Emmanuel Adetuase Akinleye was born on August 9, 1934 into the family of David and Bolatia Akinleye, in Igede-Ekiti. Although some of their children died in infancy, the family had three surviving children: the first was a girl, the second was Emmanuel, and the third was named Moses. The name given to Adetuase had a connotation, meaning: “he has come back to behave,” which had to do with the Yoruba belief in reincarnation. The difficult experience of losing children in infancy occasioned the name, and with it, the hope that they would not lose him. As a child, Adetuase used to gather cans and use them as musical instruments. His parents recognized that he was a special child, and they treated him with respect.
As a teenager, he decided to enroll at the Bible school in his home town, lgede-Ekiti, and his parents consented. He graduated in 1951, and proceeded to the Baptist Boys High School in Oyo, graduating from there in 1957. His quest for knowledge and effective service to God and man spurred him to seek admission to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS), where he believed he would become thoroughly equipped for God’s work. He enrolled in 1958 and graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor’s degree in theology. His insatiable thirst for knowledge caused him to acquire many other degrees, especially in music. He probably came to realize that he needed to develop his natural gift in that area and use it for the propagation of the gospel of Christ. He studied musical arts and was working on his doctoral degree when his studies were interrupted by a disease which eventually claimed his life, in 1994.
Akinleye died unexpectedly in 1994, leaving no wife or children. He had never married because of a disappointment he had experienced during courtship. Nevertheless, he made a great contribution to his immediate community, the NBTS, as a role model to his students at the seminary, where he taught from 1965 to 1994, a period of almost three decades. He was a dedicated and disciplined servant of God, a missions-minded person who encouraged good singing and used music profusely in evangelization. He moved from one church to another, teaching people how to conduct hymns. He was known to be a straightforward person and a man of integrity. Although he was not married, he had no illicit relations with women, and there was no stain of immorality on him, nor on the gospel of Christ. He served selflessly in seven different churches where he motivated the members to do evangelism. He sponsored student pastors in the seminary and took care of other people’s children, even though he had none himself.
Akinleye was an administrator par excellence, and rendered meritorious service as the director of student affairs during his days as a student at the NBTS. As a mark of honor, one of the hostels at the seminary was named after him. He was the first African to teach music at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso, and was instrumental in the establishment of a music department at the seminary. At his death, some of his personal property was willed to the music department there.
Akinleye was a pioneer in church music, and he played guitar, trumpet, and African drums. He taught various courses, including: African Traditional Religion, Evangelism, Music Fundamentals, Biblical Archaeology, Christian Worship, and Hymnody. Someone in the first group of music students described him as a classical guitarist, while a theology student said he was a role model who taught with practical examples. He was a courageous soldier of Christ who spoke his mind even in the face of opposition and criticism.
His service was not limited to his immediate environment, and it had a wide impact. He served the Nigeria Baptist Convention in various capacities: as music consultant, and as chairman of the Yoruba Hymnal Revision Committee, and of the English Hymnal Publication Committee. Although he quickly faded from view, he will be remembered for his immeasurable contributions to the Nigeria Baptist Convention, especially in the area of music. He died in 1994 at the age of sixty.
Marian Ade Ishola
Olufunke Adedoyun, interview by author, October 27, 2009, NBTS.
S.O. Auda, interview by author, October 26, 2009, NBTS.
G.O. Bamigboye, interview by author, October 26, 2009, NBTS.
Funeral Program of Rev. E. A. Akinleye, held at First Baptist Church Igede-Ekiti, on April 29, 1994.
F. A. B. Koroma, interview by author, October 26, 2009, NBTS.
Tayo Oladeji, interview by author, October 27, 2009, NBTS.
This story, submitted in 2010, was written by Marian Ade Ishola, a student at Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso under the supervision of Dr. M. L. Ogunewu and submitted by Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.