The matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty, Chief (Mrs) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, who died on Saturday, will be buried on her centenary birthday, November 25, her family disclosed yesterday. The eldest daughter of the deceased, Rev. Omotola Oyediran, who spoke on behalf of the family, confirmed the report published on Monday by New Telegraph. Awolowo, who was the Yeye Oodua, died at her residence 67 days to her centenary birthday. She was aged 99 years.
Speaking while receiving the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, at the Awolowo family’s residence in Ikenne-Remo, Oyediran noted that her mother would have clocked 100 on November 25, adding that arrangements for the celebration had been in top gear.
She disclosed that as part of the centenary birthday preparations, the family had requested well-wishers from far and near to write tributes for the late Mama Awolowo. She, however, assured that those tributes would still be accommodated and published in the programmes being packaged for her burial. Oyediran commended Jonathan for keeping close contact with the Awolowo family, stressing that the former president had shown deep love for the family.
She said: “I also want to thank all of you, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Afenifere and the other groups for all the beautiful things you have said about our mother. “What can we say but to give God all the glory for a very beautiful life she lived. She has done so much and it is impossible for us to put all that she has done together. “I want to assure you that though some of you have received letters in the past about the centenary in order to write tributes for her, I want to assure you that those tributes will be printed. “I want to assure CAN that we are going to give them a special time when the time comes. I want to appeal to all of you to be part of celebrating mama.
“By the grace of God, we haven’t concluded the arrangements but I would let you know that the very day that she was supposed to be 100 years, she would be buried. There will be dancing amid tears at the burial of who I call Iya niwura.
“There is no way you can separate papa from mama and mama from papa; the story is one. It is interesting that papa passed on Saturday, 9th of May, 1987 and mama also passed on Saturday, 19th of September, 2015. We give God all the glory.” Also speaking, the youngest child of the Awolowo family, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, expressed gratitude to Nigerians who had continued to sympathise with the family. Jonathan said the death of the matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty forced him out of hiding.
Jonathan said since he left government on May 29, he had wished to keep a low profile for at least one year but Awolowo’s death made it impossible. Jonathan, who arrived at 1:17p.m., was accompanied by his wife, Patience; former Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Mulikat Adeola- Akande, and former chairman, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Engr. Jide Adeniji. Jonathan described the late Mrs. Awolowo as “a rare mother.”
According to him, the deceased was a mother whose milk of kindness, encouragement and advice is still needed by Nigerians. The former president recalled that he saw the deceased last during his presidential campaign ahead of the March 28 poll, which he lost to the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. He said: “Death is an inevitable end that would come when it would come. So, we know it would come for all of us one day and here we are today, we have been coming here.
“The last time I came here, it was associated with the last presidential electioneering. But before, I’ve been here severally to see Mama in one way or the other. We are mourning her today; me and my wife, we are not mourning because Mama has passed on. “For me, we believe that it’s a rare privilege to add extra 29 years to the Biblical two scores and 10; it’s not easy. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have been mourning but Mama was a rare mother.
“She was a woman of virtue described in the Bible and she was a mother to all of us; a mother that her milk of kindness we still need, her milk of encouragement we still need, her milk of advice we still need and today she’s no more with us. “We have come to pay our last respect. We, just like the immediate children, and indeed this country, have missed her. “Within this period, myself and my wife have been hiding; we don’t even go out. We thought we’ll be hiding for at least 12 months. But in this particular case, we cannot hide.
“So, we’ve come for the condolence and to encourage our brothers and sisters that we are together. God brought her for all of us. She just had to be the direct mother of few but she’s a mother to all. We shall mourn more than even the direct children would.”