His surname Majekodunmi rings a bell instantly. He is from the illustrious Majekodunmi family in Abeokuta. It is a popular surname that is well known across the South-West. This is because of the accomplishments of the family in the various professions from Politics to Law.
Chief Akin Majekodunmi who turned 90 a few days back is one of them. He is a celebrated Surgeon who has lived all his life in Abeokuta and has made his mark in the field of Medical Practice. This accomplished medical doctor is also the head of the popular Majekodunmi dynasty in Abeokuta. Though he didn’t celebrate it big on his actual birthday, in a matter of weeks, his children & family are putting together a befitting 90th birthday, in honour of this great Nigerian & elder statesman, who has lived a worthy life.
He is an Egba high chief who has been honoured with big titles in the land. He is the Balekan of Egbaland and Otun of Egba Christians. Professionally, he is also accomplished. He was the former Chief Consultant Surgeon, State Hospital, Abeokuta. He is the founder and Proprietor of Adura Majekodunmi Hospital, Abeokuta.
He is also a valued member of the Egba establishment headed by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Aremu Gbadebo. He says he is eternally grateful to many big names like the late Alake, Oba Lipede, Chief Toye Coker (Apena Egba), Justice Kolawole, Chief Tunde Abudu, Alhaji Adenekan, Alhaji Lateef Adegbite (late Seriki Musulumi), and Chief Akin Delena. He is also grateful to his closest siblings like Chief Dr Sunday Majekodunmi & Architect Femi Majekodunmi.
Last week Tuesday, 24th May, 2022, City People travelled to Abeokuta to spend quality time with this elder statesman at his expensive Ibara GRA home. He was in a relaxed mood, as he fielded questions from the team. By the time the 2-hour interview was over, we were able to learn a lot about his success story and a lot more about his family.
How does he feel on his forthcoming birthday, we asked him. “I feel very happy,” he explained. “I am grateful to God that he has been able to keep me till now. I didn’t expect to be as old as I am”. Why is that so? “I spent 16 years in Britain at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels. And anybody in England in the 1960s and 70s will confirm that most Surgeons died between the ages of 60 and 70, because of their heavy duties & schedule and responsibilities. So, I also didn’t expect to last longer than 70. But all in all, I am grateful to God that I am alive up till now.”
How does he feel now at 90? “I feel very delighted and very happy and grateful to God for all he has done. As things stand now, all I can say is that I have had a very fulfilled life. My mum died when I was very young. I was under 10. But I was grateful to have a stepmother who looked after me, like her own son. At the end of the day, she brought me up. I had a younger brother who was her own son, who was 4 years younger than myself. But anyone who came to our house did not know the difference. Many thought she was my own mum, because of the way she looked after me and from there, I went to Primary School and am grateful to God, that I went to the Abeokuta Grammar School for my Secondary School education under Rev. Ransome Kuti, the father of Beko, Fela and Koye. At that time, it was a highly prestigious institution. The most important thing was discipline. Anyone who went to that school at that time would take that discipline out with him and I still have it with me till now, to the extent that it really gets you into trouble at times. People feel you are too tough and you are too strong and things like that.”
“After I left the Abeokuta Grammar School the usual thing at that time was to start work because I was lucky, I came out of Abeokuta Grammar School with very high grades in the School Cert to the extent that I was lucky in 1951 when I left Abeokuta Grammar School, I was 1st in the class of 60”.
“After we left school we usually got jobs very easily. 2 or 3 organisations had come to the Abeokuta Grammar School, to interview us at that time”. “My dad asked me what I wanted to do and I felt I wanted to study Medicine. I was selfish in picking Medicine because at that time my Uncle, Chief (Dr.) Koye Majekodunmi was in government. He was at one-time Minister for Health, and at another time, the Administrator of the old Western State.”
“Why I said I was selfish was because every year, my Uncle came home to Abeokuta, on January 1st to visit. He would first go to Oju Opo, which is my granddad’s place, to visit the old man and then come to my dad who was his senior brother. I just noticed that every year he came, he came in a brand new Chevrolet. One year, it is white. The next year, it is blue or green. So, I told my dad, if doctors were that alright oh, I will like to be a Doctor. He said I should. But unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to get a Medical School at that time and passports were not easy to get.”
“So, the first year in 1952 I worked at the Native Administration Secretariat in Ake under Chief Bajomo. At the end of the year, I had still not got the Certificate.”
“So, what did I do? Chief Odebunmi who at the time was the Proprietor of Premier Grammar School, asked me to come and teach for a little while. I said fine. I taught in 1952, which was risky, because I was at home with my dad in 52, 53, fortunately, early 1954, I got a passport and I was to go to Dublin to study Medicine. I got to Dublin in 1954 September and I entered the Medical School, finished in the Medical School in 1961. Again, I was lucky, because I participated in Student Activism and I was also lucky to have done well in the Medical School. I qualified in 1961.”
“My dad asked me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to specialise in Surgery. My uncle said it was a good thing. He said fine but come home for a holiday. So, I came home for a holiday in September 1961 for 3 months. I was lucky again, I had been offered appointments in Dublin at that time. So, I went back after 3 months to study Surgery as a speciality. In my own opinion, Surgery was the most difficult speciality in Medical Practice. With a bit of luck, I finished it and got my 1st Fellowship in 1967 after being a Registrar. Because of the Civil War in Nigeria, I could not come home because of the fear of my being sent to the war front. I wanted to come because I thought it was a good thing to go and practice. I became a Senior Registrar. I kept on working. In 1967, I took a 2nd Fellowship. I was lucky. I was successful in that too. I took a 3rd Fellowship in 1970. I was now given more opportunities to perform operations.”
“So, staying back in England, gave me the opportunity to perform surgical practice. I then returned to Nigeria. I was lucky again to have been offered appointments at both the UCH & LUTH. I would have preferred LUTH because at that time, Professor Elebute & Prof. Adesola were my Seniors in Secondary School. They had become Surgeons and became Professors. So, it would have been easier for me to interact with them but my Papa said, “look, you have been away for 16 years, why don’t you come to Abeokuta for 1 year, after that you can go wherever you want.” The Western State offered me a job as a Surgeon straight away. I would think that at that time, I would be the first one offered straight from Britain to become a Consultant. Usually, you became a Senior Registrar. So, I came to Abeokuta to live. I don’t regret it. Because when I got to Abeokuta, there was no proper Surgeon. I was able to set up the Department. We were performing operations.”
What I did at that time, it must interest you that I don’t think anybody could do it now, because I was operating 3 times a week and holding clinics 3 times a week. Nobody in England will dare do that. Sometimes, the clinics will have 30 to 40 patients. For Surgery, we were perfoming 6 to 8 operations a day, 3 times a week. That was what I kept on doing until 1984. Fortunately, our Papa was a relatively wealthy man. He had a piece of land at Akomoje. He told me to start preparing for private practice. I built what is now my hospital in 1974 two years after I arrived. But because of government policy and regulations that you could not have private practice, I had to close it down.
But luckily, during that period I had the foresight of stocking up. My family was in Ibadan, so anytime I go fortnightly to see my family, I will go to the UAC in Ibadan to buy 2 beds today, one locker tomorrow. That was how I stocked up the place.”
“So, by the time I left the state hospital in 1984, I just went into my private practice. I was there until about 10 years ago when I realised performing Surgery was risky, so I took to what my uncle did. Koye Majekodunmi before he died was the owner of St. Nicholas Hospital.
– Seye Kehinde & Sunday Adigun