Sanusi Adebisi Idikan, The First Notable
Entrepreneur and Philanthropist.
Sanusi Adebisi Idikan was an enigmatic personality
that traversed Ibadan’s landscape in commerce,
engaged in philanthropy and humaneness in the late
19th and 20th centuries
He was born in 1882, in Ibadan during the reign of
Aare Latoosa, the Baale of Ibadan, and died in
1938, during the reign of his bosom friend and
Father-in-Law, Olubadan Okunola Abass Aleshinloye
Adebisi’s father, Adesina, gave birth to three
children- Adetinrin, Adeoti and himself; they were all
into the selling of Ofi clothes in and outside the city
He was an itinerant Ofi clothe weaver, a traditional
Yoruba Clothes using for traditional occasions such
as Marriages, Burial and so on. Before the age of
18years, Adebisi was well known in the business of
Ofi with customers from places like Iwo, Ile Ogbo,
Ikire, Osogbo, Ife, Ondo and even the far-flung of
Aside from the Ofi business, he also ventured into
large-scale farming in Ashipa village, Mamu where
he developed a large cocoa plantation; he also
extended the cocoa business to Apata Ibadan where
he acquired about 200 acres of Land.
In recognition of his success as a Cocoa farmer
and businessman, he was made the Giwa Egbe
(Head of society) by his other successful
merchants like Otiti, Ekolo, Afunleyin, Ladimeji from
Isale Ijebu and Adeyemo Owonbuwo from Oopa-
yeosa. This led to him adding Giwa to his name,
was then known as Sanusi Adebisi Giwa.
During his days, he was a celebrated Philanthropist;
he was known to pay taxes of other farmers who
couldn’t afford the payment of tax.
Tax payment, during these times, was taken
seriously that failure to do so attract detention in
the Mapo which also served as the Treasury office
then. It used to be difficult to get someone to bail
defaulters out because most adults were tax
evaders and an attempt to bail another person out
will land such person in the same detention.
The Tax problem, however, became a problem that
a Balogun of Ibadan; Balogun Ola, son of Baale
Orowusi attempted committing suicide to this
course. He said it is better than to see Ibadan
Young men in detention.
The valiant self-murder
was recognized by the people of Ibadan who named him Kobomoje (the one who displayed
gallantry against timidity).
Adebisi was displeased with the way tax payment
was handled in Ibadan; being one of the first set of
Ibadan elites, perhaps if not the first person to ride
a car apart from his hordes of horse.
As part of his philosophy- The rich must help the
poor who are vulnerable; to this effect, he went to
the Chief Tax officer for the Ibadan Colonial Office
that he will be paying tax on behalf of every taxable
adult in Ibadan.
The record had it that the chief Tax Officer was
shocked as he knew the financial implication but
Adebisi insisted on paying. From then, the colonial
officer would calculate the amount of tax expected
from all Ibadan taxable office and would go to
Adebisi’s residence to collect the money.
Adebisi had a legendary style of writing off
debts, without being prompted. He would ask his
secretary / personal assistant – Adesokan, to read
out the names of debtors and how much they owed.
He would tear the pages and order for a match
stick. He would strike the match stick and burn all
the papers containing the debtor’s names. He
would write off the debts whilst saying: “nobody
likes to be a debtor”.
Adebisi in ill health, had visited the then renowned
surgeon- Dr Doherty in Lagos. Advised to stay in
Lagos to recuperate, he bought a house at 34,
Whitman Street, Ebute Meta in Lagos, to enjoy a
well deserved rest.
In January, 1938, in his last few moments, he
brought out money to assist insolvent debtors. He
brought out the papers containing the debtors’
names, tore and burnt them, without anyone noticing
any premonition. After a brief illness of some few
hours, he bade mother Earth goodbye on Friday
June 21, 1938, at the age of 56 Years, and such
was the glorious exit of the unparalleled,
uncommon benefactor and philanthropist.