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Afenifere Chieftain Olaniwun Ajayi Dies

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Afenifere chieftain and foremost Yoruba leader, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, has died.

He died on Friday morning. He was 91 years old. Apart from being a lawyer, he was also a writer and author.

Sir Olaniwun was appointed by the then Governor of Western State, Brig. Gen. Christopher Rotimi as Commissioner for Education and later Commissioner for Health.

After about three years of public service as Commissioner for Health, Sir Olaniwun went into private practice as a lawyer.

He  was born in Isara-Remo on April 8, 1925 to Mr Benjamin Awoyemi Ajayi a farmer & Marian Efundolamu Ajayi who traded in the farm produce to sustain the family.

Olaniwun first enrolled at the Islamic Primary School, Epe where he schooled for three months.

Speaking about his early education, he said in an interview with PunchNg: “We started with the English alphabets and within that period I had finished reading it and understood the alphabets. At the end of the term, my uncle was unable to pay the tuition which was three pence. I had to quit schooling because of this. My father heard of the development, came to Epe and took me away to Isara to continue my education.”

Sir Olaniwun later enrolled into a primary school in 1937 and completed his primary education in Ode-Remo after-which authorities of the school engaged him to teach there due to his intelligence and excellent result.

He resumed by teaching the Class Two infants (Nursery 1/2) for a year and he was paid 10 shillings, six pence per month. From his monthly salary Sir Olaniwun paid three pence as class fee as a Christian which was a membership fee as a junior member of the church.

He also did monthly contribution of two shillings, six pence and later increased it to five shillings so that at the end of the year he could have at least £6 saved for himself. Sir Olaniwun later decided to go to Wesley College, Ibadan, Oyo State, for a four(4)-year teacher’s course.

Owing to the fact that there were no means of funding his 4-year course, Sir Olaniwun approached the manager of the schools in Remo and Ijebu district, William Frederick Mellor to request for a written consent to the principal of the school to defer payment of his school fee till the following year. Reverend Mellor agreed to do so and the school principal did as Mellor requested in the letter.

Having done that, Sir Olaniwun had to look for money to buy a few other things to take to school. Spending four years at the college saw Sir Olaniwun pass through hardship paying for the remaining two years at college as there was no source of funding.

He said “Before I could complete my primary education, my father sold his cherished agbada, local gun and a treasured herbal medicine book. Nobody wanted to lend him money because they felt he was rich. I had to meet the man who earlier showed willingness to assist with my education and asked him to lend me £12. I was to pay £6 per year. I had completed two years and it remained two years”.

Sir Olaniwun has five books to his credit. They include ‘This House of Oduduwa Must Not Fall,’ written based on the attitudes of young people, which are not good enough especially in Yorubaland; ‘Adunola: In Retrospect,’ a compilation of tributes and speeches for his late wife; ‘Nigeria: Africa’s Failed Asset?’, Sir Olaniwun’s autobiography, and ‘Isara Afotamodi: My Jerusalem’.

He was married to late Mrs Adunola Ajayi who died on the 6th of December 2007 and the union is blessed with two medical doctors and two lawyers.

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