By Femi Kehinde
William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest English poet and playwright, in his epic play- Macbeth, looking melancholic and distraught, as a result of the death of lady Macbeth, had soliloquized-
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools. The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
The world is replete with history of men who came in a jiffy and left so soon. They are usually referred to as meteors.
A meteor is like a shooting star. It sparkles, it dazzles, it brightens up, but it is also a falling star. They are also like joy, that has a slender body, that breaks so soon- “Ayo abara bin tin,” as was depicted in Ola Rotimi’s epic play- “The gods are not to blame.”A meteor rises fast and disappears at the apogee (height) of its glory. Meteors are always messengers, usually in a hurry to deliver their messages and disappear.
Meteors are like-
Raphael Ernest Grill Armattoe – 12th of August, 1913-22nd of December, 1953.
Walter Rodney-23rd March, 1942 to the 15th June, 1980 A Ghanaian doctor, author, poet and politician.
Dr. Walter Rodney, prominent scholar, historian, political activist- 23rd march 1942 to 13 June 1980.
Pius Adebola Adesanmi 1972 to 10 March 2019.
Joseph Sanusi Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu- Penkelemesi a dazzling politician, meteor and iconoclast- 1915-1958
Olusegun Awolowo, January 20 1939 to July 10 1963.
Tunji Ogunkanmi founder and promoter- Cornerstone Insurance Plc, October 5 1960 to November 5, 2000.
Raphael Ernest Grill Armattoe- 1st August, 1913 to 1953
He lived for 40 years. He was a Ghanaian doctor, author, poet and politician. He was nominated for the 1949 Nobel peace prize and was a strong campaigner for the unification of British and French Togo land.
REG was born at keta in the Gold Coast, in what is now known as the Volta Region of Ghana. After his basic education in the Gold Coast, he left for Germany in 1930, at the age of 17, for further studies.
He studied in Germany, France and the Ireland. He eventually qualified as a medical doctor in Edinburgh and established his own private practice.
His research for the use of the “Abochi drug” against human parasites, led to his nomination for the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 1948.
Armattoe later devoted more time to writing. He returned to the Gold Coastin 1947 and set up a medical clinic at Kumasi, at the Ashanti region.
He turned his attention to politics, writing and poetry. His first collection of poems- “between the forest and sea,” was published in 1950.
Armattoe and Kwame Nkurmah were of different political divides.
He joined the Ghana Congress Party( GCP) rather than Nkurmah’s Convention People’s party (CPP)
Armattoe died young and he had predicted his death in a popular poem- “the way I would like to die.”
He had said in the poem, he would like to die while the dew is wet on the ground. The dew is wet on the ground in the morning- a metaphorical phrase to express the morning of life i.e. when one is young.
“This is the way I would like to go
If you must know
I would like to go while still young
While the dew is wet on the grass
To perish in a great air crash
With a silver plane burning bright
Like a flashing star in the night
While the huge wreckage all ablaze, shines brightly for my last embrace..
I’d like to see the flames consume
Each nerve and bone and hair and nail
Till of dust naught but ash remains
Or as stone, swiftly sink unseen
But if I should hear someone wail
Because dust has gone back to dust
Mad with fury, I shall return
To smite the poor wretch on the head
So let me go when I am young
And the dew is still on the fern
With a silver plane burning bright
Like a flashing star in the night…”
In 1953, Armattoe travelled to New York City, leading a delegation to address the United Nations about the “Eweland question”, seeking international support for a union between British and French Togo. On his way back to the Gold Coast, he visited his daughter Irusia, at the time a student in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, and then Germany. He fell ill and died in a hospital in Hamburg. His wife reported that he said he had been poisoned by some unknown persons. He had apparently been attacked previously by supporters of Kwame Nkrumah.
Armattoe was married to Swiss-born Leonie Schwartz, who was also known as “Marina”. They had two daughters, the elder, Irusia, being born in Derry. Armattoe and his family lived at Kumasi in Ghana until his death. His father, Robert Glikpo Armattoe, was a merchant who traded mainly with the Germans and also studied local indigenous languages.
R.E.G Armattoe, Rest in perfect peace.
Duro Ladipo-1931 to 1978
He was one of the best known Yoruba theatre icons, playwrights and stage theatre iconoclast. Like his name sounded, he was born, several times, before he finally stayed, hence the name- Duroorike
His stage plays captivated Yoruba myths, pantheons, folklores and history. His most famous play- Oba Koso (the king did not hang )was a dramatisation of the Yoruba story of how Alaafin Sango became the orisha of thunder. This play received international acclaim at the first common-wealth art festival, Berlin in 1965 and on a European tour packaged by his mentor- Professor Ulli Beier.
Duroorike, was raised in a Christian family. His father was an Anglican church priest in Osogbo. However, Duro’s interest in stage plays, drama and history, may have been influenced by his grandfather, who migrated to Osogbo after the Jalumi war.
His grandfather was a Sango priest, and was well versed in the Yoruba mythology, especially those emanating from old Oyo.
At a young age, Duro Ladipo sneaked out of the vicarage to watch Yoruba festivals. As a choir master in the church, he scandalised the church, by including Bata drums in the Easter Cantata, that he had composed for the church and he was thereafter excused from the church choir group.
He thereafter started his home theatre group in 1961, but he became fully established, with the founding of the Mbari Mbayo club in Oshogbo.
With a soaring popularity and fame of a theatre icon, he produced Oba Moro in 1962, Oba Koso and Oba wa ja, in 1964.
He was part of the Mbari Mbayo club in Ibadan in 1961 and he later transformed the club into a cultural centre, art gallery and a meeting point for young artists seeking to develop their talents in Oshogbo and its environs.
Duro Ladipo wrote quite a number of plays such as-
Suru Baba Iwa and Tani mo owo iku.
He also produced stage plays for television stations. He produced- “Bode wa sinmi” for the Nigerian Television Authority, Ibadan.
He dispensed with the traditional dances and the opening and closing Glee’s, usually employed for bracketing performances.
Ladipo expressed his passion for Yoruba culture and tradition through drama, music , dance and stage performance.
On the 11th of March, 1978, at the age of 47, Duro Ladipo breathed his last, after a brief illness in Oshogbo. Within this short space, Ladipo had dominated the theatre world like a colossus. May the soul of this thespian, theatre icon, dramatist and playwright, rest in perfect peace.
Walter Rodney – 23rd march 1942 to 15th June, 1980 was born into a working class family in George town, Guyana.
He was an exceptionally bright student, a champion debater that earned him a scholarship at the university college in the West Indies, Jamaica. He graduated in 1963 at the age of 21 with a first class degree in History. In 1966, at the age of 24, Rodney earned a PhD in African History, at the school of African and oriental studies, England.
Rodney wrote his book- “A history of the upper guinea” in 1970 and was widely acclaimed for his originality. He travelled widely and became very well known internationally as a scholar, activist and a formidable orator. He taught at the university of Dar es Sallam in Tanzania, between 1966 to 1967 and 1969 and 1974 and briefly at his Alma matter- University of the West Indies in Mona in 1969.
On the 15th of October, 1968, the government of Jamaica, because of Rodney’s socialist inclinations, declared him a persona- non Grata and he was banned from ever entering Jamaica and was also subsequently dismissed by the University of the West Indies.
This harsh political stand and vendetta on Rodney, by the Jamaican Prime minster, Huge Shearer, led to a mass uprising against the government by students and the poor of West Quinton, which escalated into a riot, known as the “Rodney riot.”
This riot, which resulted in several deaths, hazards and violence, caused the Jamaican government, millions of dollars in damages.
The riot triggered an increase In political awareness across the Carribbean, especially among the Rastafarian section of Jamaica and was well documented in Rodney’s book, – “the groundings with my brother” published in 1969.
In 1969, at the age of 27, Rodney became a professor of history at the university of Dar-es Sallam.
There, he served as a professor until 1974. In 1972, he wrote his epic and most influential book- “How Europe under-developed Africa.”
The book became enormously influential and it was perhaps among the first set of books, that would bring a fresh perspective on under development in Africa.
When in Dar-es-sallam, he was influential in developing a new center of African learning and discussion. In 1974, Rodney returned home to take up an appointment as a Professor at the university of Guyana, but the Guyanese government prevented his appointment.
Despite this denial, he became increasingly active in politics, he founded the Working People’s Alliance- a party that provided an effective and credible opposition to the Guyanese Government.
On the 30th of June 1980, Rodney was killed in Georgetown at the age of 38, by a bomb planted in his car- a month after returning from celebrations, that had seen Robert Mugabe’s emergence as the first President of Zimbabwe.
His brother- Donald Rodney, who was also injured in the explosion, said that a Sergeant in Guyana defence force, named Gurgle Smith, had planted in Rodney’s car, the bomb that killed him.
After the killing, Smith fled to French Guiana. There was a wide suspicion, though not proven, that the assassination was set up by Guiana’s then President- Linden Forbes Burnham. Rodney’s mission and struggle was to lift the cause of the masses (proletariats) from the hands of the bourgeoisies- (the elites class in the society.)
Rodney, one of the most outstanding and profound scholars on the African continent, certainly lived his 38 years, for the poor of Africa.
A fellow Professor- Winston Mark Bower at the Walter Rodney- commemorative symposium held at York college, in June 2010 remarked that Walter Rodney- was a pioneering scholar, who provided new answers to old questions and post old questions, in relation to the study of Africa.
Professor Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laurette, at a symposium, on Friday, the 27th June, 1980 at the Oduduwa Hall, University of Ife, Nigeria, remarked that- Walter Rodney- “was clearly one of the most solidly idealogically situated intellectuals ever to look colonialism and it’s contemporary heir- black opportunism and exploitation in the eye”
Rodney, perhaps must have lived ahead of his time.
May his soul rest in peace .
Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi (27 February 1972-10th March 2019)
He was a Nigerian-born Canadian professor, writer, literary critic, satirist, and columnist. He was the author of “Naija No Dey Carry Last,” a 2015 collection of satirical essays. Adesanmi died on the 10th March 2019, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after take-off, from Addis-Ababa.
Adesanmi was born in Isanlu, in Yagba East Local Government area of Kogi State, Nigeria. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French language from the University of Ilorin in 1992, a Master’s degree in French from the University of Ibadan in 1998, and a PhD in French Studies from the University of British Columbia, Canada, in 2002.
Pius attended Titcombe College Egbe, Kogi state and earned his first degree at the age of 20, his master’s degree at the age of 26 and his PhD at the age of 30. Between 2002 to 2005 Pius was an assistant Professor of comparative literature at the Pennsylvania state university, USA.
In 2006, he joined Carlton university at Ottawa Canada as a full time Professor of literature and African studies and thereafter became the Director of the University’s institute of African Studies until, his death on the 10th of march, 2019, when Ethiopian airlines flight 302 to Nairobi crashed immediately after take off with all the 149 passengers and 8 crew on board. He was on his way to an African Union Conference.
At an early age in Titcombe college, he was an instant star, having represented the school in many competitions, with outstanding prices.
A friend of Pius- Professor E.C Osundu, of Providence College, Rhodes Island, USA, captured the very essence of Pius’ rather short but extremely remarkable and meteoric life, in an ellegy-
“Pius was a rare being, ebullient, a razor sharp mind, he was what the Yoruba called “Omoluabi”- a person of honour and good character. Yet when it came to polemics, he could easily move to a jaguda (roughian) Nigeria has lost one of those who loves her most.”
In July 2018, perhaps as a foretaste of the impending doom, Pius was involved in a car accident along Oyo / Ogbomosho road, when the vehicle he was traveling in (a Nissan) had a head on collision with a car from Ibadan- (a Toyota Privia.)
Pius was heading to Lagos as usual, on another international assignment, to catch a flight to Dakar, Senegal.
On this accident Pius wrote-
“Two hours after the accident, no help came. The evacuation culture was zero…”
He further said that people just gathered at the scene of the accident and were screaming and shouting. No one attempted to help.
A short while ago, Pius Adesanmi’s mother-Mama Louis Olufunke-Adesanmi, had been denied a visa, on three different occasions, to visit her son in Canada. The mother vowed that she would never apply for visa again to Canada and like a soothsayer; she said they would bring the visa to her in Ilorin. The Department of Foreign Affairs, invited Pius as a Guest Speaker for an event. Pius did not waste the opportunity. After the lecture, he thanked the head of the consular, during a tete a tete, and told him, that he could not understand, why his mother was denied entry visa to Canada to come and visit him. As was reported by Pius friend and Confidant- Pharmacist Sunday Akoji- “three days after the event in Toronto, a dark heavily tinted SUV, with a diplomatic plate number, pulled up in front of mama Adesanmi’s home in Ilorin.”
The Canadian High Commissioner sent his aides, who drove all the way from Lagos to Ilorin, to go and stamp Mama Adesanmi’s passport with a visa to Canada, in her living room, with a letter of apology, personally signed by the High Commissioner. Only a Pius could have attained this spectacular feat.
“Pius in his life time wrote regularly for Premium Times and Shahara Reporters. Adesanmi’s writings were usually content deep and in-depth. He was pungent and satiric, with emphasis on the Nigeria’s social and political system and culture, that needs a reawakening. His writings and his targets were usually among several others- politicians, Pastors and relevant public figures.
In September 2015, his remark on the decision of the Emir of Kano to marry an under aged wife could not but escape a personal response of the Emir who responded to Adesanmi by name-
In the same year 2015, he gave a public Lecture titled- “Africa is the forward that the world needs to face.”
He wrote his first book- “the way fairer and other poems” in 2010 and in 2011, he also wrote, “you are not a country, Africa.”
This collection of essays won the inaugural penguin price for the non fiction category.
Pius was also in 2017, a recipient of Canada bureau of leadership education award.
This seminal academic and public intellectual per excellence, lived the life of a meteor.A quick pace and double steps. Adesanmi’s death elicited a candle light memorial at Unity Fountain Abuja and in cities around the world. “Pius Adesanmi’s must have lived two or more life times before” according to a poet- Chedu Eziana.
He left behind his wife- Olumuyiwa and her doting daughters-Damilare and Oluwatise.
Pius, Rest in perfect peace.
Joseph Sanusi Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu,
He was born on the 3rd of September, 1915 and died on the 25th of March, 1958, certainly lived like a meteor and his rise was meteoric. He was Ibadan’s most prominent politician of his time. He was born in Oke-Oluokun, Ibadan, to Sanusi Ashiyanbi Adeyege Adelabu and his mother was Awujola Ajoke, who died in 1920, when Adegoke was still an infant.
Although born a Muslim, he was sent to a secular school- The Saint Davids CMS Elementary School, Kudeti Ibadan, between 1925 and 1929 and the CMS Central School, Mapo Ibadan in 1930. He had double promotions in the elementary and primary schools, he proceeded to the Government College Ibadan, where he also had double promotion. He left Government College in Form 4, and proceeded on a U.A.C scholarship to Yaba Higher College, Yaba Lagos, in 1936, which was then Nigeria’s only higher college at the time.
Adelabu Adegoke had said of his educational exploits-
“I had a brilliant scholastic career, earning accelerated promotions on three occasions in the elementary, primary and secondary schools respectively. Despite this, I never took a second position throughout my school days. Instead, I was always several laps ahead of my runner up and not infrequently, saved tutors from tight holes.”
He was perhaps the most brilliant scholar that had passed out of the Government College, Ibadan. As was attested to by his contemporary and colleague in Government College- Professor Sabori Biobaku, who attested to his educational brilliance thus –
“Adelabu was not much good at sports, although he subsequently distinguished himself at the long distance events, especially the half mile and mile races. It was in his studies that he excelled. At the end of his second year, he received a double promotion from class two to class four and was top of that class from the first term till the end of his time at the college. He was perhaps the brightest boy that Government College Ibadan has ever produced.”
His head master at the Central School Mapo- Chief James Ladejo Ogunshola was bereaved and Adegoke, despite being a pupil, quickly came to the rescue by taking up the classes in the absence of the bereaved headmaster. The headmaster, a diarist, wrote in his diary of Wednesday, the 15th of February 1935-
“Master Adegoke Sanusi, an old boy of central School and a pupil of Ibadan Government College who had been helping me since Monday in the school also rendered help today; he took my class in all the subjects for today”
He was instantly employed by the U.A.C, as its first African Manager in the produce section and later the singlet factory section of the Haberdashery department. He was in the U.A.C for four years and later joined the civil service for seven years in the cooperative department and eventually, for another five years, was doing his own business as a private entrepreneur. He later took sojourn in partisan politics, from where he rose from comparative obscurity, into so strong a lime light, that he had completely dazzled and baffled his opponents and admirers.
At the first meeting with Adelabu, one would be easily amazed about his strength, resourcefulness and also how he managed to get his magnetic force with which he captured his followers to the point of fanaticism. His admirers usually called him “portable Ade” and you would also easily wonder, according to him –
“how my enemies would enjoy carrying a small keg of explosives?”
He had a steady and turbulent rise in politics. He was a councillor, chairman of the Ibadan Divisional Council, member of the Western House of Assembly and Federal House of Representatives, on the platform of the NCNC, Western Secretary of the NCNC and later rose steadily from the rank and file of the everyday politician to hold the post of Minister of Natural Resources and social services after the Federal Election of 1954.
The story goes that during campaigns for election, while others were talking themselves hoarse, Adelabu won over his supporters with inspiring songs to which all and sundry danced along the streets of his constituency.
Adelabu reveled in the pomp of the worshiped and did not intend to conceal his love for their worship. As a restless and busy politician, he told a journalist during a press interview- “I can only spare you a few minutes”; and when he really got down to business, he refused to sit down, and he said- “I talk better when walking about.”
Every morning, the drummers and praise singers he took to Lagos from Ibadan, would wake up the elitist neighborhood of Ikoyi, with drumming and singing, eulogizing the exploits of the Ibadan great man and grass root politician. The Europeans or “Oyinbos” in the neighborhood, protested vehemently against this early morning nuisance and they also addressed a press conference. Adelabu in his usual style, made a minced meat of this protest, asking them to go back to their country, if they did not like his style and that was the end of the protest.
As minister in the Federal Government, Adelabu was given an official car. He took the car to his constituency in Ibadan and summoned a meeting. After the meeting at his Oke-Oluokun residence, he asked his constituents at the meeting, to be riding in the car in a group of four, from his Oke-Oluokun residence in Ibadan, to Beere round about, to savour the joy of ministerial ride. This audacious act hit the newspaper headlines the following day- “Talakawas ride in ministerial car”.
In 1956, Adelabu Adegoke left the Federal Parliament, soon after; he faced a series of criminal charges, ranging from bribery and corruption to disturbing the peace. From all these, Adelabu emerged unblemished to continue his fight for the down trodden.
During this trial, his admirers went on the street of Ibadan to sing and eulogize him with the popular song- “Adelabu ma ko owo wa na!
Igunnu loni Tapa, tapa loni igunnu!”
i.e. “Adelabu steal our money the more!
Igunni owns Tapa, Tapa owns Igunni! “
Then on March 25, 1958, came another sensational story about the man whose whole life had been like a meteoric flame. The story was that Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu was dead!
How did he die? Some said he had been shot. Some said he was killed with juju. Many others said he was run over, by political enemies.
But the fantastic story of his death had gone around Ibadan. Alhaji Adelabu dead? Impossible! But if he’s dead, others will surely die with him! Down with his killers! Down with all those who have hands in his death! Kill and burn them. Spare no one. Let no one live after Ade! Over his grave let us March!
That was the shout of the Ibadan masses and it was no idle cry, Ibadan became a besieged and enraged city. To avenge his death, twenty people, possibly including those who did not know him in person-were burnt to death by the irate crowd. Many houses were set on fire. Much property was lost.
When the law recovered from the shock, it recovered by arresting 564 persons. Of these, 102 stood trial for murder, 25 were acquitted and discharged by the lower court, and seventy seven were sent to face the Assizes.
Adegoke Adelabu was certainly the architect of grass root politics in Ibadan and with him went a certain glamour from Ibadan politics. He was popularly known as “Penkelemensi”, i.e peculiar mess, which was his usual refrain when making contributions on the floor of the Western Region House of Assembly.
Adelabu’s sudden exit, ignited a volcanic eruption in Ibadan’s political firmament and a lot of distinguished personalities paid glowing tributes to this stormy petrel.
Chief H.O Davies, a front line Nigerian Nationalist painted this epithet-
“Adelabu’s life in my mind, appears to have been something like a meteor, which shines with conspicuous brilliance for a short period and disappears again into the unknown”
This was further corroborated by his friend and classmate in Government College- -Professor Saburi Biobaku who also commented in his condolence remarks-
“maybe he was one of those rare phenomena who dazzled the world by their brilliancy only to leave behind memories of what might have been”
His friend and colleague in the Federal Parliament and also Prime Minister of Nigeria- Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, in his tribute in the Daily Times of 27th March, 1958 said-
“Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu was an intellectual and his capacity was recognized by his opponents” and that … “if anybody died fighting for a cause, it was Adelabu. His death was not only a loss to NCNC, but to all politicians in the country. I am really sad about his death.”
His friend and leader, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe while expressing his regret on the painful exit of Penkelemensi, also said of him-
“A man of conviction and did not disguise his feelings on any particular issue” and that he was- “a man of amazing intelligence, ready wit and uncanning understanding of human nature.”
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the then Premier of the Western Region, summed it up, when he said-
“Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu was, in his life time, and ever since he entered politics, a fighter first and last, with all the characteristics of a fighter. He was fearless, formidable, forthright, often caustic and uncompromising. In his death, the NCNC had lost a very able, indomitable and extremely resourceful leader and Nigeria, a most colourful, versatile and undoubted nationalist.”
The story of the passage of Adegoke Adelabu was equally strange and interesting. Unusually, he woke up his household at about 4:30am, had his morning prayers, had his shave, bath and toiletries, had his usual breakfast of Akamu (pap) and summoned his young children for a meeting.
As recalled by his first daughter- Adedoyin Jagun, who was about 8 years old then, her father, Adegoke Adelabu admonished them early in the morning-
“Elo mu ara yin se giri
Ori lomo ibi ti ese nre”
– “you should all work hard and be up and doing, it is only the head that knows where it is to go with the feet.”
At about 7:00 am, he entered a Peugeot 205 car that belonged to his white friend- a Syrian British national, who had come from Lagos to pick him on a business trip.
He called his aides- Adeleke and Ganiyu and he bid them goodbye. Adegoke Adelabu left no single penny in his bank account. The two houses he had at Oke Ado, he had sold and kept the money in the bank until later, when he withdrew the money gradually, to cater for the poor of Ibadan. He left his Oke-Oluokun residence as his only property. Adelabu also took loans from the bank to buy the Auxmobile car with Registration Number- IB-121, which he used as a private car.
Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, being so enamoured with the life and times of Adegoke Adelabu, would easily, always, regale his audience, at any given opportunity, with memorized verses of Adegoke Adelabu’s memorable quotable quotes.
The glory of Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemensi, will continue to gather legendary coatings, as the years go by and as the story of his greatness passes from one generation to another.
Akande Iji Oloye Igbetti, may your soul continue to rest in peace.
He was the son of Chief Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western Region- 1954-1959. He was born on the 20th of January, 1939 and died on the 10th of July, 1963.
Segun attended Agbeni Methodist Primary school, Agbeni, Ibadan between 1943 and 1951
In 1952, he was admitted to the Igobi college, Lagos, where he came out in the Grade one division at the WASCE in 1957.
At the age of 18, Segun proceeded to the United Kingdom, where he studied Law at the Cambridge University, and like his father Obafemi, was called to the bar at the Inner Temple bar, in August 1962.
His classmates at the law school were- Ernest Shonekan, Rasheed Shitta-Bey, later, former member of the house of representatives, in the second Republic and owner of the Jabita hotel, Ikeja Lagos.
Ernest Shonekan, later became Nigeria’s Interim President,(26th of August 1993 to 17thof November, 1993) Aderoju Aderemi, later judge of the high court of Oyo State and later Osun state, Kunle Olasope and a host of others.
At the Agbeni Primary school, his classmates, friends and colleagues were his Bossom friend, Kunle Olasope, Adekunle Aromolaran, now Oba Adekunle Aromolaran- the Owa Obokun of Ijesha land,
After his call to the bar, and on his way to Lagos, he visited his friend, Abayomi Akintola, the son of Chief Ladoke Akintola, who was then also, studying in Dublin.
His life was full of promise – he walked into the Western Region crisis. He was intelligent, cool headed and a brilliant advocate.
Segun went into full blown law practice in Ibadan, and displayed the intellectual depth of his father- Obafemi Awolowo, who in the Memudu Lagunju case, was described by the presiding judge, as- “a terrible cross examiner” in 1946. He was Counsel for Adetoyese Laoye (who later became the Timi of Ede.) The Western Regional Crisis of 1962 had brought in Dr. Moses Majekodumi as the Sole Administrator of the Western Region. The Administrator set up the Coker commission of enquiry to look into the affairs of some statutory corporations in the Western Region. The commission was headed by Justice George Baptist Ayodele Coker. The commission was then known as the Coker Commission of Enquiry.
Awolowo was at this period, facing a treasonable felony charge and was detained at the Broad Street Prison in Lagos.
Obafemi Awolowo was one of the main targets of this commission of Enquiry. Segun was one of his father’s counsels at the treasonable felony trial, as well as the Coker Commission for Enquiry. At his leisure, Segun enjoyed life to the brim and he usually enjoyed his evenings in the company of some of his friends- Tunji Fadairo, Kunle Olasope and others.
In this early age, even though not married, Segun already had two children- Funke, born in London, by Deola Fasanya and Segun that was born by Abba Koku, shortly after Segun’s death.
On the 9th of July, 1963, Segun prepared for a trip, the following day to Lagos, to appear as one of his father’s counsels at the Coker Commission of Enquiry and was later to proceed to the Broad Street Prison after court session, to see his father.
The evening of July 9, saw him at the Osun marina restaurant, in the company of his friends, to enjoy their usual drinks, social dalliance and camaraderie.
The Osun Marina restaurant, was then at the annex of Obisesan hall and was owned by Saliba, a Lebanese, with Eddie Okonta- as a resident artist/musician. Paradise Club, now Femi Johnson’s Broking House, was also one of their usual rendezvous. Roy Chicago was the resident musician.
Segun, usually called “quicky” and “lucky lucky” by his friends, did not give any premonition of their last supper.
On Wednesday, the 10th of July, 1963, which later turned out to be an Arsh Wednesday, and coincidentally the 53rd birthday anniversary of Chief SLA Akintola, the then Premier of the Western Region, he left their Oke-Bola residence, for a fateful trip to Lagos and was driven by his younger sister’s driver- Ogunjinmi Odunlami, popularly known as “No paddy”.
He had bought his daily newspapers at the Foko junction in Oke-Ado, and looked forward to a safe trip to Lagos. Unfortunately, some few kilometres outside Ibadan, precisely around Aba-Nla, there was a ghastly motor accident, that took his life. He was rushed to the Adeoyo hospital, but was brought in dead. He had a gash on his forehead.
The Adeoyo hospital founded in 1926 from where the University College Hospital, (UCH) took off in 1956 was one of Ibadan, perhaps, Nigeria’s best medical centers. Segun died at the age of about 25 years.
Awolowo heard this tragic news from his transistor radio at the Broad Street prison.
Abraham Adesanya went later to the Broad Street prison, to break the news of this irreparable loss.
Segun was buried in Ikenne the same day, and a memorial service was held for him at the Saint Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne.
Every home in Nigeria, was deeply shocked at the untimely and tragic death of Olusegun, more particularly, considering the incarceration of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in prison at this point in time. Dr. M.A Majekodumi, Federal minister and former sole administrator of the Western region, in his sympathy message to Awolowo said-
“You have bore many trials in the past with Christian fortitude and I know that in this current trial, your faith will sustain you.”
Dr. Taslim Olawale Elias, then the Attorney General of the federation and Minister for Justice, while consoling chief Awolowo wrote –
“His untimely death is a serious blow to the Nigerian bar.” Segun would have been 80 years in January this year.
May his soul continually find peaceful repose with the Lord.
Tunji Ogunkanmi-October 5 1960 to November 5 2000.
He was the promoter and founder of Cornerstone Insurance Plc. He was born in the agrarian community of Ile-Ogbo, of Osun state and the supersonic speed of his accomplishments in the insurance industry, is a great study in resilience, hard-work and abundant God’s grace.
Tunji had his primary education at Ile-Ogbo and his secondary education at Iwo, where he came out with distinction (Grade one) in his West African School Certificate Examination in 1978 and also, in flying colours at the higher school certificate level, giving him an express admission into the university of Lagos, where he graduated with second class upper division in Insurance in 1984.
Within three years of his graduate studies, he obtained the Associateship of the Chartered Institute of Insurance, London and he was admitted a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute in 1990, at the age of 30.
Shortly thereafter, in 1991, he founded Cornerstone Insurance at the age of 30 and became the company’s first CEO and the youngest CEO of any Insurance Company as at that time. Without a silver spoon, he dreamt big and the dreams came through.
He fought for the actualisation of his dreams and proved that a boy born and raised in Ile-Ogbo, Osun state and whose first and real experience of Lagos, was when he gained admission to the university of Lagos, to study Insurance, could actually make it big. At the time, some of his friends were looking for paid employment, he was already sitting atop an insurance company as CEO
Within a short span of sitting atop the leadership of the cornerstone Insurance company, he was described as-” a team builder and motivator per excellence, highly innovative, pragmatic and an embodiment of knowledge; no half measures.
Within this short span too, Cornerstone had moved to his own premises, a high rise building in Obalende, Lagos.
To his staff he had said-
“Everywhere I go, people bombard me with commendations about how cornerstone has changed the narrative of the insurance industry, forgetting that not I but all of you (staff) are responsible. You are the ones doing the work, I only come around, play golf and make you laugh. I thank you guys for making all these happen.”
Within these periods, he was a member of the governing Council of the Nigerian Insurance Association (NIA), where he also made his indelible mark.
On the night of Saturday, the 5th of November 2000, Tunji went out to attend a friend’s birthday party and he was caught in an armed robbery attack on Falomo bridge, Lagos, that took away his life along with his friend- Deepak Mehta, the Indian Canadian Managing Director of the now defunct Equitorial Trust Bank.
His life was cut short barely a month to his 40th birthday.
Until his death, Tunji worked hard, dreamt big, was a friend to everyone around him, and was passionate about his home town- Ile-Ogbo. He took the name everywhere. Tunji led the company with his heart and also sat on the board of other great Nigerian businesses.
Tunji, may your soul rest in perfect peace.
In Yoruba pantheon, meteors are usually referred to as “Emere” and “Ogbanje” in Igboland. To these meteors, life is certainly not measured by its duration, but by its donations.
HON. (BARR.) FEMI KEHINDE ATTORNEY AT LAW AND FORMER MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTING AYEDIRE/IWO/OLA-OLUWA FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY (1999-2003) OF OSUN STATE.