CHIEF (MRS.) H.I.D AWOLOWO: A WOMAN OF STEEL
TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY ADEDARA ODUGUWA, IN HONOUR OF MAMA’S 99 BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY TODAY 25TH OF NOV., 2014
“Gray hair is a crown of glory;
It is gained in a righteous life.”
_ Proverbs 16:31
First of all; I thank the God Almighty for the privilege bestowed on us to see today as active participant in this memorable celebration of life. I salute Esoe Remo Int’l for the leadership role being played world-wide to make sure Remo youths and Remo indigenes world-wide remain one. Most especially, its founder, Mr. Tokunbo Soluade for his resilient effort in making sure the history of Remo is preserved and advanced. The criterion for chosen me was quite not disenable. Nonetheless, I count myself blessed to be part of the pages of history.
The subject of discourse today is “H.I.D: Honesty, Integrity and Dignity- Our Weapon to create our future and better Nigeria.” Cautions our rapt attention as a people, youth and Remo indigenes to painstakingly reason together on the same pace. The title in itself is a symbolic acronym, often means Hannah Idowu Dideolu (Awolowo), which for almost a century is a pictogram of honesty, integrity and dignity.
For the purpose of reminiscence, let me quickly draw a background check on a beautiful First Lady of Western Region , born some 99 years ago.
Thursday, 25th of November, 1915 was like every other day, when daily activities were on, market women were planning for the market and farmers sharpening their cutlasses. An act that was dominant in the old Western region. The world witnessed the birth of a female damsel. A baby that would grow up in later years only to be referred to by her husband as “Jewel of Inestimable value”, by the nation as “Our First Lady”, by her race as “Yeye Odua”, by industrialists as “First importer of lace materials”, by the youths as “our mama”, by politicians as “a woman of steel” and by the world as “Dr. Chief Mrs. H.I.D Awolowo.”
She was born into the family of Mr. Moses Odugbemi Adelana and Mrs. Elizabeth Oyewole Adelana of Ikenne, here in Ogun State. Mama started her elementary education at Saint Saviour’s Anglican School, Ikenne in the year 1921. She also attended Saint Peter’s Anglican School in 1932/1933 session. Mama became a pupil teacher at Saint Saviour’s Anglican School between January 1934 and Dec. 1936.
On Dec. 26, 1937, at Saint Saviour’s Anglican Church ,Ikenne Remo, Mama got married to the best president Nigeria never had and a man who would fondly referred to her as “ my precious jewel of inestimable value” Chief Obafemi Awolowo. After which she dived fully into business.
In business, Mama became the first indigenous distributor of lace materials in Nigeria. Chairperson of African Newspaper of Nigeria and African Press Limited among many others. More so, Mama was a successful business magnate that when Papa Awo was leaving for England in 1944, she was able to keep the home front from the proceeds she gathered from her businesses.
Although, Mama H.I.D is biologically mother of 5 children; the events unfolds makes her mother of the nation. A major reason why mushrooms of politicians, students, youth bodies, world leaders and researchers ,almost on every day visits her home which as become the “Nigerian political Jerusalem” to dig deeply and tap from the fountain of knowledge of Chief Awolowo, whose baton of legacy is been kept by Mama. Young Mrs. Awolowo was a woman of steel, pedigree and adroit. A reference point could be drawn when Mr. Mike Akiode asked Papa to describe Mama H.I.D in few words, sometimes in 1979. Chief Awolowo said:
“I do say many years back that my success depended on three things: the grace of God, a good wife and Spartan self-discipline. She means a lot of things to me. She is a very sagacious and cute businesswoman. That, when I went aboard to study law, she was able to keep the home front with four children. I had three already_ Segun, Tola and Wole. Ayo was being awaited. She came in Dec., 3 or 4 months after I left for UK.
Not only once, you see, you are able to appreciate a person’s qualities in time of crisis whether a person is good or bad, whether to see that person in time of peace as well as in time of crisis. My wife stood firm behind me like the rock of Gilbrater. Also, nothing destroys a man’s morale more than the infidelity of a woman. Especially in time of crisis, my wife is absolutely faithful to the vow of her marriage and I did the same thing to myself (Oduguwa, 2012).”
Honesty, Integrity and Dignity are intertwine, often used in similar context but grammatically different. These words to political analysts and historians when absent in any political economy would create problems that can only be solved by themselves and when present will prevent such problems that could have emanated.
According to Mahoney (2012) Honesty is a direct reflection of your inner character. Similarly, Honesty is a key factor in the development of a child’s character (Green et.al, 1998). Being honest means choosing not to lie, steal, cheat, or deceive in any way. Conversely, if you don’t tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people (Woolf, 2014). Nonetheless, I will describe honesty as a state of being trustworthy, morally upright, impartial, unpretentious, respectable, reasonable and patriotic to both God and man. Political honesty is the act of being honest to the oath of office either at local, state or federal level.
However, Longman Dictionary (2012) describes integrity as the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standard. It is living this single life with an absolute sense of decency, righteousness, virtue, sincerity, high moral principle(s) and ethics, nobility and truthfulness (Oduguwa, 2014). Integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honour moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles.
According to Hicks (2013) Dignity is our inherent value and worth as human beings; everyone is born with it. Dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect. On the contrary, I don’t agree with Mr. Hicks that dignity is born with everyone but like a Degree or Chieftaincy title, everyone can acquire dignity.Moreover, the literature on the three vital words of the topic of discourse, as expatiated in previous sections proved that the success of one leads to the other. That is, once a man is honest, he will have integrity and that will give birth to dignity in him.
For instant, a principal may demand that his agent should be honest in his doings, when he (agent) is able to achieve this; the principal will sees him as a man of integrity and in returns, earns dignity from him. In other words, when honesty = A, Integrity= B and Dignity =C. A & B are expected from us while C is earned in exchange for A&B.
Dr. Chief Mrs. H.I.D. Awolowo is God sent and well describe in this manner. She is a woman of steel and mother of the nation. Like her husband, she believe in steadfastness and social liberty for all. When Chief Awolowo was Premier of Western Region, Mama, her First Lady, stood firmly beside him, even during the 1962 treasonable felony trial, Mama stood firmly with her husband. And now, 28 years after the death of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, those legacies, ideological principles and economic foresights are still well kept by Mama, for politicians, researchers, youths and anyone for that matter that wish to learn the true principle of democratic socialism as described by Chief Obafemi Awolowo which gave birth to a series of firsts.
Something must be said about the most popular figure after Oduduwa in the Yoruba race and the best president Nigeria never had Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Chief Awolowo dedicated the entirety of his life to give Nigerians the broad best, yet we deprived ourselves the golden opportunity of been led and served by this noble prince. In his manifestoes issued on the eve of 1960 entitled ‘Democratic Socialism’ he highlighted Action Group 12 cardinal programme for Nigeria. Among which included:
- Free education from kindergarten to University.
- The raise of peasant classes productivity.
- Abolition of Unemployment, that is to say, it will be possible for every able-bodied person to be gainfully employed.
- Expansion of health services to enable all persons, whatever their age, to have free medical treatment.
- And a scheme for social insurance will be introduced, and specifically old age pension will be paid to persons above certain age, who are willing to accept the benefit, among others.
More so, today we talk about Awo free education programme in the defunct western region. We talk about first TV station in the whole of black Africa, we talk about the Cocoa House, Agricultural Institutes, farm settlements, employment for all and several other Firsts achieved by Chief Awolowo. But we all fail to realise that these goals are only achievable if an only if we have the trio words that formed the acronym H.I.D. This, among minor others are the reason(s) we are presently going through this unwarranted political hullabaloos that is capable of tearing us apart.
Then again, due to the lack of H.I.D in our political economy, our system of government is theoretically called ‘democracy’ but practically ‘Kakistocracy’ (Government by the worst citizens). Consequently, the Nigerian Youths become victims of unsecured future! Youths today are already polluted with uncertainties which are presently abetting illegality. This illegality ranges from armed robbery, terrorism, fraud, ritual killing, prostitution, manslaughter, and many other heinous crimes that will ticket us nowhere. How can the future be secured when the present is already lost? This solely owes to lack of H.I.D in our political economy.
We have learnt so much from Mama, the custodian of Chief Awolowo’s legacies. On Wednesday, January 22, 2013, Mama put it straight to us that H.I.D is all that is needed to make Nigeria great again. In her words:
“It is now about 27 years since the exit of Chief Awolowo. So, whenever they brought bad policies to us here. We always reject it because; Baba was truthful till the end. He never compromised. During the last election, Baba was optimistic that he was going to win. So, when they started the bad policies and untruthfulness. That was the beginning of rigging and untruthfulness. That was what led us to where we are today. You have to be ‘honest’. That should be first. You have to always fight for the truth. Please be honest! Once you can hold on to that, this country will change for better.” These words are resounding and evocative capable enough to destroy mediocrity in other to rebuild us for better.
It was Abraham Lincoln , the 16th President of the United States of America and mentor, that first defined Democracy in his celebrated Gettysburg Address of November,19,1863 and I quote “…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Gentlemen and ladies, America was built by Americans, China was built by Chinese, Britain was built by the British and Nigeria will also be build by Nigerians. But until we get the H.I.D right, we may not be able to celebrate the birth of a new Nigeria.
I thank you for listening and the hope in H.I.D is already being given birth to in this very lecture room. And with this, a secured and better Nigeria is achievable!
In the words of Nelson Mandela “The past is a rich resource on which we can draw in order to make decisions for the future, but it does not dictate our choices. We should look back at the past and select what is good and leave behind what is bad.”
At 99, I want to believe the nonagenarian as done her own part and almost empty!
Long live Chief (Mrs.) H.I.D Awolowo!
Long live the Awolowos!!
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
I thank you all!