I grew up in very difficult circumstances, but the image of my father daring to dream a big dream of training a medical doctor, in the similitude of the European doctor, then at the Warri general hospital where he went to collect refuse, is a permanent image in my head.
I remember that day, that spot, and the particular time of the evening and the stressful situation at home that day. That was in 1969. I was ten years old when my father told me I would become a medical doctor like Dr. Stevenson.
I worked hard and became that doctor and worked in that same hospital.
My father did the most menial jobs to feed us and pay my school fees. I later learnt that our village people used to make fun of him as a refuse collector, but he did not care. None of those who laughed at him can stand the legacy he laboured for.
That imagery of my father remains in my head.
I’m never ashamed to bend down and do hard or menial tasks to achieve my dreams. I don’t care what ever any person thinks about my status and what I am doing.
The picture of me pushing the wheelbarrow reminds me of my father. I never really knew I looked like him from behind. I am not a mean man by any standard. I bought the shorts at Adelaide in Australia, and the red T-shirt at Rue Indira Gandhi in Antananarivo in Madagascar. My last child and third son, Ese, took the pictures; I want to leave the same imagery of decent work in his mind.
I prefer this image in his mind than the image of being ridiculed in front of an investigative panel for corruption.
As a child, you never brought anything you do not own to our home. We did not own much, but we laboured for what we had. It has never left my mind.
We admired what others owned, but we were never intimidated by anybody. What we had might not be good enough, but we earned and owned them.
The other image in my mind is that of Dr. Tai Solarin of Mayflower School—his simplicity, frugality, and dressing; it has never left my mind. The concept with which he ran his school and his natural lifestyle influenced me greatly.
Another image in my head is that of President Jimmy Carter.
I remember that after he won his election to become President, he still went back to teach his Sunday School Class, and still teaches his Sunday School Class till date. Jimmy Carter is still involved physically in home construction in remote parts of the world. I love Jimmy Carter.
Quite recently, the picture of Melinda Gates with a bucket of water on her head in an African village made a lasting impression on my mind.
On a very funny note, a lady that hawks beef in my area saw me at the gate, and she called me and sent me to go call the headmistress, my headmistress. I obediently went and told the HM that ‘madam meat’ is calling you. Later, madam meat was in my office, and she knelt down to apologise for sending me on an errand to my worker, HM. I did not notice any offence; it did not mean anything to me. I’m still the son of a refuse collector, a gravedigger, and a gateman in a hotel.
These and some other images have never left my head. I treasure them.
If you forget where God took you from, you might not appreciate where He has taken you to so far.
God Bless You