Rewarding a Life of Service to Humanity at 80

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On June 30, 2019, members of the Ansar-Ud-Deen High School Old Students’ Association (AHOSA) hosted dignitaries from all walks of life in Lagos to celebrate the 80th birthday of their committed and dedicated former teacher, Alhaja Wusamot Adegoke. They also launched her biography titled ‘Life of Service’. Sunday Ehigiator reports

Often times, the rewards of teachers are said to be awaiting them in heaven after they must have completed their impacting sojourn on earth. But for Alhaja Wusamot Adegoke, it was a different case, as her old students of over 50 years, under the umbrella of Ansar-Ud-Deen High School Old Students’ Association (AHOSA) recently came from all over the world to celebrate her 80th birthday and launched her biography titled ‘Life of Service’ at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Suites, Yaba, Lagos.

Noted for being a seasoned teacher, leader, a religious woman with unquestionable character, and a disciplinarian, the event which was well attended by old students of the celebrant between 1967 to 1991, had several dignitaries in attendance, including the business mogul, Alhaji Sakariyau Babalola, as the special guest of honour and former Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Foluke Abdulrazaq, who doubled as the chairperson of the occasion.

Others were former Head of Service, Lagos State, Alhaji Rafiu Tinubu, legal luminary, Chief Ajibola Aribisala, SAN and Mr. Segun Aborisade, former Deputy Governor, Lagos State, Alhaja Latifat Okunnu, among others.
In his welcome address, The President, AHOSA, Mr. Rafiu Williams described the celebrant as inspiring, unique and a paragon of virtue.

“To be honest, words spoken here today in Mama Adegoke’s honour may not adequately capture the essence of this unassuming, yet inspiring God’s gift to humanity. This in itself is hardly surprising, given the different ways in which she touched our young lives, inspiring us all to go into the world and conquer it. Yet, in all these, the disciplinarian in her was never far behind.

“There is hardly any alumnus seated here today who has not been put straight at some point by her sharp rebuke or a good dose of the cane if and when the need arose. And if as a pupil, you did something exemplary, you become reference point in her admonition to other students.
He added: Behind all these was her abiding determination to make better citizens of us all. And for this abiding love in us, your students, the self-belief and discipline you inculcated in us, the encouragement to always aspire, we, the alumni of this great school, hereby say a big thank you to this great mentor of a mother.

“Mama Adegoke is a unique person. A paragon of virtue whose lifework has been to set the moral compass for guiding other people’s children to rise above mediocrity and live a virtuous life for its own sake because that is the right thing to do. Those of us she acted loco parents for came out the better as a result of this. The debt of gratitude we owe her is not easy to repay. We must repay because of the indelible character imprint she left in us which facilitated our taking the paths that will enable us script our future success stories. What better way for the repayment than to document her story, her history, and her good work, as her enduring legacy for future generations to know about this one in a million mother and borrow a leaf from it too.”

Speaking on the biography of the celebrant, Williams said: “I am reminded that the idea of a biography of Adegoke first came about in a conversation between her and two old students present here today, at the eight day Firdaus prayer for our old geography teacher, Mr. Badmos in 2017. And this was inspired by our National Anthem’s line: ‘the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain’. The rest as they say is now history because altruistic labour of our mama is indeed not in vain as she reaps the fruits of that labour in her lifetime. A big thank you to the genius of Alhaja Faozat Ogunniyi and Wale Oshodi who both provoked the preservation of Adegoke’s legacy as the book we are gathered here to launch today.”

In his remarks, the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, who was represented by Hon. Ajala Rasaq, described the celebrant as an exemplary figure and a force to reckon in the mental development of several industry movers in the country today. He thanked her for her contribution in shaping the mindset and mental capacity of students who had the privilege of being taught by her. He also congratulated her on the occasion of her 80th birthday and launch of her biography.

Also, the Chairperson of the occasion, Mrs. Foluke Abdulrasaq described the celebrant as a very loving, caring and generous woman, adding, “she is someone that wasn’t selfish with her knowledge and passed same on through several generations and we are all glad to have passed through her teachings. She is enriched with wisdom like no other and I am glad that we get to celebrate her while she is still alive and strong at 80, even before she gets the heavenly reward.”

One of her old students, and founder Ebiti Foundation, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti, described the celebrant as a role model to several people and a factor in purpose discovery for students, as he prayed for more grace and health for the octogenarian.
Speaking with THISDAY, Alhaji Sakariyau Babalola described Adegoke as “a wonderful woman. You can hear what everyone has been saying about her. They say teachers’ reward is in heaven, but she is getting her own here now before she goes to collect the heavenly reward when it is time. You can see, the attendance alone is a big testimony of how she really impacted the lives of these young men and women here present.”

A former colleague of the celebrant, Otunba Owolabi Sanni said: “I got to know the celebrant about 50 years ago, precisely 1969. We were both teaching at Ansar-Ud-Deen High School. She is a very pleasant, charming and easy going woman. A very deep religious person of the Islamic faith and she is a born teacher. The students that were posted to our school in those days were usually not very brilliant ones, but with a bit of hard work from people like Adegoke, we were able to give them a vision and mission which we psychologically made them to buy. And today, we have some of them as Senior Advocates of Nigeria, fellows of chartered accountants, among others. I had to come from Ijebu-Ode for this occasion because out of about 21 of us in the teaching staff then, only about five of us are remaining. So we have cause to thank God. I pray that she would have more years of grace, grow healthy and be blessed with more fruitful years.”
Speaking with THISDAY on what stood her out among every other teachers in her dispensation, the celebrant, who couldn’t conceal her joy, thanked all her students who put all efforts together to celebrate her and attended the occasion.

“I feel very happy. I feel fulfilled. My time in that school as a teacher was beyond just teaching them. I grew up with them. I was privileged to see the world through their eyes, and they also saw the world through mine. I was like a mother to them. When it was time to parent them, I did, and when it was time to discipline them, I disciplined them very well.

“And that is where I want to pick my message to new breed teachers. They must show more dedication and passion to this career they have chosen. And they must remember that at all times, these children they teach represent a trust that someone, be it parents, guardians or government has placed in them, hence they should ensure they deliver and not disappoint or betray such trust. If I should come back again to this world, I would one to be a teacher again, because I have no regrets being one.”

Alhaja Adegoke was born into the noble family of Dr. Hamid Saka Tinubu; first Muslim Doctor in West Africa and Madam Wulimot Tinubu in 1939. At her early age, she attended Baptist Academy on Broad Street, Lagos between 1945 and 1952; Methodist Girls High School, Yaba between 1953 and 1956. From there she proceeded to the Great Britain to further her studies, where she attended Durhan High School and Darlington Teachers College, University of Durham, United Kingdom, from where she obtained her GCE Advanced Level and UK Teachers’ Certificate. She later came back to Nigeria to study at the University of Lagos between 1967 and 1972 where she bagged her BSc in Education. She began her teaching in Britain and moved back to Nigeria where she blossomed in her career. She became principal of Ansar-Ud-Deen High School in 1981 untill her voluntary retirement in 1991.