OBAFEMI AWOLOWO FOUNDATION
28 LANRE AWOLOKUN ROAD
GBAGADA PHASE II
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to this event, the first of the Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ Centenary Lecture Series.
I am particularly honoured to welcome our Guest Speaker, our inimitable Professor Wọle Soyinka, whose commitment to this country has remained as uncompromising as it was when, in his younger days, he managed to make his point in those rather unconventional ways that only he could pull off.
Over the years, his prodigious talents have earned him critical global acclaim, including arguably the most coveted accolade in the world – the Nobel Prize. Yet, he is always alert to events in Nigeria and whereas eminent global citizens like him could be pardoned for looking away in times of national need, on account of more important global commitments, he appears quite incapable of ignoring the situation at home at any time.
Today, the Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ Foundation gives due honour to a great Nigerian, particularly for his unstinting support to us as we celebrate the centennial of our Patron. As you may already know, Professor Soyinka has supported the Foundation in the past, having delivered an incisive Awolọwọ Memorial Lecture titled, ‘Democracy and the University Idea’ in1994. It is still highly recommended reading.
As you probably also know, he not only wrote, in his vintage style, the foreword to the compilation of essays in celebration of the centennial, ‘Awo: On the Trail of a Titan’, he also made a point of joining us at the book launch last month. We thank him most sincerely.
I also warmly welcome the Chairman of today’s event, Professor Ayọ Banjọ, also a consistent supporter of the Foundation, having chaired our 5th Dialogue in 1996, titled,’ Nigeria: Toward a Youth Agenda for the 21st Century’. He also wrote the foreword to the Foundation’s 10th year Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ Memorial publication, a pictorial titled, ‘His Truth is Marching On’.
We are grateful for his support. We like to think that his support is motivated, not only by the historic ties between the Banjọ and Awolọwọ families, but also by his belief in the Foundation’s mission. We thank you, sir.
In my welcome address at the centenary launch, I said the following, ‘inherent in the Foundation’s message on the occasion of these centenary celebrations is the desire to inspire, challenge and renew our collective commitment to an ennobling future for our nation ...’
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have no doubt that our agenda is about to receive a major boost this morning as we prepare to be greatly inspired and suitably challenged by the treatise we are about to listen to.
Once again, I welcome you all and I thank you for your attention.
Dr Ọlatokunbọ Awolọwọ Dosumu
March 3, 2009