Excerpts from my autobiography: Once ERASED…Now RAISED…
Alfred AYININUOLA AKINLAMI died on Sunday, February 1, 2009 after a protracted illness. I had just returned to Lagos from my mother’s burial ceremony, which took place on Friday, January 30, 2009 in our hometown, Ondo, when the news reached me that my father had passed on.
My father had many trials in life. At a stage in his life, he was struck by a strange illness. He fought his way to recovery. He did not lose hope at all. It was after his recovery that he got a job in the defunct National Bank as a white collar officer. He married my mum at the age of 41 and mum was 28. After they got married, National Bank transferred my father to its Ado Ekiti Branch.
He was barely educated beyond elementary level, but he was very industrious and hard working. I think I learnt the virtue of hard work from my father.
What my father lacked in formal education, he had in native intelligence. I remember how he would be called upon in the office when accounting problems became knotty. My father always came to the rescue. He was an invaluable worker to the bank. The bank gave him series of awards and prizes for his contributions.
He was amiable and he related with people easily. His friends nicknamed him, Social. He was seen as the arrow head of his extended family, though he was not the oldest. My father was a liberal soul, who gave out of his substance to his family members and associates.
My maternal grandmother loved him so much as he never shirked from his responsibilities as a son-in-law. He was always there when mum’s family needed him. I remember when his half brother was out of job. He invited him from Ondo to Ado Ekiti to stay with us. My father was responsible for his upkeep for the period in question.
My father had a Yoruba Bible and led us in morning devotion, though it was not a consistent practice. He did not attend church regularly but he once enrolled me in the choir of an Anglican Church, located at Okesha Street, Ado Ekiti. It was an opportunity for me to socialise with other children outside the school setting. I enjoyed it and learnt some songs, which are still with me today. One of the songs I learnt had its theme built around Romans 6: 1, ‘…Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?’ From this song and many others that we sang in the choir I learnt that sin was a reproach.
My father trusted easily. I think he believed in the good of everybody. One day he engaged in an intense argument with the ‘landlord’ of the apartment we lived. The subject of the altercation was that he did not pay the rent for the immediate past month. The ‘landlord’ maintained that my father did not pay. He maintained that he paid to the ‘landlord’ but was asked to pick up his receipt of payment afterwards. It was the ‘landlord’s’ word against my father’s. Unfortunately, my dad was the underdog in the relationship that existed between the ‘landlord’ and him. Faced with the reality that the lord of the land (our ‘landlord’) could wield the big stick and show us the way out of the apartment, my father had to painfully squeeze out a repayment from the lean purse of the family. Did I believe my father? Yes I did. His practice was to set apart our rent when he received his salary. Apart from that, my father had a very good memory. The fate that befell him was so painful. He just trusted that the ‘landlord’ would give him his receipt later.
My father spoke a lot in Yoruba proverbs and I picked a lot from him. It is difficult for me today to speak a sentence without reaching out to the wisdom of elders in Yoruba proverbs. He was also very witty in Yoruba folklore and would spice them with songs. Once in a while he would share with us stories. These stories taught patience, contentment, respect for elders and many other life lessons, which had remained with me till today. Some of these stories come handy as anecdotes when I speak and write.
There was a remarkable story he told us. It taught contentment and gratitude. According to my father, a man decided that his situation was irredeemable. He was poor. The only asset he had to his name was a cup of beans. He decided he was going to commit suicide. On the eve of his suicide mission, he decided to prepare two wraps of moi-moi. He ate a wrap as dinner and chose to eat the other as breakfast. Arriving at the scene of his suicide, he climbed a tree, prepared a noose, unwrapped the last wrap of moi-moi and threw away the leaf. Something strange caught his attention – he saw a man chasing after the leaf he had thrown away. The man caught the leaf before it reached the ground and began to lick it profusely. At this point the other man, who thought his situation was the worst on earth changed his mind and abandoned his noose.
My father loved music. He was a faithful fan of King Sunny Ade, Chief Ebenezer Fabiyi Obey, Dr. Orlando Owoh, Admiral Dele Abiodun, Idowu Animasahun, Francis Akintade, Haruna Isola, I.K Dairo (Baba Aladura), Chief Ojo Ojurongbe and others. He bought every record they released into the market and would treat himself to their insightful and rhythmic tunes on his radiogram. The radiogram was like a brown box, housing speakers, a space for keeping the records and a player. My father had acquired it before I was born. Prominent among Chief Ojo Ojurongbe’s song that stuck to my memory goes thus: ‘do not become conceited because of your attainments, not even when you receive accolade from men. Humble yourself and show respect to all. Know that nothing is new under the sun. To do otherwise is to fight against your own progress. Don’t.’ From Chief Ojo Ojurongbe’s song, I learnt the wisdom in humility.
I think my father also sought after knowledge. He was an avid follower of current affairs as he would religiously read his favourite newspapers, The Punch, Nigerian Tribune, and defunct Daily Times. He was not involved in politics but he was an ardent believer in Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his United Party of Nigeria (UPN).
One of his commitments, despite his meagre resources was to give us, his six children, the best of education. Though, this was a commitment he could not fulfil before he completely went bankrupt.
My father honoured his father and mother. He would travel regularly from Ado Ekiti to visit his aged father and mother. He would also take us along with him to see them. He would also take us to our maternal grandmother’s house. He would not go empty-handed. He would go with tubers of yam and other things that he believed aged people would appreciate. When my grandfather, Pa David Akinlami died my dad led his siblings to give their late father a befitting burial.
He put some money aside to buy a piece of land and began to erect an eight-room bungalow on it. He however did not finish the building due to financial downturn, which he suffered due to some poor decisions he made towards the end of his retirement from the defunct National Bank of Nigeria.
My father did not do much in the area of parenting. I would not blame him. I believe he was a product of the kind of parenting he received from his own parents. He could not give what he did not have.
Dear father you gave your best. You gave your best of what was available to you. I am glad that through you I came to life, and breath is the foundation of all that I do today and hope to do tomorrow. Thank you for bringing me here to bless humanity.
Do have an INSPIRED and SAFE week.
I am Taiwo AKINLAMI and I remain Sober on My Knees this LORD’s Day.
(C) 2020 by Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUKWU’ AKINLAMI…All Rights Reserved
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