Happy 80th Birthday Dad!!
Amos Adebayo Akinyemi is my father. A very calm man you’ll rarely find in any conflict or quarrel. Easygoing, focused, an artist, and a teacher.
Life and Career
He was born at 3:00 a.m. on the 6th of September, 1943, to Abraham and Kehinde Akinyemi. I never met my grandfather, but I’m familiar with this story, courtesy of my dad. I met my grandma. My grandfather raised my dad for his formative years till he was 11 years old. My grandfather was a farmer and popular herbalist in his town. He converted to Christianity as an adult, learned how to read and write, and earned the nickname – Kokoro Bibeli (the key of the Bible) for his appetite for God’s word and explanation of the same. He went on to become the first Baptist Pastor of the church in his village, and also one of the few people to document his herbal research in 3 full cartons of handwritten literature. I met my Grandma as a child, she was around in our house growing up to support my parents in training us.
My Dad – Amos Adabyo Akinyemi and his mum were willed to his elder brother to be his stepfather once his father passed on. My father’s mother was the last wife of His dad. The story I grew up with is that he had helped a family that had sought children for a long without luck with some herbal solutions. Those ones had promised that if they ever had a child and it was a girl child, they would gift her to him as a wife. So about 18 years later, my grandmother arrived to marry this man who was already in his late 70s or early 80s. Hence my grandmother was younger than my father’s first son, and my Dad was not much out of place as his elder brother’s son, as he also had children who were just a shy of 2 years younger than my dad.
With this new arrangement, funding Amos Adebya’s education became challenging, rather than go to a proper secondary school, he could only attend a modern school. After he finished modern school a the age of 16, he had to start working to fend for himself and prepare for his desired future. What came easily to him was teaching, he taught children to read and write and gradually began to put funds together for his education. From here he went ahead to attend Grade 2 teachers college and kept on teaching. He started teaching officially at the age of 19. He worked for about 5 years before he decided this was not going to be his higher qualification. At some point, he had to work in 2 villages and commute 14 to 18 miles on bicycle daily to work. He was able to train himself by correspondence and was able to write his O’ level General Certificate of Education and ‘A’ level General Certificate of Education in 1969 and 1971.
In 1971 at the age of 28, he was admitted to the University of Nsukka, Nigeria. (UNN) and graduated with a degree in Fine and Applied Arts. He served in Enugu for a year and resumed as a teacher at the King’s College in Lagos from 1975 to 1976. He didn’t want to live in Lagos, and started seeking other options – He considered New Bussa but while considering an opportunity showed up in Ilorin, which he preferred. Not only was this better for him and his soon-to-be family, it also had an option for his wife to work at the school. He moved to Federal Government College Ilorin in 1977 and was there till 1986 when he went for his master’s on scholarship in the US from 1986 to 1988. He had his masters in Technical Teachers Training. During his stay in Ilorin, he had a 14-month political stint where he was appointed as chairman of a zonal health board under Chief Bola Ige. In 1988, he returned back to FGC Ilorin as a teacher until 2003. After his work in FGC Ilorin, he was appointed as Principal for a Federal Technical College in Orozo, Abuja where he worked for 3 years. After his retirement, he took on an opportunity to still touch the lives of students by leading Emmanuel Baptist College in Tanke, from 2007 to 2010.
My daughter believes that her superpower is that she’s a human calendar. She most probably inherited that from my Dad. He knows everyone’s birth date, and everyone is not just the nuclear family but the extended family and people who have come to become his family. My Dad is the custodian of the family tree of his father and stepfather, and that’s a family tree that has 2 wives from his father, 5 wives from his stepfather, and over 20 children.
I grew up watching my Parents calling each other first names and whistling to call each other from a distance. My parents played games, laughed with us, and were not far from us. When I was growing up, my dad had 4 children, today we are 11. Let me explain. The first set of children were from 3 pregnancies – Myself, my younger brother, and my twin sisters. After this, we had a new addition to the family by adoption. Our number 5 was someone who came to join our family as a house help but my parents ended up adopting into our family. Change of name, change of fortune, she’s as blood to all of us the children as it comes. She had to start her education at around the age of 15, she’s soon to be a graduate. In 2009, we lost my mum! More about my mum later, she’s Ronaldo and Messi rolled into one. When we lost our mum, it was a devastating blow, we didn’t really know how our dad would survive. They were not just husband and wife, they were friends and lovers. This is somewhere God showed up for my Dad, he remarried and he didn’t remarry into trouble, he married into blessing. He remarried a widow – a woman who had lost her husband. This new wife was God-recruited. She’s such an amazing team with him, and a source of comfort and peace to all of us the children. My dad married a woman that already had 2 children. These two children after a few years on their own, decided to change their surname into Akinyemi’s, and to be honest, if I didn’t tell you the story you wouldn’t know we don’t share the same mother’s. We all blend well, they love my dad, my dad loves them, and we all love each other. So I have accounted for 7, right? The remaining 4 are the spouses of the first 4, we are still looking forward to 3 more spouses in the days to come to make it all rounded up to 14.
My Dad is a Baptist Sunday school teacher to this day. He loves God, and we have not been able to trace any misbehavior (iwa Ibaje) to him. He’s always been a one-woman man, he’s easygoing and hard-working. He’s quite friendly with his Pastors, hosting them when occasion provides the opportunity. We grew up with seasons of daily morning devotion, they were like our private test of English or Yoruba reading abilities.
Today is My Dad’s Birthday Date!! We celebrated him earlier as it was an opportunity to have us all together under one roof despite some of us not being based in Nigeria. Thank God we were able to do it.