Dr Tosin Ajayi (1945-2020) – A tribute by Tunde Kelani

Our meeting only three years ago now seems like thirty! It was like two long lost brothers reunited. In the three years, I learned a lot from Tosin about de-emphasizing self and caring more for others and their socio-economic development.

Though a scientist, he celebrated and loved African cultures in all its diversities and went out of his way to mingle with talented musicians, dancers, artists, journalists, giving freely both time, money and ideas in their support. He enjoyed the company of others and loved putting smiles on faces.

He kept the spirit of parties going by dancing and moving around tirelessly to ensure everyone was having a nice time. He seemed happiest when people are happy around him. Most of his staff are still loyal, working with him for more than thirty years. His Opebi office of Africa Future Foundation was an unofficial Institute of African Affairs where I met an array of bright minds and interesting people from all fields.

Tosin makes friends easily, sometimes probing to find the positive or good side of everyone. Most of the time, I found myself in those formal or impromptu meetings and long discussions about finding solutions to Africa's intractable numerous problems. There seemed to be one recurring finality that without a good healthcare system, Africa will never develop.

He was passionate about health care and his vision was clear. Faced with dwindling resources, he seemed to draw the conclusion that Africa's leaders and politicians are going to get meaner and selfish caring less for the people. The solution is displayed on the colorful chart on the wall in Tosin Ajayi's office as a daily reminder of pressing tasks. His dream pet project is the Africa Future's 1000 days a guarantee, from the conception of children to optimum nutrition essential for brain development to ensure performance as an adult.

Tosin Ajayi as a scientist in many discussions has explained Africa's under-development, sixty years after independence, as a product of half-baked brains resulting from attacks from malnutrition, malaria, and poor healthcare. Brains that can no longer function effectively to solve problems or drive innovation and productivity to re-position Africa towards true development. Btains that can only cut and paste from outside or just follow-follow!

Now, Tosin left without saying goodbye making me cry and laugh at the same time. That is Toyin Ajayi for you, full of surprises! There was a period when he would burst into the office singing and dancing one favorite tune or the other, like 'Kò lè bàjẹ́ Kò lè bàjẹ́, ohun t' Ọló̩run bá ṣe – kò lè bàjẹ́ (No one can stand in the way of what God has designed). And suddenly I got it! If at first like me you were wondering what will now happen to his laudable projects without him, his popular song above has provided the answer – Kò lè bàjẹ́ Kò lè bàjẹ́, ohun t' Ọló̩run bá ṣe – kò lè bàjẹ́.

He already knew that his family, closest friends and Nigerians who he has inspired and motivated will carry on the struggle to deliver Africa from her shackles and arm the next generation with functional brains and adequate health care.

Good night, my friend and brother.



Tosin Ajayi, a medical practitioner, founded First Foundation Medical Centre and Africa Future. He died in Lagos on Monday April 27, 2020.

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