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The Jewel First Anniversary: A burial still unsurpassed

The day broke like no other, and with the attendant weather condition, it was obvious a special day was in the offing. And then the news broke. Mama had passed on. It was a shock to many, yet, it was the celebration of a life well spent, for the benefits of individuals, society, nation and mankind. It was a rare showing of unending tributes, songs and high praises, all for Chief (Mrs) H.I.D. Awolowo.

365 days after mama’s departure, it has been an event unlike any other. Since her demise, through to the outpouring of messages to the Awolowo clan, to the final rites of passage and the eventual burial of Mama H.I.D., no other has made such national headlines still.

As Nigeria celebrates one year in remembrance of Mama HID Awolowo, it is worthy of note that not many in recent global history, and, in fact, none in Nigeria has enjoyed such prominence in death as Mama. Mama remained the admiration of all even in death. Her Ikenne residence, which played host to elite and lowly alike became a Mecca of sorts, as all came to pay tribute to Mama. It was a national celebration indeed.

Mama’s passing was unique on many fronts. The ever-busy Lagos State paused for Mama as it proved itself as the centre of excellence when Mama’s lying-in-state ceremony was held. Mama HID’s presence in Lagos was further testament to the many political travails of the Awolowos. Led by the Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and his wife, Bolanle, it was a parade of dignitaries both from within and outside Nigeria as they converged on Park Lane, Apapa residence of the Awolowos, held on Novermber 15, 2015.

From left, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President Muhammadu Buhari; Reverend (Mrs) Tola Oyediran and Ambassador (Dr) Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu at the burial
From left, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President Muhammadu Buhari; Reverend (Mrs) Tola Oyediran and Ambassador (Dr) Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu at the burial

On November 16, 2015, the ceremony moved to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, where the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, and his wife, Florence, as well as the Tribune family was on ground to bid Mama farewell. Following a commendation service held at Agbeni Methodist Cathedral, her body arrived at the Tribune house, headquarters of the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc.

It was a display of affection, admiration and glowing tributes as Ibadan stood still for Mama. Her presence at the Tribune House witnessed a parade of high profile individuals including governors, respected members of the clergy, notable musicians, among others.

Tuesday, November 17 and Thursday, November 19 featured display of orations rendered by Afenifere, Yoruba Unity Forum, Yoruba Council of Elders, members of the National Youth Service Corps, the United States arm of the Oodua Foundation, the academia, among others.

The schedule of activities for Mama’s burial also featured the presentation of a biography on her, authored by Professor Wale Adebanwi. In the spirit of further uniting Nigeria as one which is a vital part of the Awolowo legacy, dignitaries from all walks of life, led by former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, graced the occasion with their presence at the presentation of the book entitled: In the Radiance of the Sage: Life and Times of Mama HID Awolowo, a text which chronicles Mama’s presence and her pursuits in life. It was indeed a narrative unrivalled as it presented the many sides and experiences not many people were in the know of about the jewel of inestimable value of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Dance, drums and aesthetics organised by the Ikenne Development Association, Liyanju Family, Awolowo Family, Ligu-Ogodo-Adebowale Family, Sadeke Descendants, Ife Council of Chiefs, Remo Club 1937, Ogunde Theatre Group, various religious organisations, among others, took over on November 24th through to the ushering of Mama’s burial proper held on November 25th, 2015, a day which culminated in the parade of the crème de la crème of society, an event which witnessed the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, state governors, high profile dignitaries, too many to mention.

One year after her passing, Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo still stands strong in memory as a true representation of a life well lived indeed.