Saturday, 14 April 2018

The Prophetic Jeremiah of Africa Awolowo – his last journey on earth

Dr. James standing at the entrance of Awolowo Square in Ikenne 

On May 9th 1987, he set out for his last journey, when his soul departed from his body at his. About a month later on May 31, the seven days funeral rites started and ended on Saturday June 6th, his final journey.   

Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo, GCFR

It was a celebration of life, as people came from far and wide to celebrate the life of a great statesman. Yours truly was there was there too to pay my last respect, it feels like yesterday as I sat down to play back the whole events the much I can remember. It was celebration all through with songs of praise to accompany him in that last journey.

Chief Awolowo lies in state at Ibadan stadium

On Sunday May 31st, His last journey home commenced when, his body arrived the National Stadium through the Oworonshoki-Oshodi-Apapa expressway. It was a wet day but that did not stop the crowd who were eager to see and even feel AWO. While the body was lying in state and the crowd were eager to see the body the organisers agreed that the best option was that the pall bearers should carry the casket into the open, from its covered podium. This was done on two occasions and even with that the crowd were just not satisfied and not happy as they wanted to see and feel his body, so they started singing, “All we are saying gives us Awo.” Awo’s wife Mrs. Hannah Idowu had to come out to acknowledge the cheers of the demanding crowd and plead with them to bear, with them since it was raining.

Massive Crowds bid Chief Awolowo - good bye

On Friday, June 5, his body arrived Ibadan, probably to show respect that his political life started there. Ibadan received his body with salutes from their Dane-guns and shouts of Awo! The crowd was massive like never seen before; one will think that the entire Ibadan people left their homes for that honour. Everyone that has eyes, even if crippled was there to say good bye to Awo. Roof tops, balconies and tree tops were occupied. It was estimated that the crowd was over 4,000 on the street and most of the invited dignitaries and family members were dressed in white. There was a commendation service held in his honour at the liberty stadium in Ibadan, with about 50,000 people in attendance. 

Papa Awo Odigba, written across the stadium 

After the stadium, his body was received inside the church, by six member of the Wesley Group, (Awo was a life patron), the church sang “For all the saints who from their labours rest” as their processional hymn. Bishop E. A. Idowu of Lagos Cathedral read the scripture from Ecclesiastical Chapter 44 verse 1-4,7,11-15, during the fifty minutes commendation service. Between 3.00 – 3.10 p.m., there was a light shower of rain while, the Bishop of the Ibadan Methodist Diocese – Bishop T.T Solaru, was giving his sermon. At the Ibadan event, there were about 1000 policemen to help control the crowd. The body was taken to his former office as Premier in the 1950’s, the parliament building in Agodi, were a special parliamentary session was held in his honour with a funeral oration by the state Governor Colonel Adetunji Olurin, who addressed him as the “prophetic Jeremiah of Africa.” 

Very senior Army officers salutes Chief Awolowo last salute

On Saturday, June 6th, the body left Lagos for the final journey to Ikenne where it lay in state. In Ikenne, mourners peacefully filled past his body. The Rosicrucian Order (AMORC) performed their funeral rites on him, the members filed in, wearing bishop-like robes, walked round the body. Their leader Kenneth U. Idiodi, Grand Regional Administrator and President of the Rosicrucian Order in his funeral citation explained that they believe in life after death. They presented to Mrs Awo her husband apron of life. In all Awo had 14 orations. Relaxed as if he was sleeping and smiling, he was laid in the golden casket and was placed in the monologue. As his body was carried into the church, it was received with a rendition of one of his favourite tunes: “All hail the Power of Jesus’ name.” The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, the Most Reverend Timothy Olusofoye, in his sermon read from the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 13, verse 36, he recounted Awo’s excellent works on earth.
Ibadan from the top of a roof as Chief Awolowo goes home through the street of Ibadan

Local hunters with their Dane-guns as they salute the body of Chief Awolowo 

The church service ended by 1. 22 
pm., the SAN Members mounted a guard of honour while the bishops and other officiating ministers filed past. By 1.30 pm the SANs wheeled the casket slowly on its final exit from the church, with the recessional hymn: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord” and the chorus: “Glory, Glory Alleluia; Glory,    Glory, Glory Alleluia; Glory, Glory Alleluia; His Truth is marching on” we all headed to the chapel-like mausoleum in his compound, his final resting place. The construction of the two level tomb was said to have cost about #400,000 then.

AWO Mausoleum, his last resting place in Ikenne

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome.
    Very detailed
    PA will be missed

    - Vasily Mikhailovich Doestovski