AWO VS ADEOLA ODUTOLA ON EDUCATION LOAN

By Adedara Oduguwa

We are all familiar with the ‘best president Nigeria never had’ and the most celebrated Yoruba figure after Oduduwa (Odumakin, 2012). A man of ideology and words. Although he died many years ago, we cannot stop but continue to mourn his death because; the nation refused growing after decades of his departure.

Chief Adeola Odutola
Chief Odutola , The Industrialist

Chief Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo’s exemplary leadership refuse to depart our memories even as we witness series of serial mediocre occupying leadership positions in our 55year old nation. The problem as often enunciated by some of us is  utterly not corruption, but incompetency and lack of ideological orientation.

This Article tends to remind us about one man, who was so determined from the beginning of his life on what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. I find it very significant today in our political economy that our generation (the abused generation), which was failed by the outgoing generation should learn from such exemplary clues.

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Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Lawyer, Journalist and a Renowned Politician

What is more, I have read this letter over and over in the last five years. And my conclusion is that, being focus is world’s greatest asset. Awo made a loan request of £1,400 from Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola on March 25, 1943 , (the richest Ijebu man in those days) and promised to pay back by 1955.

Chief Odutola refused him of the Loan, Awo could not travel that year. He buckle up his lace and by August 14, 1944 (one year later) he travelled to England, became a Barrister at law and was called to the Bar in November 1946. Amazingly, by 1954 (A year to the time he promised to pay Chief Odutola the Loan ) , Chief Awolowo was already a Premier in the Defunct Western Region and already giving out Scholarship to over 200 undergraduates (First of its kind in Africa).

I find it a great pleasure, to replicate the full version of the Awoistic dedicatory letter, following a stiff request by friends that the Nigerian Youths need to see and digest this memorial document.

THE LETTER

Dear Mr. Odutola,

I think it will be an exceeding saving of time and more business-like if I avoid all sweet preliminaries and go straight into the object of this letter and say that I am writing to ask you to be good enough to lend me a sum of £1,400 (One thousand and four hundred pounds) free of interest for twelve years.

It is a staggering figure! More staggering indeed does it become, when it is realized that I, who am asking for this loan, have nothing in all the world to give as a security for this money, excepting my good faith and my brains which again are of value only so long as I continue to breathe the breath of life!

Nevertheless, I here proceed to outline in brief why i want this big loan from you. And I hope you will be kind enough to sacrifice some time to go through what I have to say, even though , in  the end you might find yourself unable to do me this grand favour.

One great ambition of mine since my boyhood days is to be a lawyer, a politician and a journalist, rolled into one. I cherish politics and journalism as a career. ; and I desire advocacy as a means of livelihood. For you will agree with me that a politician or journalist who has no money with which to support himself and family comfortably ,is like a blade which has no razor.

Now, at one time, I was on the verge of making enough money with which I could proceed to England in order to pursue the object of my ambition; but I suffered a twist in my fortune, and I crashed. Ever since, I have tried without success to recover lost grounds, financially. But spiritually and intellectually, I have made appreciable advance in spite of towering difficulties, all of which have now been surmounted.

As you are aware, I have just passed the intermediate Bachelor of Commerce Examination. Next year, I am taking the final B.Com. Having a degree is not my goal; I hate to be a government or mercantile employee. Otherwise, there are opportunities for me here and there to get a suitable and well paid job under government or one of the mercantile houses. As you know, however, once I become an employee of government or a mercantile establishment that is the end to my career as a politician and journalist. I have therefore resolved that under no circumstances will I take up such employment.

That is just by the way. I am now thirty-four years of age. After careful thought, I have come to the conclusion that if I could raise a loan free of interest sufficient to cover expenses , I should go to England , this year and within three years, I should qualify as a Barrister –at –law, and also obtain with Honours the LL.B Degree of London University. In addition this degrees apart from giving me good backing as a solicitor and Advocate will help me immensely as a politician and journalist.

But where on earth could i get the money? Who in Nigeria today could give £1400 free of interest to help his fellow-man? J.Henry Doherty, Esq., of illustrious memory who did the like to many successful Nigerians is no more. But after meticulous, shifting and weighing, I hit upon you.

 I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that out of the bounty with which providence blesses your grit and efforts as a businessman, you can well easily afford to advance such a sum of money. I have no doubt too that as a young and progressive man you will be quite happy to give the money for the pursuit of the project for which I desire it.

But then, could you take this risk?

That is the question. As I have said before, I have no security for this loan. Moreover, I want it free of interest. So that you stand to gain absolutely NOTHING in the whole transaction ,except the satisfaction that by helping me to achieve my ambition you are indirectly or even directly helping Nigeria or even Africa.

This risk becomes greater when it is borne in mind that I might die in the course of my studies or immediately after , so that, since I have no security or surety, you stand the chance of losing not only the money but also the satisfaction which you may cherish that you are contributing to the uplift of Africa. It is indeed a great risk; the greatest any man ever embarks upon.

But, this is a big BUT, if I live, as I have no doubt I will do, you will not only get your money back in full, but you will , to the end of your days , have cause to rejoice that you have done one of the most outstanding and most philanthropic acts any human being ever does. Among other things, I shall make excellent use of the money while in England by breaking records in my examination. On my return  to Nigeria, I shall strive to be one of the foremost advocates, politicians and writers in West Africa, and while I do all these, I shall make it a point not only to pay your money back in full, but also to repay your kindness and generosity towards me in every way I can.

All the same, it is a big risk! So , Sir, I like you to think seriously about it, and see if you can take it in the interest of a young man who has brains ,industry and determination to back his ambition , but lacks the money. I know we have never been close friends, but I have a shrewd idea that you may take the risk and help me.

On this assumption, therefore, I proceed to the next and last stage of this letter.

I shall not require the whole £1,400 in a lump sum. To start with, you will help me pay a sum of £208-13s-3d to the Inner Temple. I have already received an application form from this Inn of Court; and from the details forwarded, I gather that the sum of £208-13s-3d will cover all the cost of training as a Barrister, examination fees excluded.

When I am ready to sail, you will advance me a sum of £100 to cover passage, provision for my family and any other incidental expenses( NOTE: If i got torpedoed on the way, you would certainly lose this £100 but you will recover the £208-13s-3d).

At the same time you will remit to a London Bank the sum of £491-6s-9d. It is out of this amount that I shall pay the university fees for LL.B course a, and for special courses in political science and journalism, when I land in England. This is to say, the initial advance will total £800.

At the end of the first year, provided I make satisfactory progress in my studies, you will give instruction to the bank to honour all cheques from me drawn on this account. There will be an arrangement to be signed by me on my return.

On my return, I shall require TWO years within which to establish a solid practice and build a good reputation. After these two years, I should commence to pay at least £200 per annum either in monthly, quarterly or annual payments. So that in seven years after the first two years, I should pay back the whole sum of £1,400. That will be TWELVE YEARS from the time you help me to pay this in April or so this year, then I should be due to pay the whole of £1400 by April 1955.

Now, as you yourself will see, this is the farthest limit within which I can pay the money. It may be possible for me to pay the money within THREE to FIVE years of my return. As a matter of fact, the sooner I pay it off, the better. But it is much better to be on the safe side in a matter like this. It is no making promises now which will be difficult to fulfil in future. On the contrary it is better to mention a period of twelve years and pay within SIX or EIGHT years than to mention FIVE YEARS and fail to pay within TEN years. Personally, I prefer that I should fail to get the loan under theses unattractive but sure conditions, rather than succeed in getting it under attractive but precarious conditions.

Now, this is all I have to say. You have my request before you, and the reason why i make the request. It is left to you to decide whether it is worthwhile to take the risk of helping me in the manner outlined above or not.

If you do me the great favour, not only myself and all that are mine, but also God and Africa will be grateful, I shall have no cause whatsoever to grumble or to blame you, FOR THE RISK IS GREAT.

Since this is a very selfish request, I enclose herewith a stamped addressed envelope for a reply to be sent to me under registered cover.

With very kind regards.

Yours sincerely,

(Sgd) Obafemi Awolowo.

(Culled from the book, Chief Obafemi Awolowo: The Political Moses by Adedara Oduguwa, Page 119-123).

Chief (Dr) Adeola Timothy Odutola

Touching and inspiring? Yes, that is the best way to describe it. Many would be amazed that with all the grammars and accolades such requests was turned down, perhaps probably because Chief Odutola couldn’t affords it? Well, far from it.

At a glance, let me introduce Chief Adeola Odutola. Chief Odutola was born in Ijebu-Ode, seven years before the birth of Awo (1902). He was one of the pioneers of modern Nigerian indigenous entrepreneurship (He reigned in Ijebu after D.S.D. Oduguwa of blessed memory who died in 1939). Odutola started as a Court Clerk in the 30s and entered private industry by establishing Damask Stores and Fish Stalls around Western Nigeria (Wikipedia, 2015). He later entered Cocoa and Palm trading business. Odutola later joined Nigerian Youth Movement, transferred his resources gradually into energy, saw milling, gold mining and became major agent to John Holt Nigeria. By 1967 Odutola was already manufacturing Tyres, became first president of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and later President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (Wikipedia,2015).

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The Statue of Chief Awolowo

However, as at the time Awo requested for £1400 education loan from Chief Odutola, The Chief already worths millions of naira. Now the question is why then did he refuse the request? Well, let’s say he was not filled with enough grace to give or God didn’t want to share his glory with him. Because, Awo would have owe everything he achieved in later years to him.

LESSONS

There are lots of lessons that could be learned from this letter:

  1. Definiteness of purpose: Awo knew what he wanted and he shot at it. He wanted to become three things: A lawyer,a journalist and a reputable politician. He was so definite. Many of us don’t know what we want. To be wealthy is not a goal but a feeling. If you worth billions and you don’t stand for anything, then you have achieved nothing. Letter like this is for you.
  2. In life-war, the force of determination is greater than that of bullet: Awo was so determined and focused. He did not allow the Loan request refusal to weighed him down. He had three children already (Segun, Tola and Wole) but yet, he was so determined to become a politician, Solicitor and a Journalist. Today, we refer to him as the best president Nigeria never had (politics), Senior Advocate of Nigeria- SAN (Solicitor) and founder of the Nigerian Tribune (Journalist).
  3. Destiny cannot be changed nor denied but can only be delayed: Awo was so optimistic of travelling abroad and achieving his goals. He planned it for 1943 but failed since Chief Odutola refused to grant him the request for loan. He was not discouraged! Worked harder for the next one year and travelled by 1944. This also explains why the only person that can fail you is YOURSELF. Never blame the third party for your failure. Take the courage to try again.
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Bode Thomas, Awo and Akintola

Chief Odutola , am sure was ever disappointed for not granting that favour because Awo later installed him as the Ogbeni Oja of Ijebu Ode when he was the serving Premier of Western Region.  In addition, “in 1956, however, a  general election was called. Odutola contested on the platform of the Action Group and recorded an overwhelming victory. This was not surprising. He had fully become a man of the people. In 1955, he had been elected Chairman of the Ijebu Provisional Council. In 1956, a vote of confidence was passed on him, in recognition of his good management of the Council. He was also re-elected Chairman of the Council. In 1957, the same process was repeated. Odutola remained Chairman till 1959 (Abati,1995:78) .”

Are you surprised? Never be, the man who requested for education loan now a Premier (equivalent to some 7 states governor today) while the billionaire became one of his many Local Govt. Chairmen. They became so close that Chief Odutola was with Awo in the Action Group political party. What a life!

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Conclusively, Awo did not only end up becoming his dream, he added good name to it. Today he is celebrated and respected around the world. I am a beneficiary of this name. Thus, you can be greater than your greatest admirer if only you have faith in God and determination.

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A Book on Awo after 25 years

 Remember, for every Chief Odutola in your life, gets Awo!

God bless Africa.

IS POLYGAMY A SIN: AGAINST GOD OR MAN?

By Adedara Oduguwa

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Many parts of Africa, Asia and some parts of Europe and America believe marrying more than one wife is heavenly supported as their forebears by hereditary married more than one woman. Generally speaking, the practice of marriage is majorly classified into two – monogamy and polygamy.

Monogamy is a marriage between a man and a woman; while polygamy is a marriage between a man and a few women at any one time. This assertion is unequivocally faulted by Christians but grossly supported by Islam which purported that you can marry more than a woman once you are able to carter for them equally. Moreover, Islamic law stipulates that a man may marry more than one woman but not more than four.

Ironically, many who claim to believe in the assertion may not have full knowledge of what it is to be wife, husband or child of a polygamous oriented yard. While many monogamists believed the weaknesses of their house is control and fear of the unknown by the woman. In polygamy, it may ranges from disunity to jealousy, hatred and lack of adequate parental care for the children.

This paper sets to establish whether polygamy is a sin? And whether this sin is against God or man? Consideration would also be given to direct comparison between a simple nuclear family and a polygamous family using SWOT analysis as an analytical scale. At the end, conclusions would be made on whether a nuclear family is better than a polygamous family.

According to Longman dictionary (2015) polygamy is the custom of having more than one spouse at the same time or a system of multiple mates. It is further sub-divided into polygyny- the act of having multiple wives simultaneously and polyandry – the process of having multiple husbands at the same time.

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Historically, in Islam, polygyny is conditionally legalised which is the basis for which most men marry more than one wife. In Surah an-Nisa’, verse 3, this claim is well established:

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-Which means:

“And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls (when you marry them), then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but, if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (among your wives), then (marry with) only one, or just the slaves that your right hands possess. That is nearer to preventing you from doing injustice.”

Conversely, even though Islam pointed it that polygamy is not abominable or prohibited, It is not a principle in the Islamic law which must (wajib) be done that one will be considered sinful if it is not practised (Al-Bahi, 1988). Polygamy is only neutral and it is a rukhsah (relief) in an emergency situation. According to him, although the language used in the surah above has the elements of an ‘order’, it does not translate to ‘obligatory’. If carefully observed, polygamy may become an haram (prohibition) for the polygamous husband if he is incapable of being fair and causes a potential abuse to the wife he married.

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Islam also identified the conditions under which polygamy (polygyny) is appropriate;

A man must be:

Capable to Provide Nafkah for the Wives i.e physical and sexual, be it for one wife or more. Physical nafkah being referred to here is from the aspects of providing food, clothing, accommodation and medical.

Fair to All Wives i.e fairness refers to being equal towards all wives without having any preference towards any one wife.

Fair in Providing Accommodation i.e a husband must provide a home for the wife to stay be it in a monogamous or polygamous environment. If polygamous, the homes of the wives are best to be separated as initiative to avoid family feud and jealousy from spreading among the wives.

Fair In Taking Turns for Night Stay i.e A husband must (wajib) decide on a fair night stay turns among his wives without being biased towards any of the wives.

Fair In Travelling i.e a husband must (wajib) cast a vote amongst his wives if he wishes one of his wives to accompany him while travelling.

However, going by the Islamic laws above on polygamy, one can simply judge that to keep the laws un-faulted is in itself some huddle. How can a man marries two wives and treats them equally? This is not only impossible but purely unthinkable. By indication, while most supporters of polygamy had argued that the practice was pioneered by Islam as certain Muslim and non-Muslim societies have claimed, the interpretation of the Islamic laws proved to be on the contrary. This gives more room to further research in the other religious camp, Christianity to be precise.

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Polygamy in Christianity

There are several instances in the Bible when we have a man married to more than one woman and the fact that there are several instances when a man has both wives and mistresses is a very strong indication that polygamy was not a taboo for Believers of the old.

According to the Bible which is the guidance of all Christians on earth, polygamy was well accepted and practice by the first settlers in the world. Scripturally and not philosophically, the book of Gen. 4:23 was the first instance where a man married more than one wife. By introduction, Lamech was a descendant of Cain, married Adah and Zillah.

Similarly, Abraham married Sarah but her maid Hangar became his mistress (Gen.16:2) and Abraham fathered a child called Ishmael (Genesis 16:11-12) by her at Sarah’s advice. The aftermath was a great deal of unwarranted stress within the household as things became very difficult for Hagar since she was sent away with her child Ishmael from the house to the Paran wilderness (Gen.21).

The angel of the Lord met Hagar in the wilderness, commanding her to return to Abraham and Sarah. The angel relayed a promise from God: “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude” (Genesis 16:10). Ishmael, the son of a bondservant, became the father of 12 sons who were called princes.

What about Jacob? Who worked for 7 years for his uncle Laban in order to take his daughter, Rachel in marriage. But Laban had Jacob marry the older sister, Leah instead. Obviously, Jacob was deceived, not knowing she was with Leah until the next day. After marrying and sex with Leah (Laban gave his female servant Zilpha to his daughter Leah to be her servant.-Gen. 29:24), even though he did not realised it, Jacob was stuck with Leah, the older sister of his choice of woman. He had to work for another 7years for Rachel to emerge as wife (Laban also gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.-Gen.29:29). He later married Bilhah and Zilpha on the recommendation of his two wives so as to enable him have more children.

Jacob’s wives gave him twelve sons (namely- Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali) and a daughter (Dinah) his sons later became the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Even though Jacob was a polygamist, God’s grace was upon him and his name shares features with God as his name is frequently associated with God in the Bible: ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis: 25-37, 42, 45-49).’

What about the all holy Moses? He was a former Egyptian prince that later turned to a prophet, lawgiver and religious giver (Wikipedia, 2015). He is also an important prophet to Christianity, Islam and many other faiths. He married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro and Tharbis, a Cushite princess of Kingdom of Kush (Doubleday, 1999).

The story of David is well known to all of us. King David married some eight wives or so. Ruled Israel for over 40years (2 Samuel, 5:4). King David gave birth to some 20 children or so (1 Chronicle 3:1). Nonetheless, with the act of marrying many wives, some forcefully, God still gave this recommendation about him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22).

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The case of Solomon, a record breaker and maker is yet to be forgotten in history. Solomon, son of David married over 1000 wives. (700 wives, 300 concubines), Wow! He must be a working machine. Yet, God blessed him with more riches, wisdom and happiness. Although there is no record of whether Solomon was able to satisfy his numerous bed mates sexually. Nevertheless, it is on record that God was with him (1King). He controlled the entire region west of the Euphrates and had peace on his borders. 1King states that he owned 12,000 horses with horsemen and 1,400 chariots.

This last illustration is about the most famous example of polygyny. What is more, it is a fact to conclude that God is not against polygyny but the act is difficult to practice without committing a sin(s). Additionally, this singular reason proved that God may not necessarily be against polygamy (Oduguwa, 2015). More so, according to Olootu Seyi Idris (2015) ‘the act of not believing in polygamy may not be scripturally based, but might be the making of women, because quite a number of places in the old testaments God was not against marrying more than one.’ Or do we now say the Old Testament should be expunged of the bible in order to ascertain this believes that polygamy is an abominable act scripturally?

Scripturally, there is no place in the bible that God was against polygamy (or let me say that I have not seen). But God spoke in many places in the New Testament on one man, one woman. Therefore, to summarize, just because men in the past have had multiple wives does not mean that God approves of polygamy or that polygamy is as valid a life choice as monogamy. And the facts that God did not talk about polygamy does not mean He censures it.

Polygamy as an act would become a sin when a man cannot keep balance among his numerous parasites (wives). The question then is how can a man keep such balance? This is almost if not entirely impossible! This impossibility is in agreement with the Holy Quran and the bible. Now, we may begin to see why many Preachers often preach against Polygyny.

Present realities, globally, polygamy is widely accepted. For instance, according to the Ethnographic Atlas, of 1,231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous; 453 had occasional polygyny; 588 had more frequent polygyny; and 4 had polyandry (Wikipedia, 2015). Most often the acceptance of polygamy varies and uneven in most societies. In Senegal (Africa) about 47% marriages are polygamous (Nafi, 2004).

In most countries, polygamy is illegal by law but can be practice. In Africa, most countries legalized polygamy as a form of marriage recognized by law. In some few parts of the world (majorly Western nations) the practice is fully criminalized, outlawed and abolished.

In Nigeria, the northern states of Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara recognize polygamous marriages as equivalent to monogamous marriages, as all twelve are governed by Sharia Law (BBC,2014). Although the remaining 24 states and the FCT may not be under Sharia guidance, the practice is not criminalized and the act is common among the aristocrats. This may be owing to the fact that polygamy is allowed or permitted in the Nigerian Customary Law or traditional institutions.

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Culturally, polygyny cripples into Africa as a means of supports for African forebears. Africans in the primitive age were farmers that worked manually without any exposure to modern science and technology that could aid Agricultural production. This made them to seek for more women who will help them in their Agricultural business their means of livelihood. Now civilization as come and most farmers are now into mechanized farming, yet the practice is on the rise-why?

In Nigeria, a lot of factors contribute to the practice of polygamy: cultural, legal, family background, religious, social, political and personal reasons.

Of course, we should know that a man will first be a monogamist before becoming a polygamist. And so, if the man came from a polygamous background, there is tendency that he either marries more wives or hates the act with passion. This is because of his experience as a son from such marriage background. This may not have anything to do with his religious demagogue. But the influence of personal conviction and family background, which can either, be positive or negative.

We have read in previous sections on how some governments in Nigeria and other parts of the world have legalized polygamy. This encourages men of power and affluence in the society to go into the practice than to embrace the doctrine of one man one woman.

The Old Testaments, the Holy Quran and the African Traditional Worshippers also supported the practice. Thus, making many of their followers to so much believe and preach the practice.

Politically, many public officers or politicians in Africa take on second wife immediately they ascend position of leadership. Some may do this as their first wife may be too old to be called their first lady, others believe in taking up a more eloquent lady as wife for proper representation. While some marries daughter of powerful political figures in order to enjoy political supports. This is also in agreement with marrying for social reasons.

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Comparatively, children raise in polygamy have proved to be more successful than the ones raised in nuclear homes. This may be due to the high rate of competition among steps. Similarly, men that married more than one wives are often wealthier than many into monogamy. It is also a fact to know that a monogamous wife most commonly takes their husbands for granted while a polygyny woman respects and care more for her husband. Infidelity is common among husbands and wives in polygamy than in monogamy. The rate at which a woman kills her husband out of jealousy is common in monogamy than in polygamy.

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Generally speaking, life is more difficult for children raised in polygamous homes than those raised in monogamy. There is greater tendency that children raised in polygamy will grow up to be corrupt leaders (such that loots billions, kill without remorse and do everything to get or remain in political power) compared to the children raised under monogamous watch, who might become great stewards but not necessarily leader. Additionally, children raised under monogamy most often grow up to be very caring, emotionally stable and with the fear of God. However, this doesn’t mean that all products of polygamy are bad while all products of monogamy are good-far from it. But on the average, that is a standard.

Average product of a polygamy oriented families are goal-getters and self-determined while it is the other way round in monogamy as they are often slow, sluggish and contented. In Africa, you will be amazed that many of its billionaires are from polygamous oriented families and are also her treasure looters.

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Conclusively, polygamy as a practice is pleasurable but the act of practicing it is absolutely corrupt. While most Preachers had kicked against the practice, on the contrary, I am against the act. In addition, I am also against the claim that the practice is scripturally wrong (based on the Bible and Quran standard it is not) as claimed by many. Don’t be deceived, God is not against polygamy but he is against sin! Hence, Polygamy is not sin but a practice that is too expensive to adopt without delving into sin.

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Do you called me a polygamist? Far from it! I will take for myself only one woman as wife and not two, three or more. Remember, there are many ladies around but very few are mothers. I have experienced polygamy; I need a chance to experience monogamy!

God bless Africa.

LATE PA DAVID SOYEBO DARLINGTON ODUGUWA;ALIAS D.S.D, “JEGBEDU SILE”, “MABINU-ORI CHAMBER”; FIRST RENOWNED LAGOS-BASED MERCHANT

By Adedara Oduguwa

Many born in the 20s and early 30s in the old Ijebu-Remo Province or even in Nigeria would remember this rare enigma and the first renowned Ijebu Remo merchant, Pa D.S.D. Oduguwa. Born into a maternal royal family of Koyelu –Erinwole Ruling House in 1896 at Isote, Makun Sagamu. Oduguwa family lineage could be traced to one Mr. Adeyiga, the father of Oduname, who was the first Apena of Makun. Oduname, who was a slave-dealer, married his son Oduguwa to Princess Efudetu Kuseru who was the 3rd daughter of Kuseru while Awolesi was the only son of Kuseru. Efubamowo was the mother of Efudetu. Efudetu was married to Oduguwa, the father of Soyebo (D.S.D) Oduguwa.

Soyebo’s paternal grandfather “Oduname” and maternal grandfather “Kuseru” were successful traders. Growing up in the old Ijebu-Remo for young Soyebo was both wonderful and turbulent since both father and grandfather were reputable people in the society.

However, at a tender age, he suffered a twist in his fortune as his father met his sudden death.This made him to be stronger and he invested much of his time in determining his future through doggedness, discipline and hardworking. Moreover, through the aid and influence of the Europeans who were his parents’ partners that D.S.D. Oduguwa moved to Lagos and served under an English Merchant called “Mr. Clifford” between 1918 and 1921. Soyebo was under Mr. Clifford when he opened a shop of his own in Lagos under the business name “D.S.D. Oduguwa & Co.” at number 45a, Victoria Street (Opposite the holy central Mosque) P.O.Box 538, Lagos. After opening the Shop, he however, remained with his boss but put his brother Mr. William Oloyede Oduguwa in the shop.

Until, he graduated from his master and started full importation and the sales of both whole and retail sale of imported Bridal attires, Men’s Suit with shoes to match, Men’s cap, helmets on Hats, ladies’ dresses of various sorts with shoes and bags to match. Becoming a big time fashion designer and business magnet. This brought him fame, wealth and honour in Ijebu Remo, Ijebu-Ode, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Lagos and United Kingdom.

He was a well known figure in Lagos and also popular at home here in Shagamu to the extent that any time he decided to come home from Lagos, the drummers (i.e. Sekere Traditional Players) ushered his arrival with pomp and pageantry into Shagamu in his car and his police already on ground maintaining decorum. D.S.D according to historian comes out three times daily on his upstairs balcony to drop money for his admirers and the less privileged. First at 9am, 1pm and 6pm respectively for one week in the town until he travelled back to Lagos.

During D.S.D.’s life-time, his home in Lagos was the next home to many Remo and Ijebu indigenes. Prominent people like Chief M.A.K Sonowo of Illisan, Chief Hassan Odukale-Owner of Leadway Insurance Plc (First indigenous Insurance company in Nigeria) ,Chief Adeola Odutola –the Ogbeni-Oja of Ijebu-Ode and D.S.D Architect and Oba Williams Adedoyin- the then Akarigbo of Remoland , among many others.

D.S.D. was an educated man and extremely hardworking. At the age of 30, he was already in partnership with  companies in over 50countries of the world, Including UK, Netherland, Australia, United States and Spain. This exploit brought him many good tidings.He became one of the most successful business barons in Lagos. This was a time when majority of the big stores in Lagos were owned and controlled by the Europeans. It was about this time that D.S.D. was appointed as the first

African to be nominated as a member of the Jury in “Her Majesty St’ Hannah Court’, Tinubu’s Square, Lagos 1n 1934. A feat which put him as the first Blackman Jury in Nigeria. D.S.D. was also appointed to represent Remo Youths during the celebrated Martindale Inquiry in 1936.

D.S.D. Oduguwa was a devoted Christian and a philanthropist of repute. However, from his archive, a letter dated 21st of September, 1937 and credited to Baptist Academy’s Principal, thanking D.S.D Oduguwa for donating two table clocks for

the Sports prize was undiscovered and reproduced below:

BAPTIST ACADEMY

From:

The Principal

                                                                                                   P.O.Box 563,

                                                                                                    Lagos, Nigeria,

                                                                                                     West  Africa

                                                                                                      Oct.25,1937

Dear Sir,

This is to acknowledge with thanks your kindly gift of two table clocks for the sport prize. Any

success attained will be due to you who have generously helped and encouraged us.

Yours truly,

E.   Landers,

The Principal.

Additionally, D.S.D. was a staunch member of Ereko Methodist Church Trustee, Lagos and friend to Rev. S.O. Mafe.

D.S.D. married to 6 wives and begot 17 children in all, prominent among which includes: late Sir Solomon Owolabi Oduguwa – a renowned Nigerian athlete and Chief Kofoworola Oduguwa- a statesman, politician and successful businessman.

Motto: “Endurance and perseverance”_ D.S.D

Sadly, D.S.D. Oduguwa met his death on the 5th of June, 1939 at age 43 after a brief illness. Leaving many young children and wives behind.  Today, the Oduguwas with a lineage and patrimony traceable to one of the most powerful families in Remo land with a reference curtain which could easily be drawn from the old Isote district explains paradoxically out of excitement and respect why some family ridiculously changed their ancestral name to Oduguwa.  In a recent search on Google, Oduguwa was listed as one of the greatest family in Makun Sagamu.

Even though D.S.D. Oduguwa is today no more, his legacies, children, grand-children and great-grand-children continually lights the hope and aspiration of the family.

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BIOGRAPHY OF CHIEF (DR.) HUBERT ADEDEJI OGUNDE- THE DOYEN OF AFRICAN THEATRE

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By: Adedara Oduguwa

PROLOGUE

History of African opera, play, drama and theatre would be incomplete without mentioning the name of this great and very industrious dramatist, who more than any contributed in no small measure to the commercialisation of drama in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa as whole. To many, he was the doyen of African theatre, father of Yoruba operatic theatre, a resounding pioneer of the Nigerian drama. Very often referred to as ‘Father of Nigerian folk opera’.

EARLY LIFE

Olooye Hubert Adedeji Ogunde was a folklorist, Nigerian actor, playwright, musician, dramatist, theatre manager, policeman, teacher, teetotaller, human right activist, Seer, prophet and a nationalist of class. Like any mortal, was born into a modest but reputable family of Mr. Jeremiah Dehinbo Ogunde and Mrs. Eunice Owotunsan Ogunde on Monday July 10th, 1916 at Ososa in Ogun State.

Elder Ogunde was a pastor at the Baptist Church, Ijebu Ife and disciplinarian, whose father and forebears were Ifa worshippers and founders of Ososa town. While Madam Eunice Ogunde was a trader whose parents were also enthusiast of Ifa deity. Ogunde’s mother was a pagan at the time he was born. But after his birth she was converted to Christianity.  The duo raised and taught their children about African culture and demagogues.  An act which helped young Ogunde in later life.

At the age of nine, young Ogunde entered Saint John’s Primary School, Ososa for his elementary education and left the school in 1928 for Saint Peter’s Faji School, Lagos State where he was until 1930.  Between 1931 and 1932, Ogunde was at Wasimi African School, Ijebu-Ode. His graduation from Wasimi African School actually marked end of his entire formal education. He altogether spent approximately seven years acquiring formal education.  Despite his few years in formal education, Ogunde’s command of English was not only excellent but much better than many university graduates of his time.

OGUNDE: A TEACHER AND CHRUCH ORGANIST

Between the ages of 17 and 25 (1933-1941) young Ogunde was a school teacher at Saint John’s Primary School, Ososa and a dedicated church organist. As a pupil teacher, Ogunde taught in the elementary classes for eight years, an act which was predominant among few educated Nigerians at the time. He organised his first band as a teacher at Oke-Ona United School, Abeokuta. It was during this period he developed special skills for opera and folklore, which in later life launched him becoming the greatest Nigerian folklorist of all time.

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OGUNDE: A POLICE OFFICER

After about eight meritorious years in the teaching profession, it was during an holiday in Ibadan that he joined the Nigeria Police Force in December, 1941, a bid to better serve his motherland. He was later to be transferred on training to the Police Training School, Enugu which later led to his appointment as a Third Class Police Constable. As a Police Constable, Ogunde was diligent and performed his duties with all his brains. For this, he was transferred to Nigeria Police Force ‘C’ Division, Ebute-Meta, Lagos. By March, 1945, approximately four years in the Nigeria Police Force, Ogunde resigned from the Force in order to pay full attention to his passion- acting. His passion for opera was mind-boggling. His resignation was spurred by reckless and gross misconduct of the colonial regime, which was demonstrated by Ogunde in his much talk about 1945 opera entitled ‘Worse Than Crime.’ The opera was a political satire on the colonial masters which set to establish that ‘Colonialism in any shape or form is worse than crime.’ This earned Ogunde and Mr. G.B. Kuyinu (His co-director) two days in the Police custody. The opera was staged at Glover Hall and Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe Chaired the Show.

Charming Ogunde

However, Mr. Ogunde’s altruism also pushed him to produce an opera ‘Strike and Hunger’ in 1945. The Opera was topical. ‘It narrated the events leading to the famous general strike by trade unions for better wages, cost-of-living allowances and improved conditions of service. The strike began in late June 1945 and lasted for forty-four days.’ This play shoots Ogunde into national prominence.

Ogunde and Chief Awolowo

BIRTH OF OGUNDE’S DRAMA

Monday, June 12, 1944, was a special day in the life of young Ogunde. He was supported and sponsored by Church of the Lord, Ebute-Meta to produce his first and oldest opera ‘The Garden of Eden and The Throne of God’ at the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos. The content of the opera was biblical. It enunciates the ‘fall of man and his expulsion from the Garden of Eden.’ The folk dance by Messrs Hubert Ogunde and G.B. Kuyinu were loudly applauded. Other characters in the opera included: Miss Kotoye Oshodi, Mr. S. O Okeowo, Mr. E.O. Adeleke, Miss M. Samuel, Miss M. Adenuga, Miss C. Bajomo, Miss K. Ashabi and Mrs. King.  ‘The audience that night which was over 1000 all clamoured for a repetition of the play at no distant date.’

In 1945, the success recorded in ‘The Garden of Eden and The Throne of God’ motivated Ogunde to establish his first company the ‘African Music Research Party.’ This was an amateur dramatic society. As the saying goes ‘Rome was not built in a day’, this was the first professional step taken by Ogunde in his newly found drama career.

In the wake of 1946, Ogunde turned professional with the production of the ‘Tiger’s Empire’ which was his first opera as a professional under his company (African Music Research Party). Although, Ogunde was warned by the Police for showing the ‘Tiger’s Empire’. The opera was showed throughout the defunct Western Region. In 1946, Ogunde was banned from staging the opera in Jos, Northern Nigeria. This also earned him £125 fine. At this point he took his company outside the border of Nigeria to Dahomey, present day Republic of Benin, this marked his first international outing.

In September 1946, Ogunde felt the need for training and development as a professional playwright; he applied for Passports and UK Visas alongside with his companion Miss Clementina Ogunbule who will later become Mrs. Ogunde (Late Mrs. Adesewa Ogunde- Mama-Eko). Unfortunately, he was refused. This refusal led to another confrontation with the government. To this end, the media supported him and by March, 1947 Passports and Visas were granted to Ogunde and his partner.

In England 1947, Ogunde was admitted into Buddy Bradley School of Dancing at the Piccadilly Circus, London. This is the root of his much talk about aesthetic dances in his plays.

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On his return from Britain, in October, 1947, the company name was changed from ‘African Music Research Party‘to ‘Ogunde Theatre Party’ this might be due to the exposure and influence of Great Britain on Mr. Ogunde. ‘That Ogunde financed his trip unaided indicated not only the success and popularity of his Party but also his financial achievement in a short space of time.’   And before December 1947, Ogunde had become ‘Nigeria’s theatre king’

In 1948, ‘Ogunde Theatre Party’ travelled to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) to perform the popular opera entitled ‘King Solomon.’  This outing was disastrous as majority of his Ghanaian audience did not understand Yoruba. He returned to ‘Nigeria penniless after owing his cast a month’s salary and the lorry-owner the fare.’  But as a determined entity, Ogunde did more research on the Ghanaian audience, put together a variety of programme and called it ‘Swing The Jazz’ and this time , the tour was not only a success, but  profitable.

Between 1949 and 1950, hardworking Ogunde had extended his works to other parts of West Africa including the Ivory Coast (now Cote d’Ivoire). ‘Ogunde Theatre Party’ was banned in Kano (also in Kaduna and Makurdi) in May 8, 1950, for staging the social lampoon opera titled ‘ Bread and Bullet’ and was arrested for sedition. He was charged to court later discharged but fined £6 for posting posters for the play without prior permission from the government. Moreover, towards the end of 1950, ‘Ogunde Theatre Party’ was changed to ‘Ogunde Concept Party.’

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In 1951, Ogunde marked the seventh year anniversary of his theatre with the production of the opera ‘My Darling Fatima.’  For almost the next decade, Ogunde produced eight more plays and also toured the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, West Africa and the world as a whole.

In 1960, Ogunde was invited to produce a play ‘Song of Unity’ for Nigeria at independence. The play was staged at Glover Hall, Lagos and commissioned by Nigerian Government to mark the independence of Nigeria. Ogunde changed name again to ‘Ogunde Theatre’ a name that stuck on him till today. Between 1960 and 1963, no single song or play was written by Ogunde. He only concentrated in the review and modification of his numerous works to fit into the taste of the early 60s.

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In 1964, there was a political tumult in the then Western Nigeria. Chief Awolowo was incarcerated on treason accusation and Chief Ogunde, wrote the highly controversial account for his indictment entitled it ‘Yoruba Ronu (Yoruba Think!).’  This account put him at loggerhead with Chief S.L Akintola who was at the time Premier of Western Region since the play directly attacked him and his government. For this, Ogunde Theatre was banned for two years (1964-1966). And in reaction to his ban, Mr. Ogunde produced ‘Otito Koro’ (Truth is Bitter). This ban had grave financial effect on him since majority of his audience were in the Yoruba speaking Western Region.

Ironically, Yoruba Ronu was a prophesy of days to come. And by January 15, 1966, the prophesy came to past and Akintola’s government was not only ousted out of power, but many had paid with their lives. The military had taken over and on request; the ban on Mr. Ogunde and his company was lifted by Lt. Col. F.A Fajuyi, the newly appointed governor of the Region.

In 1967, Ogunde Theatre has grown into an institution. The theatre was to represent the Nigerian Government at Expo 67 in Montreal, Canada. The Theatre utilised this opportunity,  stop by in the US and performed in the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York City.

In 1968, Ogunde Theatre was also invited to perform at the International Llangollen Eisteddfod, North Wales and Fairfield Hall, Croydon, Great Britain. Ogunde also produced ‘Ire Olokun’, ‘Keep Nigeria One’ and ‘Mama Eko’ in the same year.

In 1969, Ogunde Theatre reached an important milestone , as he took 45 member dance troupe abroad and perform extensively in Britain and Europe with a special production called ‘Oh Ogunde’ and also while in London produced ‘Obanta’ and ‘Ogun Pari (War is over).’ In addition, Ogunde Theatre performed in the Municipality Milano in Italy that same year.

Between 1970 and 1989 Ogunde staged ‘Ewe Nla’, ‘Iwa Gbe Mi’, ‘Onimoto’ ,’Kehin S’okun’, ‘Muritala Mohammed’, ‘Ore ni won’, ‘Igba T’ode’ and ‘Orisa Nla’. In 1979, Ogunde veered into movie production with the blockbuster film-Aiye. He followed this the following year with ‘Jaiyesimi’ in 1980, ‘Aropin N’tenia’ in 1982 and ‘Ayanmo’ in 1986. And by 1990, Ogunde briefly featured in the popular movie; ‘Mr. Johnson’.  Sadly, it was while in the location of the film ‘Mr. Johnson’, which was in collaboration with a UK based English producer that he was taken abroad on a chartered private jet and he passed on. In all, Ogunde wrote over sixty stage plays/opera, produced four films and 99 songs.

Mr Ogunde also had a TV programme called ‘The Hubert Ogunde Show’ on NTA for about a year (1971-1972).

Ogunde founded the Union of Nigerian Dramatists and Playwrights and became its first president. The Union is today called ‘Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP). Hence, the ANTP presently boasts of membership in there hundreds and professional travailing Theatre companies throughout Nigeria.

In 1975, the Union of Nigerian Dramatists and Playwrights rejected the invitation of the South African Troupe to stage ‘Ipi Tombi’ to mark the official opening of the National Theatre, Iganmu. Ogunde’s objection in capacity of President of the Playwrights was that an indigenous company should have the honour.

Ogunde was invited by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1986 to demonstrate if the formation of a national troupe is viable. This led to what is now known as the ‘Ososa Experiment.’ It was the success of this experiment that led to the formation of the National Troupe of Nigeria. He thus became its first Artistic Director/Consultant.

However, at the time the Nigerian film industry was using 18mm analogue camera, Ogunde was already using a 35mm analogue camera.

Ogunde was a man per excellence, a thorough and hardworking artist, who will give all to get the best out of his numerous casts in his plays and films. Before any play is shown, he organises practices for his cast for at least nine months to one year. His play rehearsals was twice a day starts from 8am to 2pm and 4pm to 9pm, Monday to Saturday. So rigorous and tough. With a day set aside for dress or costume rehearsal. The play making processes were often managed satisfactorily by the workaholic Ogunde before any play is shown. No wonder the successes recorded by Ogunde through his 47years excellent performances on stage.

OGUNDE: A FAMILY MAN

As husband and father, Ogunde was able to integrate his wives and children in his company and livelihood.  It is believed that he fully enjoyed the joys of family life and of seeing his children grow up under his watch. Ironically, Ogunde who during the last count married some seventeen wives and numerous children never allowed separate pots for his children, this helps to fasten the rope of unity among everyone in the yard.

Mr. Ogunde after morning exercises attends to morning routines and at leisure sits among his wives joking and playing a bid to bring happiness to them and their children.

RADICAL OGUNDE

Between 1971 and 1975, Ogunde had constant press battle with the organisers of the second world black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) over what he considered inadequate and unprofessional arrangements for the festival.  He also objected to the high cost of hiring the National Theatre.

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In 1976, he marked the thirty-third anniversary of his Theatre in January with the dance drama ‘Nigeria.’ The production which was also to commemorate FESTAC, therefore given full supports to the Festival on ground of patriotism.

In 1977, Ogunde succeeded in having the cost of National Theatre reduced, which led to the premiere of ‘Igba t’ode’ at the National Theatre , thereby making it the first time in thirty-four years that Ogunde would stage a play in the National Theatre ,Iganmu, other than at the Glover Memorial Hall.

OGUNDE: A NATIONALIST

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Ogunde was an outspoken contemporary political commentator, who was ready to risk the possible destruction of his Theatre in order to fight for the freedom of his people from alien rule. He was jailed and banned on several occasions for fighting and standing against the devious colonial regime with all his brains.

The Nigerian Nationalists movement did not entirely leave him to fight the government alone. They supported him morally and protect him through their various press companies. Believing that the victimization of his Theatre often arose from official aversion of his nationalist bent , not only did they give him protection and cover from the law but they also often allowed him use their press to speak directly to the public about various acts of victimization that he suffered. The West African Pilot, Daily Comet and Daily Service; were the few newspapers that supported Ogunde in his nationalistic rather than radical behaviours.

According to an editorial in Zik’s West African Pilot Newspaper (1947) “Ogunde‘s preoccupations with the projection of the cultural as well as the political identity of his people were enough for the nationalist movement to call him ‘a genius’ who did not seek ‘wealth’ or ‘fortune’ … nor self inflation or any other artifice of fame, a genius who was once a poor police officer, perhaps one who shared with three others ‘ten by eight!! A day came when he sat down , racked his brain, composed nature airs and dramatized them and by 1947 , had become ‘Nigeria Theatre King’

The nationalist movement maintained that through him ‘the realm of the theatre has become a living reality’. They recommended Ogunde’s efforts to all saying that repining in indolent idealism can avail nothing. It is courage to take risks and determination to forge ahead in spite of man-made handicaps. Good luck to Hubert Ogunde”

In the words of Prof. Ebun Clark “ Ogunde was a pure nationalist who believed that the only quick way to liberation was through a united national front that could face and rout the army of the colonial ruler to free the people.

Ogunde became the most popular Nigerian Musician and Dramatist of all time. This is owing to his sheer discipline, determination, integrity and absolute commitment to the institution of drama and a free Nigeria.

OGUNDE: AWARDS AND HONORARIES

In 1983, Ogunde was awarded the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) by the Federal Government under Alhaji Shehu Shagari, unbelievably; Ogunde rejected the honour arguing that corruption is endemic in the land.

1987 and 88, Ogun state Government awarded Ogunde the Excellence Award in the field of Drama and Film Production which he joyfully accepted.

In 1985, Ogunde was awarded Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Lagos on Friday 17th of January, 1986.

EPILOGUE

In Scotland (1986) Ogunde showed his Play DESTINY which was Nigerian entry into the Commonwealth Festival of Arts in Edinburgh. The Play was described by the Scots as an Epic of its time. Ogunde was also described as one man with unique and large reservoir of creative resources to draw from. His Plays are often different from others always attracting his numerous audiences. With his unique and unbeatable dance steps remains evergreen in the Nigerian Theatre. Ogunde also helped to advanced dances like: Bata, Koto, Fishermen, and women dance, Itsekiri dance, Sango Dance, Agbekor with the dances always showing smiles of Africa.

Ogunde was not only a pioneer in the Nigeria field of Drama, he was Nigeria saviour of native music and drama. For this, he becomes the acknowledged leader and father of contemporary Yoruba Theatre.

“For all the Nigerian Playwrights in Yoruba and indeed in English, Ogunde was the most consummate social commentator and satirist, who easily make his views on people and events known through his sketches and characters (Clark,1979). “

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Ogunde died at 5:25a.m on Wednesday, 4th of April, 1990 at Crowell Hospital, London. He was aged 74.