Biography of DJO

Daniel Josephus Olubunmi Robbin-Coker (15th July 1934 – 29th March 2019), commonly known as Olubunmi or DJO, was the child of Sowande and Rosalind Robbin-Coker.

He was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone on the 15th July 1934 whilst his father, a dispenser, was posted to Bo in the Southern Province.

His early education began at the Holy Trinity Infant School, from where he continued on to the Holy Trinity Boys School, before progressing to the prestigious Prince of Wales School, where he received his secondary education from 1947-1953.

An excellent sportsman, he achieved prominence as part of his school’s soccer and athletics teams. As an all-rounder, his leadership qualities were already evident at Prince of Wales where he first became a prefect and later, senior head prefect.

On leaving school he took a position as a teacher at the Sierra Leone Grammar School from January 1954 to August 1955. His academic abilities earned him the opportunity to pursue his educational ambitions, at first through a B.Sc. (Hons) in Physiology at Durham University in England, followed by a degree and qualification as a medical doctor, also at Durham.

After graduating from Durham, he started his medical career as a house officer at the Royal Victoria infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne. Before returning to Freetown, he specialized in Paediatrics, which became his lifelong passion and vocation until the day he died.

As a paediatrician back home in Sierra Leone, he became an active fellow of the West African College of Physicians. In recognition of many years of faithful service to the College and his profession, he was bestowed with the College’s highest award, the Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievements, which he received in November 2018.

In his illustrious career as a doctor he was not only active in his clinic but was a member of the Medical and Dental Association. He played a significant role in the early stages of the development of the medical school in Freetown, when in 1984, as Vice Chairman of the ad hoc committee that looked into the project, their proposals later resulted in the commencement of the medical school in 1988.

Not only was he registered as a Medical Practitioner in Sierra Leone, he was also certified in the United Kingdom and The Gambia. As a passionate patriot, he contributed his quota to nation building by serving in the Sierra Leone Government health service as a paediatrician; he worked as Chief Consultant Paediatrician, Ministry of Health and Paediatrician-in-charge of the Ola During Children’s Hospital, Freetown, from where he retired in 1988, having served there from 1969. In recognition of his contributions to medicine in Sierra Leone, he was honoured with the Officer of the Order the Rokel on April 27 1988. He was also later honoured by the Connaught Hospital in April 2012 when the children’s ward was renamed after him.

His dedication to his profession and his calling as a doctor were to be tested during the Ebola crisis of 2014-2016.After celebrating his 80th birthday in July 2014, Dr. Robbin-Coker chose to continue active duty, continuing to provide medical services to his young patients right throughout the Ebola outbreak, much against the wishes of his family and numerous friends. He maintained a commitment to his “Hippocratic Oath” and expressed a willingness to “die in active service” rather than to abandon those who needed his expertise and attention.

Olubunmi was an active freemason for over 50 years. He rose to the rank of the District Grand Master of Sierra Leone and the Gambia under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England. He also held additional positions which allowed him to make masonic history in the district of Sierra Leone and the Gambia and indeed set a high bar for Freemasons in Africa and the world at large. He retired from this illustrious position on November 23 2018. Not one to remain idle, he continued to participate in national and regional Masonic activities, attending a meeting in Lagos in February 2019. He was in Accra, Ghana for a Masonic event when he met his demise on March 29 2019.

He was survived by his wife, four biological children amongst many, fifteen grandchildren, three great grandchildren, He was also survived by a sister and a brother.

May his soul rest in perpetual peace.