Hello people, I bring to you this piece which is to celebrate a couple whose lives had a great impact on me, my immediate family to a reasonable degree, and even many others. Please join the ride and feel free to drop a few lines. Thanks.
“Only a heart that cares knows the agony of parting” – Unknown
Pastor Samuel Adetunji Owowyemi and his better half, Mama Betty Oyinlade Owoyemi fall into the category of people who I held in high regard. I can unequivocally say that Mummy and Daddy Owoyemi had good impacts on people while they bestrode this clime like a colossus. What I can say without fear of contradiction is that I am not the only one who benefitted from their wisdom and showers of love.
Mummy was this kind of person who was always concerned about the progress we made as children. As I, we, advanced in age, she regularly asked how things were going academically. Can you blame a teacher for asking that?
“Mummy Owoyemi can kill you with care”, my brother Yinka said. “I remember going to visit her eldest child, Pastor Bukunmi and Mama insisted I ate which I did till I was over-full. It was almost impossible to walk when I set out”, Yinka added. That is the typical Mummy Owoyemi, she was extraordinarily caring. She always got angry if you did not eat whenever you visit, asking “se Mama yin so pe ki o ma jeun lodo mi ni?”, translated as “Did your mother say you should not eat in my house?”.
I learnt to fight injustices through Mummy Owoyemi. She did not mince words whenever she felt groused or thought you were doing something wrong to her. She said it to your face, not minding what you think. She fought for her right, and addressed whatever she saw as injustices staunchly. That stood her out. Whether you were her biological child or not, she stood for you if she saw any wrong being done to you. However, if you were on her other side, she will scold you big time.
She always told me she will be at my convocation. A few days after I graduated, we met at my aunt, Pastor (Mrs.) Adegboyega’s 60th birthday. Mama Owoyemi told me hers was going to be the following year. She gave me a very tight hug congratulating me on my graduation, and said one word which I always remember – “if God wills, I will be at your convocation”. That was the last time I saw Mummy Owoyemi, for she went to be with the lord on November 13, 2007, five months before my convocation.
Her better half, Pastor Samuel Owoyemi is one I have known since my childhood. As a child, I remember he was calm and articulated his points whenever there was anything to discuss. His messages in our old SPAC, St. Paul’s Apostolic Church, were not the speaker blaring, altar stamping, grammar blowing ones. Yet they had this way of sinking into one’s system.
The Yoruba word “kami kami kami” is one I heard for the first time, from his mouth. It was in one of his wisdom-laden messages. I was nothing more than a seven year old then but by the end of that Sunday service, I knew what it meant. He carefully chose his words and had an illustration cum example for every situation he explained. Wisdom was never lacking in his words.
There were lots of situations in which his wisdom was brought to the fore. He was like a mentor to many up and coming young men back in the days. Shortly after his demise on September 15, 2011, I was talking to a father figure whom I hold in high esteem. This person said without mincing words that the fact that he has a roof over his head is down to Baba Owoyemi’s persistence, regular encouragement and advice.
Daddy Owoyemi always had a word for everyone. If you were doing good, he had a proverb to urge you on. If you were not doing something to be proud of, he had your kind of proverb.
Getting closer, Baba had this way of encouraging my immediate family. There were tough times when my Dad faced a challenge in his career. He had this way of always asking after him; he was just so concerned. He would always want to know the most recent development in my Dad’s place of work. He had this way of asking my mum about us all. “Iya Seye, e ma pele. Alagba nko?” (“Seye’s mother, how are you? How is Elder?”) He never looked down on anyone, instead he urged us all on.
My mom had a fracture on her leg in 2007. I remember Daddy Owoyemi came to visit my mom. He did not send anyone, he came himself. What made it so humbling was that it was shortly after Mummy passed on. For someone who was still mourning the passage of his wife to come on a visit to an ailing person was the height of it all. He said specifically that “Mummy would have come to see you if she were to be alive and I owe her this visit”.
Personally, I have heard only good words from him all my days. As a six or seven year old, Baba always said I had ‘Akinkanju’, it meant nothing to me then but I knew it was a good word. All through my university days, while some people scorned my choice of Animal Science, he always told me that the future of our country rests on agriculture and that I had taken the right step. He said that time and time again. He repeated it the last time I saw him before his passage.
At the end of my service year, I gave him a litre of wild honey, being what I brought for him from Taraba state. He looked at me and my mother and said “Seye has brought me honey. He is saying my life should be sweet. Seye, may your life never know bitterness”. I was moved by his appreciative spirit. He regularly asked about my job and told me to stay focused in my career. “You are destined for the top, just stay focused”, he always said. Baba, I remain focused Sir.
Baba and Mummy, both resting in the Lord’s bosom now, exemplify love and oneness. They together had this special interest in people’s lives and progress. I cannot count off my fingers, lives that have been touched by the simplicity of Daddy Owoyemi and the concern Mummy showed while they both were here with us. They personally touched me with their oneness. I saw only one thing with them both, love as of old. I know I am not the only one who saw that.
You live on after death. Your words reverberate. Adieu Mama and Baba; We will not fail you. Keep resting in His bosom, o digba.