Let us acknowledge that till the last moment she yearned with nostalgia for Lagos (and Nigeria) that was at peace with itself not a city or nation which keeps churning out in large numbers – an underclass of the jobless and the disillusioned who have resolved that if they are not good enough for our country they too have decided that our nation is not good enough for them.
Bashorun J.K Randle
The verdict is unanimous. Our beloved Auntie Enitan required only two words as her epitaph: “Classy Lady.” We may need to add that she was most unassuming – regardless of her impeccable pedigree as the daughter of Nigeria’s foremost nationalist, the late Herbert Macaulay who was a descendant of late Bishop Ajayi Crowther in addition to being an engineer as well as a surveyor.
On the maternal side, Auntie Enitan’s forebears were equally illustrious. Ironically she showed no interest whatever in demanding the homage and obeisance from politicians to which she was rightly entitled on account of the political vision and sagacity of her redoubtable father. Neither did she ever exploit her aristocratic background to extort privilege or patronage from the government. Indeed she was a rare gem.
Auntie was part of a triumvirate of which the others were my late mother and Mrs Agusto (“Mama Muba”). They started off as friends but the bonding rapidly escalated to sisterhood. They belonged to an age when ladies were more disposed towards celebrating the virtues, valour, and achievements of their menfolk rather than advertising their deficiencies. They chose to shut their eyes and close their ears. No easy task!!
In the case of Auntie Enitan, she was a stunning beauty who was swept off her feet by her husband – the late Chief Adebayo Doherty. She would only coyly admit that it was not his success as a lawyer and businessman that did the trick. It was his credential as an old boy of King’s College!! All the other contenders from St. Gregory’s College; Igbobi College; Baptist Academy, Methodist Boy’s High School; and C.M.S. Grammar School were eliminated in the first round of the heats!!
At Kirsten Hall in Tinubu area of Lagos, her father dotted on her, in a political environment that would have prepared her for life as a formidable warrior in Nigeria’s political cauldron and social turmoil.
Instead she opted to shun the limelight. She preferred rectitude and solitude out of choice. To the best of my knowledge she was totally apolitical. She chose to concentrate her energies on bearing the pain of the abrupt demise of both her famous father and her illustrious husband. With tremendous dignity, elegance, panache, humility, and a great deal of patience, she survived over three decades of widowhood but never shirked her responsibilities to her children – Jide, Funmilayo, and Bimbo who are the fortunate beneficiaries of the huge legacy of goodwill which their beloved Mum has bequeathed. From her vantage position and elevated trajectory on the top floor of her residence at 72 Tokunbo Street, Lagos, Auntie Enitan for almost fifty years had a ring – side seat as Lagos (and the rest of Nigeria) fragmented into chaos and crumbled into anarchy in a conundrum where women of easy virtues are locked into an epic battle with men of dubious character. She was born into great wealth, hence she never needed to worship money. Beyond that, regardless of her being a devout Christian she had no qualms about marrying off her two beautiful daughters to muslims – Segun Jawando and Bisade Biobaku. Her judgment has proved to be flawless. Similarly for Lagos, she had a soft spot, but never asked for anything in return.
Let us acknowledge that till the last moment she yearned with nostalgia for Lagos (and Nigeria) that was at peace with itself not a city or nation which keeps churning out in large numbers – an underclass of the jobless and the disillusioned who have resolved that if they are not good enough for our country they too have decided that our nation is not good enough for them. They have waited for the exit of Auntie Enitan before unleashing their revenge – with drugs, crime, guns, and whatever weapons of destruction they can get hold of. Alarming!!!
Quietly and patiently our beloved Mrs Enitan Adebayo Doherty was for many decades their restraining influence, guardian Angel, and symbol of hope and salvation. Perhaps it is worth refreshing our memory that Tokunbo Street, Lagos was once the domain of numerous distinguished Lagos families – Oyekan; Lewis; Domingo; Dabiri; Bajulaiye; Abina; Salvador; Tresize; Aka-Bashorun; Braithwaite; Ajadi Faramobi; Sebanjo; Abisogun; Gbajabiamila; etc. Perhaps we should add that the late Sir Odimegwu Ojukwu lived on Oshodi Street off Tokunbo Street, while late Alhaji Okoya (father of Chief (Dr) Razak Okoya lived on Cow Lane, off Tokunbo Street. Also at number 53 late Chief (Dr) Abiola Akerele ran his clinic and maternity centre for several decades. Hence, Tokunbo Street could lay a legitimate claim to being the epi-centre of Lagos. I admit to being not entirely impartial. I was born on that street!!! That was sixty eight years ago. I have been incredibly lucky.
All Auntie Enitan ever expected of beneficiaries of her father’s patriotism and legendary courage was a commitment to respect for elders, social justice and fairness.
We have every reason to believe that the lesson she learnt at the feet of her father would have been whispered to her children and grand children – we cannot become a great nation without producing great patriots and great nationalists.
It is worth adding as a footnote that although she had the resources to move to the calmer shores of exclusive Victoria Island; Banana Island; Ikoyi or Lekki Peninsular, she remained firmly at Tokunbo Street, perhaps in the forlorn hope that the social tapestry which had been brusquely torn and the micro-economy that had been similarly ravaged by mendacity and plunder could be reversed. Or may be she just got used to the hustle and bustle knowing that it carried with it the alarm of further degradation. Hence, the option to exit entirely now. Perhaps it is the gloomy realization that the decay is irreversible that delivered the knock-out punch. She was not the type to make a fuss. Quietly, she slipped away to join her two “sisters” who preceded her to the grave.
In life, her reticence and discretion spoke volumes.
Nevertheless, she may have been tempted to ask, like the character from Harold Pinter’s play: “Who are these people? Where have they come from? And are we to take them seriously?”
May her gently soul rest in perfect peace.