Emmanuel Solomon Ajayi

Emmanuel Solomon Ajayi was an Ijebu leader, born 1896 in Sagamu. E.S. Ajayi was the son of Ajayi Jegede, a privileged local merchant. Although his father was a Muslim, he was allowed to practice as a Christian for educational purpose. Ajayi was one of the fourteen foundation students of Ijebu Ode Grammar School. Having passed examinations that qualified him as a teacher and having served at C.M.S. Grammar School, he had risen to the position of the Secretary of Ijebu Native Administration Assessment Committee. Emmanuel Solomon Ajayi was also the first honorary secretary of the West Africa Student Union at Ijebu Ode and a Senior Agricultural Assistant for Ijebu province where he tried unsuccessfully to boost native people’s interest in cash crop economy.

Like many of his contemporaries, Ajayi considered himself a British African, and as a tutor and scouter, taught younger Nigerians the importance of the Empire and the Union Jack as the flag of peace, liberty, equity and justice. This anglophonism, and faith in his British status will be shaken in 1932, when in the course of his journey to attend Agricultural College at the Hampton Institute, in United States, he was denied the rights he believed was accruable to him during his stopover at England.

E.S. Ajayi was a member of the advisory board to Ijebu ruler, the Awujale and he was one of the educated elite, who bestowed on the board, formed in 1921, a status more than its original nominal role.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer