Tuesday 29th March, 2022 was a very special day of celebration for family, associates and most especially, members of the legal profession, as one of their own, and an icon, Chief (Mrs.) Folake Solanke clocked 90. They had a glamorous celebration to mark her landmark age and they gave thanks to the Lord for what He has done in the life of the celebrant.
Call her the Matriarch of the legal profession and you won’t be wrong. Chief Folake Solanke is a lawyer, administrator, and social critic. She was born into the popular family of Jacob Odulate (Alabukun) and his wife; Sekumade in Abeokuta, Ogun State. She married Professor Emeritus T.F. Solanke of blessed memory. She rose in the legal profession to become the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria and first Nigerian female lawyer to wear the prestigious silk gown as Senior Counsel. She has also held quite a number of administrative positions in reputable institutions, home and abroad.
Earlier, on the day of the celebration, members of the Nigerian Bar Association, led by its President, Olumide Apata stormed the celebrant’s Ibadan residence to celebrate with her on her 90th birthday. She was greeted and entertained by trumpeters, as they wished her a happy celebration.
The birthday ceremony was eventful and well-planned. It was held at the Kola Daisi Civic Centre in Ibadan, Oyo State. It was a matinee of theatrical production, celebrating the icon, Chief Folake Solanke,who is the Yeyemofin of Ife.
Trust Mama Solanke, who is a perfectionist and highly principled woman, the ceremony was classy and entertaining. It featured quite a number of captivating sessions, such as the introduction of the members of the Odulate family, the Alabukun dynasty, Choral Medley, Mini-Drama revealing a lot about the celebrant’s biography, selection of tributes, Gelede Bolojo infusion, Bata and Dundun Ensemble, Egba unique display, Ewi rendition, traditional lyrics, Sekere and Igba Titi display and lots more.
Every moment at the ceremony was refreshing and entertaining. There were lots of lessons to learn at the event, such as; being focused and undeterred by obstacles on the way to achieving one’s goal in life. These are part of what kept Chief Folake Solanke on, in her path to success.
Worthy of note was the moment when a well-prepared video where children of the celebrant paid tribute to their mother at 90. A lot of dignitaries attended the event, like former Ogun Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa (representing Governor Rotimi Akeredolu); Oloye Lekan Alabi, former Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Bolajoko Adeniji and a host of other legal luminaries and people from all walks of life.
The presence of top traditional rulers were also noticed, as the royal staff of the Ooni of Ife, Alake of Egbaland and Oba Ikorodu were seen and accompanied by representatives from these royal fathers. Very much present at the ceremony was the Olowo of Owo Kingdom, HRM Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III, a Solicitor and Barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
While delivering her appreciation speech, the celebrant appreciated everyone that had taken time out to celebrate her. She made special mention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), headed by Olumide Apata, for the surprise visit to her house. She was glad to inform the audience of the great news that the NBA has decided to name the NBA building in Abuja after her. She expressed her pleasure when she also heard that the NBA Secretariat in Abuja has been named after her professional son, Arakunrin Rtimi Akaredolu (SAN). She said both buildings are adjacent to each other.
She also thanked the organizers of the event for holding a remarkable ceremony in her honour. She used the medium to charge the government to address the present precarious situation of things in the country. She also charged legal practitioners to be up and doing, in the discharge of their duties.
Following the speech from the celebrant was the cutting of the birthday cake. The elegantly designed cake was coated in pure white, standing tall and lovely, right before the podium. The cutting of the cake was done under the supervision of Mr. Dolapo Odesanya, a prominent member of the family. Joining the celebrant in cutting the cake were Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the deputy Governor of Ondo State, the Olowo of Owo and her immediate relations.
They all had nice photo sessions with the celebrant before other guests joined to have their own session.
-Reported by Jamiu Abubakar