•The Awo Legacy Resonates
Barely 60 days to her 100th birthday anniversary, prodigious matriarch of the revered Obafemi Awolowo political dynasty, Mama HID has passed on.
She would have been 100 years old next November 25th because she was born in her Ikenne (Ogun State) nativity on November 25th, 1915 as Hannah Idowu Dideolu Adelana (HID).
An official announcement last night by the Tribune newspaper founded by her late husband (Chief Obafemi Awolowo) in 1949, of which she was publisher till yesterday, said that Mama who was popularly known by the sobriquet her late husband bestowed on her – “Jewel of inestimable value” had passed on.
The late Chief (Mrs.) Awolowo was the grandmother to Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, wife Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, renowned professor of law and politician. The late HID celebrated her 99th birthday on November 25, 2014 amidst pomp and glee while having ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in attendance among a retinue of the topmost personalities about.
The matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty was wife of the late premier of the defunct Western Region. She passed on more than four years after rumours spread like wildfire around the country indicating she transited. That was on June 22, 2012.
She was chairperson of the African Newspapers of Nigeria, publishers of the Tribune stable until yesterday, and died 28 years after her husband passed on.
The HID Phenomenon
Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo (née Adelana) popularly known as HID, was born to a modest family in the small Ikenne community of Ogun State in Nigeria. She is the widow of politician Obafemi Awolowo, who famously referred to her as his “jewel of inestimable value”.
A successful businesswoman and astute politician, she was the First Lady of the old Western Region. She played an active role in the politics of Western Nigeria. She stood in for her husband in the alliance formed between the NCNC and the AG, called the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), while he was tried and in jailed.
The plans were that she would contest the elections, and if she won, would step down for her husband in a by-election. To fulfil his dream of becoming president in the Second Republic, she toured the length and breadth of the country with her husband campaigning. She also coordinated the women’s wing of the party and was always present at all party caucuses.
A successful businesswoman, she became the first Nigerian distributor for the Nigerian Tobacco Company (NTC) in 1957. She was the first to import lace materials and other textiles into Nigeria. On September 19, 2015, she died in her sleep at the age of 99.
Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo Resurrects
With Mama’s passage yesterday, the entire “myth” of the late Chief Awolowo was literally raked up again, as reviews poured forth. Many remembered that Chief Awolowo had reasoned that, “There are times when even the greatest tactician in diplomatic cunning is outclassed in his own game. It is then that he discovers that all that he thought he had gained is but loss, and that what is left of national honor and dignity is but the shadow of an illustrious past that is gone forever, or of a potentially great future that will never come.”
Chief Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo (March 6, 1909 – May 9, 1987) popularly known as “Awo” was one of Africa’s most influential nationalists, political writer and a pre-eminent Nigerian statesman whose vision and tireless work defined a modernist Yoruba political project in an emergent Nigerian post-colonial nation state after the decolonization process in the 1940s. He is often neglected among African political intellectuals because he did not become a head of state. Awo is often heavily by the Igbos for committing massive genocide against them in the Biafran War, a charge he seriously denied throughout his life.
His admirers refers to him as “the best president Nigeria never had.”A Yoruba and native of Ikenne in Ogun State of Nigeria, he started his career,like some of his notable contemporaries, as a nationalist in the Nigerian Youth Movement of which he became Western provincial secretary, and was responsible for much of the progressive social legislation that has made Nigeria a modern nation.
He was an active journalist and trade unionist as a young man, editing The Nigerian Worker amongst other publications while also organizing the Nigerian Produce Traders Association and serving as secretary of the Nigerian Motor Transport Union. After earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Nigeria from a London University through correspondence, he went to the UK where he earned a law degree as an external student. While there, he founded the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, a pan-Yoruba cultural society, which set the stage for the formation of the Action Group, a liberal nationalist political party.
He served as premier of the Western Region (1954-59), but ancient rivalries prevented him from attaining higher office after independence in 1960. He was leader of the opposition in the federal Parliament until a tribal quarrel led to his arrest in November 1962. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for plotting to overthrow the government. He was formally elected leader in 1966 of the Yoruba, one of the major tribal groups of Nigeria.
Released and pardoned (August 1966) after Lieut. Col. Yakubu Gowon had established a military government, Chief Awolowo became vicechairman of the federal executive council and was placed in charge of the Ministry of Finance (1967-71). He ran unsuccessfully as Unity Party of Nigeria candidate in the presidential elections of 1979 and 1983.
He was the first Leader of Government Business and Minister of Local Government and Finance and first Premier of the Western Region under Nigeria’s parliamentary system, from 1952 to 1959, and was the official Leader of the Opposition in the federal parliament to the Balewa government from 1959 to 1963. In addition to all these, Awolowo was the first individual in the modern era to be named Leader of the Yorubas (Yoruba: Asiwaju Omo Oodua), a title which has come over time to be conventionally ascribed to his successors as the recognized political leader of the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria.
Obafemi Awolowo had been born on March 6, 1909 to Chief David Sopolu Awolowo and his wife Mary Efunyela Awolowo in Ikenne-Remo in present-day Ogun State of Nigeria. His first name, Obafemi, means “the king loves me” and the surname Awolowo, the source of his nickname, Awo, means “The mystic (or mysticism) commands honour (or respect).”
Awolowo`s father was a farmer and sawyer. He had his primary school education at St. Saviour’s School, Ikenne and at Imo Wesleyan School, Abeokuta. His education at this early stage was interrupted for several years by the sudden death of his father in April 1920 when he was about seven years, an event that left him without financial support and compelled him to fetch firewood for sale, and do similar jobs, to support his schooling.
He attended various schools, and then became a teacher in Abeokuta, after which he qualified as a shorthand typist. Subsequently, he served as a clerk at the famous Wesley College, as well as a correspondent for the Nigerian Times. It was after this that he embarked on various business ventures to help raise funds to travel to the UK for further studies.
Following his education at Wesley College, Ibadan (a teachers’ college) in 1927, he enrolled at the University of London as an External Student. He was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) and the Bachelor of Laws by the University of London. He was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple on November 19, 1946.
On 26th December, 1937 Obafemi Awolowo got married to Miss Hannah Idowu Dideolu Adelana. They remained each other’s best friend to the end.
– Chukwuemeka Okoro