Tribute to a Selfless Inspiration and Motivator, Balogun Kunle Delano

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Balogun-Kunle-Delano

Adedayo Adejobi 

The name Edmundson Olakunle Delano, means so many things to many people.  For some, it means motivation, inspiration and for the others, he is simply their essence for living.

Born over 93 years ago to the distinguished author, late Chief Dr. Isaac Oluwole Delano, precisely on February 16, 1926, Late Edmundson Olakunle Delano can be described as a Jack of many trades and ventures and master of all.

This quintessential man who is the father of the popular music icon Lanre Delano, sole distributor of Allen Organ in Nigeria and Founder of the Church Organ Projects in Nigeria(CHOPIN), can be described as a people’s man as he is involved in many organisations and associations locally and internationally.

His physique which one of his children, Lanre Delano took after can be said to be a sharp contrast to the man inside of him.  A huge and intimidatingly tall person of over six feet, brown skinned, handsome and with a positively overwhelming aura that endears people to him any day, is an epitome of humility.

He had his elementary education in Lagos after which he proceeded to Abeokuta Grammar School in Abeokuta where he had his secondary education under the principalship of the accomplished eminent educationist, Rev I.O. Ransome Kuti.

Upon successful completion of his secondary education, fired by the spirit of youthfulness and entrepreneurship, he toyed with the idea of being a master baker, an idea that even his father found alarming because his father desired him to be a lawyer, (another resemblance of his son Lanre on choice of career who unlike the rest of the children decided to study music at the university).

However, he was persuaded to pursue something more respectable and more ‘dignifying’ and this led him to work with the Department of Meteorological Services for a short stint in Lagos and Kaduna.

After this experience, he moved on from there, going abroad to study Mechanical Engineering at the Chelsea School of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering.  He topped up his qualification by also passing the examination of the prestigious Institute of Motor Industry, London, thus becoming and Associate Member.

He returned to Nigeria and worked briefly at the Lagos Town Council as Inspector of Works, Mechanical Division from 1957-1960. He then relocated this service to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), now Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) for fifteen years from 1960- 1975, rising from the rank of Workshop Superintendent to that of Mechanical Engineer.

In 1976, he suffered the fate of many in the ‘gale of retirement with immediate effect’ and was compulsorily retired at the age of 51.  Without wasting time and as art of his optimistic attitude, he proceeded to answer the clarion call of the Federal Government of Nigeria to diversify into the field of Agriculture.  In partnership with other Nigerians and foreign partners, he set up a modern poultry farm in his community in Ifo, which at a stage employed over 45 workers in the locality.  He also ventured into Timber business.

Balogun Kunle Delano as he was fondly called led an active life of service to humanity and to his active participation in sports.  As a student in London in 1953, instead of winning and dinning in his spare time, he engaged in sporting activities being a member of the Boxing Club at Chelsea. He enjoyed and participated in boxing and wrestling.  He returned to Nigeria and continued with his sporting activity and interest.  He also gyrated to the sport of basketball where he went on to become the Chairman of Lagos State Basketball Association and later that of Ogun State Basketball Association till his death on the 5thof May 2019 after a brief illness,  his contribution to the game and development of basketball stars in Nigeria was enormous.

With a great zeal to serve humanity which has been inculcated in him from his early years, Delano joined the Boys Scout in 1933 as a ‘Wolf Club’.  In 1949, he became a member of the YMCA (Young Men Christian Association)through St Michael Anglican Church, Kaduna.  In 1964, he made it a double, first by joining the Boys Brigade and later in the same year he joined the Y’s Men Club of Lagos as a pioneer member.  The body became chartered in 1968.  As a member of these bodies, he attended their conventions and meetings both at local and international levels in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Far East; and participated fully in their charitable activities.

Also he served as their officer at different levels, culminating in being made Area President of Y’s Men International for Africa from 2006-2008 at age 80, a history as the oldest Area President ever.

This widely travelled man did not also fail to accord the Almighty his own well deserved space in his life as he is also an active churchman.  Delano was an active churchman both in Lagos and his hometown Ifo in Ogun State.  Upon his return from the United Kingdom in 1956, he settled in Lagos worshipping at St Jude’s Church Ebute Meta Lagos (now Cathedral) and remains a financial member of the church to date. Indeed, he did more than worship.  He was Sides man for over 40 years (nine of it as Vicar’s Warden) and rose to become Deputy- Leader General and finally Leader- General before voluntarily stepping aside when he turned seventy years old. In his church in his hometown in Ifo, the Holy Trinity Church Okenla now (now The Cathedral of Holy Trinity), he was Synod Delegate and Parish Counsellor for 20 years before his death.

On the community font, he was involved fully in their activities and development.  He was the current Balogun of Ifo town till his death early this month, a chieftaincy title that made him next to the traditional ruler, Olu of Ifo in order of seniority.  As Balogun, along with five other chiefs, he was till his death, the Chairman of the Council of Kingmakers. His other chieftaincy titles were Balogun Onigbagbo, Okenla, Ifo and Bajito Ake, Abeokuta.

Delano can be described as a core family man both to his nuclear and extended families.  He was blessed with six children including Lanre Delano, all of whom has distinguished themselves in their different stations in life.

Till his death, he was the Head of Family (Olori Ebi) of Edmund Delano Descendant Association (EDDA), a position he earned by the right as the eldest surviving member of Edmund Delano, his grandfather.  He was a motivator of the Okenla community under the auspices of Egbe Omo Abule Okenla.

His philosophy in life was that of ‘live and let live’ and God has a purpose.  He believed that this can best be achieved by overcoming the seven spirits of evil which are fear, jealousy, hatred, greed, anger, revenge and superstition.  Papa was a very optimistic and positive person who always looked at the brighter side of any situation.  He rarely exhibited disappointment as his favorite saying was from Paul’s letter to the Romans 8 vs 28; that …. “Everything worketh for good for those who love God”.

Delano has inculcated in him the spirit of serving and giving to humanity quite early in life.  He was married to former Miss Wuraola Alalade for 35 years before her death in 1989 at the age of 61.  They were blessed with five sons and a daughter, 19 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.  Mama’s continuous and fervent support for him in her life time, together with her excellent community and voluntary work are also reflected in Balogun Kunle Delano’s success in this direction.

During his later stage in life, when asked what the panacea for his long life, he would always say it was due first and foremost to God’s grace, followed by an active positive lifestyle, eschewing negative values and above all being contented with what you have. But to those who knew Balogun Kunle Delano very well, his greatest attribute was humility.  You will hardly see him annoyed as he bantered both with the young and old.  As he always said ‘with grace, warmth and utmost humility, you will always stay young and mentally alert.  At 93, Balogun Kunle Delano can be said to have successfully conquered all, striding majestically in God’s love and grace to eternal life from above which we all are awaiting by God’s grace. Until his death on May 5, 2019, he was mentally active.

Adieu to a man of the people, a king of many hearts.  Goodnight father!