Oba Sir Tadenikawo Adesoji Aderemi, CMG, KBE, KCMG, Ooni of Ife from 1930 to 1980, a former Governor of Western Region of Nigeria (1960-1962) and a founding father of the prestigious University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has been honoured by the university’s Museum of Natural History as part of the activities marking the 60th anniversary of the institution.
The A. G. Leventis Museum of Natural History celebrated the 60th anniversary of the university and 50 years of the museum with an anniversary lecture, an award ceremony and a special exhibition featuring relics and photographs showing the life and times of Oba Adesoji Aderemi (KCMG), which will be open to the public till December 31.
Receiving the award on behalf of their father, Prince Aderounmu Aderemi and Prince Owoade Aderemi thanked the Obafemi Awolowo University and the Natural History Museum for keeping the legacy of Oba Adesoji Aderemi alive.
Other award recipients are Late Dr. A. A.Ayansola (also posthumous), Prof. M. A. Isawumi, Olasupo Shasore (SAN) and HRM Oba (Dr.) Olufolarin Ogunsanwo.
Notable personalities in attendance at the event include the Ooni of Ife His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) of Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Daramola, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, and the Chairman of the OAU @60, Professor Charles Ugochukwu Ukeje.
Professor Adisa Ogunfolakan, the Director of A. G. Leventis Museum of Natural History, said Oba Aderemi was honoured with the award for his role in the establishment of the university, his visionary, selfless, courageous and progressive leadership that impacted on a better tomorrow for the ancient city of Ile-Ife and the entire country, and also for his contribution in protecting the rich cultural resources God gave Ile-Ife, getting Ile-Ife the desired attention required of the cradle of the Yoruba race and in putting records straight concerning Ife art.
In his own remark, Ooni Ogunwusi who came to the event with a regal line of traditional rulers said Ooni Aderemi who he delightfully refers to as his grandfather is the epitome of visionary leadership, a king with indelible track record and a fore father worthy of emulation.
When interviewed, Oluwasegun Omoworare, the Secretary of the Oba Adesoji Aderemi Foundation and a grandchild of the legendary Ooni, said that “Sir Adesoji Aderemi had an outstanding ability to attract opportunities and convert it to development for his people. He was modernising king who kept all the essentials of culture intact.”
Some of the landmark actions of Ooni Aderemi in artefact collection and curation, archaeology, literature and museum infrastructure include the following:
• Oba Aderemi began to collect Ife artefacts previously dispersed before 1931, a year after he became Ooni
• By 1934 he instructed that some sculptures be removed from groves to his palace for safekeeping
• Early in 1937, Oba Aderemi wrote a book “Notes on the City of Ile-Ife” on his palace collection of artefacts where he disagreed with Leo Frobenius on the Origin of Ife Artefacts by asserting that Ife art is not expatriate but locally made. This ended what the historians call the Frobenius doubt
• Oba Aderemi personally supervised the Ife excavations of 1939 and mingled freely with archeologists after accidental finds were made in Wunmonije in 1938
• Immediately the Nigerian Department of Antiquities was established in 1943, Oba Aderemi invited the Department to Ile-Ife. The first set of scientific excavations were carried out at various places in the city by way of test shafts and area excavations in the same year
• According to Mallam Yusuf Usman, an erstwhile Director-General of National Commission for Museums and Monuments, “His Imperial Majesty, Sir Adesoji Aderemi, invited the defunct Department of Antiquities (via a letter) to establish a Museum of Antiquities in Ife.” The request was promptly granted in 1948
• In 1954 Oba Aderemi made history for himself and Ile-Ife by the completion of the National Museum, Enuwa, Ile-Ife as the second National Museum in Nigeria and the first National Museum in Western Nigeria and he became the first person in Nigeria and Africa south of the Sahara to solely finance the construction of a museum of that magnitude
These feats are testament that Oba Adesoji Aderemi knew that archaeological excavations will not only reconfirm the status of Ile-Ife as the cradle of the Yoruba race but also the artefacts being housed in Ife, will make the city a cynosure of all eyes.