Denrele Animasaun, London
A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.-Anonymous
I cannot tell you when I first had my first proper conversations with my dad, but I know he has always been present and handing out those pearls of wisdom of his for as long as I can remember. I know for sure , that I am a daddy’s girl and when I was younger, I remember going to my father to report my mother!
Of course, they both saw the funny side of it. My father does not chastise us much but I dreaded displeasing my dad . Not because he was explosive, he wasn’t . He was always very calm and it takes a lot to anger him. He would tell you off by asking what was the rationale behind your action. That hurts more, much more.
My father reminded us earlier on that it is best to help others and to be helpful to others. He often reminds us the futilities of human lives and although I did not want to hear but he lets us know, that he too, will die sometime. I love my dad because I can always talk to him.
He has a way of making things look simpler and always makes solutions accessible. I have tried my dad’s patience; many a time if he was disappointed, he never let on. He was happy for me to follow my dreams as long as I am being productive.
In terms of my relationships with men. He warns me that if a man should lift his hand in anger, I should leave the man. My father also shared this: if he had a choice to choose who to save between his wife or his children. He will save 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 like the fact my dad drops nuggets of quotations. These are life lessons for as long as I can remember . So here are some that I got from him and that I live by and that serves me well.
On one of his many visits to London, dad and I went to Dalston market to get things for the folks back home in Nigeria. He went for some trousers for my brothers and the other young males living in our home(it is very common for relatives or my brother’s friendsto come and stay and never leave!).
He picked the trousers all the same colour, cut and sizes. But there was not enough to go round so I told him to just get for my brothers. Why do you have to get for the others when they go to their folks who will buy them clothes and not my brothers!
My father smiled and said: “it is not what others do for you that what matters, it is what you do for others” Dad said always ensure you treat people equally. I have always had the impression that dad prefer to have had sons but he told me that he was always excited when mum had daughters. Because sons grow up, leave home and have their own families. Daughters, he said, would always take care of their parents in spite of having a family of their own.
We travelled abroad as a diplomat family; we experienced different countries, cultures and privileges. Dad was always there even after a busy day. He always had time to talk. On return to Nigeria we weathered the changes and through it all, dad has always remained positive and with an unshakeable faith in God.
My dad said make friends who will add to your life and not subtract from it. This has always served me well when I choose friends and my friends have always been like family to me. I have always known my parents to be loving and accommodating towards one another and to others people.
My mum and dad are complimentary. My father says my mother completes him, I beg to differ: they complete each other. In my years of living at home during which they have had their good and bad times , I have never witnessed or heard heated arguments. There are traditions that remain till today: our yearly call from mum and dad on our respective birthdays , Eid celebrations and Ramadan .
Music has always featured in the background of my childhood and I attributed my love of different genre of music from funk, soul to Apala music to my dad. My dad has always come up with some innovative ideas. Dad started rabbit breeding because he learnt that they had lean meat and that they were very nutritious. Well, there was no way I was going to eat fluffy bunny rabbits so I became a vegetarian and my dad took delight in telling me how tasty they were!
My father was patient and generous with me, in particular, when I raided his bespoke shirts and suits and fashioned it to my taste. My father has fine taste in clothes, very dapper and loves good quality shoes and he had a walk that shows he was one of the boys in his time.He is a man of integrity, very content with his lot, a loyal friend, dutiful husband, a family man and one who believes deeply in God.
He insists that we are devotional with our prayers and zakat. Always ensuring that I honour my obligations to Allah.
My dad is my biggest cheer leader who seems to know that I am much more than I think I am! He also believes that I have at least a book in me and I might surprise him. As my dad gets older, I have learned to take on all the advice he freely gave us through the years and use it wisely to guide myself through life and pass them down to my own children.
It has not always been smooth -sailing but my dad has always said to us that Allah is in control. When my dad became unwell, it was the faith that my dad instill in all of us that saw the family through and, Insha Allah, he recovered and I look at him as I always have … he remains my hero . I pray to God that he remains well and stick around for a while longer.
*Kola Animasaun turned 73 last Thursday.