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Victor Adedapo Adetokunboh Kayode- Lest Legend Becomes Myth

One of the most important foundations of any civilisation is history. If we do not know our own history, who we are, who and what our forefathers were and where we came from then we are truly lost. In the film production of J. R. Tolkien's famous book titled ''Lord Of The Rings'' one of the most compelling yet tragic lines reads as follows- ''Thousands of years passed bye....history became legend and legend became myth''. Few words are as profound as this and the import of those words resonate nothing but the deepest wisdom. The lesson that we can draw from this insightful truism is simple. If you do not learn and continue to remind yourself of your history as a person, as a family, as a people, as a nationality, as a tribe and as a nation the likelihood is that what is historical fact gradually pales into an intangible and unlikely legend and then it eventually turns into nothing but an ephemeral myth. And once such sacred historical facts become nothing but myth it destroys the soul and the foundation of your very existence as an individual, as a family, as a people and as a nation. When you do not know, care to know or care to learn and remember what your roots are, no matter how humble or seemingly inconsequential those roots may be, you become a nothing. It is to avoid the possibilty of history turning into legend and legend turning into myth that I have chosen to put the facts about Victor Adedapo Adetokunboh Kayode on record and to look at his life and humble achievements.

Rev. Emmanuel Adedapo Kayode, was an Anglican priest who studied theology at Fourrabay College in Sierra Leonne and who graduated with an M.A. Durham University in 1892. He was of the yoruba tribe and came from the ancient town of Ile-Ife in the old Osun province of south-western Nigeria. He was educated by the Anglican church from a very young age and after graduating from university and finishing at the seminary he rose through the ranks of the church and served as an Anglican priest throughout his life. He built, planted, established and pastored some of the earliest Anglican churches in Ile-Ife itself and in Osun province, Ondo province and Ijebu province as they then were. Rev. Emmanuel Adedapo Kayode married the daughter of the famous Lagosian Rev. M.S. Cole and they had eight children. The first of those children was Victor Adedapo Adetokunboh Kayode who is the subject of this essay and who was born in 1899. Rev. Kayode's wife Mrs. E.A. Kayode (nee Cole) came from a very distinguished and illustrious lineage. Her mother was from the famous Savage family of Lagos and her first cousin's were lawyer William Akinlade Savage (who was called to the English Bar in 1906) and Dr. Richard Akinwade, who with Sir Kitoye Ajasa, Dr. J.K. Randle and Dr. Orisadipe Obasa established the conservative People's Union in 1909. This was Nigeria's first political party and they were opposed to Sir Herbert Macauly's more radical approach to political issues in the Lagos colony. Macauly later established the NNDP and cultivated the support of the largely illiterate Lagos masses whilst the elites gravitated towards the Peoples Union. The NNDP was to later metamorphosise into the NCNC which turned out to be one of the greatest and most powerful forces in the politics of south-western and southern Nigeria in the 40's, 50's and 60's. Herbert Macauly handed over the leadership of the NCNC to an igbo man by the name of Nnamdi Azikiwe whilst he was on his deathbed in 1945.

The first son of Rev. and Mrs. E.A. Kayode , Victor Adedapo Adetokunboh Kayode, was educated at Kings College, Lagos. In 1917 he matriculated at Selwyn College, Cambridge University and in 1920 he graduated and was awarded his M.A. degree in law. He did his masters at Cambridge as well and he graduated and was awarded his LLB masters degree in 1921. Victor Kayode enrolled at the Middle Temple and was called to the British Bar in 1922. He came top in his exams at both Cambridge University (both the first and second year tripos) and at the Middle Temple. This remarkable feat was repeated by his own first son Remi Fani-Kayode approximately 20 years later when he followed in his illustrious father's footsteps and attended both institutions.

Victor Adedapo Adetokunboh Kayode got married to Miss Aurora Fanimokun in Chelsea, London in 1920. Aurora Fanimokun was the first daughter of the respected Rev. Suberu Fanimokun of the Lagos colony (as it then was) and he was the Principal of the famous CMS Grammer School, Lagos. Like his colleague in holy orders and in-law Rev. Emmanuel Kayode, Rev. Suberu Fanimokun also graduated with an M.A. from Fourrabay College, Sierra Leonne and Durham University in 1892. Rev. Fanimokun married Miss Bucknor of the distinguished Bucknor family of Lagos. Her brother was the lawyer H.Bucknorwas also a friend of Sir Kitoye Ajasa and apart from Aurora his daughter he also had a son that graduated from Glasgow University as a medical practitioner in the early 1920's. All these families constituted the cream of Lagos high society. It was by dint of fate and providence that the son and daughter of the Rev. E.A. Kayode and Rev. S. Fanimokun, the two great contemporaries and illustrious Anglican priests ended up getting married in 1920. The first child of that marriage was Remi Fani-Kayode who was born in Chelsea, London in 1921. At that time London was the most affluent city in the western world yet 30 per cent of Londoners were living below the poverty line. This shows that even the most developed cities and nations in the world once went through very hard times as well.

After being called to the British bar in 1922 Victor Adedapo Adetokunboh Kayode went back to Lagos, Nigeria where he set up one of the most successful legal practices of his day. He specialised in criminal law. He occassionally intervened in the politics of the day in Lagos colony but his forte was law and because he was acknowledged as one of the best lawyers of his day he was appointed as a magistrate in 1940. In those days there were no Nigerian magistrates and judges. They were all British.

Olumuyiwa Jibowu was the first Nigerian to become a magistrate in 1931 and then Adebiyi Desalu followed him in 1938. Adetokunboh Ademola was the third in 1939 and then came Victor Adedapo Kayode, F.E.O. Euba and George Frederick Dove-Edwin in 1940. F.O. Lucas was appointed in 1941. These were the first Nigerians to become magistrates and virtually all of them went on to the higher bench and did exceedingly well. Unfortunately in 1941, just one year after being appointed as a magistrate, Victor Adedapo Kayode died at the relatively young age of 42 whilst he was presiding over an important land case.

A few of years after his death his wife Aurora Kayode remarried. Her second husband was Ernest ikoli, an ijaw man that was resident in Lagos, who was the financer and editor of two Lagos newspapers at the time, who was very active in Lagos politics, who was one of the founders of the Nigerian Youth Movement (which later metamorphosied into the Action Group) and who was the man that was Obafemi Awolowo's mentor and benefactor and that funded his education in the United Kingdom where he went to study law. Ernest Ikoli was best of friends with Sir Adeyemo Alakija and many other Lagos elites in his day. Aurora Kayode had 8 children for Victor Kayode (4 sons and 3 daughter) but no children for Ernest Ikoli.

Victor Adedapo Adetokunboh Kayode and Madame Aurora Kayode were the parents of Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode, the former Minister for Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs and Deputy Premier of Nigeria's old Western Region and the grandparents of David Oluwafemi Adewunmi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria's former Minister of Aviation and former Minister of Culture and Tourism.

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Articles by Femi Fani Kayode