Her Life

Sacrificial mother... Doting grandma (Life in the UK)

Tokunbo Ekukinam was not only a lawyer, political commentator and an advocate for Nigeria’s future, she was a mother and grandmother, two roles which she treasured above all others.
After the loss of her husband in 1995, Tokunbo moved to the UK with her two young daughters, aged 12 and 9, laying aside her career and ambitions to embark on the life of a struggling single mother in order to give her girls opportunities they might not have had otherwise. After arriving in the UK in the winter of 1995, Toks and girls settled in Burnt Oak, northwest London, not far from her youngest sister, Femi (Nike), her husband and her family. The two sisters and their families enjoyed the benefits of living in close proximity, spending lots of time together.
During those years, Toks mostly worked two jobs – at Sears (later Arcadia Group) by day and at Valley Way Residential Care Home by night. Tokie, as she became known, was known for her strong work ethic and her heartfelt care was not lost on those that knew her and worked with her.
After having outgrown their flat in Burnt Oak, Toks and her now older teenage girls moved out of London, to Luton, Bedfordshire. She and her daughters by now referred to themselves as The Three Musketeers, having enjoyed the pleasure of many new experiences together, from 5* hotel rooms shared and overseas holidays to theatre nights, caravan breaks and tea parties.
In 2004, following Bim’s graduation from university, tragedy struck when Toks’ younger daughter, Lu passed away very suddenly just a month before starting university. Toks and Bim supported each other during this extremely difficult time and grew ever closer. 
Shaken but not stirred, Toks bounced back and celebrated Bim’s wedding to American, Billy Hill, the following year. She took Billy into the family, giving him the Yoruba name, ‘Olaoluwa’.
In 2007, Toks “transcended motherhood” (her words) when she became a grandmother for the first time to Jasmine Folasade and then again in 2013, when her grandson, Aaron Babatunde was born. The children referred to their grandmother as ‘Mamum’ in response to Bim telling them that this was “my mum”.
Also in 2007, Toks changed jobs and channeled her passion for improving the lives of children when she went to work for The Coram Foundation, a charitable organisation for children and young people. Her passion was clearly evident and in 2014, she was nominated for a MBE, Member of the British Empire, honour for services to young people. Though her nomination was unsuccessful, she was invited to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s Garden Party in recognition of her work. In her own true style, she represented Nigeria being the only African to wear their native dress, complete with Gele! A fact which was not lost on her Majesty, who commented on Toks’ elegant ensemble.
With the blessing and support of her family, she returned to Nigeria in 2014 after almost 20 years, to once again follow her passions and ambitions, to advocate for rights of women and to encourage youth involvement in politics.
She taught her daughters and her grandchildren to believe in themselves, to find and follow their own stars and never to let circumstances plan their path. Her legacy is one of love, sacrifice and resilience. 

Olatokunbo Omotunde Ekukinam.
Daughter of Late Chief Magistrate and Chief Mrs G M Sholu.
Born in Birmingham in July 1950, Tokunbo attended Adamsrilll Primary School, London, and Sydenham Girls High School, London before returning with her parents and younger sisters to Nigeria in May 1962. In Nigeria, Yoruba culture dictated that seniority should be respected, and her sisters were directed to stop calling her by her name - Tokunbo became Sister ‘T’, corrupted to ‘Tantee’ by Femi, the youngest in the family.
Between 1962 and 1966 Tokunbo attended Our Lady of Apostles Secondary Yaba Lagos for her secondary school education and Queens College Yaba for her ‘A’ levels and then University of Ife where she studied Law,graduating in 1974.
She met Ntie Ekukinam while in Ife and they got married in 1977. They had two wonderful and beautiful daughters before she lost him to death in June 1995. 
Tantee then relocated to England in October 1995 with her daughters and single headedly raised them. Again she was struck by tragedy, as in August 2004 her younger daughter Damilola [Lu] passed on just as she was about to enter university. Toks and her elder daughter Bimbola [Bim] supported each other through this crisis and the mother/daughter relationship became even closer. 
Considering her obligation to raise her child fulfilled after Bim got married and started her own family, she returned to Nigeria in 2014 where she pursued her two passions: promoting a new political landscape in Nigeria and promoting the role of women in politics.
She lived her life on her own terms, not caring about the opinion of others.