Aside from the lofty things I had heard about him, mostly from my friend, Louis Odion, and his public interfaces, especially as a renowned author and member of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (ANA) I never had the privilege of meeting Afenifere leader, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, until last Tuesday. Having struck acquaintances on the telephone a couple of years ago, the 60th birthday ceremony of my kinsman and brother, great Akure irredentist, Olumide Origunloye, slated to take place in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on that same Tuesday, November 6, 2022, afforded me that opportunity. So, to Arogbofa’s scenic Oba-Ile estate home I went upon arriving in Akure.
For the great writer that he is, such an idyllic environment was the natural habitat for anyone seeking constant dialogue with their muses.
Tall, sprightly and avuncular, the 83-year-old Arogbofa was delighted to see me. He promptly invited his matronly wife to behold the man he religiously read his pieces at the breakfast table every Sunday.
Then we began to discuss old age and ageing. Providence had been so good to Arogbofa that he suffers scant senescence or old age ailments. We discussed his art and then, his work in the pipeline on the blessings of old age. For hours, we were engrossed in talks about life and living, mutually enjoying every bit of it. Until Arogbofa introduced the discussion on my last piece, The abduction of Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
In that very amiable and gentleman’s voice of his, he told me he relished my narrative of history in the piece and that I reminded him of forgotten old stories about the Egbe Omo Oduduwa and those who rose against it. At some point, he told me, an edge pouncing on his voice, he didn’t enjoy the last offering of the piece which centered on Afenifere and the Fasoranti rump’s hosting of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, in Akure. Gently, he told me that the account was not accurate. So I asked, which part of it was inaccurate? Then he began in totality, the story of Afenifere.
After he was done, I told him I didn’t see any difference between what he told me and what I wrote. Apart from going down the historical lane, I narrated the chasm and the fissures that have developed in Afenifere and my suspicion that the Fasoranti group hosted Tinubu to spite the Ayo Adebanjo group which it felt was going off tangent from Yoruba people’s current reality. Like the elder that he is, he seemed discomfited about this.
Like a teacher that he was, with all the trappings of a teacher, Baba tutored me about the goings-on in the Yoruba leadership and I left his Oba-Ile confused and embarrassed the more about the disunity among the political offspring of Obafemi Awolowo.
I took my leave pensive, but upon hitting the road for the venue of Origunloye’s 60th birthday celebration, I loosened up. It was time to celebrate the most audaciously Akure-centric human being I have seen. Humble to a fault, most people don’t know that Origunloye has stood in for my father since he passed on twelve years ago. In counsel, mentoring and impartation of his rich native wisdom, this man, who rose to the peak of his farming business from a very humble beginning, is beloved by all for his selflessness and how he places our Akure land first in all his considerations. It was no wonder that His Majesty, the Deji of Akure, abandoned the zenith of his office and joined us in the celebration. Here is wishing this great pillar of Akure land, Olumide Origunloye, a very happy 60th birthday.