According to the account of her last moments, published by the Tribune newspaper, Chief HID Awolowo, as she was fondly called in the media, woke up at about 8 a.m. and got ready to host a meeting of the committee set up to plan her centenary birthday. The meeting was billed to hold at10 a.m. in a living room of her residence at Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State.
In her usual style, she responded cheerfully to the greeting of Managing Director, African Newspapers of Nigeria PLC, Publishers of the Tribune newspaper, Edward Dickson, and those of her children, grand children and great grand children that arrived for the meeting.
Shortly after the meeting started at the Efunyela Hall, HID Awolowo was brought in and as if on cue, everyone in the hall rose to welcome her with a rousing recitation of the popular Yoruba song: “Mama o, Mama o, Mama o, Olorun da mama si fun wa…” which means: Mother, mother, may God protect our mother for us.
Beaming with smiles, she responded to her children’s prayers with another prayer as it is customary among the Yorubas, saying “E kuipalemo o, eyin naa a dagba – thanks for the preparation, you will all live long.”
According to the report, after listening to the deliberations at the meeting for about five minutes, She said she needed to rest and asked to be excused. When she got to her room she demanded for her lunch of pounded cocoyam with egusi soup. After taken few morsels of the pounded cocoyam, she invited one of her personal assistants who was attending to her to eat with her, but the assistant declined out of respect adding that she would eat after the matriarch had eaten to her fill. Not one to miss a chance to indulge in the cheerful conversation, she commended the beauty of the pair of slippers the assistant had worn and asked her to get a similar pair for her later.
After lunch, she laid on her bed for a while. But she suddenly asked to be raised up from her bed. The young men who had gathered to raise her from her sleeping position realised that she was gasping for breath and sent for her two surviving children, Tola Oyediran and Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, who were part of those attending the meeting.
Soon after her children rushed into her room, she stopped breathing.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday at family home in Ikenne, Mrs Awolowo-Dosumu, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, recounted that her mother died in her arms. She said Mrs. Awolowo did not relent in prayer and praises to God till her last breath.
“She was in high spirits before she left us and didn’t give us room to suspect the contrary as she kept praying for us.
“Whether she had a premonition about her death, we will never know for sure as she kept singing and praising God. It was her voice of prayer that we heard last.
“That moment was huge and we are glad to receive her final blessings. Mama eventually breathed her last in my arms,’’ she said.
She said she would miss her mother’s “wise counsel and motherly care obviously,’’ more than anything else adding that the family will do all in its power to preserve their late mother’s legacy.
Mrs. Awolowo-Dosumu, however said she was saddened that her mother could not live to celebrate her centenary birthday.
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, said yesterday, that he regretted that the matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty, Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo, did not live to witness the transformation and positive change the country would be experiencing soon.
Buhari said this through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir David Lawal, who led the government’s delegation to the Ikenne residence of the Awolowos, to commiserate with them over the death of the Yeye Oodua. Other members of the delegation were the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin and former SGF, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe.
He maintained that Mama did not “feel” the change where her son-in-law, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his wife, Dolapo who is her granddaughter were key players. The president said, “Our regret in government is that Mama did not live long enough to feel the transformation this country will undergo with the active participation of her grand son-in-law, with the active participation of her granddaughter. This is something that saddens us. Had she waited well for one or two more years, I’m sure she would have left this world a very happy woman indeed, because the fulfilment of what her husband stood for would have finally come to fruition.”
He promised the readiness of the FG to participate fully in her burial arrangements if the family is gracious enough to give him the opportunity to so do.
Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo (née Adelana; November 25, 1915 – September 19, 2015), popularly known as HID, was born to a modest family in the small Ikenne community of Ogun State in Nigeria. She was married to politician Obafemi Awolowo from December 26, 1937 to his death in 1987. He famously referred to her as his “jewel of inestimable value”. She was also a successful businesswoman and astute politician. She played an active role in the politics of Western Nigeria. She stood in for her husband in the alliance formed between the NCNC and the AG, called the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), while he was tried and in jail.
The plans were that she would contest the elections, and if she won, would step down for her husband in a by-election. To fulfil his dream of becoming president in the Second Republic, she toured the length and breadth of the country with her husband campaigning. She also coordinated the women’s wing of the party and was always present at all party caucuses. A successful businesswoman, she became the first Nigerian distributor for the Nigerian Tobacco Company (NTC) in 1957. She was the first to import lace materials and other textiles into Nigeria. On September 19, 2015, she died in her sleep at the age of 99 just over 2 months short of her 100th birthday