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Tokunbo Awolowo: Adding Value To Legacy

By Remi Oyeyemi
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“History is hereditary only in this way: we, all of us, inherit everything, and then we choose what to cherish, what to disavow, and what to do next, which is why it's worth trying to know where things come from.” - Jill Lepore

“…bear in mind that…all this is put in your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honour it (and) add to it…”. – Albert Einstein

As I stepped down from the car, and surveyed the impressive environment, aptly and properly kept, my thoughts were forced to stray to another important aspect of human life. I was forced to ruminate on that aspect of leaving behind someone who understood and shared the sanctity of a positive idea, an inured concept that one might have represented and espoused; someone who might be appropriately placed to carry on the touch of a legacy, and or a body of beliefs, or if you like, an idea.

I thought about a person, whose handiwork had assured him or her, something to be remembered by. Unlike a snake that has crawled across the rock, leaving no impact whatsoever, leaving nothing for those who are to come behind him or her, to cherish and remember. My thoughts were about the footprints of an elephant, decipherable, distinguishable and diagnosable, even by the most untutored, not just on the sands of time, but also on the mounds of immortality.

As my thoughts weaved like a wave of a wooly whirlwind, curvilinear in its capering and cavorting, I recognized that it was not enough to leave a legacy. I grasped the importance of siring those desirous of synthesizing and sealing such a legacy, such an idea, furthering its frontiers and fringes. To and for some ideas, we have had converts; we have had believers. We have also had disciples and apostles. Many have been self appointed foot soldiers of some ideas, some legacies. Many more have been the champions and the defenders of few ideas. Many have adopted some and applied them to their situations, because of the intrinsic values of such ideas. But if and when, an originator of an idea, a legacy, have a biological offspring, that is a believer, a champion, an apostle and a preeminent foot soldier, all rolled into one, as in this particular case, it is a favour from providence.

And of course, it would also depend on the strength of the legacy itself. It would depend on its intrinsic value on and to the society. It would depend on its positive impact. It would depend on the moral might of the legacy; its fortitude and robustness. It would depend on its depth; its circumspection and its horizon. Yes, the moral force of a legacy is of great importance. The intellectual strength of a legacy could be enervated or animated based on what it seeks to espouse; it could be scorched, and dissipated into oblivion or become a supernatant, hovering in the horizon of all, remaining constant and permanent like the Northern Star, simply based on its moral muzzle.

This is because any legacy, the moral force of which is questionable, would inevitably become ephemeral. Such a legacy, with seared saintliness propped by malignant intellectuality, would eventually be wrapped up in the roaring rave of decrepitude, become etiolated and temporal, before being ripped into rags of aridity; a poisoned chalice in the plate of memory and History.

The Sage and Avatar, Pa Obafemi Oyeniyi Awolowo, the greatest Yoruba son since Oduduwa and the latest in the pantheon of Yoruba gods, without any doubt was able to leave a legacy, which ordinarily, by its strength, has appropriated an enduring philosophical, social, economic, political and religious indelibility. All that Awo stood for, all that he contemplated and enunciated are encapsulated in AWOISM. It covers all his postulations on and about Man and Society.

As an idea, time tested in its relevance and value, Awoism has garbed the garment of graduation; adorned the drapes of durability and pretified in the apparel of perpetuity. Its moral muzzle, augured and vaticinated by its intellectual force, has appropriated students, converts, believers, apostles, champions and foot soldiers. It has fostered several movements of different genre in the realms of sociology, politics, administration, economics, academia, religion et al. It has been able to propagate itself and recommend itself to those who seek knowledge and solutions to the challenges of Man and, or in the Society. It has become a legacy, which with all intents and purposes, is relentlessly driving itself.

And this is where she comes in. Dr. (Mrs.) Olatokunbo Ayoka Awolowo - Dosunmu, widely known as Tokunbo Awolowo, a physician by training, is the youngest of five children of the late sage. With equally distinguished siblings, she is to her father, the kind of a child, that any parent would wish he or she is succeeded by. Extremely decent, soft spoken, reserved, compassionate and kind. Courteous, courtly and civil. Hardworking, tireless and courageous. Always cool, calm and controlled. She is always monochromatically focused. Gifted with a heart of steel shrouded by an outward succulent style, she is driven, determined and dependable. A time tested crisis manager with unmistakable mild mien, who is fair-minded and balanced.

Without any doubt, it is evident that she is actively in the lead for the continued extrapolation of the ideals of Awoism, not just in the realm of intellectuality, but also in practice. As in the likes of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, she is adding value to the legacy of her sagely father.

She is like a centripetal force holding together the intellectual family of her great father. Included in this intellectual family, are some of the political family members. There have been attestations to the fact that she plays the same role in the biological family, nuclear or extended.

The annual colloquium that she has put together at the Ikenne Home of her sagely father has become a potpourri of ideas seeking solutions to the challenges facing the Yoruba Nation, in particular and Nigeria in general. Her management of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation has received accolades from far and wide. She has succeeded in turning the Foundation into an intellectual reposit not just for the ideas about Awoism, but also one for which every idea that would advance the goodness and edification of man, could call a home. A resource center for those who seek knowledge about what the place of Man ought to be in the chain of production for the progress and improvement of the society.

Under her leadership, one of her father's legacies, The African Newspapers of Nigeria PLC has continued to be dynamic and competitive. The company has blossomed and it's still blossoming. On January 29, 2019, she would add another value to that legacy, African Newspapers of Nigeria PLC, in Lagos. The event billed to take place at the Sheraton Hotel would witness the unveiling of the new identities of the titles on the stable. The Company which is the publisher of the Tribune Titles would be Seventy Years old as the oldest surviving privately owned newspaper in Nigeria.

Dr. Awolowo is undoubtedly the matriarch of the Awolowo Family. She is a matriarch with patriarchal inclinations and idiosyncrasies. She runs the estate with such an efficiency and steady hand that would make many strong men pale into jealousy. Obviously a good administrator who knows her onions, she takes her responsibility very seriously. She is conscientious, consistent and committed. She is strong as a stallion with a heart of a lion. She is never discouraged. She is persevering, persistent and purposeful. She is, indeed, a chip off the old block.

Her relationship with the immediate and the extended family is what describes her character most. It is what those who work with her would point to in a jiffy. It is what the women in Ijebu-Remo and environs would gladly talk about. Considerate, compassionate, caring and charitable. She is humble, deferential and respectful. She is so accommodating and worries about the welfare of all, friends, family and staff alike. Always proactive in coming to the aid of others.

Tokunbo Awolowo'- Dosunmu's philosophy is encapsulated in the words of Marie Sklodowska Curie, a Polish and naturalized French physicist and chemist who posited, "You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we can be most useful.."

Evidently, she has the awareness that she inherited great legacies from her great father. A legacy of service to others. A legacy of intellectual inquiry. A legacy of entrepreneurship. A legacy of love and compassion. A legacy of strong and united family. A legacy that is in itself, a heritage of dignity and integrity. On those fronts, she is doing her best to add value. She is at home with the responsibilities that fate has thrown on her laps. She is not shying away from it. From all available evidences, she is more than up to the task.

Anyone who has read the novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford, "A woman of Substance," would not have difficulty picturing Dr (Mrs.) Olatokunbo Ayoka Awolowo - Dosunmu. The novel which was the first of a seven book saga on the family of Emma Harte is a tribute to a woman who would not give up, a woman who would not be deterred, a woman who would never say "die." Resolute. Clear headed. Even handed. Clear eyed. If you also read the second and the third sequels, "Hold The Dream" and "To Be The Best," one would have had a complete picture of a fantastic lady, dutiful, determined, distinguished but very disarming.

The introductory quotes above were taken from her speech at the foundation laying ceremony for the Tribune House, Isheri, which took place on November 16, 2018. The title of this piece was also taken from the same speech. To me, the quotes and the headline are very instructive, coming from her. It shows a sense of responsibility in regard to what was bequeathed to her. It shows an understanding of the task squarely placed on her shoulders. It shows an uncommon perspicacity about the roles she has to play.

Dr. (Mrs.) Olatokunbo Ayoka Awolowo - Dosunmu, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Netherlands, without any iota of doubt, is "A Woman of Substance," who is "holding the dream," and trying very unceasingly "to be the best." By all standards, she has earned more than enough rights to be a "Lady." This is because, even though, to every female is given the inviolate right to be a woman, not every woman is invariably able to become a Lady.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist, "We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future." Lady (Dr.) Awolowo - Dosunmu has been "made wise not by the recollection" of her great roots, her great heritage, her great legacy, her great past, her great father, "but by the responsibility" for the future, through the nourishing of the ideas and legacies that were meant to benefit humanity.

One is enormously impressed by her sense of responsibility and her determination to add to the legacy bequeathed to her. One is just hoping that she is grooming a successor for this all important and great responsibility, the course of which has to be advanced to the next generation. And the one after.

© Remi Oyeyemi