Celebrating Late Alhaji Jimoh, Alhaja Azeezat Gbadamosi

Bennett Oghifo

The renowned educationist, Late Alhaji Jimoh Adisa Gbadamosi, who died a year ago, was indeed a leader who ticked all the boxes in his humanitarian trajectories. So was his wife, Alhaja Azeezat Adebisi Gbadamosi, who had passed away 10 years before him.

Alhaji Gbadamosi was referred to as an icon, a quintessential paragon of human virtues. As an educationist, he left an indelible mark in the sands of time. As family and friends remember this remarkable man on his one-year anniversary and 10 years anniversary of his wife, the late Alhaja Azeezat Adebisi Gbadamosi, a parent’s light may dim, but their impact never fades.

As a man of wisdom, whose knowledge and exposure transcend the ordinary, the sweet memory of Alhaji Gbadamosi remains difficult to be wished away in a hurry despite being a year now that he breathed his last, precisely on Monday May 15, 2023. This is as his children, associates and the Nigerian communities still feel like they have just lost one of the best Nigerians that Nigeria has ever produced. But before he made his last ‘submission’ to the final arbiter, he had already been ‘discharged’ and ‘acquitted’ as one that lived life to the fullest. He gave his all. He achieved the best.

The renowned educationist shone as one of the brightest of his generation. His intellectual prowess in his profession was equal to none. Teaching was his life: he breathed it, he lived it and he ate it. The late Alhaji Gbadamosi made a success out of teaching, impacting knowledge and nurturing talents.

Born March 18, 1927 in Lagos Island to parents who were traders, he began his early education at Holy Cross Primary School, Lagos Island in the mid-30s and St. Gregory College, Obalende, Lagos for his post-primary education. He later proceeded to Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland where he bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Geography Education. His quest for further education to equip himself for his future career took him to Oxford University where he bagged a Master’s degree also in Geography Education.

A brilliant and exceptional man, the late educationist started his career as a pioneer principal of the then Ahmaddiyah High School, Eleyele, Ibadan in the then Western Region. In 1957, he moved to Lagos as the Principal of Anwar-Ul Islam, Agege (formerly Ahmaddiyah College, Agege) from there he went to Jubril Martins Secondary School where he served until his voluntary retirement in 1977 at the early age of 50.

Over the past 46 years on earth, Gbadamosi was involved in various activities both in sports and education at both state and national levels.

He was Chairman, Lagos State Scholarship Board, Chairman, Lagos Amateur Football Association, Member, National Judo Association and Chairman, Principals’ Cup Committee. He also served as Commissioner, Lagos State Local Government Commission, Chairman, Anwar-Ul Islam Movement. His selfless service in his field at both state and national levels had not gone unnoticed. On December 13, 2002, the Federal Government conferred on him the National Honour of Order of the Niger (OON).

An event organised to mark the one year and 10 years remembrance of both educational icons was held at the Eko Club, Surulere, Lagos on Wednesday May 15, 2024.

The event, which also witnessed reading of the whole Qur’an, special prayers for the deceased, offering of special tributes and lecture, was attended by eminent Nigerians who were mostly his students, including the Chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc., Mr. Aderemi Makanjuola, accompanied by his wife, Mrs Yoyinsola Makanjuola and sons, Olabode, Niyi, Rotimi and their spouses.

The late educationist’s offsprings were also in attendance: Mr. Biodun Gbadamosi, Mrs. Bimbola Adedun, and Kunle Gbadamosi.

Other eminent persons present included former Minister of Communications and former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Armoured Division Nigerian Army, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (RTD); former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro; among several others some of who poured encomiums on the late educational hero and his wife.

The lecturer at the memorial, Associate Professor Noah Lawal Jinadu of the Foreign Languages Department, Arabic Unit, Lagos State University, said the lecture, in its intent and purpose, was a reflection of what Alhaji Jimoh Adisa Gbadamosi and his wife Alhaja Azeezat Adebisi Gbadamosi stood for and expended their entire quality lives upon.

Jinadu, speaking on the lecture titled ‘Role of Young Muslim Parents in Early Child Upbringing and Its Challenges in Modern Society’, looked at the serving children and said, “Today’s programme which is organised by you (the pious children) in commemoration of our late father and mother is a clear indication and a proof of positive parenting.”

This applies to one of his students and Caverton boss, Mr. Aderemi Makanjuola. Until his final appearance in the court of life, Makanjuola was a living witness to Alhaji Gbadamosi’s good and benevolent life. He didn’t only mentor Makanjuola, he also became a father figure to him.

Makanjuola had an encounter with the late renowned educationist as a teenager in 1962 at age 13. This later resulted in a robust father-and-son relationship. He remained a father figure and a reliable confidant to the successful businessman until he died last year, 2023.

He added: “They both really dedicated their lives to educating people. And all the people they have helped to educate have become great people in the country and are doing very well.”

That Makanjuola blossomed under their tutelage would be an understatement: “They took me as their child and proudly call me their first son to anybody that cares to know. And I always live to that expectation for them. And they have been very nice, decent and all of that to me.”

The impact of the Gbadamosi on the Caverton boss was enormous. From his secondary school days to his foray in England, they were there all the way.

“After my studies in England, I came back to Nigeria. They already had a place for me in their house with my wife and first born Bode. And then when I started work, Alhaji Gbadamosi was one of those who influenced my getting work at Barclays Bank. They were always with me all the time. Whatever I did, they were there. Whatever they did, I was there. And I ensured that I treated their children as my junior brothers and sister.”

Corroborating her husband, Mrs. Yoyinsola Makanjuola said the late Alhaji Jimoh and Alhaja Gbadamosi fondly called ‘Mummy and Daddy’ were epitome of great morals and finesse. They lived a life full of great achievement in nurturing all students that passed through their tutelage as principal of Muslim colleges.

In his tribute, General Olanrewaju said, “As distinguished educators and well-known elders in the Lagos community, they understood the transformative power of learning for young people, recognising how education could serve as the cornerstone upon which their careers could be built to enhance their futures.”

Reminiscing on his life and time, a retired jurist, Justice Isola Adekunle Olorunnibe also praised Alhaji Gbadamosi, whose life resonates with Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy that says: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

According to the 94-year-old judiciary icon, his path crossed with the late educationist’s in 1948 when Ahmadiyya High School was established.

He added: “He stuck to the ethics of his profession as a teacher. He later proceeded abroad for postgraduate studies at Oxford University. He maintained an excellent relationship with all his students. Both the new and old ones. We kept on going to him for advice.”

Commenting on his influence in his life, Justice Olorunnibe said it was enormous. “Late Pa Gbadamosi was an epitome of integrity; he was very accommodating and a man full of wisdom. I think he was ordained to be a teacher.”

In her words, Mrs. Oyinda Aiyepola, a younger sister to the late Alhaja Azeezat Gbadamosi, said the wonderful couple were like her biological parents. She called the sister her ‘younger mother’

In his words, the deceased eldest surviving son, Biodun Gbadamosi, paid tribute to his parents with an act of gratitude.

“They were parents in a million. I am grateful for the lives that they lived and the values that they instilled in me and my siblings: to imbibe the virtues of hard work, courage and honesty. Not a day goes by without us remembering them with fond memories. We will continue to make them proud on this side of the divide as they continue to rest in the bosom of Almighty Allah.”

According to Abimbola Adedun, daughter of the deceased, she lost wonderful parents and problem solvers.

Another son of the late educationist, Kunle Gbadamosi said their demise left a big vacuum. “With them being gone, a big void is felt with them not being around. They left big shoes to fill, but we will carry on their legacy for their grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

Dr. Wasiu Gbadamosi, a grandson, also paid tribute to his grandfather and grandmother who lived pious and exemplary lives worthy of emulation.

“Describing my grandparents? Amazing. They gave us fish and taught us how to fish. They taught us the virtues of hard-work, patience, and persistence while holding faith in Allah, our creator. We were taught to be complacent and contended with whatever Allah has bestowed on us,” he added.

Adebisi Adedun-Gbajumo, a grand-daughter who imbibed the spirit of hard work from her late grandmother, said. “Hard work doesn’t kill; it only makes you stronger” are words from my grandmother that have made me who I am today. Giving up wasn’t an option in my grandmother’s books; neither was there room for failure or laziness.”

 Oladunni Adekoya (nee Gbadamosi) said:  “Grandpa and Grandma Gbadamosi of blessed memory were such an admirable couple. They were extremely involved in my life from my birth till the day they both left this world.”

As family and friends remember this remarkable man on his one-year anniversary and 10 years anniversary of his wife, the late Alhaji Azeezat Adebisi Gbadamosi, a parent’s light may dim, but their impact never fades.

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