Book Announcement: Ládipọ̀ Adámọ́lẹkun’s autobiographical “I Remember” – Tola Adenle

L. Adamolekun

Publishers:          Safari Books Ltd., May 2016.  Ibadan, Nigeria – http://www.safaribooksng.com

Author:                Ladipọ Adamọlẹkun, B.A. (Ibadan), M.Phil. (Ifẹ), DPhil (Oxford)

Availability:        Major bookshops in Nigeria

amazon.com: Paper back (full color) –  $48.50;  Paper back (B & W) – $17.50

 

 

 

 

Professor Ladipo Adamolekun’s autobiography benefits immensely from a habit of meticulous record-keeping, a habit he had acquired before turning twenty in the early 1960s. It is an inheritance from his late father – our father, I must state right here – who, without formal education, not only taught himself to read and write Yoruba but rudimentary English Language. It made an easy task of writing his biography by this blogger from jottings he kept meticulously since the early years of the 20th Century to the time of his death 29 years ago; it had an opening entry, 1908 ni mo dé ìlú Baba mi ni Ijù – I arrived at my father’s Iju hometown in 1908. He had spent his earlier years with his mother and their extended families in the mother’s Ìsẹ̀-Èkìtì hometown.

From that 1908 entry, J.F. Adamolekun meticulously recorded not only the birth dates, days of the week and hours of all his children, but birth dates of children of relations and others at Iju who went to him for such assistance. He also recorded important dates marking the growth of the first Anglican Church, including names of catechists and priests, and facts such as the laying of a church corner stone by the Archbishop of the Anglican Province of West Africa, His Grace L.G. Vining who is immortalized in Nigeria’s Anglican Communion today with churches and institutions named after him. A particular entry would prove very useful to the Akure Diocese – to which Iju belongs – when the Diocese celebrated a major milestone some years ago.

It comes therefore as no surprise that I Remember has decades of diary-keeping to draw from for this enjoyable and easy-to-read life’s story. Ladipo’s record-keeping shows in the illustrations/photographs in I Remember.  An entry in his 1963 Diary, for example, shows how he brings the past to life easily when memory would not have served:

I have fond memories of officiating in church services thrice in 1962 and 1963. According to my diary entry for Sunday, December 29, 1963, “I led Students’ Service today”.  Appropriately, Mr. J.M. Babalola (one of the early graduates in the community) preached a sermon on university education during the service.

At the beginning of Chapter 4 is another gem, an entry on August 8, 1964 that is a pointer to Ladipo’s persona: the meticulous record-keeper though yet-to-matriculate-student heading to UI, already has his focus on graduation day – four years ahead:

UI degree results were published this week. No First Class Honours in History again! I am thinking seriously whether I’ll be able to make it. I hope to work hard with that in view. 

Ladipo would make “it”, a First Class Honours in French, a subject he did not pick up till the University of Ibadan, and a language he not only became very fluent at (not my opinion!), but a mastery of which has made public administration in French West Africa part of his scholarship. Among his many published works – several are available through amazon.com, Sekou Toure’s Guinea: An Experiment in Nation Building, 1976, is an example of his wide contribution to knowledge of French West Africa’s public administration and history.

After retiring from the University of Ife where he rose to Deanship, he would spend about two decades at The World Bank from which he retired a few years ago as the Country Head of The Bank’s Office in Togo, a French West African country and his last station after years not only at the Washington Headquarters but also a stint in Kenya.

Ladipo was a student activist and became the PRO of the University of Ibadan during the 1965/66 session, a period when campus politics and Nigeria’s politics collided. The Union, just like the university at large, was split into two when the Vice Chancellor (the academic head) and the Registrar (the administrative head) were pitted against each other; the VC (Ibo) and Adamolekun (Yoruba) each had overwhelming support from their ethnic groups. I Remember details how the Students’ Union President dragged the Union into the imbroglio against the wishes of Ladipo and some members of the executive. He resigned from his post as the Students’ Union PRO on principle.

Thursday, May 12, 2016 saw the first public presentation of I Remember at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos.  There were additional “launches” at Abuja and Akure later that month. Akure ,the capital of Ondo State, is twelve miles from Iju where Adamolekun tends a Public Affairs Library he endowed for universities within 30 mile-radius of Iju – there are about half a dozen – where he spends most of his retirement years.

LAGOS

L to R: Dr. Bọ̀dé Ọlajumọkẹ, Professor Akin Mabògùnjẹ, Ladipo and his wife, Jumọkẹ. [Credit: pulseng]

Mr. Sam Amuka-Pemu [Publisher of Nigeria’s Vanguard newspapers and a renowned journalist who wrote under the pen name Sad Sam; ‘sad’, only about Nigeria!] share a mirthful moment with retired General Ipòọla Àlàní Akinriade, Nigeria’s 1st Chief of Defence Staff from 1980, and another guest at the Lagos public presentation. [Credit: allure.vanguardngr.com]

ABUJA

The Abuja public presentation was attended by friends and family, including Dr. Fayemi, Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Minerals. In this photograph, Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Ọ̀ṣíbàjò who commended the author for “consistency and ethical orientation which he has exhibited over the years …”, is shown with author and his wife. [Credit: guardianng.com]

 

 

Of twenty photographs in the book, two are of particular interest as they show Ladipo’s penchant for holding on to documents prove very useful in the writing of I Remember. A photograph shows his supporters carrying placards that supported him during the campaign for the students’ election of 1965. The other is his Action Group of Nigeria  (AG) Membership Card No. 74387 of 1964 with a photograph of the sage in the middle and a palm tree, the party’s symbol, on each side!

While it was common for MOST students in Southwestern Nigeria’s Yoruba homeland back then to belong to the youth wing of the AG, a badge of honor – that’s what the card represented back then – was the party’s card. For Ladipo to have kept that card till today is a testimony of a habit formed when very young.

By the way, in the turbulent political days of the 1960s that set Nigeria on the chaos she has never recovered from, Ladipo’s Awoism – enthusiastic believers of Chief Awolowo’s philosophy and politics – was cemented with his Omo Awo – child of Awo – column for Nigeria’s oldest and first private newspaper, The Tribune founded in 1949 by Awo to propagate his populist programs. Today, Ladipo seats on the Board of Trustees of The Awolowo Foundation.

                               AGcard

Author’s A.G. Card, issued 1964

 

By the time he entered Òyemẹkùn Grammar School, he already exhibited a seriousness and focus that would serve him throughout his education and professional life. As foreword to Part I, “The Early Years”, Ladipo writes:

Par adua ad astra (Through struggle to the stars). Motto adopted at age 13!

For the benefit of non-Nigerians and Nigerians not of Ladipo’s generation, the idea of a 13-year old choosing a Latin motto that is same as that of the Royal Air Force (British) may be far-fetched but it is not.

[By the way, Ladipo entered Oyemekun in 1956, a school where he would meet Kole Omotoso, a year after his entry; Kole would become his life-long friend and a  younger or older ‘brother’ to all Adamolekuns.]

Kole Omotoso and Ladipo

 

Life-long friends, Kọle Ọmọtọṣọ and Author, an interesting photograph dating back over 50 years of the friends used among the few in I Remember.

 

In the 1950s and 1960s, Latin was a subject taught in most Nigerian secondary schools starting from the First Form. While it is possible that the author could have come by that phrase in one of those ancient English Grammar books like Redoubt or his Latin text at that age, many Nigerian pupils of that era, including those who did not study Latin at all would memorize  extensive Latin phrases just as they would memorize huge chunks of Shakespeare for same purposes!

And having chosen reaching the stars as his goal, Ladipo worked hard to become one in educational and professional achievements.

I remember details his early life in a large extended family home at Iju central to which was school, church and the father’s extensive cocoa farm, including various fruits, yams, vegetables and other food crops.

Ladipo’s hard work and focus paid off right from elementary school at the St. Stephen’s School, Iju and the United Senior Primary, Iju-Itaogbolu where he excelled. His secondary education would follow the same pattern at Oyemekun and Christ’s School. He would enter UI with excellent Higher School Certificate results (equivalent to the General Certificate of Education at “Advanced Level”) before proceeding to start a degree program in History. Although his only foreign language subject had been Latin in which he made a Distinction in the West African School Certificate (WASC), French would become his major at UI. He referenced the quality of teaching at Nigeria’s premier university of the era as the basis for his success in the following excerpt:

Although I did not study French at Oyemekun and Christ’s School, the quality of teaching … was such that at the end of the four-year programme, my competency in French was superior to that in English in some respects: my oral French was slightly better than my oral English and my translation from English to French was better than the reverse …

My opinion of I Remember – the early caveat, regardless – is a book that is very readable, nothing is left out – warts at all –  that should be known by the public about a scholar who may like his privacy but who has a good measure of public recognition. It is a book that really gets a bibliophile engaged  and leaves the reader with a feeling of satisfaction. The well-stocked Ladipo Adamolekun Public Affairs Library is not only a showcase of the author’s love of books but is Ladipo’s way of giving back to graduate students in that field of the neighboring universities a place where they can have access to research materials that would not likely be available at their institutions.

It’s a book I would recommend because it not only details the life’s path of Ladipo Adamolekun and his many successes but it is a good template for young people on some of the ways to achieve their goals. The author’s encounters and the politics in Nigerian universities, disappointments, even tragedies are not left out.

Of many autobiographies and biographies of Nigerian men and women I’ve had the opportunity to read over the years -again, the caveat – I Remember is, perhaps, one of the few that is not vainglorious despite the great achievements of the author, and not plumped-up for effect. It is a story of a life told in such meticulous details and eloquent language that makes the author the only person who could have told his own story so well and so readable.

IJU PUBLIC AFFAIRSbldg

CREDIT: 2015, Jumoke Adamolekun

 

As Ladipo turns seventy-four today, here’s  to a jolly day, and many healthy and happy years ahead.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2016. 12:10 a.m. [GMT]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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