Saturday, May 2, 2020 2:20 pm
By Bayo Adeyinka
As I reminisce on my 20-year career milestone, I promised to reveal a secret I’ve not shared openly here before except among a few friends. Well, maybe not really a secret but I’ll tell my story.
Growing up had its good side and very unpleasant memories for me. I can say I grew up in an upper class family because my dad was the first to have a land phone (those things you dial those days) on our street and my mum was the first woman to own a car in our area then. It was a blue-colour Datsun 120Y Panel Van. I still have fond memories of my mum taking us to school in that car that was nicknamed’ sha a l’ake’ (cut it with an axe) or ‘y’eri n beto’ (literarily translated as excuse me, bend your head so I can spit out). Very funny names. The former nickname was due to the fact that it required rescuers using an axe to free passengers at the back seat if the car was involved in an accident because there were only two doors. The latter was due to the fact that the passenger at the back seat had to seek the consent of the person in front to spit out of the window as his own side was sealed.
Back to my story. My family experienced a series of unfortunate incidents. I was in JS 1 when I lost my sister, Bisi. She was 5 years old. Two years later, I lost another sibling, Bidemi. She was 3 years when she died. I was in 100 Level as an undergraduate in LAUTECH when I felt the urge to go home. I recall I was washing my clothes that Saturday when I had that urge. I spread the clothes on the line, told my room mates I was travelling and left for Ibadan. I got home to realize that my sibling- my immediate junior brother, Kunle- had died. He was 17 years and was in Loyola College preparing for SSCE. They all died of complications from sickle cell disease. I was close to my late brother and was challenged by his faith but his death really hurt me. And his death tore my family apart. It was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
A happy family became a fighting family and due to a lot of ignorance, impatience and misinterventions, my parents came apart. My mum was out of the house. In those days, anything wrong was the fault of the woman- she was either a witch or had a ‘bad’ leg. My mum had nowhere to go but I’ll always be grateful to our home church Christ Apostolic Church, Oniyanrin, Ibadan for taking her in. They allowed her to sleep and live at the Mission House and took care of her. This is one of the reasons I laugh at those who mock the church for perceived failings. Some of us are beneficiaries of the generosity of the church.
After some time, she got a one-room apartment at Saw Mill area, Old Ife Road. I remember I shed tears when I visited her there. The ceiling was made from cartons of milk. She cooked in that same room and had to open her windows to allow fumes from the kerosene stove go out. I was helpless as I was still an undergraduate. I saw her go from grace to grass.
There was one incident that made me cry. She still had her Datsun Panel Van. She gave it to me to use it for transport so I can give her the proceeds. I took the car to Ogbomoso, painted it into taxi colour and got a driver. I won’t go into the shenanigans of the driver but it turned out there was very little proceeds. I needed to pay school fees and my mum asked me to sell the car. It was her most prized possession. I asked a mechanic that I thought was trustworthy- his name is Sunday- to help with the sales. His feedback was that the best price the car attracted was 40k. He played on my desperation and I sold the car for 40k around 1996/97 thereabout. I later found out he was the one who bought the car. I gave the 40k to my mum and to my shock, she gave me all the money to pay my outstanding bills and take care of my needs.
That night, I prayed to God to please spare my mum and give her long life. I asked him to preserve me too so I can pay her back. That’s the back story.
So, here’s the real meat. When I got my first bank job 20 years ago, I was elated. After one month in training school, we were paid 30k. I remember my salary was placed in a white envelope and I was asked to sign for it. We didn’t have staff accounts then as the bank was just being recapitalized-after going moribund for some years. I was among the first set of new hires for the new bank- we were 66 in our set.
I collected my salary and headed to Ibadan from Lagos to see my mum. When I saw her, I prostrated and thanked her for her sacrifice. I then handed my entire pay of 30k to her. I told her that was my first salary and it’s hers entirely. My mum broke into tears and started praying for me. I felt like when Issac had finished eating the venison and blessed Jacob. My mum asked me how I was going to survive for the month. I told her not to worry and all I needed was transport fare. I could take care of the rest as we were given breakfast and lunch at banking school- and I was squatting at Oyewole Oyewale ‘s place at Ikotun. She handed over 8k to me for transport.
Since that day, my life and career took a new turn. If you have a parent, invoke the honour principle. That’s the secret to longevity. Give them a gift that is a real sacrifice to you and let them pray for you. If you don’t have a parent, get a parent figure and do the same. That’s my secret. Now, you see why I love Ìyá Bayo.
Exodus 20:12- Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
It’s the first commandment with a blessing. And it’s the 5th commandment. 5 is the number of grace.
-Bayo Adeyinka, a banker, writer and motivational speaker, writes from Lagos