Our focus today is a volume of two-in-one books, and the two books are tributes to two great national icons. The two icons are Chief Bola Ige (SAN) and his wife, Justice Atinuke Ige. The books are titled: She Gave Me Roots and He Gave Me Wings, (2023, Purplebloom) written by their daughter, Mrs Funso Adegbola.
Adegbola is the first child and only daughter of the ex-Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Atinuke Ige.
So he is sufficiently fit to give this couple a befitting work of tributes.
The first book: “She Gave Me Roots,” is a tribute to the author’s late mother, Hon. Justice Atinuke Ige (1932 – 2003), whom the author describes as mum and mentor, “without any airs or graces.” In this book, Mrs Funso Adegbola takes us through a rich history of her family, beginning with her maternal grandparents. Reading through the book you immediately get to know that Hon. Justice Atinuke Ige was the first child of six born by her own parents. The author tells us the very unquantifiable role her maternal grandmother played in inculcating in her and her siblings lessons and skills as they usually stayed with grandma in her shop at old Gbagi in Ibadan after school.
From the work we learn of the author’s admiration of her mother’s dedication and commitment to her work on the one hand, and her commitment to family on the other. Worthy of note is her mother’s priorities: God first, then family, then work. Of course, the author salutes her mother’s work ethic, great fashion sense, insatiable thirst for knowledge and intellectual growth. For instance, the author acknowledges Hon Justice Atinuke Ige’s commitment to integrity in this work. She writes: “… my mother was highly regarded at her workplace and known for her diligence. Unlike some judges today, she never indulged in social gatherings with lawyers who had cases in her court. She maintained a clear boundary between work, family, and her church commitment. It was this dedication that ensured there was no room for corruption or bribery in her life.” (Pp34-35)
And we are drawn into joining her in appreciating this gem of a woman whom the author describes as “the first female lawyer from Ibadan” and also “the first high court judge to be married to a Governor.” (P7) Of course you know by now that we are talking about Hon. Justice Atinuke Ige, wife of Chief Bola Ige who was governor of Old Oyo State from 1979 to 1983.
In telling her own story in her mother’s story, the author draws the reader to appreciating her mother’s resilience even in the face of trying moments. When Chief Bola Ige was imprisoned, his wife withstood all stress, and kept her sanity even in the face of provocation from prison officials. Thereafter we are treated to a rundown of the family and love life of the author’s parents.
The second book in the volume is titled, He Gave Me Wings, written by the same author, Mrs Funso Adegbola. This book is a tribute to her father, Chief Bola Ige, SAN. Bola Ige was a politician and political activist, lawyer, former governor of the Old Oyo State, and former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the book, the author describes her father as a doting father, one who was interested in each of his children, and taught them never to take anything or anyone for granted. “Whether the scales were tilted in our favour or the outcome was unfavourable, he taught us still to thank and praise God.” (P12)
Indeed here in this book is a portrait of a loving father, who was “as generous with praises as he was with rebukes if need be”, yet he had the loving heart to offer hugs afterwards. Also, he is described as someone who was never ashamed to apologise if he hurt you.
In this book, He Gave Me Wings, Mrs Funso Adegbola writes so glowingly about her father’s passion for humanity and great interest in education. She tells us that Chief Bola Ige, her father, despite the haze of troubles that surrounded their family in 1993, reminded her of the dream of starting a school. She had abandoned the idea since her brother Tunde had died in his sleep. He it was who had helped with feasibility study when the idea of starting a school was mooted. But Chief Bola Ige, prompted her to forge ahead with the plan, and vowed to provide the start-up capital for the school project. The author had mentioned her mother’s generous donation of a building in the first book, She Gave Me Roots, for the same cause. That was the story of the foundation of The Vale College, which took off in 1994.
In the book He Gave Me Wings, the author takes out time to emphatically debunk the misinformation that her father, Bola Ige, was involved in occultism. She writes that claims that his family wanted a private burial for him because of Rosicrucian or non-Christian rites were false (P51), but that they decided on a private interment because of anticipated huge throng. And she explains that her dad, Bola Ige, was a committed and practising Christian with a strong Christian background. She writes (p52) that he “met the Lord and Saviour at the tender age of fourteen” and was an active member of the Student Christian Movement early in his schooling days. She avers that he knew the Lord Jesus Christ whom he served even though he was broad-minded and had many friends of different Faiths and religions.
In the book, He Gave Me Wings, Mrs Funso Adegbola writes extensively about Chief Bola Ige’s many brushes with the military governments in Nigeria, his frequent incarceration, his involvement in pro-democracy activities especially in the Abacha years. The author also writes about her father’s active participation in the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Peoples’ Party (APP), and Alliance for Democracy (AD), the party in which he contested for the presidential ticket which he lost to Chief Olu Falae in 1999. The author also gives us the consultations and thoughts that culminated in his acceptance of ministerial appointment from President Olusegun Obasanjo, first as Minister of Power and Steel, and later as Attorney General, the post he held at his assassination on 23 December, 2001.
In both books in this volume, the author perpetually paints for the reader, the unmistakable power of providence in charting the course of the Bola Ige family, declaring that God has been holding the family together right from the beginning, even on days when it looked like darkness lurked in the corner. The author has also given us undiluted renditions of a family history covering generations, moving smoothly from simple to complex in yet very clear terms, leaving no one confused. It should also interest the reader that while the author has told us about the great feats of this great family of great people, she has also given us a glimpse into the low moments. So in these pages are moments of victory, celebration, and days of anguish and vulnerability.
Although she insists that there are lots of details which she has deliberately left out about her perceptions of the socio-political clouds that assailed her father, this book has been quite revealing. Thus we are drawn into an appreciation of both the unique and collective qualities of her parents as portrayed in this work. And we are helped by the author’s keen memory and intricate recollection of events, dates, personalities and social contexts of her family trajectory. On top of that, we are urged on, as we turn page after page, by Mrs Adegbola’s potent storytelling prowess.