The Buffalo Who Sired Me: A Tribute To My Late Dad On Father’s Day

The Buffalo Who Sired Me: A Tribute To My Late Dad On Father’s Day

Monday, June 17, 2024 9:40 am

Chief Jimoh Efon (Buffalo) and his son, Senator Babafemi Ojudu

Chief Jimoh Efon (Buffalo), left, and his son, Senator Babafemi Ojudu

By Babafemi Ojudu

Jimoh Efon, if you were alive today, you would have been adorned in a grand agbada this morning, with a gold chain hanging down to your feet. The heart pendant at the end of the chain dangling elegantly, catching the light with each movement, adding a touch of romantic charm to the overall look.

On your way to the Eid praying ground, gangan drummers would have been singing your praise as if you were royalty. You created your own royalty and lived it just like your own dad, Sanni Owolabi Ojudu, aka TK Wonder, did. You radiated elegance until 2012, when you answered the final call.

Throughout your life, you were equally feared and loved. Some even expressed hate for you.

When looking for someone who embodied courage, it was you, Jimoh Efon. You knew who should be Chief Imam; who should be Iyaloja; who is more qualified for this or that traditional title; who should be king of your town and who should not. You didn’t just voice your opinions; you worked hard and mobilized people to ensure your will was done. You won some and lost some but never perturbed. You did this, not for personal gain but for the development of the community and the well-being of your people. What else could it have been if you sacrificed personal relationships and insisted that a well-educated and celebrated lawyer, Prince Yemi Adelabu, would better serve your community than an uneducated Prince Adegoke?

Even with a gun pointed at your head, you would express your opinion fearlessly. You were not a typical diplomat who hid behind opaque proverbs. You charged straight ahead like a bull as your cognomen EFON shows, leaving it up to others to handle the admonitions.

For this, many passionately hated you, just as many others too loved and admired you. Even those who could not stand your audacity would still seek your help in times of trouble or ask for your assistance with school admissions or employment for their wards. You once traveled from Ado Ekiti to Maiduguri with a young man to secure university admission. When I asked you whom you knew there, you said it didn’t matter as long as a human being was making decisions there.

You would take risks on long journeys to knock on many doors to seek favors for others, but never for yourself, arguing that there could only be one of two possible answers to your request: a yes or a no. If those are the possible outcomes, you will say why hesitate to ask.

Such was the man you were, the Jimoh who fathered me. You feared no situation and no human being, except God. Even your fear of God came after your 65th birthday when you returned to Islam from atheism. Whenever someone told you the pursuits of yours came with risks, you would dismiss it by saying, ‘Even eating comes with its risks.’ When told people were speaking negatively about you, you would say only the dead are not spoken of. You believed that if you are doing something significant, people will talk about you, positively or negatively.

You despised dishonesty and told people who were off to their faces. I remember you campaigning strongly against a young man who was a fraudster taking on an important chieftaincy title in our town, and you did it openly, not minding the fellow could go after you.

Both you and those who counseled you then to go it softly with the young man are gone. The society is either good or bad for it does confirm your favorite saying, ‘baa so, a ku, bao so a ku,‘ which means if you speak the truth, you will die; if you don’t, you will still die.

The only time I saw fear on your face was when you were 70 years old. You visited me in my house in Ado, and I showed you a spot in the house, telling you, ‘’Dad, this is where I will bury you when you die.” Fear and fury filled your expression. “Don’t tell me that. I am not dying now. What kind of thought is that?” you said. “No, Dad, I am not saying you are dying now. This is just to let you know.” “Don’t tell me rubbish,” you replied. I left it at that. You were already exhibiting the symptoms of prostate cancer then. That exact spot was the place I buried you 10 years later, when you passed away at 80.

Today, I remember you, Dad, for your valor and your courage to speak truth to power even in the face of danger. I remember you for your sense of community and your willingness to help others even when sometimes you neglected the personal.

I look with nostalgia when, at 16 years of age, you got me a job that took me away from home and you traveled with me to Ikare, hired a room for me, and bought me a mattress and cooking utensils. I remember crying when you set out to leave me, and you said to me, “Learn to be independent. I and your mom will not be here with you forever.” These words prepared me for the hazardous life I have lived ever since.

Dad, I remember you for your deep love for education; I remember you for your vision, your ability to see far into the future when many who were looking to the past or were blinded to the present; I remember you for your contentment and for the genes of intellect, truthfulness, courage, confidence, good looks, and good health you have bequeathed me. I remember you whenever I behold my own offspring, Moremi, Toyosi, Sunkanmi, Bidemi, and Morenike, all of whom are a chip off the old block.

Thank you, dad, for all you gave to me. Thank you for your sincere and selfless intention to help others and to contribute to a greater good. Thank you for acting with altruism, kindness, and a sense of duty to make a positive impact. Thank you for your generosity of purpose.

As I write this, I listen to your favorite musician, the leading Adamo Crooner in Ijeshaland, Adedara Arunralojaoba. I cannot help but appreciate your living life to the fullest, even sustaining your sense of humor to your last breath. Rest well, Jimoh Efon.

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