Whenever I sneak into the premises of the Ibadan Tennis Club in the capital of Oyo State, the life of one elderly man named Ebenezer Adewale Jolaoso (also known as Alani) fascinates me. As they say in Christendom, I use him as my prayer point and his life a piece of mentorship. I always use him as pulpit material to sermonize to parents on the dividends of being a responsible parent, the clan of which is becoming extinct in the Nigeria of today. Pa Jolaoso clocked 80 years in September, having being born in 1943.
I do not want to talk about his CV, his nativity of Orile Ilugun, Ogun State or that he met the boardroom czar, Mr. Ayoola Obafoluke Otudeko, as an Accounts Clerk in the then Cooperative Bank in 1962. Otudeko later taught Jolaoso rudiments of banking. Fate was to later twine them together as Jolaoso became Otudeko’s in-law, having married the latter’s sister.
After marrying Oluyemisi Yetunde Otudeko in 1973, she unfortunately passed on twenty years after, specifically on January 2, 1994. By this time, their last born was preparing to enter the Olashore College in Osun State. Not only did Jolaoso make up his mind not to remarry, he made the training of his children a career, to which he devoted the totality of his being. At his 80th celebration, one of the children thanked him for being their Daddy and Mommy simultaneously.
The morale of the life of Jolaoso which every parent must clone is that his children, who are now scattered all over the world, have made it a career to give him the best life can afford. He rejects automobiles from them at will on account of surplusage and there is a fierce competition among them on who dots most over their father. After escaping an inexplicable auto accident a few weeks before his 80th birthday and being examined by Nigerian medics, his children sent him air ticket to come for thorough medical examination in the United States. It is one of the dividends of responsible parenting.
Of course, it is not easy to be a responsible parent in an atmosphere of turgid finance and collapsing values as we have in Nigeria today. Parents must however struggle to be a Jolaoso to their children. If Providence is kind enough to give such parents long life and good health, the dividends of responsible parenting, at adulthood, is almost like money rituals.
I wish Pa Jolaoso belated 80th birthday celebrations.
(Published by the Sunday Tribune, November 19, 2023)