Exemplary is used for a person who is very good and worthy of being emulated or imitated. Top – flight is being in the highest rank of achievement, while innovative is used for someone who brings or introduces new methods, ideas or makes changes. These adjectives aptly sum up the disposition and gargantuan attainments of His Royal Majesty Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, Okukenu IV, in the 15 years he has been the Alake and paramount ruler of Egba Kingdom.
Before going into his accomplishments of stupendous transformation of the Alake palace and facilitating great economic and physical development of Abeokuta, I will first write on last week’s celebration of the 15th anniversary of his coronation and the two – night private sessions he had with four of us who were his classmates in the 1963 – 64 Higher School Certificate (HSC) set at Ibadan Grammar School who attended the ceremony in the Ogun State capital on Thursday.
Aside me, an Akure – born, the other three colleagues were Ipetumodu – born Chief Folabi Odelana, Kabiyesi’s number one pal, Ijebu – born Mr. Bola Osinbowale and Ekiti – born Mr. Dele Odesanmi, who came with his wife. He and I were also colleagues of Oba Gbadebo in the 1965 – 68 set at the University of Ibadan but Kabiyesi finished in 1969, a year after us, because he studied Arabic, a four – year course.
We arrived in Abeokuta in the afternoon of Wednesday, November 18 and at 5pm left the Guesthouse where Kabiyesi lodged us in the Ibara GRA section of the state’s capital for the Alake palace where we were until about 9pm. The three others with us apart from Mrs. Odesanmi were the Aro of Egba kingdom and the duo of the Chief – of – Staff to Governor Dapo Abiodun and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). During the four – hour get – together Oba Gbadebo and us reminisced on our schoolboy years at Ibadan Grammar School while we munched fried meat, fish or chicken and drank Guinness, Beer, Brandy, Red Wine or minerals as each preferred.
The following day, Thursday, November 19 at 12pm we were at the anniversary service at the St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, Ake a stone – throw from the Alake’s palace. The sermon was delivered by Bishop Akinpelu Johnson of the Lagos Mainland Diocese of the Anglican Church, who was personally invited by Oba Gbadebo.
The prelate is the son of Venerable Sope Johnson, a one – time Provost of the Anglican Cathedral, Marina Lagos. Because his maternal ancestors were from Abeokuta he expressed the wish to build a house in the Ogun State capital and Iperu – born Governor Dapo Abiodun, who was at the service and spoke after the sermon promised to make land available to him. The Governor who was to have been in Abuja for a national meeting said he chose to come to the service because of the respect and admiration he has for Oba Gbadebo as a wonderful and lovable person and a great and friendly monarch.
After the service ended about 2pm, many of those who were at the church and others who were not moved to the Summer Garden in the Alake palace, where His Royal Majesty treated everyone to sumptuous meal of ofada rice, jollof or fried rice, amala or pounded yam with assorted meat of beef, fish, chicken or bush meat and varied drinks.
When the ceremony ended at about 5pm and others had left, Oba Gbadebo and we his classmates at Ibadan Grammar School retired to the large living room in the elongated one – storey building in the rear part of the palace grounds, near the Summer Garden. It was also where he hosted us the previous night.
Again, we had drinks and ate fried beef, chicken, fish or bush meat. Apart from Mrs. Odesanmi the other person who was with us was Chief Bayo Sodade who was there to see Kabiyesi, but did not take part in our discussion, the jokes on our school years and general banter.
Shortly before we left, we his classmates and Mrs. Odesanmi had photographs with the Kabiyesi sitting to his left and right. After this we stood up to pose for another picture at which Olori Olatokunbo Gbadebo and Chief Bayo Sodade joined His Royal Majesty and us his classmates and Mrs. Odesanmi. On Friday morning at about 8 o’clock, Oba Gbadebo phoned each of us to wish us God’s traveling mercies. Chief Odelana left for Ibadan while Bola Osinbowale, Dele Odesanmi and I returned to Lagos.
When Oba Gbadebo ascended the throne in 2005 about two dozens of we, his Ibadan Grammar School classmates, male and female, were at the installation ceremony. Ditto in 2010 when he hosted us to a luncheon at the palace. But as from 2015 only five of us who were close to him have been coming to Abeokuta twice a year for the Lisabi Day festival held in February to celebrate the great warrior – leader of the Egbas and Kabiyesi’s coronation anniversary in November.
Our fifth colleague who was absent last week is Ibadan – born Chief Tunji Amole, a pharmacist, who was unable to make it because one of his grandsons got married in Ibadan that Thursday. He, Barrister Tunji Oyesina, who is now visually handicapped, Chief Odelana, late Lagos – born Ayo Leigh, a Customs Officer who passed on in the 1990s and myself were the closest pals of Kabiyesi in our years at Ibadan Grammar School. He and I are September – born personalities. He came into the world on Tuesday, September 14, 1943 and I a year later, on Monday, September 4, 1944.
Last week’s three –day reunion has been the most enjoyable and memorable of all the ones we have had in 15 years. My prayer is that Kabiyesi, his Olori and all of us are alive and in good health to celebrate next year’s Lisabi Day in February and the coronation anniversary in November and that we will all be around for many more years.
Next week: Oba Gbadebo, a role model monarch whose amazing achievements in his 15 – year – reign need to be emulated by his colleagues in other towns and cities in Nigeria.
Blessings Of Speaking With Almighty God (2) – Divine Protection
Last week, I dealt with long life in which one who speaks with the Lord reaches the age of 90 – 100 years and above in good health and is also blessed with the grace of making the Kingdom of Heaven in the Hereafter. Today, I am showcasing the Most High giving protection to those He speaks with one – to – one, their wife or wives, children, siblings and parents. Detractors and enemies can cause problems for such people but they can never overcome or kill them with evil spiritual power.
Without the opportunity of communicating directly with the Heavenly Father from February 1969 – 1972 and from March 1992 – to date, I and three of my sisters of our mother’s seven children, two male and five female, would not be alive today. Ditto Nimo, Anambra State – born, Dr. John Abaelu, the pioneer Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Merchant Bank of Nigeria, the husband of our mom’s first – born.
His house is near the Lekki Toll – Gate and it was God who saved him on Tuesday, October 20 when soldiers attacked ENDSARS protesters. He and my sister were away on holidays for eight months in the United States and returned to Lagos on Wednesday, October 14, six days before the fatal incident in which the Govenor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo – Olu said two persons were killed. But which human rights activists said claimed more lives.
Dr. Abaelu had a wash in his bathroom on the top – floor of his one – storey building that evening. Thirty minutes after he left the place one of the live bullets fired by soldiers at the Toll – Gate pierced through the roof of his house and landed in his bath. If he was there when this happened he would have been seriously wounded or killed that day. I saw the bullet when I visited them penultimate Friday (on November 13).
The saving grace was that the Lord had told me a month earlier in September of the incident but that He would not let my brother – in – law die.
Next week: How God saved me and two other sisters from death by motor accident and illness