There were many myths about the late D.O Fagunwa, author of Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole and other Yoruba classics: how he died and the sources of his inspiration which many attributed to deamons! However, his secretary, 85, Pa Anthony Olajide Fayemi still recalls his experiences with Chief Fagunwa. Fayemi, it was, who processed the last manuscript of the celebrated educationist’s last novel, Adiitu Olodumare. Fayemi explains to TheNEWS how he met Fagunwa, his death and the state of Yoruba culture:
Here are some of his revelations:
“Sanders retired and went back to England and Fagunwa became senior education officer at GPS. I could type. I did typewriting tests up to 50 words per minute, which was the highest. That was how I became his typist. He loved me so much that he entrusted everything to me. I thank God that I didn’t misuse the opportunity.”
“I asked Fagunwa one day: “Baba, how did you come about these books. What prompted you to write them?” He said “You are a good boy.” He said he never knew that writing books could bring money in those days, he wasn’t chasing money. All he wanted was to write so that people could know him by reading him.”
“He said from the town he came to Ibadan road and created a path through a bush to a very big tree. That was where he started writing this book. He didn’t know that opposite the road he created, there was a woman selling yam and other things, suspecting that he wasn’t a human being. The woman contacted some hunters and the villagers to search the bush. God saved him. The period they came was when he had gone out to buy yam, otherwise they would have searched the place and could have killed him while doing so.”
“He was returning to the bush after buying yam when those hunters stopped him. They asked him where he was going to and where he came from. He said he told them stories about himself. They asked “You say you are writing a book, is it in the bush that writers work?”
“Fagunwa was always with a pen and paper in his car. He sat comfortably at the back of his car, while being driven.”
“They accepted the manuscript. They settled for £25. In Ibadan, there were only two banks – Barclays Bank and Bank of British West Africa, BBWA. Fagunwa said even when he was coming down from the building, he was looking back, feeling that they would call him back to say “You thief, what have you done to earn £25?”
“I knew then that he was from Oke Igbo. I began to feel that he was not a demon, he was a living person. At first, when I was transferred to GPS, I still had the opinion that I was going to work with a demon because even after that first day I saw him, I didn’t believe still, that he was human. But when we started working together, I began to see that he was a human being like me.
I think from hunting, he was able to visit dangerous places in Oke Igbo, where he collected the ideas for his books.
He had very little time to himself. He used to get up in the night and drive out. He went to cemeteries and other places, sat there and thought of what to write. He thought about things like, supposing a spirit came up and said something to him, how would he defend himself? That is what you find in all his writings.
Fagunwa was a very strong believer in Christ. He was a member of St. James’ Anglican Cathedral, Oke Bola. Now, judging from his writing, people won’t agree that he believed in Christ.
Read other revelations, especially how he died in River Niger in Lokoja in the new (hard copy) edition of TheNEWS.