This title, ‘Mother of All Nations’ was taken after the oration of General Yakubu Gowon when the late HID was given doctorate degree colossal in University of Calabar
The news of the death of Mama Awolowo known principally as HID by her admirers came to us as a rude shock. Not because she has not lived a fulfilled life but because she was hale and hearty the last time we checked. She was strong, sharp and witty as ever and there was no foreboding of an impending exit.
She died when some of us are already preparing how we shall celebrate her centennial (100 years) birthday this coming December 25th for she was born on the 25th day of December, 1915.
Mama became a solid rallying point for the continued espousal, generation and propagation of the Awolowo philosophy after the exit to the great beyond of Pa Awolowo – the patriarch of Yoruba politics and one of the original triumvirates upon which Nigeria’s politics rested.
She was not diminished by the exit of her legendary husband but carried on the name of the great man and never for once fazed by the burden which that suddenly thrust upon her shoulders.
For anyone who was not close to the family that would have been surprising surely but not to those who had been close to the family and who had followed the very close knit relationship that was the love life of the Awolowos. She had watched and learnt silently at the feet of her husband and had drunk of the great wisdom and tact with which Pa Awo was noted for.
She had imbibed the body language and the fine nuances that was the hallmark of the husband and together they had privately and silently planned and executed the great strategies that brought freedom and liberty to the Yoruba race and provided the needed platform for all those thirsting for progressive ideals within the nation’s political ferment.
It is generally said that behind every great man, there is always a great woman. That was what HID was to her late husband. Pa Awolowo had great regards and deep respect for her and carried her along in all his critical thoughts and actions that spanned the path he toed politically.
She was the pillar that supported the great leader in all his travails and triumphs and never wavered for once. Just like Winnie mandela stood by Nelson Mandela during his trials and imprisonment, Mama stood by Pa Awolowo throughout his sojourn as a political prisoner and his struggles to enthrone egalitarian leadership for Nigeria.
She was totally faithful to the ideals which only both of them shared.
One thing is very clear; that many people cannot define Mama standing on her own right but always from the perspective of the man that was her husband – because she married a legend.
However, many women would have been totally submerged under the deluge of influence which the husband had wielded but fortunately not Mama.
She was able to carve out a life for herself and found expression even while remaining totally submissive to the husband.
She was a role model in the church and community and provided the platform for women to find and express their various creativities.
She had many charities to her credit and was deeply devoted to God and had a total distaste for irresponsible behaviour. This rubbed off on the great children she sired and raised. A strict yet loving mother who brooked no nonsense from her kids and those around her who she equally treated as her own kids, the result is seen all over the nation today.
I came closer to the Awolowo family through Dr Tokunbo Dosunmu Awolowo and Oladipupo Soyede the grandson of Pa Awo and HID whose mother is Ayodele one of the most brilliant of the Awolowo clan. Ayodele, a product of that great woman though not in the very public glare is one of the great testaments to the vision of Mama for her children and for the society.
Mama, you became a rallying point for all progressives and the Yoruba people when the revered one left. For nearly 30 years after Pa Awolowo’s exit, you provided the canopy under which great gatherings took place. In the face of challenges to the people, you caused great conclaves to gather to find solutions that created new trajectory for the Yoruba people.
You mediated and navigated the many divides and expressions within the philosophical family and the Yoruba people and skilfully, you kept the people largely together with one clear voice. You provided the moral high – ground upon which leaders were judged and the moral restraint to certain individual and group tendencies that would have left the people misled, divided and enslaved.
Now that you are gone, we are left to ask; who then will fill the gap? Who will step into your very large shoes? Will there be any other Mama Ikenne? We will surely miss you sorely. Nigeria has lost a great patriot, a wonderful mother and indeed an astute ideologue. The Yoruba nation has lost a pillar and a crusader. A great amazon and a quiet motive force for change and a great stabilizer in the midst of storms.
The lessons which her life has taught us should not be lost to this generation. One of the lessons is that; total humility and devotion to our spouse and their ideals remains our strongest position and it is the ultimate place of power.
She taught us that the one who sits in his ordained position, sits in the place of power and he that sits in the place of power sits in the most vantage position to be causative thus influence the life of others and the society positively.
However, as we mourn your exit, we must take solace in the fact that she you lived a fulfilled and God-filled life. Your purpose for being created we are sure you fulfilled and now, you must be walking amongst the saints! This we see clearly because of the exemplary life you lived and what you taught us even in those few occasions that you had had time to discuss with us. We all indeed bear upon our lives the imprint of your admonitions and are living testimonies of your love and skills. Journey on Mama! Greet the revered one! Sun re o’
Note that this title, ‘Mother of All Nations’ was taken after the oration of General Yakubu Gowon when the late HID was given doctorate degree colossal in university of Calabar
Hon Olumuyiwa Wahab Jimoh, Apapa State Constituency 2, is the Deputy Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly