May 31st has come and gone but there is never a time too late or too long gone to celebrate the people who matter in our lives. Today I celebrate one who is so dear to me in every regard of the word. One who is an integral part of my life-childhood to adulthood. One of those without whom the story of my childhood is complete. Many call him Pastor Adewale Akinade, we call him brother Dewale, some others call him Baba Feranmi, I call him my second Dad.
Pastor Wale is one of my patrilineal cousins, his mother is my father’s elder sister. I remain ever grateful for the kind of close-knit family that I come from. You can hardly differentiate between direct siblings and cousins as we all stood up for one another in our growing up years. The family is one which I am always proud to show off to my friends and some have not been able to hide the fact that they envy me.
Beyond the general relationship among us all, there is this personal relationship that many people do not know. It is in situations like this that such relationships are exposed for all to see. My relationship with Bro Dewale started even before I was conceived. I have asked my father how it all started. It is one beautiful grass to grace story.
Father told me that during his NYSC days in Abeokuta, it was decided that young Dewale, his nephew, be brought to him in Abeokuta to stay with him for coaching prior to his O Level exams. That was the start of a relationship that has gone beyond the general family relationship. My arrival into the family strengthened the relationship as Brother Dewale more or less was my nanny and big cousin.
Momma worked in a bank and the onus for my care fell on Brother Wale who diligently carried out that responsibility. If you have ever seen a man back a baby in a picture, I have experienced it real life. Brother Dewale, I was told, backed me to the old Sango market in Ibadan. Even then, you hardly found young men of his age who would do that for their uncle’s wives. Many would even say it does not agree with Yoruba culture.
Pastor Wale took me under his wings, like his own biological child. He was never complete without me by his side back then. He took special interest in me and bought me things, things that would thrill a kid like I was back then. He had this way of speaking to me that was firm, but gentle. He talked to me as if I was more mature than my age back then. I can never tell the story of my toddlerhood and early childhood without him.
The beautiful days of yore when Trans Amusement Park was the toast of the young and old in Ibadan, Bro Wale (as we later started calling him) was the first to take myself and my then only younger brother to the place. We had lots of fun. He always made sure I was happy, made sure he treated myself and the others right.
Before I move on to other things, I remember he played an active role in my 10th and my brother, Yinka’s 8th birthday parties. You know what birthday parties meant to us back then. He made sure it was one day to remember for us. He cared a lot about our academics and was ready to reward excellence as if we were studying for him.
Even when he relocated to my other cousins, I still felt the impact of Pastor Wale (as we later called him). We all forged a closer bond and would always go to our now late grandmother in Aba Iwo (Iwo village, now called Aba Ooni, after Ooni of Ife). We always looked forward to that Christmas travelling as it was one with lots of fun.
As an eloquent speaker of the English Language, Pastor Wale took on the role of interpreter in the Church. He is undoubtedly one interpreter that we have struggled to replace since he relocated from Nigeria a few years ago. I am sure he would still be welcome to interpret as he was Baba’s first choice interpreter. He was that good that any guest minister would have no qualms working with him for the first time.
He combined that role with being the Youth Pastor of Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church, our joint cradle and performed superbly well in discharging his duties. He was committed to a fault, I mean he epitomized commitment and would zealously immerse himself in anything without minding on whose toes he might be stepping. That got him into trouble a few times, but justified him overall.
I have learnt how to be a husband and father even before I get married from this dear cousin of mine. I have heard of mother hen, never heard of father cock. He puts in everything to make comfortable his wife, Aunty Funke and his wonderful children, Feranmi and Fiyin. I remember my ‘egbon’ would drop his car with his wife and take public transport to work because he could not bear having his wife get stressed in picking up the children from school.
I can say more and more but I would not want to bore you with stories of this large hearted cousin of mine. Need I say that he started my year on a very great note by doing something that really ranks among the best deeds I have received? Can everyone join me by dropping comments to celebrate this wonderful man who has been a blessing to me, the family we both come from, the church and the society.
Happy birthday Sir. Gracefully shall you age and you shall be the reason for a chuckle, a smile and a hilarious laughter. In the hollow of His palm shall you dwell and the Lord will daily renew your strength. In case I have never said it to your face or hearing, I LOVE YOU BIG COUSIN, AND I WILL NOT STOP. HUGS AND KISSES.