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How pride killed Bode Thomas

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Bode Thomas was born to a wealthy trader, John Thomas in 1918. He attended C.M.S. Grammar School, a missionary school founded by Samuel Ajayi Crowther. He travelled to London to study Law with Remi Fani-Kayode and Chief FRA Williams. Bode Thomas, FRA William and Remi Fani Kayode founded the 1st indigenous law practice in Nigeria ‘Thomas, Williams and Kayode’. The law firm was in Jankara Street and it thrived. His huge frame earned him the appellation “bulldozer”.

He became a member of Regional House of Assembly in 1951. Thomas was a leader; astute, workaholic, thoughtful and forward-looking.

Bode Thomas was a founding member of ACTION GROUP which sprang up from EGBE OMO ODUDUWA. On the floor of the House, Thomas was a charismatic speaker. He was a lover of facts. He was a fire brand nationalist. He wanted self-rule and independence at a faster pace his colleagues from other zones could not comprehend.

Bode Thomas

Thomas was ahead of his peers. But, a hot-tempered fellow, he was perceived in some circles as a bully, a successful, yet arrogant lawyer and a domineering figure. Some judges loathed his style of argument in the court. But, he was full of masterful logic.

Judges hated the way he comported himself in court. They saw him as brash and arrogant.Thomas died in a controversial circumstance.

It was a chain of events that led to his death. According to many accounts, there was a protracted feud between him & Alaafin Adeyemi II, father of the current Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III.

Both Alaafin Adeyemi and Thomas (Bode Thomas was Balogun of Oyo) were members of the Oyo Divisional Council. Later, Thomas became the chairman when the Oba was still a member. Then his rudeness to the Alaafin led to his mysterious death.

Alaafin Adeyemi II

Thomas arrived at a meeting of the council, all the other councillors, except Oba Adeyemi, stood up to welcome him. He rudely told the king “WHY WERE YOU SITTING WHEN I WALKED IN? WHY CANT YOU SHOW ME RESPECT?” Bode was 34 years. The Alaafin was in his 60s. The Alaafin felt very insulted. he told Bode “SHEY EMI ON GBO MO BAUN? EMI NI ONGBO BI AJA MO BAUN{ IS IT ME YOU ARE BARKING AT LIKE THAT? IS IT ME YOU ARE BARKING LIKE A DOG AT LIKE THAT? KEEP BARKING.”

That was on 22nd November 1953.  It was reported that Bode Thomas got home and started barking. He barked and barked and barked all night. Then he died. He died on 23 November 1953. He was Balogun of Oyo. He died without fulfilling his many potentials. Bode’s friends went on to reach the peak of their careers. Fani-Kayode died in 1995. FRA Williams went on to be Nigeria’s greatest lawyer. Remi Fani-Kayode died in the early 90s after a successful spell in the Legal Practice and in politics.

So when next you hear about that Popular Street in Surulere called Bode Thomas Street, remember that genius whose arrogance cost him his life… at a very early age.