FEATURE ARTICLE

Kunle I. SowunmiTuesday, February 15, 2005
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Dallas, TX, USA

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OBA LIPEDE RESTORED THE GLORY OF EGBALAND


ith the death of Oba Oyebade Mofolunso Lipede at a very ripe age of 90 years one is tempted to say the king lived very long and the Egbas should be thankful for the 33 years this ever loving and peaceful king reigned in Egbaland but we the Egbas are mourning the death of a king whose time changed positively everything that was negative in Egbaland. Lipede was the best king Egbas ever had.


Before Lipede became the king in 1972. Abeokuta was a no go area for any successful indigene who managed to live outside the community at that time. Imaginary deaths and misfortunes were reported left and right. The name of the city was associated with fear, deaths and failures. Abeokuta had only eleven secondary schools at that time, there was no University, not college of Education, not even a good hospital. Abeokuta was always a ghost city during schools holidays.

The only hospital then at Ijaiye was associated with incompetent performances. The doctors then were not ready to put in effort to save lives. A small fracture in any motor accident was associated with amputations many lost their legs including a very popular sports guy in one of the secondary schools in Abeokuta in 1971. The guy was the hope of the city for the coming all secondary schools competition in Western Region. On our way from Comprehensive High School Aiyetoro during the inter house Sports competition we had a motor accident. He was one of the affected ones who were rushed to Ijaiye Hospital Abeokuta for medical attention. His left leg was amputated. The whole of Abeokuta City wept.

Before Lipede became the king there were lots of ritual killings and sacrifices in most junctures of the city. Most parents from outside the community with children in schools in Abeokuta kept them in the boarding schools, which were the safest way at that time. Abeokuta and Egbaland as a community never attracted any investment except Top Brewery, which was the only thing that made the city thick during the weekly parties in which most people slept in their cars, which they sometimes hide from family members that were resident in the city. Not even decent hotels to sleep.

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On record, the Egbas had rejected many goods things that would have put Abeokuta ahead of Ibadan, Kano Enugu and Benin in the past due to communal fights. A very noted one was the establishment of a university in which Fela's father Reverend Ransom Kuti was given the privilege to site in any city of his choice by the British, of course, he picked his home town Abeokuta but the in-fight and petty jealousy made it possible for the university to be sited at Ibadan in 1948 which also led to the establishment of UCH in Ibadan.

When Lipede became the king in 1972 students in the hostels despite the fear of being caught sneaked out of the hostels to see the dance at Centenary Hall at Ake in which Young Shina Peters played his guitar as a member of Prince Adekunle's Band. Ebenezer Obey the juju music master also waxed a record in his honor. The first year for the king was tough, Ogun River dried up not because of anything but for the construction of a Dam at that time outside the city, which we never knew, but we all thought in our negative minds then that Abeokuta must have picked the wrong person as a king. More also, then Governor of Western Region Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi ironically an Egbaman had just rebuffed the appeal of the Egba leaders to make Abeokuta as good as Ado Ekiti which was what his predecessor General Adeyinka Adebayo did for the Ekitis

Oba Oyebade after that event went to work for his community. He talked to individuals, he talked to companies, made friends with all that could help the city to grow, he was like Moses to the Egbas, he helped in the appointments of many Egbas into many government and political institutions, he was possessed with helping his people than what his people could give him. His doors were always opened to received visitors and his people. He re-established link with the United Kingdom which had given the Egbas the first Bible in Nigeria.( Egbas as a nation was merged with Nigeria in 1914)

His effort were compensated with rapid development, Abeokuta became the capital of Ogun State, the University we lost in 1946 we got back though not a full one, Egbas are now proud to come home, Abeokuta club became a center of power for the Egbas, New things kept coming from left and right, it was like the gate of heaven opened the water of joy which continue to flow into Egbaland. Oba Oyebade gave his best to his people.

I was privileged to meet the king in 1986 at the time I was a pioneer Project Secretary for Gateway Pharmaceutical Company Ikangba Ijebu Ode and during the establishment of Federal University Abeokuta, which was later changed to Federal Agric University. Baba never looked old to me. It was like he was going to live forever. The death of his closed boy Jolaosho few years had a tremendous effect on the king.

As the Egbas mourn the death of Oba Lipede we are thankful to God for the 33 years Lipede reigned over Egbaland. He restored the glory of Egbaland, he gave us love, and he gave us hope to believe in ourselves and in our land, he made us to give than to take. Lipede before his death knew we the Egbas loved him because we have a common goal with destiny. His authority was never questioned because we knew what he stood for.

May God have a place for the king in his kingdom and give us the wisdom to select a successor that will place the love of the Egbas and God before everything.

God Bless Egbaland, God Bless Nigeria.