Here in Ake, Abeokuta lies a house that should be known to all Nigerians. It is a a house that should by now have been taken over by the National Museum or the state variant of it.
A couple of days ago I was in the party of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for a walk through Abeokuta as a final push to get Governor Ibikunle Amosun and his APM candidate out of power.
There right on the road, abandoned and almost decrepit is this house built by great Nigerians and where they sired great people who also gave birth another generation who are on their way to greatness.
There in Ake lies a national monument that could have attracted people wanting to learn about the advent of christianity in Nigeria; those who want to know how the battle for women suffrage was fought and the power that abounds in our women to foment change is society; those who want to learn the history of the National Union Of Teachers; those who want to know about a strong and powerful member of a committee that helped brought about the first university in Nigeria; those who want to know and learn about service, real , genuine and undiluted service to ones nation; those who want to learn about social political struggle and commitment.
Above all there is so much inspiration to be derived from this house by musicians and aficionados of music all over the world. A house our children from all over the country should visit to learn a bit of our history, our glorious and not so glorious past.
This is the house where Fela Anikulapo Kuti , the one who had death in his pouch and will never die was born, the most famous musician Nigeria and Africa gave to the world.
This is the house where Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti was born. Olikoye was that academic and former Minister Of Health who was service personified. He was a man who dedicated his life and service to child mortality , a man who carried his bag on his shoulder and sold oral rehydration to Nigerians and the rest of the world with the passion you can only find in the hawkers of medicines in Molue buses.
This is the house where Beko Ransome Kuti, the taciturn , pint sized revolutionary, medical doctor and unionist was born. Beko fought for democracy at the risk of his life and was jailed many times for his belief.
Before them it is the house built by the Christian minister and educationist Israel Oludotun Ransome Kuti and his wife Funmilayo Ransome Kuti built , where they gave birth to , raised and educated their children and many other Egba children who rose up to national and international fame.
History tells us too that this is a house that held some fascination for Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka in his adolescence , the house where as he recounted in his biography Ake, The Years Of Childhood, he first encountered daring and spitting in the face of naked power.
It is the house built by the children of early Nigerian Christians , and musicians who composed Christian hymns and gave the Egba’s their anthem, Lori Oke Ati Petele. How I loved in my youth the rendition of that song by Obey, the Juju musician.
As I walked on the street of Abeokuta, with Osinbajo, 80 year old Aremo Olusegun Osoba, the immensely popular politician Yayi who represents Lagos in the Senate , the locals and several other patriots I was so energized and committed to the struggle that this ancient town of great men who gave so much to our country and the world must not be left to ruin. Memory also welled up in me of the several walks participated in by the Kutis to free Nigeria from the colonial masters and later her jackboot rulers.
We kept on the walk for three and half hours joining in singing the orin ote as composed by the locals- Amosun Padanu Modupe ( thank God Amosun has been put to shame ) that being from the acronym of his surrogate political party APM.
By the way Yorubas are so good at songs of this type to declaim the powerful and the wicked at a time of struggle for freedom.
As we continued the walk news went round the expansive town. People joined from far and near wearing all manners of attires with a touch of yellow, the campaign color chosen by Dapo Abiodun. DA as he is called is a business man who offered to govern the state by confronting his former friend Amosun who vowed never to allow him get to Oke Mosan government house .
As we walked our way to the historical Ake Hall, which by the way is also getting decrepit, addressed a gathering of Baales , outside it a rally of thousands of Egbas, Ijebus, Aworis and Yewas and dashed across the road to pay obeisance to Alake, I could see in the faces of the multitude the determination to send packing a ruler who has allowed power to make him mad just as Funmilayo, Fela’s mum did several years before when she mobilized the women to depose a tyrannical ruler.
Just as our push helped in saving the state three days later at the polls from falling this house too must not be allowed to fall.
Over to you Dapo Abiodun.
Senator Babafemi Ojudu is Special Adviser to the President On Political Matters.