Timothy Mofolorunso Aluko passes on at 91.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Timothy Mofolorunso Aluko, popularly known as T. M. Aluko, the novelist and lefty famed for melodramatic titles and a sober prose style, passed on in the early hours of yesterday in a Lagos hospital. He was 91 years old and until his death, Nigeria‘s oldest man of letters.

Born June 14, 1918, Aluko was never ranked by critics among Nigerian greats like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, J. P. Clark. He was however popular as a second-tier author who captivated his generation with his novels and secured their place among the reading list in secondary schools across the country and beyind.

Aluko entered into the literary scene with his novel, One man one wife which was published in 1959. And in the spate of five decades, he churned out titles such as ‘One man One Machete’, ‘Kinsman and Foreman’, ‘Chief The Honourable Minister’, ‘His Worshipful Majesty’, ‘Wrong one in the Dock’, ‘A State of Our Own’, ‘My Years of Service’, and ‘The Story of My Life’ which was published four years ago.

And only last November, he formally presented his novel, Our Born-Again President, a satire on leadership in a troubled country. At that event which held at his residence in Ladipo Oluwole Street, Apapa, Lagos, T. M. as he is fondly called sat in a wheel chair, dressed in white buba and sokoto with a cap perched on his head, as he was surrounded by relatives, friends, and well-wishers, including Justice Kayode Esho, J. P. Clark Bekederemo, Onuora Nzekwu, Michael Omolayole, and Ambassador Segun Olusola,

Friends used that opportunity to talk about the man T. M. Aluko. While on holidays in 1940s, T. M, who was a student of Government College, Ibadan at that time, used to teach class two students in the grammar school at Ilesha. Justice Kayode Esho, one of the author’s student at that time recalled the author’s patience. "The author happened to be one of those who came to my class in class two in 1940. We gave him so much trouble and he pretended as if he did not know that we were troublesome," he said. "In the class, we had someone called ‘Ángel of Disorder’. There was nothing he did not do to provoke this old man," Esho said.

Describing Aluko as an iconoclast and citing the quick temper of the Ijesha people, 84-year old Esho went on to say, "as soon as he(Aluko) got to government and he rose, the first thing he did was to build a house in Ilesha which he called Ile Ibinu." Ile Ibinu in Yoruba language translates to ‘house of anger’. And as if guessing it would be the author’s last public event, Olusola had sang a farewell dirge.

Two of Aluko’s sons, Seye and Tayo, performed at the event. Seye sang, played the guitar and later played the Cello while Tayo performed excerpts from the novel, Our Born-Again President. Tayo had earlier described his father as conservative, saying Aluko refused to use his official car for family purposes such as taking his kids to church.

In 1987, Aluko suffered a stroke at the age of 69 in 1987 which left his right hand paralysed. This development saw him learning how to write with his left hand. Reflecting on Aluko’s recuperation after he suffered stroke, Tayo said, "When my dad had stroke and he flew to England, one of the things he wanted to be doing was to paint. And he painted such beautiful paintings. It is sad that I do not know where they are now."

Aluko’s latest novel, ‘Our Born Again President,’ is the story of governance in the country, Riveira, ruled by British colonialists. The story, narrated by Stephen Craig, a loyal civil servant a corrupt president who turns a new leaf.

Aluko studied Civil Engineering and Town Planning in Lagos and London and in 1960 was appointed Director of Public Works for Western Region. He received a Master’s in Public Health Engineering from the University of Newcastle in 1969 and a doctorate in the same subject from the University of Lagos in 1976, where he retired as Associate Professor in 1979.

Aluko was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 1963 and 1964 respectively.

Aluko is survived by his children.

Source: www.thenationonlineng.net

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