Book: Obojo, a grandfather in a million

Wale Adedayo

By Wale Adedayo

Craaaack! Gbim!! It was like a timber had fallen. But this was my maternal grandfather on the floor. We (Myself, Mukaila, Yinka and possibly Wahab) were rooted in our spots with shock. I felt a pain in my heart. It was that of sorrow. One could not move, seeing Chief Sedun Adeeko on the floor of that dusty road on the outskirts of Tirosogun, a sleepy farming village in Oke Ife, Ijebu Ife sometimes around 1975, while I was in primary school.

We had been woken up from sleep at about 5am, which was the usual routine on weekends. Obojo, as our people in Okeliwo called him, regularly woke up at that hour to prepare for the early morning Islamic prayers. He never once disturbed us to follow him to the mosque, except during Ramadan. And that often happened during early morning and evening prayers. But the day of his fall was different. He was soon on his feet without any of the little brats following him being able to offer any assistance, apart from the usual, “e pele!” Baba was very big.

We normally frequent different farms managed by the old man to either harvest food or check his traps for different animals. On this day, we were on our way to a kolanut farm outside Tirosogun, where there was an abundance of plantain. Baba will bag the kolanuts and we always help take same back home, where we gather to open the pods, after which the old man would sell most of it and keep a tidy quantity for himself and his friends.

Unfortunately, the book of records (we call it Account in Ijebu) he made me to reproduce for almost one year was burnt in 1994, when I became a ‘Born Again’ Christian. It was long after I left the church one realised a treasure had been thrown away on the altar of religious stupidity

Cassava farms were not far from home. Same for the groundnuts, yam and cocoyam. Within five to 10 minutes, we would have made the trip to the farm. But how long we stayed depends on when Baba decided we were hungry. You don’t eat before going to the farm. Of course, coming back could be as late as 2pm. But we’ve had occasions to return at about 11am or 12 noon. You are free to eat mangoes, oranges or bananas on the farm. However, you can never try that before 10am and after much sweating.

The cause of Baba’s fall was the slippery ground following a short rainfall. He must have tripped on an exposed root or something like that. Obojo, who died at the age of 107 years about 1987 was a giant of a man. Apart from his due share of the opposite sex, grandfather loved cigarrettes. White SM, Bicycle and the like were his major attractions. And, Obojo will never buy a pack of cigarettes. It was always a roll, having 20 packets.

He does not smoke while standing. He does his thing sitting on an old foldable chair on which he would stretch his entire length without a care in the world! And, he loved sitting on that chair with the grandchildren around him. It was only on a few occasions I saw Iya Alakara (my maternal grandmother) sitting around him. Romance? Ki m je wa? (What is that?). He was an Ijebu ahead of other Ijebus, who loved the old ways.

While grandma hardly cared if any of us had brushed our teeth or taken a bath, Obojo will never tolerate any fool of a grandchild, who has not done so. Baba would simply supply multiple strokes of Atori (cane) all over you, while reminding you about the need to be neat. You dare not miss school and revision after school, while Obojo was around. And, does he love food? He did with all his heart. I cannot remember a time he allowed grandma to cook for him. Obojo cooked his food. Interestingly, grandma often ‘steal’ from Obojo’s pot when the old man is not around.

His grandfather, Ajiboogunsoro, was a traditional medical practitioner. He was reputed to hear things from leaves, herbs and roots, who often tell the old man what they could be used for. He was also very versed in our esoteric words, Oro Ife, which late Chief Obafemi Awolowo described as Oro Ijimji. Ajiboogunsoro, according to Obojo, hardly used leaves and herbs to heal the sick. The old man only needed to utter the appropriate Oro Ife for the person to get well.

Obojo’s dad, Adeeko, took a bit from his father. But he was primarily a hunter, whose major abode is now today’s Ogun State Government Forest Reserve (J4, J3 and others). He did some farming. But it was hunting as a profession that Obojo took from him. My grandfather was not really a Traditional Medical Practitioner. But I still remember till date that Babalawos having problems in solving cases in their care often visit him for help. Upon learning I was admitted for Medicine at Ogun State University in 1986, Baba was the happiest man in the world. He wanted me to combine the traditional with modern medicine. “Waa to ero ulu oyinbo,” was his regular prayer for Saliu.

Unfortunately, the book of records (we call it Account in Ijebu) he made me to reproduce for almost one year was burnt in 1994, when I became a ‘Born Again’ Christian. It was long after I left the church one realised a treasure had been thrown away on the altar of religious stupidity. But may the soul of my uncle, Apostle Malik Sedun continue to rest in peace. He greatly assisted in restoring Obojo’s Account to my archives and even added more. Obojo had no business treating migraine with herbs or leaves. Baba will simply ask the person to cover his/her ears and the words would be spoken with the sickness leaving at that instant. It was the same with most challenges. But he insisted till death he would not become a Babalawo.

Watch out for more …

-Excerpts from chapter 3 of Wale Adedayo’s book, ‘A Liberian Boy in Okeliwo’ due to be out on 14 April, 2020, his birthday. Adedayo, politician and journalist, is the publisher of Uhuru Times.