Friday, April 13, 2018 10:55 pm
By Gbenro Adesina/Ibadan
The week long burial programme for the late Professor Israel Bodunrin Akinwumi Orojide-Isola, a cultural colossus and erudite scholar ended today, 13 April 2018 with a funeral service at Methodist Cathederal of Light, Agodi Gate, Ibadan. The church was filled to the brim with people from all works of life from within and outside Nigeria. Among them were: Governor Abiola Ajimobi who was represented by his Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun; his father, who is the chairman of the burial committee, Chief Adegboyega Arulogun; Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State represented by his Special Adviser, Mrs Taiwo Oluga; Lagos State legislators including, Hon. Tunde Buraimo, and Hon.Olayiwola Olawole, former Oyo State Secretary to the State Government, Chief Michael Koleoso, a playwright, Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Ayo Banjo, Professor Ayo Bamgbose, Professor Anthony Ijaola Asiwaju, Professor Olutayo Adesina, Professor Gbemi Adeoti, Professor Olubunmi Olopade-Olaopa, Professor Toyin Falola, Professor Pamela Olubunmi Smith, Professor Daniel Izevbaye, Professor Kunle Adeniran, Professor Olabode Lucas, Professor Festus Adesanoye and Professor Dele Layiwola.
Others include: the General Secretary/CEO of The Bible Society of Nigeria, BSN, Reverend Dr. Fred Odutola, President, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes, CCII, Chief Yemi Soladoye, Professor Ayo Kehinde, Professor Opoola Ayotunde Ogunsiji, CEO and publisher of Ovation International Magazine, Dele Momodu, Tunde Kelani of Mainframe Production, Dr. Adeola Adijat Faleye, Dr Tunde Awosanmi, a playwright, Elder Oladejo Okediji and the Project Director of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, BCOS Mr Yanju Adegbite.
Among the officiating ministers were: The Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Sunday Olatunji Amos Makinde, Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Rt. Rev. Dr. A. O. Ajiboye, Rt. Rev. Bishop Morounfoluwa Moradeyo, Bishop Kayode Olu Ajiboye, Sir Dr. Jide Fatokun, Very Rev. O. A. Adewuyi, Engr Niyi Afonja, Kunmi Osundiran and Sunday Atoyebi.
Delivering the sermon, Makinde, who eulogised the deceased in elegies, poems and songs said that he was impressed with the faithfulness of the deceased’s wife, who took care of her husband till death stressing, “wives who do not care for their husbands should learn from Mrs Adebola Isola. Before Akinwumi died, she gave him his favourite meal, “Amala, gbegiri ati ewedu. Akinwumi’s last meal before he died was his favourite meal”.
He said that the deceased was his teacher who taught him well and was a multilinguist by his virtue of fluency in English, French and Yoruba Languages. He described him as a rare and great person who spent his life promoting Yoruba Language.
According to him, Orojide-Isola was among the great people Nigeria has produced. “Akinwumi Orojide-Isola, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, William Shakespeare, Daniel Fagunwa, G. F Odunjo, Duro Ladipo, Oyin Adejobi, Wande Abimbola, Herbert Ogunde, among others are great men in the world. They can never die. They will continue to live as long as their work live”.
Makinde lamented that Yoruba Language and culture are already going into extinction, condemning the attitude of Yoruba people to their language. He said, “Today, where is Yoruba Language, Yoruba Culture and tradition? I was very happy when I heard that BBC has started Yoruba Service, which is a sign that Yoruba is one of the major languages in the world. If foreigners can appreciate this language, why can’t the owners of the language appreciate it? Please, do not allow this language to go into extinction. Please, do not let us forget our source”, Makinde pleaded.
He described the deceased as a good husband, father, Christain and honest man.
Describing the deceased as a gift to Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibajo, Nigeria Vice President, in his tribute said, “His publications and pioneer work in promoting Nigeria history and rich culture have immensely impacted on many at home and abroad. His work will definitely live on and he would surely be remembered as a literary icon who dedicated his life to making his country great”.
Also, in his tribute, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigeria President, stated that he received the demised of the scholar with shock and yet with a lot of reflection and admiration for someone he knew did his best to make Nigeria a better place. He said, “…I have accepted his transition as a course we all must take…. Professor Akinwumi’s multi-faceted career and pre-occupations as a multiple award winning poet, novelist, scholar, teacher, accomplished and consummate public servant and a renowned dramatist which straddled the last six decades, have been a source of profound happiness to many of us and a genuine source of inspiration to aesthetes and intellectuals all over the world. His had been a most colourful life which had seen him shuttle tirelessly from one area of human endeavour to another. Yet in all his human endeavours, his over-ridding concern had always been a dogged humanism, deeply compassionate and genuinely universal”.
Speaking further, “Akinwumi lived a life which has positively touched many. He was down-to-earth and not a lover of material things, freeing his mind for wider exploration of things which affect humanity, especially his African ancestry. He cared intensely for his fellow citizens. Oftentimes, the proof of personal satisfaction is the extent to which even those who may not be aware are touched by actions individually undertaken. I am happy to note that his patriarchal contribution to the arts and professional and humanistic exertions have been nationally acknowledged with the conferment on him of the distinguished Nigerian National Order of Merit, NNOM, in 2000. He was also a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, FNAL, 2001”.
He concluded, “Our dear nation will surely be the better for it if only the present generation would emulate the enviable personal qualities of the late Prof. Akinwumi. A hardworking man of great integrity and highly cultured personality, he was a symbol of humility, moderation and selfless service…. His death is a huge loss to the nation and, therefore, by this message, I am not only joining thousands of other Nigerians to mourn but also paying deserving tribute to this outstanding Nigerian and quintessential man”.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, describing Isola as a literary giant, who represented the finest breed in the creative arts locally, nationally and internationally, said that without doubt, the creative and literary communities worldwide would miss “this progenitor of Yoruba culture, literary giant and talented actor, whose creative works and huge contributions to the body of knowledge remain indelible. “In the same vein, his unconventional delivery of a university convocation lecture in the Yoruba Language will forever stand as a first in the annals of history”, Ajimobi added.
In his message to the family, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State noted that the deceased’s great impact in Nigeria society transcends the academic environment. He said, “Sadly, death has once again robbed our dear nation of a man whose passion for the Yoruba Language, our culture and tradition were unparalleled. Although, he is no more, his legacies, particularly, his artistry works, will no doubt live on”.
He recalled that the deceased was a professor of Yoruba Literature and Culture in the Department of African Languages of the Faculty of Arts of the then University of Ife now OAU, stressing that indeed, those were the great years when the deceased deployed the full force of his creative genius to write the novels, poems and plays that today remain on the topmost lists of the classical quintessence of contemporary Yoruba literature.
He said, “We recall that Professor Akinwumi Isola returned to our university in the late 1990s to early 2000s as a Senior Research Professor at the Institute of Cultural Studies where he again left an indelible mark in the annals of our creative cultural engagement. We shall forever remember the amiable personality of Professor Isola in our cultural gatherings where his profoundly witty tales and fable would always come on readily to mind to drive home poignant lessons on our collective cultural and intellectual ruminations. Needless to say, the passing on of Isola has left a vacuum in our collective cultural landscape as a nation that will be difficult to fill. Indeed, his death has left many literary and screenplay writers in this country as inconsolable orphans”.
While the Managing Director of University Press Plc, Samuel Kolawole noted that the deceased was one of the company’s highly esteemed and valued authors whose books have contributed to their success story, the Group Managing Director of Odu’a Investment Copany Limited said that the passing away of Isola was a great loss to the nation and the entire Yoruba race.
Others who sent their condolences were: Babs Fafunwa Centre for Yoruba Language Engineering, National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, and D. O. Fagunwa Foundation.
In a tribute titled, A tribute to the one I LOVE, LOVED and will always LOVE”, Mrs. Adebola, the wife of the deceased said, “Akinwumi Isola, alias honest man, let me first apologise for writing your tribute in English. It is because a thousand and one people will like to read it. Please pardon me, Ajagbe, omo Onida. I know you were versatile in English and excellent in Yoruba, your favourable language. You can no longer answer me whenever I call daddy, what a wicked world. You are a loving husband, father, grandfather, a man of dignity, courage, integrity, and humility. Those that heard about you wanted to meet you. That is my joy. Though, you were old, you were still friends to the young and old alike. Our people at our village, Labode, will never forget you. A wonderful husband, I will always love you. I appreciate God for giving me Akinwumi Isola as my husband. I thank God that I and the nurse put you on the bed when you breathed your last even before the doctor your children employed to take care of you arrived. What will l miss about you? The jokes and stories you always told as well as the songs you always sang for me”.
Akinjide, the only son of the deceased noted that the death of his father has caused him a pain in his heart that could not be described in words. “It is almost as if a part of me has ceased to exist, and in many ways, this is indeed a reality”.
Also, Toyin Somefun and Bukola Ladipo, the deceased’s daughters noted that they would never forget all the remarkable experiences they had with their father describing him as a devoted and humble father, whose grandchildren would never forget.
Akinwumi Orojide-Isola was later interred at Methodist Church Labode, Labode Ikereku Circuit around 2:50pm, after an outing and thanksgiving service at the church, which is adjacent to the deceased’s family compound.
Akinwumi was born at Labode Village in Ibadan in 1935 to Mr Samuel Orojide and his wife, Mrs Rebecca Adedoyin Orojide. He started his primary education at Labode Methodist School, Labode where he was between 1945 and 1946 and completed it at Methodist Primary School, Agodi in Ibadan in 1947 to 1951. He attended Methodist Teachers’ Training College, Ifaki-Ekiti between 1953 to 1954 where he earned Teachers’ Grade Three Certificate and proceeded to Wesley College, Ibadan, between 1957 and 1958 where he earned Teachers’ Grade Two Certificate. Between 1961 and 1962, he attended College of Arts, Science and Technology, where he obtained GCE AL. He gained admission to the University of Ibadan, UI, in 1963 where he earned a B.A. in French in 1967 and enrolled for a Diploma in Linguistics in 1968 and graduated in 1970. He earned M.A. in Yoruba literature in University of Lagos in 1978 and returned to UI for his PhD which he earned in 1978. He started out as a teacher in 1952 at Olodo Methodist Primary School and worked in various Methodist Schools in Egbado now Yewa, Igan-Okoto and Igbogila. He also worked as a teacher at Methodist Modern School, Ogbomosho and Wesley College, Elekuro before he became a lecturer at Univerity of Lagos and later at University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, where he became a professor in 1983.
He got married to Adebola Adefunke in 1969 and were blessed with three children- Akinjide, Toyin and Bukola.
Isola wrote his first play, Efunsetan Aniwura during 1961-62 while still a student at the University of Ibadan, followed by a novel, O Leku. His other publications include Afaimo ati awon Arofo Miran, Koseegbe, Oluomo, Ogun Omode, Ofin Irinna, Iku Oloku Esin, Madam Tinubu, Terror of Lagos, Ake, ni Igba Ewe, Fabu, Saworoide, Aye ye wontan, The Campus Queen, Belly Bellows, Herbert Macaulay and the Spirit of Lagos, Nitori Owo as well as several poems. In 1986, he wrote and composed the college anthem that is currently being sung in Wesley College Ibadan.