Who Steps Into HID Awolowo’s Shoes? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Who Steps Into HID Awolowo’s Shoes?

Posted: Oct 1, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Laide Raheem


Since the death of Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, wife of the late sage and Premier of the defunct of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was announced penultimate weekend, the Ikenne home of the Awolowos has virtually turned to a Mecca of sort. Political leaders, business moguls, captains of industries, technocrats as well as diplomats, had all come to pay their last respect to the departed Matriarch.

Apart from that, journalists from far and near, have besieged Ikenne to, of course, catch the glimpse of the action.  The fact that the incumbent vice president of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is an in-law to Mama, no doubt, gave a fillip to the passing of HID.

Though Mama died at a ripe age of 99 (barely two months to her 100th birthday),  people still wept to mourn her passage. But beyond the mourning and weeping, dignitaries who are visiting Ikenne on almost daily basis to commiserate with the Awolowos, are all full of great tributes for Mama. While some said her death was irreparable loss, some said a rare gem had departed this sinful world. Some even said Mama’s shoes would be too big for anybody to fill.

Beyond the rhetoric, however, Mama HID’s exit will indeed create a big vacuum especially in the political niceties of the South-West geo-political zone. After the demise of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1987, Mama swiftly filled gap created by Papa’s transition as Ikenne still retained its status as the political headquarters of the Yorubas.

Mama, proved to be a rallying force for politicians in the South West who found themselves in different political parties. HID at different fora, always hinted on the need for the Yorubas to foster unity and pursue a common goal for the development and growth of all the six states carved out of the old western region. 

She stoutly stood for political ideals that would not negate the visions of his husband; HID never lost her reverence for any true Awoist even if such a person did not belong to a popular political party so to say.

Similarly, one must not forget in hurry, the great role Mama played when pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, burst into crisis because of different political affiliation. Despite her advance in age, HID ensured that a common front was still maintained to foster relationship among the politicians, hence, the inauguration of Yoruba Unity Forum. With this in place, many political adversaries in the region, converged on Ikenne periodically, to attend this all important meeting at the instance of Mama.

And politicians themselves, really understood the pride of place Mama occupied in the political calculation in the South West, hence, their visits to Ikenne to pay homage to HID’s sagacity and solicit her support during electioneering campaigns.

As Papa’s Jewel of inestimable value, all Awolowo legacies were meticulously and dutifully looked after by the late Matriarch. Mama, though without a degree in business administration, had a rare business acumen cum management. Papa even testified to this in one of his books, ‘My Jewel of Inestimable Value’, when he explained how Mama managed to hold forth for him with four children to cater for, while he was away for studies in England.

Awolowo praised her doggedness and penchant for hard work which according to him, sustained his family for the period of four years he spent overseas.    

If Papa’s eulogy of Mama’s forthrightness and management competence was actually born out of his sheer love for HID, Mama’s Midas touch on Tribune titles, which have become the best among its contemporaries, indeed proved late Obafemi Awolowo’s outpouring of encomiums on Mama right.

Apart from Tribune titles, other legacies of Papa are still on course; courtesy of HID’s resilience and dint of hard work.   

As a human being, Mama experienced the vicissitude of life but she never lost her cool. As a mother, she went through the agony of losing three kids while alive, but as a devout Christian, she took this with faith and continued to dedicate her life to the worship of God and service to humanity.

No doubt, Mama will be remembered for values she represented and tenets she stood for throughout her sojourn on terra firma. She was an epitome of virtuous woman; an ardent progressive as well as manager of men and resources per excellence.

Mama had etched her in gold and thus, she will be immortalised, not only in Ogun state but in Nigeria.

Speaking more on the immortalisation of Mama, Ogun state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, when he visited Ikenne shortly after he returned from the Holy Land of Mecca, disclosed that Mama was indeed an enigma who deserved to be immortalised. He added that apart from giving Mama a befitting burial on November 25 this year, several projects would be put in place to keep Mama’s memories alive.

Like her husband, HID stood on the side of the masses. She shared her hubby’s vision of egalitarian society where things work accordingly. Her positive contribution to the political trajectory of Papa Awolowo as she traversed the length and breadth of the old Western Region with him, could not be under-emphasized. Or how could one describe HID’s steadfastness when Papa was jailed for a trumped up charge of treasonable felony? She was indeed a supportive partner to Papa Awolowo when he was alive and after his death. Therefore, Mama was a quintessential wife and acted like a mother hen who protected not only her children, but others who were lucky enough to acquaint themselves with her.

Consequently, the vacuum created by the demise of HID Awolowo, will be hard to fill by any contemporary woman-political or apolitical. And she will be fondly remembered and missed for her role as the rallying point for politicians of the South West extract as well as a symbol of unity in the zone.

And similar to her husband, Hannah Idowu Dideoolu has become an apotheosis, while her life and times, will forever serve as exemplar of strength, determination, doggedness, astuteness, industry, resilience and diligence, not only to the womenfolk but for people who value and cherish life of service and dedication.

Though HID’s exit has left a big chasm in the South West,nonetheless, the candle must not be allowed to go off. Somebody in Mama’s mould, must emerge to put on the garb of political leadership of the late Matriarch. But who the cap or the headgear fits?