Monday, September 21, 2015

REVEALED: How HID Awolowo died

Late HID Awolowo

The oxymoron, peaceful death, has probably never been more appropriate to describe the passing on of a person than the death of the matriarch of the Awolowo clan, Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, who died on Saturday, two months short of her 100th birthday.

According to the account of her last moments, published by the Tribune newspaper, Chief HID Awolowo, as she was fondly called in the media, woke up at about 8 a.m. and got ready to host a meeting of the committee set up to plan her centenary birthday. The meeting was billed to hold at10 a.m. in a living room of her residence at Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State.

In her usual style, she responded cheerfully to the greeting of Managing Director, African Newspapers of Nigeria PLC, Publishers of the Tribune newspaper, Edward Dickson, and those of her children, grand children and great grand children that arrived for the meeting.

Shortly after the meeting started at the Efunyela Hall, HID Awolowo was brought in and as if on cue, everyone in the hall rose to welcome her with a rousing recitation of the popular Yoruba song: “Mama o, Mama o, Mama o, Olorun da mama si fun wa…” which means: Mother, mother, may God protect our mother for us.

Beaming with smiles, she responded to her children’s prayers with another prayer as it is customary among the Yorubas, saying “E kuipalemo o, eyin naa a dagba – thanks for the preparation, you will all live long.”

According to the report, after listening to the deliberations at the meeting for about five minutes, She said she needed to rest and asked to be excused. When she got to her room she demanded for her lunch of pounded cocoyam with egusi soup. After taken few morsels of the pounded cocoyam, she invited one of her personal assistants who was attending to her to eat with her, but the assistant declined out of respect adding that she would eat after the matriarch had eaten to her fill. Not one to miss a chance to indulge in the cheerful conversation, she commended the beauty of the pair of slippers the assistant had worn and asked her to get a similar pair for her later.

After lunch, she laid on her bed for a while. But she suddenly asked to be raised up from her bed. The young men who had gathered to raise her from her sleeping position realised that she was gasping for breath and sent for her two surviving children, Tola Oyediran and Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, who were part of those attending the meeting.

Soon after her children rushed into her room, she stopped breathing.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday at family home in Ikenne, Mrs Awolowo-Dosumu, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, recounted that her mother died in her arms. She said Mrs. Awolowo did not relent in prayer and praises to God till her last breath.

“She was in high spirits before she left us and didn’t give us room to suspect the contrary as she kept praying for us.

“Whether she had a premonition about her death, we will never know for sure as she kept singing and praising God. It was her voice of prayer that we heard last.

“That moment was huge and we are glad to receive her final blessings. Mama eventually breathed her last in my arms,’’ she said.

She said she would miss her mother’s “wise counsel and motherly care obviously,’’ more than anything else adding that the family will do all in its power to preserve their late mother’s legacy.

Mrs. Awolowo-Dosumu, however said she was saddened that her mother could not live to celebrate her centenary birthday.

“This is very sudden for us. If anyone had told us that Mama would breathe her last yesterday, we would have argued till thy kingdom come.

“I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone. I feel very disappointed and wished she had the opportunity to see how much she meant to everyone,’’ she said.

Mrs. Awolowo was born on November 25, 1915. She married the iconic politician, Obafemi Awolowo on December 26, 1937. Popularly referred to as the “jewel of inestimable value” in her heydays, she was a successful business woman and played an active role in supporting her husband’s legendary political career.

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