The Name ‘BOLAKALE’ in Ilorin, By Dr Yusuf Lawal
The yoruba word Bolakale is a name that is arguably indigenous to Ilorin people. Literally, it is a name with a wish that its bearer becomes wealthy or noble or dignified and that the wealth or nobility or dignity lasts till eternity.
So it is a combination of two variables; Ola (Wealth, Nobility, Dignity depending on the use) and Ale (Night literally meaning Eternity). While the name is obviously yoruba in language, the owners of the language in the South West do not bear it and neither do other yoruba speakers in Kwara and Kogi.
The moment you meet or hear of any Kale which is the short form of the name, you are almost too certain that you have met an Ilorin chap.
When did the name come into the Ilorin people’s lexicon? That is what I am trying to find out. Usually when a word, name or slang is local to a people or place, an occurrence or event is associated with it. For example Durosinlorun is associated with someone whose mother had experienced incessant death of children before the birth of the bearer of the name, Adelodun is associated with someone whose birth occurs during or shortly before or after a festival, new year etc. Aiyelagbe is also associated with incessant death of children before the birht of bearer of the name, Babatunde and Iyabo are associated with one who is born after the demise of a father or mother respectively.
In Ilorin, Baba may not necessarily be a short form or alias of Babatunde. The bearer of Baba may have been named after a living father, and in order to show respect to the father, particularly by those who are younger than him, the namesake is called Baba.
It is the same respect issue that all Oba in Ilorin are namesake of one Emir of Ilorin or the other (Abdulsalam, Shitta, Aliyu, Zubairu, Suleiman, Abdulkadir, etc).
These are history, events or occurrences related names. There are many yoruba names related to nobility, wealth or dignity that are very common in Ilorin like Kolapo, Bolaji, Olatunji, Oladimeji, Olanrewaju, Olayinka, Oladipo, Olawepo, Olanihun, Olatundun, Ajibola and Mojisola among many others.
Some of them are given to depict the true reflection of the background or marriage of parents of the bearers, but many, particularly nowadays are wishes and prayers of parents for the bearer of the names. Virtually all the above mentioned names and many others are common in and outside Ilorin, but not Bolakale.
Recently a female relation of mine married to a non-indigene (ero 😊) named her son Bolakale and her husband jokingly said his wife has given his son a typical Ilorin name. So the name is being exported to other towns now. While it may be difficult to know the first Bolakale in Ilorin, his family background and circumstances or event that led to the name, I think the origin may not be too far back if one deduces or infers from our recent history.
For example, I can’t readily remember any of my father’s contemporaries with the name. I stand to be corrected and be well informed. If however, there was none, it means that the name had either not been ‘created’ or ‘coined’ or was not common before the 1930s.
I know many Bolakale whose birth was in the 1950s and afterwards, but are there any of the 1940s and before? The assignment here is for us to try and recall the first Bolakale we know or heard about in our family, compound or neighbourhood. Those who met our elders who were born between 1900 and 1940s or those who have some historical documents in their possession that have the name can help in this small research.