•They Are The Movers & Shakers Of NIGERIA
Many don’t know that the Yoruba Tennis Club is the oldest indigenous club in Nigeria. It has a humble beginning. Before it was called Yoruba Tennis Club, the club was known as Orelodun Tennis Club in July 1926. The name was temporarily chosen out of other suggested names like Kinitalafia, The Lagos West End, Oredun, Orelodun, Karaole, Borokini, Eko, Yoruba, Saluga, Omoloju and Gbajumo. It was on Friday 15th September 1926 that the name Yoruba Tennis Club was unanimously adopted.
The current Chairman is Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo a distinguished Professor. He took over from Mr. Ayodele Martins who plays big in real estate business. This is a club that has as Patrons, Vice-Patrons and Honorary members all the big names in Nigeria. Some are dead. Some are still alive and kicking. These are big men like Sir Henry Bernard Bourdillion (the British Colonial Governor of Nigeria, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who was the last Patron of the club. Mr. Eric O. Moore (CBE) was the 1st Vice Patron of the club.
Late Sir Adeyemo Alakija (KBE) was also Vice Patron, late Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, and late Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony were both Vice Patrons. 16 Honourary Members were appointed. They include late Hon. Justice Olumuyiwa Jibowu and late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s Prime Minister from (1960-66).
The founding fathers of Yoruba Tennis Club were men of great virtue who looked at the club as an institution and a second home, explained a club elder. Because of this, they exercised great restraint in admitting new members. “They are humble and decent men”, once revealed Bro. A. B. Phillips, who was the General Secretary of the club between 1952 and 1955. “The majority of the 38 members who formed the nucleaus of the club were civil servants, mercantile workers, traders and one or two professionals”.
“With the exception of 2 or 3 members who owned dainty little cars, the rest used their push bicycles as a means of transportation”. He said the game of Lawn Tennis claimed precedence over other games.
The Club’s Anthem was composed by the late Tunde Nightingale in 1964. His real name is Mr. Tunde Thomas. He was a renowned musician of that time and band leader of a famous Juju dance band. His band played for the club on many occasions and could be regarded as the clubs resident band.
Lets quickly tell you that the club has 25 foundation members. They are (1) F. Ade Adeniji (2) Ade Allen (3) Y. St. Ariori (4) H.M. Balogun (5) L. Duro Emanuel (6) Willie O. Fagbo (7) D.A. Freeman (8) J. A. Haastrup (9) T. Haniba-Johnson (10) A.A. John (11) G.C. Johnson (12) H.S. Macauley (13) L.L. Martins (14) Frank O. Odumosu (15) I.A. Ogunlana (16) R.A. Randle (17) T.A. Savage (18) Keyinde Sikeade (19) A. Soyombo-Aboaba (20) G.C.A. Taylor (21) C.B. Thompson – John (22) Jeariogbe Tubi (23) Agboola Tubi (24) Ayodele Williams (25) Victor O. Williams.
The club also has members many of whom are the big names in the society, who held key position in the government of Nigeria at various times. Some others rocked the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond as successful socialites. While some are alive, some have passed on to glory. For instance, popular Lagos doctor, Chief Yomi Finnih is a member. He is a past Chairman. Late Oba of Lagos, Alaiyeluwa Oba Adeyinka Oyekan was also a member in his lifetime. He was a Vice-Chairman of Yoruba Tennis Club from 1965. Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN) is also a member. He was Chairman 1984-1986. He is also a Trustee of the Club. Engr. Chief. J. Bamidele Daramola is a member. He was Chairman from 1994-1996. Justice Paul Atilade was Chairman from 1996 – 1998. Dr. E.O. Smith is also a member. He was the Chairman from 1976-1978. He was a Trustee and Vice Patron.
The club has other popular members like Dr. Olufemi Buc, Chief Femi Ayantuga, Chief Alade Odunewu, Chief Alade Idris Animashaun, Chief Tomi Macgregor. Oba Alaiyeluwa T.T. Dada, the late Olota of Ota who was a former Vice Patron was a member. Bishop (Dr.) Olawale Nelson-Cole, late Justice G. Sodeinde Sowemimo was also a member. He was once the Chairman of Board of Trustees. Late Justice Adewale Thompson was a member. Chief Fola Awoboh Pearse also. There are others like Dr. Yemisi Kuforiji, Prince Oluwole Akitoye, Chief Tunde Aiyegbusi, Yomi Macgregor and Badru Olaogun.
There are other big names like Chief Dr. C. Modupe Norman- Williams (a former Chairman of the club), Brig Mobolaji Johnson, (a Vice Patron of the club). There is also former Finance Minister, Chief Micheal Ani. He was General Secretary of the Club (1958-1962) and Vice Patron (April 1985 to December 1985). There are other big names like late Chief T. O. S. Benson., Chief Folarin Coker and Chief (Dr.) M. A. Majekodunmi, who was a Vice Patron of the club.
In his lifetime, the late Ooni of Ife, Sir Adesoji Aderemi was a Vice-Patron. So also the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona who in 1990 was made a Vice Patron. The Olowo of Owo, Sir Olateru Olagbegi was also a Vice-Patron, Chief Yomi Akintola is also a member. The late Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Oyefusi Oguntade was a Vice-Patron. There are other big names like Chief J.K. Randle, Alhaji Abudu Mukandasi Agoro, Chief Oladipo Moore, Chief Dr. Omodele Alakida, Chief Dr. Modupe Norman-Williams, Dr. Ibikunle Olorunnimbe (the former Mayor of Lagos), Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola (former Premier of Western Region), Chief Emmanuel Okunowo, Chief Georgious Cole, Hezekiah Oladipo, Daries, Chief Sule Gbadamosi, Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode, Chief Adeyemi Lawson, Chief O. B. Akin Olugbade, Justice Adebayo Desalu, Chief Adewale Fashanu, Alhaji Bashiru Agusto, Chief Funmi Jibowu, Chief M. A. Fagbayi, Chief J. Modupe Johnson, (a past Vice Chairman), Dr. Abayomi Marinho, Chief Adekunle Abisogun, Chief S. B. Bakare (the Sobaloju of Lagos), Chief A. O. Sanyaolu (Balogun of Egbaland), Chief Victor Olabisi Onabanjo (former Ogun Governor), Chief Ayodele Bankole Kasumu, Chief Idowu Odunewu (Ekerin of Lagos) who in May 1967 made the club membership swell to 500.
There are other big weights like Chief Henry Fajemirokun, Chief Femi Ayantuga, Chief Idinni Sowemimo-Coker, Alhaji I.A.S. Adewale, the great Art Alade, and Chief Arthur Prest, There are other prominent Nigerians like late Chief Sola Faleye, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, Prof. (Dr.) Babasola Okunobi, Prof. Jawando, Chief Abiola Johnson, Alhaji Bolaji Daranijo, Chief Iyiola Omisore, late Mr. Alao Aka Bashorun, Chief Babatunde Anjous, Chief Victor Odofin Belo, Chief Femi Majekodunmi, Dr. Femi Vaughan, Chief Ajibade Fashina-Thomas, Prof. Tokunbo Fabamwo, Amb. Femi Fowora, Oba Kole Ojutalayo, Chief Ajibola Aribisala, Alhaji Tajudeen Okoya, Hakeem Aloboh-Bakare, Chief Rafiu Jafojo, Chief Ayo Otegbola, Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Dele Martins Justice Adesola Oguntade retired, Prince Adesuyi Olateru Olagbegi, Justice O.O. Odunlami, HRH Oba Idowu Oniru, Prince Alaba Abiodun Oniru his brother, Justice Gbolahan Jinadu, Chief Tunde Savage, Chief Femi Somolu, Chief R.A.B. Adeyi, Chief Olatokunbo Kamson, Chief Dotun Duro Emanuel, Prof. Ade Elebute, Funsho Kinoshi, Dr. Abimbola Ogunkelu, Chief Ayo Shasanya, Justice Adeniyi, Justice Ligali Akanni Ayorinde, Justice Akinola Fernandez, Chief Babatunde Edu, Sammy Olagbaju, Prof. Osato Frank Giwa Osagie, Dr. Bode Olajunoke Bashorun Jaiye Kofolaran Randle, Brig Gen. Foluso Sotomi, Ogbuefi Alex Nwokedi, Justice Tajudeen Adewale Odunowo, Chief Olu Awotesu, Chief Funlola Okunowo, Prof. Oladipo Hunponu-Wusu, Chief Yinka Rhodes, Chief Kola Bajomo, Tokunbo Omisore, Chief Kolawole Olokodana, Prof. Oladeinde Lucas, Chief Olatunde Aluko, Chief Hope Harriman, Prof. Afolabi Olumide, Chief Bayo Kuku, Dr. Wahab Dosumu, Diran Ajijedun, Chief Rasaki Akani Okoya, Chief Femi Adeniyi Williams, Oba Remi Adeoye, Chief Horatio Agedah, Chief Debo Akande and late Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi.
There are others like Justice Omololu Thomas, Alhaji Sikiru Shitta Bey, late Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, Alhaji Mahmud Waziri, Dr. Ladipo Denloye, Chief Layiwola Olumegbon, Chief Hilario Babs Akerele, Chief Akanni Madox Dokunnu, Justice Udo Udoma, Chief Yomi Akintola, Col. Benjamin Adekunle, Chief Alex Duduyemi, Tajudeen Animashaun, Chief Adebayo Braithwaite, late Chief S.B. Bakare, Chief Bode Ogunlana, Dr. Yinka Olumide, late Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo, late Dr. Tunji Otegbeye, late Chief Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo, Chief Charles Sankey, late Chief O.B. Akin-Olugbade and late Chief F.R.A. Williams.
The are also the Trustees they are the elders who are custodians of its tradition, customs and usages.
The Board of Trustees is made up of the following Elders: Alhaji Lateef Femi Okunnu as Chairman, Dr. Abosede Emmanuel, Alhaji Alade Idris, Sir Elderman Folarin, Dr. (Chief) Oluyomi Finnih, Dr. E.A Olufemi Bucknor & Dr. Bolaji Ajenifuja as members.
So, as you can see the clubs membership consists of very successful men in various walks of life. They are drawn from the public service, various professions and in the private sector. They are also from the different ethnic groups and nationalities. They are from different religious backgrounds.
Though the Yoruba Tennis Club is made up of a lot of elderly members, there are also younger members like Hon. Dele Martins, the immediate past Chairman. City People gathered that a few years back, the club took a proactive policy to rejuvenate the club by admitting young candidates into its membership. This is because of the thinking that the future fortunes of the club is inextricably linked to the younger generation revealed one of the older members.
Over the last 92 years, the Yoruba Tennis Club has remained a traditional group and family club, with over 100 second generation members, a handful of 3rd generation members. It also has a membership that includes every religious and ethnic group. It is a male members club as well as a quasi-family club. Though it is a male member’s club, it recognises the importance of the family unit in a man’s life. So children are welcome in certain parts of the club premises up to a particular time, whilst the males who are old and accomplished enough in life are encouraged to join the club as full-fledge members. How about their wives? The wives of members constitutes the Women’s Wing of the club and they have been awarded full constitutional recognition.
Other prominent members include late Chief G.O.K. Ajayi (SAN), Prof. Adetokunbo Fabanwo, (the current Chairman of the club), Chief Babatunde Anjous, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Jojo Dawudu, Chief Layi Amoje, Chief Gbenga Obasa, Babatunde Dabiri, Chief Alani Opaleye, Hakeem Alobo-Bakare, Aree Rasheed Taiwo, Asojuoba Tunde Sodipo, Prof. Olu Akinyanju, Mr. Bolaji Mendes, Wale Ojikutu Olaseni Ganzalo, Kayode Anibaba, Eng. Funso Alayande, Chief Dapo Durosimi Etti, Bisi Olatilo, Fowewe Eshinlokun, Yemi Okanlawon, Soji Kujore, Demola Fashola, Otunba Evaristo Kujoro, Yomi Jones, Segun Aderibigbe, Babatunde Sobamowo, Otunba Sina Tychus, Tunde Panox, Prince Jare Olateru Olagbeji, Ayo Onakoya, Dr. Seye Andu, Tunde Jinadu, Dupe Adeusi, Oba Oduwole, Eddy Raji, Wunmi Agbaje, Aliu Animasaun, Tunde Erinjogunola, Ayinde Oworu, Chief Ganiyu Oladeji, Farayola Ahmed and Prince Adekanmi Ademiluyi.