Reflecting on the Legacy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo 

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Obafemi Awolowo

Akin Rotimi

March 6, 2019 was the 110th birthday of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and is being celebrated posthumously by many followers of his ideology, especially amongst his kinsmen, the Yorubas. Today, I join others to reflect on the legacy of a man of faith whose politics was grounded in strong ideological positions, which can be summarised as “Life More Abundant, and Freedom for All”. To project Awolowo as haven been perfect in his lifetime is to dehumanise him, but he was certainly a good man that lived ahead of his times.” My late father was one of his followers, and he supported him to be elected to represent Ekiti North in the Second Republic National Assembly. I personally hold very fond memories of my father talking about the man Awo and his ideals.

Today, many claim to be Awoists for political leverage, even though their politics, lifestyles, and values are at variance with what Awolowo represented. In this day and age, we have very few amongst us of the breed of a man who said, “While many men in power and public office are busy carousing in the midst of women of easy virtue and men of low morals, I, as a few others like me, am busy at my desk thinking about the problems of Nigeria and proffering solutions to them. Only the deep can call to the deep. Indeed, few men can truly be said to be descended from the political lineage of the man Obafemi Awolowo – few men like Kayode Fayemi.

For the perceptive, Kayode Fayemi is one of the rare men in contemporary Nigerian politics that best mirror the legacy of the man Awo. His politics, his records in and out of office, his aspirations for the Yorubas, Nigeria, and the black race as a whole, show that we are privileged that the full measure of the spirit of the man Awo lives on in the hearts and minds of people like Kayode Fayemi. This is a fact that Kayode Fayemi is very conscious about. His policies and programmes are carefully modelled after those Awo championed years ago, with adaptations to the realities of the times. Even in death, Fayemi takes Awolowo seriously. He has maintained a very good relationship with the Awolowo family, and for all the years he has been in office, he has consistently held state functions to commemorate the legacy of the late sage.

On one of such occasions in 2013, Fayemi ensured Awolowo’s posthumous birthday, March 6, 2013, coincided with the unveiling of a new logo for Ekiti state. Speaking on the significance of both events happening on the same day, Fayemi said,

“Today’s event is also significant for its context, of which there are at least two aspects. First the event is taking place on the 6th day in the month of March. As the birthday of the late sage Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987), March 6 has great resonance in intellectual, political and economic circles across Nigeria, and more so in the southwest zone of which Ekiti is part.

“Now, there may be observers out there who remember Awo as no more than a former Leader of the Yorubas. For some, the title speaks to Yoruba irredentism at its most potent. But there are those with a more nuanced sense of political history in and outside Nigeria, for whom Awo was a public policy practitioner and politician extraordinaire.

“For yet others, Awo was not just a foremost public intellectual and public visionary, he is Nigeria’s most prolific statesman as yet. From this point of view, death has in effect shot up the value of the man’s political stock. It is clear Awo is, and can be perceived in various ways. What is not in doubt is that he stood up for what was best for the greatest majority of the people. Some of the character attributes that define us as Ekiti, and are embedded in the logo that is being launched today, can be traced to some of Awo’s policy campaigns in and out of public office.

“Ekiti’s claim to be the ‘Fountain of Knowledge’ is in part because as Premier of the Western Region in the 1950s, Awo offered free education to all and sundry. Of course, our parents and grandparents took the opportunity. In doing so they helped us mould some of the building blocks of the heritage that we celebrate today.”

Not one to wear the toga of Awoist on his sleeve, nor shout it from the rooftops, the discerning however can see that Kayode Fayemi is one of the few authentic Awoists – a veritable philosopher king – that we are blessed to have in our generation today.

In the days to come, posterity would be kind to Fayemi for continuing in the footsteps of Obafemi Awolowo – one of the greatest sons of Oduduwa that ever lived – for upholding his legacy and bringing the values that he represented to remembrance.

There must be a blessing for individuals that honour those that went before us and attained the light – such individuals who in the same spirit do not joke with the welfare of the old and aged amongst us.

As the people of Ekiti join others around the world to commemorate the 110th posthumous birthday of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the 6th anniversary of the unveiling of our new identity, with a state function on the theme “New Engagements by Progressives”, I am sure that our ancestors as a great cloud of witnesses from above would be pleased, and consent that out of Ekiti shall rise the one who shall attain that which Awolowo was not able to.

Six Elements of Ekiti Logo Launched March 6, 2013

 

The Woven Cord

The Woven Cord depicts the culturally homogeneous nature of the Ekiti people. Ours is the only state in Nigeria with a single tribe, same language and where all the towns and villages are suffixed with ‘Ekiti’.  

 

The New Dawn

The New Dawn symbolizes Ekiti’s place as the emerging land of opportunities. It also symbolizes the hope and optimism associated with the Ekiti people which makes us rise above challenges, to ensure we remain on the path of peace and progress. 

 

The Rolling Hills

The Rolling Hills depict the topography of our land, forming the backdrop of the beautiful scenery. It is the origin of our name ‘Ile Olokiti’. 

 

The Vegetation

The Vegetation depicts the fruitfulness of our land. It symbolizes a land blessed with an abundance of a wide variety of natural resources. It also represents the mainstay of our livelihood – Agriculture.

 

The Water

The Water represents the springs in Ekiti State, particularly the Ikogosi Spring – the only place in the whole world where hot and cold water springs naturally occur side by side. A wonder to the world – a pride to us. 

 

The Book

The Book depicts the enlightenment of the Ekiti people. The Ekiti people love knowledge and celebrate wisdom.