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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRO-NIGERIAN " CHIEF BODE THOMAS " WAS A NIGERIAN POLITICIAN, STATESMAN AND TRADITIONAL ARISTOCRAT AND A YORUBA TRIBESMAN : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "
Bode Thomas (1918–1953) was a Nigerian politician, statesman and traditional aristocrat. A Yoruba tribesman, Thomas served with distinction as both a colonial minister of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria and a nobleman and privy counsellor of the historic Oyo clan of Yorubaland at a time when his native country was just beginning the journey to its independence in the 1960s.
Bode Thomas was born to a wealthy trader in Lagos and attended C.M.S. Grammar School, a missionary school founded by Samuel Ajayi Crowther. After completing his studies, Thomas started work at the Nigerian Railway Corporation. In 1939, he went to London to study law and returned later to establish what became a successful practice in Lagos.In 1948, together with Chief Frederick Rotimi Williams and Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode he set up the first indigenous Nigerian law firm, called "Thomas, Williams and Kayode".
Thomas was one of the founding members of the Action Group and before his death, was the deputy leader of the political organization. Prior to his membership of the Action Group, he was a successful Lagos lawyer and was a member of the Nigerian Youth Movement. He is credited as the first prominent Nigerian political elite during the colonial era to make strong expositions for regional-based political parties, which, he believed would be equipped with the necessary knowledge to develop their regions while forming a coalition at the center. He was also a leading advocate for the bringing of tribal chiefs and kings into the expanding fold of the Action Group. To this policy, he undoubtedly gave much of his own experience as the Balogun of Oyo—a title he received in 1949. The strategy later proved to be a potent framework for mass mobilization in some towns. Interestingly, the Oloyes Thomas and Awolowo sometimes had rival political thoughts, many of which were never settled before his death. Most of his ideas on regional parties which ended up becoming approximated with the early self-government political structure were never fully reconciled with Awolowo's ideas, which were based on federalism.
Thomas was regarded as a brilliant but very arrogant man who had strained relationships with some of the local leaders like Ahmadu Bello and Alaafin Aderemi II. He was said to have been rude to the Alaafin at an Oyo Divisional Council meeting because the Alaafin did not stand up in reverence to him (he was the chairman of the council while the Alaafin was a member). Thomas died after an illness the next day at the age of 34. Uncorroborated myths stated he barked to death as a result of the Alaafin telling him to continue his [Thomas'] barking at him [Alaafin] when he was being rude at the Council meeting.