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To Ma, ‘In Whose Mouth Yam Would Be Sweet’, With Love At 89. Nigerians Celebrate Iconic Prof Mrs Bolanle Awe

The Oasis Reporters


January 31, 2022














Emeritus professor Bolanle Awe (first from left), award winning Professor of medicine Olufunmilayo Olopade, OON. A hematology oncologist in University of Chicago (middle), Emeritus professor Grace Alele-Williams (right).
Strength of character saw them through.  Honoured by University of Ibadan in November 2018.
Photo credit: Sholloms studio.




At the 70th Foundation Day celebration event in 2018, Emeritus Professor, Mrs. Bolanle Awe was awarded a doctorate degree (honoris causa) by the University she gave her all, serving, University of Ibadan. The Oasis Reporters was there. There’s (Dr.) General Yakubu Gowon to celebrate an iconic lady of substance








Examining the Iwo kingship succession issue of the 70/80s





Between the late 70s and into the early 80s, a crisis had engulfed the issue surrounding the Oluwo of Iwo stool and it’s succession. Specifically, over which royal family line was to produce the next Oluwo. This foxy matter taxed the brain of the incumbent Military Governor of Western Region, Brigadier David Jemibewon to no end.






The exasperated governor whose thoughts were more on developing the cocoa growing region according to the laid out plans of it’s first premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Then this distraction.




He barked orders at his military assistant to proceed immediately to the University of Ibadan and fetch Professor Bolanle Awe.



“Professor, I hereby appoint you to head an administrative commission of inquiry to look into the crisis in Iwo. Trace the history as a researcher and historian of repute. Find out whose turn the ruling house is. We must get this over and done with as soon as possible”.


In the course of her inquiry, she discovered a voiceless and neglected ruling house that was shunted aside over the decades in a land without written records.



Professor Bolanle Awe included it as an added and deserving but new royal family line into the ones that the Iwo people were used to for ages.

An entrenched but wrong distortion of history was suddenly made right. True justice and equity had prevailed. The voiceless had a spokesperson.


Due to the rankling of entrenched beliefs, now challenged and righted, it took the town 10 straight years to get another king. This was in 1993 after the old Oluwo passed on in 1983.


Being a historian of repute, professor Bolanle Awe is in possession of vast amounts of documents associated with that inquiry and even the report that was later submitted to the Oyo State government at the time under Bola Ige.

During the conflict between diametrically opposed interest groups in the Iwo tussle for kingship, what was put forward by diverse “combatants”, were arguments to further the agenda of enlightened self interests.

Professor Bolanle Awe had her own stories about pressures and attempts to induce her regarding the particular assignment… Even from her colleagues in the academia, including one who she told off for broaching the topic with her off the record.



He later apologized to her saying that he had told those who asked him to approach her that he wasn’t optimistic that such approaches to her would move anything.

From the Supreme Court Of Nigeria where the matter ended, here’s the final judgement:

Judgement in the case of Prince Yaya Adigun v. The Secretary Iwo Local Government on the Bolanle Awe Panel:

“As a result of the judgment of this Court given on 20th day of March 1987, and the ruling on the application delivered by this Court on 14th day of April, 1987, Oyo State Government set up an Administrative Panel sometime in July, 1987 before which the plaintiffs appeared and thus made representation.

The Administrative Panel presided over by Professor Bolanle Awe submitted its report to the Oyo State Government in December, 1987, which the Government considered and accepted in February, 1988, by a White Paper.

The Panel’s report recommended four Ruling Houses for Oluwo of Iwo Chieftaincy as follows:-
I. Adagunodo;
2. Gbase;
3, Alawusa: and
4. Ogunmakinde Ande.

But before Oyo State Government could take the further step of issuing a Declaration on that Chieftaincy, the plaintiffs went back to the High Court to initiate the new suit giving rise to this appeal now before this Court.

What the plaintiffs are claiming is no more than the original claims that culminated in the appeal that was finally decided in 1987 in this Court on the 20th day of March, 1987.

It seems the suit was meant to pre-empt issuance of a new Declaration based on the Report of Bolanle Awe’s Administrative Panel.

The “accrued right’” the plaintiffs claimed was to the effect that only Ogunmakinde Ande Ruling House was the sole Ruling House. A matter finally decided by this Court in 1987, If all the new suit was meant to achieve was to maintain Ogunmakinde Andes’ family as the sole Ruling House, it was certainly an abuse of Court process because it disregarded the clear pronouncement of this Court that it was not the sole Ruling House. It is for this reason of abuse of Court process that I on 23rd day of February, 1999 dismissed this appeal”.

When the news blazed on the social media that historian, humanist, social critic and public figure, iconic Professor emeritus Bolanle Awe (OFR) who was born in Nigeria in 1933 had clocked 89, there was an amazing plethora of good wishes.

To many youngsters who may not know her, here’s a little on her extraordinary résumé.

She attended Holy Trinity Primary School, Imofe-Ilesha, as well as St James Primary School, Okebola, Ibadan.

Her Secondary School education was at
the prestigious St Anne’s School, Ibadan. (The same school that produced Prof. Okonjo Iweala.)

For her Advanced Levels, it was
Perse School, Cambridge. (Independent Private School)

University :
St Andrews University, Scotland (Msc History)
Oxford University (Ph.D History)



We present a part of the photos of that important day.























She rose to be a professor at the
University of Ibadan where she lectured and was one of the historians who allowed their evidence to include oral traditions.
This meant that she was able to trace back histories before the arrival of Europeans.

She was also active in identifying how the role of women in history was being overlooked and she co-founded the Women’s Research and Documentation Centre (WORDOC) to promote the coordination of women’s studies research and new methodologies to study Nigerian women.

In 1982 she was made an Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

On Christmas Day 1960 she married Olumuyiwa Awe. He would also become a professor and they would have children.

Her husband died in 2013 at the age of 82.

In 1998 she retired and the following year the department of African studies published a small book about her. After her retirement she continued to research and in 2005 she became the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.

Otunbe Ayotunde Samuel says she was a great stalwart in those days, a frontier person in the lineup of people that stood their ground for women’s emancipation and at the same time, a tolerant and modest personality.

Adekunle Allen Daramola comments that emeritus professor Bolanle Awe is
an erudite scholar and great researcher on African History and Religion. One of the very few eggheads that Nigeria can still be proud of.

Adenike Olaogun does not want anyone to forget her role as the First Country Coordinator of the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.
The Fund for Leadership Programme has a huge impact on the nation

She was Western state Commissioner for Education in 1975/76, with Governor Jemibewon.

She was the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women in ‘The Presidency’ during the General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida military administration.

Happy birthday to a great Icon.

Sylvester Ogbolu-Otutu … Yes….She was a commissioner(Education) in Col. David Jemibewon military government in the mid 70’s

Professor (Mama) Bolanle Awe is a formidable icon who bestrode the national landscape like a colossus during her service years. Meeting her during the Better Life for Women program left landmark feelings in youngsters she met. She offered beautiful pieces of advice which made President Babangida to adopt her recommendations hook, line and sinker.

A woman of great character, the Professor employed superior and sound intellect as an effective weapon and she became a feared one woman riot squad. Gen Teidi, a military assistant to the President, had admiration for her because of her great problem solving skills anchored on truth.

Credits go to Historical Nostalgia Group on Facebook.

Put together by Greg Abolo

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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