My Father is 78 (2)
By Denrele Animasaun
The other women-Bilikis (my grandmother) and Adedigba were given to other deserving Muslims.
Those who are old enough at Mokola still will call me familiarly Musulumi in remembrance of Alhaji Musulumi Dindi, the revered Mallam of Abeokuta.
Musulumi recognised the Alake but he did what he wanted to do in the fear of Allah. I have heard great stories of his great personage. There was an occasion the Alake asked to see Musulumi-I presume on the affairs of state. He summed him and when he did not come post haste, he summoned him again. But Musulumi, was espousing the Qur’an to Muslims at Ramadan in the Central Mosque at Kobiti, he did not go until he had finished what he had to do. When he finally showed up, the softly speaking Alake asked him why he did not come post haste when he summoned him.
He answered: ‘‘Your Majesty, I was busy minding the commission of my Lord and the Owner of the heaven and earth’’. That was the man after I was named.
I went to so many Quranic schools to learn, I went to Ikereku Idan, I went to Ile Ala. I went to Alfa Tapa. Because of transfer to Kano and Nguru, I did not finish on time. But I eventually finished learning the Qur’an at Ibadan from a contemporary of my father who was a son to veteran Alfa Tapa, Aminu. Just as if I was in school, I made friends from my Qur’anic schools. And that was the end of Islamic learning.
This is not to say I did not try. I tried to go to Egypt to learn enough to hedge my Islam but providence decreed otherwise.
Mother tried all she could to see me through Qur’anic school. She paid every due and endeavoured to do all the sacrifices that were statutorily demanded. Without her support I would not have done the little I did. Mother paid for my schools in England as she did for my brother and sister.
My mother did not learn the Qur’an but she tried to know all that she needed to know to make her Islam worthwhile.
Mother taught me to have faith and to believe in Allah, so did father, the little time he was home with us. As Norman Vincent Peale said, ‘‘the antidote to frustration is calm faith not only in your own cleverness, or in hard toil, but in God’s guidance”. In times of adversities my faith has seen me through. On top of that, Allah has endowed me with a large heart for contentment. I do not covet and I am satisfied with whatever He gives me.
Mother was a workaholic and also a consistent prayer warrior so she combined these two virtues –what the Latin had many centuries, made into a philosophy: ora et labora. I may not be a hard worker like mother, or a warrior like her, I tried to do both all the time.
Someone once asked the Prophet of Islam what was the minimum he should do to make paradise; he said he should say his daily prayers; when Ramadan comes he should submit to its dictates; if he had the ability for Zakat, he paid the poor dues and if he had the ability he should go to Hajj.
My father, my hero
He has a way of making things look uncomplicated and he always makes solutions so accessible. My father has gifted my siblings and I years of memories that will sustain us a lifetime. Some I will share with you. My father came up one day and told us we will be rearing rabbits as they are a good source of meat and that it was very healthy. That day on, I became a vegetarian, much to my father’s amusement. And of course, there was the time, my father demolished the boy’s quaters and erected a fish farm, which is another story for another time. There always logic to my father’s thinking and there was never dull moment with my father around. Weekends and travelling was always a musical affair and I have kept up the tradition with my own children, music remains the soundtrack of my childhood, thanks to my father. It is joy to see my parents dancing or singing along to their favourite artists
There was the time, my father bought a pair of peacock and peahen, much to the annoyance of our neighbours but the joy of seeing a peacock display its tail feathers was a joy to behold.
We had birthday traditions and my father still leads the birthday chorus and this has extended to the grand children. God knows, I have tried my dad’s patience; many a time if he was disappointed, he never let on and stories I could tell you but he was a patient man.
Some years back, my father was unwell and we all rallied round to support him. I would like to thank his friends who helped and supported him the family during the period and continue to, may Allah continue to reward you most abundantly. My father is proud and does not like to ask for help even though he helps people without flinching and he enjoys doing so. During that time, he encouraged me to write, he always said I had a book in me. I guess, he was right and I haven’t stopped since. My father has since recovered and he is enjoying his retirement with my mother and he continues to be supportive and he is my greatest fan.
He was always happy for me to follow my dreams as long as I am being productive.
My father says I am tough, cut from the same cloth as his mother. Now, she was one phenomenal woman.
In terms of my relationships with men, he warned me that if a man should lift his hand in anger, I should leave the man. No man has ever been brave to even try! Most men on meeting my father tell me that, they have big shoes to fill and they are right.
My father also shared this: if he had a choice to choose who to save between his wife or his children. He told me he will save his wife, my mum because he had known my mum much longer than any of us! My dad taught me how to live in the moment and to celebrate life. I was told by my dad that education is an inheritance that once you have it, no one can take it away from you. I appreciate the fact that my dad drops nuggets of quotations, Latin and the odd adage here and there to drive his point home. He is so solution focus, he reassures you that nothing is that dire, it is never impossible. My father told me to make friends with people, who will add to my life and not subtract, this continues to serve me so well and it cuts away negative and superficial friendships. Whenever I call my father, I like the way he exhorts me with my Oriki and this makes me swell with pride. The love that my father has for Allah is so inspiring and he serves with all his being. These are life lessons I will keep for as long as I live.
Happy birthday, Daddi mi.