- Narrates how he died in his home
As prominent Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari, Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and a list of actors mourned renowned playwright and literary giant, Professor Akinwunmi Ishola, wife of the late scholar, Adebola, on Saturday said her husband did not give any sign that he would die so soon.
Prof Ishola died on Saturday morning at the age of 78.
Family sources said he died at his Bolajoko Estate home in Ibadan.
Speaking with newsmen on Saturday, the widow, Mrs Adebola Isola, said her husband did not give any sign that he would die so soon.
“Yesterday (Friday), my husband ate amala and gbegiri and he finished everything. My husband did not give any sign that he would die.
“Early this morning (yesterday), we had a nurse who came and gave him his bath. I prepared custard for him. I added beverage to it. As I was trying to feed him, he was just saying ‘Thank you my wife’ repeatedly. He had always been saying that, anyway. Even when his friends were around, he would ask them to thank me; that I am the reason he was not dead yet.
“When I gave him that custard and he continued to say ‘Thank you my wife,’ I called the doctor immediately. I asked my husband what happened and why he continued to say the same thing repeatedly. But he continued to say ‘Thank you my wife.’ I appealed to him to take the custard, but he took only one spoon. That was 9 o’clock this morning (Saturday).
“I called the doctor. I also called the children, who are all living in Lagos that their father was just praying and not taking his breakfast. He sat on the chair in his room upstairs. He did not say more than that and myself and the nurse put him on the bed.
“Immediately we put him on the bed, he gave up the ghost. That was around 9:30am. Even, the doctor I called was not yet around at the time he died. The children too had not come from Lagos before a gave up his ghost, but two of the children are around now. He only took one spoon of custard. I was worried because he used to eat very well.”
Early callers to the residence of the deceased included Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Oyo State, Mr Toye Arulogun; Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ibadan, Ayo Bamgbose; and a businessman, Dr Lekan Are.
Two among the children the deceased, Akinjide Ishola, who is a Lagos-based legal practitioner, and Mrs Oluwatoyin Shomefun (nee Ishola), also arrived Ibadan on Saturday.
The remains of the deceased had been taken to the Anatomy Department, University of Ibadan.
Isola, an icon, had been sick for more than two years due to old age, a factor which limited his public appearance during the time.
He was born in Ibadan in 1939 and attended Labode Methodist School and Wesley College for his primary and secondary education.
He studied at the University of Ibadan, earning a B. A. in French.
Governor Ajimobi, however, described the Professor Akinwunmi Isola’s death as a colossal loss not only to his immediate family, but to Oyo state, the Yoruba race and the world at large.
The governor, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Mr Yomi Layinka, on Saturday, said that he received the news of the death of the Ibadan-born culture ambassador and progenitor of Yoruba Literature with disbelief and utter shock.
By his death, the governor said that the state had lost a venerated son of the soil, who devoted his life to the promotion of Yoruba culture through his creative works and huge contributions to the global body of knowledge.
As a student at the University of Ibadan, Isola wrote ‘Efunsetan Aniwura,’ a play the governor said had remained a timeless piece in teaching lessons on abuse of power and retribution, while he said that his epic novel, ‘O leku,’ was also evergreen.
Quoting from William Shakespeare’s book, As You Like it, the governor said that the world was a stage, where he said Isola had played his part meritoriously and had gloriously exited to be with his maker.
Ajimobi said: “The late Professor Isola was also a blessing to his Alma Mata, Wesley College, Ibadan, because he composed the school anthem, which is still in use till date.
“He was a man of many parts. Not only was he a prolific writer, but he was also a talented actor and astute broadcaster who churned out many plays, drama series and box office films.
“Professor Akinwumi Isola was an unabashed believer in the promotion of the Yoruba language, which he once demonstrated by being the first person to deliver a university convocation lecture in Yoruba at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, which was very unconventional.
In the same vein, veteran actor, Lere Paimo, popularly known as Eda, regretted the demise of Isola, noting that he would be greatly missed, especially for his immense promotion of Yoruba language and culture.
Paimo said: “He coined my chieftaincy title: Aare Aboba jo, bestowed on me by the Soun of Ogbomoso, when I consulted him, because of his deepness in Yoruba Language.
“He was instrumental during the production of the much-rated movie, Saworo Ide. He is a great man full of wisdom and without doubt, the industry and I personally would miss him.
“I cherish his philosophy and kind heart. I pray that God will give his entire family fortitude to bear the loss.”
Popular filmmaker, Tunde Kelani, also described the death of Isola as a huge loss and that the great scholar had left a vacuum that would not be filled.
Kelani noted that it was not news that the deceased spent all his life on a scholarly work on Yoruba culture and language and in impacting on people, especially the younger generation through various publications, films and formal and informal teachings.
“I am proud to say that I learnt a lot from him and my life experienced a great development since the time I worked with him, especially when we did Kose Gbe, Saworo Ide, Agogo Ewo, among other films.
“My relationship with him was interesting. His works preach morals, and how to tackle corruption, among other things he did. I pray that God will uphold the foundation he had laid,” he stated.
He, however, lamented the scholar’s unfulfilled dream, revealing that Professor Isola could not accomplish his pending works, entitled: Iyan Esuru.
“It is painful that he won’t be able to do this, because he is no more,” he lamented.
The president of Theatre Arts and Movies Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Dele Odule, described the deceased as a great scholar, who impacted many people and was passionate about Yoruba culture and that despite his professional status, he advocated and defended Yoruba culture until his death.
He said one of the major things people would miss about the erudite scholar was his sense of humour, particularly when the duo of Uncle Larinde Akinleye and Pa Adebayo Faleti were still alive, adding that, “they were just like a trio of the jesters international of the 80s.
“He would be greatly missed. Though, I thank God for the exemplary life he lived and if there is life after death, I believe he would surely join his close associates (Akinleye and Faleti) to continue where they stopped.”