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Akintoye: The new leader of Yoruba nation



When he set out on his journey for intellectual quest in 1943, the world was not in the position to fathom the magnificence of his brilliance. The world knew that education had great benefits. It knew that with education, one’s horizon could be honed. One’s depth could be deepened. One’s breadth could become boundless. With education, the world knew that anything could be possible.

But when education becomes immersed in unbridled intellect; or becomes pulsated by seminal luminosity; or inured with effulgent resplendence, it elevates to the seventh heaven of intellectual inebriation. An inebriation buoyed by a brilliance perching and sparkling on the pedestal of splendour, unequalled and unrivaled. This, the world came to discover later about him.

A deeper look at the journey from Emmanuel Primary School, Ado- Ekiti, through Christ’s High School, Ado-Ekiti to the then University of London, now University of Ibadan, Ibadan, showed that at every point, at every turn, an inspiring intellectual sagacity, a humbling radiance of brilliance, a marvelously awesome ingenuity, intimidating in its irresistible magnetism has been the hallmark, it has been the trademark, a sort of emblem, the signet of his quest. Becoming distinguished at every point, at every level, at every turn became just a matter of course.


To him, being brilliant could be fairish, a kind of humdrum, very middling, boring in fact, because it is a common place. Yet the awesomeness of his intellect, his brilliance, is just what it is, awesome. His is alarmingly breath taking; delightfully terrifying, fragrantly frightening. Intimidating yet comforting, bullish yet affectionate, bewildering in its buoyance and sublime in its ebullience.

When he discusses History as a subject or of a place, or of a people or of a particular era in the timeline of humanity, his listeners are guaranteed a soulful food that buoys their spirits and beings. His lectures on and in History, are like fountains of life, flooding the firmaments of our fantasies, creating a curative curiosity that coerces our consciousness into a “furnacious” desire to want to be free, to want to know thyself, familiarise with thy trajectory, thy History, and thy heritage bequeathed.

His lectures, in and outside the classroom, for those lucky to have gone through him, are like introduction to addiction. It makes you feel excited. It makes you feel high. You feel afloat, like a spacewalker. And you become hungry. Ravenously so because, you want more. You are transported from the environment of your consciousness to witness in your imaginations, centuries of heroism, villainy, building of kingdoms and empires and the destruction of others.

It could be about the Chinese, the Indians, or the Europeans. It could be about the North America; or Canada. It could have been about South American countries of Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay and or any of the adjoining countries. It could be about the Caribbean countries, their travails and triumphs. It could be about the paths paved by the Pharaohs, the authentic Negroid ones or the vicissitudes of the peoples of the African continent.

It could be about revolutions and political systems. It could be about social changes and the factors that enabled them. It could be about developmental History of any people of any nation around the planet. He seems to know it all. And when he speaks, especially off the cuff, and you watch him, as you listen to him, one feels the aroma of a beautiful and irresistible champagne that has been centuries old. One becomes calmly excited and helplessly drunk on the knowledge disemboweled. One becomes quietly crippled by curiosity and stupefied by details that would have eloped from the memories of others.

The suction of the diction, the phonetics and phonemics, the inflection and intonation, the eloquence and elocution marinates you in phonological and philological pensiveness. One is transmuted into blissful delirium, taken into the boundless boundaries of paradisiac haven. The substance, always arresting, was often delivered in a beautiful and thrumming language.

And when the subject is even Yoruba History, it becomes something special. It becomes ethereal. It becomes divine. It becomes celestial. It becomes a different thing entirely.  Unwittingly, you glow with unconscious attestation to the valiance, gallantry and the courage of your forebears. You imagined their mistakes and you become a born again patriot. You become a born again true born. Without you knowing it, you, as a matter of course, exude with marinating pride.

With your arms extended and shaped like that of a crab, you begin to walk around with your head held high having discovered more of yourself, more of your being, more about your ancestors, your forefathers, the progenitors of your race. You become imbued with a more solidified self-esteem. You become educated, in the real sense of it.

His book, “A History of the Yoruba,” is sans pareil of its genre. It is the finest and most complete in its encapsulation of and on Yoruba as a people, as a Race and as a Nation before and since Samuel Johnson’s “A History of the Yoruba from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate.” Samuel Johnson was an Oyo Prince, a grandson of Alaafin Abiodun Adegorolu just like him, who is an Ado-Ekiti Prince.

The book by this teacher of teachers, is the manifestation of rigorous, meticulous, exacting, focused, ascetic and severely organised intellect. I had come across the transcript in his Hatfield, Pennsylvania home in the U.S., while rummaging through his library. The materials that stared at me as I flipped through the pages gushed with rigour of hard work, richness of resources, depth of dedication, tantalizing intellect and brimming brilliance.

As one of the privileged few to read the transcript before it went to the press, one could easily fathom the amount of sweat that went into such humongous product. The prodigious intellect and the stupendous brilliance that went into that work were discernible and decipherable. A work of 35 years of research via reading, travelling, interviews, archaeology, arts, musicology, linguistics, folklore et al. If you want to have credible knowledge about the Yoruba Nation and its peoples, go and buy a copy.


You will also be doing yourself a great favour, if you would seek out “Ife: Before Oduduwa,” another seminal work of research by this great mind. You would be greatly rewarded for doing so. You would be disabused of unfounded tall tales trolling around. You would be able to separate mythology from authentic History.

Looking at his curriculum vitae, one did not even have any idea of how to refer to him. Would it have been right to call him a “Prince,” which he is; or a “Pastor” as which he has distinguished himself? Would it have been right to call him a “Professor,” as which he has been eminently edified? Or would it had been better if one calls him “Senator” which he was in the Second Republic and during which period he turned enemies and detractors to friends and admirers because of his transcendent brilliance on the floor of the Senate?

To be honest, to delve into his records would be a titanic task. But one could easily avail the readers the fact that he has taught 18 different subjects in History. He supervised Doctoral students for 16 years. He has held 27 different positions in different Universities in Nigeria and abroad. He has held 16 public offices. He has held 5 different positions in different churches.  He has published 10 different chapters in different joint works. He has published articles in 7 Academic Journals. He has published 7 books. He has delivered 23 research papers at seminars across the world.

To be continued tomorrow.
•Oyeyemi was Assistant Editor, P.M. News.


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