•As They Reveal The Kind Of Man He Was
The remains of Dr. Tosin Ajayi was interred last Thursday in Lagos. Who was this Lagos doctor who pioneered Healthcare Technology in Nigeria? He was a Medical Doctor, Cardiologist, Healthcare Technologist, Entrepreneur, Administrator, Philanthropist and Community Developer. Dr. Joseph Ademola Olutosin Ajayi was born in llesha, Osun State on March 1st, 1945 to Pa. Zachariah Afilaka Ajayi and Mama Felicia Loburo Aogo of the Ajantari Ruling House of Odo Ilaye Igangan and the Osungbohun Gbaadu Ruling House of Iroko Omo Igangan, respectively.
On completion of his secondary education, rosin Ajayi was offered a place at the prestigious University College Hospital, Ibadan to train as a Medical Doctor. He later attended the National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College, University of London, graduating with a Master of Science degree in Cardiology. Desirous to widen his horizon, he progressively registered for programmes leading to the awards of a Diploma in Internal Medicine from the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, University of London (1997), a Diploma in Neurology from the Queen’s Square Institute of Neurology, University of London (1998) and a Diploma in Cardiology from the Imperial College, London.
Dr. Tosin Ajayi began his medical career at the popular General Hospital, Lagos where he rose to the position of Registrar in only four years. In March 1973, during his housemanship rotation at Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos, he met then Adenike Oluyemisi Mamora, who was also working at the hospital as a nurse at the time. The two later got married in July 1974, a marriage blessed with five children. After his housemanship year, he undertook a year of national service in Kano under the National Youth Service Corps programme (October 1974-1975) and, upon completion, returned to General Hospital, Lagos. He later joined Kemta Hospital & Nursing Home, Lagos, where he worked for four years, rising to the post of Deputy Medical Director. Prior to leaving Kemta Hospital, Dr. Tosin Ajayi developed the hospital into a multi-specialist general hospital with three major satellite units.
In 1982, he decided to devote his time and resources, wholeheartedly, into realizing his burning desire to transform the healthcare landscape in Nigeria into a first-class one that truly served its purpose – saving lives. This insatiable desire propelled him to establish the First Foundation Medical Centre, a modem, first-grade multi-specialist healthcare institution which for over two decades was a reference point in the provision of excellent medical services in Nigeria and Africa at large, thereby fully living up to its motto: “Changing the Landscape of Health care in Africa” Dr. Ajayi bestrode the igerian healthcare sector like a colossus. Notwithstanding the tremendous success of the First Foundation Medical Centre, Dr. Ajayi felt he could do more to further his advocacy for a paradigm shift in healthcare reforms, medicine and healthcare with particular emphasis on the business of medicine and healthcare, especially with respect to information technology and healthcare and necessary capacity building for healthcare to thrive in Nigeria. This led him to establish the First Foundation Medical Engineering Company Ltd., the vehicle by which high-end medical technology through Diagnostic Sonography and Computed Tomography, popularly known as CT, was introduced in igeria through The First Foundation Medical Centre and a Federal Government programme respectively. Dr. Ajayi brought the first ultrasound machine into hospital use in Nigeria. He initiated the Magnetic Resonance Imaging project ill the Nigerian health system. To his credit, Teleradiology, the digital transmission of radiological patient images from one location to another, was introduced in Nigeria in 2004.
For his many pioneering feats, he will be remembered as the first to propel Nigeria into high technology medicine.
In his last years, Dr. Tosin Ajayi dedicated his attention to the work of his foundation, Africa Future, a foundation with the mission of bridging the developmental gap in Africa using technological tools, with a focus on children.
On October 1, 2019, the foundation launched its most recent initiative, “the First 1000 Days from Conception Window,” an initiative aimed at focusing attention on the importance of nutrition and micro-nutrition during pregnancy and the first few years of Africa’s children.
Dr. Tosin Ajayi was a former Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). At the time of his passing, he was Executive Chairman, Medicine & Healthcare Africa (MHA), Lagos, Executive Chairman, First Foundation Healthcare, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fourth Dimension Technologies Ltd, Managing Director /Chief Executive Officer, First Foundation Medical Engineering Co. Ltd., Executive Chairman, DiscoveryTel Africa Ltd., Chairman, International Hospital Federation (IHF), Nigeria and Executive Chairman, Africa Future Ltd..
Dr. Tosin Ajayi passed away on Sunday, April 26th, 2020 in Lagos at the age of 75 years. He was survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Mrs. Adenike Oluyemisi Ajayi (nee Mamora) and his children, grandchildren, sister, cousins, nephews, nieces and other relations.
MY DAD, FOREVER IN MY HEART
Dad was so many things in one, but probably nothing defined him more than his love of knowledge, his love of people, his love of service to humanity and his conviction that every life must be lived to its full potential. Those were his guiding philosophies.
That was who he was.
Dad was passionate about the pursuit of knowledge. He was a life-long learner; to him, knowledge must always be zealously pursued.
It was his passion for knowledge that propelled him to spare no cost on our education. He was always ready and willing to fund our studies to whatever lengths we chose to pursue. It was that passion that effortlessly moved him to sponsor the continuing education of a number of his employees and of many others that we may never know. He desired that everyone should live to their full capacity, and he believed acquiring knowledge was the key.
Dad was also a very engaging person. He could engage with anyone of any background, profession or age and seemingly on any topic.
His views were truly thought-provoking. It was rare to leave a conversation with him without having something to further ponder on. I remember how animated Dad was the first time he shared his vision for his Africa Future foundation with me, my brother, Olumide, and my husband, Kunle, on one of his trips to New York City. How he explained excitedly why reorienting children in Nigeria and Africa at large through memes and information technology was the key to unlocking a bright future for Africa. Dad was a free-thinker, a deep-thinker, a thought leader, a philosopher and a visionary. He was always very confident in his beliefs, and held firmly to them, regardless of whether they were viewed as unconventional.
He wasn’t one to be easily moved by sentiments.
Dad had a very big heart, a deep philanthropic spirit. He was most fulfilled when his helping hand brought smiles to his benefactors. He constantly impressed upon us that nothing is more important in life than using one’s God-given gifts, talents, and blessings in the service of others. He devoted his entire soul and being to his work at First Foundation because he knew it could positively transform the lives of many.
Dad’s love of people, service to the community, and dedication to First Foundation meant that we had to share him with so many others. It meant every time we spent with him was highly cherished.
Dad inspired in us a mindset that our potential is limitless, that with hard work, focus, reflection and an indomitable spirit, there was nothing we couldn’t achieve – that we could conquer the world if we set our mind on it. But he didn’t preach this gospel to only us his children. It was a creed that he lived by and shared with all with great conviction. He encouraged us all to be independent. He challenged us his daughters that being wives and mothers shouldn’t stop us from having successful and fulfilling careers.
Dad, you will continue to live on in my heart. I will fondly remember those weekends we played with you on your bed when work was less busy at the hospital and the many gifts you brought for us on your return from your international trips. Your surprise visits to me while I was in Queens College, Lagos, meant the world to me. I can still vividly see you in your suspenders, with a wrapped parcel containing goodies and sweet-valley high novels in your hands and the hospital ambulance in the background. Thank you; those sweet-valley high novels greatly fostered my early love for novels.
I will forever cherish the fun time you had with us on your last trip to New York City, when you met my kids, Tise and Ife (your “oh my goodness” granddaughter) for the first time.
How you played with them and poked fun at them. How we wined and dined, our walks around midtown Manhattan and watching the Chicago Broadway show with you. Those were really good times. I remember how difficult it was to say goodbye to you when I dropped you off at the airport when you pecked me on the cheek and bid me goodbye. 2
I will continue to relish the memory of your call to me on my birthday in 2019 and all your heartfelt and very moving prayers for me on that day. You prayed so strongly for me in Yoruba. I had never heard you pray like that before. Unknown to you, I was kneeling down through it all. Little did I know that would be the last birthday call I would receive from you.
Thank you for all you did for us and all you taught us. Thank you especially for all the resources you spent on our education. I am especially forever grateful to you for how you willingly and without any questions asked, sponsored my second Master’s degree, even though you knew (but pretended you didn’t) that the opportunity it provided me to join my then fiance, now husband, in the U.S. was the major consideration for my pursuit of a second Masters degree. I know you never claimed to be perfect and that saying sorry was something you found difficult to do. But I also know that you sought to make amends in your own unique way, which is okay, and for that I am grateful.
The shock from the news of your passing still reverberates in me till this day. The news felt like a brutal sucker punch. I didn’t believe it for a very long time. I just wish you had picked up your phone when we all called you several times, thinking you were on vacation in London, and not knowing you were hospitalized. I really wish we knew you were in the hospital, we would have taken very good care of you and we would, at least, have had the privilege of praying for your recovery until you took your final breath.
There are many conversations I was hoping we would still have. Many questions I had hoped to get answers to. I had hoped you would come visit us again, that we would spend more time together. I have been thinking a lot about you recently, seeing images of you flash right before my eyes. I can still see you walking around in your office singing one of your favorite songs “ise oluwa, ko le baje o.” I know there was a lot more you had hoped to accomplish for the good of the community, and I really wish you had more time to do so. Well, you have run your race the best you could. To the best we can, God helping us, we will continue the legacy of the good things you did.
I will miss you calling me, “Tom Tom,” as you fondly did. Rest well, Dad. I love you, always and forever.
– Your Daughter,
‘Tomi Deru (nee Ajayi)
Tribute to my father
My father was far from perfect but I loved him dearly. Without him, I wouldn’t be the man I am today.
It took me a long time to understand that my father had his own way of expressing his love. He wasn’t one that vocalized his love a lot, but they were revealed in his deeds. I know he loved me and my siblings greatly and wanted the best for us.
My father was a great role model to me. Not only because I am his only son, but also because he symbolized to me the best a human being can aspire to and be. His example and his giant strides in the medical field largely influenced my decision to become a medical doctor. My father treated everyone equally. He didn’t treat me specially simply because I was his only son; He loved my mother and my siblings equally.
I am so proud of my father because he touched so many lives. There were so many people beyond our immediate family that he mentored to maturity and success in their life endeavors. He lived a truly impactful life.
My father was particularly keen on education. Being an alumnus of the University of Ibadan, I remember how proud he was of me when I was admitted to the University of Ibadan. I also remember how he insisted on traveling with me for my enrollment when I gained admission to the University of Ottawa in Canada. Notwithstanding that it was terribly cold when we arrived in Canada, at about -15 degrees, my father still made all necessary arrangements to ensure that I was well settled in. I remember that we had to stay in a hotel for about a week while waiting for my apartment to be ready. I remember how he helped with all this even though he had caught a cold in the process.
I remember our last conversation with my father. We were on our way to church. You promised to visit me and my family in a few months.
You asked if I was checking up regularly on the welfare of my mother. My wife and I were really looking forward to your visit. And it really hurts to know that you will not be visiting us.
I will always remember and cherish our long conversations and the times we spent in London, Canada and, most recently, New York City. I will always keep close to my heart all the advice you gave me over the years. You inspired me to achieve things I never imagined I could achieve.
I know you’re watching over us. Thank you for the love and memories. Thank you for being a good, loving, caring and hardworking father. Thank you for encouraging me to be the best I can be and to do the best I can in everything I wish to achieve. Mostly, thank you for being my father.
I miss you and wish you a peaceful rest. Your grateful son,
– Dr. Olumide Ajayi
TRIBUTE TO DAD
My Dad, my friend, my mentor, my trainer, my confidant, my teacher, my hero, my role model, my priceless jewel, my biggest fan.
I don’t know where to begin, all I keep thinking is how I wish I had one more opportunity to see you, daddy, to hear your voice and see your wonderful smile assuring me that everything would be fine. You were an intelligent and intellectual man, full of jokes, always stressing the importance of hard work and education in life to be a great person. I can’t still believe you are gone. I was really shocked and confused when I was informed. Never knew you would leave us suddenly. I was deeply hurt. Daddy, we still had a lot to discuss and plan. Your death left a scar in my heart but your legacy stands in my life.
My heart still bleeds each time I remember you are gone but your loving and caring fatherly role will keep lingering in my heart. Still wake up hoping, trusting I would see you later in the day. Daddy when I close my eyes, I still see your images dearly. I have good dreams with you in it and it gladdens my heart. I’m glad we celebrated your 75th birthday together in March of 2020, you were so happy. Don’t still understand what happened. I know you had so much to still share with me but death took you. I have so many thoughts in my head, uncountable questions to ask and too many words unsaid.
Thank you for doing your best to provide for my mum, my siblings and 1. We are truly grateful. You were a true friend and confidant. I will always cherish the wonderful memories forever. Remember what you always said to me” Molad, no one can love you and want you to succeed more than your parents”. Still think of the smile on your face each time I brought a challenge to you. You listened quietly and allowed me vent, but ensured I sorted it out myself which has made me an independent strong woman.
This has aided me to where I am today and I would be forever grateful. I’ll continue to do my best to carry on in your footsteps. You were also a great father to my hubby and a wonderful grandfather to my children. I love you dad, you will forever be our hero.
I remember the priceless moments we shared growing up. You would give me extra pocket money while going off to boarding school and say” don’t tell your siblings o”. It made me feel so special. I also loved the way you expressed yourself openly and directly without mincing words (you were so fantastic with words).
Dad, life was good with you and grateful you gave birth to me. People always commented that we were so alike in behaviour and looks.
Some of your mates called me “Obinrin bi Okunrin”. It made me feel good. I cherish all the moments we chatted like mates and all the lessons learnt from you. I wouldn’t trade them for all the gold in China. You celebrated us when we did well and encouraged us to do better when we fell short. I felt I was your favorite though my siblings would disagree.
Bottom line is that you showed me so much affection and this gave me so much confidence to face life’s challenges. Your heart was truly made of gold. I recall a quote
“The more you offer yourself to make life better for someone, the more you empty yourself of the load of destiny you carry into the world. Serve till you empty all.” You served humanity and always encouraged us to do so. Just to let you know that I haven’t stopped making life better for others and intend to do much more God helping me.
You were a great teacher and I was happy to be your student. Imagine even in death, you are still teaching me to tolerate others though they are not worth it- Impressive!!! I hold your words of wisdom close to my heart. I will always cherish you, my irreplaceable jewel.
Without any doubt, many loved you and you easily loved them in return. A true heart of gold, selfless and a great man, generous to a fault. The love you
Your loving daughter,
Molade Soetan (Nee Ajayi)
TRIBUTE TO DAD
A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.”
One of my earliest fondest memories is waking up on my birthday morning to news that you had returned from your overseas trip the night before. The very thought that you had come home in time for my birthday was the highlight of that day for me. I clearly remember running into your room before school and jumping into your open arms. Greatest birthday present ever! The all too familiar scent of your after-shave mixed with the smell of your room AC and our favourite Dairy Milk fruit and nut chocolate gives me nostalgia even now.
So many years later, it’s heartbreaking to have to deal with your passing. Even months after that fateful day, it still feels so unbelievably surreal.
As I write, I realised the irony in writing an ‘eulogy on 2-dimensional paper about a figure that was anything but 2 dimensional Dad, you lived life to the full in splendid technicolour. You explored every facet of your personality and wore your passion for life and people proudly like a badge of honour.
You were obsessed with changing the landscape of healthcare in Africa. Your dream for such a long time was to build the largest, world-class, state-of-the-art hospital in West Africa … but Dad, Africa wasn’t ready for this particular dream yet.
Instead, you concentrated your efforts on building people.
A worthy patriarch, you endeavoured to impart your wisdom and experiential knowledge to as many people as you could, across multiple disciplines.
You were indeed a catalyst for change. You took your place at the forefront of impacting the next generation of Africans. Through your work, passion and personality, you influenced many lives and somehow managed to light a fire for change in the heart of every person you came in contact with. That’s just the way you were; you truly couldn’t help it.
Thank you for pushing us to be the best in everything and to continually seek to climb to greater heights. Thank you for constantly encouraging us to live life on purpose in our endeavour to make the greatest impact on humanity so that we too can leave a worthwhile legacy for those coming behind us.
You laid the foundation, Dad. You’ve clearly done your part and have now passed the baton to us. All that’s left is for you to watch and get ready to applaud the greatness that will doubtless be accomplished and revealed in every one of your children.
I still catch myself reaching for my phone to call you in the middle of my day. For in those few seconds when my mind and heart are on auto-pilot, I allow myself revel in that momentary feeling of joy and hope … but reality once again kicks in, and my heart awakens to the truth. My daddy has passed on!
Dad, you’re no more just a phone call away. I can no longer have a heart-to-heart talk with you. No more groundnuts and Quality Street chocolates from your office fridge. No more rolling my eyes at being forced to sit on your lap as I used to as a little girl.
I cherish those small seemingly ordinary moments of our life so much more now. They weren’t nearly enough but I’m so thankful to God that we made those memories whilst we had the time and opportunity.
Thank you for celebrating my husband and I at our beautiful wedding. You didn’t have to, but you insisted and for this, I’m most gratefuL It was an unforgettable season, not just because of the lavishness and display of splendour but because I got to share my special day with you.
Oh, how you looked so debonair in your suit and bow tie. Thank you for the sweet memories Dad, they’re forever cherished.
Thank you for believing in me. For constantly reminding me that I was born to fly, not walk.
You would say, “it’s in you, Mayowa. I know it because I’m your father! You have my DNA!”. I miss our long talks, your thought-provoking questions. I miss hearing you laugh, the way you call out my name, the feel of your stubble on my cheeks.
You were gone too suddenly, way too soon. I wish I could have said goodbye, told you that I listened and would always remember your words of fatherly wisdom. I wish I had told you that I wasn’t angry with you, that life has been great nonetheless, and that the joyful times we shared outweighed and made up for the sad times. Yet somehow I think you knew all these things already.
… and may the seeds you have sown in us your children, and in the countless other lives of those you raised, not fall to the ground unfulfilled but instead accomplish life and the necessary change in this generation and beyond. Amen.
Dr ‘Mayowa Okeowo (nee Ajayi)
Tribute to Dad
Daddy, you were a great man and father to so many. I have always admired your love for medicine and your many great accomplishments. From a very young age, we always had many conversations about medicine and how important it is to serve humanity. You taught me a lot about the importance of education and I am grateful for it today.
I didn’t always want to study medicine but looking back, I am thankful I listened and I’m able to continue on a career path you loved so much which I have come to love as well.
Thank you for my education and your consistent encouragement. No matter how much it cost you, it didn’t matter because you only wanted the best for me.
I am grateful for the life you lived and the many lives you touched, although cut short. I hope and pray to never depart from all your advice and to continue to make you proud. Rest in peace, Daddy.
– Dr. Bisola Ajayi