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Alake Kolade (1941-2015): Exit Of An Amazon


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LIKE the sound of a thunderbolt, the death   of the Iyalode of Osogbo, Chief Mrs.Bernice Alake Kolade, who died on February 12, this year, at the age of 74 in Osogbo, Osun State, came as a surprise to every who knew her. 

 Born on February 20, 1941, into the family of Pa Jaiyeola of Esa Binuyo’s compound, Osogbo, and Mama Hanaah Mopelola Adunni Jaiyeola (Iya Alawo) (nee Olaoye) a princess from Otaoroju’s compound, Osogbo, the late Chief Kolade attended St. John’s Primary School, Ita Olokan, Osogbo; Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, Ilesa; School of Midwifery, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; and Training Centre for Teachers of Health Science, University College, Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

  She acquired the following qualifications: West African School Certificate (WASC), Diploma in Nursing Education, Nigerian Registered Nurse (General Nursing) and Certified Family Planning Practitioner.

  On August 3, 1990, she became the Otun Iyalode of Osogbo and four years later, the Iyalode of Osogboland (that is, the traditional head of women of Osogboland). The title made her the only woman among the eight-member king makers of Osogboland. She was the only woman member of the Board of the Traditional Council of Osogbo Local Government.  Until she passed on, she was also the Vice-President of the Association of Iyalodes in Osun State.

  Over the years, she worked and held various positions in various organisations and groups. They included Founder, Women and Development (WADEM), a Non-Government Organisation (NGO); Executive Director, Confederation of Women CBOs, Osun State; Chairperson, Osun State NGOs Action Committee; Supervisory Councillor for Health, Olorunda Local Government, Igbonna, Osogbo; Nurse/Nursing Sister, Ministry of Health, Sokoto, Sokoto State; State Project Coordinator, CEDOPA Integrated Health Programmes (1993 -1996); Member, Board of Trustees of Osogbo Cultural Council, Osogbo, Osun State; and Proprietress, Olapemo Maternity Home, Osogbo.

  She was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Network of Women NGOs in the Southwest and Matron/Member, Board of Governors of many institutions in Osun State.

 The late Kolade was a state stakeholder on the eradication of female genital mutilation. She organised advocacy visits to monarchs, religious leaders, policy makers, philanthropists and communities for awareness creation on women rights. She encouraged and led women to form lobby groups; for example, Widowhood Rights.

  A woman of many parts, the late Iyolade travelled to many countries to attend seminars and workshops, where she also presented papers. These included the Women in Management Course in Washington DC; Strategy Planning Meeting in Washington DC sponsored by USAID in 1996; and XIIIth International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa in July 2000. She also presented a paper at the NGO Forum, Participatory Conference in Dakar, Senegal.

  Also last year, she visited India for cultural tourism. She  attended the HIV/AIDS Policy Workshop in Port Harcourt; National Census Building Workshop, Abuja; Project Management Workshop organised by FHS/CEDPA/AAI at Ijebu Ode; TOT Workshop on Trial Procedures, Security Access to Justice for Women in 2002; National Workshop for Area Customary Court Judges for Women in 2002; Member, Osogbo Sister Cities (Wilmington and Ashville); delegate to Wilmington City Delaware, United States and representative, Osogbo Progressive Union to Ashville, North Caroline, USA.

  A fighter for women’s right, on January 14, 2000, she wrote an article in the Nigeria Tribune titled: Let Women Have Their Place. 

  She was a recipient of numerous awards, including Community Leader Award by Soroptimist International in 1994; Best Mother of the Year by Rotract, Osogbo District in 1996; and Merit Award by Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN), Osun State in 2014. 

  Until her death, Kolade was President, Customary Court, Grade C in Olorunda Local Government, Igbonna, Osogbo, Osun State.

  Her hobbies included reading, singing, sewing, domestic work, travelling and farming. She spoke fluently and wrote English, Yoruba and Hausa.

  In a foreword to a biography on the late Kolade titled: Alake: The Making of Iyalode, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, says: “Over the years I have found her (Mrs Kolade) as a woman of strong character and a lady of style, grace and candour.”

  Also, his younger brother, Tunji Jayeola, the Branch Manager ECOBANK, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, described Kolade as a disciplinarian who influenced his upbringing and life in many ways. He said he felt a sense of big loss by her death, noting that the vacuum her absence created would be difficult to fill in their family.

  Kolade was buried yesterday after a funeral service at the All Saints Anglican Church Cathedral in Osogbo at 10 am.

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