This is an autobiography in which the author have tried to let the world know all the challenges he went through right from cradle and how the Lord was able to guide him into a place of rest. This piece would surely encourage believers not to give up no matter the circumstances. Readers who are children of God would also gain insights into how the Lord direct his own people and how he can turn our ashes to beauty. It is a must read for the oppressed and the down-trodden who are desperate to be free financially as it brings to light various pitfalls that one must avoid like a plague.
The Bumpy Road To Freedom
The Bumby Road To Freedom
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My Childhood Days
At Ogbomoso, we settled down at my father’s inherited unit in our extended family house. This family system is a co-habitation of several blood relations running into hundreds. There is little or no privacy, grandma can come in anytime, my mother has no right to stop her, even distant relations can come in, nobody has the right to complain, and as time went on, we got used to this flawed setting.
I was later re-enrolled in a new kindergarten located at Okeelerin, Ogbomoso-a distance of about 2 kilometer from our family house. I later learned how to trek to school. My father having developed himself through self efforts while he was farming had acquired some knowledge in business management and book-keeping, this helped him to secure a job as a manager with a leading departmental store in the town. My mother remained a housewife doing some petty trading in a kiosk constructed for her in front of our house.
I started my primary education in 1972 at Ebenezer Baptist School, Okeelerin, Ogbomoso. I began to show some level of academic excellence at school, some teachers went to the extent of telling my father pay more attention to me. My father will always thank them but he would let them realize that only God could make a child great. I later discovered later in life that he was partly correct and he was partly incorrect because he failed to realize that he has a role to play as a father, and that he must prayerfully guide and mould me.
I could recall with nostalgia my childhood days, our extended family house was an amalgam of the three religions’ faithful, some of my father’s elders were idol-worshippers with affiliation to the Ogun, Sango ,Oro and the Egungun deities. Others who were educated were either Muslims or church-going, nominal Christians. With this blend of inhabitants in our large compound, life to us was so much fun, most especially when it is time for any of these deities to be worshiped. The Oro deity is usually worshiped in the month of June in Ogbomoso, and during this period, women are forbidden to come out in the night, that is within the hours of 6.00PM to 6.00 AM, and with the incarceration of the women, children within my age group will be forced to gather together to listen to folktales from our parents. Male children who are older will go out to of the house to play with their specially designed Oro strings, these are made of rectangular-shaped wood which when swung round at a high speed would be making a characteristic Hou-Hou sound. This prevailing sound usually creates a dreadful atmosphere, therefore the girls and the women hate this festival but the men folk are usually happy because they feel they are superior to the women.
The month of July always brings with it the worship of Egungun masquerades, and my family is not left out because we harbor three namely Kinndin, Osese and Owolaake. Serving as escorts to these and other masquerades in the town is usually the order of the day for those of us who are kids and some adults, as some of them really do their best when it comes to showing their prowess as far as charms and magic is concerned, worthy to be mentioned here is a very popular crowd-pulling one called Ajomaagbodo which means “He who sits without taking a stool”, and as the name implies this masquerade goes about sitting on no stool at all. There is also a masquerade called Adanafojura which means “He who burns himself with the same fire that he ignites”. Adanafojura is always a spectacle to behold, bundles of dried elephant grasses are always carried by some of his followers, and he would always be using these dried stuff to burn himself with the fire that he ignite with his own hand while shouts of “I am catching cold” would be coming from his mouth.
All these egungun masquerades had become a tourist attraction of some sort as tourist always come from far and near to watch their performance which is usually accompanied with a lot of drumming, singing, dancing, and the chanting of their ancestral poetic praises. The drummers that normally accompany the masquerades are always a spectacle to behold because they can ignite chaos through the use of their talking drums when two masquerades who are sworn enemies meet. Drumbeats of “se bololoogun, won gba o leti o subu yege,” which means “but you have always been saying you are powerful, you have only been slapped once and you have fallen down,” are always very common from these drummers. The opposing camp of each masquerade would always consider this drumbeat as an insult to the extent that the masquerade will want to fight, and the moment there is pandemonium, all these drummers will disappear into thin air.
I could remember vividly one Sunday afternoon when one of the masqurades was passing by, I quietly left my mother who was cooking and within some minutes I went out of the compound without the knowledge of my mother, and there was I following another Oroko masquerade- a popular, rag-wearing egungun, with an unusually large crowd following him. People always ascribe this multitude to the powerful charms that he possess, and probably the egungun might have charmed me also because I had not followed him for more than a kilometer when a coming truck who apparently was trying to avoid the crowd ran into a muddy house and in the process pulled down a muddy slab on me. However some elders who had witnessed this incident quickly ran to me, thus pulling me out from the pile of rubble after they had removed the fallen roof.
The elders asked for the whereabouts of my parents, luckily for me I had a slight dislocation within my shoulder and some bruises, some of them volunteered to take me home, and when my father heard the whole story he beat the hell out of me with his koboko - an Hausa-Fulani made horse-whip. I wondered what would have happened if I had died in the process, it was the mercy of God that saved me, because I now realize the futility of all these idolatry.
However, the idea of living in extended family units also has its attendant benefits. We were highly disciplined since we are always surrounded by experienced elders who have seen both the ups and the downs of life. This family system places a high moral value on honesty, hard work and respect for elders. When night falls, some of our elders would gather us together and it would be time for stories and moonlight tales. During the day, if we are not at our different schools, we are either on the streets hawking one or two things for our mums or we are at a nearby river swimming or fishing. All these activities underscore the importance of communal living as a way of life of the Yorubas.
My dad was very instrumental to my mastery of the Yoruba language. He would always sit me down to teach me the meaning of several Yoruba proverbs, poems and songs, and he was well versed in the history of my hometown. Our mother tongue was the choice language throughout the period I was under his direct tutelage. On Sundays, all his children must be dressed in Yoruba traditional costumes which we find very embarrassing sometimes because a lot of our contemporaries would be dressed in foreign costumes. I did not appreciate his foresight and wisdom concerning this issue until the latter part of my life when I was facing a major crisis and I discovered after a thorough search that my mother tongue is a great asset that I can turn into wealth.
My days as a Student-cum-Apprentice
My father was giving me some level of attention academically but when he realized that I am of sharp intellect, he withdrew a little bit from me. My dad had to resign his job as a manager when he found out that he was only trading his freedom and time for money that could hardly feed him and his family. Having acquired some level of experience in drug sales and dispensing he opened a medicine store, life became more meaningful for us with the income from the store.
I finished my primary education in 1977 with a very good grade. The first challenge that I faced was the need for me to secure an admission to a secondary school. I sat for the common entrance examination into secondary schools, I thought I was going to be admitted but I never knew what went wrong I was not selected. I sat also for the entrance examination into modern school-a form of middle school, I was not chosen. My dad felt may be it was not the will of God for me to go to school. He opined that if I could be denied admission even with my sharp intellect one may infer that I would make a living from learning a trade.
Because I had a natural flair for making electrical connections using lose copper wires right from childhood, I was signed up for apprenticeship with an electrical/electronics technician for a period of 3 years. Being an apprentice at a tender age of 11 years entails paying a price, you must be a good follower, you must respect your seniors, when a senior issue a command, you must obey without asking questions. My first week at the workshop was quite eventful, I was taught the various colour codes used in evaluating the resistance of different resistors. However the following week I was welcomed to the kingdom of electricity in an unusual manner. One of my seniors called me to go and get him a screw-driver from the drawer of our workshop table, which they had wired with live current. I rushed to the place to retrieve the instrument like an obedient lamb; it was thereafter that I experienced an electric shock. I moved back a little, looked around but the faces of the seniors did not suggest that something was amiss. One of them yelled at me saying, “Are you blind or can’t you see the tool?” I tried again but when the whole scene repeated itself, I cried out only for me to see my seniors laughing hysterically. This made me feel like abandoning the training.
Sometimes I get caned for daring to challenge my seniors whenever I feel I am being cheated. There was a day I reported the various forms of abuse I was being subjected to my dad, he showed me various scars on his body. These he said he got from his master while he was learning carpentry, he simply told me to endure the pains of learning
About 2 months into my apprenticeship, news filtered into the ears of my father that some group of people has petitioned the ministry of education over the ways and manner in which the entrance examination into the then modern schools was conducted. A review of the entire admission process was ordered, less than a month after my letter of admission came. The big question before me was whether I should abandon my apprenticeship in order to resume schooling, I chose to go to school solely but my father will not hear this as he unilaterally decided that I should combine schooling with the apprenticeship.
I had no choice but to cope, I will go to school on week days and by 5.00PM of each day I must report at the electronic workshop. On Saturdays I have to resume fully, and because I am naturally gifted I was coping quite well with this arrangement. This apprenticeship gave me an edge over other students.