my column in The Nation on Sunday. 

Here is a paragraph from that essay:

What a grand statement by kids of Auntie Fola who surpassed even the high standards of her era! She lived and fought not just for herself and her own but for the most downtrodden in society. She saw the problems that the huge underclass that Nigeria was breeding right in her backyard of densely-populated Agbowo, Ibadan, and in her usual quiet way, set about doing something about wandering and aimless kids. Like her alma mater, QC [Queen’s College], she did “pass on the torch” to her kids, Tolu, also an old QC grad, [Pastor] Ituah and Asue, no slouches, either.

Now, readers of my blog will be able to read many of these letters between three generations of women in the months and years ahead.

UPDATE:  Even though this was written for this blog, it’s being cross-referenced to “Non-Blog old essays” so that it can be with “The Letters to My Aunt/ Niece” series.  TOLA, February 25, 2013.

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3 Comments on “The “letters to my niece” series – Tola Adenle”


    we need to celebrate our hero and intellectual in Nigeria. they serve the country with the whole of their life for us to have brighter future.



  2. emotan77 Says:

    Thanks, Tai. It”s a shame how every new publisher claims to be the first. “The Entertainer” was pure tabloid and who best to handle its intro to Nigerian readers than Tade, a walking and talking info repository of everything tabloid! He seemed to have single-handedly “launched” Salawa Abeni (?) the Yoruba singer on to newspaper pages. Tade featured the then very young girl many times.

    I think it dents the image of Nigerian journalism when young people make claims that are not true. A recent mag claimed in its maiden issue last year to be the “first Nigerian lifestyle magazine”! Well, wouldn’t that be sad if Nigeria was bringing out a woman’s lifestyle mag for the first time in 2010? “Drum”, an African mag from S. Africa did it in the 50s or possibly earlier; then the Daily Times had WOMAN’S WORLD; then, it was Onabanjo’s MODERN WOMAN which late Toun, a contemporary edited – and then EMOTAN. After that, there were many: Mosun Oyenuga’s METROPOLITAN, etcetera.

    As I blogged in that mag that claimed to be a “first”, never make a claim in writing without checking.



  3. Taiwo Obe Says:

    Am not a “niece” but I am sure I’d find info that I can pass on to my daughter and even advice her to subscribe.And, who says that you can’t package those letters into a portable book.
    Now, one uninformed journalist says that an entertainment tabloid that some guys in Nigeria would be the “first” – I read that just two days ago – and I was like, “gimme a break.” My older brother, now Cartoon Editor of The Guardian, Obe Ess, started his cartooning career doing sketches for Entertainer.



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