The book: “A Short Stroll Along History Avenue (2019, Akoosa Publishers),” written by Hon. (Barr) Femi Kehinde, takes a plunge into the depths of history of the past in order to make us understand the future.
The book: “A Short Stroll Along History Avenue,” opens with the author’s deep eulogy of Ibadan.
In the first Chapter, titled Oke-Ado as Ibadan’s Early Epicentre, the author embarks on a description of Oke-Ado in Ibadan, and its cultural heritage including a citation of an ancient myth that depicts an account of Ibadan’s stupendous growth. According to Hon Femi Kehinde, Ibadan is home to numerous non-indigenes who have thrived in their legitimate businesses, even more than her indigenes, as well as the fact that Ibadan has housed prominent elites who chose to live in the heart of the city, the sprawling “Oke-Ado” referred to as “Titi Oke -Ado”. The reader can visualize the scenario the author paints here about Ibadan and its numerous “Hills” and “Bottoms” with a concise geographical description of each of the junctions which peculiarly lead to the most mentioned part of the city, Titi Oke-Ado.
The author’s keen sense of history is brought to the fore as he writes about prominent personalities that once inhabited the place, like Obafemi Awolowo, the former premier of the Western Region, who lived in Ibadan since 1927, and is described as Oke-Bola’s most prominent tenant and later landlord. The author also tells the story of the origins of “Molete, and Oke-Ado”, and he writes about how the famous Molete bus-stop came by its name.
In this book, Hon Femi Kehinde recounts the humour, wit, and sarcastic sayings of Olubadan Yesufu Oloyede Asanike I. In the Chapter titled: “Yesufu Oloyede Asanike I: the king with humour, wit and sarcasm,” the author also presents a chronological roll-call of the witty monarch’s predecessors and successors. Included in the work is a fact-based appreciation and eulogy of the Yoruba monarchical system, emphasizing the dominant and pre-dominant political activities during their reigns.
In this book, the author writes glowingly about two great patrons of royalty: the very powerful and elegant Alaafin Adeniran Adeyemi II and Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III. Here, the history and conquests of the Oyo Empire are beautifully weaved into the royal stories.
The 4th chapter in this work tells the story of Moshood Adisa Olabisi Ajala, popularly known as “Ajala the Traveller”. The chapter is titled “Between fame and penury: The life and times of Olabisi Ajala – The traveller.” The chapter presents the exploits of the young, adventurous, and fun-loving Ajala the traveller, and how he lived a life of reckless abandon with a detailed account of his background, family and education including his escapades with women. The author cites numerous adulations the subject had received from famous musicians like Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey (a juju music veteran) and Late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (Fuji music veteran) and exactly how the songs were written.
In the book, we read about Ajala’s travels to about 87 countries, how he attained the status of a serial polygamist, and how he died in misery penury in 1999.
Also in the book, the chapter, “And the death of meteors” is a catalogue of the life and times of a selection of some persons whom the author describes as meteors. These are specifically Africans who were trail blazers, and unique in their ways, but who died in their youth. In a rather sombre and emotion-laden tone, the author tells the stories of Raphael Ernest Grill Armattoe (born in 1913 and died in 1953), Duro Ladipo the theatre icon who was born in 1931 and died in 1978 at the age of 47.
We also read about Walter Rodney (1942 to 1980), Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi (1972 to 2019), Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu (1915 to 1958), Olusegun Awolowo, who was born in 1939 and died in an automobile crash at about age 25 in 1963, and lastly, Tunji Ogunkanmi (who was born in 1960 and died in year 2000). Indeed, the author fittingly describes these great men as meteors, and asserts that meteors are not meant to live long.
In the book, the author also gives space to some iconic women in the Nigerian colonial and post-colonial milieu. Thus in the chapter, “Feminism as a credible force against colonialism and imperialism: The Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti’s story as pathfinder in Nigeria”, the author showcases the exploits of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, her roles as Nigeria’s first woman activist and doyen of female rights in Nigeria. The author praised the doggedness, ruggedness, and determination of some bold, principled and daring women, and how they opened up the path to freedom and emancipation from colonialism, and struggled for an egalitarian society, abundant life, and women’s rights. Alongside the great feminist, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the author has sweet stories to tell us about others like Hajia Gambo Sawaba, Chief Margaret Ekpo, and Janet Okala.
In the book, A Short Stroll Along History Avenue, Hon Femi Kehinde writes about Chief Sogboyega Odulate, the man who patented the popular drug, “Alabukun” in 1918 and his doting daughter Folake Solanke. In this book, we read about the bold and audacious Folake Solanke and her evergreen presence on the Nigerian current affairs landscape. The stories of her rare encounter with an unyielding suitor T.O.S. Benson, and their celebrated court cases are told here as well.
In this work, we read about John Idowu Conrad Taylor who lived a worthy and exemplary life and incorruptibly excelled in the Nigerian judicial firmament. In the work, the author likened the life of J.I.C. Tailor to the judge in D. Olu Olagoke’s drama, The Incorruptible Judge, for his candid plot against bribery and corruption in the society.
Chapter 9 of the book is titled: “Ebenezer Obey: Between Music and philosophy – Celebrating a Living Legend.” Ebenezer Obey is eulogised and celebrated for his enormous contribution to the existence of the Juju music genre. The author extensively sets out the biography of Ebenezer Obey, and gives a brilliant appraisal of his background, fame and successes, and philosophical thoughts behind his songs. In this section, the author takes time to intricately trace the history and trajectory of juju music, giving us a peep into the lives of the characters who gave city life a lift with their music. Such people mentioned in the book include Abdul Rafiu Adekunle King, popularly known as Tunde King and was believed to have popularised the juju brand of music. He is reported to have waxed an album in 1937, including Ayinde Bakare who also waxed an album the same year. Others include Ernest Olatunde Thomas (known as Tunde Nightingale), Fatai Rolling Dollars, Adeolu Akinsanya (Baba Eto), Dele Ojo, Victor Olaiya, I.K. Dairo, among many others. The author however notes that Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade made the juju music brand popular with their spectacular innovations.
In this book, the author writes about legal icon, titan and pathfinder, GKJ Amachree, Oba Rilwan Akiolu II, the current Lagos monarch, and Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and former governor of Sokoto state.
In the final analysis, the book is a potent testimony to the power of history as a perpetual reminder of our glorious past and the icons who dotted our local and national social, economic, political and traditional landscape. This book, and its author jolt us into the reality of our vulnerability to all sorts of misrepresentations of our being by our disregard for history. It is a well-researched, well written book, full of deep analysis of our history, and the author has indeed demonstrated that with the benefit of history, we can be assured of a glorious future as a people.
. Olatunbosun is a broadcast journalist, fact-checker and book reviewer at Splash FM 105.5, Ibadan. He can be reached via email@example.com and on X @miketunbosun.