At 92 years, Prof. Oladele Akinla could easily pass for someone who is three decades younger than his age. This is amplified by his easy grasp of events that happened eight decades ago. He was reputed as a very brilliant student in all the schools he attended, especially the Government College Ibadan, Oyo State, where he had a double promotion from ‘Class One’ to ‘Class Three’ in one year.
The nonagenarian started his early life like any other child in his days but had the opportunity to go for western education because his mother identified his abilities. He said, “It was my mother who noticed my brilliance and decided to employ a labourer to work in my place in my father’s farm and send me to school. I am happy that I never disappointed her.
“In 1945, I took the entrance examination to Higher College Yaba, which was the highest institution then. It is now the Yaba College of Technology. I finished first in the whole country and I was admitted to the medical school. As luck would have it, when we graduated as licentiates of the medical school, University of Ibadan had started in October 1948. So those of us who were in the medical school were given the option of being the foundation medical students of the University of Ibadan.”
He added, “At the end of two years, we finished our three medical courses. As luck would have it again, Adeoyo Hospital, which was used as a temporary teaching hospital, was found inadequate and 12 of us were taken to London, where I was allocated to St. Bartholomew’s Medical School, which incidentally happens to be the oldest teaching hospital in London.
“I became the first Nigerian to have two post-graduate qualifications and also the first Nigerian head of department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the College of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital. I retired at 59 years because it was convenient for me and I went into private practice alongside a colleague, Dr. Animashaun, who was a pediatrician. We had a successful practice till 1991. While at the teaching hospital, I was consulting for Ajayi Memorial Hospital, Costain; Shedrack Hospital, Ilupeju; and St. Nicholas Hospital, Catholic Mission, Lagos. The last operation I did was in 2004 when I was 80years.”
The renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist said his interest in his area of specialty started as a medical student. He noted, “My interest was fueled when in an anatomy class, I was given a female cadaver to work on. This then made me to develop interest in Anatomy (O and G), wanting to deliver babies for women. Obstetrics is a very interesting subject.
“Looking after women in pregnancy, labour and delivery is very interesting. Looking after a woman’s pregnancy, there is double joy (that of the mother being delivered safely and the child coming into the world).”
Though as a medic, he preferred private practice, he had to stop, owing to the 1978 law of the then Nigerian government against merging private and public medical service. He said, “At that time, I was the head of the Department of O and G, so I said I would remain the head of department in 1977. Many of my colleagues resigned and went into private practice but I gave up my private practice. So, when I finished my tenure as the head of department in 1980, I started planning how I would retire and concentrate on my private practice and my planning took me three years; that was why I resigned voluntarily in 1983 instead of waiting till 1984 when I would be 60.”
He added, “In the good old days
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