My Grandpa’s College Brother: the exit of Comrade Sonibare Ogunyinka Ogundipe: 1938-2021

Olutayo Irantiola

In 1938, when a son named Sonibare Ogunyinka Ogundipe was delivered to the family of late Pa Joseph Ogundipe Akinlade and his mother, Charlotte within the Molete compound in Okaka, Itesiwaju Local Government Area of Oyo State. They never knew that they were giving birth to an activist who will be a force to reckon in the metrological and aviation industry in Nigeria. Ogundipe was lively to have been delivered as a preterm baby because he was so small at birth and his chances of survival were very limited but by divine intervention, he survived.

Ogundipe started his activism at the Olivet Baptist Boys High School, Oyo when he was a Higher School Certificate Student and this was where he met my Grandfather, the late Revd John Adegoke Okesiji, JP and he took him as a College Brother. My Grandfather was quite older than many of the students at that time because he had bagged a Certificate in Theology from the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, (NBTS) Ogbomoso and he was on a scholarship for his secondary school education before proceeding to bag a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from the same institution. I am sure that there was a break as everyone journeyed into significance in life.

However, the peak of his activism was during the administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, when he locked up who locked up the gadgets at the Murtala Muhammed Airport. In a BBC report at about that time, it was said that a coup d’état had happened in Nigeria. This led to his detention for 45 days. Unfortunately, he was in detention when his 1st daughter was graduating from a higher institution of learning.

The brave Ogundipe had a good time working in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency headed various units within the organization such as Head, Fleet Management; Hygiene; Printing Services amongst others. Baba Ogundipe whose final station was Ibadan also retired to the same city. At this time, his alias became Baba White and he was an Elder of a local Baptist Church. 

By this time, he met my Mum, Grace Modupe Irantiola, in the church but did not connect him to his College brother. Until one Sunday when the late Okesiji visited the church. It was a rousing welcome for him as the Pastor of the church, Rev Emmanuel Oyewole Oyekan, was a little boy when JA Okesiji resumed at the pastorate of First Baptist Church, Okelerin, Ogbomoso and he was the person who signed the recommendation letter of the pastor for Seminary education as well. That was how Comrade connected all the dots and he took my mum as his daughter. The most interesting side of our relationship was his relationship with my younger sister, Caroline Olufolake Adedoyin Oyeleye (nee Irantiola). Nobody can interfere in their hearty conversations. 

The journey continued till both families relocated to the Moniya area of Ibadan within the same neighbourhood and Baba was there at all times for us in varying capacities and we also acknowledged him as one of our Grandpas in Ibadan. At old age, he became a sage that shared his wealth of experience and gave very valuable advice at every encounter.

My Grandpa’s College brother has transited but we have fond memories of his life, his personality. He left without alerting anyone on the 30th of July, the same month as JA Okesiji and 1 year and 25 days apart. As he so desired, he was interred the following day, 31st July 2021 at the First Baptist Church, Idikan’s cemetery, Gbekuba, along Jericho Road, in Ibadan.

Thank you, Baba White, for the great charge that you shared with us. We aim to make you proud at all times. May the Lord be with Mama, the entire clan and the church left to mourn you.

Fare thee well, Pa Comrade Yinka Ogundipe!

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