If we indeed are a sum total of our experiences and the vital impressions they have left on us, then no individual is fully introduced until you have a glimpse at where they are coming from, and the experiences that have shaped them. It is interesting however, that we get to know people and learn from their experiences after they die in their biographies, of if they do it themselves in their later years.
Somehow the world makes us feel it’s self aggrandizement to begin to write an autobiography at a young age, but it’s interesting however that when we read about the great, our attentions are not focused on how they died, or how they spent their old age, our eyes are riveted rather on their making, their early years. We look around for traces in them of similarities with us, as if somehow to convince ourselves that greatness has not completely eluded us. Greatness hasn’t eluded you, it’s never too late to start to do things right. When all is said and done, and your history is written, there will be no reference to the kind of car you drove, no reference to how many houses you have, no reference to how loaded your bank account was. Think about it, do you know what car Bill Gates drives? Do you know how many houses he has or where he has them? Remember, this man is still alive now, and 99% of us don’t even know those things. When your coffin is lowered and your grave sealed, what lives on after you, are the lives you have blessed, the people your coming made a difference to, what you gave, the sacrifices you made and the things you did, that made others say thank you.
Against popular culture, I have decided to start these series, maybe it will form the template or the beginning of my actively documenting my autobiography, maybe it will all end here on this blog for ages to come and for others to read. Or maybe someone after I am gone, will use this to tie it all together and present before the world a masterpiece. I am not sure. I am sure of one thing however, my life is going to have a happy ending. The story is going to be interesting and intriguing, there are moments when even I have watched in suspense, so I believe that the viewers or readers should also. Courage, vision, dreams, passion, love, joy, success, help, friend, father, lover, believer, patriotic, enigmatic, teacher, counselor, brother, enterprising… are some of the themes that my life should capture. If my life has 3 Seasons, then perhaps I just concluded Season 1 and need to capture the thoughts before they are forgotten. In my characteristic style, I’ll write so at least you can learn a few things from what I have learnt as well.
In the times ahead when I’ll be motivated to capture the stories, I’ll write from the following headings, Spiritual, Business, Adventure, Fun, Academic, Failure, Fear, Courage, Marriage, Challenges, Victories and as much as I find inspiring. I’ll start today however from the story of the transformation of Deolu Akinyemi. It’s a story that comes to mind because I shared it with a church I spoke in last Sunday.
The city was Ilorin, it was 1992, I can’t find the exact month or day of the year. I had grown up in a Baptist Church, Emmanuel Baptist Church Ilorin Kwara State, it was the church my parents attended. I had started having strong pentecostal leanings, and in order to keep me “unrebellious” in moving to another church, they had encouraged me to join the Baptist Student Fellowship arm of the church. Where we leave was very far from the church, so the encouragement was actually quite a financial investment as well. I fell in love with the fellowship, the president of the fellowship fondly known as “Go Ye” won my heart from day one. It’s 17yrs ago now, and I can still remember his first message, I can even see the way he moved around, and how he literally brought the wilderness of the Children to life and showed us the wilderness of the 21st Century. I decided to get involved and get close and somewhere along the line, got permission from my parents to go for a 3 days camp with all interested youths in the church.
Many of the youths who had never showed up for BSF meetings got interested in the camp and came as well, there is nothing more exciting to young people as an opportunity to escape from home and be in the company of friends for 3 days in a row. Many people boarded the buses, and we headed for a town outside Ilorin, I think it is called Eye Nkorin. We were at least 200, if my memory serves me right, and trust, we came there for different reasons. Reasons ranging from freedom, to time out with friends, to seeing that young fine lady up close, to making new friends, to have fun, to “x”. X being whatever you can imagine that can catch the fancy of a teenage boy or girl.
When I got to the venue, I was startled by the number of youths, I was excited at how much preparation had obviously gone into making this event happen. I could see bags of rice, tubers of yam, loads of food. No sooner had we landed that cooking had begun, the program of events was shared, the rooms were allocated and people struggled to settle down. In the midst of settling down, I snuck out some time to go to the altar and have a tete a tete with the almighty. It’s one of my first clear vivid discussions. I told God that amongst all of us in that camp for those 3 days, I desired to His favorite. While I do not want to sound theatrical in my expressing the conversation that ensued with God, God told me there and then, that he had no favorites. He referred me to his word, that if I drew near to him, he would draw near to me, and the if I moved away, he would move away. He told me that if I wanted to be His favorite, I should make myself His favorite. God made it clear to me that our relationship was up to me. That the difference between mortals is not because God differentiates them, but because they differentiate themselves by moving closer to Him. He asked me what I was willing to do to be different. I looked around me, and saw the picture of the enjoyment that lies in the days ahead, the fun, the soccer matches, the late night gists, and the possibilities of falling in love. My mind wondered on, and then back. I told God, that to differentiate myself, I was willing to abstain from food and water, and observe my first ever 3 days absolute fast in that camp, while at the same time ensuring that I danced, participated and mixed without anybody getting to know. I committed myself to spending time with him in all the breaks that I would have – breaks for breakfast, lunch and supper, and some of the breaks for fun.
We sealed the deal, and the first reference point for my life was formed. I honored my part with God’s grace, and God honored his part. I feel like a favorite, I have felt so ever since. I can’t measure against anybody, but that camp left me a different person, and it reflected on everything that I touched from then. The things that make a man stand out in his generation are not God initiated, they are man initiated. Those that draw near to God, will find God drawing near to them, and those that mock him and move away from him, will end up helpless.
I remember vividly the fishing expedition, the bee hunting adventure, my first set of students in my life as a teacher, I remember my first ever business loan of N1,500 to buy and sell bread, I remember my first commercial student, the businesses I did, the events I lead, the people that made a difference in my life, the deals I brokered, songs I sang, prayers I prayed, my friends, my associates, my brothers and brethren. I remember the times I cried, the moments of anguish, the times when hope kept me, the daring moments, the events of failure and the moments of victory. My parents, My teachers, my family, my wife, my in-laws, my readers, the various interfaces I have had with community, I remember, and say boldly that as long as these hands continue to move, and my mind stays preserved, I will yet write about the Season 1 of Deolu Akinyemi, and I pray, that I will live long and healthy enough to document Season 2 and Season 3