Created in memory of Professor Richard 'Layi Fagbenle, January 17, 1943 - June 10, 2019. B.S,ME, M.S.M.E, and Ph.D


Igbobi College, Yaba (1957-61), Government College, Ughelli (1962-63), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA (1964-67/1969-72), Iowa State University, Ames, USA, (1967-69). 


Engineer, Public Works Department, City of New York, 1966; Research Associate, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois, USA, 1972-73; Lecturer, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, 1973-74; had various appointments at the Polytechnic Ibadan, University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University etc. Engineer, TransCanada Pipelines Limited, Toronto, Canada, 1977; Engineer, Rolls Royce (Canada), Machine, Quebec, Canada, 1978; Engineer, Shawwinigan Engineering Company Limited, Montreal, Canada, 1978; member of the Council of registered Engineers of Nigeria; member, Pi Tau Sigma (a Mechanical Engineering Honour Society), USA, 1966; member, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, since 1967; associate member, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; Consultant, UN Economic Commission for Africa etc.

Professor Layi Fagbenle was:

  • HOD, Mechanical Engineering, The Polytechnic Ibadan (at various times)
  • Founding Director, Iree Satellite Campus, Ibadan Poly
  • HOD, Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Ibadan
  • Director of Energy, Ministry of Mineral Resources, Republic of Botswana
  • Energy Advisor, Republic of Botswana
  • Founding Provost Ogun State University College of Technology, Ibogun
  • First Chairman Governing Council of Igbajo Polytechnic
  • Chairman Governing Board, Osun State College of Technology, Esa Oke
  • Contract Professor at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
  • Visiting Professor, Covenant University, Ota
  • Consultant at various times to several Institutions and world bodies.

Professor Fagbenle was an academic and administrative colossus!


This website serves as a place of connection for those who have been touched by Richard's life and passing. It gives the people who loved him the opportunity to remember, celebrate his life and support one another during this difficult time.

Posted by Kasumu Salawu on June 19, 2020
Layi baba, in-between these anniversaries, your name comes up between me and our former classmates mostly, one-on-one. We remember you fondly and approve of the tenor of the tributes family and friends leave every year. I trust you found serene repose in the abode of our Lord, Jesus Christ. At our age, Gigan, any one of us may soon see you on the other side. Rest well!
Posted by Aji Ariori on June 19, 2020
Uncle Layi, continue to rest on with the Lord.
Posted by Aji Ariori on June 19, 2020
Uncle Layi, continue to rest on with the Lord.
Posted by Grace Taiye Oladipo on January 18, 2020
Uncle Layi, continue to rest in perfect peace.
Posted by Grace Taiye Oladipo on January 18, 2020
I missed Uncle Layi.
May his soul rest in perfect peace with The Lord.
He is a very nice Uncle, very kindhearted.
He loves everyone, and goes miles to help.
Posted by Ifẹ́ Akínwọlé on August 29, 2019
A great man indeed, cool headed, always approaching issues with mature view. A father to my Profs. The man who have respect for his family, always presents his wife like his biological mother. Ha! Baba, ikú kò jẹ́ kí ngbádùn ẹni rere kó tó lọ.
Till we meet at Jesus feet
Posted by Femi Tinuoye on July 19, 2019
Hmmmmmmm! Now I'm coming to terms with the reality that my Uncle Layi has left us; I was actually hoping someone will wake me up from this bad dream.
Some men didn't biologically contribute to our existence but they stand firm in our lives as father figure - such was Uncle Layi. He was a man of many parts: Erudite Scholar, Excellent Administrator, Crisis Manager per excellence, Guidance Counsellor, a man who delights in healing hearts he has not broken and raising the children he didn't make.
When on January 17, 2019 I called to wish him and Yinka a happy birthday, he spoke in a low voice and this made me ask if all well - because even if my call wakes him up, he's always lively and sounding bright - to which he answered in the affirmative but was just a little tired from all his trips.
Then on this faithful day in April, he called me to say he was going in for a minor surgery and just thought he'd mention; he was quick to pick from my response that I was worried and reassured me it was really nothing and promised to call me once he is done and awake, a promise he kept - as is usual of him. There was nothing to suggest to me he was actually preparing me for his departure from this sinful world. Now I know better.
My children Kanyinsola and Akinkola who fondly referred to him as "Grandpa with the Turtle" are beneficiaries of his guidance and wisdom. Akinkola who is an Aerospace Engineer was to a large extent influenced by Uncle Layi to go the Engineering way rather than just Maths or physical education he initially said he would study.
As for me and his influence in my life, it is immeasurable! He was my hero, mentor, role model, friend, brother, uncle and father just to sum it up.
I will surely miss my very special Uncle Richard Olayiwola Morakinyo Fagbenle.
May the good Lord grant him eternal rest in Jesus' Name. Amen
Posted by Kasumu Salawu on July 14, 2019
A Tribute to Dr. ‘Layi Fagbenle
In August 1964, our departed brother, Professor Layi “Jigan” Fagbenle, and I were two of the 57 Nigerian students who traveled to the United States on ASPAU: African Scholarship Program of American Universities. ”Jigan” was the nickname he earned in our class at Igbobi College, Yaba, the 1957-61/63 set. Layi and I and another student named Charles were enrolled at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus in September 1964. After we graduated from Igbobi College, we were briefly separated from each other for two years while he completed his higher school at Government College, Ughelli and I completed mine at Government College, Ibadan.
As we tried to settle down as Illini students, we exchanged news daily about new social terms and technical ideas we had learned in the intervening 24 hours. It was then his wry sense of humor, already highlighted by his brother, Tunde, revealed itself to me most clearly. I left Illinois to transfer to Cornell University, Ithaca, NY and I hardly saw Layi again. Even when I was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lagos, from 1975 to 1977, I did not see him. Since then, we spoke by phone and exchanged letters!
Deservedly, Layi garnered academic and social accolades prolifically, as confirmed by these tributes. Already, he is sorely missed! Engineer Ibe Anyanwu informed me that Helen’s children are traveling to Lagos shortly to celebrate their father’s life with his extended family living there. May God forgive Layi his sins and grant him serene repose in His court; may He give his survivors succor till we all meet again, Amen! God's blessings to all!
Posted by Benson Nwajagu on July 11, 2019
The famous song by the late Jim Reeves, says the world is not our home. We are just passing through. And Shakespeare concurs, that the world is a stage, and we are merely actors who play our parts and make our exit for others to also play theirs. Brother Layi, my classmate and compatriot at Townsend House, Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria, you have played your parts so outstandingly well around the world that many, too numerous to count, applaud your exit at the Lord's calling. Although, we would have liked for you to stay much longer, but it's not our call. One thing was certain about you; whatever you embarked on doing, you always did to the best. You were an all rounder at Igbobi: very brilliant in class, played all sports, member of Townsend House 4x110 yards relay team, member of the college choir, a debater, and ofcourse you probably did not escape Baba. You displayed a charming personality that endeared you to all. We all miss you brother, and bid you Adieu, good man. May the Good Lord bless and console those you've left behind.
Benson Oyiboka Nwajagu
Posted by Olabosipo Fagbenle on July 6, 2019
My darling brother! What a terrible blow to the family, the academic and energy world on the passage unto higher glory of our dear brother and father, Layi Fagbenle. Anyway, who are we to query God? He giveth and He taketh.
Brother Layi Fagbenle, an echo of joy and mountain of solution, the greater part of your residency on earth had been largely devoted to destiny moulding/value-adding and the foothprints will remain indelible till eternity. You gave your all for the survival of academic and energy systems in Africa like the biblical widow. You are a perfect listener and a gentle contributor in all areas of discourse.
Your academic acumen and sound fathership style have made me and my wife to go farther in our academic/career pursuits in life. Your reservoir of advice and mentorship to me and my entire household members will greatly be missed. Anyway, we have solace in the Lord that you lived a fullfilled life in all ramifications. Continue to rest in the bossom of our Lord till the resurrection day.
With the demise of Professor Layi Fagbenle, certainly, a world has ended.
Professor & Lady Evangelist Olabosipo Fagbenle (Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria).
Posted by Tunde Fagbenle on July 4, 2019
A Tribute to my “Brother”
By Dr. Ore Soluade
I first met ‘Layi in 1964 when he joined me and other Nigerian students at the University Of Illinois mechanical engineering department. We struck a great friendship from that time on. We had wonderful parties on weekends and at Christmas time. We worked hard and all graduated at various levels of accomplishment. Layi was inducted into the mechanical engineering honor society - Pi Tau Sigma (ptS) for his excellent academic performance. After graduation, we went our separate ways on life’s journey, only to meet again over 10 years later, at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, mechanical engineering department. Our friendship grew stronger, and we collaborated on a few engineering projects. In particular, he and I worked zealously to resuscitate the thermodynamics laboratory. It was an attractive place to display the potential for energy development and generation in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the laboratory is still dormant today, over 30 years later.
I knew there was something special about Layi; because he was so easy-going and was able to tackle seemingly intractable problems with such great ease. Little did we all know at that time, that we were dealing with a greatness. He very modestly steered the mechanical engineering department into a very enviable position of prominence in the Nigerian Technical Educational System. It was this attribute that earned him the position of the founding Director of Ire Satellite campus of The Polytechnic, Ibadan. His work in Ire still stands out today as the solid foundation from which the campus benefits.
Layi’s academic accomplishments were stellar! His research into solar energy, as well as his contributions to Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics as reflected in the array of research publications he had accumulated over the years, are testimony to the greatness of this man. It was in recognition of this talent that he wound up in Botswana as the nation’s Director of energy; a position he so admirably held.
‘Layi was not a one-dimensional person. He was very active in the social life of The Polytechnic, becoming at some point, the Chairman of the Polytechnic Staff Club where we spent a lot of time gulping down beer after hectic sessions of Tennis. Among the people we interacted with were, Dr. Ajayi, the Principal of the institution, Sir Olateru Olagbegi, the Olowo of Owo, Professor Yoloye of University of Ibadan, and many others. Layi’s contributions to the growth of The Polytechnic are also manifested by how he tactfully operated in his interactions with senior administrative and technical staff of the institution. There was almost nothing Layi would request that he would not be attended-to with respect and dignity. He was a jolly good fellow, always smiling. I NEVER saw ‘Layi angry with anyone! That is remarkable. He had such a positive disposition on life, that he would not allow any negativity to get in the way of him enjoying his life.
May his soul rest in peace; and may God grant his family the strength to withstand this irreparable loss.
Oredola (Ore) Soluade
July 1, 2019
Posted by Victor Oladapo on July 2, 2019
I first heard of him in 1975 while I was in Final year at KMC,Igbajo and with His far junior brother, the present Loogun Logunde of Igbajoland, Chief Dotun Fagbenle. We were in a Career building tutorial class with our School Principal, The Late Deacon Olagunju and it came to my turn to answer to the question “ What do you want to become in Life” I told “Baba” (as we used to call him), I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. Then he said “ Awon Omo Layi Fagbenle ni yen “. BrodaLayi was lecturing at The Polytechnic, Ibadan then so Sometimes in 1976, I worked my way thru the likes of Loogun & Late Lere Fagbenle to visit his Staff quarter residence then.
Meeting him that day gave me Joy & push my ambition harder. A tall, handsome man with his pipe & glamorous Looking. I told him of how I heard of his name. He gave me words of encouragement and told me he was expecting me in his class the following year. The next time I saw him was at his “ Orita Bashorun”residence in 1985 after my return to Nigeria. He has been made Patron of my town Club IPABROS & he was hosting members. I was amazed when he referred to me as Engineer Segun & when I now told him I eventually graduated in Computer Sciences from France, he took my hand and later took me to his library to inspect his newly installed personal computer. with great enthusiasm, he welcomed me and encouraged me to keep in touch. And when he later started seeing me following BrodaTundeFagbenle so closely, I became one of his “Aburos” automatically.
BrodaLayi !!,
A Loving Gem and a Gentleman.
A Hero among the World Rockefeller’s.
Humility personified & Champion of Dignity,
We All Love you But God Loves you Best,
Sleep On gently & till we meet again to part no more.
Good Night.
Posted by Covenant University on July 2, 2019
We at Covenant University honor the life and contributions of a dearly beloved father, teacher and mentor - Professor Layi Fagbenle.
Late Professor Layi Fagbenle was one individual whose character showed humility and politeness. He was a determined, visionary, collaborative, goal-oriented, caring person who loved life and all that it offered.
As an institution, we valued his productive service during his professional sojourn. We cannot forget the fatherly and professional roles he played in mentoring some members of our faculty who are now renowned Professors.
Sir, your impact on our platform has transcended individual level to the world in general as we aim to become one of the top 10 universities in the world.
Covenant University will forever continue to cherish your undeniable roles even as you rest in the bosom of the Lord.
Rest in Peace Professor Layi Fagbenle.
Prof. AAA. Atayero
Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University
Posted by Oladotun Fagbenle on July 1, 2019
Bamiji Rufus Adetoye's tribute

Oh death, you snatched this genius of our time in the field of Mechanical Engineering Prof R. O. Fagbenle away when Nigeria needs people like him most. He was one of the few PhD holders in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Polytechnic, Ibadan between 1976 and 1980. He was quite different. His method of teaching those core Engineering courses: Heat Transfer etc was amazing. He was easy going with his likeable smiles as he doled out to us those equations in Heat Transfer and similar principles which form the basics of Heat Engines. Your love for thoroughness in doing things remains ever green in our memory. Our dear late Lecturer, Prof Richard Layi Fagbenle, Adieu! .....Bamiji R. Adetoye.
Posted by Buki Fagbenle on July 1, 2019
Adieu Uncle. You were too good for this world. Rest well in the bosom of your Lord. You were my brother- and father- in -law par excellence. I will miss you dearly. We take solace in all you stood for while amazing human being, a wonderful brother, husband and father. You gave of yourself so unselfishly, at the expense of your most deserved solitude and precious time to reflect upon how much you gave and gave without expecting much back! Ahhh this hurts too much for words. Sunre o, oko mi, omo gbun-gbun-gba, omo agbo meji ko m'omi ninu akoto; mefun ooto, omo a lo'bi lo're oke'sha.. Opo ule rin, opo ude ni lu ijesha. See you on the other side dearest. Thank you for your wise counsel, your constant assurances, your support and your love. O digba for now.
Much love from
Adebukola, Oya Babatunde Adisa, who has lost a big part of himself, without you!
Posted by Tunde Fagbenle on June 27, 2019
By Kayode Ilesanmi
kayode ilesanmi
Posted by BAMIGBOLA TIMILEHIN on June 26, 2019
When the establishment of Igbajo Polytechnic was first muted , Prof. Fagbenle was appointed Chairman , Technical Committee on the establishment of Igbajo Polytechnic which was inaugurated in September , 2003 and laid the golden and solid foundation for Igbajo Polytechnic before the Technical Committee by the first Governing council in December , 2004. He was appointed the first Chairman Governing Council on 30th December , 2004, a position he held till December , 2009.
He was a robust team player , a leader and community developer per excellence . He is a man full of devotion and commitment to service in every difficult circumstances . He is a man of reputable honor .
His effort in the establishment and successful take off of Igbajo Polytechnic will forever linger in our mind; and the continuous existence , growth/development of Igbajo Polytechnic will remain an edifice showing your love for education . We hope to uphold your legacy and see your vision over this dear Polytechnic attained .
May the Almighty God grant him eternal rest!.

Posted by Tunde Fagbenle on June 22, 2019
President Buhari Mourns Energy Expert Prof. Layi Fagbenle
President Muhammadu Buhari commiserates with the family, friends, and loved ones of Professor Richard Olayiwola Fagbenle, who passed on this week, aged 76.
The Professor of Mechanical Engineering was also an energy expert, who made Nigeria proud in many countries of the world, and got hired by the United Nations in the 1990s as Director of Energy for Botswana, as well as serving on the Energy Board for Southern Africa for about four years.
A statement in Abuja on Tuesday by the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, quotes President Buhari as saying that the deceased exemplified some of the very best Nigeria can offer, and wishes his soul eternal rest, noting that his footprints would remain indelible in the sands of time.
The late academic and first class scholar pioneered three higher institutions as Director, Provost, and Governing Council Chairman, respectively.
According to the statement, the President urged academics to strive to approximate Prof Fagbenle’s giant strides, and use their God-given intellect for the benefit of the country, and humanity at large.
He prayed God to comfort all those who mourn the departed, and take solace in the fact that he lived a worthy life, and left enduring legacies behind.
Posted by Tunde Fagbenle on June 22, 2019
Brother Layi, Goes In a Blaze of Glory
By Gori Ogunyemi
Brother Layi, may you Rest in Perfect Peace. Sometimes I wonder if you were ever given a chance to make a difference in your own country as other African Countries gave you. Wouldn’t we all be celebrating you now instead of just the President and a handful? How many of your colleagues are serving other Nations now (as you did) who would prefer to serve their fatherland? Energy Professor? Olorun lo ma da’jo. I’m saddened. He died ‘sung’ alright but what have we to sing about on energy. I’m tempted to congratulate the Fagbenle family, e ku orire. Awa to ku ka mura. Brother wa ti ku’re. Ti Nigeria lo ju.
Posted by Tunde Fagbenle on June 22, 2019
My Teacher, My Brother, My Friend
By Segun Odegbami
My sincere condolences. Prof was my teacher at the dept of Mechanical Engineering, the Polytechnic Ibadan, freshly minted from the laboratories of the best American universities, before he was grabbed by the University of Ibadan to head the same department there. As srudents, we loved, admired and adored the tall, handsome, America-accented, suave gentleman with his unusual lifestyle that became a magnet for attention and talk on campus.
He was the toast of all the girls yet he never dated any, his full attention was on intellectual work for which he was well respected.
His humility, style, dignified ways and class were totally disarming and everyone just loved the distinguished professor with a goatee and his pipe in his mouth. He was  dignity personified.
He become my elder brother too when his younger brother, TF, appeared on campus, looking very much like him too (but a younger and crazier version) and we became friends till this day.
That Prof became a 'bride' of the international intellectual community, courted and sought in aeveral parts of the world, did not come as a surprise to all those that knew him and the depth of his intellect, industry and commitment to innovation in engineering.
He was a dependable source of wise counsel, reserved and a family man to the core.
The world of science and engineering would surely miss a Titan, just as the Fagbenle family and the rest of us associated with the family, would miss him dearly too.
I pray, even though I believe, that broda Layi, has gone home to rest and would be doing so peacefully already under the bosom of our Creator having come, served humanity and played his part here on earth with distinction.
(Copied from Facebook post)
Posted by Folake Osuolale-Ariike on June 21, 2019
Rest in peace daddy. We love you but God loves u more.
Posted by B Fa on June 21, 2019
baba orukomi, it is well.
my uncle was my father's twin of over 4 years.
i remember the 2000naira you gave me just outside your house.
i was about 10
it was the most amount of money i had ever received - a whole 2000!
it was a magnificent gesture.
i visited you, him, with my mother a few years ago - and he said, "maybe we ARE alike!" after i told him not to bother with taking a shower before going to where he needed to go - he didn't want to fuss and it wasn't necessary at the time, he just needed some comfort in doing what he was probably going to do anyway.
stern, strong spirit.
my name is Bolatito Olayiwola (Fagbenle)
it was and is an honour to be named after any member of God's very own Fagbenle family.
Uncle mi - you are a part of us and we are forever linked to your memory and heart - ase o.
so much love to my father, uncle's wife and all his children, my uncles and aunties and to all his/our relatives, and definitely all of those he shared his love with.
ase, ire o, amin
Posted by Grace Oladipo on June 20, 2019
Uncle Layi, us a brother to my big Mummy Tayo Oladipo. The moment myself, and my Late husband Sunday Oladipo, were introduced to him, he took us like his own blood brother and sister. He facilitated admission of my junior brother, Segun Fajoyegbe to Iree Polytechnic. He treated Segun, like his first child when he was in Iree. He loves my daughter, Tinuola Oladipo - Adejumo, so much. He carries Tinuola on his shoulder anytime we visit him at Iree. Uncle Layi, is wonderfully, and specially created to do good. I cried the day I saw his obituary on Facebook. I remain forever grateful to him. I saw him last during Papa's burial at Igbajo. God will grant him eternal rest. Uncle Layi, you know myself, and my entire family are grateful to you, and LOVE YOU. YOUR LOVE REMAINS IN OUR HEARTS. REST IN PERFECT PEACE WITH THE LORD YOUR GOD.
Posted by Engy Toun on June 19, 2019
Uncle Layi was a good and truthful person. I will forever remember his gentle and way of sorting out difficult issues. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Kasumu Salawu on June 19, 2020
Layi baba, in-between these anniversaries, your name comes up between me and our former classmates mostly, one-on-one. We remember you fondly and approve of the tenor of the tributes family and friends leave every year. I trust you found serene repose in the abode of our Lord, Jesus Christ. At our age, Gigan, any one of us may soon see you on the other side. Rest well!
Posted by Aji Ariori on June 19, 2020
Uncle Layi, continue to rest on with the Lord.
Posted by Aji Ariori on June 19, 2020
Uncle Layi, continue to rest on with the Lord.
his Life

The Life and Times of Broda Layi

The Life and Times of Broda Layi

by Tunde Fagbenle

Early years

My brother and I were born in Zaria, he on 17th January 1943 and I on 4th October 1947 to Mr. Samuel Osho Fagbenle and Mrs. Elizabeth Adeoti Fagbenle, both of blessed memory. If I'm not mistaken, Broda Layi, as I and all younger siblings call him, was born on a Sunday and I on a Saturday. However, within a year or two of my own birth our father, a Railway worker, was transferred to Minna, another important railway station in the then Northern Nigeria. For some reason Minna was our father's last post where he spent some further 17 years of service before retiring - as Locomotive Inspector (LI) of Nigeria Railway Corporation - to ourhometown, Igbajo, in 1964. 

And so, Minna, in today's Niger State, became more or less our town, the place where those of us older children of the over twenty of my father had our formative years, and grew to love.

As to be expected of siblings, as a child I grew up being very close to Broda Layi, adoring him, and worshipping him. For real. I remember, for instance, failing my baptismal test at age 8 for answering, to the bemusement of the church wardens, the simple question, "Why do you want to be baptised", thus: "Because of Broda Layi."! Though we had been taught during weeks of Bible classes what answers to give to what questions, when that question came I answered as truthfully as my Christian soul could: I wanted to get baptized not to be like any Jesus but because I wanted to be like my big brother whom I had seen a few years back being immersed and raised in a river!

The first thing I noticed as a toddler looking into my brother's face was that he had one or two thin marks on either side of his cheeks. It was a curious thing for me. I checked my face in the mirror several times and found it sadly as smooth as a mirror. At age 6 I couldn't live with such glaring disparity between my hero and myself any longer and went ahead to contrive similar marks on my face. That I didn't succeed closely enough was not for want of trying, the pain of the razor blade was unbearable for me, even now in my old age!

Alas, Broda Layi was an "Abiku"! 

What an "abiku " is was incomprehensible to my child mind. Our mother, Maami, noticing the slight bruise on one side of my face had asked me for an explanation. I lied that I got the scratch climbing the mango tree in our yard. She wasn't convinced. I gave myself out when I asked her why Broda Layi had 'nice' marks on his face and I had none. My question must have brought agonizing memories to her mind as she sharply remonstrated me for being too 'nosey'. "Why must you want to know everything," Maami snapped. That was a giveaway that there was something needing to be 'known'!

Child mortality rate was pretty high in our time. Most families suffered death of a child or more in their lives. In Yoruba mythology, frequent and recurring death of the child by a mother indicates that the child is a 'spirit' child, an "Abiku" whose sole aim is to come to the world to torment the mother by giving her ephemeral joy of having a baby only to suffer the anguish of watching the baby die well before teens. "Don't you know Layi is an abiku," an aunt (my mother's cousin) living with us explained to me. And then she went on to explain that the marks on Broda Layi's face were meant to keep him in the human world and ward off his mates in the spirit world that kept coming for him.

Maami, after the birth of her second child, 'Jibike, a daughter again! (the first was 'Bisi) began to suffer recurring death of the third child before attaining age one. And the newborn each time was a boy, looking each time like a reincarnation of the same dead child. It took Maami about 8 years of trying repeatedly before, with the help of a "native doctor" and the brutal marking of the newborn's face, the third child, 'the' boy, came to stay! He was named Olayiwola Morakinyo Akanbi. Akanbi being his oriki.

One day, so told my aunt to me, when Layi was about 4 years old, my aunt took him on the train together with sister Jibike who was to go resume at her boarding school in Idi-Aba, faraway in Western Region. Maami couldn't go because she was pregnant with me. It was a long train ride. When they got to their disembarking point and they came out of the station, all of a sudden the 4-year old Layi had disappeared. Disappeared into thin air, so said my aunt, her face still carrying the unpleasantness of the experience. Alarm was raised and there began a wide search for a missing 4-year old boy! It was a search that went on for hours, taking the search party through the nooks and crannies of the little town. "That abiku boy showed me pepper," recalled my aunt. "There was no way I could have gone back to Minna without him. I would have died," she added. But miraculously Layi sauntered into the midst of the search party before dusk when hope was lost, looking all unconcerned as if his disappearance was nothing! The story made me want to be an abiku too like Broda Layi but I couldn't tell Maami seeing how she had reacted to my simply wanting to know why Broda Layi had nice facial marks and I had none.

Naughty naughty!

Growing up in Minna of our time was fun. I was Broda Layi's mascot wherever he went. And all his friends knew and liked me. I was more known by the name Adisa, my oriki, then. Everyone called me Adisa be it at home, at school, or amongst my mates. I was smallish, bright, and rascally. My rascality bordered on the impish sometimes. I knew how to get Broda Layi angry with me, and I occasionally took impish delight in doing so. I very early realised, to my curiosity, that my brother had problem with the letter R. His tongue could not get round it and so words like 'rice' would come out as 'wyice' in his mouth. I found it strange and amusing and, for once, didn't try to talk like that, especially as I had noticed that his mates teased him with it. If Broda Layi did something I didn't like, like refusing to let me go out with him, I would from a safe distance call out: 'wyice', owhi (for 'ori' - head in Yoruba). Whereupon he would chase me all over until he caught me for the beating of my life! And nothing would stop him then, not even the pleading of my mum for mercy.

Masquerade unmasked!

We had fun. Minna of our time was peaceful and cosmopolitan. We lived in Keterengwari (which probably translates to Gwari quarters). Minna more rightly belonged to the Gwari and Nupe than to the ruling Hausa/Fulani. But Minna was home to all ethnicity, Ibo and Yoruba alike. And in those pre-civil war years, the Ibos were probably the most populous non-indigenous ethnic group in Minna if not in the whole north. In Minna the Ogbomosho were next. The potpourri of ethnicities provided diversities of cultures and religions that made Minna an interesting and welcoming place to live. Christian festivals and festivities were as riotously lively as the Muslim ones were colorful and warm. Broda Layi and I partook of it all; I was his mascot. The Ibos made the Christian festivals of Christmas and New Year fun-filled and thrilling especially with various masquerades coming out to parade their characteristics, from the grotesque to the bizarre and the outlandish. All masquerades big and small have their minders, followers and fans. Children called the masquerade 'Ojuju' or 'Ojudu-Calabar (in full). I do not know the origin of that name. Some big ones are truly frightening, wielding horsewhips and even dangerous weapons. A clash of rival ojuju on the streets often got nasty and bloody with the vanquished one and his entourage scampering in different directions to safety. The Muslims didn't engage in this masquerade thing, they left the Christians to it whilst watching and sharing of the spectacle from the safety of their homes. Also some Christian denominations frowned at it too saying it is "devilish". But Broda Layi and I always joined in the fun - our parents let us - with him donning his own gareta (that's what the small ojuju head gear was called) whilst I and a few friends followed him around town beating drums and bottles and urging him on with popular festivity songs, mostly in pidgin English or Igbo. We went from door to door, our ojuju dancing to the beat and songs, as we entertained households and spectators. One such song that I remember was: "Make we go o, jenje-asawarije; make we go o, jenje -asawarije; make we go o!" This is usually sung to urge the ojuju forward. Kindhearted adults rewarded us with money or gifts which we shared at the close of day, the masquerade of course taking the lion share.

The rule is that the identity of the ojuju must be top secret, known only to his innermost handlers. And when two masquerades clash, victory is claimed when one is able to pull down the masque or gareta of the other who then takes to his heel in shame. No one must know who is behind the masque.

On one Christmas or New Year occasion, Broda Layi, as usual the ojuju, whip in hand and dressed in odd clothing or rags with assortment of feathers, sufficiently mean to scare little children, we stopped by the house of a family relation of our parents, the Latilos. The usual drumming and singing went on heartedly, and our ojuju was in his element dancing. Then the mother of the house came out and, happy to see me wondered where my brother was for me to be out alone with a group of strange boys. "Adisa, egbon e Layi da?" She asked. (Adisa, where's your elder brother Layi?). Not realizing the import of my action, I went pointing at the ojuju to the embarrassment of everyone. "Awon niyen", I replied. (That's him). Immediately, the ojuju ran off with all of us in tow, not waiting for whatever gifts the generous family relation would've given us. It was not funny!

Big Brother, Big Deal

Being an older sibling, at least in (many)Yoruba families of that time, was a big deal, even if by no more than a year, and in some (polygamous) cases, even by mere months. It's a big deal! Broda Layi and I were at one point attending the same primary school together - Baptist Day School, Minna - at least for my first two years which would have been Broda Layi's last two years of the 7-year system. There was also Broda Jide who though much closer in age to Broda Layi was a couple of years below him in class. I had great pleasure running up to Broda Layi's class at the sound of school's closing bell to go collect his own school box (school bags had not arrived then, our books and stuff were carried in a squarish metal box) and take it home together with mine. It was a thing of honour (and pride) that I was relieving my brother of his load and doubling mine! That was the case until Broda Jide got the idea of not leaving me to it; that he had as much right to carrying big brother's box as I had, and my monopoly must stop! And so the daily tussle began between two brothers, one much older and stronger than the other, of who gets to carry Broda Layi's school box at the close of school day. And, boy, what a tussle that was, one for which I regularly got the beating of my life by Broda Jide. It was a daily spectacle Broda Layi's classmates enjoyed, and probably envied. It spoke loudly of the affection and values the Fagbenle family pride themselves in. The way it was resolved was for the box to go to whoever got to it first, a decision that then resulted in bolting out of my class as quickly as the class closing prayer was said and honing my sprinting skill.

Going To Igbobi College

Broda Layi was very brilliant, even precocious, as a child. Not unlike Sister Bisi, the first child of our parents who though a girl had blazed the academic trail and broken most of the hitherto barriers most families of the time had placed on girl-child, Broda Layi almost always came first in class at Baptist Day School, Minna. That position was always a tussle between him and another brilliant mate of his, Bayo Ogunshola, an Ogbomosho boy. It was a rivalry that lasted all seven years of Primary School that was the education structure in the north then, whilst the south ran  a 6-year primary school system.

It, therefore, came as no surprise that Broda Layi passed the entrance examination to the two schools he chose for secondary school: King's College, Lagos and Igbobi College, Lagos. In our time there was nothing like Common Entrance Examination, each school (also known as college) conducted its own examination. The choice of what schools to sit for was not Broda Layi's who, in far north Minna may not be much aware of what obtained in the south (Christian mission schools were the creme de la creme of colleges then, and one or two in Kaduna, capital of the Northern Region, were obvious choices of the brightest pupils). Sister Bisi who by then, in 1956, was an undergraduate in the University College, Ibadan, advised him on which were the two most coveted secondary schools in Lagos, nay Nigeria, of the time.

But as fate struck! The letter of invitation for interview into King's College did not arrive Minna until a week past the interview date when the school had finalized its admission process which included a week-long stay in the school boarding house for the rigor of physical exercises, sporting activities, and so on, that was characteristic of good schools in those days. On learning of this 'misfortune' Sister Bisi left Ibadan immediately for Lagos to confront the King's College authorities and make a plea for special consideration for her baby brother. Sister Bisi had herself attended Queen's College, and King's College (the 'brother school') was her first choice for Layi. As I learnt years later when I was old enough to understand, Sister Bisi pulled all strings and threw all weights to no avail: the total number of students admissible had been reached and, unless there was one who turned down his offer, there was no way to make room for exceeding the number in a class! Goodbye to King's College, Lagos.

But then, King's College's loss was Igbobi College's gain. Broda Layi got admitted into Igbobi College, Lagos for 5 years starting January 1957 (January was the beginning of school Year in those days) and ending in 1961.

Best Boy In Town

Back in Minna of those days the long holidays was at the end of year, not summer as it is now. But the long holidays was time of great fun for us secondary school students coming home on holidays from our various colleges (high schools). And time of great showing off and rivalry for who could win the love of the most beautiful or desired girl, or, amongst girls as I can imagine, the best boy.

Broda Layi was lanky, tall and handsome. On top of that, he was brilliant, very brilliant. But he had rivals in one or two other boys, one of the Odu brothers who lived a stone's throw from our house in Keterengwari, and, in particular, a boy called George Nwabuku who lived farther away towards Kongila. To be honest, George was everything Broda Layi was but was also brash and arrogantly showy. George's ace was that he was a Kings College boy, the numero uno secondary school of the time, and perhaps the only boy in Minna attending Kings College then. And George would let you know it! That pissed off Brother Layi no end, especially as he also could have been a KC boy after all had the misfortune of the interview letter not intervened. Nevertheless, we all were friends and mixed freely in the neighborhood and at social functions. George had a younger sister, Rose and a younger brother, Anthony who was my own mate and friend.

The rivalry between Broda Layi and George got to a head when both of them were 'chasing' the same girl, Patricia Okapu, who was without doubt the most desired girl in town. Patricia had a lovely ebony skin, and was tall, slim, and beautiful. In those days the fun of holiday time climaxed in the grand social night that the students organized. Everyone looked forward to it. Looking back, it is amazing how we young boys and girls from different backgrounds and schools united to form a student body during the holidays and organized great activities and social events that would be the envy of university students unions of today.

That grand social night was when the 'big boys' were separated from us little ones who looked at them in awe and aspiration. It was the time, importantly, of revelations; of who wins over who. And the way it happens is most simple and funny. As we all mill around in the large hall (ours then was UAC Hall) music blaring invitingly to the dancing floor, lover-boy makes a move for the girl of his heart, to ask for a dance - "excuse me dance" was the code line. The girl then accepts the overture or rejects with some excuse. What is happening is being observed by those with interest. 'Publicly' going on the dancing floor says the girl is open to being wooed by the boy who then, if truly interested, pushes ahead with his line(s) of advances! On this particular social night, all eyes were on Patricia, who would Patricia choose to dance with; who will win her hand between the KC boy, who also thought he had the ethnic advantage of being Igbo like her, and the lovable and more reserved IC boy! George, being George, was the first to make a move cocksure no girl could resist him. Patricia looked away as George approached, and as George said his opening line of "excuse me dance" he was stunned by Patricia's rebuff of "not ready". It was a moment Broda Layi was waiting for, obviously watching from the corner of his eyes. Without hesitation he made his move and asked Patricia for a dance. Patricia accepted and, not caring what George or anyone else for that matter thought, went on to the dancing floor with Broda Layi to dance all night long! It was a night to remember, and one Broda Layi and I recounted with glee whenever we looked back upon those years. He and Patricia became boyfriend-girlfriend passionately  and for the few years until Minna days were over. Patricia's younger brother of my age, Afam, also became my closest buddy in those years until the Civil War sadly split us forever.

Broda Layi the Footballer

Our family was not new to sports in those days. I grew up in the early 1950s seeing Sister Bisi all attired in white trousers and top going off to play tennis at UAC Sports Club at Canteen area of Minna whenever she was home on holidays from the University College Ibadan (UCI). Our father, Pa Samuel Osho Fagbenle had had the then uncommon wisdom and courage to ensure his daughters were as educated as their brilliance would take them. His contemporaries frowned at sending daughters to school, it was considered a foolish idea to spend scarce resources on female children who would be married off and would not carry the family name farther. Sister Bisi was the cynosure of all eyes, tall, beautiful, educated, and then rubbing shoulders with white colonial masters on the tennis court. An uncommon sight, not only in Minna but anywhere in Nigeria, I daresay.

Education and sports thus became a necessary part of our lives as Fagbenles in Minna. Broda Layi was good at football right from primary school days when we would be playing 'toronto' - the fist-size rubber ball often a contraption - at school and especially after school, barefooted on dusty open grounds and untarred neighbourhood  roads in Keterengwari with our friends, almost all Ibos: the Odus, Nwabukus, Anyawuns, Okoros, etc. We played for interminable hours especially on weekends, and would leave for home only when Maami came for us as dusk approached with the threat of dad's cane that awaited us at home. But Broda Layi honed his football skills in secondary school, Igbobi College, where, I'm told, he was in the school's junior team in his early years.

Football became Broda Layi's first sport, even before tennis which had become a family interest of some sort. When he came home on holidays Broda Layi took pleasure in going to the Minna township stadium to practise football together with the big boys of the town's team. As a forward he was introduced to this higher level of playing by an older cousin of ours, Ojo Latilo, whose soccer skills were so outstanding he was selected as a member of the first National Academicals in the early 1960s. Broda Ojo was also then in secondary school, I think Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, but when on holidays in Minna he played in the Minna Township Team. Together they would go off to practise with the team whilst all small me could do was tag along to cheer them or go find my own level. Before long, Broda Layi too started featuring in the Minna Township Team together with Broda Ojo during school holidays. Broda Layi's passion for football went well beyond those adolescent years as he continued playing soccer in his later years as an adult, teacher and father.

(To be continued

Recent stories

Tribute by Wale Adereti - No one is out here by chance

Shared by Wale Adereti on January 22, 2020
May his soul rest in perfect peace.
I remember my first meeting with Prof Layi Fagbenle in Ibogun, being one of the pioneer students to be addressed by Provost and principal staff from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye. He said among many things "nobody is out here by chance ", and that we have been predestined to pass through this college. He encouraged us to make the most of our stay and work hard to be someone worthwhile in life. He must have noticed the disappointment in our faces about the environment and the scantiness of the College of Engineering campus, He cited how they were in a remote campus too in his days in Illinois and how a lot of his mates from there were already making impacts around the world, from that jungle. Looking at where we are today truly, the colleagues and friends we made in school, relationships with alumni from different graduate sets, including some of us who found their spouses from the College, you would agree that we were never in OOU Ibogun by chance. 
We soon realized we were more than lucky to have had him as our Pioneer provost  as some of us later found out about him, his profile and glabal impact and we were left wondering how he could accept to come to a place like our college. His impact and the foundation he gave the college remain solid till date. He was my distant role model and even in death, I regard him still, just as many graduates from the college.
He gave a lot of us hope even when the Engineering faculty was being kicked off from scratch that remote Ibogun village and we cannot but see ourselves as only control pot experiment but in the hand of a great potter. He showed us truly that places don't make people but it is people who make places. As he said, we would be the one to write our own story. Today, it is exactly so. Stories have been /are being written, awards received, competitions have been won, entrepreneurs have risen, impact is being made in tech world by graduates from that experiment. 
The only song left right now is Good Night, as we have no other way to thank him for his role as first Provost. I know he would be happier if we all think about impacting and giving back to our society and this is one of what we should take home from this great scholar and father. 
Sleep on Prof. Layi Fagbenle. 
O tun di gba o se.
Tribute on behalf of the first set of Engineering graduates from Olabisi Onabanjo College of Engineering and Technology, Ago Iwoye, Ibogun Campus. 

Tribute By Gbolahan Fagbenle

Shared by Dotun Fagbenle on July 16, 2019

He was a great man.
Brother Layi  had this  lifelong inability to say no when some favor is requested from him. He had said if he did, he felt guilty,  because saying yes to everything to him was self-sacrificial. He never did anything by halves. He meant well and was always trying to be helpful. People liked him more and more as a pure, unadulterated man of essence.
He had his own scale of priorities, I don't quite know what they were, but I think the family came fairly high on the list. He loved his family, nuclear and extended. And he loved his friends too, young and old. Despite his tight schedule of work he would take my children in his car to visit his old school teacher in Oyo, as well as family members in Ibadan. He believed that families of friends could be as real as families of flesh and blood.
Brother Layi warned me 'Never let down your guard.' 'The world isn't perfect, nor me, nor you. Just do the best you can. Do your best and leave the rest for God. That's what He's there for '
Towards the end he was working double time instead of had time. He'll say there weren't enough hours in the day to do everything that needed doing and have the time for bickering or any silly stuffs. He was very dedicated to any task he had at hand.
I did learn a lot about myself from him but his greatest lessons to me were integrity, honesty and courage to face the truth.
Practically unassuming, he will look at you and say you did just as he expected - no better, no worse
Death is going home! Flowers fade and die but something grows out of them
As Brother Layi  dies, the best we can do is honor his spirit I am going to take whatever lessons he was trying to teach me and make it true in my own life. His having being a loving brother changed me in some beneficial and I believe that commitment is the only way one can ease the pain of his absence.
Brother Layi had an obsession for books. If they read books in heaven, I'll pray God to establish a library for him!
A Professor Richard Layi Fagbenle Library in the Osun State University could be established in his honor to immortalize this great academic and administrative icon
Good night Brother Layi.


Shared by Dotun Fagbenle on July 15, 2019

Oriki Idile (family panegyric)

Olayiwola Morakinyo, Akanbi Edu, Omo gbúñgbúñ gbà, omo àgbò meéjì ò mumi lákoto, omo afó bí àgbá wò'lú, omo alèmu-lèrá, omo igbó wó tuuru-tuuru, bí e rí'gbá funfun lóõrà, è mò'pé'lé tù wá, abi omo okùnrin sòõrò sòõrò. Mèfún òôtó, omo alobi lore Òkèsà. Omo arí'gbá ide k'édò màâlù sí, òpó ilé rîn, òpó ide ni nii'Jèsà
Omo af'òru là kójú tó mó ní ibi tó n ti gba omo olómo là. Omo Samuel Osho Fagbenle, máj'òkùn má je'kòló, ohun tí won n je lórun ni o maa ba won je, sunre láyà Olugbala re, Akanbi edu omo Elizabeth Adeoti Ogunsola (ni ile Ese, Isao) aya Osho Fagbenle, o dìgbà, o d'àrìnnàkò, ótún d'ojú ala....

Logunde Igbajo of Igbajoland for all descendants of Ogudu who migrated from Ile Odole in Ilesa, circa, 18th century.