The untold story of HID Awolowo..Must read for all nigerians


Last Saturday, the words of Shakespeare resonated loudly in Ikene, Nigeria, -”When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” And like it was 28 years ago when Chief Obafemi Awolowo died, the entire country was shaken by the death of Mama, Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, a jewel of inestimable value.

The Ikene residence of the Matriarch has since become a Mecca of a kind with people, groups men and women from all shades of life trooping in to register their condolences. The children – Reverend Tola Oyediran and Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu including other family members were on hand to receive visitors at the Efunyela Hall of the Awo residence.


From 8:am , till 6:pm daily, there was no dull moment as dignitaries, politicians, businessmen and high net worth individuals kept trooping in, filling every little time the host had to rest. As their hosts dissected the life and times of H.I.D,, visitors took turn to comment and pay glowing tributes to the Matriarch.

According to Dr Tokunbo who spoke exclusively with Saturday Vanguard on the life and times of Mama, she stated that Mama was happy and as a result, she embraced death with ease.

Her beginning

“She was the only child of her mother. Her Mother was very anxious of giving her the best training. She felt that if she stayed at home with her, she might over-pamper her and she took her to a Pastor in Lagos and that was where she grew up. Mama grew up under a very strict upbringing and thus was very disciplined. If you did not do anything right, all she needed to do was just one look and you would understand what she meant.”

Her marriage to Papa and her sterling qualities

They were introduced to each other by a cousin of Mama in Ikenne here and after the introduction, things became firmed up and that was how they got married. She was a very quite person, very enterprising. After they got married, Papa initially said she should not work but the business traits in her could not allow that. After some time, Papa permitted her to engage in trading. And since then, she had carried on working, she showed outstanding business acumen.

Even the week she died, she was still asking about her business, monitoring her sales and stocking her stores in Ikenne. She ran The Tribune until she died. She was a very hard working woman. Her hard work paid off when Papa went to the United Kingdom, leaving her with three children.

She did not only manage the home very well, ensuring that nobody lacked anything, she also sent money to Papa in the UK. It was a surprise to even Papa then that she was able to manage the home and also send money to him. So she carried on working, although at that time her store was within the premises of our home. She was a seamstress, what is popularly known now as Fashion Designer.

She was also selling fabrics. She was a complete entrepreneur. She knew how to turn everything into money. Again, this quality also paid off during the Awolowo crisis, when Papa was incarcerated. She felt that the environment was just too hostile for my sister and me to get any meaningful education.

She took the best decision then by sending us abroad for studies and she did everything possible to ensure that there was no hitch. That was very courageous of a woman. That also helped in giving us the best education. I also gathered from some documents I read recently, including Papa’s letter to her while he was in prison that she also spent her money on the party then and they both agreed that the money would not be refunded. Both of them were a team.

At a point, it was clear that Papa kind of politics was being beaten to a retreat. Although there was no room for that now, but she felt that the best was to become non-partisan.

She really felt bad about the politics of bitterness between 1962-1966. Everything was bad but my conclusion was that they both had a life-machine which could only be propelled by both of them, because I don’t how both of them kept on and the question of either of them giving up never arose.

Her kind of food

She liked amala a lot.

How she spent her last day

She woke up that Saturday Morning, got ready for a meeting of extended family in Ikene. It was a monthly meeting of extended family members. Since, I have been here in Ikene, she would ask me to represent her at the meeting but on that day, she decided to attend the meeting and she presided over the meeting. She was there before any one. She waited for others. So, the meeting started by 10:am.

The meeting dwelled on the plans for her centenary birthday. And since a committee was raised to firm up arrangement on that, we asked her to retire back into her room after a few hours and at 11:30am she went into her room. Co-incidentally, we were having our own meeting on the same event too and she was invited and she came.

We sang for her, and she prayed and blessed us more than how she used to do and then retired back into her room. After a few minutes, suddenly, I was called and I rushed into her room, and when my sister and I got there, she was gasping for breath and moments after she stopped breathing. Certainly, we did not expect she would leave us that day or soon. So, it was a shock.

Burial arrangement

“It was supposed to be a week activity and I think the burial will be drawn from that and until we conclude arrangement, I cannot tell you more on that.”

She lived a fulfilled life

“She was absolutely fulfilled. In this world, the most successful people are those who discovered their actual life-machine and stayed with it.

It was very clear that when you reflect on her last moment, she was very comfortable. She embraced the end, she breathed her last with ease and I could see that she was happy. That is not to say that she had achieved everything or had solved every nagging issue, but I think she was satisfied that she had done her best.” No doubt it was a life well lived and that calls for celebration. Adieu Mama.

What people say about HID

Her Sense of humor was fantastic —Ebenezer Babatope

At 35, when I became Director of Organisation of the UPN, I learned so much from Mama. I considered every advice that she gave me. Her sense of humor was fantastic. When Mr John Mill in charge of Papa’s case came to ransack Papa’s house, John Mill went as far as searching the pot of soup, and one day he came again after Papa had been released. Mama introduced John Mill to Papa saying: “that troublesome man is here again. Now, I think we better assemble everything we had cooked so that he can search everything.” That was humorous.

She kept the legacies of her husband to the very end. When Papa was arraigned before Federal Commission of Inquiry, and so many of Mama’s friends were incarcerated, she visited them all, empathized with them and kept their spirit on.

She was very politically conscious — Neighbour

She read a lot. Mama read all the newspapers available in Ikene. If there was anything that concerned any of her associates, she would be the first to draw attention to it. She was very concerned about the image of people close to her.

She’s our Mama, we are proud of her —Neighbour

She lived a very purposeful life. She was very energetic and business conscious. She had a couple of stores here in Ikene and even when, recently, she could not go out again, she knew everything going on there. She was very generous and friendly with everybody. Honestly, she was our mother, she took us as her own children and we are proud of her.

She was generous. She built a block of classrooms in the Obafemi Awolow Health and Sciences Department of the Olabisi Onobanjo University, Ikenne-Remo. She gave a bus to her Old School, Methodist Girls’ High School, and a lot of other valuable gifts to other institutions including churches. She presented a modern Children’s ward to Ikenne Community to mention a few.

She was a reference point for Motherhood—Senator Okunronmu

Mama united everybody. She always said to people irrespective of political affiliation that whenever they entered this home, they should drop party sentiment and become true Yoruba persons. She was blunt and never called a spade another name. She was a reference point for Motherhood

She was a rallying point—Otuba Gani Adams

She became a rallying point for the entire Yoruba race. She formed the Yoruba Unity Forum and brought everybody together. We will miss her, Nigeria will miss her

She kept the legacies of Awo —Tokunbo Ajasin

When I was in UPGA in Owo, she led a campaign team of women and all the women folk were hailing her. She was Mama Nigeria with her nationalist ideology. She was able to use that ideal nature to manage the home when Papa was in incarceration. She kept on all the legacies of Papa and I hope the children will and all the associates will not allow this effort to be in vain.

What neighbours say about HID Awolowo

Daud Olatunji went  round Ikenne,  the country home of late HID Awolowo who died on September 19 and sought the feelings of neighbours and those who had one or two things to do with the late matriarch of the Awolowo family.

Mrs. Yinka Ogunbowale

Mama was a very good person. Since I  have been here, she has been  very nice to everybody and to family members and she used to cuddle  children a lot. My father in-law is related to Mama. The day we had a fire incident in our house, she was one of those who called firefighters.

Mr. Musiliu Sanni (Awolowo’s tailor)

Mama was a good person and I thank God because I was the one who sewed  clothes for Papa and I used to sew iro and buba (wrappers) for his wife while he was still alive and I was the senior security in those days of Unity Party of Nigeria. When Papa died, I was in charge of his museum on environmental days. I direct all those who go there from all over. Mama provided water for us in the area but we the community could not maintain.

Mrs. Ebun Obalola

I am not an indigene of Ikenne, but since I have been here, Mama has been very good to me. If she is celebrating birthday, we cook for her and she handsomely rewards us. She gives us water if we want to fetch water.

There is nothing she does that she does not call us especially me. She honours me, gives me things and so on. When N20 note was introduced, she gave me to see, later, she gave me N400 saying I should allow anyone to know about it.

Even when Baba was alive and Chief Oluwole Awolowo, they all did remarkable things for me. They call me Iya Omoye in this area. Now that Mama is dead, I am going to miss a lot of things because whenever I want to travel home and I go to her, she assists me and at times she helps me in the payment of school fees. She was always there for me.

Mrs. Esther Iyabo Adeyemi

She is my mother. Mama is a very good woman. We both attended the family meeting on Saturday before she died. At the meeting, she said we should pray and she ordered the men present to take off their caps after which she prayed. We were shown the cloth material of her 100th year birthday.

There was this woman who came from Lagos, after greeting Mama, Mama accused her of not always coming for meetings. Mama did not show any sign of death that day. During the meeting, Mama requested for pounded yam made from cocoyam, she ate right there. When my husband died, she called her aides to give me food. I am still in shock over her death.

Mr. Adebowale Taiwo Orepitan

Mama is a very nice woman. Mama is my father’s elder sister. Mama likes discipline, she likes  people who are well educated and speak politely before making judgment. I attend the fellowship at her house because Mama is a good Christian. When Baba died, Mama urged us to continue the good work Baba did.

I am a divorcee; Mama was one of those who gave me money for the education of one of my sons. I do not see anyone like Mama in this area. If she sees you, she would ask about somebody she knows with you. I have been missing that since Mama died. Whether old or small, she doesn’t care, she brings everyone together. We miss Mama a lot.

Mrs. Bose Orepitan

I am Mama’s wife here in Ikenne, I am a regular face in her house even when I need things, I go there. There was a day she called for me (she referred to me as Iyawo Tunji), we joke and play. She counsels little children especially during festivals. She also relates with virtually all her aides.

We hold fellowship on Tuesdays at her house. We are definitely going to miss her. By next week, the fellowship will have its anniversary and Mama has been entertaining us but now she won’t be there to entertain us again.

Evangelist Emmanuel Adegunwa

She is a very good woman. We have been attending the same church, Our Saviour’s, for a long time. We hold fellowship at her house. Mama does not disturb anybody coming to her house. Before we got water in my house, we used to go and fetch water at her house. When television set was introduced, we used to go to her house to watch it.    She loves children and everyone. She did a lot of things for us and we pray God should give us another replacement.

Mrs. Alice Odubela

Mama is someone who loves everyone in the community. I attend the fellowship at her house and it is not only those who attend Our Saviour’s because I attend another church.

Mrs. Victoria Ogunkoya

Mama is a good person and doesn’t like cheating. She loves children. She buys clothes for children during anniversaries of Our Saviour’s Church. If anyone needs assistance especially those whose parents are not privileged, she assists them. She hates lies and laziness.