By Daud Olatunji
The final journey home of late Mrs Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, widow of former Premier of the old Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo finally wound down on Wednesday in the wake of several activities lined up to honour her. Mama HID Awolowo who died on September 19, 2015, began her final journey home with a lying-in-state at her Lagos , Ibadan and Ikenne residences on Sunday , Monday and Tuesday respectively.
As scheduled, the remains of HID Awolowo was committed to mother earth on November 25, the day she would have been 100 years on earth. The late matriarch died at her residence in Ikenne, Ogun State after she reportedly presided over the family meeting on her proposed centenary birthday party.
Since her death, the Ikene residence of the matriarch became a Mecca of sorts with people, groups, men and women from all shades of life trooping in to register their condolences. According to her eldest daughter, Tola Oyediran, the late matriarch was to be buried on Wednesday, November 25 in a white damask cloth she bought and kept for the purpose 36 years ago.
Oyediran further said that mama Awolowo will be buried beside her husband in a gold casket brought in from the United States of America inside the Awolowo mausoleum in the family compound in Okenne, Ogun State. The state government also added glamour to the final journey of the late matriarch of Awolowo as it hosted the Presidency, all the 35 governors across the country and the leaders of local governments in the 774 councils in the country.
Findings have shown that, apart from the the public office holders, prominent personalities would also be part of the show billed to be held at Sagamu International Stadium. The government has also commissioned some a-list musicians such as Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, Adewale Ayuba, Sefiu Alao and Musiliu Haruna Ishola among others to spice up the big event.
Findings have shown that many people in the country have shown interest and in fact contributed to the success of the on-going final journey of mama HID Awolowo. According to the eldest daughter of mama HID Awolwo, Reverend Oyediran, “many people have offered to assist us in one way or the other to give mama a benefiting burial.”
Tributes were still being received by the family members of Awolowo as their matriarch was journeying to her final abode. At her lying-in-state held at Ikenne, Nigerians and non- nationals of different social, religious and economic status paid their last respects to the woman .
The government of Ogun State had received the body at the Sagamu-Interchange from Ibadan where she was honoured and held a brief lying-in-state for her before she was taken to Ikenne . Six pall bearers from the TOS Funerals Undertakers lifted the glass- casket amid singing, dancing and drumming with family members singing the praises of the late woman.
Amidst emotion and excitement, the State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, received the remains of the late matriarch, Chief (Mrs.) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo to the State.
Receiving the corpse at Sagamu Interchange in company of the entire members of the State cabinet, Governor Amosun described the late matriarch as a woman whose motherhood transcended geographical location, saying that he was “celebrating a mother in a million”, whom he visited consistently on a monthly basis since 2011 when he assumed office.
He said that Mama Awolowo was a solid rock and courageous woman who in spite of the travails of life fought a good fight of faith till death, pointing out that she had laid enviable foundations for all to follow. “Finally, Mama is here in Ogun. We are celebrating our mother in a million whose motherhood transcended the spheres of her biological children. She set good examples for us all to follow and laid solid foundations for even unborn generations.
“Mama stood solidly behind her husband in spite of the challenges of life and upheld the legacies of her husband even after his demise for almost thirty years. “Little did we know that the centenary celebration we were preparing for would translate to her burial, but in all, we are not mourning, we are celebrating the exit of an icon,” Amosun noted.
While condoling with the immediate family, the State’s helmsman prayed God to continue to keep them in perfect peace. Governor Amosun who also led a long procession into Sagamu and Ikenne before the corpse finally arrived her country home, was triumphantly welcomed in the areas, while residents came out en-masse to have a glimpse of Mama Awolowo’s remains.
As part of the programmes, a book was launched which received tremendous accolades. The family had put launching of a biography of mama HID Awolwo entitled ‘In the Radiance of the Sage: The Life and Times of HID Awolowo,’ written by Prof. Wale Adebanwi.
The former Vice President was made Chief Presenter of the book ane he described the late matriarch as the quintessential first lady the country was not opportuned to have.
Those who graced the occasion included; former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, who was represented by the Managing Director of New Telegraph Newspapers, Mrs. Funke Egbemode; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, Senator Anthony Adefuye, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele; juju music maestro, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi .
Also in attendance were former governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chief Lanihun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Mr. Felix Adenaike, Chief Ebenezer Babatope and Odia Ofeimun.
Awo’s visionlegacy and stature
Atiku in his remarks said: “It is no surprise that even today leaders in this geopolitical zone are still being judged by the extent to which they live up to Awo’s vision, legacy and stature. I know it is a cliché to say that behind every successful man there is a woman.
“It may even sound somewhat sexist in this day and age when women’s achievements are deservedly receiving more recognition. However, it has long been known that Chief Awolowo owed a large portion of his success to his beloved wife of 50 years.
“Of course Chief Awolowo’s life was not only about successes and triumphs. He had his low and very challenging moments in life and politics – suffering state-imposed restrictions on his physical movement, exile in Lekki island and imprisonment.”
While reviewing the 311-page biography, a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Adigun Agbaje disclosed that it took the author who was his student a “couple of months” to start and complete work on HID Awolowo’s biography.
Agbaje described the biography as “a volume of inestimable value” which is insightful, compelling and provides an in-depth account on Mama Awolowo. He further described the nine-chapter book as a timeless tribute to the late matriarch. In her remarks, daughter of the late matriarch, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu said her mother had the opportunity to use her vantage position to truncate the destiny of her husband, the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“She was the one who commissioned the biography, she was hoping to take part in the book. Mama herself chose the author to write the story as many written books about her before now are not good enough. “Awolowo was easy to support, he loved HID more than himself. She didn’t use her vantage position to truncate his destiny and destinies of millions of people they both touched,” Awolowo-Dosunmu”, said.