Ilesagramms, Rotary and Majiyagbe
By Michael Jegede
JONATHAN Babatunde Majiyagbe graduated from Ilesa Grammar School. He spent six years in the school, which translates to the fact that he entered Ilesa Grammar School in January, 1948 and left in December, 1953. His sojourn in Ilesa Grammar School in addition to his parental influence created the platform for this celebration. A celebration of honour and character as ably indicated by a distinguished senior, Alhaji L.K. Jakande. However, I can confidently say that Majiyagbe's sojourn in Ilesa Grammar School was very outstanding and rewarding. Socially, he participated fully in the social life and activities of the school needless to say that he was a serious student.
I remember the year the Ionian Sports meeting took place at Ilesa Grammar School, he was a star performer in one of the plays staged by the school for the entertainment of our sport visitors from the group of Ionian Secondary Schools. Please permit me to reproduce a song which preceded the play in which Jonathan Majiyagbe was the star actor.
"Ka to bere ere wa lonio, a juba kiba se
Ere aladun ere oloyin
Ari male lo
Awo pada sehin lere wa loni o
Ajuba ki ba se
Iba fun alaga oni
Iba fun e Kuti o
Adeyefa iba re
Iba fun e Nicholas
Ako gbagbe Akinrele, Iba fun e o
A wa juba fun Lahanmi o, ajiwe ninu owo, ajiwe ninu ola,
Iba, a juba ki ba se,
Iba Akinlolu o, awa juba re.
Iba Imperial Ceasar, awa juba re,
B'omode ma ja nle, alo juba Baba re,
Bi agbalagba maj'ade nile, alo juba Baba re,
Iba, ajuba kiba se.
Iba Ionian father, awa juba re.
Majiyagbe performed brilliantly in the play which depicted a cultural setting in an Hausa Community. It was staged in Hausa Language and his spoken Hausa was flawless. In fact, I remember after the play, we nicknamed him leo le o leo Bechilo " whatever that means. Academically, he was in the forefront. He was hardworking, diligent and purposeful in his approach. It was therefore not surprising that he was made one of the prefects in the 1953 graduating set.
Like all members of the set, Majiyagbe departed Ilesa Grammar School with the usual charge. "we sent you out into midst....be as wise as serpent and be as harmless as the dove". The charge was not delivered by Rev. N.O.A. Lahanmi, the Principal we knew and who had passed on shortly before then, but by Rev. J.A. Akinyemi, the then acting Principal. This was followed by the singing of the departing Hynm: "With the sweet word of peace, We bid our Brethren Go". The parting was of course, agonising but we all had hopes of meeting again. But, alas a sizeable number of the set had passed on to the great beyond. May their good spirit rest in perfect peace.
After leaving the school, Majiyagbe had a brief spell with the Bank of British West Africa " now First Bank Plc before travelling abroad to pursue Legal studies. Armed with a University of London Law degree and having been called to the Bar at the Middle Temple " he returned home, precisely to Kano, his childhood base. He established the Law Firm of J.B Majiyagbe & Co., which through hardwork and perseverance is now reputed to be the leading Law firm in the Northern states of Nigeria. It was therefore not surprising that he was deemed eminently qualified to be elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and was so elevated as far back as 1980. Indeed, he is the First Legal Practitioner in Northern Nigeria to be so elevated.
In addition, he has since been made a life member of the Body of Benchers. Majiyagbe has been participating fully in the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association, he rose to become Vice President of the Association. He aspired to be President, which he did not seriously pursue; not because he was not qualified, but because the little politics involved in the association is out of tune to his character and his way of life. This has in no way diminished his interest in the affairs of the Bar Association, in fact he was for a period a member of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.
He has also always been a committed member of the Anglican Church. I remember his activities in soliciting for funds for the restoration of the Church affected by fire-outbreak. Indeed, he was for many years Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Kano. He is a very distinguished member of Worldwide Humanitarian and Service Organisations. He is an active member of the Kano Branch of the Nigerian Red Cross and was for a period, Chairman of the branch. I was privileged to have an insight into his activities in Kano Branch during my 22-year tenure as Hon. National Legal Adviser to the Nigerian Red Cross and member of the Central Executive Committee. As regards Rotary International, there is not much I can say here to add to what is already known and recognised worldwide regarding Majiyagbe's membership and activities in Rotary International - the 100 years old number one service organisation in the world.
He has long devoted his very robust intellectual and material resources to this very respectable organisation. Fortunately, his services to the organisation have been recognised and acknowledged. In the year 2003, he was appointed Worldwide President of the Organisation "the First African (Black Person) to be so appointed. He is now the immediate past President of Rotary International. He is recipient of Rotary International Foundation's citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Award. He is also Trustee, the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.
Majiyagbe also finds time to serve his local environment. He has been Coroner for Kano State, member Kano State Chapter of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture; Chairman Board of Trustees-Kano Lebanon Club. He is also Board Member of several private and public companies. All I have succeeded in doing so far, is to give a graphic survey of the life and times of a distinguished man of honour; to do justice to him would certainly require a Doctoral Thesis " which is ultra vires my assignment.
However, I have to make a confession " Majiyagbe is my childhood friend " few of them I have, all of them I continue to respect and admire " I therefore declare my respect and admiration for. Majiyagbe, an established humanist, philantropist and above all, a pride to Ilesa Grammar School and indeed to the appreciative international community.