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‘Long Life Is God’s Special Gift’
Chief (Dr) Mrs. HID Awolowo, on Friday, celebrated her 96th birthday anniversary in Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State. Although the occasion was conceived to be a low-keyed event, all roads still led to the home of the Awolowos, where the milestone anniversary was marked with a Holy Communion service at the family chapel. Well-wishers and political disciples of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, had started to fill up the chapel as early as 7:00 a.m, 30 minutes before the service started.
It was a moment of thanksgiving to God for His grace and mercy on the celebrant, when the Bishop of Remo Anglican Diocese, Right Reverend Olusina Fape, mounted the pulpit to give his homily. Speaking on the theme “My times Are in God’s Hands” and quoting copious scriptures, particularly verses 14 and 15a of Psalm 31, he said God deserved to be praised for the grace bestowed on Mama to witness another milestone in good health.
“There are those who might be wondering why Mama is celebrating her birthday when she just lost one of her daughters, Otunba Ayo Soyode. By celebrating, she is saying that nothing can separate her from the love of God,” he said.
According to Fape, the celebrant, like the biblical David, has had a mixed grill of unpleasant and pleasant experiences of life. She has known what it was to be a first lady of the Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Nigerian who, rather than being celebrated, was persecuted for his resolve to liberate the people from intellectual and social poverty. Awo, he said, continues to be relevant even after his death because of his enduring legacies.
While praying God to continue to spare Mama’s life, Bishop Fape noted that the celebrant could not query God why she is still among the living, because her times are in God’s hands. He added that although only the living can celebrate birthdays, such celebration would only be meaningful if celebrated in Christ Jesus, as is the case with HID. He charged her to have a retrospective reflection on her times and finish all that remained to be concluded in service to God and humanity before death comes.
He commended Governor Ibikunle Amosun for leaving state duties to mark a joyous occasion with Mama Awolowo, describing the decision as a mark that the ‘Jewel’ is still relevant, not only in the state but also in the entire country. The bishop also used the occasion to call on people to spend their times pursuing good things that would benefit humanity.
The status of the celebrant as the Mother of the nation was reaffirmed with the presence of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, after the service. When the Lexus Jeep in which he was driven pulled up at the residence, it was not clear who the personality was until he emerged from the vehicle unassumingly, and headed for where the celebrant and a motley of traditional rulers from Yorubaland were seated. As soon as he congratulated Mama, he said “Mama, we thank God for your life, that you are still strong at 96.” He thereafter intoned a “happy birthday” song in honour of the jolly celebrant.
Governors Uduaghan and Amosun later paid solidarity visits to Master Oluwole Awolowo, publisher of the Tribune titles and one of Mama’s children, on his sick bed.
Also paying glowing tribute were a leader of the Afenifere group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ebenezer Babatope among others.
“We pray for more years for her in good health. The lesson for younger folks about her life is that they should always be loyal and consistent in what they do. Mama is a mother in Israel; always embracing everybody. The younger ones should also learn from her how to be honest,” Adebanjo remarked.
According to Babatope, “Mama means a lot to many of us. She was the mother of all the political parties that Papa Awo established while he was here with us. She remains till today, everything that is good about humanity. This is why we come here every November to celebrate with her. We do not want her to die now; we still love and need her. Seeing her encourages us to believe that we too can live long. It is a special gift of God to live long.
“All of us who are Awolowo people and even those who are not, are here celebrating with her. She is a fantastic inspiration to womanhood and to those who believe in justice,” Ebino Topsy, as Chief Babatope is fondly called, said.Share