As the burial programmes of late Professor Israel Bodunrin Akinwumi Orojide Isola enters the second day Wednesday, friends, families, colleagues and well wishers within and outside Nigeria gathered at the Civic Centre, Idi-Ape, Ibadan, Capital of Oyo State, to pay tributes to the departed scholar, playwright, and cultural icon.
Among those in attendance were members of his immediate family, Mrs. Adebola Adefunke (wife), Akinjide, first son, Mrs. Toyin Somefun, Mrs. Bukola Ladipo, the grandchildren, Governor Abiola Ajimobi represented by his Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun, Professor Pamela Olubunmi Smith, a Professor of English, Humanities and Women’s Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Professor Omofolabo Apinke Ajayi-Soyinka, Professor Arinpe Gbekelolu Adejumo, Professor Philip Adedotun Ogundeji, Parmanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Information, Dr Bashiru Olanrewaju, an actress, Toyin Adegbola, Dr. Adeola Faleye from Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU and Executive Editor of The News Magazine, Mr. Kunle Ajibade.
The programme was spiced with different cultural performances from different troupes including Oyo State Cultural Troupe, Ayanfolasade group, and Ewi expositions. All the participants eulogised the late playwright, describing him as an honest man.
Odia Ofeimun described the late playwright as an all round citizen who underscored the importance of language in a proper society. He said it is a wrong notion to view speakers of indigenous languages as stupid, stressing that language is important for true federalism in Nigeria. He stated that it is a bad idea for the government to be begged to recognise indigenous languages in the country, adding that it is equally wrong to disrespect Nigeria indigenous languages.
Ofeimun lauded the deceased for translating some of Wole Soyinka’s works into Yoruba Language as well as several other English books and for writing several books in the Yoruba Language to show that he believed in the Yoruba culture.
The playwright noted that it would be good to have Shakespeare’s works and other great books translated into Yoruba.
Professor Smith, who described herself as an adopted daughter of Isola, wept profusely while narrating the benevolence of the deceased. She disclosed how she met him in the United States of America and how their relationship graduated from scholarly one to that of mentor, father, confidant and comforter. She also underscored the importance of language which she said connected and tied her to the deceased.
To elder Kunle Adeniran, who was his best man at his wedding, Isola was a gentleman, quiet, amiable and was hardly angry. Noting that he was the only one left amongst his group, Adeniran described his relationship with Isola and his family as wonderful and cordial.
The coordinator of the burial programmes, Alhaji Adegboyega Arulogun, former Commissioner for information and Culture of Oyo State described the deceased as a good teacher, a good man, a lover of education, one of the nation’s best script writers and a good father.
Professor Durotoye Adeleke in his eulogy described the late Isola as prayerful, simple and honest. He narrated the circumstances that led to the naming of the deceased as a ‘honest man’. “When he was a teacher at Elekuro, he was the youngest teacher among his colleagues. The head teacher then was Chief Ojo. Chief Ojo went to the staff room and asked where they usually go during the break time. I suspect that during the break hour, you usually go to somewhere to drink palm wine. All the teachers denied the act. When he got to Isola and asked, Isola told him the truth that I usually go to take palm wine during the period but I don’t get drunk. Then the head teacher said Isola is the only honest man among you all. That was how Isola came about the name honest man and that is the name he was being called till he died”.
Adeleke also reminisced on how himself, Isola, Professor Femi Osofisan and Biodun Jeyifo used to enjoy life together by visiting popular joints in different parts of Ibadan to enjoy themselves.
According to Professor Sola Olateju, the late Isola engineered his relocation from Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, to the University of Ibadan, stressing that Isola was friendly, accessible and jovial.
Speaking on behalf of the governor, Arulogun stated that this is not a mourning time in Oyo State but the celebration of life, adding that it was a good thing that God gave the deceased to Oyo State. He described Isola as a man of theatre, cultural icon, traditional Ibadan man, Nigerian patriot, epitome of honesty, a rare breed, master linguist, performer of arts, repository of Yoruba Language and Omoluabi of the world.
After the tributes session, another programme titled, “Neigbourhood Service of songs” was held at the deceased No. 16, Bolajoko Estate, General Gas, Akobo, Ibadan after which guests returned to the Civic Centre for a documentary on Akinwumi Isola by Mainframe Productions.
Artistes also performed during the night. In attendance were the former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Muyiwa, son of late Bola Ige, among others.
The burial programmes continue till Friday, when Isola will be interred.