Emmanuel Oladipo Alayande was born Gbadamosi Ajao Oladipupo on January 10, 1910 to Sanni Akano Alayande (a drummer) and Okekunbi Okesina (a kola nut trader). Alayande started life as a Muslim. Due to a traumatic experience he had while taking part in a funeral ceremony as a drummer boy, he moved to the house of his maternal uncle, named David Okesina. Under Okesina’s influence, Alayande went to school and converted to Christianity.
Upon his conversion to Christianity, Alayande was baptized at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Aremo on Christmas Day in 1917, taking the baptismal name, Emmanuel. Thus began his sojourn into Christianity and eventually the priesthood.
In 1917 Alayande began his early education at St. Peter’s Infant School in Ojaagbo. In 1920 he moved to St. Peter’s Senior Primary School, Aremo, where he came under the influence of his first headmaster, Rev. D. A. Olaitan and subsequently J. L. Ogunsola. Although Alayande was meant to complete his primary school education in 1925, he instead finished in 1927. This year-long delay occurred because of a mistake he made while reciting a poem in which he said “Whales” in place of “Prince of Wales.”
Alayande became a pupil teacher at St. Peter’s School, Aremo in 1928. Later that year, he took the entrance examination to St. Andrew’s College, Oyo and was admitted as the only candidate from Ibadan. Upon graduating from St. Andrews in 1932, he took a post to St. Stephen’s School, Ondo. This marked his initiation into adulthood, for he had to fend for himself as a bachelor. He was transferred to Ondo Boy’s High School in 1940 and worked under the school’s principle, Canon M. C. Adeyemi. He also spent eleven years of meritorious service to humanity in the Ondo Kingdom.
During his work at St. Steven’s, Alayande met his wife, Ebun Akinyele, the daughter of Bishop A. B. Akinyele. Alayande and Ebun were married on October 6, 1938 at St. Peter’s Church Aremo. The marriage was blessed with three children. Alayande also had a wonderful relationship with his father-in-law, Bishop Akinyele, which was more like a father-son relationship than a father-son-in-law relationship. It was Akinyele who encouraged Alayande to pursue priesthood.
In order to become a priest, Alayande needed further education. In June 1943 he gained admission to Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone. For many aspiring students of his generation, funding was a major constraint. He competed for and won the Agbebi Scholarship, which made it possible for him to begin his studies at Fourah Bay College. There he studied Latin, history, theology and economics, and in 1946, he took a B.A. degree from Durham University, to which Fourah Bay College was affiliated. During his schooling at Fourah Bay, his leadership qualities became evident and his fellow students elected him president of the students’ union in his final year. On completion of his degree, he proceeded to the Institute of Education, University of London, where he obtained the Postgraduate Diploma in Education in 1947. In that same year, he became the vice principal of Ibadan Grammar School and a year later, principal. He served at Ibadan Grammar School for over twenty years (1984-1968).
Contributions and Achievements
Becoming principal of an Anglican School usually meant becoming a priest. Hence, in 1950, he was ordained as a deacon by Bishop Akinyele, and in 1951 he was made a priest. In 1960 the Rt. Rev. S. O. Odutola appointed him canon of the Cathedral of St. James, in Oke Bola, Ibadan.
Following his retirement from teaching in 1968, Alayande became a full-time priest and served as vicar of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Ekotedo. Although attached to a church, his ministry transcended any local church, for he always answered any call to participate in services all over the Western Region. Sometime in 1976, he was elected archdeacon, a post in which he served until he retired as a vicar in 1980 at the age of seventy.
Pa Alayande (as admirers fondly called him) was a man whose prowess transcended the educational sector and the church, as he also was interested in and participated in politics. The clamor for self-government and later independence could not but attract many of the intelligentsia. As early as his time in Ondo, he joined the Nigerian Youth Movement of which he became the secretary of the Ondo branch. In London, he had the opportunity to interact with other nationalists, including Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then a law student, who subsequently founded an organization known as Egbe Omo-Oduduwa in London in 1945, before exporting it to Nigeria. Pa Alayande was a member of Obafemi’s association, as well as the Action Group (AG), which metamorphosed from it in 1951. He served first as the financial secretary of the party and later as the chaplain. With the return to civilian rule in 1979 and the formation of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Alayande continued to serve as a loyal party member, a role in which he remained until the formation of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was later elected president of the association of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), a position he held between year 2000 and 2003.
Alayande played a leading role in many humanitarian organizations to which he contributed immensely. Over the years his leadership roles included being a founding member of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT); president of St. Andrew’s Old Boys’ Association; charter member of the Rotary Club, chairmen of the Red Cross Society, Oyo State Branch; founding, longest, and oldest member of the Dining Club; chairman of the Oluyole Cheshire Home; founding chairman of the Ibadan School for the Deaf; member of the Hope Society of St. Peter’s Church, Aremo; founder of Youth Christian Circle of St. James’ Cathedral, Oke Bola; an Ibadan spiritual mentor; director of Heinemann Educational Books Place (Nigeria); and motivator and member of the board of trustees for Ajayi Crowther University.
Alayande also took part in public service. He was a member of the Western Regional Advisory Board on Education (later known as the Scholarship Board) from 1952 to 1958 and chairman of the same board from 1958 to 1963. He was also a member of the West African Examinations Council from 1960 to 1970, chairman of the Western State Schools Board from 1968 to 1971, a member of the Public Service Commission from 1972 to 1975, and special advisor on education from 1979 to 1983.
In recognition of his contributions to the community and the nation at large, he received various honors and awards. These include: the MBE Award in 1960, the honorary chieftaincy title of Aare of Ibadanland in 1977, the National Honors of OON in 1980, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws of the University of Ibadan in 1988, Oyo State Merit Award in 1990, and OFR in 2000.
Alayande died on October 27, 2006.
S. K. Olajide
The Saturday Tribune, October 28, 2006.
The Sunday Tribune, October 29, 2006.
“The Order of Celebration of Life: A Funeral Publication of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Aremo,” December 15, 2006.
This article, received in 2009, was written and researched by S. K. Olajide, a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, under the supervision of Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.