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Inside HID Awolowo’s business empire -How Chief Obafemi Awolowo almost didn’t marry her


+All the burial details

Mama HID Awolowo was a business woman and successful for that matter. This was attested to by Chief Obafemi Awolowo himself in one of his books when he said, “She is a resourceful business woman; and in this regard, she is a worthy upholder of the traditions of her mother (Madam Elizabeth Oyesile and grandmother, Chief Adebowale Oyegunle) both of whom are successful traders.”

By the time Mama died on Saturday, September 19, 2015, she was sitting comfortably on a vast business empire that she started herself and those left by her late husband, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Among the business ventures mama left behind are:

  1. Dideolu Stores, which consists of all her shops where they sell wholesale drinks – Mama was a sole distributor for Nigerian Breweries Plc and Guinness Nigerian Plc. She was also a major distributor of cement.
  2. Dideolu Estate is the real estate of the Awolowo’s managed by Mama, even when Papa Awolowo was still alive. At least, there are three Dideolu Estates in Lagos Dideolu Estate, Ikeja, Dideolu Estate, Ogba and Dideolu Estate, Lekki.

There are also many locked-up shops at Apongbon, Lagos Island that belong to Dideolu Estate.

  1. Dideolu Specialist Hospital, Ikenne, is another business venture built and managed by Mama before she died. The hospital was originally planned by Papa Awolowo himself to honour his jewel of inestimable value, but death snatched him before he could do it.

Mama started and completed the hospital that is considered one of the best in the country today.

  1. African Newspapers of Nigerian Limited – publishers of Tribune newspapers. This was established by Papa Awolowo himself but was managed by Mama after the death of Papa in 1987. Tribune newspapers are the longest surviving today private news medium.



The three major tragedies in Mama’s life would certainly be the death of three out of her five children in her lifetime.

  1. The first of her children to die was her first son, Olusegun Awolowo, a lawyer and father of Olusegun Awolowo Junior, who died in 1963 at the age of 24. He died in a ghastly motor accident.
  2. Another tragedy struck Mama again in 2011, when her fourth child, Otunba (Mrs.) Ayodele Soyode, the mother of Vice President’s wife, died on Sunday, April 10, 2011, at the age of 66. She was said to have died of complications from cancer. Certainly for someone who was already advanced in age, this could be devastating.

3.Mama was still probably recovering from the death of Otunba Mrs. Ayodele Soyode, when death came visiting again to her only surviving son, Chief Oluwole Awolowo. He died in March 2013 in a far away London hospital. He was said to have died of complications from a motor accident he had in 2006.

When Oluwole Awolow died, Mama was inconsolable. She was said to have wailed ‘Oh Wole, my dear son! Why now! Is it a sin to live long? My parents lived long, why should longevity becomes a curse in my own case?”

Mama also wailed to the clergymen who came to break the news of her son’s death to her as she said: “Bishop, you said I would not witness any more unfortunate incident. Bishop, you said I would not witness any sorrow again. Bishop, you said u would not witness any more pain.”



Mama, as the matriarch of Awolowo’s clan, had some personal staff working with her directly. ENCOMIUM Weekly discovered that thought Mama was the head, she has a manager who is in charge of all the staff.

The manager, Alhaji Osinaike reported directly to Mama but he is in charge of all other staff in the compound.

After the manager are Mama’s secretaries. They are two in number. There are also two drivers, two nurses, three cooks working for Mama.

There is also a steward who doubled as cleaner and who also pushed Mama around on the wheel chair. There are electricians who take care of all electrical work in the household. Another person takes care of the two generating sets in the compound.

Mama also had some women working in her Dideolu Stores at Dideolu Specialists Hospital Annex, Ikenne.



Mama, no doubt, was looking forward to her 100th birthday celebrations on November 25, 2015. To this end, she had instructed her grandchildren to organize a week long activities to mark the milestone. As a matter of fact, that Saturday, September 19, 2015, that she died, there was a meeting of the centenary planning committee in the compound.

The centenary committee consists of Mama’s two surviving children – Rev. (Mrs.) Tola Oyediran, Dr. Tokunbo Dosumu and her grandchildren.

The week long activities would have involved Mama’s alma-maters – Saint Saviour’s (Anglican) School, Ikenne, Saint Peter’s (Anglican) Faji School, Lagos and Methodist Girls’ High School, Broad Street, Lagos.

Mama’s royal family background – Owobagbe Liyangu Akarigbo Ruling House of Sagamu and Obara Ruling House of Ikenne – were also booked to play a significant role in the centenary celebration.

There was also supposed  to be a day of praise songs by different choirs as part of 100 years celebration of Mama.

The Apostolic Church, where Mama’s mother, Deaconess Elizabeth Oyesile Adelana, was a staunch and founding member, was also booked to play a role in Mama’s never to be centenary celebration.

Ogunde Troupe, were also billed to stage a play to honour Mama on her 100 years on this terrestrial earth.

Unfortunately, however, Mama died 67 days to her 100th birthday celebrations, where all these activities and more were billed to take place.

Some of these activities will still take place before or on November 25, 2015, certainly without Mama. Because on that day, rather than Mama dancing to symphony of music to mark her centenary birthday, she will be interred into mother earth.



Barring any unforeseen circumstance, Mama’s remains will be interred on Wednesday, November 25, 2015, beside her husband inside Awo’s Mausoleum right inside the family compound in Ikenne. Mama’s final resting place has already been created beside that of her husband and covered with a sheet of glass.



Perhaps, the phrase ‘my jewel of inestimable value’ would not have been made by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, if he had married his first intended girl – Augusta Omoriola Onafowokan. Because the lady might not be able to do what HID did to the late sage to earn the now ubiquitous phrase on the lips of many men who want to appreciate their wives.

Awolowo had wanted to marry Augusta Omoriola Onafowokan because she was the first Ikenne girl to attend a secondary school and after her completion of the CMS seminary in Lagos, she worked at the colonial secretariat as a clerk.

But Augusta’s father, Gabriel Onafowokan, who was the Native Administrative Treasurer of Ijebu Province and at that time one of Ikenne’s most prominent citizens did not agree to Awolowo’s proposal for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Augusta’s father rejected Awolowo’s proposal of marriage based on the ground that his daughter was already engaged to another man.

But many believed Awolowo’s stubbornness and independent mindedness, earned him Augusta father’s rejection.

His family background which was not too economically buoyant could also have contributed to this rejection. This story is well documented in the book Obafemi Awolowo and the making of Remo: The Local politics of a Nigerian nationalist by Insa Nolte.



After the rejection by the Onafowokan family, Awolowo was bent in marrying an educated lady from his home town Ikenne.

As luck would have it, one of his juniors at Wesley College, Ibadan, told Awolowo about a young girl who just came back from Lagos, after her secondary school education. That young girl was Hannah Idowu Dideolu Adelana, who just graduated from Methodist Girls High School, Broad Street, Lagos.

Awolowo’s junior at Wesley College, Ibadan eventually introduced the two to each other and the toasting started in earnest from Femi, with Hannah playing hard to get. Letters and tons of letters were written by Awolowo to convince Hannah of his genuine intention, all to no avail.

It took the pressure from Hannah’s mother that Femi was the only indigene of Ikenne among all her toasters and as her only surviving child out of seven she would not allow her to marry outside Ikenne.

The emotional blackmail of Hannah’s mother worked and she succumbed to Femi’s overtures and for another two years they courted.

On Saturday, December 26, 1937, they were joined in holy wedlock at Saint Savoiur Church, Ikenne, Ijebu Province then.



If the information we are getting is anything to go by, Dr. (Mrs.) Tokunbo Dosumu, Mama’s last child will be in-charge from now on.

Already, a building has been built within the compound to serve as her permanent residence. The building, we gathered, was constructed just last year and she has been living there in the last one year.



Some of Mama’s staff will certainly be retained by Dr. Tokunbo Dosumu who will be taking over as main occupant of the family compound.

Some of the staff that will be disengaged certainly be nurses and the two women that watched over  Mama .



Mama was using three cars when she was alive. The three cars she was using include six seater Mercedes Benz that her husband was using when he was alive, a Toyota Camry and a KIA Cerato.





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