I knew my Daddy in three curves of life – a sinusoidal one. The one I grew up knowing him as the wealthiest man in the world since he took us to beaches, Trans Amusement Park and could afford a costly school in Lagos. I also saw him lose his job, forget everything including “friends,” come to Ibadan seldom, but he never lacked the goodness in him. The final was when he got his job back, and if he did not reach the previous height of perceived wealth I thought he had, he had more than enough at every season.
Here is another remembrance of a very good man, a great father, who left this span of life. These days, remembering my father, Mr. Iyiola Olatunbosun Theophilus Onigbinde comes with more of lessons than grief. The grief does not end because a day like this brings back all that could have been. Like, allow him to sit back in that reclining chair share another rehash of Akintola and Awolowo crisis, and our grandfather’s role in it, his simple luxuries of wristwatches and cars, eat “eko and ekuru” on Saturday evenings and also the final transition to owning a printing press. My father always wanted to have a printing press, a decision he did not make and built a chair/table/canopy rental business – Mercy Rentals died slowly when he could not keep up with new designs. The chairs and tables were picked in the neighborhood for personal houses. Always amused to find his chairs in people’s living rooms.
I will take three lessons from his life:
Giving: My father was a giver, and he did it even in abundance and in want. I grew up learning a small sobriquet of the man “Presi, the Chair, Baba gbogbo aiye”. He would arrange the entire street ( I mean the entire street) and wheel us to the beach. I know we did this in Badagry and Eleko beaches. He had no restraint in how much he could give, and I doubt anyone who met him would make a contrary statement. Till he lost his Michelin job, he brought us Christmas cloth with crisp labels, and that was so cherished in our childhood. When he got on his feet back with another job at Milan, he was back to his best, his responsibility. If Baba at 3.55pm tells you to go to the bank, certainly, he will not fail you. Even while I worked in First Bank, I never stopped asking him for money due to my debt-ridden life. He came naturally to him, giving. Seye, my younger brother, when he appears back with 1,000 note will say in smiles, “Baba sure”
Faith: Daddy always had faith in me. Through that aborted Special Gift School dream, going through that tortuous journey to change my course from Petroleum Engineering to Electrical/Electronics Engineering and finally for standing firm with me when I left First Bank for BudgIT. He believed in the whole idea, and it comes with great pain and memory when my mortal self-thinks I could have done more to keep him alive. I could feel the pride in him when I arrived in his office and introduced me to his bosses, the Indians – “that’s my son.”
Duty: I grew up knowing Daddy as someone who cared and gave his all – family, work and every responsibility. It was not just about money, but it was also there. I knew how he traveled almost every weekend to meet his wife, my mother. I remembered how he chided me for not attending the funeral ceremony of his sister, Iya Oyo and I could not even give him a kobo. He just hated people who cared too little, and for him, it is an essential duty of man. He did this knowing that people cared too small about his needs when he was financially down, he was never in want of being a good man.
As a man or husband, he had his flaws, a painstaking reminder of his choices but he was a perfect father. I would not have chosen another. He would have been sixty today, and you can imagine how grand it could have been. I am trying to keep his memory through rehabilitation of a technology workshop in my alma mater and a token to the few persons around him when he left us.
Olatunbosun Iyiola Theophilus Onigbinde
November 4, 1957 – May 14, 2014
My good man, Rest in Peace