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My Father, Kola Animasaun on his 79th birthday (2)

By Denrele Animasaun

I needed not bother: the post was not only efficient but safe. My letter of appointment came. But before then I had come across a Muslim newspaper – The Truth. It was published by the Ahmadiyya Movement, at 45, Idumagbo Avenue on the Island. In my last year at school I had written one or two reviews for the Daily Express and oh boy, was I excited! I saw my name in print – Kola Animasaun. I saw a future for myself. So, I went to the offices of The Truth and asked to see the editor. Unceremoniously, I came face to face with Maulvi Naseem Saivi, a Pakistani. A few questions, he thought he could make a reporter of me. He did not disguise his reason for wanting me: that became obvious when he changed my first by-line from my usual signature – Kola Musulumi Animasaun – to Muslim Animasaun. He wanted the Nigerian community to know Muslims also could write.”

My father has a way of taking you through time and places with his written words.

His generosity is legendary. He once gave his best suit to his wife’s first cousin, who was leaving for the States, and years later, the same young man never forgets and he tells everyone how much the gesture means to him. This young man is now a governor! There are many more who can attest to my father’s spirit of giving and sharing. To him, he enjoys giving and does not give it much thought; it is second nature to him.

As my father, of course, I am bias but truth be told, he is like a father to many and they will back me up on how incredible a man he is. Those whom he trained as the chairman of the Vanguard Editorial Board or as a lecturer at NUJ, speak so highly of him so I know that not just gushing lyrical because he is my father .When father calls my name, I feel ten feet tall he always makes you feel important.

My dad taught me of how to live in the moment and to celebrate life. My father drummed into his children that education is not an inheritance, that once you have it, no one can take it away from you. I have passed this nugget down to my children and anyone who dares listen.

On one of  his many visits to London, my 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 friends to 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; just   get for my brothers, why do   you have to get for the   others, when they go to their   folks, who will then buy them   clothes and not my brothers!

My father smiled and said: “it is not what others do for you, that what matters, is  what you do for others” that is my dad in one-generous.

Dads said always ensure you treat people equally.

As my dad gets older, I have learnt 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. We live in moments as my father showed us his children that we should make every moment count and serve Allah, always.

Kola Muslim Adio Animasaun- you remain my hero of all time, I pray to God that you stick around for a much longer.-Happy birthday Dad!

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

From 1939 published1973

PAST IS FOREVER PRESENT” – Ekanem Hines, daughter of Lord Webber (SAN)

One cannot talk about the recent ‘Windrush’ scandal without making intrinsic historical structural links to racism and mental health.

It is a well-known fact that the causal links of mental ill health is stress, traumatic experiences, abuse, isolation, poverty, rejection, poor housing, lack of employment, bereavement and so on.

Society’s mental health can also be best measured by the just and equal treatment of its citizens through the way its institutions operate.

As racism is the embodiment of inequality and discrimination through its institutions, an open door lies for certain groups of people being more susceptible to mental ill health than others – in this case the African-Caribbean community.

African-Caribbean people came from a history of slavery and plantations. Whereby families had been wrenched apart; ones religion abused; where black women were systematically raped; Black men demonised; forced to speak a foreign language; robbed of their names and kept in bondage for 500-400 years.

One of the most significant aspects of slavery was the psychological colonisation of an African consciousness and culture with the insidious acceptance of the colour “white” as the yardstick of hierarchy.

The legacy of slavery still has remnants today (often described as ‘post traumatic slave syndrome’), embedded in British society through racism, and executed through the fruitful expression of institutions that hold power and exert control over aspects of African/Caribbean and Black British lives.

One of the clearest indicators of institutional racism is the exclusion of African/Caribbean members of society from positions of control, leadership, influence and power. It may be covert; it may be the racism of omitting to recognise the African/Caribbean’s existence; it may be through the abdication of responsibility or marginalization of ones’ needs.

The climate of Britain was not ready to embrace anyone who was different. “The Other” This was the era of “Sorry no coloured; No Irish; No dogs”. The harrowing stories of being spat at; excluded from mainstream; not accepted; not wanted; laughed at; physically and emotionally abused; the stories told are horrific. Professional ‘talking therapy’ has only just been recognised as a valuable tool today. The only alternative for this generation was to unite and share common experiences.

Yet despite all this, this generation stood the test of time. They helped build up the National Health Service; London Transport and earnestly shouldered the jobs that nobody wanted. The Britain of today is as a result of yesterdays’ Windrush generation.

The recent on-going outrageous oppression of the Windrush population being targeted and denied health services; shipped out of the country with no redress; having to prove their status. Words, in my view cannot convey the desolation endured and the righteous anger felt.

I am of the opinion that multiple fractions of on-going traumatic incidences mirror the chaotic episodes of mental health disorders making African/Caribbean people more susceptible to high levels of stress.

Accessing professional services has always been shrouded in suspicion due to negative experiences and being misunderstood.

The execution from the government of this action certainly would not instil any confidence in attempting to access professional services particular mental health services which again drives mental health underground.   Racism, in all its manifestation is executed with hideous finesse.

One cannot begin to analyse the present without examining the past.   “The past is forever in the present.”

*Ekanem is in Nigeria touring Calabar.


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