Death has never been kind. It snatches where it could, take people whether old or young, virtuous or villainous. Death never pretends to care or distinguish; so brazen that it is overhung and palpable in everyday life. Now, it has ended a most indelible and incandescent chapter in the lives of three high society queens – Helen Prest-Ajayi, Nkiru Anumudu and Funlola Abayomi-Jolaoso. Death has ripped away a part of them, the part that they most loved and laboured to hold on to forever. It is now just these women against the treachery of the world.
Helen, a former beauty queen who was crowned Miss Nigeria in 1979, lost her husband, the stupendously wealthy Dr. Tosin Ajayi, a highly sought after medical practitioner and founder of the popular First Foundation Medical Centre, which entered national and international consciousness back in 1986 when the late publisher of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa was rushed there after a parcel bomb exploded on him. Ajayi and his hospital’s efforts to revive Giwa endeared both to Nigerians and foreigners alike.
Ajayi died Sunday, April 27. The cause of death was not disclosed. A respected businessman with interests in many lucrative pies like telecommunications (he once held the franchise of Siemens in Nigeria) and real estate among others, Ajayi trained as a medical doctor at the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan.
Helen, an Obafemi Awolowo University-trained lawyer who also holds an LL.M from the Kings College, London, married Ajayi after her first marriage to Jimmy Davies, a businessman, collapsed. Theirs was a whirlwind union that stood the test of time. Aristocracy met sheer elegance on feet and together, they had a blissful union that was the envy of many. Sadly, Ajayi’s death has now ended a fairytale lifestyle in retirement from the hustle and bustle of business and baby-rearing (as all their kids are now adults) that Helen must have envisioned and looking forward to especially as she is also in the twilight of a most remarkable and indulgent life. Helen is, however, not the only one in this despondent boat.
Nkiru Anumudu is one of the most enduring and endearing fixtures on the social scene for the past almost three decades, and one of the names that readily come to mind when preparing the guest list for a high octane soiree. The very fashionable Nkiru loves to have a whale of a time and God blessed her with a wealthy husband, Willy, an auto magnate, who ensured that she never missed out on any latest fashion accessory. The hazel-eyed, hat-loving beauty became bereaved as Willy, the proprietor of Globe Motors, passed last Tuesday after falling illand was tested for COVID-19 but the result turned out to be negative. The publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu, announced the death in a post on Twitter, stating, “One of Nigeria’s biggest car dealers, Chief Willy Anumudu has died at 68.”
A statement by the Managing Director, Globe Motors, Victor Oguamalam, averred, “The management and staff of Globe Motors regrettably announce the untimely death of our founder and Chairman, William Anumudu. This occurred subsequent to complications arising from a protracted illness. Further statements and all related arrangements will be announced by the family.”
The grief is no less profound for Funlola, the adorable wife of Abayomi Jolaoso, a businessman and socialite who passed Wednesday, April 29 after a debilitating ailment that had rendered him absent from the social scene for several years. A thoroughbred silverspoon who rocked the Lagos social scene with his friends like Femi Otedola, Kola Abiola, Segun Sebanjo, Diji Vera-Cruz and Segun Awolowo Jnr among others, Abayomi was the chairman/CEO of Safequip Nigeria Limited, a security and ICT consultancy firm with office in Ikoyi, Lagos. He was in his late 50s. Abayomi’s father, Ambassador Olujimi Jolaoso OFR, died in September 2016, aged 91. He served at various times as Nigeria’s ambassador to the then Western Germany, Congo, Liberia and the United States. He was also a Consul General in New York. He was conferred with the national honour, Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2000, and was the Babatolu of Egbaland and Maiyegun of Ilugun.
For Funlola, life will never remain the same again with the death of her major support system and with whom she rocked the social scene since their mid-20s. No wonder she is understandably going through the numbing gamut of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Relatives and friends who knew how much they cherished themselves are pleading with her to celebrate, rather than mourn her beloved husband’s death.