Interviews

Children reveal Okoya Thomas’ last days (2) -‘It will be difficult stepping into his shoes’ -Deji Okoya-Thomas

Where were you when your father died?

I was in the hospital when it happened.

DSC_0616How did you know that he was in the hospital, do you live here with him?

No, of course not.  I live in my own place.  Someone called me and we all got to the hospital before he passed on.

Was he sick?

He had some little issue with his health and he was getting better and we thought he had passed the worst stage of the sickness.  Everything happens according to God’s plan.  We can always find reasons and explanations for these things.

Is it true that he just came back from abroad?

Yes, he just came back.

Did he go for a medical check-up?

He did some medical check-up there.  He just went for his usual holiday.  Usually, at the end of every year he travelled abroad to rest and do some check-up at the same time.

When last did you see him before you were called to the hospital?

I saw him a few days before his death.

What was his mood like the last time you saw him?

He was always in a pleasant mood. He was always a happy person.  There was no sign it would happen so soon.

Meaning none of you had the premonition that he was going to die very soon?

Even if there was, he didn’t share it with us.  He didn’t tell us his feelings.  As I said, in all things, it is good to give thanks to God because at the end of the day, we all are on a journey of life.  Whichever way we look at it, it is only God that knows the day we came to this world and only He knows the day we are going to leave.  It is a journey of life and he has spent a very wonderful and well fulfilled life, a life that any human being will be proud of.  He achieved a lot both at national and international levels.  That is something that anybody will be proud of.

Will you like to step into his shoes?

I have always said one thing and that is very important.  Even though we come through a family chain, we are all individuals.  My aspiration is to be an achiever, be known within my profession and to be an acclaimed personality.  I want God to lift me to the level he lifted him. But when you talk about stepping into someone’s shoes, it’s always difficult because that person had the grace.  There is always a small difference.

What about the Asoju Oba Cup for tennis that he had been sponsoring for almost 40 years now, what will happen to it?

During the last Asoju Oba Cup competition, he said it would be his desire that the sponsorship continues.  However, the Asoju Oba is a royal title by the kingship of Lagos.  So, you will expect that by his transition the title would be given to someone else.  This means that at a stage, we will have to change the name or the title.  But the competition and sponsorship of tennis competition will certainly continue.

So, what would you say you will miss about your father?

His humour and humility. He was a man that saw every person as equal.  He had unique qualities.   At one time he was the Patron of Taxi Drivers Association, Ikoyi Hotel, Lagos.  This was old Ikoyi Hotel.  He would sit with them, buy drinks and stage Christmas party for them.  He was a man that cut across every strata of society.  He could relate with anybody, high and mighty and the man on the street.

That is one thing in life that I pray to God that I should have the grace to emulate.  He did not look down on anybody.

What lesson would you say your father’s life has taught you most?

I learnt so many things from him but the one I cherish most is the one I have just mentioned.  Sometimes we human beings forget ourselves.  We forget where we were coming from.  You see some people who were not born into wealth or affluence but became prosperous yet they are proud and pompous.  They go around with so much air.  We must not forget that it is not by our doing, it is the doing of the Almighty God.

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