Segun Agbaje Rolls Out the Drums for Mother-in-Law’s 80th Birthday


In youth, she belonged to a temperance society and wore the badge of honour in the shape of a bow of ribbon to show that she would never cave to unrestrained hedonism and other afflictions of youth. In her twilight, Chief Toyin Olakunri OFR stuck to her creed. Never for once did she waiver in morality and personal ethics. Hence as she clocked 80 last weekend, her daughter and son-in-law, Derin and Segun Agbaje, spared no expense in celebrating her. It was star-studded. Who wouldn’t pray to have Segun as a son in-law? He is loaded cash-wise and well connected.

However, it is not every day you see Segun Agbaje, MD/CEO, Guaranty Trust Bank, in an owambe mood. Last weekend was an exception. It was the 80th birthday of his dear mother-in-law, Toyin Olakunri. The very reserved technocrat needed little prompting to join his beautiful wife, Derin, and her siblings in celebrating their matriarch and a foremost Nigerian administrator. The two influential families – Agbaje and Olakunri – harnessed all their contacts and connections to gift the octogenarian a day to relish and remember in the twilight of a most glorious life. Nigeria’s first female chartered accountant, the octogenarian was also chairman of the Education Trust Fund (now Tertiary Education Trust Fund) between 1999 and 2007. She served Nigeria and Corporate Nigeria in several other enviable capacities.

Few people get to transit from being utterly indispensable to “eternally unforgettable.” A real mother does. And if she is some caring mother to treasure, she may be succeeded but she can never be replaced. This truth amongst so many others manifested in the manner in which Ranti Johnson remembered her mother last Tuesday. Interestingly, if top businesswoman and one of the most beautiful and fashionable women in Nigeria, Ranti Johnson, would define her mother, Madam Beatrice Sercy Braithwaite, she would claim that the walls of her heart were lined with gold and silver; she would say that she lived by a moral code that dwarfed old England’s claim to chivalry and honour. Then she might say that even in her absence; that old diffident virtuosity she left behind, resonates poignantly like the timeless lyric of a heavenly chant.

There are too many ways to describe Ranti’s sweet mother, and even the best couched adjectives couldn’t do justice to the task. Ranti’s mother died 5 years ago and her absence has only made her heart grow fonder of her thus she and her siblings’ decision to host a special remembrance and prayer session for their departed mother in their Surulere, Lagos home. We ran into her at Vaults and Gardens in Ikoyi, where she went to put wreath fresh roses on her mother’s grave. Like a renaissance artist intoxicated by the muse, she chose to paint beautiful and everlasting pictures in memory of her mother. Madam Braithwaite was remembered as a woman of unimpeachable nobility whose life of compassion and style transcended the familiar and often pedestrian vanities of humanity.

Lagos high society took the Lagos party feel to London Saturday, November 4, as Folusho Aina, the step-son of Justice Adesola Oguntade, retired Justice of the Supreme Court and new Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, got married to his heartthrob, Jennifer Ohikhaure. Venue was the well-appointed Waldorf Hilton Hotel, London. For the first dance, the groom, Folusho Aina, the step-son of Justice Oguntade, stared into the eyes of his bride, Jennifer, at their wedding ceremony, as if he meant to rediscover a familiar treasure trove.

Folusho stared into her eyes wondering how many wonders subsist in the two shiny orbs and windows into her soul. It was a charming, corny, over-the-top moment at an event most noteworthy, perhaps, because of how it drew the crème of Nigeria and London’s high societies to celebrate with the new couple. He looked like he would mesh with Jennifer. She looked even more ready to interlock with him in body, mind, spirit and soul. The couple filled up each other’s glances with muted affectation of undying love. The high society wedding provided a chance for the Oguntades to flaunt their amazing wealth and international clout. At the colourful reception were the pillars of high society like Chief Adebutu Kessington, Oba of Lagos and Chief Rasaq Okoya, a lifelong friend of the step father of the groom. An Edo State indigene, Jennifer, and her beautiful friends were a sight to behold at the reception.

The mother of the groom, Modupe and her best friend, Sade Okoya did not however allow the younger ladies outshine them. The wedding unfurled like a performance-art project set in a modern-day enchanted hall. Granted, it was an expensive one. Tested, able hands oversaw all aspects of the event, from décor to lighting, to conceiving an expensive keepsakes for attendees and selecting its design, in part, to evoke the pedigree of the uniting families. From the start to finish, scores of guests indulged in bedazzled documentation. Not a few dignitaries in the consummately wired crowd were pleasantly enthralled by the very well-heeled couple’s ingenious way of declaring their undying love for each other and cementing it in holy union—albeit with enormous helpings of fairy tales, expensive perks and élan.