Together In Life And Death
IDOWU, the child born after twins, according to Yoruba mythology, is often associated with strong will and soul. Perhaps, stubbornness. For Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, popularly known as HID, those hallowed adjectives are not mythic expressions. They are real. They have made her a legend among her people. A legend of the time.
Born to a modest family in the small Ikenne community of Ogun State on November 25, 1915, her mother was Deaconess Elizabeth Oyesile Adelana, a business woman and member of royalty, while her father was the famous Chief Moses (MF) Odugbemi Adelana, a descendant of Obara ruling House, in Ikenne Remo and of the Liyangu Akarigbo ruling house of Sagamu.
HID had a wild combination of sincerity and rebelliousness, a powerful mix of political awareness and activism. With forcefulness that inspired young and old, it was not a surprise that her biography was a reflection of the same duality, the stubbornness of Idowu and strong will of Hannah.
Mama Awolowo grew up in a lively and happy home filled with nine half brothers and sisters. She was born into a polygamous household, and was the daughter of the second of her father’s three wives, and the only one of the seven children borne by her mother to survive long after birth.
She had her primary education at St. Savior’s Anglican School, Ikenne in 1921 (now Our Saviour’s), but later moved to St. Peter’s Anglican School, Faji, Lagos. Between 1928 and 1933, the late chief (Mrs) Awolowo attended Methodist Girls’ High School, then located on Broad Street, Lagos.
Driven by an unquenchable desire to give back to her school wherein she drank from the fountain of knowledge, she decided to return to her alma mater, to teach, and was there between 1934 and 1936, before moving into business.
She resigned into full time business and got married on December 26, 1937, to the late Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, who famously referred to her as his “jewel of inestimable value”. They remained each other’s best friend to the end; together they fought for the cause of justice and for the release of their fellow men from ignorance and diseases. They had five children. Olusegun (1939 – 1963), Omotola, Oluwole (late), Ayodele (late) and Tokunbo.
It was not long after the wedding that the family moved to Ibadan. Her husband, subsequently, journeyed to London where he studied Law.
“I felt a little bit lonely when he left for London, but he contended that it was for the good of the family,” mama recalled that period of her time with the sage.
A woman of industry whose watchwords were honesty and hard work, she never joked with supervision. Shortly after her marriage, in 1937, she took to trading, the traditional business of her mother and grandmother. Mama HID remained till death, a reputable and renowned businesswoman, who never joked with total supervision.
She was first appointed Nigerian distributor of Nigerian Tobacco Company, in 1957, and was until death, chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, Publishers of Tribune titles, Dideolu Specialist Hospital, Dideolu Stores Limited among others and the Matron of National Association of Nigerian Women in Business (Ogun State chapter).
Back home from Britain, Awolowo formed the cultural group known as Egbe Omo Oduduwa, in 1949, and a political party, the Action Group (AG), in 1951, also known as Egbe Afenifere in Western part of Nigeria, as part of the Social Programme for the emancipation of Yoruba race. HID was around to play the role of a supportive partner. She went with him on campaign trips and hosted political associates and other guests at home.
Her devotion to her husband through thick and thin and the fulfillment of her marital vows came to the fore, when she stood unfalteringly beside her husband during his political vicissitudes, especially, when the going was truly tough for the sage during the alliance formed between the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the Action Group (AG) called United Progressive Grand Alliance, while Awolowo was held as a political prisoner.
She was a great source of emotional spiritual and physical strength for her deliberately persecuted husband. Mama did not only face the jeering of political opponent, she also lost her first son, Segun, a lawyer in a ghastly motor accident along Lagos-Ibadan road at a time her husband was serving prison term for treason.
Mama bore the tribulations with the passion of a Christian, realising that all things that come into being must pass away.
Socially, HID Awolowo was on the move. She was the matron, Ikenne Social Circle till death, and Grand Matron Remo Country Club. She was also honoured with much chieftaincy title in recognition of her impressive standing in the society. These include the Yeye Oba of Ife, Yeye Oodua.
She was also the Mojibade of Ikenne and Iyalode of Remoland. She was bestowed with the prestigious national award of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
Among other awards, HID was awarded the Doctor of Letters (Honours Causa) of the University of Calabar, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife and the Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University).
The Yeye Oba of Ife was not only mother of the nation, but also the mother of Remo Diocese (Anglican Communion), the title she earned through total commitment to God’s kingdom.
Mama remained Life Matron Agbeni Progressive Association, Agbeni Young Women Christian Association, a licensed Lay Reader, Iyalode, Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne, Iya Ijo of the same church, synod delegate and the Diocesan mother.
HID’s sense of piety and reverence for the things of God began to deepen and which of course was noticed as she was made a class leader at Agbeni Methodist Church in 1940 after years of devoted attendance.
Unwavering faith in her savior, which was seen in her being the president of Agbeni Young Women Christian Association (AYWCA) for several years and chairman of the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) international for the Western region. She was equally made the first matron of Agbeni Youth Progressive Association when it was founded 62 years ago. The various positions she held gave abiding credence to her Agbeni Young Women Christian Association (AYWCA) for several years and chairman of the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) international for the Western region.
On Wednesday, September 5, 2009, she received the award of the Fellow of academy of Religion (FAR) by the Nigerian Association for the Study of Religion (NASR). This was done in recognition of her unique and unwavering contribution to the advancement of humanity and her role in the employment of religion as a veritable tool both in national and global development.
Yeye Oodu’a whose life has been dedicated to service to humanity won herself many awards through her generosity.
The major beneficiary of her philanthropy is her church, Our Saviour’s Church, Ikenne, where she first presented a marble pulpit when she turned 50, and on turning 60, donated a central stained glass of the chancel window. When she clocked 95, she insisted that the marble pulpit must be given a facelift while she ensured that the church was air conditioned by donating central air conditions to mark her birthday and ensure worshippers worship in comfort. And her latest gesture was the hosting of the 10th synod of the Remo Diocese themed “The cost of discipleship.