Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Prince Oladele Adebayo Ajose. (1907-1978) A Lagosian And A Trailblazer.

First as the Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Lagos (1936-47) and he was then appointed Medical Officer for Health from 1947-48.

Omooba Oladele Adebayo Ajose who died 25 years ago this July was a Prince of the Royal House of Lagos but he was much more than a prince. He had an air of authority about him that came from the profound knowledge of his field of medicine and his absolute integrity and honesty. He was eager and ever ready to use his professional knowledge to the advantage and benefit of the people.

The previous sentence could also have been written about the late Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti. Much of what was said about the Pediatrician, who was buried on June 20th 2003, reminded us of the late Professor Ajose whose medical specialty was Public Health.

Professor Ajose was also a family man. He married Beatrice Spencer Roberts in 1933 in Glasgow, Scotland where he studied at the University of Glasgow from 1927 to 1932.

Of the three daughters and one son they had, Ambassador Audrey Ajose and Professor Muriel Oyediran are left. The late Mrs. Beatrice Ajose returned to Nigeria with her husband in 1936 and was a familiar and a well known figure in Lagos society life and then also in Ibadan and Ife where she lived and fully supported her husband’s academic career.

In the early years of his professional life, Dr. Oladele Ajose worked first as the Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Lagos (1936-47) and he was then appointed Medical Officer for Health from 1947-48. He was also the Founder of the British Red Cross Society in Nigeria. which later became the Nigerian Red Cross Society and he also founded the Infectious Disease Hospital in Lagos (commonly referred to as the IDH) through his involvement in the control of tuberculosis in Lagos.

In 1948, Dr. Ajose left the civil service for his appointment as the first Black African Professor to be appointed to a full chair in Preventive and Social Medicine at the University College, Ibadan. Ibadan was at that time a College of the University of London.

Oladele was in fact the first proponent of primary health care in Nigeria. This was a revolutionary idea in those days.This project also served as the basis for the worldwide establishment of fish ponds.

Professor Ajose was awarded the title of Chief Bada of Ilora in appreciation of his efforts.

After many years of splendid work at Ibadan, he was chosen and appointed as the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ife (now called the Obafemi Awolowo University), a post that he held until the first military coup in 1966. On his retirement from academic life Professor Ajose returned to his hometown Lagos.

In spite of all his achievements (and it has not been feasible to mention more than a few) he remained ever humble, never blowing his own trumpet, but ever ready to acknowledge the credit due to others.

The people of Lagos were justly proud of him. On his return from the U.K. at the successful conclusion of his studies, the Isale-Eko descendants represented by his fellow princes Adele, Dosunmu and Olusi and other notable Lagosians such as M.O. Glover, Bolade Kasumu and I. Ogunbiyi gave a reception in his honour in Islae Eko at which he was presented with a full skeleton.

He dedicated himself to serving the community at large. He had time for the Rotary Club, a club known for its services to humanity, both at Ibadan and Lagos. His altruism was also demonstrated in his concern for providing health care by founding medical clinics at Isale-Eko and Ibeshe.

It certainly was not in keeping with his character to be stand —offish! He felt so much a part of the people that it was a tremendous pride for him to have been chosen the Patron Egbe Omo-Ibile, of Idumagbo, Lagos. He contested for the Stool of Lagos under the Ogunye Family of Oba Ologunkutere. Professor Ajose and the late Oba Oyekan were the two final contestants for the Stool. After Oba Oyekan was selected, Professor Ajose continued to serve his people both in his public health and clinic activities. He was also appointed as the Chairman of the Lagos State Schools Service Board.

What was it that made him tick? The answer to this question is found in the fact that he was a Lay Preacher of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. A preacher seeks to share the "Joy of Life" with his listeners. Professor Ajose had a sense of reverence for human life.

Full well, he knew that the highest assessment that can be made of human life is to view it in the context of God’s Love. God cared so much that he gave his only son to redeem men.

We thank God for his life given in the service of his fellow men. Unfortunately we don’t know yet of any worthy memorial to mark his contribution to our society apart from the Oladele Ajose Institute of Public Health at the University College Hospital, University of Ibadan. Perhaps a street could be named after him or a well appointed statue in Lagos or Abuja.


  1. Thanks for this glowing tribute to my late uncle. He died in 1978. Please change the 2003 to 1978.


    Prince Olabode Ajose

  2. Thanks Mcnaija for the correction. Your uncle was a great man and an exemplary Lagosian.

    Sorry for the mix up,I have 2 conflicting dates. His Alma Mata (University Of Glasgow)documented 1978 and Vanguard 25yrs Tribute Editorial stated 2003.

    Your concern made me dug dipper into the OLOGUN KUTERE Family lineage. Digging deeper absolutely confirmed your date, it also displayed brilliant a picture of the OLOGUN KUTERE Family. Even to the current Oba Of Lagos.Oba Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Aremu AKIOLU I [Ologun Kutere ruling house, Akiolu lineage], 19th Oba of Lagos.

    # Oba OLOGUN KUTERE 1750/1775, married.

    * Oba AJOSUN ADELE I (qv)
    * Oba ESHINLOKUN (qv)
    * Oba AKITOYE (qv)
    * Prince Ogunye, married and had issue.
    Prince Ajose Imiekun, married and had issue.

    Prince Emmanuel Esugbayi Ajose, married and had issue.
    # Professor Prince Oladele Ajose, of the Ologun-Kutere Ruling House, contestant for the throne in 1964, married and had issue.
    * Ambassador Audrie Ajose
    # Prince Omoyele Arinola Ajose, married and had issue.
    * Prince Omooba Ajose
    * Prince Michale Omoyele Ajose, of the Ologun-Kutere Ruling House, born late 1940's, educated at the Holy Ghost School, St. Gregory's College, before proceeding to the United Kingdom and the United States of America, attaining a degree in Applied Economics and a Masters in Business Administration respectively, married to a Princess of the Akinsemoyin Royal House.

    Thanks for stooping by and please do again.

  3. This history is fantastic i love your blog! you should think of compiling a book on the hisory of lagos! it will be fantastic !

  4. As I know, Prince Oladele Ajose had another wife who then had 4 boys and a girl for him. This is secondary to the Mother of Ex Ambassador Audrey.

    As a Lagosian, I think it time we let the truth reign. And not sell ourselves because of money!

  5. To happy lagosian,

    you have missed some facts from your ologunkutere lineage. Prince Oladele Ajose has other children, 4 boys and a girl apart from Audrey

  6. chieftancy titles to non lagosians must be stopped! Also all these so call people who claim to be Lagosian, adopting lagosian names must be stopped! In the times of our ancestors, there was none of this. Eko o ni baje! Eje ki onikan se!

    comments from Malaysia

  7. Anonymous, you are right. My uncle's children are 8 in total. The source of the information doesn't always list all the children. Audrey's siblings from the same mother were not listed either. Audrey was followed by Muriel, a Medical Doctor. Trixie was the last. She was an actress and was murdered in Lagos along with their mom by armed robbers.

  8. MCNaija, Greetings from Malaysia

    Im glad you aknowledged your uncle had 8 children.

  9. I was at school with Trixie (Wycombe Abbey) and often wondered what happened to her. I was sorry to hear that she was murdered. I remember her father and lovely Scottish mother. Regards


    1. Sad indeed. She was survived by a son, Mark Ashby. Glad to hear from someone that knows her.


  10. Great man from the available records .

  11. I am Dr Olufemi Oladele-Ajose. I commend you on your write up on my father. however I feel compelled to make certain additions or corrections if you may. My father the late professor Oladele-Ajose had another wife who bore him five children. Four boys and a girl. His children From His other wife Abimbola Oladele-Ajose Include Prince Adewale Oladele-Ajose, Olusegun Kehinde Oladele-Ajose, Olufemi Taiwo Oladele-Ajose, Adebisi Otusanya (nee Oladele-Ajose) and Adeniran Alaba Oladele-Ajose.
    History must be accurately recorded for posterity as my own children have read these articles and asked me why there is no mention of my mom, his other wife and the other children that this great man sired.