Professor Ademola Ladele’s father, Alagba TAA Ladele, was the headmaster of my maternal Grandfather, Revd John Adegoke Okesiji, JP in 1944 at the Baptist Day School, Okeho. He lived with the renowned author, and the following year, 1945, the young John was made the General Monitor of the school although he had stopped living with him.
Alagba TAA Ladele kept monitoring the progress of his pupil and the relationship later became more of a family and collaborator on different projects that positively impacted Okeho. History had that TPL Iyiola Ladele resided with the family of John Adegoke Okesiji at Ogbomoso for some years. That showed how the relationship grew and the family became more intertwined.
By the time the family of Dr. Ademola Ladele relocated to Ibadan from Ilorin, my Mum and the late Mrs. Yinka Ladele were both teachers at Orogun Grammar School and that was the beginning of my relationship with him.
I will just want to share some lessons I learnt over the years:
• Go the extra mile: While I was seeking admission to the University of Ilorin, he wrote a letter to Professor Yomi Omotesho, in the company of my father, Ademola Irantiola, we took the letter to him. The rest is history like they say!
• Make an Example of yourself: Professor Ladele made an example of his life for me. Through this, he encouraged me to look beyond my state and hope for a better future and that led to my early marriage.
• Show the way of faith: Professor Ladele showed me the way of faith. For many years, I was a part of the family’s monthly trip to the Redemption Camp. Neither he nor Mummy Olumide got tired of my addition to the family.
• Entrust People with tasks and believe in their ability: Professor Ladele entrusted me with various tasks professionally and he believed in my ability to deliver. I worked with him on several projects and for this, I am eternally grateful.
• Celebrate with them with Presence and Presents: The late Prof and Mrs. Yinka Ladele were at the launch of the biography of Rev JA Okesiji, JP, and at my wedding in Ilorin. He equally was at the funeral of Revd JA Okesiji last year.
• Learn when you should take the back seat: In 2017, my wife and I went to Iseyin with Prof Ladele. He left the driver’s seat for me while my wife sat by me. He sat at the back of the seat. That showed how much he prepared us to continue the race.
• Never silence an idea: For every idea, I shared with Prof, he never silenced any of it. That led to the “Asale Asayan Oro” at the death of Pa TAA Ladele amongst others. He aired his opinion at all times to ensure that every idea is well thought through.
• Opened his doors to even my friends: I visited his office many times with my friends and he never turned us back for once. He was very accessible and I had great confidence that I would leave better than when I came into his office.
• Keep your mentees informed: So, Prof Ladele kept me informed at all times both personally and professionally. When he was Head of Department, Founding Chairman of Diamond FM, UI; Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture; his inaugural lecture and other personal information.
• Take charge: The family traditions of the Ladeles which included Periodic meetings and vigils amongst the siblings; raising their children together; founding of the TAAL Foundation continued effortlessly after TPL Iyiola Ladele passed the baton; quite painful that he too passed the baton soon.
• Learn how to take a break: In my last conversation with Prof, he urged me to learn how to take a break per time. He knew that I was on many personal and collaborative projects. I paraphrase his words, “We all desire to die empty because we would not want to take our talents to the grave, however, it is important to learn how to take a break.”
I have learnt a great deal from you, Sir. You opened yourself as a book for me to study and I have picked valuable lessons. By God’s grace, I will hold the fort and ensure that the transgenerational heritage of 80 years is kept in honour of the departed patriarchs, TPL Ladele and you.
Take heart, be brave and courageous, Aunty IJ, Olumide, Labisi, Dotun and Ore.
Rest in Power, Sir.