Nothing begins and nothing ends
That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in others’ pain
And perish in our own.
(Francis Thomas 1859-1907)
It began on Thursday, September 29 of the adult 1980s when a boy was born in Oyo. Friends rejoiced, neighbors sang, to the hospital, brothers ran, but the mother wept, for as usual, her husband was not around.
My father was an impossible human being, Late Chief M. K. O. Abiola offered him the heavy amount of N100, 000 of the old times to silence him on a political issue but he rejected it, crossing horns with the power of the time and as usual, ending up being dragged away by soldiers or policemen to places where all men of truth and fearlessness may go at one time or the other in their lives if truly they’re fighters. When he returned days later, he told my mum, wiping her tears: “This boy of ours has spoken to me when he was in the womb. He said they’ll arrest me again but he’ll bring me back, and here I am, back. Isn’t he trustworthy?” My mother herself, tough but not finding my father’s activism entertaining to the marriage and home, looked away from him without a word. But my father sat next to her and turned her head to him by cradling her chin. “This boy’s name will be Mos’ud (Moshood)”, he told her, “a trustworthy person. He has my spirits. He will conquer retrogressive forces and eliminate ideas that kill nations. His wars have been conquered for him before he was born. Be angry at me not, my dear, for if I do not speak against the evil doers and fight them like I do, it means I’m in support of them”. (Or so was my mothers story of the old times).
My mother groaned, my father wept,
Into the dangerous world I leapt;
Helpless, naked, piping aloud,
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
(William Blake 1757-1827)
I was named Moshood on the eighth day of my birth, and Babatunde was attached as my middle name for they believed I was the Aremo Salawu Onisile that died two years before. Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III whose relationship with my father then was cordial sent two rams and N100 of the time for the celebration. He also sent two names, Kofoworade and Adekunle, which I no longer bear. Who would’ve known that the same person will obstruct my inauguration as SUG President, 20+ years later. Who would have guessed that the same monarch whose name cannot be separated from my life story would be someone who would kill us if we let him?
Our ingress in the world
Was naked and bare;
Our progress through the world
Is trouble and care.
(Henry W. Longfellow 1807-1882)
I attended Onipede Primary School, Eleja, Itire-Lagos; then FGGC Staff School, Owinni-Oyo from where I left to Ifedapo Community (Sp) Primary School, Opapa-Oyo. Isale Oyo Community Grammar School, Oke-Oroki, Oyo offered my secondary education but didn’t offer O’level. Imini Grammar School, Imini via Ilora did. Then Oyo State (now Emmanuel Alayande) College of Education, Oyo catapulted me to Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo (affiliated to O.A.U. Ile-Ife) and here I am; the man called Lord eBay is made.
In the dark womb where I began
My mother’s life made me a man.
Through all the months of human birth
Her beauty fed my common earth.
I cannot see, nor breathe, nor stir,
But through the death of some of her.
(John Masefield 1878-1967)
Many years ago, I challenged my father: “You never celebrated my birthday for me; you never organized a party like my friends parents do”. He looked at me with a grin and waved me over. He asked me to fill a bowl with water and bring a glass cup separately. I rushed around curiously and got the request met. Then we sat opposite each other with the table upon which these items were placed standing between us. He held the bottom of the cup to the surface of the water and told me: “You are this glass cup; empty, transparent and innocent. You know nothing, you fear no one except the darkness like every other child. You are buoyant and you float on the water. The water is the earth beneath us, beneath your feet. People fear to go below the surface into the water (earth), every human detests to. But at every year, particles that fly about in the air deposit themselves in the cup. These particles are the experiences you will encounter while sailing through life. They will make you less innocent and fill you up with beliefs, knowledge, information both true and untrue and other things which will make you heavier on the water and starts to sink you slowly. The more the years, the heavier you become. And soon enough, eventually, like every other man born of woman, you will drown. If anyone celebrates his or her birthday, that is what they celebrate, their death. It’s not a bad idea though, but it’s not my thing. I would rather pray and fast”.
What he said didn’t scare me for I didn’t understand him until I was older. “What happens after drowning?” I’ve only asked in my exuberant curiosity but he seemed to have lost interest in the topic. What he said after that wasn’t much. “People will try to drown you even though you’re not ripe for it, you must not allow them.” He warned me. “You must fight fiercely and must never forget to seek God’s help. Not a hair of any man’s body can be touched unless God consents. But no matter what, every man is doomed to drown at one time or the other. So, remember, you have little time. This world has no true wealth to offer you; you must never be enticed by its materials. You should rather live to help the world with your innate wealth, which is the greatest of all wealth on earth that everyone is given but dumped; prudence, truthfulness, valor, love and goodwill.” Then he stood and left me looking at the cup and the bowl of water.
The last time I saw my father alive in UCH, Ibadan, he gave me his ring. “Look at this ring”. He beckoned me over. “I bought it at the price of N100. People would never expect to find me wearing a ring as cheap as this. But let’s be honest now. If I die here, will I be remembered for the price of the ring I wore or the nature of my deeds? Money is not wealth, remember that. Keep that ring for me, will you?”
I nodded, incapable of words. The thought of him dying made my lips too heavy to move. Tears danced across my face silently. And then I suddenly found the courage of words. “Never!” I screeched out of my gritting teeth. “You will never die.” He looked at me this time penetratingly, smiled and looked the other way, through a window that was looking down upon screams and pains and agony of injured/sick people.
“Go back to Oyo now.” His voice came lightly. “Go and attend your lectures and exams. This old man has lived his life, go and live yours. Every man is the product of his own hard work, mindset and sweats.”
The day that followed, it was his dead body I saw. I hid myself away from people’s cries and buried my head in-between my thighs, I can’t remember whether I cried or not. But I remember one thing, I felt lonely. I never knew his birth date until I saw his obituary poster. He never celebrated his birthday for once, no parties. He said such a thing wasn’t his thing.
Today, September 29, 2014. I can’t seem to think about nothing else than the fact that I’m sinking and I’ve not made any titanic impact in the lives of people around me as my father has lectured me. I’m thinking right now, if I die now, will I be remembered for any good thing at all? Warren Buffet started buying shares at the age of 11 and still regrets that he started too late. When my father was at my age, he was already buying cars. How old are Wizkid, Davido, and Justin Beiber when compared to my age and are they not known for one thing or the other? Gen. Muritala Muhammed was younger than me when he became the Head of State. Alexander the Great was the greatest conqueror in history and he died at the age of 21; achieved eternal glory within short time. Someone invented the clock. Someone invented the sewing machine. What have I invented in my life?
September 29, here you are again and I have nothing to show you as achievements, are you not angry at me? Miguel de Cervantes who wrote Don Quixote was also born on September 29 and he has a history now. Are you not pissed off? Are you not regretting that you allowed me space in you? Please don’t be displeased with me yet, my country doesn’t appreciate greatness among the common people and our schools discourage gallantry and mental independence. That is what has been delaying me. The materials are not available; I have to manufacture my own strength. But come back in 2015, whether I’ve graduated from school or not, I promise you, I’ll make you proud.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
(William Wordsworth 1770 – 1850)
Lord eBay, LeScoth.
For myself, on my birthday.