Born into an impoverished polygamous family with an enormous lump on his chest, a bad health condition, no doubt; and crippled as a child, Anthony Olanrewaju Awotoye, popularly known as Tony Tetuila, is proof that a man’s beginning does not necessarily determine his future.
This Oro, Kwara State born recording artiste and song writer is widely regarded as one of Nigeria’s living Hip-Hop legends and in his own words, owes his success and life to God and his mother’s love, bravery, selflessness and prayers.
On this week’s celebrity edition of the reality show ‘Supermom’, Mrs Cecilia Awotoye, Tetuila’s mother, tells the heart-wrenching and mind-boggling story of how she succeeded in raising her children, especially the precocious Tetuila, against all odds.
According to her, nothing can aptly describe the pain a mother feels just watching helplessly as her son dies slowly because she can’t afford to pay his medical bills.
Although things had been tough generally for the family, the worst of her ordeals started when she noticed a lump growing on Tetuila’s chest. “I cried every time I looked at him. I prayed endlessly to God to spare his life and I didn’t give up hope.”
As any caring mother would, she took him to the places she could afford but no remedy came through until she visited the General Hospital in Ojuelegba, Lagos. There, he was operated on and grew up to be a strong child despite the pain and suffering he had to endure.
Months later, just when she was beginning to rejoice at his speedy recovery, she realised the kid who would later become Africa’s music golden son couldn’t walk. “We started visiting hospitals again and every time a doctor said my son would never walk, I prayed and cried to God. I never stopped telling them that my son would walk again!
There was one day I was returning to the hospital and I had to trek all the way with him on my back because there was no means of transportation; (Former Head of State, Mohammed) Murtala had just died and there was a bit of unrest in the country then.”
Months after, her miracle came. Tetuila started walking again! “I couldn’t stop thanking God when I saw my son stand up and walk. Till today, I still thank God for him,” she recalls in an emotion-laden voice on this week’s episode of the Supermom Celebrity edition which airs this weekend on the AIT Networks, Galaxy, MITV and other terrestrial television stations across Nigeria.
Raising children in a polygamous home with a husband who cared little about the welfare of his family and also suffering series of domestic violence, Mrs Awotoye had to take responsibility for the upkeep of her children and family.
“I was his (Tetuila’s father) first wife but it didn’t matter to him. He beat me so hard one day neighbours came advising me to pack and leave him but to where? He will always be the father of my children and I didn’t want to raise them as a single mother so I stayed and endured the pain.”
There was nothing Tetuila’s mother didn’t sell to make ends meet and put food on the table for her kids. From slippers to cigarette, groundnut, sugarcane and even cooking pots, she hawked and sold them all for their sake.
She continues, “I promised myself never to let them suffer or turn bad and wayward because of suffering. There was no point begging people for money when I have my hands and legs intact so I worked…I worked very hard. I did not look at the shame and insults from people around us. I knew things would get better one day”.