With barely 67 days to her Centenary Birthday anniversary, death came snatching the Matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty, Chief (Mrs.) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo (née Adelana) on Saturday, September 19, 2015.
Mama Awolowo, wife of the foremost politician and first Premier of Old Western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, died after a brief meeting with family members. She died exactly 28 years after her husband, Obafemi Awolowo.
The Yeye Oodua of Yorubaland, 99, would have been 100 years old by November 25 this year. Preparation had begun as early as August with many prominent Nigerians, particularly in the Southwest, approached to send in their goodwill messages for collation ahead of the expected centenary birthday.
Early callers were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Acting Governor of Ogun State, Princess Yetunde Onanuga, Mrs Olufunso Amosun, ex – governor Gbenga Daniel and Secretary to the Ogun State government, Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa.
Other sympathisers who visited the Awolowos to condole with them included the state Secretary of the Social Democratic Party, Alhaji Abimbola Awofeso; APC senatorial candidate for Ogun East in the last elections, Mr. Dapo Abiodun; Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun, the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in the state, Gboyega Isiaka.
Until her demise, she remained the Chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria Limited, publishers of Nigerian Tribune established in November, 1949 by her husband. Nigerian Tribune is among Nigeria’s popular dailies and it is perhaps the oldest privately owned newspaper.
Only in April this year, Yeye Oodua, who was the chairperson of Yoruba Unity Forum, an umbrella body for Yoruba socio-cultural organizations in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, felicitated President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on their historic victory at the March 28th 2015 presidential election.
She said: “The electoral contest, no doubt, was a hard fought one particularly as you contested against an incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“We commend your decision to focus on issues of ultimate concern to majority of Nigerians during your electioneering campaigns. This singular act, Your Excellency, is a clear indication of your preparedness to confront these issues with a view to surmounting them and moving our country forward.
“We therefore appeal that you carry all Nigerians along in the new dispensation as the hopes and aspirations of our people are very high and we pray you will fulfill these expectations.
“The task of rebuilding the country certainly requires the cooperation of all Nigerians and the Yoruba Unity Forum pledges to support you and your team to restore greatness again to our dear country Nigeria.”
Her first daughter, Mrs Omotola Oyediran, said her mother spent five minutes with her family, had her routine daily chores – meetings, prayers among others, before she breathed her last by 3:05pm
“It is with gratitude to God for her remarkable and illustrious life, the entire Awolowo family announce the glorious home calling of our dear Matriarch, Yeye Oodua, Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo on Saturday (yesterday) afternoon.
“Mama died as gloriously as she lived, she spent the day in the company of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“She shared a precious five minutes with them when she went in to pray for them as they met to plan her centenary birthday.
She died a couple of hours later as she had always wished, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grand children.”
For Obasanjo, the death of HID is a passing of an Icon, a mother and matriarch of the Yoruba.
Obasanjo said: “On occasion like this, for all of us in Ogun and Yoruba land nay Nigeria, it is passing of an icon. Normally for us it should be a mixed feelings; mixed feelings because Mama had lived a life most of us would envy.
“We must thank God because mama has experienced the vicissitudes of life but she died in peace. When I heard, I decided to come because I wanted to be sure. All I was thinking of was the centenary birthday, Mama has been a joy to many, she was the matriarch of the Yoruba land, faithful and loyal to her husband, supporter and pillar of the family.
“She was somebody people ran to for advice and counsel and they get the best from her. I pray that God will give the family the courage and wherewithal to bear the challenges of Mama’s death. Each and every one of us must learn a lesson from the good life of Mama and may her soul rest in perfect peace.”