The attainment of age often brings with it, the realisation of one’s mortality and in tow, a reflection of one’s trials, successes and those moments that one would rather consign to the dustbin of history.
I was born during a week of acute parental discord, but my naming ceremony brought a sense of calm and acted as a soothing coolant. My father overcompensated by giving me every conceivable luxury that he could afford at the time and I enjoyed being spoilt. Subsequently, he was my hero. So much so, I was permanently aligned with him in thoughts and deeds, visibly alienating my mother in the process. Unknown to me at the time, this was a very tragic situation for a male child.
As time moved on, I was identified as early as from the age of five, as a gifted individual, but teachers worried about my restlessness and emotional pomposity. Clearly, I was a beautiful and bright specimen, but my lack of maternal empathy, meant I was wired wrong. This was to later affect my adult life.
At the age of nine, I had passed the secondary school common entrance exams (a common achievement in Nigeria in those days!), which at the time meant I had a choice of four good schools. My father, against his better judgement, decided I was way too young and kept me in the primary ranks for one more year. That year, was the beginning of the rest of my life.
My tenth year - the beginning of the rest of my life – was a tumultuous one. For the first time, I started to realise my father was not perfect (who is?) and began to question his beliefs. The political sphere was the first arena of conflict. My father’s hero was Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a man of considerable intelligence and outstanding foresight, he was without doubt one of his generation’s shining lights. My father, like most of his Yoruba friends, idolised Awo, as he was fondly called, but I saw the great man differently. First class brain, but to my mind, very average politician.
To my father, my sentiments equated heresy. For my part, I was unmoved because I believe heroes are chosen, not inherited. Bitterly disappointed, he started to realise for the very first time, that even though he brought me up to be my own person, he had found it difficult to accept, when the evidence suggested I had began to develop a mind of my own.
This realisation to my mind, rewrites the history of all fathers and sons. Having said that, the overwhelming tragedy of this generation of Nigerians is the lack of heroes and the knowledge there might be none for some time to come. These days, Nigerians have barely began to adopt mentors and heroes, when they start to uncover the bankruptcy woven into the morality of the so-called ‘good and the great. At least our parents had someone to look up to, unlike in our morally-stricken era when individuals have equated the attainment of wealth, as a sign of wisdom and gravitas. Vacuity and pomposity is the order of the day and we wallow in out cesspit of a culture, still searching in the dark for that one shining star.
I hope we find what we are looking for………