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!).

From left: Oba Adedayo Olaloko Shobekun, Alhaji Kola Animasaun, and Engr Abiodun Adenekan, during the public presentation/ launching of the Voice of Reason Volume 2, by Alhaji Kola Animasaun, in Lagos. Photo: Kehinde Gbadamosi

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.


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