Story of Bode Thomas, the Nigerian Lawyer Who Barked to Death After Insulting Alaafin Of Oyo

Chief Bode Thomas
Chief Olabode Akanbi Thomas

Who was Bode Thomas?

Olabode Akanbi Thomas, popularly known as Bode Thomas, was born on October 1919 into the family of Andrew Thomas, a wealthy and influential Yoruba trader. He attended C.M.S. Grammar School, Bariga, a missionary school founded by the Church Missionary Society on the 6th of June, 1859.

 

Bode Thomas studied Law in London alongside Chief FRA Williams and Remi Fani-Kayode (Femi Fani-Kayode’s father). Later on, Bode Thomas, FRA William, and Remi Fani-Kayode established the first Law firm in Nigeria named Thomas, Williams, and Kayode in Jankara Street, Lagos.

Chief Bode Thomas rose to prominence at a young age. He became a member of the Regional House of Assembly in 1951. He represented the Western region as Minister of Transport under the Macpherson Constitution.

He was astute, workaholic, thoughtful, and forward-looking. He was also a founding member of the Action Group. Prior to joining Action Group, he was a successful Lagos lawyer and was a member of the Nigerian Youth Movement.

Bode Thomas Vs Alaafin of Oyo

Reports claimed that Bode Thomas was a brilliant but very arrogant lawyer. He was said to be so arrogant to the extent that sometimes, people labeled him a bully. Judges hated the way he comported himself in court. They saw him as a brash and arrogant man.

Bode Thomas died in a controversial circumstance after his unfriendly encounter with Alaafin Adeyemi II, father of the current Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III. Both Alaafin Adeyemi II and Thomas (who was the Balogun of Oyo in 1949) were members of the Oyo Divisional Council. At a time, the respected Alaafin was chairman of the council before Thomas took over.

Alaafin Adeyemi II
Alaafin Adeyemi II

highlifextra gathered that on November 22, 1953, when Chief Bode Thomas arrived at a meeting of the council, all the other councilors, except Alaafin Adeyemi, stood up to welcome him. He rudely said to the king “why were you sitting when I walked in? Why can’t you show me respect?” Bode was 34 years old while the Alaafin was in his 60s.

Alaafin Adeyemi II felt very embarrassed and he said to Bode, “shey emi on gbo mo baun? Emi ni ongbo bi aja mo baun? Ma gbo lo” which translates as “am I the one you are barking at like that? Am I the one you are barking at like a dog? Keep barking.”

Bode as Transport Minister, 1952.

It was alleged that Bode Thomas got home and started barking like a dog. He barked and barked throughout the night till he died the following day – November 23, 1953. There were rumors that the Alaafin had Bode Thomas poisoned. He was survived by his wife, Lucretia Shobola Odunsi, and children. Among his children are Abimbola, Eniola and Dapo.

Bode has a street named after him in Lagos. He served as a colonial minister of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria and privy counselor of the historic Oyo clan of Yorubaland. He was a brilliant and successful man whose pride, they said, led to his fall.

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References:

  1. Eribake, A. (2016, March 26). When Obas had to go on exile. Wiki.
  2. Uwechue, Raph; et al. (1991). Makers of Modern Africa: Profiles in History (Second ed.). London: Africa Books. ISBN 0-903274-18-3.
  3. The Bode Thomas Foundation Website
  4. Omipidan, T. O. (2019, January 6). List of Alaafin (Kings) of Oyo. highlifextra. /2017/06/06/list-of-alaafin-kings-of-oyo/
  5. Femi Fani-Kayode. “In remembrance of Fani Power”. Niger Delta Congress.