By Funso Adegbola
I thought it fit and right to write this tribute to Mama. My dad had told me stories about Baba Adegbola and their days at the SCM- (Students Christian Movement) and later, World Council of Churches, where they were both delegates. My dad had a very soft spot for Baba Adegbola, as he told me he was the only clergyman who visited him when he was placed under political Restriction Order in 1962 in Ubiaja. I first met Mama Adegbola in January 1970, when I started Form 1 in St. Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan. I was 9 years and 2 weeks old and I was the youngest in my class. I had come from a small school owned by an English woman, Mrs. Shoga, where all our teachers were called by the title, Ms.,Mr. or Mrs. Our Principal at St. Anne’s School, Miss Christine Groves, was also English and had taught my mum when she was at CMS Girl’s Grammar School. Mama taught me Yoruba, Needle work and Bible Knowledge. It was therefore a surprise to me when I greeted and addressed her as Mrs. Adegbola, and she simply stonewalled me! I thought I had mistaken her for Mrs. Akinsete (Our Domestic Science Teacher!). I then learnt that she preferred to be addressed as “Mama Adegbola”! Now I think of it, she was only 45 years old at the time! So, I definitely didn’t start on a good note with her. I also hated Needle work and would conveniently forget the apron, blouse or whatever we were stitching for Practical Exercise. When she scolded me in Yoruba, I would cry, so she called me ‘Baby’ throughout my first 3 years at St. Anne’s! Mama taught us Bible Knowledge in Yoruba. Many of my classmates remember her stories concerning Paul and Barnabas on their return from their missionary journeys.
“Paul? Barnabas? E kabo, s’efon o je yin?”.
I never knew or imagined that 18 years later, on 20th August, 1988, I would marry her precious son, Olugbenro Olukayode. With Mama, there was no doubt that she had a very soft spot for Gbenro, who she called by his second name, Olukayode (my own son’s first name) and said he resembled her dad.
Before, when people say men marry women like their mums, I would say I was the exception to that rule; but now that I am older and my son is getting married, I see there is a lot of truth in that saying. Mama Adegbola is an Ijesa woman of great strength, very enterprising; an educator/teacher, very supportive of her husband and a Mother Hen! I hate to admit it, but I see some similar traits in that person in the mirror- Me! I thank God for giving Mama the grace to live 93 years in good health (except for the last few months). She was a very supportive wife to Baba and God gave her the grace to live for 14 years after his passing. She is survived by all her 4 children. None of them nor her grandchildren pre-deceased her; for these and all His mercies, we give God thanks and praise. Mama was a committed Christian. She attended the same church as us, All Saints’ Church, Jericho, Ibadan.
The lot fell on Gbenro to take her to church every Sunday and they had their weekly mother-son bonding times. I am glad that God gave Gbenro the grace to be with her when she breathed her last on Wednesday 26th September, about 12:25am. I thank God that she stayed on a few more hours for Gbenro to spend those last hours sitting by her side, stroking her head and arms as she literally passed away. No pain, no agony, she simply passed on peacefully, just like Baba had done that morning in January 2004. The way they both passed on showed that they are true children of God. We are not afraid but thankful and fully assured that she is in heaven with Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So, I say, on behalf of my late parents and the Ige family, goodnight our beloved Mama Adegbola. See you on the Resurrection Morning. May your strong but gentle soul rest in perfect peace and may light perpetual shine upon you, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
-Adegbola is the daughter of Chief Bola Ige