Death is a debt we must all pay. That this widely known but not widely celebrated, and for many years, totally unsung activist, died after presenting a paper at the pre-meeting of the proposed National Conference, is proof that he walked his talk, doing exactly what he swore to die doing, Activism!!
To death so bowed Baba Oluwide Omojola, the one we all call Baba. Born 13th July 1938, Economist and 1961 Graduate of the London School of Economics, Member of the Honourable Society of the Inner temple of London (1962), Fellow of the Royal Economic Society of England (1963), Life Member, Nigeria Economic Society (1984), Social crusader, NADECO (1994) Chieftain, Social Crusader, Chairperson: June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations, Member of the South South Commission on Science & Technology. Director of Organisation: Movement for National Reformation, National Coordinator: Socialist Revolution Vanguard, Chairperson: programme Committee, Socialist Party of Nigeria. President Oodua Liberation Movement & Chairman, Board of Trustees, Aare Apapo Omo Oodua, Managing Editor: Mass Line, Member, Board of Tustees: Young Farmers Club, President of Council, Gender & Development Action, President: Action Group (Party of Environment, Labour, Human rights, Civil liberties, Political, Economic, Humanist etc. activists of Nigeria, and many other things. He took his last breath on Saturday 19th October 2013.
When I got the news (you must confirm in Modern day Nigeria), I put a call through to his wife, who could only say a few words, then I called his brother, Engr Alade Ajibola of Intecon Engineering, Fellow and Past President of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, who confirmed that he has been briefed that indeed, The Elephant no longer roams the jungle, and the mighty fish has left the tributary of life for the great Ocean of Death!!
I was a young undergraduate when I first encountered Baba Omojola in 1983. He had brought his lovely daughter, Roza Eyinade to school at the Federal Government Girls college, New Bussa. They spent some days with us in Ilorin. My father introduced him as his Uncle, child of the sage we got to know as “Baba Oshogbo” and I took immediate liking for the fearless and fiery fighter. who kept making reminiscent remarks with my father, on their good old days, either on their way to the farm, following masquerades or many other pranks in the streets of Ile-Ife.
Baba was born Oluwide Omojola Ajibola to the late Rev. Canon Emmanuel Ajibola (aka Baba Oshogbo) of blessed memory. Canon Ajibola’s Sister gave birth to my Grandfather, Isaac Afolabi Folayan (Baba Bibeli), one of Canon Ajibola’s acolytes and a catechist in the Anglican Communion, who died in December 1994 at the age of 78. In the course of ministerial duties, Canon Ajibola worked in various South-West towns and churches like Ilesa, Akure, Ipetu-Ijesa, Ibadan, Ile-Ife and many other places.
It was while they were in Ipetu-Ijesa that the young Isaac met and married the beautiful Miss Alice Oredola, also of blessed memory, the daughter of Olakanpo and his wife, Adeyoriju. That Union gave birth to many children, among whom is Stephen Tunde Folayan a retired Archdeacon in the Anglican Communion, who is the Father of your’s truly. I unintentionally drew some tears from the eyes of Mama Alice Oredola when I was nine years old, by singing the farewell rendition made by the Ipetu-Ijesha church Choir at the funeral of mama Adeyoriju who was buried in 1969. I was barely 3 years old. I still vividly remember the song today. I felt very proud recently, when I attended a Synod meeting (Annual Convention) at the Church in Ipetu IJesa, and saw the name of Canon Emmanuel Ajibola listed as one of the past workers of the Church in Ipetu-Ijesa.
It was activism that made Baba assume his grandfather’s name – Oluwide. His father, The Revd. Canon Ajibola himself was an activist and minister of God who enjoyed longevity, and lived well past the age of One hundred years. My grandmother, Alice Oredola once told me that Canon Ajibola gave her strict instructions, while they were in Ile-Ife, the then Ooni of Ife, Sir Adesoji Aderemi of blessed memory was visiting the vicarage, that the king should be served just that one piece of meat they had in their soup pot, and not to go all out cooking another chicken, lest he leaves with the impression that their parish priest was living in splendor. He had a message for the Ooni who was then the chair of the Parochial Church Council (PCC). Of course, the Ooni got the message loud and clear.
Baba Omojola put together a biographical tribute to his father, The Reverened Canon Emmanuel Ajibola, in his book – “Half a Century”, written when he (Baba) turned 50. It contains many more accounts of the background and times of these great men. The many trials and the many challenges they faced in life. I hope to ask my father for his copy of the book, and convert it to PDF for posterity.
Baba was accommodating, humble and was of a kind heart. He did not discriminate. He mentored my cousin, Foluso Moses, who while studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Ilorin, went on Industrial attachment in Lagos. He stayed with Baba, and ended up serving for some time as his non-stipendary personal Secretary. I hope he will not be offended with my feeble attempt, because he is much more qualified than I, to write on the life and times of Baba Omojola.
I got even closer to Baba, when Titilope his daughter came to study at the University of Ibadan, and spent much more time with me and my wife especially on weekends. It was usual for Baba to call us and pray for us and our children in appreciation, whether Titilope was around or not. The prayers of course, are more of “Orunmila a gbeyin”, because he took to the traditional Ifa religion, though is father was an Anglican priest. Baba Omojola is to Revd. Canon Ajibola, what Olufela was to The Reverend Ransome Kuti. Rebellious in all ways.
My penultimate encounter with Baba was at the public presentation of my father’s second book – “The virtuous woman”. The presentation was done at the Mount Olives Anglican Church in Ilorin. Baba attended and was full of energy. I chose to leave Ibadan that morning, so he got to the venue well before me, and gave me a very big hug when I arrived. He prayed endlessly that God will bless me and my siblings for the effort. He even accompanied the celebrating Author back to his country home in the village, where they spent another night regaling in their never-ending tales by moonlight.
Our last face to face encounter was when My wife, our Daughter Oreoluwa and myself, joined other well wishers to celebrate Baba’s 75th Birthday on 24th August 2013. The celebration was put together by a coalition of Baba’s friends, mainly in the Socialist movement. There, I met Dr. Tunji Otegbeye, Frank Kokori, Ayo Opadokun, Femi Aborishade and many other activists. Foluso was also there in his Socialist T-Shirt, together with Engr Ajibola.
I went to that Birthday in my 3 piece Agbada, the type that can as well serve as a parachute. Seated at an adjourning table, some comrades in buba and sokoto started discussing how flamboyant my Agbada was, and the wastefulness I represented. Socialists could talk, but they never go about naked, nor fast!
Not one to sit and let people idle at me, I sauntered to their table and announced to them that the music was not too loud to mask the subject of their discussions – My agbada. I asked why they simply did not wear singlet instead of the skimpy Buba and told them they must have cut their Buba according to their pocket instead of their size. I told them in clear terms that I will wear Agbada any day, all for the sake of Baba Omojola.
Baba’s entrace into the arena at that point, sealed things. He came in a Beautifully crafted Danshiki with a matching Agbada, which was still folded across his arms, and remained folded till the time the cake was to be cut.
Baba’s carriage at the Birthday was that of a boy celebrating his 10th Birthday. In fact, that was Baba’s first Birthday celebration, being a socialist to the core. Baba put together a summary of his life in his own words – Snapshot of Life, which was the speech he gave at the Birthday celebration. http://www.sundayfolayan.name.ng/life-coach/78-baba-omojola-snapshots He obviously planned to put it together into a book, because he mailed it to me on the 25th of August 2013, with a short Email that reads ….
Fw: PRONACO ADVISORY GROUP, 27 AUG WEDNESDAY 2PM AT CCG
Sun, 25 Aug 2013 13:05:02 +0100 (BST)
oluwole babaomojola <firstname.lastname@example.org>
oluwole babaomojola <email@example.com>
SUNDAY ADEKUNLE <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I was most glad when my own blood were present last Saturday. Mama Titilope was astounded you gave me an envelope of money, after you had taken such time to be present. Ebi a gbe o.
Text or email Venerable Folayan’s email address to me. You could forward this mail to him in advance of my email copy of the book to him.
Rest in Peace Baba, You have fought a good fight and we will all miss you.
Biku ba gbowo, aba fun lowo
Biku ba gberan, aba ragbo bolojo fun
Kato rerin o digbo
Kato Refon O dodan
Kato reni bii re,
o darinanko, odoju ala
O digba, O digbere
Orun Rere o!
Sunday Adekunle Folayan, 20th October 2013.
NOTED WORKS OF BABA OMOJOLA
Distribution Channels in Nigeria 1969
Neo-Colonial Economic Planning 1970
Programme for planning of manufacturing projects
by the Kwara State Government 1972
Outline of Approach for General Economic Survey
of Gongola State 1972
Dynamics of a Developing Economy: The Korean Example 1973
Amusement Parks: Feasibility Studies for Kano
and North Eastern States 1974
Cooperative Plan for Utilising the Irrigation Water in Kano 1975
Current Political Economy of Nigeria
(Lagos School of Appropriate Technology) 1988
Taxonomy of Basic Needs of Workers and their Families,
Federal Ministry of Labour 1990
Motivation and evaluation of policy measures for the Structural
Adjustment Programme in some African countries for United
Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva 1990
A Political History of Nigeria, 1939 – 1950,
part I of the Imoudu Biography 1993
Process of Primitive Accumulation of Capital in Nigeria
(Centre for Advanced Social Science, Port Harcourt) 2007
Ilesha Grammar School 1952 – 1956
London School of Economics 1958 – 1961
Central School of Planning and Statistics 1969 – 1970
Jazz, Chess and Nature watching