SWITZERLAND, JUNE 28 – On June 24, 2020, renowned social worker and anti-racism advocate, Ebunoluwa Balogun, passed away in the United States, at the age of 81. Today’s Echo gathers that the matriarch of the Balogun family, and wife of Professor Ekundayo E. Balogun, former Director of the African Space Science Centre, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, died in Houston, Texas.
In death, Mrs Balogun is remembered as a compassionate, selfless, and brave woman, who devoted her life to helping people and defending the marginalized.
Although, her family originated from Mopa, Kogi State, Ebunoluwa Balogun (Nee Daramola) was born in Osun State on December 30, 1938. She completed her formative education in Nigeria before progressing to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, USA to obtain her undergraduate degree. Her passion for social justice occasioned her enrolment at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin State, to earn her post-graduate degree in Social Work.
A Life of Impact
During her lifetime, Mrs. Balogun was as committed to humanity as she was to her religious beliefs. A devout member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Ile-Ife, Mrs. Balogun was an active member of the church for over 45 years and was involved in a plethora of altruistic acts including active support for missionaries while being exemplary in radiating hospitality.
The depth of the late Mrs Balogun’s dedication to humanity is keenly felt in the prestigious OAU and other schools across Nigeria where she impacted lives through her incredible mentorship, advocacy, and social investments. As the administrator of Women’s Group day care in OAU, Ile-Ife, she raised several children, leaving indelible prints of virtue in them. Many of the children she helped raise, now adults, have testified to the depth of her love for humanity.
Mrs Balogun also dedicated her life to defending the marginalised and supporting anti-racism causes. In the United States, where she lived the latter part of her life, she was known by family and friends as a resolute campaigner for fairness and equality. Her good works will be remembered by the children, in-laws, siblings, and grandchildren she has left behind.
Excellence Runs in the Family
Mrs Balogun’s firm belief in the power of education, and her intellectual approach to life are manifested in the intellectual and creative excellence that runs in her family. Mama is the mother of two female medicine professors: Dr Ebun Bamgboye, Consultant Nephrologist at St. Nicholas Hospital, and Dr Toyin Olutoye, renowned Anesthesiologist at the Texas Children’s Hospital.
Her husband, Professor Ekundayo Balogun, a renowned atmospheric researcher, and erudite scholar at the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, Obafemi Awolowo, University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, was the pioneer Executive Director of the United Nations Affiliated African Regional Centre for Space Science Technology Education for English Speaking countries UN-ARCSSTE-E, located within the Campus of OAU, and chairman of the national committee of top space scientists that drafted the first-ever Nigerian space policy during the military era in 1993.
Her son-in-law, renowned surgeon, Oluyinka Olutoye, is the E. Thomas Boles chair of Paediatric Surgery at The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine. He was widely celebrated in 2016 for successfully leading a team of 21 doctors to conduct a surgery on a 23-week-old foetus and returning it to its mother’s womb.
As a testament to the indelible marks she has left on humanity, which have endeared her to many, friends, family members, and those that have been in contact with Mama’s passionate humanity have paid glowing tribute to this gem of kindness.
A nephew of the deceased, John Obaro, who is the CEO of Nigerian tech company, SystemSpecs, describes Mrs Balogun as elegant, bouncy, unstoppable, and noble.
“How else can I describe you? Never sure to call you aunty or mummy as you were all rolled into one. You were always there for me. Ironic that this time last year after my mum’s burial you were with us in the house for another week. It’s hard to imagine this house without your boisterous presence, your sense of humour, your firmness, your candour and your counsel,” Obaro wrote.
According to Rev’d. Joseph O. Olabiyi of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Ile-Ife, Mrs Balogun was an active member of the Church, a one time very strong member of Church Council and past Chairperson of School Management of Ebenezer Baptist Group of Schools.
“When was the chairperson of School Management, she used her resources, family resources and her influence to take the Church Schools to a very great height. She was very loved by all teachers and students both the secondary and primary sections of the school.”
Mrs Mofolasayo Adeniyi, who had the privilege of knowing Mrs Balogun since she was a toddler, described her as a selfless, hardworking, kind, resilient and God-fearing woman, who loved the people around her unconditionally.
“… I saw Grandma Balogun not just as an elderly woman, but as a down to earth person who would mingle with anyone regardless of their age, class or social status.
“Grandma loved unconditionally and transferred the love she had for my mother to me and my siblings. Grandma was hospitable to a fault, we loved going to her house on road 13 because we knew we were going to come back home with bags full of freshly made doughnuts and cookies. I must say that her baking skills are out of this world!!
“I learnt so much from Grandma even as a child. Her house was always spick & span and she was very well organized. Grandma was hardworking, kind, resilient and above all God-fearing. Grandma was such a selfless person that even on her sickbed, she cared for us all,” she wrote in her tribute to the deceased.
Adekunbi Taylor, another protégé of the late Mrs Balogun, said she was a student at the University of Ife in the late 70s when she knew her and practically grew up in the most fun and loving environment ever.
According to Taylor, mama was kind, compassionate, and adventurous but very firm.
“You were the MARIA in Sound of Music! I loved you so much I named my 1st daughter Marian Ebunoluwa Kofoworola after you,” she wrote.