By Chido Nwakanma
History in exciting colours is one of the main attractions of Courage And; Character: The Definitive History of Osun State. The 460-page tome comes in an arresting coffee table format, enabling it to incorporate valuable and rich primary and secondary sources in books, articles, and letters that provide a comprehensive overview.
The deluxe edition in my hands will befit the coffee table in elevated sitting rooms. It has a limited print run and is customised. Erudio says it will roll out an edition for mass circulation.
The Erudio Alphabet Company published Courage And Character (2023) and has brought it out as Osun State marks 32 years of its creation alongside others created by the military on 27 August 1991. Osun is one of the nine states created to raise the state count from 20 to 30.
Other states created on 27 August 1991 are Kebbi, Jigawa, Yobe, Taraba, Abia, Anambra, Delta, and Kogi.
The publishers say of the Osun book, “It is an epic story that begins in pre-colonial times and documents the great work of the founders and those who have had the privilege to lead the state. The Osun story is about a people’s rejection of subjugation and oppression, their quest for independence and sovereignty, and the struggle for survival and relevance.”
Courage And Character pays tribute to “the Omoluabi of Osun: brave hearts, unrelentingly optimistic, and flinty in their determination” and “To the abiding memory of the first Executive Governor of Osun State: Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke”.
It is one of life’s coincidences and exciting turns that the incumbent governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, is a younger brother of the first civilian governor.
Colours hit you as you pick up the book. Courage & Character is encased in bright colours. They manifest in the colour scheme on the cover and the evocative photographs on the pages.
“The colours on the cover of this book pay homage to the Pan-African flag, one of the Osun identity elements. They are the official colours of the African race: Red represents the blood that unites all people of African ancestry, Black depicts the existence of the Black race, Gren denotes Africa as a continent of great fecundity, and Gold depicts the abundant mineral resources of Africa”, publisher and editor Temitope Lakisokun affirms.
History is about stories. Courage & Character packs many gripping narratives. It starts in Part 1 with the level of “the unlikely catalyst” called Abdulsalami Agbaje. A ranking chief, Agbaje, stood tall in the Ibadan nobility to the point of becoming the Otun Balogun (fourth rank) with a chance at becoming the Olubadan.
He was a successful entrepreneur; one of his sons, Anthony Saka Agbaje, was the first Ibadan medical doctor (trained at the University of Glasgow in 1921 and co-published his newspaper, The Western Echo, in the 1940s.
“One major symbolism of his stupendous wealth is that he was the first Ibadan man to ride a car in 1915. He also built the first cement brick house in Ibadan before building what many consider a masterpiece, even till today: a magnificent mansion at Ayeye in the town’s northwest.”
Envious colleagues then petitioned against Agbaje, the colonial authorities. They leveled 14 counts of “misconduct” against him. The Olubadan also treated a delegation of Obas from the Osun Division. Both actions sparked the resolve of the Osun people to manage their affairs away from the jurisdiction of the Ibadan Native Authority.
It led to the Butcher Commission of Inquiry, whose report exonerated Agbaje but confirmed allegations of “inefficiency and maladministration against the Ibadan District Native Authority.”
Photos of the principal actors and bromides of the Butcher Commission report enliven the account and several other sections of the book. It features outstanding and rare images, clips from newspapers of the era and sundry memorabilia.
Courage And Character offers three parts. Within its pages are a foreword by President Muhammadu Buhari, a preface by Ogbeni Aregbesola and a publisher’s note. There are ten chapters and appendices.
There are sections on the governments of Col Leo Ajiborisha, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, and the military interregnum featuring Colonel Abel Akale, Navy Captain Anthony Udofia, Lt Col Anthony Obi, Col Theophilus Olufemi Bamigboye. The administration of Chief Bisi Akande brought back the civilians. The book Courage and Character extensively documents the government of Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Rauf
Courage And Character observed best practices in historical narrative. It is engaging and exciting. It deploys vivid language and storytelling techniques. There are rich primary and secondary sources in documents and artefacts created during the period it captures. Inside are all the significant events and figures and the lesser-known ones in simple language without jargon.
Publisher and Editor, Temitope Lakisokun and her team delivered on the mission of capturing the roots and the first twenty-five years of Osun State. That the book made it to the finish line is a triumph of tenacity because Governor Rauf Aregbesola exited along the line.
Lakisokun furthers her father’s footprints. The late principal, Chief Adeleke Lakisokun, studied History at the University of Wales and taught history for over 40 years in secondary schools in Western Nigeria, Oyo State and Osun State. He must be smiling in approbation.
Temitope Lakisokun earned an Upper Honours in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos and the Owner Manager Certification of the Lagos Business School but has made the pips of a historian-publisher.
Courage And Character: The Definitive History of Osun State is a befitting
legacy to Osun State at 32.