Dear Friends and Compatriots,
I would like to thank you all for your birthday wishes, I am forever grateful to each and every one of you. I took my time to read each message and read every message; my 46th birthday went like every other birthday, a normal day no fanfare, few phone calls and a prayer or two from my two darling sisters.
Since I am not one for birthday parties and celebrations, its been my tradition in recent years to write one or two personal stories on my birthday, it was extremely pleasing that I was able to spend the day in my city of birth Lagos and please find below the words that came to my mind, forgive me if you find the personal story boring and apolitical but I am hoping the story will strike one or two friends. Thank you again and may the good Lord bless each and every one of you, may God forgive us our sins and give our leaders and followers alike the wisdom to turn liberate Nigeria from Nigerians.
Joseph and Rabi - The Two Icons Who Built My Character - Kayode Ogundamisi
I was born on the 12th of August 1968 in Mushin, Lagos Nigeria. My mother told me I was delivered by an ‘elewe omo’ (traditional midwifes who use local herbs in the practice of medicine).
My arrival into Nigeria was as a result of the union between a liberal Christian father whose main hobby was telling stories of heroic and not so heroic tales of his experience as a young man who served in Nigeria’s military.
Joseph My father migrated from Ikare Akoko and marries his fellow Akoko ‘girlfriend’ in Lagos. My Fathers greatest gift to me was his unrelenting repetition of the phrase “Kayode I will tell you over and over again, contentment is the key to peace of mind”.
My mother was the opposite, a strong Muslim, extremely ambitious, courageous and sometimes carefree to the point that we felt she didn’t care about her children.
My mum would say “go and wander in the forest, go and survive, that is the reality of life”. She is the mother who would be told her son had gotten into a fight and would simply shrug her shoulders replying, “that is what a man should do to survive”. Till date I am still trying to understand my mother.
Here is one woman who in one day found Lagos too ‘fake and unwelcoming’ and simply gathered her belongings, left Lagos to settle not in the urban town of Ikare but the deep farmlands in the village, farming, trading, engaging in local politics and also rebellious in every way. Her first love was the Akoko land, the cocoa farm, I still cant understand her love for farming, she speaks to the land, her spiritual attachment to planting and harvesting is still a mystery.
When I listen to my father discuss his role during the Nigerian civil war and how I was born as he was away fighting to keep Nigeria one. All I saw was the picture of my mother in the trenches; my father never cut the picture of someone who could hurt a fly, he was principled but reserved, stubborn with a difference, several time i have witnessed him conceding every inch of any argument to my mother.
It was my father who taught me how to cook, how to wash dishes after every meal, how not to go to bed without having your bath, how to respect others without losing your own dignity, how to stay away from an argument if it will lead to violence. He was the soldier with the touch of a woman and you know, women are perceived to be weak but in reality strong in every sense of the word.
It was Joseph Ogundamisi who showered me with the love of MOTHER & FATHER but it was my strong mother who conferred courage on me. It was she who set me free at an early stage in life, and to her I owe a lot when it comes to my spirit of resilience but to both of them I owe ALL and it is to the glory of God, the love of Late Joseph Ogundamisi and the indomitable spirit of my mother that today August 12 2014, precisely 46 years after she gave birth to me that what they bestowed on me is the resolute belief that nothing is more satisfying than a duty to humanity, a duty to serve those whose voices may be trampled on.
It is to them that I owe my appreciation of the fact that serving your community and being involved in activities to make your country better is not a gift to your people but a privilege.
My country and my community do not owe me a thank you for thinking about the downtrodden, I owe God a lot for giving me the privilege to appreciate that walking away into your own comfort zone when others are suffering is the greatest disservice to humanity.
And when people wonder why I don’t get shaken by attempts to arm-twist me, or force me into a path I am not convince is right, they fail to see that I am a product of 2 great icons and today, I say thank you to a father who left the world in hurry and a big loving thank you to a mother we breathed courage into my lungs.
12th August 12, 2014