By Bode Opeseitan
When the list of Africa’s greatest and most unassuming philanthropists of all time is released, one name that is certain to feature prominently on the priceless scroll of honour is multi-billionaire businessman, Dr. Adedeji Adeleke.
Adedeji Adeleke belongs to the rarest lineage of discreet billionaires not only in Africa but across the globe who have made a monumental impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people.
His level of kindness is the highest in the hierarchy of philanthropy called altruistic philanthropism. The Jewish Virtual Library in its classification of eight levels of charitable giving ranked grudging philanthropism as the worst while the best is the charity given in a dignified manner to sustain people before they are impoverished.
Across the world, only a handful of billionaires belong to that golden generation. Whenever the quintessence of charitable causes in that class extend any act of kindness to humanity, it is not in anticipation of any payback in any form. It is from the abundance of the generosity of their hearts. They build schools, roads, hospitals and other amenities for the society with absolutely no string attached.
They provide scholarships up to the university level in different parts of the world for people who can never repay them.
They regularly change the stories of market women, traders, plumbers and other artisans or professionals who cross their paths for good. When they promise, they deliver. They don’t hoodwink.
Spread all over the world are people of different religious faiths and ethnic nationalities they have bankrolled from nothing to greatness. That is what Deji Adeleke has done. That is what has earned him the trust, abiding faith and deep respect of all those who encountered him.
Yet, this philanthropic colossus does not want anybody to acknowledge or celebrate his irrevocable commitment to helping others to thrive.
“Whatever I do for anyone is between me and my GOD”, he would tell his friend of several decades, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, the Orangun of Oke Ila.
His musician son, David O (David Adeleke) is even more famous than him by miles.
Never one to flaunt his kindness or oppress humanity with his wealth, Deji Adeleke does not even want his works to speak for him. He wants the seed of goodness he has sown in others to germinate and flourish to the glory of God and for the benefit of that person without any self-glorifying link with him. To this noble personification of kindness, his divine assignment is done the moment he has planted the seed of giving in any of the people he has supported. He does not want to profit from any accolade therefrom. He does not orchestrate, spin or launder his charitable deeds. He does not play to the gallery. This is perhaps the biggest lesson he has served fellow billionaires a-la-carte.
When I asked Oba Abolarin to mention one exceptional act of kindness of Dr. Adeleke he could recall, Kabiyesi said, “They are just too numerous (Won ti po ju, Bode, won ti po ju u), he said repeatedly, with all the emphasis he could muster.
“That was why he established Adeleke University, Ede”, said the bosom friend of the billionaire as he began, very reluctantly, to unveil the veil, saying it is important this once to let the people know Adeleke’s brand of philanthropy in order to inspire others.
“He (Adeleke) paid the school fees of over 2000 students annually in different parts of the world. Then, he said, ‘why can’t I just start a university?’ That was why he started the university to fund the education of the less privileged. Between one third and half of the university’s student population is on his scholarship,” said the monarch delightfully about his friend in whom he is exceedingly pleased.
The trigger to celebrate Adedeji Adeleke had its root in my recent trip to Washington DC. I had taken a Uber Luxury ride from the Amtrak Train Station to my destination. Behind the wheel was a Nigerian from Rivers State, Henry.
Having easily established we were both Nigerians, Henry lamented the chronic misrule in Nigeria and expressed the hope that he would one day return home and partake in the efforts to rebuild the country to make his benefactor and mentor, Adedeji Adeleke proud.
He told me of how Deji Adeleke gave him and six others who were members of an acapella gospel group, The Ambassadors, their big break in the 90s by sponsoring them to the United States of America. He could not stop singing the praise of Dr. Adeleke.
“Several times, whether in Nigeria or when we were on trips outside the country, people of different backgrounds would approach him and start thanking him profusely, saying but for him, they would not have had a university degree,” recalled Oba Abolarin. Both Oba Abolarin and Dr. Adeleke are members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, a faith that shaped who and what he (Adeleke) has become.
My friend and brother who was close to Senator Isiaka Adeleke, Deji Adeleke’s elder brother, Mr. Remi Oyeyemi, said the impact of Deji Adeleke’s generosity is felt not only in every nook and cranny of Osun State but in far distant places.
“Selfless act of giving is the pastime of the Adeleke family. Their father was also renowned for his generous spirit in his lifetime. People know Senator Demola Adeleke more for his dancing skills but the people of his senatorial district felt his impact in the little time he served as Senator,” said Mr. Oyeyemi.
Blessed indeed are the cheerful givers. May GOD continually bless and preserve Adedeji Adeleke for his pristine and selfless philanthropism.