Tribute To Oba Oladele Olashore



“As tempted, more able to endure, As more exposed to suffering and distress, Thence, also, more alive to tenderness”. (William Wordsworth “Happy Warrior”).

I feel humbled to be called upon to give a tribute at the funeral ceremonies of Ajagbusin Ekun of Iloko-Ijesa, Oba Oladele Olashore, C.O.N, who joined the Saint Triumphant on the 1st  of June, 2012.

I approached the task with great trepidation as it is difficult for anyone to give a complete overview of the life of Oba Oladele Olashore within the short space of time we have today.  However, my job was made lighter when I was told that I should confine my tribute to my knowledge of Kabiyesi as one of the parents of his great memorial, Olashore International School.

More than 10 years ago, I was confronted with the challenge of finding a secondary school for my first son.  When I was young and growing up in Ilesa, going to a school was simply going to the nearest Primary School in your area.  Admission later into secondary school was also, for most of us, the simple exercise of collecting one or two forms from Secondary Schools within town and the nearest villages and towns.

By the time I was looking for admission for my son, however, things had changed.  The government takeover of private secondary schools in the late 70s has boomeranged and standard of education has drastically fallen.

Oba Oladele Olashore was one of those patriotic few who invested their wealth, time and experience in establishing a modern secondary school under the name of Oladele Olashore International School.

Borrowing a leaf from established entrepreneurs like Chief Adesoye of Adesoye College, of Offa fame, Oba Olashore chose to site his school, not in the cosmopolitan areas of Nigeria such as Lagos or Abuja where he could almost instantly recoup his investment in record time but, in the rustic setting of his ancestral village, Iloko-Ijesa, to locate his magnificent school.

Since 2002 that OIS has been in existence, it and has gained reputation for academic excellence and the Spartan upbringing of its pupils.

Although my son gained admission to other reputable schools in Lagos where I live, I bought into the vision of Oba Oladele Olashore, and brought my son to Iloko-Ijesa.

There is no Ijesa son who was in school in the early ‘80s who had not heard of Oladele Olashore.  I was in the University when Kabiyesi was appointed the Managing Director of First Bank of Nigeria. He took over from another titan Chief Asabia. Oladele Olashore became a rallying symbol for all Ijesa and students were asked to emulate his examples as it proved once and for all that a person can achieve the highest pinnacle of success, not because of the circumstance of his birth but by dint of hard work. Oba Oladele Olashore faced many challenges in his life but through hard work and God’s infinite blessings, he rose above all the vicissitudes of life and turned adversities to opportunities.

Many people knew Oba Oladele Olashore as a banker; some knew him as an astute political administrator whilst others knew him as an exemplary traditional ruler.

However, my son’s admission to Olashore International School and the subsequent admission of my other children brought me into closer contact with Kabiyesi as the proprietor.  Although he did not interfere in the day to day running of Olashore International School, Kabiyesi was passionate about the school and was deeply committed to the progress of each and every student that is privileged to pass through the hallowed portals of the school.  I was not surprised, therefore, to learn later that in his younger days, Kabiyesi resigned as a staff of UAC in 1956 and became a teacher.  Kabiyesi taught at Methodist Primary School, Osogbo and later at United Modern School, Ilesa before proceeding to Ghana for further studies in 1958.

It is not therefore surprising that he used all his resources to ensure that he built a school that will attract hundreds of parents from various parts of Nigeria and abroad for the education of their children. All over the world now, there are many products of the school that are excelling in various fields of endeavour. The man we are all gathered today to celebrate has been used by God to launch the educational careers of many responsible individuals all over the world.

In the earlier years, Kabiyesi used to be present at almost all PTA meetings.  However, with advancing age and increasing state duties as the Vice-Chairman of the Osun State Council of Obas, Kabiyesi gradually restricted himself to presiding over the meeting of the Board of Governors of the School to set broad targets and objectives for the school.

Each time we finished PTA Executive Council meetings usually late in the night, it was traditional for the members to visit Kabiyesi in his residence.  It was always a cozy affair and I was always amazed by the breadth of his knowledge of what is going on in the school.  Of all the great things he did whilst he was alive, Olashore International School was without doubt the greatest pride of Oba Olashore.

Olashore International School inculcated in its students the can-do-spirit.  When Kabiyesi went to join his ancestors on the 1st  of June, 2012, a great pall of uncertainty descended on all that are connected to the school either as students, parents or guardians.  In my capacity as the PTA Chairman, I received many calls from those who were wondering what will happen to the school with the exit of its moving spirit and proprietor. I assured all that called me that the school transcended its founder and that it had been designed to outlive not only the founder but his descendants to more than the 7th generation.

I am happy to note that our students responded majestically to the challenge we gave them to ensure that the school will continue to shine even with the demise of Kabiyesi.  There was no more fitting response to the naysayer’s than when the result of WASCE was released in August and the school recorded a magnificent 100% success rate.

As I have noted in an earlier tribute to Kabiyesi, we have not come to mourn him but to honour the great Iroko tree that Kabiyesi was.  The man was an epitome of honour, decency and industriousness. We shall all miss him but I know he continues to live on not only through his biological children but more importantly in the heart of all the students who have passed through Olashore International School.

We the parents of Olashore International School will also miss him and his fatherly advice. I will particularly miss the opportunity to lead the PTA Exco to greet him after our meetings as I was elected as the Chairman shortly before he passed on.

Adieu, Oba Oladele Olashore. Continue to rest in the bosom of your Lord.

•Mr. Agbola, a Lagos-based lawyer, is the current PTA Chairman of Olashore International School, Iloko-Ijesa.

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