Home Book A gift for the Prophet: For Odia Ofeimun@70 – Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

A gift for the Prophet: For Odia Ofeimun@70 – Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

Odia Ofeimun

By Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi


Stingy, lazy and unimaginative people always ask

What do you give someone who has everything’?

The answer to the question should be

Define everything’.

The narrow minded then proceed to list:

Family, Friends, Fortune, Fame, Favour

Then a decision is made

Give them nothing, they have everything

You do not take a bucket of water to the ocean, they say

Show up though and eat their food, drink their drinks, take no gifts but take theirs

They have everything

They need nothing

So, what do I give a big brother, teacher, mentor, loyal friend and now elder?

He owns no skyscrapers, estates, yachts, Islands or limousines

He is not mobbed for selfies at parties

He does not dress in lace, ‘rich man’s wool’ or expensive suits

He is not chased after by area boys because he does not look like a big man

His name is not on the lips of local musicians because he has never sprayed money in his life

No beauties young or old hang on to his arm

Yet he is one of the richest men I know

He is not a one percenter but he is a one hundred percenter where it really counts

A brilliant and visionary mind

A tireless yet truthful tongue

A fearless wielder of the pen

A scathing witness to our many failings and fallings

A creative teller of stories in black, white and grey

A weaver of the human experience in prose, song and dance

A powerful prophet who cares not for honour at home or abroad

A relentless advocate for social justice

A worthy repository of knowledge and History both known and unknown

A large heart with a gentle spirit

A teacher of many teachers

In the thirty odd years that it has been my great fortune to know him

I have grown to appreciate the lessons he teaches even without trying

I am so grateful for all I have learnt

The meaning of true patriotism

The power of a creative mind, unpolluted by discrimination in all its manifestations

The use of talents that continue to serve, bless and empower

The willingness to speak truth to power even when those who need to hear pretend not to listen

The grace to be found in humility

The peace that contentment can bring

The beauty of freedom from expectations and convention

The joy of showing up and being there, even when least expected

The value of a real friend who is there when the sun blazes in the sky and does not leave you to grope alone through the darkest hours

What do I give such a rich man as he climbs the hill for the 70th time?

Words. He loves them. He lives them. He breathes them.

May he share many more of them with us.