Tribute To Chief Bayo Kuku

Opinion

By B.A. Olaogun

I knew Chief Bayo Kuku, erudite lawyer and gentleman in the early seventies when he was a legal adviser to Mobil Nigeria Ltd.

A staff of Mobil Nigeria Ltd was occupying a flat in one of our client’s houses and there was a disagreement. Chief Kuku called for a meeting in his office to find a way of settling the dispute. It was in Chief Kuku’s office that I spoke to our client and informed him what I had agreed with Mobil Nigeria Ltd. with regard to an amicable settlement of the disagreement. Our client agreed. End of story. Henceforth, whenever Chief Kuku and I met, it’s Mr. Olaogun, greetings! Chief Bayo Kuku was a member of the prestigious Yoruba Tennis Club (1926) with membership No. 826. He was eventually appointed a Vice Patron of the Club.

Chief Kuku interacted with me as if we had known each other for ages.

Our paths crossed again in 1977 at Edinburgh, Scotland, during the 5th Commonwealth Law Conference where His Excellency, Judge Teslim O. Elias, Judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, delivered a well and truly researched Paper on Consideration of The Results of the Law of the Sea Conference (The Continental Shelf).

There were so many paper presenters that the organizers published the proceedings and Papers in Book form a copy of which adorns my Law Library till today.

When Chief Kuku saw me at the conference he made sure that he never lost sight of me. He would invite me to a tea and ensured that we sat not far from each other both at the Buffet lunch and dinner!

Towards the end of the conference when we had lecture-free day, Chief Kuku called me on the phone and said, “Bro Olaogun please let us play big men tomorrow.” I agreed since I knew that the exercise would cost me nothing.

As an early riser I had already had my breakfast courtesy room service by 7:15am. At about 8:15am Chief Kuku telephoned my apartment and informed me that he was going to wait for me at the Hotel Foyer. Since I was ready, I switched off my TV set, locked my apartment and left for the hotel foyer.

As soon as I entered the Foyer, Chief Kuku greeted me, held my hand and said, “please let us go.” As we were stepping out of the hotel I saw a beautiful jet black Rolls Royce. The Scotsman Chauffeur as soon as he saw Chief Kuku, left the Rolls Royce, greeted Chief Kuku, opened the door and as soon as Chief Kuku entered the car closed the door and walked briskly to the other side of the vehicle opened the door for me and I sat with Chief Kuku. It was at that time that I knew from Chief Kuku that we were going to Glasgow from Edinburgh on a sight-seeing! What a way to play acting “Big Men” apology to Clarus and Gringory of the Village Headmaster fame.

The journey to Glasgow left indelible impressions on my relationship with Chief Kuku.

In accordance with Chief Kuku’s instructions, the Chauffeur was to drive us through famous streets and Shopping Centres in the city of Glasgow. It was a wonderful and memorable trip, visiting many historical places.

At lunch time we visited one 5 Star Restaurant  to have lunch. When we were coming out of the restaurant we saw many people surrounding the Rolls Royce car! We were surprised to see such a crowd erroneously thinking that something had happened to the vehicle. However, as we were approaching the vehicle the crowd started to leave the scene. As we were about to move away, I heard one of the people saying in typical semi-literate language, funny in it! I was sure the people were surprised to see two black men being driven by a white man in an expensive Rolls Royce!

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During our trip to Glasgow when I told Chief Kuku that I was aware that his close friends called him “B.K.” he was surprised but quickly said that’s correct. I then told him that while I was a student in London in the late fifties I understood the initials “B.K.” to mean ‘Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Kruschev” of the Supreme Soviet Russia’. He laughed heartily and said “I am just simply Bayo Kuku”. Chief Kuku was a wonderful jolly good fellow.

We left Glasgow for Edinburgh in the early evening to arrive Edinburgh by 7:00pm for our buffet dinner. End of story.

May the gentle and amiable soul of the Ogbeni Oja of Ijebuland continue to rest in absolute perfect peace in the bosom of his Creator, Amen.

…And To Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas

I met Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas sometime in 1949 when we used to play Table Tennis together at Munday lane near the house of the business mogul Alhaji Nurudeen Badarou Soule (a.k.a.Nuru Oniwo) in the Oke Arin area of the then wonderful city of Lagos. He was charming with his disarming and infectious smiles. I admired him very much and we became friends.

I was later to admire him more as an athlete when he was running the 2nd or 3rd leg of the 220 X 4 Relay race for Baptist Academy, Lagos. His track nickname was “Timber Merchant”.

Our relationship became consolidated when he joined the Yoruba Tennis Club (1926) which I joined a few years earlier and held the office of social secretary, General Secretary, Vice Chairman and finally the Chairman.

Many years ago, early 1975 when I had my second daughter and wanted to have the naming ceremony and had to buy assorted drinks and went to Moloney Supermarket, I was told that I must deposit empty bottles and pay cash! I requested to see the boss by giving them my complimentary card. I was shocked to my bone marrow when Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas stormed out of his office and on seeing me, exclaimed- “Brother Olaogun, Greetings!  What can I do for you?” I explained my predicament to him. He exhumed his usually hearty disarming smile, called a senior store manager and instructed him to attend to me without making any demands for mode of payment for the drinks or empty bottles. That’s Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas at his vintage best. May his gentle soul rest in absolute perfect peace, AMEN.

Many years ago when Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas becaome a grandfather, he met us at the dining hall of the Yoruba Tennis Clubs where we were drinking and, as usual, exchanging banters, as he walked in and took his seat at the long dining table, he announced that he had become a Grandfather! After praying for the new baby and parents who were then in America, I said “we must wash this good news.” Chief Okoya-Thomas in his usual charismatic mien called the steward to bring cartons of assorted drinks and bottles of wine. The emergency celebration began and we were still celebrating even after 11.00p.m.!

When I was the chairman of Yoruba Tennis Club and we needed big split units, I approached Chief Okoya-Thomas who requested me to be in his office at 8.00a.m. the following morning when he gave instruction to sell the split units at a discount!

When he wanted to convert from Muslim to Christian, he informed me and gave me an invitation to attend the Baptismal Ceremony at The Holy Cross Cathedral and the Consequential Reception party.

Sir Alexander Molade Okoya-Thomas sleep on beloved in the bosom of your creator. Adieu, Timber Merchant!

•Chief Olaogun wrote these tributes from Lagos.