“At the root of real honor is always the sense of the sacredness of the person who is its object.”
– Marilynne Robinson.
WHEN the highest decision-making authorities on Islamic matters in Egbaland zeroed in on Lateefat Oyeyemi Kolapo as the next Iyalode of Egba Muslims, they scored a bull’s eye.
Judging by the constellation of great Muslim personalities of Egba origin who permeate the Egba landscape home and abroad, equally qualified for this exalted title, I can only imagine the complex labyrinth of choices that they had to navigate before deciding that this media super guru was best suited for such a great and historic honor.
January 13th was a normal, regular day in Abeokuta. What made it a special and spectacular Saturday different from others was that an equally spectacular event was unfolding as the Egba Muslims would get a brand new Iyalode that day.
Naming a child in Yorubaland has always been a deliberate culture with intrinsic implications. The Yoruba are not frivolous with child naming. A child is named after an event, family tradition, circumstances of his/her birth or a prophetic infusion of what his/her future is expected to entail. Dr. Kolapo was named Oyeyemi by her parents. Oyeyemi – I’m befitting of chieftaincy. This has the implications of attracting many more honors in her lifetime. So, on January 13, it was a destiny fulfilled as a precursor of more to come. That was in addition to her earlier title as the incumbent Zeenatul Quaddriyyah of Nigeria and Ameerah Musulumi of Ijemoland.
Yemi, as fondly called by her friends, is a media and administrative juggernaut with an excellent professional proficiency, a rare sense of duty, consistently industrious, and a rambunctious embodiment of dignified personality.
A citified beauty in her own right, Yemi Kolapo exemplifies a sophisticated blend of beauty and brain infused with a cultured deportment that identifies her easily as ọmọ ta bi ni’le re – a child begotten of a good family. Yemi represents her family, religion and profession well. She is an omoluabi.
It is difficult to find someone with her stream of achievements and as young without exhibitting prohibitive attitudes of selfopinionated aggrandizement. Of course, she is no-nonsense when it comes to her work. She drives herself hard, perhaps too hard, and demands no less from her team. Deliver without excuses. You cannot work with Dr. Lateefat Kolapo and not discover a new you, including the capacity and creativity hitherto inert in you. Almost all of her team members echo this reality. She is as much a discoverer of the best talents and a molder of them.
She works with a dedication and commitment of a field commander determined to win a battle no matter how difficult. This Yemi is not an ordinary Yemi. She carries herself with an extraordinary sense of it-must-be-done! No excuses are good enough for mediocrity or underdelivery.
I know, because our paths have crossed on the field, working either as members of a strategic committee or by sheer coincidence. She is the typical ‘four-man’ woman with inimitable multitasking skills. I consider her a dynamo machismo in the line of duty. This is the reason why neither her principals nor a wide variety of clientele could ever find her wanting. Yemi delivers!
Her team confirms that she praises and appreciates excellent delivery profusely, but underdelivery attracts an equal measure of the opposite which none of them wishes to experience too often. She is quite understanding but make no mistake of taking her good-naturedness for granted.
She is highly educated, sophisticated, intelligent but also street-wise. She doesn’t give excuses to her principals and she wouldn’t take any from her team. Just work and deliver because she’ll avail you the necessary tools to work with for you to succeed. So, the only outcome expected is result – excellent result!
To all of these, she adds another rare gem of savoir faire. Yemi Kolapo is unequivocally loyal to her principals and clients alike and they may not even know half of it. I doubt very much. This lady cherishes loyalty. She is loyalty as much as she’s royalty. She positions herself like an impregnable Roman battle shield deflecting enemy arrows from reaching their target and even taking some while at it.
Essentially true-hearted, true-blue, steadfast, highly dependable, dutiful and trustworthy, the new Iyalode of Egba Muslims is a solid rock to whomever she vouchsafes her loyalty, expertise and time. Less than 100% is never enough for Iyalode. She gives her all. Like a Northern star, Yemi Kolapo is incomparably reliable and constant in standing with what and who she chooses to work with. Her work and pedigrees, as a journalist, media owner, first-class administrator and excellent manager of men and resources, speak loudly for themselves.
Her nomination, confirmation and eventual installation as Iyalode of Egba Muslims couldn’t have come as a surprise to those who know how committed she is to her faith. Alhaja Lateefat Kolapo is deeply spiritual and prayerful. She lives a fasted life. She is a devout Muslim true and true. She worships Allah with unshakable devotion and faith.
Whenever a situation becomes extremely challenging and tending towards disappointment or failure, she automatically activates her prayer mode, not minding even her state of stress most times. She never wants anything to go wrong. She invests her full energy and spirituality on whatever assignment she is given and pays heavy personal prices to ensure success. On top of all of these, she is a committed patriot with an abiding faith in the ultimate success and progress of Nigeria.
Therefore, when I received the invitation for her installation as Iyalode of Egba Muslims, I was not surprised one bit because I knew that those who made that decision must also have noticed her undiluted commitment to the Islamic faith. So, it wasn’t an honor amiss. Egba Muslims will find her worthy of this great honor because she will surpass their expectations.
I have a strong feeling that in no distant future, she will become a major actor in the political firmament of Nigeria, shaping her destiny towards her destination as one of the greatest countries in the world.
Alhaja (Dr) Lateefat Oyeyemi Sowunmi-Kolapo, Iyalode of Egba Muslims, my dear sister from another mother, ewe oyè a mọri o.
*Mark Adebayo is Spokesperson for the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP)