By WILLY EYA and MOSHOOD ADEBAYO, Abeokuta
For four straight hours, Chief HID Awolowo, wife of the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, former Premier of Western Nigeria lamented a mother’s worst nightmare when clergymen from Remo Diocese of the Anglican Communion broke the news of the death of her son, Oluwole, who passed on in a London hospital on March 27. The grieving matriarch screamed as soon as she saw the clergymen from Remo Diocese in her compound and told them not to bother to break the bad news to her. She broke down and family members including Bishop Olusina Fape of the Anglican Diocese of Remo as well as the erstwhile governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and his wife, Olufunke were also moved to tears.
Amid sobs, she reeled out names of her own parents, saying, “’Oh Wole, my dear son! Why now! Is it a sin to live long? My parents lived long, why should longevity become a curse in my own case? The matriarch repeatedly told one of the visiting clergymen: “Bishop, you said I would not witness any more unfortunate incident. Bishop, you said I would not witness any sorrow again. Bishop, you said I would not witness any more pain.” Sunday Sun learnt that breaking the sad news to the widow of the late Awolowo was an Herculean task with close members making sure that the tragedy was kept secret until the clergymen arrived.
It was learnt that when the news of the incident filtered into the country, all communication gadgets including telephone sets of Mama Awolowo were discreetly taken away from her. Her radio and television sets were said to have been switched off just to make sure that Mama did not get the news unexpectedly. Sunday Sun reports that that was the situation until the following day when the sad news was broken to her shortly after she had her breakfast. Our correspondent accompanied Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State into the matriarch’s bedroom which was left open except to photographers and video cameramen who were usually turned back.
The first grandchild of Chief Awolowo, Segun, on Friday spoke to newsmen on how his grandmother and wife of the late sage received the death of her son. “Mama was devastated. She has been trying to speak with him since he has been in the London hospital. We have been hiding and covering it from her, ” he said. Fondly called Uncle Wole by his admirers, Oluwole Awolowo would have been 71 next December, having been born in 1942. Wole, who was the only surviving son of the late founder of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and described by many as humble and unassuming. He was said to have died as a result of complications arising from an accident he had in 2006.
Bishop Fape who had led other clerics to the house to condole Mama led the family in prayers and hymns. Few minutes later, the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun arrived the house and also commiserated with the family and had a-tete-a-tete with Mama and prayed for the soul of Evangelist Wole. It was after this that a condolence register of the late publisher of Tribune Newspapers was put on a table beside the entrance to the main building in the compound. One of the early sympathizers that signed the register was the Secretary-General of the Yoruba Unity Forum, Senator Femi Okunronmu and Otunba Gbenga Daniel.