Oba Adenle Biography
A full story of the life and times of His Royal Highness Oba Samuel Adeleye Adenle I can be found in
Samuel Adenle I, Ataoja of Osogbo: Portrait of a Yoruba Oba by Depo Adenle with Tola Adenle (nee
Adamolekun). Suffice to mention here that if the young Adeleye Adenle had not been a hard-working
and studious child, the circumstances into which he was born into would have meant he would not have
attended school. His father had died when he was a mere child and his mother who was very poor and
used to dye old clothes for the poor who needed to extend the longevity of their clothes was widow-inherited by the father’s brother. His mother would have two other children for Fayoyiwa, the uncle, and this made an already hard-scrabble life
The following is Chapter One, “Papa: The Early Years” from Portrait of a Yoruba Oba:
The Yoruba compound has always been common not only in Osogbo but also in most parts of Yorubaland. It remains a main source of tracing people’s family background in most parts of Yorubaland, especially Oyo. Even till today, if I meet somebody outside Nigeria and he/she claims Osogbo as hometown, the first question I would naturally ask is “’bo l’agbo ‘le nyin [which compound are you from]? During the middle of the 19th Century at Ile Oluawo – Ile Olori Awo (the compound where the head worshipper of Ifa always belonged) had been born to Adeyinka, a son named Adetifewa. Going a little further back was Adeyinka’s father, Oyelekan, whose brother was Ataoja Aina Sherebu, and both of them were sons of Ataoja Shogbodede. Oyelekan and Ataoja Aina Sherebu had a younger sister, Obodelegbewa, listed as ‘Obodegbewa’ and a.k.a. Obode. She was Adeyinka’s aunt; Adetifewa’s grand-aunt; Adeleye’s great-grandaunt and Papa’s great-great-aunt.
Still on the family tree, we can see that Papa’s grandfather – Adetifewa – and Ataoja Kolawole’s (a.k.a. Lawole) father – Shangosowo – share the same father, Adeyinka, ie Papa’s grandfather and Shangosowo were brothers. Adeleye was therefore Shangosowo’s nephew, and Papa was his grandnephew while Ataoja Kolawole, Fayoyiwa and Ladejobi were all Adetifewa’s nephews. Therefore, Papa’s father – Adeleye – AND Ataoja Kolaole, Fayoyiwa (the man who widow-inherited Iya Aojumoke, Papa’s mother) and Ladejobi were first cousins, being the children of brothers. Ladejobi was the father of dramatist, Oyin (L-)Adejobi who was brother to Adeleke (L-)Adejobi, late Primate of Church of the Lord (Aladura). Mrs. Ayodele - (mother to Medical Dr. Ayodele, a.k.a. “Dr. Ko Bad”, Yomi, Sade Oyinlola (of Okuku), Dipo Ayodele (et al.) – is also a (L-)Adejobi …
The young Adetifewa grew up and took as wife Ayokunnu, popularly called ‘Kunnu of Ile Olubarin. The union produced a son, Adeleye … died young but not before he and his wife, Awojumoke, sometimes called Olajumoke daughter of Adifa Ile Aleegun had Papa in the early years of the 20th Century. Awojumoke’s mother was from Ile Aganna. The baby boy, born about January 1903, was named Adenrele (Adenle) Adisa Adeleye.
The name of Papa’s father, “Adeleye” became his middle name while his given name, “Adenrele” or Adenle, became his last name …
Ile Oluawo was not a Christian compound and Papa would grow up before having “Samuel” added to his names when he became a Christian.”
Oba Adenle Family Tree
Papa went to elementary school, thanks to an uncle, Oni-Kuku (Mr. Oni who was a cook to a missionary) who used to have the little boy visit him at his work place where the missionary soon noticed how the boy was always picking up pieces of paper to look at. He would later attend St. Andrew’s College, Oyo, Nigeria’s pre-eminent tertiary institution where he graduated in 1923.
Teaching jobs took him to Ipetu-Ijesa, Ifaki in present-day Ekiti State and later, to Benin City where his brief included serving as a “Travelling Teacher” to as far as Onitsha.
It was at Benin that the beginning of what would be a lucrative business career took off. As noted earlier, his mother was poor and illiterate. When Papa wrote that she should buy what turned out to be a lorry load of chickens – adie – rather than adire – tie-dyed textiles that Osogbo has always been so noted for, hence the sobriquet, Osogbo Ilu aro – town of dyes – Papa and his first wife back then, Deborah Adeyoyin believed they had lost all their life savings. Papa said his mother was in tears thinking that he had gone mad sending so much money to buy chickens!
The truck load of chickens was very frightening but he and his wife fed the chickens that night after arrival and by morning when Papa went to work, his wife started running around so that they could get rid of the chickens before they would die. The chicken were all sold within days and the business of bringing chickens from Osogbo to Benin and around the Niger River for sale to re-salers would be the seed money for his other businesses, especially becoming the sole distributor for salt at Osogbo which, by the 1930s, was already a thriving commercial center for towns and settlements up to Ekiti, Ondo, Owo, Ikare and Akure Divisions, major cities in present Ekiti & Ondo States.
Papa founded Osogbo Grammar School in 1934– not to be confused with today’s Osogbo Grammar School, a community high school founded in 1950. It was a private secondary school over which he served as Principal but the school would fail, and he told us it was the despondency of losing what he had labored so much for that made him write the two Yoruba narrative poems. Here’s part of the commentary on the books:
“… S.A. Adenle was a provincial schoolmaster and trader in Osogbo, Western Nigeria, in the 1920s and 30s. He was also an inventor, who designed and built a mechanical loom using a bicycle wheel. Among his most notable inventions were two pamphlets written in Yoruba in a poetic form of his own devising. The second and longer pamphlet, in particular, seems to have no precedent and no sequel in Yoruba literary history. It is a 124-page didactic narrative poem which is rigorously metrical in the sense that every stanza is composed of lines containing exactly the same number of syllables – a strange feat when one considers that Yoruba is an unstressed tonal language and its orature is based on free and variable breath-groups rather than any form of metre. …”
So, a door closed, and another opened although it would not last but it’s a joyful thing that he was able not only to complete the two volumes before becoming the Ataoja of Osogbo but he still had enough time during the early part of his reign that he issued another edition soon after ascending the throne of his forefathers. As the Oba, Papa brought far-reaching changes to the face of Osogbo: roads, modern local administration to the running of the town both during colonial days and after independence; he would reign for only 15 years after independence before answering the Home Call. As would be expected from an Andrian – products of the old St. Andrew’s College, Oyo, education was of particular interest to him. Every land back then was crown land which means that his say-so transferred properties to individuals and institutions.
Unlike many in his positions as First Class Oba, Papa did not use his position to sign over huge land holdings to himself or his children and as Late Archdeacon Omigbodun who was Principal of [the new] Osogbo Grammar School for decades told it when interviewed for Papa’s biography, he only had to give a bottle of whisky or gin, a bottle that Papa had him open right there and shared with all the visitors to the Palace. Schools like Baptist Girls’ High School and others received huge pieces of land on which to build their schools and Papa was always a regular sight in those difficult early days, as narrated by an old student. The old student, Mrs. Omolara Kayode-Adedeji donated the two photographs on pages 87 & 88 of “Portrait of a Yoruba Oba” AND a special edition of the Window Pane that had been issued for the 50th anniversary of the school when she learnt a biography of Papa was being written. Here’s an excerpt from the pamphlet:
“… The land on which the school stands was donated to the Nigerian Baptist Convention by our late Royal Father, that great visionary, intelligent, sagacious, eventful, enlightened and progressive leader, Oba Samuel Adeleye Adenle, the then Ataoja of Osogboland … This your unique deed has gone into the annals of The Baptists’ History in Nigeria …”
At the Golden Anniversary celebrations, one of the founding students recalled how Papa used to vist the school twice weekly to check on how things were progressing and how students were doing. … The Window Pane referred to “the menace of snakes … thick woodlands and nearness to the Osun River … Such were his interest in those early educational institutions”. [Pages 86 & 87, “Portrait of a Yoruba Oba”.]
After spending 31 years on the throne of his ancestors, Oba wa ja – the Yoruba do not say a king is dead and was buried on All Saints’ Day 197