|Aare Afe Babalola, SAN|
“Hello Onigegewura! Please hold on for Aare Afe Babalola.”
My first thought was that it must be a prank call. Then I heard the voice. It was clear. It was crisp. It was cultured. It was the voice of the Legend himself.
“Onigegewura! My son! You are a gifted writer!”
The phone nearly dropped from my trembling hand. “Kara O le, Sir. I am humbled, Sir.”
“It was my daughter, Bolanle Austen-Peters, who forwarded the excellent piece you wrote on MKO Abiola to me. From the first paragraph, I was hooked. Your imagination is so vivid. Your prose is fluid and effortless. You captured everything that happened in that case accurately and graphically. Senior lawyers have been calling to congratulate me all over again!”
This must be a dream. And Iya Agba had warned me about the effect of eating pounded yam late in the day. “You must come and see me” Aare continued. “I haven’t read a refreshing piece like that in a long while.”
Well, if it was a dream, it was a very long one. I arrived at Afe Babalola University campus in Ado-Ekiti still expecting to wake up from my dream. Mr. Tunde Olofintila was waiting for me. He hugged me like a long lost brother.
“Onigegewura! Aare has been looking all over the world for you. He’s waiting for you.”
Aare Afe Babalola waiting for me? I knew sooner or later the pounded-yam induced dream would end.
“Aare, your son is here. This is Onigegewura!”
“ONIGEGEWURA! I have to stand up to greet you.” And the strangest thing I have ever witnessed happened. The Aare Bamofin of Yorubaland, Commander of the Order of the Niger, the Fiwajoye of Ado-Ekiti, the legendary Senior Advocate of Nigeria stood up and hugged me. “You will excel in life. You will succeed.”
I was speechless. I was lost for words. I was dumbfounded.
What followed was surreal. People were coming in and going out as we were talking. With every new visitor, Aare would pause and ask them if they knew me. “That’s Onigegewura. He’s brilliant and talented. His research is impeccable!” A traditional ruler entered. A medical doctor came in. A professor of law popped in. It was the same effusive introduction.
|Justice Mustapha Akanbi - The Incorruptible Judge|
“You are doing a great job. You have just started. You still have more history to document. Don’t you think your readers and the future generation should know about how June 12 Election was annulled on the day I was in court for MKO Abiola? Justice Akanbi was determined to hear the case. And you know Justice Akanbi is incorruptible and fearless I will tell you the brilliant thing His Lordship did. That was a sad day indeed. You need to write that story in your vintage Onigegewura style. Let me show you something.”
Aare brought out a volume and asked me to read what he had written about the episode. It was a gripping account. I was already seeing the courtroom scene in my mind. Ìrókò ti wo si ile agbédó. Isé di sise. When Iroko tree falls into the compound of a carver, the carver has his work cut out for him.
At this point, I was certain it was not a dream. I was actually in the presence of the first Aare Bamofin of Yorubaland. Baba went on to regale me with stories upon stories of cases I had only read in Law Reports. I was soaking everything in. It was like being in the presence of an encyclopedia.
“Aare, Onigegewura’s readers are asking me about the story of the Most Suspicious Woman in the World. I titled it From the Other Room To the Court Room (https://onigegewura.blogspot.com.ng/2017/07/from-other-room-to-courtroom-true-story.html) They thought it was incredible.”
“You have written that one too? Ha! It was an incredible story. It is a story every couple should read.”
Like Oliver Twist, I continued to ask for more. Aare was very patient with me. He answered every question. Every response was backed up with facts and authorities. What a prodigious memory! I was in the presence of History!
And the time came for me to leave. “Thank you, Onigegewura. You must come here more often.” Aare thanking me? I should be the one to express my profound appreciation for this opportunity to learn at the feet of the Master who had trained more than 2,500 lawyers, including 15 Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Then I remembered something. “Aare, I read something you wrote about 14 years ago, Sir. You concluded the piece by narrating the story of a young lawyer who was taught everything by his master and still failed to make it…”
“Onigegewura! You read that piece?” Aare was beaming with happiness. It is the same feeling I have every time I meet an Onigegewura Family Member.
|The Teaching Hospital|
I was smiling. Aare instinctively understood what Onigegewura wanted. Baba smiled.
“I will wish you luck. I will wish you the best of luck. I will also pray for you”. And Aare Afe Babalola wished me the best of luck and prayed for me. It was a moving prayer. It was heartfelt. Aare hugged me again. “You will be great. You will excel. You will be successful.” Amen!
|College of Law|
Khalid was calling me to come and see something. I checked the time. Not today.
As I drove off, I remembered an expression I read a long time ago in the autobiography of Oba Adedapo Tejuosho, the Osile of Oke-Ona. Ohun a ko ni tun se, a ko ni fowo kan. He touches nothing which he does not adorn. This is an expression that aptly describes Aare Afe Babalola. Here is a man who excels in everything he touches. As a legal practitioner, he excels. As a farmer, he is successful. As an educationist, he has become the reference point. What a man! What a Legend!
To commemorate my visit to Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, I will be giving a copy of Baba’s autobiography to one of our readers. Trust me, the book is unputdownable! To win the book, please answer these two questions in the comment section:
1. Aare Afe Babalola is the Mayegun of………….
2. When was Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti established?
Onigegewura will pick the winner from the correct entries. The book will be sent by registered post to the winner anywhere in Nigeria.
With my best wishes,