It was a gathering of the who’s who in the Yoruba community in the USA on Feb 9th at the CAC church in Brooklyn. The occasion was the interdenominational service organised by Egbe Omo Yoruba Queens/Long Island to celebrate the life of the late Chief James Ajibola Ige. With two of the late Chief Ige’s children and other family members in attendance, the program took on a life of its own from the very beginning when members of the Egbe, the choir and the clergies representing the catholic, Methodist, CAC and other Christian denominations entered the church in a solemn procession.
From that point on there was not a dull moment as the moderator for the day and member of Egbe Omo Yoruba Mr. Tunji Ojekunle called upon all present to remember the life of Chief Ige, what he lived and died for. He paid glowing tribute to Chief Ige and remarked that though this was a memorial service, it was also a celebration of the life of one who lived and died a great man, with encomiums pouring in from all around the world as a testimony to his greatness.
Mrs. Funsho Adegbola, Chief Ige’s oldest daughter who resides in Nigeria read the first reading of the day from the book of Ecclesiastes 12 verse 1-8. The second reading from Revelation Mr. Kunle Oloko Chief Ige’s son read 21 verse 1-7 who resides in Boston. In a sermon delivered by pastor Oyedeji of the CAC church, the congregation was reminded that death is nothing but rest from the weary and that those who have fought a good fight need not fear death.
It was hard to find a dry eye in the house when Floxy Bee, the Hikosso music queen who resides in New Jersey delivered a compilation of songs specially prepared for the occasion that reminded all present of the finality of death and the source of strength for all those left behind.
The keynote speaker for the occasion, Prof. Sola Adeyeye who resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, praised the late Chief Ige for his tenacity of purpose and his resilience in times of trouble. He called on all present to uphold those things that Chief Ige lived for and work hard to ensure that his death will not be in vain because he has done his part and the baton has now been passed to those left behind.
The passion and sincerity with which Chief Ige lived his life was evident throughout the service as speaker after speaker extolled the his life. Among the speakers at the occasion were Moslem leaders from New York Alhaji Odunsi and Pa Rabiu, who both called for more co-operation among Yoruba’s in the Diaspora and asked for more forums for Yorubas to meet and exchange ideas.
Ambassador Segun Apata (Nigerian deputy permanent representative to the UN) reminisced about Chief Ige’s last visit to New York in November 2001 and remarked about the ability of the late Chief to passionately disagree with people about issues but never get angry. Other speakers at the occasion included Prof. Gbadegesin from Maryland, President of Egbe Omo Yoruba national, Mr Seni Ajao from Atlanta Georgia and Pres. Egbe omo Ijesha in New York.
The Rev Godfrey Uche of the Uniondale Methodist church rounded up the eulogies by encouraging all present to speak from the heart and act to ensure that all the words and advice proffered by the speakers of the day were given wings to fly. In a song, he encouraged the Ige family and all present to look beyond the obvious to find peace.
Mr. Remi Ladotun, secretary of the Egbe and Ms Buky Ogunfowora, asst. secretary, read excerpts from a book authored by Chief Ige in 2000 containing his favorite quotes from great men all over the world.
In her thank you speech, Chief Ige’s eldest daughter Mrs. Funsho Adegbola referred to the keynote speaker Prof. Sola Adeyeye as one of her father’s closest friends and confidantes. She called him “a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. According to her, Chief Ige would have been very happy with the gathering because it included things that he believed in and people that had the interest of the Yoruba people at heart. With the entire members of the family present standing by her, She called on the singer Floxy Bee to sing two of the late Chief Ige’s favorite songs.
The president of Egbe Omo Yoruba Queens/Long Island, Dr Olukayode Ojutiku, thanked all present for attending and commended all that took part in the planning of the service. He especially thanked pastor Oyedeji of the CAC church for his contributions to the success of the occasion. He also mentioned the contributions of Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka and former chairman of Daily Times Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi who helped co-ordinate the arrangements from Nigeria and recommended the speakers for the day.
A poignant moment during the ceremony was when a framed picture of Chief Ige taken during his last visit to New York in November 2001 by popular photographer Mr. Johnson Famuyiwa (Muyis) was presented to the Ige family by Dr Ojutiku on behalf of all the members of Egbe Omo Yoruba Queens/Long Island.
The interdenominational service was attended by prominent Nigerians in the USA including Most Senior Apostle Akinnebosun, Mr. Ajibade, V.P of Egbe Omo Yoruba national, Dr Ropo Sekoni, past president Egbe Isokan, Washington, Dr Osoba, Mr. Ireti Oniyide, Dr. Ore Soluade. Other members of Egbe Omo Yoruba Queens/Long Island also present were Mr. Jide Lawal, Dr. Olaniyi Oluleye, Dr. Olawale Awodiya, Mr. Gbolaru Marquis, Mr. Babatunde Odugbela, Otunba Tai Balofin, Mrs. Solabomi Phillips, Mrs. Solabomi Agbaje, Mrs. Kehinde Oni, Dr. Kashimawo and Mr. Saheed Arije.
The service was a befitting tribute to a great man and as guests mingled afterwards at the reception all agreed that a great man had been given a well deserved send off.