High Chief James Wellington Fajembola Alufa, the chieftaincy title holder of the Saade of Ijero-Ekiti, now in Ekiti State of Nigeria (born 1893 and died on June 12, 2010), was a great historian and prolific author whose works strongly influenced the evolution of the essay, the biography, and historical writing in Ijero Kingdom of Ekiti State in modern times from the mid-20th century to the present time.
Among his classic works, the most important are: Omo Onile N te Jeje -1951,Itan Kukuru Nipa Ajero, Ijero ati Orile Ede Ijero -1953 (translated into English language as “The Ijero Kingdom in Yoruba History” with a foreword by Chief Akin Omoboriowo, 1996), Osirigbongbo Omo Alakoda irin -1954, Ijero Prestige: A Discussion (Part 1 and 2)-1963. In his books, he recounts the noble deeds and characters of the Ijero Kingdom and Noble people, monarchs, warriors, orators, statesmen, and people of great minds who have contributed their quota to the Ijero Kingdom’s development from the abnitio of her history and a clarion call to emulate their great deeds to make our lives sublime as a people.
In the words of late Chief Akin Omoboriowo, the former Deputy Governor of old Ondo State and Balogun of Ijero Kingdom, he said: “Chief James Wellington Fajembola Alufa, the Saade of Ijero- Ekiti has immortalized his name both as a leading authority on local history, as a patriot and a man of ideas… He has shown in bold relief his consuming commitment to and love for the history and culture of his people and his strong faith in their future, progress and prosperity…Chief Alufa served his generation productively and unforgettably and he bequeathed a lasting legacy for generations yet unborn “.
Wellington Fajembola Alufa was the son of Pa Erinle Osho Alufa and Madam Ajaja Oluwamide Alufa of the Opeeleke dynasty of Ijero-Ekiti. Pa Erinle Alufa himself was a nobleman in his generation whose creativity and innovation in beaded crown-making made him befriend many paramount rulers in Yorubaland and he met with the first British colonial administrator of Yorubaland, Sir Captain Robert Lister Bower (1860-1929) at his workshop in Ijero-Ekiti in 1886.
High Chief Wellington Fajembola Alufa attended Holy Cross and Saint Mathias Primary School, Lafiaji, Lagos (1924 -1929) and Nigeria High School, Okepopo, Lagos (1930), He passed Standard VI, Junior Cambridge and Senior Cambridge school certificates between 1930 to 1932.
He started his career as a Teacher on arrival from Lagos at St. Joseph Catholic Mission School, Usi-Ekiti in 1935 -1937 through the effort of Revered Father J. O. Onih. In 1937, The late Ajero of the Ijero kingdom, Oba Anjorin Atobatele (his second cousin) gave him a recommendation letter to the District Officer, Mr B. Bovel Jones to be engaged as a clerk with the colonial administration.
He also attained the following educational qualifications, Diploma in Advanced English, London School of Commerce, London – 1945, Diploma in Book Keeping and Accountancy, London School of Commerce, London, – 1948 among other Diplomas in Business Methods, Secretariat Practice and Psychology between 1948 to 1954.
As one of the earliest educated figures in Ekiti, he rose through the ranks as a Colonial Clerk, Court Clerk, Chief Store Keeper, Senior Typist, District Accountant, Secretary, Treasurer, Tax collector and Administrator. He was an administrator of repute in the then Ekiti Divisional Native Authority and Ekiti Divisional Council of the defunct Western region of Nigeria. He was the Secretary /Treasurer, Ijero District Council 1955-1958, Secretary/Treasurer, Ijesha North District Council, Ilesha, 1958-1959 and Secretary/Treasurer, Oshogbo Divisional Council, Oshogbo,1959-1964 from where he retired meritoriously in the Government Civil service.
He became the chieftaincy title holder of the Saade of Ijero – Ekiti in December 1961 until his death on June 12, 2010. He was a member, of the Commission of Chieftaincy Affairs, Western Region of Nigeria, 1965-1966, he was a Judge of the Customary Court, Ijero-Ekiti from 1968 -to 1980. He was a member of Justice Oluwole Chieftaincy Review Commission, Ondo State, 1980-1981, Member, Ondo State Committee on the Composition of Ondo State Council of Chiefs, 1986-1987.
Chief Wellington Alufa is remembered as a Nigerian historian and author of the mid-20th century CE whose works strongly influenced the evolution of the essay, the biography, and historical writing in Ekiti State and the Ijero Kingdom in particular from the 10th to the 20th century.
The translations of Chief Wellington Alufa’s work have influenced many Ijero writers and historians, including Messrs Bola Borisade, Leke Oyebade, Femi Alufa, and Lekan Alufa, and inspired other scholars of Ijero- Ekiti of different genres.
Chief Wellington Fajembola Alufa has over 40 children and more than 150 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren at his death on June 12, 2010, at a grand old age of 117 years.
He was a great man of letters, exemplar and quintessence of virtues in his generation.
In the words of this writer, (Femi Alufa) his grandnephew and author “High Chief James Wellington Fajembola Alufa, JP, The Saade of Ijero Kingdom is a community leader, custodian of Ijero culture and history… He is the very essence of selfless humanity and service to Ijero and Ekiti’s country. His good name and indelible footprints will canonize his memory, and in him, Ijero and indeed Ekiti gave one of its best to the world”.
Baba Wellington Fajembola Alufa, you are held in our hearts forever. Your life as a Patriarch and Community leader was a blessing to your children, descendants, community and humanity in general, your memory is a treasure to us all, you are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure. May you continue to rest in the bosom of your Lord. You belong to the ages.
*Credit: Wellington Alufa: The Legacy of a Patriot (2010), A Biography by Olalekan Welli’ Alufa