Ibadan: A melting point

ibadan-1-e1421063841187Ibadan from its early history, had always been circumstantial and cosmopolitan. It is undisputable, that Lagelu, the Yoruba Warlord and Generalissimo was its founder around 1829. It became a British Protectorate in 1893, after a treaty, signed by Baale Fijabi, the then Baale of Ibadan, with the British Acting Governor of Lagos, George C. Denton on 15th August 1892.Ever since, Ibadan has grown to become then, the third most populated city in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, it was hitherto, the most cosmopolitan city in Africa.

The British developed the Ibadan colony to facilitate it’s commercial activities and it shortly grew into a major trading centre and political centre point of the Yoruba nation. Consequent upon these, the first railroad in Nigeria started from Iddo in 1898 and got to Ibadan in 1901, when the Dugbe Train Station was formally opened. The early economic growth of Ibadan was thus intrinsically linked to the railway. It is interesting to note, perhaps as a deliberate strategy of its growth, that out of the entire 3505 kms of narrow rail track in Nigeria, Ibadan alone has 42 kms of rail track roads from Omi Adio to Lalupon.

Professor John Pepper Clark, an Ijaw man, married to a Yoruba woman, Prof. (Mrs.) Ebun Clark, saw Ibadan better in its splendor, elegance, grandeur, magnificence and contradictions, when he celebrated Ibadan as;
Running splash of rust: and gold flung and scattered:
Among seven hills like broken: china in the sun.

Ibadan early entrepreneurs, elites and statesmen, contributed immensely to Ibadan’s early growth. It is a strange coincidence, that Chief Salami Agbaje, one of Ibadan’s early successful indigenous entrepreneur and richest citizen in his time, supplied all the timbers, needed for the construction of the Ibadan-Lagos Railways between 1898 and 1901.

Salami’s success in this timber business, encouraged him to go into produce buying venture and he also diversified into transportation, import and export. Through the Ibadan-Lagos railway line, he imported cotton, building materials, umbrellas and sewing machines. He owned the first private motor garage in Ibadan and the first truly indigenous diversified company and was also the first to establish cinemas. He was the first Ibadan man to ride a car in 1915 and built a two-storey building, with cement. He was known to have spent a great deal of his wealth in giving his children the best education. He produced the first Ibadan Medical Doctor, Dr. Saka Anthony Agbaje, first Ibadan Lawyer, Mojeed Agbaje and a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Ganiyu Agbaje and also Yekeen Agbaje, a Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Even though he was known to be stingy and tight-fisted, he advanced the course of modern commerce in Ibadan land and the Western Region entirely. Salami Agbaje, originally from Iseyin, started his early life as a tailor.
In his days, he had a lot of dealings with European Companies, engaged in exportation of agricultural products. He was an illiterate, but without attending school, he learned to read, write and speak impeccable English and was until his death in 1953, the Balogun of Ibadan Land.

Sanusi Adebisi Giwa Idi-Ikan, was another Ibadan early wealthy man, who used the opportunity of Ibadan’s emerging prominence as an important trading centre, to become a buying agent for Miller-Brothers and U.A.C, subsequently became a produce buyer and began to amass wealth for himself. He was widely acknowledged by the Ibadan people, because of his conspicuous benefaction to the Ibadan community. Adebisi’s ancestry was traced to the Ijeshas, his cognomen being- “Omo Ogbododo Ijesa” and his mother, “Ogboja Omo Atiba”, was a daughter of Alaafin Atiba.

Adebisi’s mansion in Idi-Ikan, Ibadan, still stands today as an architectural masterpiece. He was the first Ibadan man to ride a horse and later bought a car. Till he died in 1938, he was revered as one of the wealthiest men in Ibadan.
Few that could match Salami and Adebisi Idi-Ikan, were, Babarinde Akinloye ‘molewa, (Chief Adisa Akinloye’s father) and also a Nigerian Diarist and business man, Akinpelu Obisesan, who after a brief spell with the Nigerian Railways returned to Ibadan in 1913, worked with PZ and later became a produce buyer. For 30 years, he was President of Ibadan Cooperative Produce Marketing Societies (ICPMS) and pioneer Chairman of Cooperative Bank, to serve the needs of Cooperative Societies.

Ibadan, as a result of its rising growth, economic development, and its accommodating nature, became a colony for large migrants population. The Western Igbos settled in Mokola, Ekotedo and Inalende, in the early 1920’s whilst Sabon- gari was planned in 1917 and completed in 1920. The overcrowding of Sabon- gari, originally meant for the Hausas, led to the development of Mokola, to also house, Nupe and Igbira migrants from the Northern Nigeria. Late Waziri Nupe, Alhaji Bello Muhammed Bagudu, grew up and settled in Mokola, Ibadan, until his later life, when he relocated back to Bida. He was a member of Ibadan Municipal Council in the 1950s. His son, Senator Isa Mohammed, who also grew up in Ibadan, attended Igbo Elerin Grammar school, Ibadan, founded by the current Ibadan Monarch – Oba Odugade Odulana. He was a Senator, representing Niger Central Constituency of Niger State, in the National Assembly, between 1999-2007. Ekotedo and Inalende were also developed, as planned settlement for Yorubas coming from outside Ibadan.

The Ijebu’s were predominant in Amunigun, Agbeni, Oke-Ado, and Oke-Bola, whilst the Egbas settled predominantly in Odo-Ona and Ago Taylor, with a little admixture of the Igbiras. The Ijeshas, mainly traders, settled in Mokola, Oremeji, whilst the Igbajos are in Sango. The Alli-Iwo’s naturally were settlers from Iwo, and the Dele family in Oje, migrated from Ogbomosho.

Ibadan, as part of its uniqueness, has an uncommon way of succession to the throne. It is purely hierarchical- i.e. by promotion from Mogaji line. In other words, there are no Ruling Houses in Ibadan. It is only Otun Olubadan, from Otun Olubadan line and Balogun from Balogun line, that can succeed the throne interchangeably.

Oba Isaac Akinyele, a clergy of the Christ Apostolic Church faith and his brother, Alexander, were also part of Ibadan’s early path finders. Isaac, became a Custom Inspector for the Ibadan City Council in 1903. In 1914, the Akinyele brothers formed the Egbe Agba o tan- a small tribal Association. Oba Akinyele became the Olubadan of Ibadan land in 1952 and died in May 1965.

Alexander Akinyele was also a clergy man and later a Bishop. Alexander Akinyele, on the 31st of March 1913, founded the Ibadan Grammar School. He championed the course of education in Ibadan, founded the school single handedly. He was its first principal until 1933, following his elevation to the position of Assistant Bishop of Lagos Diocese. In 1911, he wrote the book “Iwe Itan Ibadan”. His daughter, Kemi Morgan, wife of Late Justice Morgan, complemented her father’s efforts, when she also wrote a book, “Legends from Yorubaland”, in the early 1960’s. Alexander, was succeeded by Reverend Latunde, later Reverend E.A Odusanwo and later his son-in-law, the legendary Arch Deacon (then Reverend) E.O Alayande in 1948, who was originally from Feesu in Iwo. He was a man, whose prowess transcended the educational sector and the church, as he was also interested in and participated in politics. He was a loyal Party member of the Action Group, since its inception in 1951 and later, he served the government of Chief Bola Ige, one of his students in Ibadan Grammar School, in 1979, as his Special Adviser on Education. Until his translation to higher glory, in 2006, at the age of 96, he played a leading role in many humanitarian organizations in Ibadan, to which he contributed immensely.

Bower’s Towers, a natural attraction in Ibadan, was erected by the Ibadan Native Authority in the 1930s, but was unveiled by Captain Robert Lister Bower, who was then, the Resident of Ibadan, on the 15th of December, 1936. Whoever comes to Ibadan and has not visited Bower’s Towers (La yi po), to have a panoramic view of the city does not know Ibadan-(Ibadan lomo o mo layi po)
Mr. Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo, later (Chief) came to Ibadan in January 1927, as a student of the Wesley College, Elekuro, Ibadan, which was established in 1905, as a teacher training and pastoral college.

Mr. Obafemi Awolowo, within the one year of his stay in Wesley College Elekuro, did not particularly like the idea of a regimented teacher training course, and the later life of a school teacher. At the end of the session in December 1927, he opted out of the college. He however, came back to the college again in August 1934, as a college clerk. He had since his life in Wesley College, fancied Ibadan as a place to live his adult life.

Obafemi later became secretary of the Nigerian Youth Movement Ibadan branch and the General Secretary of the Nigerian Transport Union, the Secretary of the Ibadan branch of the Nigerian-Produce Traders Association and Literary Secretary of the Wesley guild.

He left Ibadan for the United Kingdom (UK), in 1944, to study Law and after his call to the Bar on 18th November 1946, he came back to Ibadan, to practice Law. He had a lucrative practice between 1947 and 1951. Chief Abiodun Akerele, later Balogun of Oyo, joined his practice as a Partner. Abiodun Akerele was the father of Lagos Socilaite- Hilario Babs Akerele.

On the 3rd of March 1951, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, with seven others, in his Oke-Bola residence in Ibadan, later formed an association- the Action Group, some of whom were; – Mr. S.T Oredein, Mr. Olatunji Dosunmu, Mr. J. Ola-Adigun, Mr. Adeyiga Adesanya, Mr. S.O Shonibare, Mr. Ayo Akinsanya and Mr. Abiodun Akerele. He became leader of Government Business, Western Region in 1952, and later Premier of the Western Region in 1954. Ibadan was a center point of activities. Chief Obafemi Awolowo fully set himself up in Ibadan as a trader and later a Lawyer. It was in Ibadan that his political life began to unfold. He got married to his heartthrob; Mama Hannah Idowu-dideolu Adelana on 26th December 1937. Mama was papa’s jewel of inestimable value.

They had all their five children in Ibadan; Olusegun (1939-1963), Omotola, Oluwole, Ayodele, and Tokunbo. Oluwole attended Ibadan Grammar School whilst the last 2 daughters- Ayodele and Tokunbo, attended St. Annes Girls School in Ibadan.
Adegoke Adelabu was another storming petrel of Ibadan politics and was formerly known as Joseph Adegoke Sanusi. He was an extraordinarily brilliant scholar, who had double promotion in both primary and secondary school- Government College in Ibadan. As a meteor, he did not live too long. He was born in 1915 and died in 1958. Within a short spell, he changed the face of Ibadan politics. He was the architect of grass root politics in Ibadan and with him, went a certain glamour from Ibadan Politics. He was popularly known as “Penkelemesi” that is “Peculiar mess”.

Mr. D.T Akinbiyi, later Oba D.T. Akinbiyi (Olubadan), in an article in the Nigerian Tribune, of December 22 1951, whilst tolerating Adelabu’s “garrulity and insolence”, admonished that an “old Horse knows more than a young Cot”, which however, according to him, did not diminish the fact, that Adegoke was “highly intelligent and dynamic”.
At his demise in 1958, though then an opposition leader, in the Western Region Parliament,Chief Obafemi Awolowo as Premier of Western Region, described him as “a fearless, forthright, indomitable and extremely resourceful leader”.

As an interesting corollary, a non-native, J.M Johnson (1912-1987), born in Lagos of Lafiaji/Brazilian extraction, returned to civil life in Ibadan after the Second World War and became a Bank Clerk and later a business man and eventually joined Politics where he got elected into the Ibadan District Council and later became the first and only ever non-indigene to serve as Chairman of the council.
From his Political life in Ibadan, he became a Federal Minister in 1956 and served in Internal affairs, Labour, Social welfare and Sports, also acting twice as the Prime Minister in the N.C.N.C and N.P.C. Coalition Government. He was instrumental to the first World Boxing Title fight in Africa, which took place in Ibadan, Western Nigeria, between Tiger and Fulman in 1963 at the Liberty Stadium. In the same year (1963), he retired from Politics by declining to contest in the General Elections.

The first University, to be set up in Nigeria, was the University of Ibadan-established as a college of the University of London, when it was founded in 1948 and later converted into an autonomous University in 1962. The University of Ibadan started from the rehabilitated Military Barracks at Eleyele, Ibadan with its architecture of woods, frame bungalows, before it moved to its permanent site, at the Old Oyo Road, Ibadan in 1952.

Ibadan as part of its cosmopolitan nature and early growth, had a city Airport in Samonda, Ibadan, close to the University of Ibadan. It now has a new Airport in Alakia Ibadan, officially commissioned in 1982, by the Second Republic President- Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Ibadan in the 60’s and 70’s had well paved and macadamised roads. There were organized Transport Services of Black Taxi Cabs, designated Bus-stops and stations, effective Bus Services of Ibadan City Council, Inaolaji Trading & Transport Services (IT&TS), Alebiosu Brothers, amongst several others.

The median of Total Garden/ Yemetu/ Beere, dualised road for instance, had ornamental trees. The road houses the popular Yemetu Police Barracks and Station, the Oritamefa Baptist Church, (Church Oyinbo), the Adeoyo Hospital, that was established in 1926 and from where the University Teaching Hospital (UCH) took off, before it moved to it’s present site in 1956, the palace of Olubadan-Baale Aminu and of course, the Tribune House, Agbadagudu Yemetu, Ibadan, from where the Nigerian Tribune started in 1948.
Yemetu Ibadan was also the home of middle class elites, artists, journalists, business men and politicians and civil servants- Adeoye Adisa, Ipoola Morakinyo of Ipetumodu, Gbadegeshin Ajeigbe, Busari Obisesan, Adebayo Faleti, Kola Ogunmola, Pa Sanda & Olagoke, Moses Olaiya (Alawada), the Ogunbodes and several others.

The Yemetu road also leads to the Hill-top Catholic Seminary at Oke-Are, known as Shepherd Hill, also corrupted as “Oke Sapati”.
Interestingly, Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa, popularly known as- D.O Fagunwa, born in 1903, the celebrated author of Yoruba Novels and native of Oke-igbo, lived in Ibadan on Ajanla Street, Oke –Ado, where he lived until his death at the bank of River-Niger,- Bida in December 1963. From his Ajanla Residence, Oke-Ado Ibadan, he wrote his Ogboju Ode ninu igbo irunmole, translated into English in 1968, as the Forest of a thousand Deamons by Wole Soyinka, who also lived in Oke-Ado, Ibadan, around this period with his friend and soul mate- Mr Bola Ige, later Chief.

Fagunwa later works includes:- Igbo Olodumare 1949, Ireke Onibudo 1949, Ireke rin do ni Igbo Elegbeje 1954 and Aditu Eledumare 1961.
The writings of D.O Fagunwa in Ibadan, encouraged the writings of Amos Tutuola, a barely literate man, who was born in 1920 in Abeokuta, but lived his life in Ibadan, until his death at the age of 77 in 1997.
Amos Tutuola, was a Store keeper, with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1956. Despite his short formal education, he joined the Ibadan Writers Elite- the Mbari Mbayo Club of Ulli Beier and Wole Soyinka. He was the author of the popular book “The Palm-wine Drunkard” in 1952.

The University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, founded in 1962, started from the present North Campus of the Ibadan Polytechnic, then known as the Nigerian College of Arts and Science. It took it’s first set of 244 students on the 22nd of September 1962, with 5 faculties; – Agriculture, Arts, Economics, Social Studies (now Social Sciences), and Law.

The university resided in Ibadan until January 1968, when it finally relocated to its new permanent Campus in Ile-Ife. It’s first Vice Chancellor was Professor Oladele Ajose, succeeded in 1966 by Professor Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, a University of Ibadan Agricultural Economist.

In recognition of Governor Adekunle Fajuyi’s efforts, in the early relocation of the University to Ile-Ife, (when he was the then governor of the Western region), the first male hostel- Fajuyi Hall, was named after him.
Ibadan in its early life, had served as the Administrative centre and capital of the Western Region since 1949. In fact, the first General Conference, to fashion out a new constitution for Nigeria, was held in Ibadan between January 9th and 30th of 1950.
Ibadan became the home of many firsts, due to the progressive governance, political wizardry and economic sagacity of the Awolowo led Action Group- the first television station in Africa on the 31st of October 1959, the first stadium-the liberty stadium, patterned after the popular Wembley Stadium in London. This 25,000 capacity seat football stadium and the first stadium to be built in Africa, was officially opened in 1960, and also built during Awolowo’s tenure as the Premier of the Western Region. It was officially renamed the Obafemi Awolowo stadium on the 12th November 2010 by the then President Goodluck Jonathan, during a courtesy visit to the late sage widow; Mama HID Awolowo.

Amongst the firsts also, is the popular 24 storey sky scraper- the Cocoa House, the first dualised road in Nigeria- named The Queen Elizabeth road, from Mokola to Agodi Secretariat, officially declared open, by the visiting Queen Elizabeth II in 1956 and also the popular University College Hospital (U.C.H) , the first teaching hospital in Nigeria, patterned after the University of London Teaching Hospital (ULTH), was also officially commissioned by the Queen, during this historic visit to Nigeria in 1956.
It is equally important to remember the first Re-diffusion in Nigeria; the one channel Radio Station, the Agodi Government Secretariat being, the first in Nigeria and the first Modern Parliament that housed the Regional House of Assembly and the House of Chiefs. The first Housing Estate in Nigeria- the Bodija Housing Estate was also built and developed in 1958. Ibadan also had the first highly organized and structured Civil Service in Nigeria, with the Simon Adebos, Saburi Biobakus, as its founding lights. The free education programme of the Awolowo government, the first in Nigeria, was launched in Ibadan, in 1954.

As a honeypot, Ibadan became the home of the first set of Research and Training institutes in Nigeria; The Forestry Research Institute (1930), the Idi-Ayunre Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN), The Nigerian Cereal Research Institute Moor Plantation (NCRI), the NIHORT (Nigerian Institute of Horticultural Research), the NISER (Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research), IAR&T (Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training), amongst several others.

Ibadan made people and moulded characters. Olusegun Obasanjo, from his teaching desk at the African Church Modern School, Ago Tailor, Odo-Ona Ibadan in 1957, where he taught General Science and Religious knowledge from Modern 1-3, He took the cadetship examination into the Nigerian Army and passed, and enlisted formalities concluded in March 1958. Obasanjo came back to Ibadan almost 10years thereafter, as the Commander of the Second Area command of the Nigerian Army Ibadan and an automatic member of the State Executive Council of the then Brigadier Robert Adeyinka Adebayo’s government in the Western Region.
Obasanjo in Ibadan, began to interact with the Ibadan elites, lecturers and administrators, most especially from the University of Ibadan through the Town and Gown forum- a forum of interaction between the University of Ibadan and the community. He also interacted with other sectors of the community, like the Political, Business and Cultural sectors of the community.

It was from these interactions, that he consummated the friendships of many Ibadan intellectuals. It was Professor J.F Ade Ajayi, on the request of Olusegun Obasanjo, that scouted for Anthony Ukpabi Asika, a 31 year old radical teacher of Political Science at the University of Ibadan, to be made the Civilian Administrator of East Central State of Nigeria on the 29th of October 1967.
Chief Gabriel Osawarun Igbinedion, now the Esama of Benin, was once a young Police Officer in Ibadan in the 1950s.

Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, in 1956, started his working life as a Bank clerk with the Barclays bank Plc. Dugbe, Ibadan. After two years as a Bank Clerk, he joined Western Region Finance Corporation, as an Executive Account Officer, before leaving for Glasgow University Scotland, to pursue his higher education, on the Western Region of Nigeria scholarship .He received a first class degree in Accounting and also had a distinction from the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Scotland. He was at a later time in his life, conferred with the Chieftaincy title of Bashorun of Ibadan land.

In Ibadan, future spousal relationships strived, most especially within the University Community; Laide and Wole Soyinka, Ayo and Adetoun Ogunseye, Ojetunji and Bimpe Aboyede, Chinua and Christy Achebe, Olumuyiwa and Bolanle Awe, Yetunde Oyebode, daughter of Late Bishop Oyebode and Okunade Sijuwade, later Ooni of Ife, Christopher Okigbo and Judith Safinat Attah, Adepoju and Aderenle Taiwo, Olusegun and Funke Agagu, amongst several others.

Interestingly, Major General Yakubu Gowon succeeded General Agunyi Ironsi as Head of State of Nigeria, on the 1st of August 1966 as a result of the Coup d’état of July 29 1966, when he was just 32 years old and a bachelor. To change from the status of a bachelor Head of State, he got his legal spouse in Ibadan,- A University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan trained nurse; Miss Victoria Zakari, whom he married in April 1969, with Navy Commodore Akinwale Wey, the Chief of Staff, Supreme Military Council as his best man at the marriage.
Ibadan University Town and Gown relationship blossomed with the Mbari Mbayo club founded by Professor Ulli Beier, a German, who came to Ibadan as a lecturer in 1956, Wole Soyinka, Christopher Okigbo, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, Amos Tutuola, and so many others. Also, the Players of the Ibadan Dawn Group of Olusegun Olusola and Christopher Kolade was also formed in 1958-1959, when the first Television station in Africa, W.N.T.V was being opened.

On July 28th 1966, General Aguiyi Ironsi as Head of State, addressed a meeting of Traditional rulers from all over the country in Ibadan. He planned to return to Lagos after his address, but choose to pass the night at the Government House with his host- Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, the Governor of the Western Region. There was a post conference dinner held in honour of the Traditional rulers who attended the conference. The conference was held principally to rally support for the Ironsi Unification Decree number 24 of May 1966, which merged the country into a unitary entity. It was his last official assignment as the Supreme Military Commander and Head of State.
In the midnight, Captain Yakubu Danjuma, the officer detailed to provide protection for the Supreme Military Commander in Ibadan, turned out to be the officer who led the Mutineers to kill his boss- Ironsi and his host- Adekunle Fajuyi.

After their arrest, Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, being a good host and a thorough bred Yoruba man, insisted that he should be picked alongside the visiting Head of State. They were moved to Lalupon, a community in Ibadan, on Iwo road, where they were killed and buried in shallow graves. Lieutenant colonel Hillary Njoku, ADC to the Supreme commander, however managed to escape. The leaders of the July 29 1966 putsch, included Major Muritala Mohammed, Major Abba Kyari, Captain Yakubu Danjuma, Major Martin Adamu, and Major Joe Akahan.
Ibadan also has its contradictions. It was the home of the Agbekoyas who resented the new tax regime of Brigadier Adeyinka Adebayo in November 1968. The Governor increased taxable adult tax from E1pound, 17 shillings, 6pence to E8pounds.

The Agbekoyas, resented and protested against this arbitrary increase, and on the 11th of November 1968, the Agbekoya crisis came out full blown, when thousands of agitators marched from the Mapo hall, armed with sticks, cudgels and weapons, to express their rejection of the new tax, as announced by the Governor. A combined team of Policemen and Soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators in Mapo, killing about 20 people. The agitators soon spread to other parts of the Western Region. The Agbekoya group was led by Mr. Tafa Adeoye, renowned farmer/hunter from Akanran, in Ibadan.

• Kehinde, a lawyer, is a former House of Representatives member and principal partner, Femi Kehinde & Co (Solicitors) in Ibadan.



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