Amao-Alata: Remembering a colossus 30 years after – origins and feats 

Amao-Alata: Remembering a colossus 30 years after – origins and feats 




Late Chief David Adebayo Amao-Alata made a name for himself as an industrialist and businessman. He was a trailblazer in the economic emancipation of Ogbomoso, his hometown in Oyo state. None surpassed his accomplishments whether before his coming, during his time or after his exit. He reached a position of renown that will be difficult to rival in a long time. His industries and businesses which included Alata Motors, Alata Candles, Alata Brewery, Alata Sawmill, Alata Supermarket, Alata Flour Mills, Alata Furniture and transport business, farming, hospitality industry, beer distributorship etc, remain watershed in the town’s history. His business interests so much were predominant that the name Alata became synonymous with commerce. Yet, he emerged from obscurity to make so much impact; his successes were significantly as a result of his resourcefulness, uncommon business shrewdness and risk-taking ability. In his years in commerce, he constantly dared where others feared to tread. He attained his greatest feat with the founding of Alata Flour Mills which was one of the few such industries in Nigeria. And it is on record that on his payroll were over 5,000 workers thus he holds the enviable record of being the highest individual provider of jobs in Ogbomoso ever. People of his ilk are rare; they appear once in decades, those whose contributions to their place of birth will be matchless. Amao-Alata indubitably ranks among the greatest persons Ogbomoso has produced.


Origin and background

Adewuyi Adegbite provided an insight into the origin of the Amao-Alatas in a feature story published by The Insight newspaper (No 107, June 4, 2016) (print version of this medium), which he contributed in honour of Mrs. Alice Oyinlade Adeyinka, the late founder and CEO of Alata Milk & Honey, dubbed The Amazon of the Alata Dynasty.


According to Adegbite, a historian, the progenitor of the Alatas, Amao, migrated from Offa in the present day Kwara state aftermath his failure to clinch the throne of Olofa. He lost the throne to his younger brother and, in annoyance, taken leave of the town in company with his supporters. Adegbite claimed that Amao either left straight for Ogbomoso or came through Igbon. He noted that the family had produced a number of Baloguns (commanders) of Igbon which gave credence to their pre-settlement in Igbon. In Ogbomoso, Amao’s family is domiciled in Taraa. In the beginning the family compound was named Kiaje compound but it witnessed a change in nomenclature to Alata compound as a result of selling of pepper by the matriarch of the family, Amao’s wife. Her pepper selling business prospered and she became so popular far and near that her moniker – Iya Alata – assumed prominence over time, it suppressed the compound’s name and the compound inevitably took up the name Alata.


Odeyinka the first son of Amao grew to become a successful entrepreneur, dealing in sales of adire cloths and kolanuts. He sold his articles in Onitsha and in Kumasi, Ghana. He purchased the adire cloths in Abeokuta. He later took one of his nephews, Akanni, his elder sister’s son to Ghana to help in his business, a move that set a chain that would pleasantly impact Ogbomoso.


Odeyinka’s children included Olayiwola, Adebayo, Adetutu, Oyinlade and so on. A devout Christian, he originally attended First Baptist Church, Okelerin, Ogbomoso, but later joined others to found Ori-Oke Baptist Church, in 1918. Odeyinka’s greatest contribution to the pageant of history was giving the world entrepreneurs who would bless their generation. One of his children, David Adebayo Amao-Alata, who died exactly thirty years ago today, became the greatest entrepreneur and one of the greatest persons Ogbomoso has seen. Some of Odeyinka’s other children who made their mark in the business world were Chiefs Adetutu and Olayiwola Ama-Alata, in the hospitality sector and beer distributorship. They founded Alata City Hotels that was the toast of socialites in years past. There were also the Agboola Amao-Alata (bridal wears) and Mr. Taiwo Amao (plastic products), they all set up businesses and attained successes.



David Adebayo Amao-Alata

Odeyinka had many wives including Alice Ogunpeju Ajogbe of Loba Compound in Masifa. With this woman, he had six children of which the first was David Adebayo Amao-Alata, born in 1938. The second was Adeleke, third was Ademola (Aare) while the fourth was Oyinlade. He married other wives who gave him other children, some of whom were mentioned above.


David Amao’s childhood were spent in the commercial city of Onitsha where his father resided in furtherance of his businesses. Onitsha is renowned for manufacturing and commerce, up till the present time. Perhaps, the Odeyinka Amao’s children being forged in such a bustling environment significantly impacted their entrepreneurship orientation. Opportunity for education was limited at the time and hardly did the children attend school. However, they got schooled adequately in the business line. Meanwhile, Akanni whom their father took to Ghana was doing fine in Kumasi and in the course of time, he took some of his benefactor’s children to the former Gold Coast, where they got introduced into the practicality and nitty-gritty of commerce. Among those entrenched in Ghana was David Adebayo, who learned the rope quickly.


Their return to Nigeria in 1969 following the “Alien Quit Order” ensured that Adebayo Amao entered a new stage of his life. His business acumen found real expression as he plunged fully into the art of entrepreneurship. He founded various business outlets including Alata Sawmill and with audacity, he rose to the pinnacle, diversifying extensively. He had the heart of a lion in exploring the business world.. In many sectors, he became the pioneer. Eventually, Ogbomoso became too small for him and he extended beyond the city. When he founded Alata Flour Mills and had a wheat plantation in Oke-Ogun he arrived on the biggest scene and announced himself globally as an uncommon entrepreneur. He travelled widely as an international businessman and he conceived a great vision to continue to be the pacesetter. He once planned to build the biggest brewery in the southwest, and he visited Germany, the brew capital of the world. He worked out the technical aspect with an international brew master, who also hailed from Ogbomoso, Laud Adebisi Ajani. Ajani worked in seven different breweries, in three different countries – Ghana, Nigeria and Germany, and was trained by the best in the field – by the Dutch, the British and the German masters. The two perfected the plan but it was a most unfortunate thing that the project did not see the light of the day, a project that could have preceded the International Brewery Limited in Ilesa, Osun state. It was some shenanigans from home that thwarted the dream.


The supermarket he built in Ogbomoso formed the forerunner in terms of style, magnificence, concept, content and size of the fashionable malls today. Alata Hotels and Coolroom, Alata Motors, Alata Candles etc were all industries and outlets that rubbed off from Ogbomoso its former pristine rurality. When cities of the world advanced towards modernity, shedding the toga of the olden past, Adebayo Amao-Alata stood alone to sustain the switch in Ogbomoso. Shall we also talk of Alata Babes, a football club that stood aloft in the city?


Adebayo Amao-Alata was a great hero and a philanthropist per excellence; he shone brightly illuminating our path when we groped in darkness. Arguably, in his generation he was the greatest. His deeds exceedingly affected positively a great number of people and his sudden death on January 8, 1994 cast an off-putting gloom in the firmament of Ogbomoso because none like him had emerged (in the commercial front). He thrust the name of Ogbomoso widely; what Samuel Ladoke Akintola did for Ogbomoso in politics he did in the commercial front; what Benjamin Adekunle did in the war front, he did uniquely in the trade and industrial sector.


Ogbomoso misses him and will continue to miss him. Continue to rest in peace.



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