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HID Awolowo: The Best First Lady We Never Had - Politics - Nairaland

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HID Awolowo: The Best First Lady We Never Had by courage89(m): 3:06am On Sep 29, 2015
MAKING COMMON SENSE: Ben MurrayBruce, Email: ben.murraybruce@thisdaylive.com

Last week, I was at the Ikenne home of the Awolowo’s to condole with the family on the death of the matriarch, Chief (Mrs) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo. Let me rephrase that. I thought I was going to condole with the family, but when I got to Ikenne, I found out that I was actually there to celebrate not just mama, but her husband, Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo, their dynasty and the Black Race. What I saw first hand at Ikenne proved to me that the Awolowo’s do not need our eulogies and kind words. The exemplary lives lived by mama HID and her husband, the sage, already eulogised them!

At Ikenne, I was taken to a huge library in the premises that was filled with books. To my pleasant surprise, Chief Awolowo’s granddaughter, who gave me the tour, told me that her grand father had read each and every book in that library! As she told me that, I began to be inspired. That one man had read all those books was a triumph! That that man never became president of Nigeria was a disaster! He would have been Nigeria’s Philosopher king!

I was showed Chief Awolowo’s Holy Bible, which was well worn. Then I was shown his Qur’an and it was equally evident that the owner of that sacred book had thumped through it with purpose.

Today, Nigeria is going through the most radical and extreme form of religious intolerance from both sides of the great Abrahamic faiths that dominate Nigeria, Christianity and Islam.

Can you imagine the level of religious tolerance that would have been our reality today if a man who had understanding of the origins, morals, ethos and philosophy that permeate the two great Abrahamic faiths had ruled Nigeria! That journey that I thought was a condolence visit soon turned into a odyssey into the world of two people who loved each other and whose lives were so intertwined and connected to the purpose of uplifting the Black Race.

Many people erroneously think that mama HID was just a consort to Chief Awolowo who played a spectator role while he made history. Nothing could be further than the truth!

This woman, who Chief Awolowo called his “jewel of inestimable value”, proved that that praise was not empty when she carried on the battle for him when he was imprisoned by the Balewa government during which time she spearheaded the merger between the Action Group (AG) and the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), which led to the emergence of the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), which was the precursor of today’s All Progressive Congress (APC).

I saw her pictures as a young lady and mama was a paragon of beauty, however, she was no trophy wife. She was a wife of destiny to her husband as she modelled the behaviour of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 by raising an outstanding family and being very active in business to the point that she built an empire based on thrift and submitted the same to her husband. It was famously said by the late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu that Chief Awolowo was the best president we never had. Let me add that mama HID Awolowo was the best First Lady we never had. While I was at Ikenne, I saw people come in and heard people calling to pour encomiums on mama and her husband.

The see encomiums are nice, however, what this dynamic duo need now is a preservation of their legacy. Not enough Nigerian youths know what this couple of destiny did for their parents and their nation. The duo of Chief Awolowo and mama HID are our own version of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King. Because of what they achieved, millions of children in the Western Region of Nigeria went to school without paying a dime and have gone on to live meaningful lives that have added value to the world. This year, Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police announced that they were looking to hire Yoruba speaking officers to join the force in London.

Why are they doing this? Why are they not looking to employ Swahili speaking cops? Why are they not looking to employ Afrikaans speaking cops? Why are they not looking to employ even cops that speak a European language, like Russian? They are taking this unique step, because a huge proportion of the population of Greater London are Nigerians who speak Yoruba. And not only are they large in number, they are educated and landed and own some of the choicest properties in London. Included in their number was the recently departed Antonio Deinde Fernandez and Adebayo Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, which owns Gatwick Airport and other choice property all over London, The UK and the world.

When you begin to trace the timelines of when Nigerians and particularly Yoruba speakers started their ascendancy in the UK and the rest of the world, you will find that it started in 1955 after the Western Region Government of Nigeria headed by Chief Awolowo initiated free education in Western Nigeria. Now that they papa and mama are both gone, it is time for Nigeria and the men and women who benefited from their visionary leadership to preserve their legacy. How you may ask? There are a variety of ways to preserve their legacy. As I sit here typing, the image of Chief Awolowo’s library continues to flash in my mind and a good place to start will be by getting the Federal Government of Nigeria to push for that library to be declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

If the federal government initiates the process, it will be successful and will cement Chief Awolowo and HID Awolowo’s image in the world’s memory. Concurrently, the federal government should declare the library as a National Heritage site. Also, the states that now comprise the former Western Region of Nigeria could consider instituting a fund for the preservation of the ideals the Awolowo’s stood for. Individuals of means, particularly from the Western Region, should be invited to contribute to such a fund. I am sure if the six states of the former Western Region along with the two states that came out of the Mid West Region (Edo and Delta) constitute a committee for such a purpose, then individuals like Mike Adenuga, Adebayo Ogunlesi, Femi Otedola and Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija will be willing, even eager to contribute to it. It is a worthy cause. The monies from such a fund could then be managed by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation to be used to advance the legacy of the late sage and his wife through whatever vehicle they deem fit.

Nollywood should not also be left out. Industry veterans should produce documentaries or biographies of Chief Awolowo for our youths to watch so that they know what the man did to plant trees whose shades they are now enjoying. When such movies or documentaries are made, I make a solemn promise to air it repeatedly on Silverbird Television for free. I also covenant that all Silverbird Cinemas will show it for free to members of the public. Come on guys, we have to promote and preserve our own if not their memory will die! Nigeria’s founding fathers were Sir Ahmadu Bello, Owelle Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo.

Today all three are dead but what do our youth know about them? Virtually nothing!
Our youths know about John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Mungo Park, David Livingstone and even oppressors like Cecil Rhodes but they do not know about our founding fathers.

One of the first history lessons all American children learn about is the founding fathers. They learn about who they were, what they did and what route they took to getting to their enviable heights in society. There is even a larger than life national monument carved into the face of a mountain to commemorate the founding fathers at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
Nations like America take the pains to commemorate their founding fathers and other important heroes in order not to forget their national purpose and their collective vision.

If they do not do this, in time their memories will fade away and they will not be accurately represented in contemporary life.

A good example of this is Chief Moshood Abiola. When Abiola died on July 7 1998, students of the University of Lagos shut down Akoka in Lagos and insisted that Nigeria must immortalise Abiola. They stopped motorists and made them chant anti federal government slogans and pro Abiola messages. Fast forward to May 29, 2012 when former President Goodluck Jonathan renamed the University of Lagos the Moshood Abiola University of Lagos. On that day, it was the students of the University of Lagos, whose predecessors once demanded that the federal government immortalise Abiola, that trooped out in large numbers to condemn the renaming of their institution after Abiola. So intense was this demonstration that the University of Lagos had to be shut down the next day on May 30th 2012. What had happened in the intervening years to douse the enthusiasm of the students over the immortalisation of Abiola?

You see, because the government and the larger society did not make enough conscious effort to remember Abiola’s legacy by teaching it to our youth, our youth forgot and with the passage of time the memory became dimmer and dimmer. Yet this very Abiola once donated a fortune to the University of Lagos and sponsored many events and activities in that institution. We cannot afford to fulfil the derisive slur of racists that if you want to hide anything from a Black man you do it by putting it in a book! We must capture the legacy of not just our founding fathers but also our national heroes in books, films, buildings, holidays and monuments.

Chief Awolowo’s contemporary, Owelle Azikiwe, died on the 11th of May 1996. Till today, the federal government has yet to fulfil its pledge to complete a mausoleum for him. Nigerians do not even know what Azikiwe’s wife’s name was and if not that we had a president whose middle name is Azikiwe, the memory of the great Zik of Africa was almost fading away from our political life.

By contrast, Baroness Margaret Thatcher died on the 8th of April 2013, yet even before her death, the British Government consulted her on how she would like to be buried and remembered in the event of her death and ultimately spent £3.6 million of tax payers funds for that purpose. Two years before she died, Hollywood made a $13 million biography about her entitled The Iron Lady to capture her legacy. So good was the movie that Meryl Streep, who played Mrs. Thatcher, received an Oscar for her portrayal of Baroness Thatcher. Since her death, Parliament, 10 Downing Street and various British institutions have preserved her legacy by building institutions and endowing centres to study her ideas and philosophy. Only on July 13 this year (2015), her successor, Prime Minister David Cameron, unveiled the Thatcher Business Education Centre.

More than 100 books have been written about the life, legacy and personality of Thatcher and it is safe to say that she would never be forgotten. Now let us compare the remembrance given to Azikiwe to that given to Thatcher and we will understand why Britain, a country with only a third of our population, wields more influence than us on the world stage. When we do not value our own heroes, we are communicating to the world that we do not value ourselves. I mean who would want to be the hero of a people that according to the late Bob Marley, “kill their prophets”?

We were all in Nigeria pretending that someone like Fela was not a prophet. It took two Americans, Billy T Jones and Jim Lewis, to write the book Fela! It also took three Americans, Jay Z with Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett, to bring the book to life on Broadway, and an American, Sahr Ngaujah, was cast as Fela. All because we do not value our prophets!
I guess all I am trying to say is that the value of each individual Nigerian is tied to the value we attach to our founding fathers and other heroes who sacrificed for us to get to where we are.

You cannot divorce yourself from Nigeria. Even if you immigrate, change your name and pick up a new accent, it will still come out that you are a Nigerian. That being the case should we not learn to like being Nigerians and teach the world to like Nigerians? In achieving this, we must borrow a verse from the George Benson song made popular by Whitney Houston, ‘The Greatest Love of All’. A verse in that song goes ‘Learning to love yourself. It is the greatest love of all’. What an awesome message to Nigeria and Nigerians.

In conclusion, I beg Nigerians. We should not just gather and spend billions to throw a big owambe party in honour of mama HID Awolowo as she is buried. All the champagne, meat, rice, pounded yam and soup we will eat, plus the aso ebi we will purchase, will not last. We will either pass them away or the cloth will fade after washing. But if we document her and papa’s life, the document will last and help us produce modern day Awolowos who can take us to our Promised Land. And God knows we need them!
My name is Ben Murray Bruce and I just want to make common sense!

• Senator Murray Bruce is the senator representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly and is Chairman of the Silverbird Group

Re: HID Awolowo: The Best First Lady We Never Had by courage89(m): 3:35am On Sep 29, 2015
This is a very inspiring piece. Thank you Uncle Bruce.

I’ve always believe that the strength, pride and patriotism of our nation is depended on;
1. Our sense of history (how we capture and preserve history )
2. How we celebrate history
3. How we celebrate people that made these histories. Their characters, ideas, courage, talents, business savvy and other qualities that define their extra ordinary lives.

History they said is always the best teacher. We have Nigerians from all walk of life; Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba who have contributed immensely in their chosen career; whether in politics, sports, business, entertainments, academics, religion and other areas.

As a country, we need to place high emphasis on celebrating these people’s achievement via biographies, documentaries, case studies and other progressive means. Our country needs this more than ever, so that our upcoming generation can learn one thing or two from their sense of ideology, sacrifice, patriotism, courage, character, accomplishment and other successful qualities worthy of emulation. We need to learn from their pain, sufferings, triumphs,

I hope in not too distant future, Nollywood and other corporate entity will be partnering to give us documentaries, movies on these worthy personalities dead or alive. I want to see movies on Rashidi Yekini, Chinua Achebe, Muhammad Buhari, Fela Kuti, Herbert Macaulay, Dangiwa Umar, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Nnamdi Azikwe, Adeola Odutola, Obafemi Awolowo, Enoch Adeboye, Wole Shoyinka and other notable Nigerians.
I hope Uncle Bruce will spear head the initiative to make movies, biographies on some of our fallen heroes to ensure their legacies lives forever.
Re: HID Awolowo: The Best First Lady We Never Had by ademusiwa9: 3:41am On Sep 29, 2015
HID awolowo was not first lady in the country of the kingdom of Western Nigeria.

the upper house contain dukes.. My own grandfather was Old .. so he appoint Aderemi ( ooni of ife ) at the time to assist him, because my grand father was not allowed by law to miss with people.

The country of the kingdom of Western Nigeria. was set up like British /house of lord.. the house of lord is the upper house. So awolowo was just a member of the lower house.

Re: HID Awolowo: The Best First Lady We Never Had by ademusiwa9: 3:44am On Sep 29, 2015
[size=28pt]The city of Victoria island was only built in around 1970.

It was just ocean of water. We built the city from the sea... in around 1970.[/size]
Re: HID Awolowo: The Best First Lady We Never Had by coolitempa(f): 3:56am On Sep 29, 2015
Ademusiwa9....,,,and your point is.....

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