If you don’t like my book, write your own — Obasanjo. I’ve written my own — Alabi-Isama.
We knew him generally as Godwin. But, in fact, he is Gordon Alabi-Isama and he was a Brigadier in the Nigerian Army. He retired at the age of 37.
I did not read my copy of The Nation until last Tuesday. Anything that has Alabi-Isama would attract my attention. Alabi-Isama and some of us were contemporaries in Abeokuta.
He played notably football. I remember an elder of mine, Dauda, a hunchback. He played as beautiful as any of them. I also remember Rasak Olatunji of Ahmadiyya and ex-Nitel and there were quite a lot of others.
I kept going to the North and to Ibadan and I did not stay that too long in Abeokuta. So, by the time Alabi-Isama went to Ibadan and into the Army we lost contact until the war came and we met briefly at the theatre of war. He was a Lieutenant-Colonel and I met Alani Akinrinade, a handsome young man, he was a Major. I met the Black Scorpion, Benjamin Adekunle, who was the Commander of the Third Marine Commandos.
Alabi must have been incredibly young. Just like the Black Scorpion and both of them were doing incredible things. I was in the company of Winston Churchill (Jnr), the grandson of Randolph Churchill. Winston worked for the Times of London at the time and he was a journalist like his father, Randolph. He insinuated how young Adekunle was and that he was a full colonel. Of course, Adekunle’s countenance changed and he asked how old his grandfather was when he became a colonel in Her Majesty’s Army.
The altercation was such that Winston (Jnr) was red in the face and had to be ferried back to Lagos and then to London the second day from Port Harcourt.
But, at 37, life was just beginning for Alabi and he had to go look for something else to do.
I was amused by the interview: Alabi has practically done many of the things a man must do. But, at 70, he still wants to drive round the whole of Africa; fly an aeroplane; he still wants to cross the River Niger from Jebba and the third thing he wants to do is to have twins (at 70!).
Of course, if Alabi is still fecund, the sky will be the limit. I know Alabi would not lie and that was why the masquerade was laid bare concerning his interaction with Obasanjo. Obasanjo told some untruths in his ‘My Command’. By his condemnation of every soldier in the Third Marine Commando as looters, and such…
I shall look forward to the book that is Gordon Alabi-Isama’s.
My Golden Nights —3
By Prince Bola Ajibola
Bola Ajibola will be 77 on March 22. Since the last two weeks, I have serialised a small story on how he has burnt the midnight oil. He continues today…
Facing this bleak situation with terribly uncomplimentary remarks from my mother became a serious challenge to me in life. I was determined to prove her wrong and even planned to do better than my sister. The grip of that determination was so chronically strong in me that I was determined to put in my very best in our class.
I, therefore, went round to seek for positive solution to my problem of seeking for a better performance in school. The advice I received from friends and colleagues was to regularly attend classes in school and after school to study for the rest of the day at home and possibly to study in the night. I took the advice very seriously from that moment and, therefore, desist from being absent in the school or in the class by ensuring that I improved by studying during the day time and thereafter proceeding to read throughout the night at times. Soon I got used to this practice in order to put my mother to shame for my being brushed aside. I succeed in doing so.
Happily, the thought and practice of studying in the evening and throughout the night was further strengthened when our teacher, Prince Adenuga, in elementary Standard 5 came one day to the class and wrote a quotation on the board which he asked every one of us to write down and memorise. It goes thus:
“The heights that great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions are slept, kept toiling on through the night.”
Our teacher did not tell us where he got the quotation from neither did he tell us the name of the author but he forced us to memorise it, 62 years ago and that got stuck into my memory till today because I kept practicalising this rich thought from time to time in my life. Later, I discovered that this rich adage was that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Thereafter, I gained admission to the Baptist Boys’ High School, Egunya Hill, Abeokuta, in 1950 despite my height which was to my disadvantage because it was the policy of the Baptist Mission in those days not to admit huge, tall and older boys to the school.