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Accolades, cultural carnival as Ogunlana presents two new books

Akeem Lasisi

Elder statesman and Chairman of SCIB Insurance Brokers, Olola Olabode Ogunlana, earned accolades in Lagos on Thursday as he presented two news literary books.  The businessman, author, fine artist and culture promoter is 86, but he proved that creativity and old age are not enemies as the two books – Out of the Black Pot and Selected Tales, both collections of short stories – were rated highly by the experts who gathered at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, venue of the event.

With a former Chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, as the chairman, the programme attracted several traditional rulers that included the Oba of Lagos, HRH Rilwan Akiolu; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; the Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Babatunde Ajayi; the Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin; and the Elegushi of Ikateland, Oba Saheed Elegushi.

The Chief Executive Officer of SCIB, Mr. Sola Tinubu, noted that the book presentation was part of the programmes of the 40th anniversary of the company. He commended Ogunlana for envisioning the firm and nurturing it to being among the best.

“He is an icon of many parts and he has continued to positively impact society,” Tinubu said.

In his remarks laden with humour, wit and Yoruba idioms, Ogunshola who, according to the master of ceremonies, Yinka Akinkugbe, shares integrity and other fundamental values with  Ogunlana, described the author as an amoye (a wise and intelligent man), ojogbon, a learned person in the realm of a professor) opitan (a storyteller) and the iroko of the insurance industry.

According to Ogunshola, Ogunlana is a thorough professional who does not believe in compromising standards.

Recalling the author’s experience as the managing director of the National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria some four decades ago, Ogunshola said, “He was very thorough; sometimes too thorough for that type of organisation. So, his stay there was brief. But this turned out to be a blessing for him as it led him onto higher glory. Today, SCIB without any doubt, is a leading insurance broker in this clime.

“After retirement, Olola Ogunlana devoted his time to developing his artistic talent. He is an accomplished artist. Many people do not know that he is a talented painter with a lot of works.”

Wetting the reader’s appetite, Ogunshola described the books as being entertaining and educative, adding that the author exhibited fertile imagination in the stories.

While the books were reviewed by professors Afolabi Olumide and Olukunle Iyanda, with dramatic performances, especially the celebration of talking drums, punctuating the programme, other dignitaries in attendance included top corporate plyers such as legendary educationist, Dr Michael Omolayole, Sir Remi Omotoso, Mr. Fola Adeola, High Chief Akin Disu and Mr. Oye Hassan-Odukale. They all saluted Ogunlana for keeping faith with his pen and propagating the revival of positive values.

Olumide, who is a surgeon, noted in his review that stories in Out of the Black Pot explored the realities of man’s engagement with his environment and the supernatural, balancing this with the dynamics of Christian principles.  According to him, many people who have wondered what happened  to Yoruba/ African traditional values have a lot to appreciate in the book.

“The stories are gripping and present ironies and metaphors that entertain us. The author has given us excellent writing with fascinating characters,” he added.

In his review of Selected Tales, Iyanda noted that it demonstrated Ogunlana’s commitment to espousing Yoruba culture in its pristine form, adding that the stories were a powerful tool for recreation and socialisation.

A highly elated Ogunlana, who was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Kehinde Ogunlana, rained prayers on the traditional rulers and noted that they had more roles to play in the polity than they were currently being accorded. Like the deep calling to the deep, he noted that Ogunshola was also a man of honour, saying that they both shared the omoluabi quality.

The multi-talented man, born in Ogere-Remo, Ogun State on June 29, 1932, said although society was embattled by corruption and loss of values, he was not only an optimist but also an incurable believer in the efficacy of prayers.  He called for sanity, good neighbourliness and the need for everyone to diligently and conscientiously discharge their responsibilities.

He recalled that the first rhyme he learnt in the primary school, which he recited at the event, had kept having positive impacts on him, saying he had always stood for the pursuit of the very best.

While conducting the presentation, Omotoso noted  that, being a man of integrity, Ogunlana chose those he invited for the launching of the book with care as he preferred to relate with those Omotoso called men of honour. And none of Disu, Adeola, Oyekanmi and Odukale disappointed the author. Apart from describing him as a role model, they bought the books with huge sums.

The event had an element of a cultural carnival as seasoned talking drummers, Muri Ayangbola and Muraina Oyelami, alongside a spoken poet and singers, entertained the guests in turns.

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