Iyalode Alaba Lawson, though I couldn’t attend your funeral, however I was there in the spirit, mourning your irreparable passage and much more when I saw the pictures of your transition posted by the renowned cinematographer, Alagba Tunde Kelani in his whatsapp contact

It’s so painful that I couldn’t attend the funeral of Iyalode Alaba Lawson – No thanks to resumption of sabbatical leave in a university that is miles away from Abeokuta.

Chief.(Mrs.) Alaba Lawson was among the very first set of guests to arrive at my wedding in 2003. As I was about leaving home for the church wedding service, Iyalode, who was in the company of another great woman who cut her teeth as the first female council boss in Nigeria, Chief (Mrs.) Titilayo Ajanaku (also of blessed memory) put a call across to me from my church saying in her typical flawless Yoruba language, “Oko Iyawo boode o, awa iya e ti nreti e ni church o”, meaning, the groom in the making, leave home and come to the venue of your wedding quickly, we your ‘mothers’ are here waiting for you.

Vintage Iyalode Alaba Lawson, she was unassuming, a good mixer and great mobilizer, generous to a fault, big, strong,dependable and reliable anytime anyday.

Her presence at my wedding with the then Special Adviser to the President on Women Affairs, Chief.(Mrs.) Titi Ajanaku shocked me to my bone marrow. As a matter of fact, it added glamour to the wedding while the reception was enhanced by the Chairman, Alhaji Sarafa Tunji Isola who just served the country as Nigeria's Ambassador to UK but at the time was Secretary to Ogun State Government and the Special Guest of Honour, the then Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt.Hon.Muyiwa Oladipo, among other dignitaries who were physically present at the sprawling Hubert Ogunde Cinema Hall, now June 12, Cultural Centre.

Of course I invited the duo to my wedding but the fact that they attended physically and even arrived far before the commencement of the church service is one respect from the great women, especially Iyalode Alaba Lawson that I will never forget in my life.

For one, I’m averagely connected to Iyalode Alaba Lawson; aside her M

matronship of NUJ, Ogun State Council ditto my personal interactions with her as a journalist;I wasn’t as closed to her like Mama Ajanaku.

But there she was with Mama Ajanaku welcoming me to my wedding. While receiving me at the church entrance, upon my arrival, I crystal clearly recalled her telling me that “Oko Iyawo, today is your day of joy, therefore, no honour is too much and nobody is too big to celebrate you on a day like this, moreso that you are humble and selfless”.

This is the more reason why her death came to me as a rude shock because barely two months before then, I was part of the entourage of the vice -chancellor of the university where I worked that was hosted by Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce,Industries,Mines and Agriculture(ABEOCCIMA) at the chamber’s corporate office.

Expectedly, Iyalode having carved a monumental niche in the development of the chamber was one of frontline chieftains that received us at the parley where FUNAAB and the chamber signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for mutual development of both parties, Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general.

I recall that on sighting me at the parley, Iyalode, in her usual way said “Gbogbo FUNAAB, how is my son? “in reference to my first child whose naming ceremony she also attended.

At the end of the meeting, Mama exchanged banters with me as she made her way out of the venue, I held her left hand infectiously suggestive of telling her to lean on me as she carefully descended the staircase that wasn’t a threat to her composure.

As I held her closely in the manner typical of an excited groom walking his bride down the aisle, I felt the ambience of the usual strength in her voice-her age-long trademark but the agility she explored and deplored over the years in building and extending the multifarious frontiers and tentacles of her business, non-governmental associations like NACCIMA, ABEOCCIMA, ‘Egba Lawa’ Traders, NUJ, Ogun State Council and of course Egbaland has ostensibly waned due to old age.

Smarting from the shock of her death, I earnestly looked forward to actively pay my last respect to her by attending activities marking her passage to the world beyond, unknown to me that unforseen circumstances was waiting to hinder me.

Suffice to inform that at the time of Iyalode Alaba Lawson’s funeral activities, I was just resuming for my sabbatical leave appointment ditto attending to resumption official procedures and protocols in a revered university which is over four hours drive from Abeokuta where the remains of the amazon was interred.

Iyalode Alaba Lawson, though I couldn’t attend your funeral, however I was there in the spirit mourning your irreparable passage and much more when I saw the pictures of your transition posted by the renowned cinematographer, Alagba Tunde Kelani in his whatsapp contact.

As a matter of fact, I couldn’t resist the urge to ‘steal’ the pictures of ‘Maami’s’ burial from the producer of the popular fIlm, "Maami", the vintage Baba Kelani himself.Thank you Baba Kelani for the action pictures which captured the funeral of the action woman of all times in Egbaland and Yoruba land where she impacted and reputed positively as Iyalode.

Iya Lawson, in you the popular axiom has indisputably found fulfilment, “You came, you saw and you conquered”.

Keep on resting in the bossom of your Maker. Adieu Iyalode of the universe as I used to fondly call you.

*Adepoju, journalist, former Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel, NUJ, Ogun State, Public Relations Executive cum ex – Spokesman of NIPR, Ogun State Chapter and immediate past Director/Head, Directorate Public Relations, FUNAAB writes from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho, Oyo State