ADENIJI-ADELE: A PASSAGE TOO SOON
By Uthman Shodipe
We stood at the ancestral crossroads of Isale-Eko where magic and myth often collide in cultural rivalry, where the sacred grove of the Olobun tree still looms in haunting tempering and respectability, where our beginning was sprung in that intersectional junction ebbing the shores of the primordial lagoon that gave life and fertility to the primal identity of the Lagosian origin.
Upon this ancient earth, in this hallowed soil, where Oba Ado Keme once walked in his immortal majesty in that tentative stirring of a new nation, where Oba Ologun-Kutere in the ferment and awesome regality of his powers once contested with the gods for eminence, here we were swept in the shining alabaster radiance that illuminated everywhere in one massive curtain of ringing, infinite brightness.
Amid this endless spectacle of uniform, shining adornments and the flourishes of the vast illimitable ranks of Eyo Adimu and Eyo Okolaba Ekun, both facing each other in that ritualistic confrontation between two traditional deities which was first enacted more than four hundred years ago for Olugbani – the mother of mothers- there was a great gap that groaned with mystical silence, trembling with awe and deep soaking tension between the concourses of the deities.
Here, in this divide, stood a prince among princes and titled Chiefs at the head of the Okolaba deity. Adorned in his copious, flowing Agbada with the flaming red Akete, the broad – rimmed bowler hat that defined the unique salience of the Eyo in its traditional beauty and cultural reverence, the prince burnished with charm and energy of the ancient days.
There was about him a cheerful radiant largeness which infected everywhere with attractive alert and a circling gaiety that touched everyone with a charm and a spontaneous grace. There was a certain genuineness about Ademola Adebayo Adisa Adeniji-Adele, the prince who sprung from Idi-Omo in the bowels of Isale-Eko.
There was that unforced immediacy of the love of tradition and the instinctive celebration of the ancient ways in this princely presence who seemed to flow and skirt across the ancestral soil with unbelievable ease and smoothness of passage that defied his huge Falstaffian physicality.
There was contentment and purposeful resolve in this prince and scholar who could accommodate the most elevated challenge of modernity and the deepest arcana of traditional emblems with effortless grace and balanced certitudes.
He dashed about the ancient soil amid the ritualistic pageant with the learned settledness of the initiate and a proud protector of the ways of our fathers. Here and there, his voice would boom in hearty sharpness and defined thunder even in that raucous throbbing and drama of our cultural articulation.
In that joy and revelry, in that sobering adherence to the unifying past, in that vivid celebrative glow and the all-engrossing triumph, the prince radiated a certain distinction and personal magic that brightened in its own truth and validity, that shone in an evocative eminence that was without malice or induced affectations.
Adele could exude and affirm in the native rootedness of Isale-Eko because he was without the transplanted distancing of an alienated prince who came late in the reckoning of the ways of our ancestors. He was born in that very courtly provenance of Iga Idunganran in 1956, six years after his father ascended the throne of Oba Ado.
Oba Musediku Buraimoh Adeniji-Adele raised his children in that uncommon duality of traditional tenets and modern intrusions without which none can compete in balanced felicity. In this, the young Adele who trained as a Chemical Engineer could boast of the mastery of the corpus of the Shrine of Oba Ado and at once roused in the enviable comprehension of the dynamic constancy of the laws of chemical composition.
But ultimately it was as a public figure and passionate activist that Adele excelled in profound commitment and selfless dedication to righting the wrongs and rectifying the maladies of tyrannical excesses. Here the Prince of Hope as he was famously addressed lunged himself into the bruising fray with defiance and admirable courage as he collided against the ravages of power in the nation’s darkest hour.
Here his commitment was unflinching, his focus primed in resolved totality as he marshaled the democratic troops against a deranged tyrant who would palter with immortal God for eminence ! In and out of the Oppressor’s dungeon and the chain, Adele was unbroken and unyielding, absolutely fixated on wielding the purgatorial lash against the venom of the primitive who held a nation captive.
In that challenging severity when basic rights were unknown, when lesser men and prudent stalwarts either sold their conscience to serve the hour or fled into the liberating cordon of exile to escape the tyrant’s death squad or the incremental destruction of a bruising dungeon, Adele maneuvered in firm heroic exactitudes, boldly insistent on reclaiming the stolen mandate of a man whose eventual martyrdom gave birth to the present semblance of Liberty.
In the swirl and storm of that hideous period, Adele’s defining moment was forever etched in the historic scripted drama and sheer bravura of the Epetedo Declaration when all alone, he coordinated Abiola’s declaration of himself as the elected President while the dark-goggled despot still stirred in full bristling murderousness.
Defying the dungeon and the stake, Adele rallied the ordinary Lagosians in twos and tens, until they grew into a surging animated crowd who trooped out in a torrential rain to cheer and support the symbol of a thwarted democratic dawn. It was a dangerous enterprise for the people and more so for Adele, the organizer of what the military junta eventually called a treasonable action.
Adele survived the goon squad and the tyrant’s cudgel, unyielding in the fixity for equity, the pursuit of justice and the fairness doctrine. He was never afraid to speak the truth to power and confronted the ills of society with the admirable resolve of a relentless crusader.
Beyond the national grapple and the tyrant’s chain, Adele equally grew in stature and reckoning at home where he assailed the crudity of greedy, imperious usurpers who trample still upon our accommodating largeness with contempt and reckless indifference, mistaking our tolerance and embrace of everyone for stupidity and a license for a brazen conquest.
Up to the very end, even in sickness and physical debilitation, my cousin was unfailing in his pursuit, unflagging in his determined zeal and declarative energy of freeing Lagos from the stifling chain and the dark venom of little men whose sun is now receding into inglorious forfeiture and terminal disgrace.
My cousin has served his course. His duty is done. His mission is fulfilled. He will be remembered both in the dark passages and in the bright days for his large- hearted fixity and his constant devotion to the enhancement and the promotion of the Lagosian identity.
Wherever truth is told, wherever honor, service, sacrifice and excellence are celebrated in esteemed importance and cultural relevance, Ademola, the Prince of Hope, will be mentioned in sacred relevance and eternal signification.