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A Seminar to End All Seminars – Tribute to Adebayo Williams at 70



By Hon Femi Kehinde

Sometime in 1986, during the military jackboot and gestapo style of governance in Nigeria, Adebayo Williams, then a teacher of Literature-in-English, at the University of Ife, was invited to Lagos, to deliver a public lecture at a seminar, purposely convoked, to discuss democracy. Mindful of the possibility of arrest after his delivery, which may be acerbic and unpleasant to the men of power, he ably, titled his lecture at this seminar- A seminar to end all seminars.

This lecture was published in major newspapers of the day. Despite this premonition of a possible arrest, Adebayo has gone agead to deliver so many seminal works and intellectual papers at various fora across the globe, and has lived to be 70 years; the seminars have not ended.

First and foremost, I am eminently qualified to write Adebayo’s story. Adebayo’s mother, Maria Oyedun Williams was my maternal grandfather’s (Kasumu Oyekanmi) immediate younger sister. Kasumu begat my mother, Elizabeth Wulemotu Boladale Aduke Kehinde – the late Iyalode of Gbonganland . From this vantage position, I have known, and lived under the guidance and mentorship of Adebayo- a much older brother, like a father, for six decades.

Adebayo Biala Alamu Williams, was born on the 9th of September, 1951, to late Pa Johnson Bolarinwa Williams and late Mama Maria Oyedun Williams, of Ile Keti Compound, Gbongan in Osun State.

He was named Biala, because Oyedun had him as her first fruit of the womb, when she was slightly above 40 years. Adebayo’s arrival, to her and the family, was like a dream – Bi Ala! In the trajectory of his life, he has lived that name. Adebayo’s chequered life cannot certainly be different from life’s alloy’s fundamental principles.

A brief chronicle of his life tells the story.

Adebayo’s father, Johnson Bolarinwa of the Gbongan/Modakeke stock, was one of Gbongan’s early political elites. In his early days, he was a UAC factor in Gbongan, in charge of cocoa produce in the big conglomerate. He later ventured into politics, and became Gbongan’s first elected councillor, after the advent of the Macpherson constitution of 1951, that brought fresh elites into political relevance.

He was elected on the platform of the NCNC of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and later became a big stalwart of the Samuel Ladoke Akintola’s NNDP government of the Western Region. He was a key participant in the UPGA/DEMO Saga in Gbongan, that erupted as a result of the uproars of the 1965 Western Regional elections.

In the NCNC/NNDP, he was very friendly, with the likes of Adegoke Adelabu, Fani Kayode (Fani Power) Richard Akinjide, Adeoye Adisa, and his political comrades in Gbongan – Atanda and Ogunyele. J.B Williams, popularly known as “Willy” in Gbongan, had his house razed to the ground, in the ‘operation Wetie’, that erupted upon the overthrow of the first civilian government and the advent of military interregnum, on the 15th of January, 1966. Kasumu (Oyedun’s senior brother), did not live too long. He was a victim of the dreaded small pox (sanponna) epidemic of 1947.

As a result of the death of Kasumu in 1947, Wulemotu was in the early care and mentorship of Kasumu’s younger sister – Oyedun, who begat Professor Adebayo Williams, and Evangelist. Taiwo Williams. Interestingly, on the opposite side of the divide, Chief (Mrs.) Wulemotu Aduke Kehinde, the late Iyalode of Gbongan land, who was also an active participant of the Akintola/Awolowo Saga of the first republic, led the women vanguards of UPGA, and was clamped into police detention on spurious charges, not unconnected to Political Vendetta.

Gbongan was founded by a man named Olufiade (short form, Olufi.) Olufiade was a direct descendant of Alaafin Abiodun Adegoriolu, who reigned in Oyo, between 1750 and 1789. Olufi contested for the throne of the Alaafin of Oyo after the demise of his father, but lost to another prince. He had to leave Oyo as tradition demanded, and was followed by many Oyo Citizens, that were sympathetic to his struggle for the throne of Alaafin.

Olufi and his entourage left Oyo via Igbori route, stayed there for some time, and then moved to Soungbe, from where they finally got to Gbongan-Ile. The Olufi carried along from Oyo, a beaded crown, which made his followers recognise him, not only as an Oyo Prince, but an Oba in his own right.

The unrest that wrecked the stability of Oyo, also affected many Oyo towns, and this allowed marauders to penetrate several Oyo towns, including Gbangan-Ile. Olufi and his followers had to migrate to a more forested location, which was more secure, than the former location. The present Gbongan is situated in the forest belt of Osun State. This is why at the present location, we have such settlements like Eke-Egan, Oke Apata, Ile-Opo, Aiyepe, Ile Keti, and Owo-Ope. Gbongan town, is watered by a network of streams like Oyunlola, Akinjole, Alaanu, Oleyo, Yemoja and Elu.

Her Eastern boundary with Ile-Ife is the big Sasa River. This present Gbongan was founded around 1825. The fact that Gbongan was headed by an Oba attracted many people to settle there and the thick forest location, provided security for the population from the invaders. By the middle of the 19th century, the community, which started as a small settlement at Gbongan Ile by 1790, had grown to become one of the largest towns in her area.
Intriguingly, Adebayo bears a surname, that has hidden his “Ara Oke” stock and identity – a Gbangan/Modakeke man to the core. As a local breed of that environment, Adebayo attended St. Luke’s Anglican Primary School, Gbongan, with the likes of Wale Adenuga of the Ikebe Fame, whose father, was then though of Ijebu stock, a prominent businessman in Gbongan. He later relocated his business to Ile-Ife, but his Adenuga Street in Gbongan, is still a beautiful reminder of his long sojourn in the Gbongan community.

After Adebayo’s Primary education, he was admitted to the Gbongan-Odeomu Anglican Grammar School, Gbongan, for the early part of his Secondary Education, under the principalship of Mr. G.A Adeyemo – an Ibadan man.

He had a brief stint in Gbongan-Odeomu Anglican Grammar School as a result of the relocation of his father, J.B Williams (Willy), to Modakeke, after the destruction of his house in Gbongan, due to the violence of 1966. In Modakeke, where he had now relocated to with his father, he also had a brief stint at the Oranmiyan Memorial Grammar School, Ile-Ife, from where he then moved into the world, to chart and navigate a destined course of life.

Briefly, he was a Primary school teacher at Telemu, near Iwo, in present day Ola Oluwa Local Government Area of Osun State. As a precocious young man, he certainly did not enjoy the life of holding the chalk in front of infants, and also perhaps, a disdain for the rural life of Telemu. He bolted out from Telemu and got a job as a sub editor with late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Nigerian Tribune against his father’s wish. J.B Williams had a nauseating disdain for the Action Group. Adebayo was now engaged in the profession of journalism, which was described as “only that belonging to the flotsam and jetsam of the society,” by Ernest Ikoli- a doyen of Journalism practice in Nigeria and former president of the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM).

He left the Nigerian Tribune in 1971, and was admitted to the University of Ife, to study English Language. The University of Ife, established by an Act of Parliament of the Western Region in 1961, under the premiership of Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, admitted its first set of 244 students in September, 1962, with 5 faculties, of which the Faculty of Arts was one of them. The University took off at the current site of the North Campus of the Ibadan Polytechnic, that was then known as the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, with Professor Oladele Ajose as its first Vice Chancellor. In 1967, the University moved to its permanent site in Ile-Ife on the 130, 000 Acres of land donated by the people of Ile-Ife and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Titus Martins Tadeniawo Adesoji Aderemi, then Governor of the Western Region. The Ife Campus, adjudged as the most beautiful campus in Africa, was designed by the Isreali Architect, Arieh Sharon, together with a team of Nigerian Architects, including Lagos based Architect, A. A Egbor, in the 1960s. They gave Ife the beauty, the elegance and the picturesque sceneries, that made the university a great haven for learning and culture. This was the university that trained Adebayo Williams, from where he graduated, and which later employed him, as a lecturer of English Literature.

After a successful completion of his university education at the Great Ife, he went for his National Youth Service in the then Eastern Region of Nigeria, specifically in Enugu, and thereafter, secured a teaching appointment with the Federal Ministry of Education, and was posted to the Federal Government College, Kaduna as a classroom teacher, where he also mentored so many students, who are now distinguished in various fields of human endeavours.

It was in Kaduna that he met his heartthrob. Bolanle, an Ogbomosho lady, and a nursing sister, working in a Government hospital in Zaria, and whom he later married, and had three children – Bisola, Adeola and Oladipupo.

The classroom in Kaduna could not guarantee and secure the future that Adebayo dreamt of and envisaged. He had been granted a car loan, and bought a brand new Volkswagen Passat car, but nonetheless, his dream was expansive. He dreamt of a world that would bring out the intellectual profundity in him. He secured an employment with the University of Ife, and was admitted to pursue his Masters Degree course, and also teach English Literature as a graduate assistant; and then the meteoric rise. In the 1981/82 session, while still a Visiting Graduate Student Lecturer, Adebayo was appointed Honorary Visiting Lecturer, Department of English, University of Sheffield, England.

In that capacity, he gave lectures and seminars in the new areas of Theories of African Literature. In 1983, Adebayo was awarded a Doctorate Degree in Theory of African Literature. In 1986, he became a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, from where he began the journey again, to traverse the world. Adebayo was popularly known as Larry B or Tatolo Alamu – a pen name, by his friends and admirers. Tatalo Alamu, was a pioneer of Sekere, a type of Yoruba traditional music. A native of Ibadan, he was popular in Yorubaland, through out the 1950s and early 1960s. Adebayo, returned to Nigeria in 2006, after serving as a Professor in various universities in America and Europe.

Aside from his various intellectual engagements, Adebayo had also served, as chairman, Lagos State Electoral Reform Panel, between 2008 and 2010, member, Board of Trustees, Obafemi Awolowo Institute for Governance and Public Policy 2009 till date, and chairman, Lagos State Gubernatorial Advisory Committee, 2010 to 2018, under Governors Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode.

In 1995, Professor Williams was appointed the Director-General of Africa Policy Group – a London based Think-tank, which addresses issues of governance crucial to Africa. Earlier in 1991, while still teaching at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Professor Williams, was made a director of the USAID-sponsored project on Governance and Democratization in Africa.

In 1997, he returned to the Centre of African Studies, University of Birmingham, as a visiting lecturer and Honourary Research fellow, a position he held till 2006. He had earlier served in the same department as Leverhulme Fellow, between 1988 to 1990.

In November 1998, Professor Williams became a Fellow of African Studies Centre, University of Leiden, Holland and Professor of Liberal Arts, Savannah, College of Arts and Design, Georgia, USA. In January, 2004, Professor Williams assumed duty as the Amy Freeman Lee Distinguished Chair of Humanities and Fine Arts, University of The Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas USA. He has also served as jury/professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure in France.

In the course of a distinguished career, spanning almost fifty years. Professor Williams has won many Laurels in scholarship, journalism and creative writing, including winning, twice both The Association of Nigerian Authors Prize in 1988 and 1995, and the Alade Odunewu prize for Informed Commentary in 1993 and 2000.

In addition, he has served as mentor and iconic source of inspiration for many generations of Nigerians, who look up to him as a source of guidance and political compass. Adebayo, a man of profound wit, fecund mind and intellect, was once asked a nagging question – “Would you agree that Tinubu’s role in the Afenifere crisis contributed to the death of Pa Adesanya?”

He responded rather brusquely: “I am yet to see the death certificate of Pa Adesanya, so I wouldn’t know. But I know that he died of age related infirmity. He might have been heartbroken about development in the organisation particularly on how things ought to have been done.”

He was one of the brains behind the first ever Nigerian Political summit, chaired by Pa Adekunle Ajasin at Eko Hotel, Lagos. Adebayo yearns and clamours for a restructured Nigeria, and he said in an interview session –
“We have been saying that Nigerians need to sit down and talk. I have been saying this for the past 20 years that elections will not resolve national questions. In fact, it worsens it. We have seen situation, where elections led directly to civil war in many African countries. When you think that democracy is solely synonymous to election, that is what they call electoralism. Election is just one aspect of democracy, so the way we are going, if we are not careful, Nigeria is heading for a terminal crisis. If we cannot talk among ourselves, eventually, the United Nations (UN) may be forced to come and supervise a talk in this country. That is my prediction, and I have no apology for saying this.”

He added: “The masses are so important, so are the elites. My fear is that if we go to this election with this kind of mindset, particularly in the current ruling class, a winner may emerge but the contending contradiction may make the country ungovernable for such a winner and then we just begin to slide towards Mogadishu.”

In other words, victory without success. It was a prophetic interview. This interview session was in 2019, before the 2019 election.

As a crowning glory, Adebayo Williams is one of Nigeria’s best known scholars and globally recognised academics, with over a thousand publications, with over six books to his credit. He is a polyvalent intellectual scholar. He had been columnist to NewsWatch Magazine between 1985 and 1990, African Concord, between 1990 and 1992, Tempo/The News – 1993 to 1995, The Nation, 2007 till date, and African Today as columnist and editor at large – 1995 till date.

Adebayo Williams, a man of sartorial taste and elegance, loves good cars, wine and intellectual environment.
When Obafemi Awolowo was 70 years on the 6th of March, 1979, and at a campaign rally at the Mapo Hall, Ibadan, the enthusiastic crowd of UPN party faithful and stalwarts, thronged to the Mapo Hall Rally, to welcome Chief Awolowo to the Presidential Campaign rally, and thenceforth, was referred to as Papa Obafemi Awolowo, with a deafening shouts of Papa Awo!!! Awo!!! Awo!!! So as a fresh mint 70 year old man, do we now call Adebayo, Papa Adebayo Williams? He certainly does not possess the gait and look of a 70 year old man.

I have known Adebayo Williams, as my mother’s younger brother, and I grew to know him as a mentor, role model and pathfinder, who has certainly added values to my life of six decades. He ensured my transition or relocation from the Department of History in Ile-Ife, to the Faculty of Law, through the able supports of Mr. Itsey Sagay, now Professor of Law, then Dean of the Faculty of Law; Dr. Kehinde Olupona, now Professor of Religions; Professor Sola Ehindero, now Harvard University Professor of Religions, and Professor Fajana as Dean of the Faculty of Education.

Through this innumerable efforts, I now eat with two spoons – Historical and Biographical writings as a passion, law as a profession of almost four decades, and perhaps the third spoon-Politics as a vocation, being a former member of the House of Representatives in the National Assembly, all from a single plate, courtesy of the mentorship of Adebayo Williams.

In this enchanting drama of a life being lived well, let the music and the lyrics go on, because Adebayo Williams is the song and the melody. In a society that places scant values on its egg heads – Adebayo Biala Alamu Williams – may you continue to live well, even now as a statesman and Septuagenarian.

Happy birthday!!!

Hon (Barr) Femi Kehinde is a legal practitioner and former member of the House of Representatives,
representing Ayedire/Iwo/Ola-Oluwa Federal Contituency, Osun State (1999-2003).

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Police Arrest Four Yoruba Nation Agitators for Seizing Radio Station




Some Yoruba Nation agitators, on Sunday morning, seized Radio Nigeria, Amuludun FM 99.1 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, taking over broadcast for more than one hour.

A source told The PUNCH Metro that the agitators, who besieged the station around 5:40 am in an 18-seater bus, were armed with dangerous weapons and charms, threatening to deal decisively with any staff member who refused to cooperate with them.

However, four out of the agitators, among whom was a woman, were arrested by the police with the assistance of the Nigerian army, while others ran into different directions to evade arrest.

One of the arrested agitators, who sustained gunshot wounds, had rushed into the studio to tell others that security operatives had taken over the nooks and crannies of the station. The blood stain was seen in the studio.

An investigation by our correspondent revealed that after holding some night duty staff and security guards hostage, the agitators hijacked the studio and announced live on radio “Welcome to Yoruba Nation.”

An impeccable source further said they continued threatening staff members to remove all Nigeria flags in the station and replace them with Yoruba Nation flags as they have already taken over the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.

It was further learnt that they initially hijacked some commercial vehicles (Micra) to block the main road.

When our correspondent visited the station at J&P Bus-stop, Moniya in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state, more than 20 operational vehicles of security agents, including Department of State Services were sighted at strategic locations to forestall any eventuality.

Confirming the invasion, the most senior staff on duty, Ajayi Omotola, stated that, “They told us that they are Yoruba Nation agitators. And in their T-shirt, there was that inscription there. They wrote Yoruba Nation. Only six persons came inside the studio with different charms threatening to kill us if we failed to cooperate. Others were outside manning security at different areas within the premises.

“They collected all our phones and threatened to kill us if we made any noise or phone calls. They said they wanted to broadcast live that Yoruba Nation has taken over. We should remove all Nigeria flags in our studio and replace it with their own. They didn’t allow anybody to go outside. The Area Commander came, addressed and even pleaded with them but they ignored him. We later heard sporadic shooting outside. So, one of our staff members then came inside to inform us that police and soldiers had arrived,” Omotola stressed.

As of press time, normalcy had returned while stern-looking security operatives were still manning the station.

The Punch

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76th Cannes Film Festival Ends with Bang




The stars on parade at 76th Festival de Cannes


By Michael Effiong

The colour, the glamour, the style and class of the 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival ends today with a big bang.

Festival de Cannes, the film industry’s most prestigious festival will take place at 8:30 pm and will be broadcast live on France 2 and internationally on Brut.

The Jury, presided over by director Ruben Östlund and including director Maryam Touzani, actor Denis Ménochet, writer/director Rungano Nyoni, actress/director Brie Larson, actor/director Paul Dano, writer Atiq Rahimi, director Damián Szifron and director Julia Ducournau, will select the winners from the 21 films in Competition this year.

Actress Anaïs Demoustier, President of the Jury, will hand out the Caméra d’or award to the best first film. Actress Stacy Martin and director Ildikó Enyedi, President of the Short Film and La Cinef Jury, will award the Palme d’or for short films.

Actor Orlando Bloom will hand out the Jury Prize. Actor Song Kang-ho, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actor for Broker and actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actress for Holy Spider, will award the Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor Prizes respectively.


Actor John C. Reilly, President of the Un Certain Regard Jury, will award the Best Screenplay Prize, while Pete Docter, Creative Director of Pixar Studios, will present the Best Director Prize.


The Festival de Cannes will also be honored by the exceptional presence tonight of legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, who will present the Grand Prix alongside virtuoso Quentin Tarantino.


Finally, the prestigious Palme d’or will be presented by the formidable and inspiring Jane Fonda.


The Closing Ceremony will mark the end of the 76th Festival de Cannes, and will be followed by the screening of Peter Sohn‘s film Elementary in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.


The 21 films competing for the Palme d’or this year are : Firebrand by Karim Aïnouz, Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, Rapito (Kidnapped)(Kidnapped) by Marco Bellocchio, Les Filles d’Olfa (Four Daughters)(Four Daughters) by Kaouther Ben Hania, L’Été dernier (Last Summer) (Last Summer) by Catherine Breillat, Kuru Otlar Ustune (About Dry Grasses)(About Dry Grasses) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Le Retour (Homecoming) by Catherine Corsini, The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer, Club Zero by Jessica Hausner, May December by Todd Haynes, Monster by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Kuolleet Lehdet (Fallen Leaves)(Fallen Leaves) by Aki Kaurismäki, The Old Oak by Ken Loach, Il Sol dell’ avvenire (A Brighter Tomorrow)(A Brighter Tomorrow) by Nanni Moretti, La Chimera by Alice Rohrwacher, Black Flies by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, Banel e Adama by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Pot-au-Feu) (The Pot-au-Feuby Tran Anh Hùng, Anatomie d’une chute (Anatomy of a Fall) (Anatomy of a Fallby Justine Triet, Jeunesse (Le Printemps) (Youth (Spring))(Youth (Spring)) by Wang Bing, Perfect Days by Wim Wenders.

The Closing ceremony, usually a wonderful evening to behold will be broadcast in English and French by Brut.

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Delta Beyond Drugs: Bishop Aruakpor Receives Silec Initiatives




In preparation for the forthcoming Delta Beyond Drugs Project in Delta State, the SILEC Initiatives team paid a visit to the Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Oleh Church of Nigeria, The Rt. Rev’d John Usiwoma Aruakpor. The solidarity visit was led by the Founder/President Silec Initiatives, Amb. Sunny Irakpo, a U.S Government Sponsored Exchange Alumni who was invited by the U.S Government to participate in the prestigious international Visitor’s Leadership Exchange Program of the Department of State in 2019.

Upon his return from the States, the anti-drug ambassador has continued to sensitize the public on the dangers of drug abuse in Nigeria where he currently floats the Delta Beyond Drugs Project to compliment the efforts of the State Government in order to help address the heightened state of drugs and substance abuse.

Irakpo, intimated the plans of the DBD Project to the Diocesan who keep championing innovative projects in Isoko especially the just concluded School of Nursing , Hospital and many other ongoing projects for the Isoko nation. He hinted that the primary objective of the DBD Project is to sensitize the youths and parents alike about the dangers of drug abuse with the various experimentations presently ongoing amongst youths.

He voiced that drug abuse has eaten deeply into the fabric of the society, and the illicit are experimentation by the youths with different hazardous chemicals/ drugs on a regular basis which is even harmful to their health and that the need to address this ugly trends claiming the lives of promising youths in the state is now.

The trend which has become very worrisome in Isokoland and other parts of Delta state, need the attention of all stakeholders to participate in the wellbeing and wellness of our youths and society.

While he appreciated the clergyman for given them the opportunity to collaborate with the church, also related that Silec Initiatives is one of the most active anti-drug NGO in Nigeria, and as a pragmatic organization that has contributed immensely to the fight against drugs merchandise with empirical evidences, remain an NGO recognized at the international level for their exception capacity in the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria for over a decade.

In his response, Bishop Aruakpor was very happy, impressed and proud with the Founder Silec Initiatives Sunny Irakpo for making the Isoko nation proud in Nigeria and across the global space.

And that seeing a young man with such laudable vision with thought provoking ideas and concept is an indication that Isoko nation is on the good path of greatness and progress if only support is given to him and many others who are making the Isoko nation proud.

In his words, I am proud of you for all the giant strides you have made in this nation in this life transforming Initiative.

We gladly welcome you home for we need you at this critical moment that our youths are becoming something else in the name of drugs. As a diocese ,we are doing our best in the environment we’ve found ourselves as we continue to apply the ant philosophy to achieve all the God given projects to us. For there’s nothing , I lay my hands that God will not help me to accomplished. So in this campaign against drugs and substance abuse in Delta State Particularly in Isokoland, we are solidly behind you to drive the message back home. We shall give Silec Initiatives the full support and to also rally round in the area of funding for the sustenance of the project. We shall also try our best to reach out to the various stakeholders of which we are also involving the Nigeria Police, all the clergy and the youths.

Other members of the team were Kingsley Ewomarevia Silec Initiatives Community Liaison Coordinator, James Agholor, Director of Publication Silec Initiatives, top Isoko artistes Obara Obaro (MC Moonlight) and Funky Franky a music impresario.

The event is schedule to take place with a mega rally to mark the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking on the 10th June ,2023 in Partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Oleh Church of Nigeria by 8:am at the Cathedral of Paul as a meeting point to take off.

The founder Silec Initiatives enjoined all Sons and Daughters of Isoko to come out enmass to vehemently resist this enemy of progress of youths, Isoko nation, Delta State and Nigeria in general.

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