His father, HRH Joshua Ajayi had been crowned Oba Ajigunna Adeoba XI in 1936 after his considerable reluctance to ascend to the throne of his fathers. Olukayode Ajayi was the first son of the king and he realized the challenges before him. He however chose to tread the path of an ordinary person in spite of his royal birth.
He began his primary school at Kafansha in Northern Nigeria where his father lived as a trader. He completed his primary education at the Seventh Day Adventist School in Oke Bola, Ibadan. He was admitted on completion of his primary education to the Ibadan Boys High School which had been founded by the Ibadan Chief T.L.Oyesina in 1938 for children of the Ibadan indigenes. Even at the far away Ibadan, Kayode Ajayi’s leadership skills were recognized and he was made a Prefect of the School at the early age. On completion of his secondary school he worked briefly but then proceeded to the United Kingdom to continue his trail-blazing ventures. This royal Prince, the first son of his father, the first iIpoti Ekiti indigene to attend the Ibadan Boys High School also became the first Ipoti- Ekiti indigene to attend the London School of Economics where he studied Law. He completed his Law practice requirements at the Nigerian Law School. He also became the first Ekiti indigene to attend the Columbia Law School of Columbia University where he obtained his Master’s degree in Law. He was the first Ipoti Ekiti indigene to enter the diplomatic service of Nigeria, and the first Ekiti indigene to serve as the Legal Officer of the Nigeria Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, with concurrent representation at the Nigeria Mission in Geneva, Switzerland.
He had a brilliant career, serving at the Nigeria Embassies in Moscow, Soviet Union, Brussels, Belgium, and the Nigerian High Commissions in Uganda and London. In the process he had occasionally experienced considerable injustice and indignity but he remained calm, never complaining, but maintaining his dignity and respect as Prince. He was lucky to have married the love of his life, a young lady from Egbaland who chose to spend her life with an Ekiti Prince to whom she gave the very best as wife, mother, counsellor, priest, and manager. When he was denied his legitimate right and entitlements, he neither protested nor complained. He was happy to have his wife and the family by his side. When he suffered grief he simply trusted the Lord and looked up to the hills from whence he expected his help to come from. His wife, the virtuous woman that the Lord provided for him, was always on her knees supporting the husband with dedication and courage.
His first son, Adewale Ajayi, testified during the wake-keep to the integrity of his father, his honesty and the inculcation of discipline in the children. He was more than that. He lived a contented and satisfied life, firmly guided by the counsel of St Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy, that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). After his early retirement, he chose to set up private law practice in Lagos which he named the Prince and Princess Chambers. He also resolved to serve the Lord whom he accepted as the real King, mindful of the assertion by Saint Peter that Christians are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light “ (1 Peter 2: 9).
To this end, he was baptized with all the members of his household at the RCCG Headquarters in Ebute- Metta in Lagos. He attended the ten year School of Disciples course as well as the Bible College from where he had a Master’s degree. He was a pioneer member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Palace of Light Parish at Isolo in Lagos. He later rose to the position of member of the National Council of Elders. He ran the Annual Elders Congress and Praise Nights and later became the Chairman/Coordinators of the Congress Planning Committee. He completed his assignment as Member of the Board of Trustees of the RCCG before his call to higher duties Above.
Elder Ajayi was consistently conscious of the value of living a life that would be acceptable to the King of glory. Shortly before his exit, he shared with his loving wife details of where he would be laid to final rest in his hometown and how he would like to be remembered. He was satisfied as usual and had neither worries nor regrets. Indeed, like Saint Paul in his second letter to Timothy, he could declare: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4: 6-8).
He was celebrated at death. As soon as departed the world, guests were at the house to commiserate with the wife and family members. These included members of the Board of Trustees and the Governing Council of the RCCG and their wives and the Convener of the Elders Forum, Pastor Tunji Onileaja and his wife. Some of the wives stayed behind to take turns to be with the wife. His Isolo family Ministers including Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, Head, Media and Publicity of RCCG, and the RCCG community including Dr. Pastor J. A. Bolarinwa, Director of Research and Development unit of RCCG, and their wives joined the team to celebrate the glorious exit of Elder Ajayi.
The message of Daddy E. A. Adeboye to the family, the General Overseer of the Church, was read during the funeral service. The representative of the Assistant General Overseer for Administration and Personnel, Pastor J. F. Odesola, Pastor CAF Obasa, was in attendance. Pastor Abatan preached the sermon and Elder, Pastor Abraham Elufowoju, National Chairman of the National Council of Elders, was physically present at the celebration of life, as were many members of the Church, Elders, Regional and Provincial Pastors and eminent personalities. The traditional ruler of the town, the Olupoti of Ipoti, sent his staff of office as mark of respect to Elder Ajayi. The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were in attendance to honour him. But above all, there was the blessed assurance that the prince has left to be with the King of kings on the completion of his mission on earth.
Michael Omolewa is currently Emeritus Professor of the History of Education at the University of Ibadan and of History and International Studies at Babcock University.