For the entire family of the Abegunde Ajitonis of Omu Aran in Kwara State, the final burial of the late matriarch of the family, Madam Felicia Wuraola Ojuolape Agbeke Ajitoni Abegunde, aka Iya Olobi, was like a carnival that brought together family members, sons and daughters, in-laws as well as their acquaintances together from all walks of life, across age, faith and social groups.
The event was held between Monday 28th and Wednesday 30th December 2020 with different programmes of events ranging from traditional homage and services across religious divides.
The final burial arrangement had started on Monday December 28, with an all day Entertainment of Clubs and family members at the residence of the deceased at Agamo, of the ancient city of Omu Aran. It was followed on Tuesday December 29, as Muslims and Christians were gathered at different times of the day to hold a parting service for the deceased. It started with Muslim prayers and was followed by Christian wake later in the day. It was a blend or fusion of both faiths in unison which was a reflection of the peaceful coexistence of both faithfuls, not only in the family but also in Omu Aran as a whole.
Lending credence to this, one of the children of the deceased, Professor Olukayode Ajitoni of the University of Ibadan, said it was a kind of confirmation of the life of love for all that his mother lived till she breathed her last.
He explained, “In our family here like other parts of Omu Aran, we share our faith between Christians and Muslims, though Mama was a devout Christian, she had Muslim brothers and sisters and one of them was a notable Islamic cleric based in Lagos. He ought to have been at the burial but for the fact that he also died before Mama’s burial.”
One of her brothers was the Chief Missioner of the Ansar- U-deen Society in Ekiti and Igbomina land, though he is no more, before his death he made it a point that his children should hold prayers after the demise of his sister.
“Here, in our family we have Christians and Muslims and we do things together. During his life time he had promised to give our mother who was her sister a befitting burial and he instructed his children to play their full part in the burial of our mother. It was no surprise to see that his chilren were here to lead prayers in the Muslim way, and it was followed by Christian wake service. It was very beautiful and we are all happy together.”
That Madam Felicia Wuraola Ojuolape Ajitoni Abegunde was a force of unity in the family was not in doubt as family members from far and wide were ably represented to pay their last respect for the deceased.
The final funeral service was held for the late matriarch on Wednesday December 30, 2020 at First ECWA Church, Orolodo, Omu-Aran, Kwara with the family, chidren, friends and well wishers at the service.
“In his emotional tribute, Olukayode Ajitoni, a Professor of Education, lecturing at the University of Ibadan stressed thatb his mother though not learned held education in high esteem. She did not only give good education to her children but also encouraged others to give sound education to their children.”
He was so convinced of this that he disclosed that no less than five erudite professors came directly and indirectly from mama’s loins.
“Of all the professors produced by Omu Aran,
five came through Mama. Mama was a lover of education so much that she had to sacrifice all her belongings to give her children education. She did her very best. Some of the professors were also available to give Mama their last respect. Among these were Professor Kola Oyedepo, Dr. Doyin Abegunde,and one of them was the first Chemical Engineer in Omu Aran.
“Mama was very caring and loving so much that till she gave up her ghost the evidence of her caring life was felt both within the family and the Omu Aran community at large.”
To Engineer Isiaka Bamidele Olaoye, if not for Mama he would not have been so attached to Omu Aran as he had been today. “I was born in Ifo near Lagos, I grew up with my mother’s family and I was schooling in Ibadan. I would not have known where Omu Aran was until I was much older. But in the year 1960 Mama brought me to Omu Aran even as a little boy, to come and start school there, and that move made me a proud son of Omu Aran till tomorrow. Mama was an epitome of love,” he explained.
From the various tributes delivered in the memory of Iya Olobi, it was clear that she had a great impact in the life of almost everybody that was close to her.
To Barrister Olanrewaju Abdulfatai Abolaji, “Maami Ora” as he used to call her “was first among equals. She was an intelligent woman full of wisdom and knowledge. She was very versed in the history of Omu Aran. She was a just and fair mediator that only God would know the number of disputes settled by her while she was alive.
“Mama Olobi as she was popularly known was always available to provide kolanuts for seeking most of our mothers’ hands in marriage, and she did the same for us.”
She was also reputed to know what is good for the family especially when the time was ripe for any young man or woman to get married. “Mama would bring good women to the family for marriage. She would not only bring them, she would counsel them, train them and even provide for their basic needs to make them very comfortable in their marital homes.”
To Prophetess Beatrice Iyabowale Akintolu, “Mama was a jewel and she would remain unforgettable in her life. When she was young she was very caring and she instilled discipline in her children and all that passed through her. She was a mother full of wisdom, love and godly attributes, and prayerful.
“She was very verse with the family history and she was fond of singing praise of all the members of their family, and this endeared a lot of people in the family to her. She would not greet you without adding some words which Yorubas call Oriki, and she was loved by all. That is why you see many people from all the members of our family to honour her even in death.”
Among the distinguished family members that were present at the funeral service were the Oloko of Oko in Council led by the Oloko himself and his wife, there was also the Odofin of Omu Aran, High Chief M.O. Olaniyan, Alhaji Kareem Bello one of the family Elders, Madam Grace Folorunso, a sister to the deceased who described her as a very good woman.
She acknowledged that Mama Olobi “took after her father in generousity, and there was no part of the town you mention her name, lled her Ojuolape Omo Baba Olorugbo, that is why you see people gathered from all parts of Omu Aran to celebrate her life.
they called her Ojuolape Omo Baba Olorugbo, that is why you see people gathered from all parts of Omu Aran to celebrate her life.
“Mama was a matriarch we cannot forget easily”, said Ramota Ajibola. “She explained that she was always particularly interested in the well being of the family members by asking about them and their young ones, without any discrimination. She brought all members of her family from her father and mother side together without any discrimination,” she added.
Also at the special outing and thanksgiving service held at the ECWA Church, Orolodo, also in Omu Aran, distinguished sons and daughters of Omu Aran, and guests from all walks of life to attest to the good attributes of Mama.
In a torrent of tributes at the Church service, Mama was acknowledged as a lover of God and what God loved in the Church. She was always punctual at Church Services even till her old age. She was said to be a very prayerful woman. She was always very compassionate to all. She was a woman of peace, testified one of the women in the Church.
“She was a lover of truth, she loved her family and would always ensure that all controversial issues were solved amicably without annoyance. Mama also earned the respect of the Church in that she owed no contributions for the Church levies and development. As a member of Majekobaje Group she was worthy of emulation, and that was why the preacher of the day, Rev. B.A. Afolayan called on the members of the family and the participants to emulate her good virtues.
Rev. Afolayan took the advantage to remind all to remember their last day on earth, and that they would give account of all that they did on earth.
“There is no way to run away from the judgement throne. We will all account for all that we do on earth. Everyone will give account of where and what responsibility God has given to us on earth. Our political leaders will give account, ministers of God will give account, traditional rulers will give account and no one will be spared. All foolish talks will be accounted for, and let us be mindful of where we are going after this world,” concluded the preacher.
Also at the service were distinguished sons and daughters of Omu Aran, as well as friends and well wishers of the members of the family, among which were General Abidoye, Professor Dejo Omole, Dr. Sola Adeniyi, Dr. Abiodun Olopade, Elder and Mrs Olanrewaju, Mr. Onipede, Chief Bamigbola and a host of others.
There were other family members from Oko Arandun, Oke Isin, Mode Omu Aran, Oko and Ora Ayoka.
Some of the ministers of God at the service were Rev. Dr. V.A. Akintunde, the Chairman of Omu Aran DCC of ECWA Church, Rev. J.I. Olagunju, First ECWA Church Omu Aran, Rev. R.A. Afolayan Salami, Rev. J.A. Oni and Rev. J.F. Asonibare, Prophetess F.B. Aduralere, and Ministers of God from C&S Church Movement from Lagos and Omu Aran, and other ministers of God across Church denominations.
Mama Felicia Wuraola Ojuolape Agbeke Ajitoni Abegunde was born in 1915 into the family of Chief Arinde Tanlepada Oyebanji, the Onigemo of Okeki Compund and the Baba Olorugbo of Omu Aran, and Chief Mrs Olanihun Amoke Oyebanji who hailed from Okesan Compund also in Omu Aran, now Kwara State. She was married to the great Chief Elemeso Abegunde of Ora Ayoka, Omu Aran.
While active she was a business woman trading in Kolanut, hence the appellation as Mama Olobi, and the kolanut trade took her to so many towns and communities around Omu Aran and environs both in Kwara and the neighbouring Ekiti State.
She was reputed to have grown and trained about five professors among the well known sons and daughters of Omu Aran who have distinguidhed themselves in the field of education.
She was a renowned Christian leader and belonged to several Women fellowships within and outside ECWA her local denomination. She died on March 5, 2020 at the age of 105 years.
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