Our Encounters With Mama HID Awolowo While Growing Up- Prominent Nigerian Women Speak

Folake Solanke, Josephine Anenih, Oluremi Tinubu and Sinatu Ojikutu Relieve Their Experiences With Matriarch of The Nigerian Nation

Chief (Mrs.) Folake Solanke, SAN
My father-in-law was best man at her wedding – Chief Folake Solanke (SAN) ‘I will miss her ikokore’
The last time I saw her was in March and as usual, she received me with great love and affection and ordered that they prepare ikokore for me. That was what she did every time I came to see her. I travelled in April and was looking forward to seeing her again.

She was a wonderful person, highly intelligent. Her counsel was always very valuable. It was always a pleasure to be in her company. I will miss her a lot because she was a benevolent person who wanted what is good for everybody; not only for her family but for everybody.

Can you remember the first day you met her?
Oh, you were not born then. It was over 50 years ago. My husband, the late Professor Solanke’s father, was the best man for Mama and Papa when they got married and when they celebrated their 25th anniversary, Papa Awolowo said to my husband, ‘Your father was the best man at my wedding, come and be the Master of Ceremony at my 25th silver wedding anniversary.’ Every year, we would come here for Christmas and she had gifts for everybody and in her golden years, she was always eager to see people and welcome them. I will miss her and Nigeria will miss her.

Her support for her husband was legendary. She was an epitome of wisdom, intelligence and love for country. She possessed the intelligence to lead and was an honest woman. I will miss her ikokore.

Chief (Mrs) Ajoke Mohammed
HID took me as her daughter – Murtala Muhammed’s widow, Ajoke

What were your last memories of Mama?

She was very affectionate. She never forgot people’s faces. No matter how long the time she saw you last, anytime she saw you, she would recognise you and greet you affectionately.

What was your relationship with her while she was alive?
She took me just as a daughter. Her husband was my father’s friend. I usually went to visit them in Park Lane in Apapa, long ago. It’s not easy to forget her because the first day we met, she greeted me with love as if she had always known me, regardless of who I was.

Mama fed me as a young lady at the university – Josephine Anenih
For me, she was always a beacon. I had known her for many years, since my university years, in 1970. I used to go to her shop in Ibadan, all the way from Ife. She was a very industrious woman who was friendly and accommodating. If you were with her, you learned the fear of God and how to be industrious. She was also very consistent. There was never a time one had any negative thing to say about her.

Who was she to you?
People saw her as ‘mama,’ but she was way more than that to me. Without her strength and encouragement, I don’t think Nigeria would be what it is today. So, when we remember the founding fathers, we must also remember the founding mothers like HID Awolowo, standing beside people like Chief Obafemi Awolowo to fight for the independence of this country. We Nigerians must stop being patriarchal and remember that there is always a mother and a father, and she is a mother of this country.

What personal experience did you have with her?
In her later years, she did not lose her mind. She did not lose her senses and she remembered everybody and every detail.

Can you remember your first encounter with her?
That was in 1970, in Ibadan. I was at the University of Ife then and we went to her shop and her late daughter was also doing her master’s at the University of Ife and Mama would feed you and listen to you. She was truly a phenomenal woman.

Senator Oluremi Tinubu
She was a woman of all seasons – Sen. Oluremi Tinubu
I had several precious moments with her but the most memorable one was when I came here [Ikenne] bringing smoked fish and Mama saw my gold bag. She said ‘bag e yi maa de fine, Remi’ (your bag is fine, Remi) and I said, ‘Mama, this bag is too heavy, it is a bulky bag. I thought that it was bulky but it matched my shoes.’ Mama said, ‘Am I the one that will be carrying it? A girl will carry it for me to church.’ Even one of the granddaughters said that she saw these plastic shoes that ladies are wearing now, that have lots of bling-bling on them, and she expressed interest in buying a pair and Mama said she wanted one too. You know, most of the time she was on wheelchair, but she always dressed to the nines. A woman like her that has lived for almost a century, you would think that she would live forever because you are so used to her. It is a great loss to not only the womenfolk but to Nigerians at large. Apart from the Awolowo philosophy and political legacy, we looked at the woman herself, what she had been able to accomplish over the years, after the demise of her husband. You will see that this woman was a woman of all seasons; is it at church, politics, or what have you? She lived well and we the younger ones have a lot to learn from her lifestyle. I happened to have a close, personal relationship with Mama by virtue of my husband and my late mother-in-law. I was very close to Mama. She was like a mother to me and I was able to gain from both sides. How many women can take up a cause for unselfish reasons? But Mama did so much more that we have not even heard of, and that is how you will know the greatness of a person when they die. The influx of people here tells you the story of a great human being. She came, she saw and she conquered. She died well. I will greatly miss her. Again, she was a fashion icon too. Her sense of style was unparalleled.

Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu
She showed me love as a child – Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu, ex-Lagos dep gov
Mama was an epitome of goodness. I first knew her when I was a teenager and friends with Tokunbo and Ayo. She took me to heart from the first day she met me at age 12. She showed me love and deep affection. Politically, my father was in the opposition but that didn’t deter her love towards me. She always had a word of encouragement. She was a firm disciplinarian and supported her husband. I was really looking forward to celebrating her 100 years.

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