Even as a seasoned, oftentimes dispassionate writer, words fail me as I try to pen this special tribute to a very special woman. Some people are just too wonderfully created that one would expect that they will live forever. Princess Adenrele is one of such persons. Though she has transformed from mortal to immortal and departed our sinful, ungrateful world, I know she will live in our hearts forever and we shall meet again in heaven by God’s grace.
Before we ever met in London about two decades ago, her great name and pedigree had preceded her. She was a shining star in the political firmament and one of the few female politicians renowned as totally dedicated, committed, determined, principled and fearless about nation building. On the day we met, I had received a call from the famous Actress, RONNIE DIKKO, who told me they were in London on vacation. I promised to come on a visit to their apartment somewhere in Sussex Gardens in West London.
Princess was as cool and calm as the proverbial cucumber. I couldn’t imagine the irrepressible and steely personality that was buried within that soft exterior. I would later discover a disciplined and principled woman with amazing capacity for hard work combined with inimitable love and kindness. For hours that first day, we discussed the politics of our dear beloved Nigeria. Her late Dad featured prominently in that conversation.
She loved her Dad, the indefatigable CHIEF ADENIRAN OGUNSANYA, so passionately like most daughters do. He was her eternal hero. She resembled CHIEF ADENIRAN OGUNSANYA except for her light skin which she took from her British Mum, from Manchester. We became not only the best of friends and confidants, but also close family. Her humility was the main attraction to my circle of friends including Oba Adedokun Abolarin, Prince Adedamola Aderemi, Mr Gbenga Omololu-Olunloyo, Mr Olusegun Fatoye and above all my Uncle, Chief Ezekiel Olasunmoye Fatoye who became her best friend too.
She fought many political battles. Her absolute belief that Lagos State has been hijacked by non-indigenes brought her on a collision course with very powerful forces in the Lagos State hierarchy. Her blistering, unflinching and unalloyed loyalty to her Boss, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola was another source of trouble which almost crumbled and consumed her. The truth is that this stellar characteristic which was one of her greatest strengths and which endeared her to people of all classes was practically her undoing. Princess was not one to pretend or hide behind one finger. She said it as it was and was ready to damn the consequences. For her, integrity in relationships, business, community and politics was paramount and sacrosanct. She did not believe that it was something to be toyed or joked with.
She took on many battles and fought on till the very end. She was not a bitter soul and continued to have the courage of her conviction even as those whose wars she fought appeared to abandon her on the altar of expediency. The one thing she believed in was her crusade for the emancipation of the masses of her people in Ikorodu and Lagos State. She was much loved and respected in Ikorodu because it was obvious to all that their pain and suffering were hers as well. She gave most of her time and life to fighting for the underdog and uplifting the underprivileged. It was sometimes a lonely battle which made her wonder what manner of people she was dealing with. Princess could not understand selfishness or greed. She simply gave and gave. The joy for her was to see the happy faces and contentment of those she had been able to assist and bless. Their fight was her fight. The battles eventually took a toll on her physical and psychological health but she remained dignified and unbowed. A truly royal and regal woman. She was an amazing AMAZON in every sense of the word.
I must have had a premonition of her imminent departure as I visited her at home for the last time just a few days before she passed on. It was a decision I took because I kept getting the urge to visit urgently even though I had a busy schedule of activities. As we talked and took pictures during my visit she looked weak and frail. When we said goodbye, I felt hollow. There was an emptiness within me that somehow resonated and reverberated through my very bones marrow. I had never seen her so fragile. She was always strong no matter the challenges. It seemed like someone had walked over my grave. It came as very little surprise when I heard the shocking news that the elegant, beautiful, graceful Swan had flown majestically away to the bosom of our Lord.
Our consolation is that she’s gone home to rest in the Lord. Her heart was pure, her soul divine and she lived her life for others. I will always have and treasure my very fond memories of her.
Good night The Omowonuade. Rest in Peace…