T HE Yoruba people of Nigeria have a popular .saying which runs thus: “The world (earth) is the market place while Heaven is home to everyone.” The Yoruba people have a belief that we are in this world which will serve as a market place for all for a while. When we die, we will return home to our Maker. Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, a well-known Nigerian educationist has, with his death, returned home. On December 1, 2016, he will be buried in the ancient city of Isara (the land of his fathers).
Sir Olaniwun Ajayi was a renowned Methodist and he served Nigeria and God with all the talents God had given him.
An administrator, an educationist, a politician, a community leader and leader of men, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi died peacefully at Isara at the age of 91. He lived and died well.
I knew Sir Ajayi very well. He was one of the senior most deserving supporters of the Avatar, Papa Obafemi Awolowo, who transited near 30 years ago. Sir Olaniwun Ajayi (as remarked earlier) was a staunch Methodist, and throughout his life, he never joked with his religion. He was also a former teacher. He attended Wesley College, Ibadan and later became a lawyer. His son, Reverend Kanyin Ajayi (SAN), is today the Chaplain of Emmanuel Chapel in Ikoyi, Lagos. Emmanuel Chapel is one of the best run and managed Methodist Churches in Nigeria. Sir Olaniwun Ajayi fully supported the Church when he was alive. The priests and deaconesses who assist Kanyin in managing the Emmanuel Chapel are very well-trained in the Methodist and Christian doctrines. Regular sermons were held at the residence of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi when he was alive to train these Christian workers. My wife is a Deaconess of the Church, while Sir Olaniwun Ajayi was a Knight of John Wesley of the Church until he died.
What cannot be forgotten of the life and times of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi is the fact that he was a disciplinarian. He was very rigid on principles and he never tolerated attempts by anyone to despise and look down on authority. He was handling the case of a Methodist clergyman who was caught sexually assaulting a female member just before he died. He recommended the highest punishment for the careless minister. Sir Olaniwun Ajayi believed until he died that any compromise over noble principles was total abandonment of such principles. While on earth, his “Yes” was Yes and his “No” was No.
As I did mention earlier in this piece, I knew Sir Olaniwun Ajayi well. He was a good friend of our highly regarded “Egbon” Bros. Albert Oni. Bros Oni was one of the children of Papa Oni, the Baba Ijo (father of the Church) of Methodist Church, Ilogbe, Ifaki Ekiti. The church is today a Cathedral of the Methodist Church Ifaki Diocese. The late Papa Oni was my father’s intimate friend when they were both on this side of the world divide. Sir Ajayi and Bro. Albert had attended Wesley College, Ibadan and they were fashionable men (very handsome people). “Egbon” Albert was noted for his good dressings that just became popular with all those who noted them. “Bros” Albert Oni’s brothers include Uncle Ebenezer Oni, and Chief ‘Segun Oni, a former governor of Ekiti State.
The friendship of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi and “Bros” Albert was exemplary. The two of them have now gone to the world beyond.
One thing that must also be said about Sir Olaniwun Ajayi was his mastery of Yoruba history. Papa Awolowo used to say: “You can only be a good Nigerian citizen when you are first and foremost a good person from your area of origin.” In simple terms, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi was a good Ijebu man and a good Yorubaman from Isara in Ijebuland. He was a known fighter against the Hausa/Fulani historical forces to dominate other people. While alive, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi never compromised with feudalism and feudal oppression in Nigeria’s history. Sir Olaniwun Ajayi was a visionary who spoke his mind clearly on issues without being afraid of anyone.
He equally was an excellent administrator and an astute political leader.
He served as the Commissioner for Education in the old Western State of Nigeria under the leadership of Brigadier-General Oluwole Rotimi, a fine military man from Abeokuta. Sir Olaniwun Ajayi did well as the Education Commissioner.
He was a prolific writer on events in Nigeria. His book, “LEST I FORGET,” continues to be a quality source of reference on the men, matters and events of Nigeria politics. His medical doctor son, Olamijulo Ajayi, did tell me when I visited the Ajayis at Isara on November 8, to commiserate with the family, that another book recently written by his father would soon be released to the public..
Dr. Olamijulo Ajayi categorically stated that everything would be done by the family to release the book before their father’s burial on December 1, 2016.
“Oga” was a great Nigerian – decent and neat in his dealings with other mortals. He was simple and clear minded. Two days before he died, as his first son, Dr. Ola had told me, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi had called all his domestic staff to thank them and pray for them for the excellent way they had all attended to his problems. Little did the staff know that the old man was bidding them farewell.
We will all remember Sir Olaniwun Ajayi. His residence (after the valley) leading to (Isara Town), is just a stone throw to the residence of Papa Soyinka, the father of the Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka aka “Bros Kongi” at Isara.
May the soul of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi rest in peace! May God bless his memory!! Sleep on our dear Compatriot!!! We will all meet at the bossom of God.
Odigbose – Good night and farewell. He will be buried near his wife’s grave on December 1! What a great man.
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