Does M.K.O need any form of introduction?
Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State. His name, Kashimawo, means "Let us wait and see". Moshood Abiola was his father's twenty-third child but the first of his father's children to survive infancy, hence the name 'Kashimawo'. It was not until he was 15 years old that he was properly named Moshood, by his parents.
MKO showed entrepreneurial talents at a very young age, at the age of nine he started his first business selling firewood. He would wake up at dawn to go to the forest and gather firewood, which he would then cart back to town and sell before going to school, in order to support his old father and his siblings. He later founded a band at age fifteen where he would perform at various ceremonies in exchange for food. He eventually became famous enough to start demanding payment for his performances and used the money to support his family and his secondary education at the Baptist Boys High School Abeokuta, where he excelled. He was the editor of the school magazine The Trumpeter, Olusegun Obasanjo was deputy editor. At the age of 19 he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons ostensibly because of its stronger pan-Nigerian origin compared with the Obafemi Awolowo-led Action Group.
Moshood Abiola sprang to national and international prominence as a result of his philanthropic activities. The Congressional Black Caucus of the United States of America issued the following tribute to Moshood Abiola:
Because of this man, there is both cause for hope and certainty that the agony and protests of those who suffer injustice shall give way to peace and human dignity. The children of the world shall know the great work of this extraordinary leader and his fervent mission to right wrong, to do justice, and to serve mankind. The enemies which imperil the future of generations to come: poverty, ignorance, disease, hunger, and racism have each seen effects of the valiant work of Chief Abiola. Through him and others like him, never again will freedom rest in the domain of the few. We, the members of the Congressional Black Caucus salute him this day as a hero in the global pursuit to preserve the history and the legacy of the African diaspora.
From 1972 until his death Moshood Abiola had been conferred with 197 traditional titles by 68 different communities in Nigeria, in response to the fact that his financial assistance resulted in the construction of 63 secondary schools, 121 mosques and churches, 41 libraries, 21 water projects in 24 states of Nigeria, and was grand patron to 149 societies or associations in Nigeria. In this way Abiola reached out and won admiration across the multifarious ethnic and religious divides in Nigeria. In addition to his work in Nigeria, Moshood Abiola was a dedicated supporter of the Southern African Liberation movements from the 1970s and he sponsored the campaign to win reparations for slavery and colonialism in Africa and the diaspora. Chief Abiola, personally rallied every African head of state, and every head of state in the black diaspora to ensure that Africans would speak with one voice on the issues.
Chief MKO Abiola's memory is celebrated in Nigeria and internationally. June 12 remains a public holiday in Lagos and Ogun states. There are also remembrance events arranged across Nigeria. MKO Abiola was known for his charisma and for being a man of the people. As a prominent social activist, democratic freedom fighter, and successful business figure, the continuing support for MKO Abiola is part of his legacy. MKO Abiola Stadium was named in his honour. There were also calls for posthumous presidential recognition.
Despite his popularity or because of it, MKO Abiola occasionally attracted criticism from political activists and detractors. Controversy was caused by a song by Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti. Kuti was a charismatic multi-instrumentalist musician, composer and human rights activist - famed for being the pioneer of Afrobeat music as well as a controversial figure, due to his unusual lifestyle and apparent drug use. It is believed that Kuti had entered into an acrimonious dispute relating to a contract with MKO Abiola's record label. He used the abbreviation of International Telephone & Telegraph (IT&T) in a song criticising big multinational corporations. The song, ITT accuses such companies of draining Africa's resources and makes specific reference to MKO Abiola ("they start to steal money Like Obasanjo and Abiola").
Moshood Abiola was twice voted international businessman of the year, and received numerous honorary doctorates from universities all over the world. In 1987 he was bestowed with the golden key to the city of Washington D.C., and he was bestowed with awards from the NAACP and the King center in the USA, as well as the International Committee on Education for Teaching in Paris, amongst many others. In Nigeria, Abiola was made the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland. It is the highest chieftaincy title available to commoners amongst the Yoruba, and has only been conferred by the tribe 14 times in its history. This in effect rendered Abiola the ceremonial War Viceroy of all of his tribespeople. According to the folklore of the tribe as recounted by the Yoruba elders, the Aare Ona Kakanfo is expected to die a warrior in the defense of his nation in order to prove himself in the eyes of both the divine and the mortal as having been worthy of his title.
In 1994 Moshood Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos island, an area mainly populated by impoverished Nigerians. He had recently returned from a trip to win the support of the international community for his mandate. After declaring himself president he was declared wanted and was accused of treason and arrested on the orders of military President General Sani Abacha, who sent 200 police vehicles to bring him into custody. MKO Abiola has been referred to as Nigeria's greatest statesman
Moshood Abiola was detained for four years, largely in solitary confinement with a Bible, Qur'an, and fourteen guards as companions. During that time, Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human rights activists from all over the world lobbied the Nigerian government for his release. The sole condition attached to the release of Chief Abiola was that he renounce his mandate, something that he refused to do, although the military government offered to compensate him and refund his extensive election expenses. For this reason Chief Abiola became extremely troubled when Kofi Annan and Emeka Anyaoku reported to the world that he had agreed to renounce his mandate after they met with him to tell him that the world would not recognize a five year old election.
Abiola died under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Abacha. Moshood Abiola died on the day that he was due to be released, on July 7, 1998. While the official autopsy state that Abiola died of natural causes, Abacha's Chief Security Officer, al-Mustapha has alleged that Moshood Abiola was in fact beaten to death. al-Mustapha, who was detained but now released by the present Nigerian government, claims to have video and audiotapes showing how Abiola was beaten to death. The final autopsy report, which was produced by a group of international coroners has never been publicly released. Irrespective of the exact circumstances of his death, it is clear that Chief Abiola received insufficient medical attention for his existing health conditions.
As recounted at the time in a BBC interview with special envoy Thomas R. Pickering, an American delegation, which included Susan Rice, visited Abiola and during their meeting with him, Abiola fell ill, with what was presumed to be a heart attack which caused his death.
May the soul of this blessed son Rest In Peace ,Amen