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Awolowo taught me how to persevere – Pa Akomolafe

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•Says without maternal uncle’s help, he may not have been educated

By Wale Akinola

Chief Adepoju Akomolafe, a member of the federal parliament representing Ondo Province during the First Republic, is one of those God has blessed with longevity. In this age where death has become  so cheap,  Akomolafe will, on Wednesday, April 4, clock 100 years. Baba’s story is rich. He is among the first people to be educated in Ekiti in then Western Region, having obtained a B.A. London degree as a private candidate. Akomolafe made history when he became the pioneer principal of Ekiti Parapo College, Ido-Ekiti, the second secondary school to be established in 1954 in Ekiti after Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti Parapo College emerged from the joint efforts of Ekitis and in remembrance of Kiriji War the Ekitis fought with Ibadan. The centenarian was later elected into the  federal parliament on the platform of then Action Group (AG), led by the late saga, Chief  Obafemi Awolowo. Papa, in this interview, speaks on how life has been good to him over the last one century.

Congratulations ahead of the celebration of your 100th birthday. How does it feel to be 100 especially in an era when death, regardless of age, is commonplace?

Pa-Akomolafe

I am in the hand of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  He brought me into this world. In fact, when he brought me into the world, He gave me a very clear picture of it, that He, with His own hand, took sand out of the earth and moulded me into human nature but in His own image. And when He has done that, He breathed into me, and that is the life I have. And then, thinking I would be lonely, He made me into a seed and put me inside the womb of a woman who eventually became my mother.  It was just normal: My mother and father were living together.

My mother got pregnant. It was not her first pregnancy. And then I was born,/ I was a special child. I grew up, went to school, married, and became a man of the world.  But Jesus didn’t want me to be a man of the world. So, He sent the Holy Spirit to bring me back unto Him. Since then, I have continued to be in Christ. I think the last time I had sex, and that was with my wife, was over 30 years ago. I give glory to God that all my children and others who are close to me have been influenced by my way of life. I am so happy about that.

Beginning

I was very happy. Things were normal. I didn’t have double way of life. Things were beautiful.  My education, for instance,  was sponsored by my maternal uncle, the late Mr. S.K. Familoni, who sent me to primary school in those days. Then I went to Ondo Boys High School. I did so well in the Ondo school  but I could not finish my secondary education there.  From there I went to St. Andrew’s College Oyo. I worked on my own after finishing at Oyo.

I did the B.A. London degree programme as a private candidate. The Lord has been with me throughout.

Challenges of school

It was very easy. Life was a lot different than what it is now.  It was difficult but we did not feel it because we  believed  it was normal. My maternal uncle paid my school fees in primary school and for the  short stay I had in Ondo Boys High School.  At St. Andrew’s College, Oyo, I did not pay school fees because it was a missionary college where education was free.

Working

I took my disciplined way of life which saw me through school to the period during which I worked. I have never been a debtor all my life.  I did my job the way it should be done, saved money and brought up my children one after the other.

Funding Ekiti  Parapo College

It was good having students from all over Ekiti enrolling in the school and I superintending as pioneer Principal.  People enjoyed putting their children there because, apart from Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti ,which had been founded at that time, there was no other school in Ekiti. And the founding of the school was a joint effort of Ekiti people and Ido-Ekiti had the fortune of being the host community. It was a bit difficult job being the Principal but I enjoyed doing it.

Politics

I did not want to go into politics, but I had to because of the environment in which I found myself.  My people needed good representation in government to attract development. And after I had gone into politics, I became a different person altogether to the extent that I became a member of the federal parliament, representing the whole of what then was Ondo Province.

The political life of that time was not like  the kind of prejudicial politics that politicians of  today play. I was in Action Group founded by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Although being in politics at that time had its own challenges, people encouraged us because what was required  of us was selfless service.

The politics in place would have been motivated by the passion to serve the people unlike today when going into politics is motivated by the quest for wealth. I was in politics up to the mid 1960s and a member of the AG executive. I can recollect that there was not a second of Awolowo. His life meant nothing to him.

He gave up personal comfort to serve the people.  Many people, especially the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the then NCNC, hated him.  They persecuted him. But he bore it without bating an eyelid.  Some of us, his associates, learnt from him the spirit of bearing difficult situations and overcoming.

Politics of then and now

The politics of that time and the one of today are incomparable. The politics of today is informed by what you can take from it, while the politics of our time was motivated by what you could  contribute to the system.  At that time, we were the ones financing the party from our small earnings and not government.

Secret of longevity

I knew I could live long because of my disciplined way of life.  And I have the hand of God in my life. You can see the herb tea I am drinking. I do not eat much. I don’t drink alcohol. And like I told you earlier, the last time I had sex with a woman was 30 years ago. My way of life has been serving the people.  And when you serve the people diligently, God has a way of rewarding you with long life.

Advice to younger generations

The younger generations cannot be compared with us. But I have trained my children to let my way of life reflect in their relationships with their fellow human beings.

Happiest moments

My happiest moments are not when I enjoy or things go well for me, but those moments when my actions give the people happiness.

Regrets

As a human being, there must have been certain things that ought not to have happened in one’s life.

But there is no need remembering them because they won’t do you any good.  What I like to remember are those things I did which were successful.

Advice as an educationist and politician

Today’s politicians should be forthright and give selfless service. That is the only way forward for the development and prosperity of the country.  And it is my joy that almost everybody who passed out of Ekiti Parapo College during my time have been successful.

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