- Halimah Olamide
“When the likes of Rhodes Vivour attempts to look down on or denigrate the roots of other Yorubas or Lagosians he must be reminded that, unlike his, the majority of them did not derive from a family of slaves.
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has told the governorship candidate of the Labour Party for the Saturday’s election, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, comes from a family of slaves.
Fani-Kayode, while countering the LP candidate over his claim that his grandfather, Akinwumi Rhodes-Vivour, was the third magistrate to be appointed in Nigeria, said the LP candidate appears to have lost touch with the reality of his pedigree.
He said many eminent magistrates had been appointed almost 20 years before that of Gbadebo’s grandfather adding that he also did not have the luxury of fine education as those earlier appointed.
“History is important and for the sake of future generations we are constrained to set the record straight,” Fani-Kayode said
He explained that the Rhodes-Vivours were slaves who were freed and settled in Sierra Leone.
He went on to explain that Olumuyiwa Jibowu was the first Nigerian to become a magistrate in 1931 and was to be followed by Adebiyi Desalu followed in 1938.
“Adetokunboh Ademola was the third in 1939 and then came Victor Adedapo Kayode (my paternal grand father), F.E.O. Euba and George Frederick Dove-Edwin in 1940. F.O. Lucas was appointed in 1941. These were the first Nigerians to become magistrates and virtually all of them went on to the higher bench and did exceedingly well.
“They all came from highly distinguished stock and well-educated families whose noble ancestry can be traced back for hundreds of years before them and who formed the elite upper class and ‘creme de la creme’ of high society in their day.
“To top it all most of them went to the top Universities in the world to study law, namely Oxford and Cambridge, before being called to the British bar. They also all practised law in the Lagos colony and were regarded as being amongst the top indigenous lawyers of their time before being invited to the Bench.
“Rhodes Vivour’s grandfather, Akinwunmi Rhodes Vivour, was very junior to these men. He was not appointed as a magistrate until almost twenty years after Jibowu in 1950, he never went to any University before being called to the Bar, he was not appointed as a Judge until 1964 and he descended from a family of Sierra Leonian slaves.”
The ex-aviation minister, who is also the Director of New Media of the All Progressive Congress presidential campaign council, said the Rhodes-Vivour family the name “Vivour” derives from the word “Survivor” after their ancestors were freed from slavery by the British whilst they were being shipped overseas as slaves.
“They were then returned to Sierra Leone as free men and women.”
He said he has immense respect for the family but added that if truth be told, “that is their heritage regardless of how much they attempt to hide it or how well they have done since then.”
He said no one should be allowed to distort or revise history in the name of politics.
“When the likes of Rhodes Vivour attempts to look down on or denigrate the roots of other Yorubas or Lagosians he must be reminded that, unlike his, the majority of them did not derive from a family of slaves. Unlike the Rhodes Vivours’ their ancestors were at least all born free. They were never slaves and they never needed to be emancipated from slave traders,” he said
The LP candidate is contesting against Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressive Congress and Jide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party in the election slated to hold on Saturday.
He came from behind to emerge as majour threat to Sanwo-Olu after the presidential election where the LP’s candidate, Peter Obi emerged the winner in Lagos defeating President Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, considered to be the Godfather of politics in Lagos.
The sudden victory has brought Rhodes-Vivour to more recknoning in the contest.