Iyalode Alaba Lawson, here is your Aaro

Aaro, in Yorùbá tradition, is the compensation for a good deed, or act, as far as the English language translation of the deep Yorùbá word, aaro, can go! In one of his typically philosophical LPs, Sakara music icon, the late Yusufu Olatunji (Baba l’Egba) serenades one of his fans, Raimi Ayinla Mogaji, thus: “Ko si hinhun ti un o je,ti un o gbagbe Ayinla o(2ce) Raimi mi Ayinla, o sa ye k’a san aaro ‘e fun (2ce) Omo Mogaji Ayinla,o sa ye k’a san aaro ‘e fun un…..”

Before the British colonialists came here, members of indigenous cooperative societies(Egbe Alafowosowopo)in Yorùbáland would, for instance, voluntarily clear the site of a member intending to erect a new structure, mostly residential houses. The prospective owner of such a building was not required to pay cash for the labour rendered by his friends/relatives. He would, instead fètè them and render similar service, when it’s the turn of another relative/member/neighbour to require such voluntary service. The nearest idiom for the foregoing is; “BI ire ba kan wa,iwo naa yio san aaro fun wa”(When it’s our turn, you too shall honour us.)

In keeping with my solemn pledge to pay tributes to the immediate past Iyalode Egbaland and Yorùbáland, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, MFR, who died on Saturday,28th October 2023, aged 72, in her hometown, Abeokuta, Ogun State, this is my fifth tribute to her, since her passage. May her kind soul continue to rest in perfect peace. Amen.

Our paths crossed each other’s 34 years ago, in 1989, when the then military governors of the then three owner-states of the ODU’A INVESTMENT COMPANY LIMITED(Òyó, Ogun and Ondo)resolved, sequel to the plea of the military Governor of old Oyo State, the late Brigadier-General Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya, whose Press Secretary I was from 1988 to 1989)and appointed me the pioneer Public Affairs Manager(PAM)of the conglomerate. True, I had served Governor Oresanya as the Press Secretary, but neither me, nor anyone, had nudged him to rally his two colleague-governors of Ogun and Ondo states to appoint me the pioneer PAM of OICL.

Little wonder, I described my ODU’A appointment in 1989, the eighth ‘wonder’ of the world, in a public statement immediately after the announcement of my appointment was aired on radio and TV, on the day I was departing Ibadan, via the MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos State for the 1989 Hajj. Mr Kola Fatunmbi, then a protocol officer in the old OYSG service, who broke the news of the decision of Governors Oresanya, Muhammed Lawal and Olabode George, to me, while I was on my way to Makkah, is my witness.

(Kindly read my article: “HAJJ 2014:History Repeats Itself”, published in The Guardian newspaper issue of 31st October 2014(page 18)I digressed. The OICL platform connected the mercurial, savvy entrepreneur/educationist Iyalode Alaba Lawson and my humble self. And what a clean and tight bond we had, that no amount of Aaron I pay her lovely memory will be considered too much. Rest in peace, dear Iyalode Alaba Lawson. Here is your Aaro.