Most funerals are embodiment of sighs, regrets and loud wailings. But not that of Madam Abigail Eebudola Bakare, mother of the serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, as she passed on at the ripe age of 108.
Consequently, the crème de la crème of the society converged at Victory Life Bible Church, Ajebo Road, Abeokuta Ogun State to celebrate her life and thank God for showering her with blessings. Prior to the service of songs was a night of tributes held in her honour at the Latter Rain Assembly, Ogba, Lagos.
Having spent over a century on earth, the family led by the vocal preacher, heaped encomiums on her for a life well lived, and for affecting their lives positively. It was an atmosphere of wholesome joy and thanksgiving.
Dignitaries at the night of tributes included Rtd. General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Mr. Biodun Shobanjo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Rev. Wilson Badejo, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) Chika Uwazie among others. The service of songs which took place at The Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State also had notable personalities in attendance such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Dr. Wale Babalakin SAN, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Pastor & Mrs. Chinedu Ezekwesili, Mr. Dapo Adelegan, Otunba Gbenga Daniel among others.
The service of songs was followed the next day by the funeral service at the Victory Life Bible Church and was officiated by notable gospel preachers including Apostle Lawrence Achudume, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Rev. Wilson Badejo and Rev. Yomi Kasali.
At the church service, which saw the General Overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church, Rev Wilson Badejo, praying wholeheartedly for the family of the deceased, the choir held the worshippers spellbound as it dished out one soul lifting song after another to the dancing pleasure of all present. Afterwards, everyone moved to DLK Event Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State for a grand reception where guests were thrilled by the ageless Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, and rising star, Korede Bello, with first class comedian, Tee A as master of ceremonies. Their performances were superlative.
In attendance at the glamorous event were the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and wife, Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola , Ogun State Chief of Staff, Chief Tolu Odebiyi, Mr. Segun Awolowo, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Mr. Tunde Ayeni, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Hon. Bimbo Ashiru, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Former Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi, Former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, Mr. Tunde Lemo among others.
Madam Abigail Eebudola was born on the 28th of October, 1909 to Chief Kilani Afuwape and Madam Banjoko Afuwape in Oba Village, Abeokuta, Egba Kingdom. Her father was a successful produce farmer who owned vast cocoa and kolanut plantations. He also owned a forest of palm trees and founded a successful palm oil manufacturing business. Her mother was a trader involved in marketing the produce from her husband’s farm. The family relocated to Balufe compound, Ago Oba , Abeokuta, when her father became the Balogun of Oba just before Mama Eebudola’s 18th birthday. She was one of the eight children by her mother for her father and the first daughter, with five brothers preceding her and a sister and brother born after her.
Mama spent her early life assisting her mother with her trade. While her brothers were enrolled in school, the long, daily trek was a deterrent to Mama who concluded that what those who went to school earned as wages was not worth the trouble. At About twenty-one, the very year the centenary Hall was opened in Abeokuta, Mama Eebudola switched gear from selling farm produce to selling imported chinaware-awo tanganran-which she sourced from Lagos. According to her, the journey to Lagos took her and fellow traders three days by foot, but , upon returning, her turnover made the arduous journey worth her while.
She made sufficient money from her trade to eventually acquire two mammy wagons to transport her wares. Mama was so successful in her business that men her age were too intimidated to approach her with a marriage proposition. However, she eventually settled for a man popularly called Baba Ajura. Mama acquired several plots through him and built her first house. This first marriage did not last very long because Mama was barren; she eventually opted out of the marriage when her husband and his family alleged that she had sacrificed her “eggs” in exchange for wealth. In agony , she left the house for Baba Ajura, sold some of her land , gave some to her friends, and returned to her father’s house as the reproach of barreness caused her significant grief and sorrow as well as subsequent business setbacks.
In 1994, during one of the Muslim festivals, Chief Sanni Adekunle Bakare, the Anibi Juwon and Otun of Iporo Sodeke Muslims, and the first son of the first Chief Imam of Iporo Sodeke mosque, visited his friend , the Balogun of Oba , Chief Kilani Afuwapa – Mama’s father. Chief Sanni was served a sumptuous meal cooked by mama for the guests at the occasion. In the course of their discussion, Chief Sanni expressed his interest in marrying Eeebudola whose father had told him of the circumstances surrounding her failed marriage .
Marriage rites were concluded within that year and Mama was given a new name, Wulaimot, amidst an outpouring of prayers and hope that her barrenness would be reversed. Mama was well-received in her new home and she became the “official chef” to a wealthy farmer with vast cocoa and kolanut plantations in the South as well as a large farm in Sokoto, Northern Nigeria, which earned hin the nickname Sanni Arewa.
In spite of the turn of the tide in her favour, the reproach of barrenness remained for another eight years, after which she gave birth to her first child who passed away shorthly after delivery. She contemplated returning to her father’s house once again due to the excessive sorrow and humiliation, but she had nowhere to go because her father died around the same time. This was a particularly difficult period because her father was her formidable pillar of strength.
However, like Hannah of old, God had mercy on Mama, turned her sorrow into joy and her mourning into dancing by opening her womb again and blessing her with a son, Gbolahan Babatunde Bakare, the 22nd and last child of Chief Sanni Adekunle Bakare, born on the 11th of November, 1954.