To Olu Adeboye, a benevolent uncle
IN 1981, I had just left secondary school when for the first time I had the opportunity of getting close to Mr. Olasuji Lawson Olu Adeboye. Although I had heard numerous stories about him, his wealth and his doggedness. I had also seen him on several occasions, but from afar, especially during Christmas festivals or when there was an important thing to do in the community.
Even if his first port of call anytime he visited home was my mother’s since he was a first cousin to my mother (his mother and my mother are both from Okeaye-Idepe in Okitipupa and the same ruling house) and both of us are equally and closely related from the same Odoka lineage, for my late father Chief Lawrence Faseyidun Adetan was the last Odoka, in Igo-Aduwo Community in Ilutitun-Osooro, we were not that close until that early 80s.
Again, I have heard about his tremendous and philanthropic efforts, his assistance to people in their educational pursuits, people in need and his contributions to other areas of human endeavours. Because of his largesse, musicians such as late Crossdale Boluwaji Juba and the Asiko exponent Madam Comfort Omoge had sung his praises by waxing records in his name.
The year I came close to him was when he was liaising in a case handled by the late former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and a rights activist, Chief Alao Aka-Bashorun, for a close relation. I was running errands from Ilutitun to Lagos to get update on the case, which was eventually dismissed for lack of merit.
Telephone then was a luxury. At Okitipupa, the nearest town to mine, about 20 kilometres where there was telephone facility, one could book a call for days without getting through. To mail a letter to Lagos could take weeks.
I would board the early morning vehicle and by 9 a.m. would be in Lagos. Adeboye’s office at Commercial Road in Apapa, was a beehive of activities, ranging from people who came for real business matters to relations and others who were there for one form of assistance or the other.
At times, the expansive office would be so crowded that the whole place would be stuffy, but you would not see him change countenance until everybody was attended to.
Even at his home, on some rare occasions where he was difficult to meet, it was equally the same crowd one would find to the extent that his children found it difficult to get his attention, for his sitting room was always filled with people. But surprisingly and no matter how late he made sure that all his children got what they wanted before the close of the day.
Brother Olu, as he was fondly called by younger ones, was a workaholic. By 7a.m. he was already in office or somewhere inspecting his vehicles, for he was a transporter, dealing in haulage business for banks, oil companies and allied businesses and also ferrying workers for these organisations. He founded a household transport company in the 70s called the Osooro Brothers at a very young age.
He did not only sponsor many in universities and other institutions of higher learning, he was instrumental to the late Crossdale Juba launch into music limelight by prodding the highlife musician who died in the mid-70s to cut his teeth in the music. He was a philanthropist extra-ordinary.
He was a member of the Anglican Communion; a notable worshipper at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Cole Street, Ikate, Lagos and at his home town in Ilutitun worshipped at Ebenezer Cathedral, Diocese of the Coast.
He was a member of many social clubs both in Lagos and at home.
He was equally a lover of custom. He was one of the few titled chiefs in Osooro land. He was installed the Aduwo of Igo-Aduwo a few years ago, which was the highest in the community, that comprised many family lineages that are inter-related and bond by family ties, customs and traditions.
At 74, his passing on quietly in his sleep, when the life expectancy for average Nigerian today is less than 50, is a cause for celebration.
As you join your ancestors and your remains will be interred this week, may your soul rest in peace.
O dabo, omo ekun lomu, omo ekun ti oj’oloko, Sunre o!
• Adetan is on the staff of The Guardian.