Awo and her “jewel of inestimable value”
At their wedding, Awo in his distinctive tortoise shell-shape glasses, a style he would wear throughout life
Mama with Awo and their daughters at Dr. Tokunbo’s graduation from Medical School
Giving audience to notable politicians at her Ikenne home, which had always been a Mecca since Awo’s days, continued till Mama’s passing. Here are a few from the political stars who paid homage to Mama:
Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo, a man believed by Awo’s millions of followers to have deprived their hero of the Nigerian presidency in 1979 when he conducted an election as military head of state for the return to civil rule after the long years of army rule, was reportedly one of the earliest callers to Ikenne after Mama’s passing.
Obasanjo wheeling Mama at her Ikenne home during a visit. To the right is Dr. Tokunbo Dosunmu
With former President Jonathan
Ondo State’s Governor Mimiko got a boost when Mama received him and reportedly proclaimed him “a true Awoist”
Ekiti State’s Dr. Kayode Fayemi with APC’s Chief Akande
Delta State’s Governor Uduaghan on a condolence visit after the death of Chief Oluwole Awolowo
Muhamadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, did not just make THE pilgrimage to Mama during his run for the presidency but scored a huge goal by nominating Professor Yemi Ọṣibajo, a grand son-in-law of Mama’s, as his vice-presidential running mate. The [now] VP is married to late Ayo Soyode’s daughter, Dolapo.
Irony of all ironies, THIS has-been Ikenne pilgrim – forget his antecedents, forget the cliche about a generally-reactionary Northern Nigeria, et cetera – may, just may be the only true Awoist to ever tread Nigeria’s political terrain: Awo’s focus and policies were for the grestest good for the country, her masses and a “Great Leap Forward” for the land of his birth to join the modern world, and an aversion for selfish and corrupt leadership. Buhari seems cut from that type of cloth, wondering aloud when those who profit from the corrupt Nigeria system wished for the status quo on removal of a so-called “oil subsidy” that has only enriched a few: “how will workers feed their families …?”
ALL PHOTOS: Google Images
Mama might have never been a politician but she was always right there with the late sage through his many tribulations. After the passing of the great Awo, their Ikenne home in Nigeria’s Ogun State remained to the end a Mecca for Awoists – real and fake – who wanted to be numbered among “progressives”, a catch word for politicians who tread the path of Awo. Alas, this is far from reality as politicians who practise Awo’s brand of focussed and selfless people-oriented politics in today’s Nigeria are very rare although Awo’s cap style does adorn many heads all over Southwestern Nigeria!
Mama was a very successful businesswoman who held the home forte while Awo struggled to get Nigeria’s highest political prize so that the dazzling and pioneering strides he took in the Western Region – Nigeria’s first region to have free primary education; Nigeria, indeed, Africa’s first television station; Nigeria’s first international-standard stadium (the Liberty Stadium), and many others – that he led could be replicated at the centre.
It was never to be, and the words of late Col. Odumegu Ojukwu from Eastern Nigeria who led ill-fated Biafra, remains immortal: that Awo was “the best president Nigeria NEVER had” because with Awo at the centre as leader, Nigeria could have been in the category of a country like Singapore today rather than an oil-rich but very corrupt, pan-handling country, steeped in borrowings from all over the world, that is yet to become a nation after over half a century of independence.
Of Mama’s five children, three predeceased her: Segun, an Oxford University-educated lawyer who died in a car accident in the 1960s during a period that Awo was removed from political circulation by the reactionary government of the day after being slapped with a “treasonable felony” charge. Mama not only suffered that great loss but did so with her husband in forced detention which would later lead to incarceration. Great was the day all over Western Nigeria when Mama’s life partner was released from the cooked-up detention in 1967 by the military regime headed by Dr. (General) Yakubu Gowon because no government could ignore Awo, either in freedom or detention.
Mama would later suffer the losses of two more in recent years with the deaths of Mrs. Ayo Soyode, also a lawyer, and Chief Oluwole Awolowo two years ago, and Chief Oluwole a co-publisher of the Tribune titles – Nigerian Tribune, Sunday Tribune and the Yoruba Language Irohin Yoruba – Nigeria’s oldest continuous private circulating newspapers of which Mama was Board Chairman. The paper was founded in 1949 by Awo.
Mama is survived by Revd. Tola Oyediran and Dr. Tokunbo Dosunmu as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
May her soul find eternal rest with the Lord.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2015. 4:44 p.m. [GMT]