Adegoke Adelabu was certainly the architect of grassroots politics in Ibadan and with him went a certain glamour from Ibadan politics. He was popularly known as “Penkelemesi”, i.e peculiar mess, which was his usual refrain when making contributions on the floor of the Western Region House of Assembly.


William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest English poet and playwright, in his epic play Macbeth, expressing melancholy and distraughtness, at the death of Lady Macbeth, had soliloquised:

“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 the 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. It is also like joy, with 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 of its glory. Meteors are always messengers, usually in a hurry to deliver their messages and disappear.

Meteors are like Raphael Ernest Grill Armattoe: August 12, 1913 to December 22, 1953; Duro Ladipo: 1931 to 1978; Walter Rodney: March 23, 1942 to June 15, 1980; Pius Adebola Adesanmi, February 27, 1972 to March 10, 2019. Also, Joseph Sanusi Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi) 1915 to 1958; Olusegun Awolowo, January 20, 1939 to July 10, 1963; and Tunji Ogunkanmi, October 5, 1960 to November 5, 2000.

Raphael Ernest Grill Armattoe: August 1, 1913 to 1953

He lived for 40 years. He was a Ghanaian doctor, author, poet and politician, who was nominated for the 1949 Nobel Peace Prize and was a strong campaigner for the unification of British and French Togo land.

Raphael Ernest Grill Armattoe (REG) was born in Keta, the Gold Coast, which 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, eventually qualifying as a medical doctor in Edinburgh and subsequently establishing his own private practice.

REG’s 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, returning to the Gold Coast in 1947 and setting up a medical clinic in Kumasi, in the Ashanti region.

He turned his attention to politics, writing and poetry, with his first collection of poems, Between the Forest and Sea getting published in 1950.

Armattoe and Kwame Nkrumah were of different political divides. He joined the Ghana Congress Party (GCP), rather than Nkrumah’s Convention People’s party (CPP).

Armattoe died young, having predicted his own death in a popular poem, “The Way I Would Like To Die.”

He had said in the poem that he would like to die while the dew is wet on the ground. The dew being wet on the ground in the morning is a metaphorical phrase describing 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 on the “Eweland question”, seeking international support for a union between the 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 went to Germany. He fell ill and died in a hospital in Hamburg. His wife reported that he mentioned being poisoned by some unknown persons. REG had apparently been previously attacked 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, born in Derry. Armattoe and his family lived in Kumasi, Ghana until his death. His father, Robert Glikpo Armattoe, was a merchant who traded mainly with the Germans and also studied local indigenous languages.

Rest on, in perfect peace, R.E.G Armattoe.

Duro Ladipo: 1931 to 1978

He was one of the best known Yoruba theatre icons, playwrights and stage theatre iconoclasts. Like his name suggested, he was born several times before he finally stayed, hence his being called ‘Duroorike’.

His stage plays re-created Yoruba myths, pantheon, folklores and history. The most famous of these, Oba Ko’so (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 Commonwealth Art Festival, Berlin in 1965 and on a European tour packaged by his mentor, Professor Ulli Beier.

Rodney’s mission and struggle was to lift the situation of the masses (proletariats) out of the chokehold of the bourgeoisie in society. Being one of the most outstanding and profound scholars on the African continent, Walter Rodney certainly lived his 38 years for the poor of Africa.


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, he scandalised the church by including Bata drums in the Easter Cantata that he had composed and was thereafter excused from the church choir group. He thereafter started his home theatre group in 1961 and became fully established with the founding of the Mbari Mbayo club in Osogbo.

With a soaring popularity and the fame of a theatre icon, he produced Oba Moro in 1962, then Oba Koso and Oba Wa Ja in 1964. He was part of the Mbari Mbayo Club in Ibadan in 1961 and later transformed the club into a cultural centre, art gallery and meeting point for young artists seeking to develop their talents in Osogbo 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, such as “Bode wa sinmi” for the Nigerian Television Authority, Ibadan.

Ladipo dispensed with the traditional dances and the opening and closing glees usually employed for bracketing performances. And, he expressed his passion for Yoruba culture and tradition through drama, music, dance and stage performance.

On March 11, 1978, at the age of 47, Duro Ladipo breathed his last, after a brief illness in Osogbo. Within his short active years, 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: March 23, 1942 to June 15, 1980

He was born into a working class family in Georgetown, Guyana.

He was an exceptionally bright student, a champion debater through which he earned a scholarship to the University College in the West Indies, Jamica. 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 Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), England.

Rodney wrote the book, A History of the Upper Guinea in 1970, which was widely acclaimed for its originality. He travelled widely and became very well known internationally as a scholar, activist and formidable orator. He taught at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania from 1966 to 1967, and 1969 to 1974, before teaching briefly at his alma mater, University of the West Indies in Mona, in 1969.

On October 15, 1968, the government of Jamaica – because of Rodney’s socialist inclinations – declared him persona non grata and banned him from ever entering Jamaica again. He was subsequently dismissed by the University of the West Indies. This harsh political stand and vendetta against 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, resulting in several deaths, hazards and violence, caused the Jamaican government millions of dollars in damages. It also triggered an increase in political awareness across the Carribbean, especially among the Rastafarian section in Jamaica and was well documented in Rodney’s book, The Groundings With My Brother, published in 1969.

In 1969, at the age of 27, Walter Rodney became a professor of History at the University of Dar es Salaam. There, he served until 1974. In 1972, he wrote his epic and most influential book, How Europe Under-developed Africa. The book became enormously influential and was, perhaps, among the first set of books to bring a fresh perspective to underdevelopment in Africa.

When in Dar es Salaam, he was influential in developing a new centre 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 and founded the Working People’s Alliance, a party that provided an effective and credible opposition to the Guyanese government.

On June 30, 1980, Rodney was killed in Georgetown at the age of 38, through a bomb planted in his car, a month after returning from celebrations that had seen Robert Mugabe’s emergence as the first indigenous president of Zimbabwe.

His brother, Donald Rodney, who was also injured in the explosion, said that a Sergeant in Guyanese defence force, named Gurgle Smith, had planted the bomb that killed Rodney in his car. After the killing, Smith fled to French Guiana. There was widespread 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 situation of the masses (proletariats) out of the chokehold of the bourgeoisie in society. Being one of the most outstanding and profound scholars on the African continent, Walter Rodney 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 Rodney was a pioneering scholar, who provided new answers to old questions in relation to the study of Africa.

Professor Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laureate, at a symposium on Friday, June 27, 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.

During his lifetime, Pius wrote regularly for Premium Times and Shahara Reporters, and his writings were usually deep and in-depth. He was pungent and satirical, with emphasis on Nigeria’s social and political system and culture, which need reawakening. His writings and targets were usually, among several others, about politicians, pastors and relevant public figures.


Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi (February 27, 1972 – March 10, 2019)

He was a Nigerian-born Canadian professor, writer, literary critic, satirist, and columnist. He was author of Naija No Dey Carry Last, a 2015 collection of satirical essays, who died on March 10, 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 and 2005, Pius was an assistant professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.

In 2006, he joined Carlton University in Ottawa, Canada as a professor of Literature and African Studies and thereafter became the director of the University’s Institute of African Studies until his death on March 10, 2019, when he was on his way to an African Union conference.

At an early age in Titcombe College, he became an instant star, representing the school in many competitions and winning outstanding prizes. A friend of Pius’, Professor E.C. Osondu of Providence College, Rhodes Island, USA, captured the very essence of Pius’ rather short but extremely remarkable and meteoric life in an elegy:

“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 the 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 had written: “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.

Earlier before then, 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 a Canadian visa again, and like a soothsayer she had said that they would bring the visa to her in Ilorin. Then, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs invited Pius as a guest speaker to an event, the opportunity to which he did not waste. After the lecture, he thanked the head of the consular service, during a tete a tete, and told him that he could not understand why his mother was being denied an entry visa to Canada to visit him. As was reported by Pius’ friend and confidant, the 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 had sent his aides, who had driven all the way from Lagos to Ilorin, to go and stamp Mama Adesanmi’s passport with a Canadian visa in her living room, while offering her a letter of apology personally signed by the High Commissioner. Only Pius could have attained that spectacular feat.

During his lifetime, Pius wrote regularly for Premium Times and Shahara Reporters, and his writings were usually deep and in-depth. He was pungent and satirical, with emphasis on Nigeria’s social and political system and culture, which need reawakening. His writings and targets were usually, among several others, about politicians, pastors and relevant public figures.

In September 2015, his remark on the decision of the Emir of Kano to marry an underaged wife did not escape a personal response from the Emir who addressed Adesanmi by name. That same year, he gave a public lecture titled, “Africa Is the Forward That the World Needs To Face.”

Adesamin wrote his first book, The Wayfarer and Other Poems in 2010 and in 2011. He also wrote, You Are Not A Country, Africa, a collection of essays that won the inaugural Penguin Prize for African non-fictional writing. Pius was also a recipient of Canada Bureau of Leadership Education award in 2017.

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. According to the poet, Chiedu Ezeana: “Pius Adesanmi’s must have lived two or more life times before”.

Adesanmi left behind a wife, Olumuyiwa, and two daughters – Damilare and Oluwatise.

Pius, rest in perfect peace.

Joseph Sanusi Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu

He was born on September 3, 1915 and died on March 25, 1958, certainly rising and going through life like a meteor. Adegoke was Ibadan’s most prominent politician of his time, with origin in Oke-Oluokun, Ibadan to the family of Sanusi Ashiyanbi Adeyege Adelabu and Awujola Ajoke, who died in 1920 when Adegoke was still an infant.

Although born a Muslim, he was sent to a secular school, Saint Davids CMS Elementary School, Kudeti, Ibadan, between 1925 and 1929, before attending the CMS Central School, Mapo, Ibadan in 1930. He had double promotions through classes in the elementary and primary schools, after which he proceeded to Government College, Ibadan, where he also had a double promotion in classes. 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.

Adelabu Adegoke 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 to pass out of Government College, Ibadan. As attested to by his contemporary and colleague in Government College, Professor Saburi Biobaku: “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 headmaster 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. A diarist, Chief Ogunshola documented on Wednesday, February 15, 1935 that:

“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”.

As minister in the federal government, Adelabu was given an official car, which 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 to ride in the car in groups of four persons, from his Oke-Oluokun residence in Ibadan to Beere roundabout, to savour the joy of a ministerial ride. This audacious act hit newspaper headlines the following day as: “Talakawas ride in ministerial car”.


He was instantly employed by the U.A.C as its first African Manager in the produce section and later in 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 and served in the cooperative department. Eventually, he ran his own business for five years, before joining partisan politics, through which he rose from comparative obscurity into social prominence, completely dazzling and baffling his opponents and admirers.

At a first meeting with Adelabu, one would be easily amazed by his strength, resourcefulness and the magnetic force with which he captured his followers to the point of fanaticism. His admirers usually called him “portable Ade” and many 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 the Federal House of Representatives, on the platform of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). Adelabu was 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 elections, while others were talking themselves hoarse, Adelabu won his supporters over 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 attempt to conceal his love for this worship. As a restless and busy politician, he told a journalist, during a press interview, that: “I can only spare you a few minutes”; and when he really got down to business, he refused to sit down, saying: “I talk better when walking about.”

Every morning, the drummers and praise singers he took to Lagos from Ibadan, would wake up the elitist neighbourhood of Ikoyi with drumming and singing that eulogised the exploits of great Ibadan man and grassroots politicians. The Europeans or “Oyinbos” in the neighbourhood protested vehemently against this early morning nuisance and addressed a press conference about it. Adelabu, in his usual style, made minced meat of the protest, asking the foreigners to return 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, which 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 to ride in the car in groups of four persons, from his Oke-Oluokun residence in Ibadan to Beere roundabout, to savour the joy of a ministerial ride. This audacious act hit newspaper headlines the following day as: “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 downtrodden. During this trial, his admirers went on the streets of Ibadan, singing and eulogising him thus:

“Adelabu ma ko owo wa na!
Igunnu loni Tapa, tapa loni igunnu!”
(“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 – 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.

The fantastic story of Adegoke Adelabu’s death had gone around Ibadan: Alhaji Adelabu dead? Impossible! But if he was dead, then others would surely die with him! Down with his killers! Down with all those who had 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 as Ibadan became a besieged and enraged city. To avenge his death, twenty people, possibly including those who did not know him in person, were lynched by the irate crowd. Many houses were equally set on fire, with much property lost.

When law enforcement officials recovered from the shock, they swiftly arrested 564 persons. Of these, 102 stood trial for murder, 25 were acquitted and discharged by a lower court, and seventy seven were sent to face the Assizes.

Adegoke Adelabu was certainly the architect of grassroots politics in Ibadan and with him went a certain glamour from Ibadan politics. He was popularly known as “Penkelemesi”, 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 frontline 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 earlier mentioned friend and classmate in Government College, Professor Saburi Biobaku, who also commented in his condolence remarks, that:

“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 a tribute in the Daily Times of March 27, 1958 said:

“Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu was an intellectual and his capacity was recognised 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.”

Obafemi Awolowo was, at the time, facing a treasonable felony charge and was detained at the Broad Street Prison in Lagos. He was one of the main targets of the Commission, and Segun was one of his father’s counsels at the trial, as well as at the Coker Commission of Enquiry. At his leisure, Segun enjoyed life to the brim and he usually spent his evenings in the company of friends, including Tunji Fadairo, Kunle Olasope, and others.


His friend and leader, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, while expressing his regret on the painful exit of Penkelemesi, also described him as: “A man of conviction… (who) 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, saying: “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 4:30 a.m., had his morning prayers, shaved, did his toiletries and had a bath, before having his usual breakfast of Akamu (pap) and then summoning his young children for a meeting.

As recalled by his first daughter, Adedoyin Jagun, who was about eight years old then, her father admonished them early that morning that:

“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 a.m., he entered a Peugeot 205 car that belonged to his white friend, a Syrian-British national, who had come from Lagos to pick him for a business trip.

He called his aides, Adeleke and Ganiyu, and bid them goodbye. Adegoke Adelabu left no single penny in his bank account. The two houses he had in Oke Ado, he had sold and kept the money in the bank, withdrawing this gradually to cater for the poor of Ibadan. He left his Oke-Oluokun residence as his only property. Adelabu had also taken loans from a bank to buy the Auxmobile with registration number, IB-121, which he used as a private car.

Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, being so enamoured of the life and times of Adegoke Adelabu, would easily, always, regale his audience, at any given opportunity, with memorised verses of Adegoke Adelabu’s memorable nuggets of wisdom.

The glory of Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemesi, 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.

Olusegun Awolowo

He was the son of Chief Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo, the first premier of the Western Region from 1954 to 1959. He was born on January 20, 1939 and died on July 10, 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 West African School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) of 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, who later became Nigeria’s interim president (August 26, 1993 to November 17, 1993) and Rasheed Shitta-Bey, a one-time member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic and the owner of Jabita Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. Also, Aderoju Aderemi, who became a 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 included bossom friends like Kunle Olasope and Adekunle Aromolaran, now the Owa Obokun of Ijesa 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, shown in the maneer he walked into and related to the Western Region crisis of 1962. 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 of 1946 was described by the presiding judge as “a terrible cross examiner”. He was counsel to Adetoyese Laoye (who later became the Timi of Ede). The Western Region crisis of 1962 had brought in Dr. Moses Majekodumi as the sole administrator of the Region, who 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, hence its been referred to as the Coker Commission of Enquiry.

Obafemi Awolowo was, at the time, facing a treasonable felony charge and was detained at the Broad Street Prison in Lagos. He was one of the main targets of the Commission, and Segun was one of his father’s counsels at the trial, as well as at the Coker Commission of Enquiry. At his leisure, Segun enjoyed life to the brim and he usually spent his evenings in the company of friends, including Tunji Fadairo, Kunle Olasope, and others.

At that early age, even though not married, Segun already had a child and another one on the way. These are: Funke, who born in London by Deola Fasanya and Segun, who was born by Abba Koku, shortly after Segun’s death.

On July 9, 1963, Segun prepared for a trip to Lagos the following day, 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 the 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 there then.

…in 1991, he founded Cornerstone Insurance and became the company’s first chief executive officer (CEO) and the youngest CEO of any insurance company 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.


Segun, usually called “quicky” and “lucky lucky” by his friends, did not give any premonition during their last supper.

On Wednesday July 10, 1963, which later turned out to be a Ash Wednesday, and coincidentally the 53rd birthday anniversary of Chief S.L.A Akintola, the then premier of the Western Region, he left the family’s Oke-Bola residence for the 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 pronounced dead on arrival. 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 and perhaps Nigeria’s best medical centres at the time. 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 later went to the Broad Street prison to break the news of this irreparable loss to Chief Awolowo.

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, particularly considering the incarceration of his father, Chief Awolowo at that point in time. Dr. M.A. Majekodumi, the federal minister and former sole administrator of the Western region, in his sympathy message to Awolowo, said:

“You have borne 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. Born in the agrarian community of Ile-Ogbo, Osun State, the supersonic speed of his accomplishments in the insurance industry is a great study in resilience, hardwork and God’s abundant grace.

Tunji had his primary education in Ile-Ogbo and his secondary education in 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 a Second Class Upper Division degree 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 as a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute in 1990, at the age of 30.

Shortly thereafter, in 1991, he founded Cornerstone Insurance and became the company’s first chief executive officer (CEO) and the youngest CEO of any insurance company 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 while he was already sitting atop an insurance company as CEO.
Within a short span of his leadership of the Cornerstone Insurance, 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 one 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, November 5, 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 that of his friend, Deepak Mehta, the Indian Canadian managing director of the now defunct Equitorial Trust Bank.

His life was cut short barely a month after 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. For these meteors, life is certainly not measured by its duration, but by its meaning and purpose.

Femi Kehinde, a former member of the House of Representatives, is principal partner in a Ibadan-based law firm.