On January 13, 2015, it was time to remember and celebrate the lives of our late parents, Otunba Raheem Adegbola Komolafe, popularly known as Baba DHL, and his dear wife, Chief (Mrs.) Aduke Nimota Komolafe (nee Momodu), popularly known as Alhaja and Yeye Oba.
Otunba Komolafe was born on June 8, 1938, while mummy was born on February 8, 1944. They were both born in Ilesa, Osun State of Nigeria into staunch Moslem families. Otunba Komolafe was born to Theophilus and Barikisu Fadeiye. His Father was a farmer and his mother a petty trader.
His wife was the only child of her mother. She lost her mother at a tender age of two. Her father, Ajagbe Momodu, was a very wealthy gentleman of Nupe origin (Tapa), who had settled in Ilesa, and her maternal grandfather was the Oba Odo of Ijesaland.
Otunba and Mrs. Komolafe met at the shop of a photographer who was a tenant to Mrs. Aduke Komolafe’s father and they took a photograph together on the very day they met. We, their children, still have this photograph in our possession. Mrs. Aduke Komolafe, then Aduke Momodu, was later scolded by her senior brothers for taking a photograph with a strange young man from a poor family.
However, the relationship blossomed into love and they married at Otapete in Ilesa in 1960.
Our parents were fondly referred to as popsy and mumsy by us their children. Our mother, Mrs. Nimota Aduke Komolafe, was a woman of great character. Though very simple in her outlook, she was a very disciplined, enterprising and energetic person. She married at 18 and joined Baba DHL in the UK, where she worked hard while her husband studied. She was a faithful and dutiful wife who contributed immensely to the success of her husband.
While in the UK, she registered with Richard and Richard Textiles and got involved in the export of fine textiles to Nigeria from Europe.
It was while on a business trip to Austria that she met with some representatives of DHL International who were seeking to establish a foothold for the company in Nigeria. The enterprising Aduke took the bull by the horns and introduced the officials to her husband, who joined DHL International and founded the company in Nigeria in 1979.
The couple thereby became indigenous shareholders of DHL International Nigeria Limited. And from then onwards, their fortunes were made.
Alhaja was extremely generous and tended to several charitable causes. She was passionate about helping people. So she did all she could for the underprivileged. She would purchase several mill grinders and sewing machines to distribute to the less privileged to make a living from and was very fond of distributing clothing and food to the beggars at Agege railway line and Ebute Metta.
Alhaja Komolafe would take in people she does not even know and accommodate them in her home. She loved to have people around her and always made sure that they were well provided for. Her motto was: No one leaves my presence in a position of lack or bitterness of soul. Her husband loved to call her Iya Charity.
It was due to the love and care that Aduke had shown to the Oba of Ifewara during his youth time that he made her his Yeyeoba when he became king. At the inauguration ceremony, the Oba said Alhaja Komolafe had been extremely kind to him as a youth. He said whenever he visited her house in those days as a young man, she would within an instant serve him a plate of amala.
Alhaja Komolafe was a loving mother to six children namely: Sheri, Tunde, Rasaki, Mutiu, Adepeju and Demola Komolafe. She was a disciplinarian and encouraged her children to be very humble and respectful to all.
In her early forties, she went to Mecca on holy pilgrimage and there, one of her fellow pilgrims had a dream about her. He later expressed the opinion that she was in the wrong religious denomination and told her that in his dream he had seen her jubilating and giving thanks to God among people of a white garment church. The dream shocked her.
When she ended the pilgrimage and returned to Nigeria, she, out of curiosity, tried to find out about the white garment churches. At that point in time, she had no knowledge about the white garment churches and therefore tried to search for information about them. She later met with Senior Evangelist Taiye Irojulaiye, the Shepherd of Celestial Church of Christ, Jedidiah Parish, Oke Ira, Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos and joined the Church.
This was about 36 years ago. She worshipped in that church for several years and later became the Matron of the Church.
After converting from Islam to Christianity, she told her daughter, Sheri Edu, that what she loved most about being a Christian was that the music gave her soul great peace and joy. She loved to worship God and sing thanksgiving songs. She was fond of financing church projects and buying land for Shepherds and Evangelists to build churches on. She did most of this anonymously.
A few years before her death, she founded Christ the Saviour Church, Oluwagbamila Parish, under The Sacred Cherubim & Seraphim Church of Nigeria and Overseas, headed by Primate Alao. Three years before her passing on to Glory, she was bestowed with the title of Senior Rev. Apostolic Mother by Primate Alao in the church that she financed and built. And in honour of her good works and contributions to the C&S Church, her daughters, Sheri and Olatunde, were anointed with this same title on the first anniversary of her death.
Many will remember the late Yeye Oba as being the Managing Director of Aduk’s Drycleaners at Oluwaleimu Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos State. She was extremely friendly and made a great impact on whoever she met. She was also a great counsellor and could speak to anyone to the extent that their problems would seem to vanish. She was a peacemaker and would always put herself out to help others.
In Aduke Komolafe’s bid to help the under privileged, she became politically active and involved herself in the June 12 struggle during the incarceration of Chief M.K.O. Abiola. During this time, she became very close to the late Alhaja Kudiratu Abiola and stood by her as a source of encouragement until her untimely death.
Our late mother slept in the lord after a protracted illness on Friday, January 12, 2000 at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, Lagos, Nigeria.
Otunba Komolafe, who had attended Obokun High School, Ilesa for his secondary education, later gained a UK scholarship through his prowess in the sport of boxing and proceeded to the United Kingdom – Leicester Technical College. During his boxing days, he gained a lot of popularity and was known as SPIDER RAY. It was during the time in Leicester that he and his wife gave birth to their first child, Sheri.
After living for 13 years in the United Kingdom, Otunba Komolafe and his wife returned to Lagos, Nigeria and established Adekomolafe Nigeria Limited, a cargo clearing and forwarding company.
In 1979, he had the opportunity, through the assistance of his dear wife, Aduke Komolafe, to bring into Nigeria DHL International, a giant multinational courier company. He was appointed as an Executive Director. This was a position which he held until 1992 when he was elevated to the position of Vice Chairman of DHL Nigeria Limited, a position which he held until his retirement in 2006.
It is laudable to note that during his time as Vice Chairman, DHL International Nigeria Limited grew tremendously, spreading its branches all over Nigeria. DHL became the best courier company in Nigeria even to the extent that it acquired its own private cargo aeroplanes.
Otunba had 11 children and he loved all of them very much. He was a very loving father who related to his six senior children born by Aduke Komolafe as if they were his brothers and sisters and he dotted on his little children. He was the type of father who would drive his children to school by himself though he had employed several drivers.
Simple to a fault, Otunba Raheem Komolafe was always extremely positive and would always answer to a greeting by saying: “I am 100 per cent okay!”
Though Otunba was a Moslem, when his daughter, Sheri, was ill and on life support in hospital, he made a vow to God that if God would spare her life, he would actually get a white prayer garment sewn and wear it to offer thanks at her church with her. He fulfilled this vow and gave thanks with her at a massive thanksgiving ceremony at Celestial Church of Christ, Ife Olu Parish, Aboru, Lagos in July 2000. Otunba Komolafe was a godly person who after the death of his late wife acted as the parochial chairman of the church she founded.
Otunba Adekomolafe also singlehandedly financed the building of Zumuratu lIslamiyah Central Mosque, Ilesa. Till date, this is one of the biggest Mosques in Ilesa.
Otunba Ade Komolafe was a philanthropist, socialite and a sports lover. He was the Otunba of Ifewara and the Owaseye of Orogba Ijesaland.
Apart from being a member of many social clubs, he was the Patron of Ilesa Sports Club and also Grand patron of The Dart Federation of Nigeria.
Otunba Raheem Komolafe was flown to London by his family after having sustained multiple injuries from a brutal attack on him and some members of his family after he was assaulted at a fuel station by the then Chairman of Ilesa West Local Government Area, Ibukun Fadipe, popularly known as IBK, during the fuel scarcity in Ilesa, Osun State.
The incident occurred on November 15, 2009.
He was admitted at a Lagos hospital for a while before he was transferred to a London hospital after his condition became bad.
Otunba Komolafe was assaulted alongside his wife, Bolaji, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Olagunju, by Fadipe and his thugs after they were prevented from jumping the queue at a petrol station. The thugs were alleged to have used cutlasses, bottles and guns during the assault.
Investigations revealed that Otunba Komolafe and his wife, Bolaji, had gone to rescue his mother-in-law and driver from being assaulted by Fadipe and his thugs when they suddenly descended on them too.
Nothing has been heard of the matter since then.
Otunba Raheem Komolafe died at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital at Earls Court in London on January 13, 2011. This was exactly 10 years after the death of his wife.
Written by Sheri Edu, the first child of late Otunba Raheem Ade Komolafe.