I dropped out of school to join Agbekoya –Prof Falola

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Olufemi Atoyebi, Ibadan

A professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin, United States of America, Toyin Falola, on Thursday, said that he dropped out of school in the late 60s and joined the Agbekoya Farmers Movement which revolted against the government and freed detainees kept at the Mapo Hall and Agodi Prison in Ibadan.

Falola said this while delivering a lecture titled, ‘Isese, asa ati esin: Cultural bridges to our development and modernity,’ at the Mapo Hall, as part of the activities to mark the 90th birthday of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji.

Among those in attendance were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was represented by Prof Bolanle Awe; chairman on the occasion, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN); chairman of the birthday planning committee, Prof Taoheed Adedoja; founder of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, Tunji Olaopa; Oyo State governorship aspirant, Seyi Makinde; President General of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes, Chief Yemi Soladoye, and Prof Alan Odulana of Lead City University, Ibadan.

In his lecture, Prof Falola called on Muslims and Christians not to relegate the position of culture and tradition in their lives, stressing that religion and tradition were two different entities. He also called on the Ibadan indigenes to come together and join hands for the development of the city.

He said, “We must all join hands to develop and improve our city of Ibadan. No government will do it for us.  I was a High School dropout. I ran to join the Agbekoya to fight for two years. I was part of the team that stormed this Mapo Hall and freed detainees, and I was part of the fighters that stormed Agodi Prison to release our people detained by the government then.

“Our Christian and Muslim faithful should understand tradition. In Brazil, they do it. They have turned the idea of masquerade into a big festivity where they generate huge investment through tourism. I appeal to our Pentecostal worshippers not to denigrate our tradition with their religion. It was through the medium of our tradition that the colonialists were countered and encroachment by the west was stopped.”

In his address, Babalakin, who said that it was unfortunate that many of the infrastructures built by the colonialists when Nigeria had no oil had not been replicated several decades after they left Nigeria.

He said, “Nigeria is not rich. Whoever says that Nigeria has money is deceiving himself or herself. We are all peasants. Among the three most difficult countries to live, which are Bangladesh and Syria, is Nigeria.

“If we don’t join hands and use the little money we have to better our lot, we will be deceiving ourselves. When I got here, I looked at this (Mapo) Hall. It was built by the colonialists between 1929 and 1930.”

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