Story and photos by Florence Darby
On March 28, hundreds of friends, family, and other well-wishers gathered to celebrate an 80th birthday party in honor of Nigerian Chief Mrs. Ruth Olabisi Ajayi. This birthday and thanksgiving was a beautiful occasion featuring an auditorium tastefully decorated featuring green and white flowers, and white table clothes. The hall was resplendent with many of guests wearing formal traditional African Garb in many beautiful colors.
The service began with the entrance of the Chief Mrs. Ruth Ajayi and her many family members, then a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving offered by Pastor Moseley Ogbanga. The program continued with music, as Precious, the mistress of ceremonies, led congregational hymns. The Wesley Ensemble and Minister Stephen James offered several special renditions. After blessing the food, guests dined at a dinner buffet featuring numerous sumptuous African entrees.
The program continued with special recognition offered to Chief Mrs. Ajayi by her children and grandchildren. “Mummy” as she affectionately known by her family, was lovingly recognized by her many relatives some traveling from even the U.K. and Nigeria to celebrate the honoree.
Olola Ayo Ajayi, the son of Chief Mrs. Ajayi profiled his mother’s life and her extensive accomplishments. Mrs. Ajayi was born on March 4, 1935, in Alagbaa, Olokemeji Village, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria to Pa Solomon Shokunle Amosu and Princess Victoria Mopelola of Asalu Ruling Family, Iseyin, Oyo State, Nigeria. After completing her Standard School Education at the Methodist Girls School in Nigeria, Mrs. Ajayi trained as a sewing mistress at Okukenu Sewing Institute. She began a formal career as a sewing mistress and trained many apprentices as well. She later diversified into trading in textile materials by establishing her own international trading company and traveling extensively to markets in Switzerland, Austria, London, and other parts of Europe.
Mrs. Ajayi, widowed in 1978 after the death of her second husband James Akinbobola Ajayi, is the mother of sons Oluremi Adeniji Craig, Olola Ayorinde Oluseyi Ajayi, and daughters, Mariam, Deyanira, Michelle, Florence and Olubunmi and eight grandchildren, Alexandra, Daniela, Michaela, Obafemi, Pearl, Precious, Damilare and Omobonike.
Mrs. Ajayi was baptized at Methodist Church in Ogun State, Nigeria. She is a founding member of the YMCA at the church. She is also a long-standing matron of many church societies. Her other numerous accomplishments include building her own home, and starting a House Fellowship for Bible study, which is now a full-fledged church known as Methodist Church, Olugbode of the Ibadan Diocese.
After moving to America in 1999 she joined Wesley United Methodist Church. She is active in the women’s group, church choir and sewing circle. She also volunteers as a foster grandparent with Discovery Elementary and Landmark Elementary Schools.
According to son Olola Ayo Ajayi, “She has led a much fulfilled life and she is grateful to the Lord for the journey thus far, we pray for many more blissful years in good health and comfort for her in the mighty name of Jesus.”