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A Background That Set Me Up

Two For The Price Of One:

I was born into a rather conservative family. My father was a minister of the gospel and one of Nigeria’s foremost educators. He was one of the most outstanding Principals of the famous Church Missionary Society Grammar School (CMS Grammar School) - the oldest secondary grammar school in Nigeria, formed on the 6th of June, 1859 by Reverend Thomas Babington Macaulay. 

Reverend Macaulay was a descendant of freed African slaves, who was one of the first two educated African clergymen, the other being the Rev. Samuel Ajayi Crowther. My mother, as well as being the proprietress of Eva Adelaja Secondary School, was a serial business woman. She was an exceptional woman who, together with my dad, gave me the foundation I needed to get a chance at having a good life.   

I was born a twin. That was in 1961. My twin brother and I were the last of six children. But since we lost one of us about fifteen years ago, we became the last of five. I can still recall the scenes in my father’s quarters at CMS Grammer School, Bariga, Lagos. You can imagine what the home of a Pastor and a strict educator looked like. 

My nursery school was at the International Women’s Society Nursery School. My primary school was UNILAG Staff School and the years there were wonderful even though I can’t remember so much.  Like the experiences of many other people, nothing particularly stands out during those earliest school days.

I remember just going to school to learn and play, period. Maybe nothing stands out because I wasn’t naughty at school. But a few things stood out at the home front. During those primary school years - Christmas, Easter and New Year celebrations used to be exciting. It’s hard to forget those special days and celebrations if you grew up in the house of a pastor. There was never any Christian celebration that we didn’t celebrate twice as much as most other people.

 While serving at CMS Grammar School, my father was also the pastor in charge of an Anglican church which unfortunately wasn’t domiciled in the school premises but was at about 500 meters away from his official quarters. I remember my dad would have left the house with his car, much earlier than the rest of us because he was the pastor. We would then walk to and from church. 

That happened every Sunday consistently. Ours was not like what happens in the life of so many young people today who choose whether or not to go to church on Sundays. For us, there was always church and there were always activities after church that had to be attended to even if such would not end until 7pm. Those church activities were not always pleasant. 

For example, we found the Sunday school sessions monotonous and boring.  Apart from the students of the school there were other people who attended that church and many of them just sat through the classes half asleep!  The services were always conducted in Yoruba and we, the children, didn’t like that.  

However, that introduced us to deep Yoruba words and songs. My father was very good at speaking Yoruba. He always sang a lot of songs in Yoruba while praying. Because of that I can recite a lot of things in Yoruba. 

One of my mum’s siblings who always came around to celebrate Christmas and Easter with us was Dr. Adebonojo who had eight sons and no daughter!  His boys brought out the tomboyish nature in me because whenever my father was serving outside Lagos (at a point he went to be the Archdeacon in Ijebu and came back to hold the same title in Lagos at St. Paul’s church), my parents would send my twin brother and I to my uncle’s house and that’s where the boys got me initiated! 

Apart from already having boyish tendencies, putting me amongst the nine boys including my brother, almost turned me into a boy!  On that Sasegbon Street in G.R.A., Ikeja, Lagos, there was nothing we didn’t do, from pole vaulting to football. I was always the goal keeper. I was the Gordon Banks of the team! 

Because I was very flexible and lightweight, I could move fast and that made me good at many of the sports we enjoyed participating in.  I tried football eight years ago and ended up with a broken leg. It was the tenth anniversary of Sweet Sensation and I thought I could still play football. I got seriously involved in the game and broke a leg. I forgot I was getting old!  

 

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