The death of Uncle Segun Olusola
The death of Uncle ‘Segun Olusola, the well known Arts and Culture exponent in Nigeria has been in the air for sometime. For over a month now, his house at Surulere has been a carnival of some sort. A great honour has been staged by Nigerians who have come to appreciate the life of this Nigerian who made the promotion of the cultural life of Nigerians in general and Africans in particular a special interest of his 77 years on earth. Without any equivocation, Uncle ‘Segun Olusola has been a special gift of God to our people in Africa.
The only time when Africans are making the news that can be aired on foreign news stations particularly in Europe and America is when we Africans are doing unspeakable things to ourselves. When we make coups from our barracks, killing and decimating the political leadership of our continent, when witchcraft and witchdoctors are reported from several parts of Africa by day-to-day basis and when we have deposts and tin pot generals at the apex of national leadership in Africa, then we in Africa have these news items splashed on network media stations in Europe.
It has been a sin to be born an African or a Blackman. A black boxer has to virtually murder his white opponent in the ring before he can be declared winner of a boxing tournament. That was the evidence of the greatest boxing sensation in the world, Mohammed Alli formerly called and addressed as Casius Clay. For those who want to have further – literature or the pathetic condition of the Blackman, then you will have to read Areoye Oyebola’s “BLACKMAN’S DILEMMA” on Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s “SCEPTRE OF BLACK POWER”.
We Africans were classified as people who live on trees in the years of colonialisation. We said known to have tails. This was why the great Pan Africanist Kwame Nkrumah had stopped inquisitive foreign journalists from bombarding him with questions when he (Nkrumah) had arrived in Manchester in 1965 to attend that year’s Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference.
Nkrumah had told these journalists “ask for my tail”.
I have gone into the above analysis to show the unique contributions of Uncle Olusola in being at the leadership of promoting authentic African culture for the greater part of his life. His cultural exploits have helped Africans to correct the otherwise terrible impressions of the Europeans about our cultural ways of life in Africa. This discussion is for another day.
Though Uncle Olusola and myself never had close and direct connections in his life time, we were however well connected in our public and private lives.
Both of us were children of Methodist clergymen. The late Papa Very Reverend Olusola and my late father, The Very Reverend Babatope were of the Methodist Church of Nigeria with Papa Most Reverend Olusola being my father’s senior in the Methodist Ministry. Papa Reverend Olusola was in the generation of the late Papa Most Reverend Dada, the First African Head of the Methodist Church of Nigeria.
I remember too well that in 1950 (when I was seven years old) my father and his family had lived for over six months in the house of Papa Reverend Olusola at Iperu in present day Ogun State when my father was transferred to the beautiful Ijebu-Remo Junction Town. My father was sent there by the Methodist Mission to start his life as a clergyman there.
I equally remember very well that after my father had finished his studies as a Clergyman at the Divinity College, Umuahia in today’s Abia State and he (my father) was sent by the Methodist Church to the Ifaki Circuit, the late Papa Most Reverend Olusola was always staying in our Mission house in Ifaki-Ekiti. Papa Olusola was then known as the Travelling Secretary of the Methodist Mission in Nigeria. Papa Most Reverend Olusola was a lanky and tall man who was reputed in his days as being one of the greatest Methodist Clergyman that played the organ exceptionally well. Little surprise then that Uncle Olusola became a star in the cultural life of the African people where music plays a conspicuous role.
His path crossed mine in February 1976 when we were both members of the official Nigerian delegation led by the then General Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters to Angola.
It must be stated here that the freedom of Angola from Portuguese Colonial subjugation was affirmed in 1975 when the late General Murtal Ramat Mohammed as Head of State of Nigeria assisted by General Obasanjo gave open support to the MPLA freedom fighters then led by the late Augustino Neto.
The Murtala Mohammed regime had come out to declare support for MPLA in Angola when the news broke out that Luanda, the Capital of Angola was about to fall to the FNLA led by Holden Roberto. The FNLA was a counter revolutionary force aided by the Western powers to stop the Marxist MPLA led by Neto in controlling and governing a free Angola.
In February 1976, a Nigerian delegation to Angola headed by Obasanjo was sent to attend the 25th anniversary of the founding of MPLA as a freedom movement in Angola. The rally in Angola was held in front of the then Hotel Joao Aragao in Luanda, Angola. Obasanjo had been kind enough to include me and Uncle ‘Segun Olusola as members of the Nigerian delegation to that event. The late Ambassador Omolodun and Brigadier-General Benjamin Adekunle a.k.a. Black Scorpion were also members of the delegation.
I remember too well that the only world leader that addressed the revolutionary rally of the Angolans was Nigeria’s Obasanjo.
I equally remember that the first Nigerian Ambassador to Angola, the late Ambassador Musa Bello was received in audience by President Neto of Angola in our presence.
I was able to engage Uncle Olusola in discussions about socio-political events in Nigeria particularly as they related to some events that happened to us in Angola on that trip. I may have to write on these events later on inside this column. I can however mention here that the Nigerian delegation to Angola was nearly forgotten in Angola when there was no official Nigerian plane to come and take the delegation back to Nigeria on the completion of the tour.
I remember too well that when we were inside this ugly situation, General Obasanjo was struck by his military instincts when he led a team of Angola soldiers to visit the war front in Angola. I equally remember that Dr. Patrick Wilmot, a radical West Indian activist then based in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as a lecturer and also a member of the Nigerian delegation had to return to Luanda from the Obasanjo trip to the war-front when his car on the trip had been involved in a motor accident.
At the time of the visit, Uncle Olusola had established the reputation of being the founder of the VILLAGE HEADMASTER programme on NTA Lagos. Famous actors of that star studded television programme had included Dejumo Lewis, my friend of ages, Femi Robinson, Ibidun Allison a.k.a. Amebo, the late Garus Garus, the late Elsie Olusola (Uncle Olusola’s wife), the late Oba Adeolu, the late “Councillor Balogun” Oba Wole Amele, and several others. The Village Headmaster was effectively handled by Bisi Oloyede as the Producer.
The National Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC) can never forget the positive roles Uncle Olusola played in all its annual NAFEST Cultural Festivals. Egbon had many awards in his excellence at promoting Arts and Culture in Nigeria.
When Uncle Olusola was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, it was on his initiative and supervision that the Nigerian Embassy buildings were built in Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union. The edifice stands erect there in Ethiopia as a testimony to Uncle Olusola’s vision and patriotism. Nigeria with Ambassador Olusola’s creativity, is today one of the biggest missions in Ethiopia.
There can be many things to say and write about this great son of Nigeria and Africa who did a lot to promote Arts and Culture in our continent. Many of us are ever proud of him.
Death is certainly a leveler of events. Whether we like it or not, all of us (mortals) must eventually die.
It is a pity that we live in a society that does not adequately honour its heroes.
Like Patrice Emery Lumunba, the martyred revolutionary of the Republic of Congo once said “Africa will one day write its own history: It will not be the history written in Paris, Brussels, London and Washington… it will be a dignified history”.
Anytime from now, the body of our highly respected and talented Uncle Olusola will be conveyed to mother earth; He will be buried.
May his memory remain golden in the minds of all Nigerians.
Egbon, Good-Night and Farewell! Odigbose!!
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