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How I became friend with my father again

I come from one of those pretty large polygamous families. My dad had five wives and 22 children . So, getting close to him for friendship despite being
his third child and second son didn’t just exist at all for me . More so , when he was a ” weekend father ” , who only came home on Friday and travelled back to his work base on Monday morning .
The situation was not helped when your dad was not educated or enlightened enough to know the importance of a parent establishing friendship with his children.
This was further compounded for me as all the children were in the care of our paternal grandmother. We ate and slept in grandma’s room in another building while my father and his harem cohabited in another building within the same compound .
The only time you got close to your father was when he called you far an errand during his revelries with his friends or for a reprimand or punishment after granny had given him a report of your misdemeanor during the week while he was away.
This was my situation while growing up. There was no closeness or friendship between me and my father.
So, when i left home for boarding house during my secondary school , i did not miss my dad .
In fact, being in school which was about 30 kilometers away from my town was the best thing that ever happened to me while growing up. It was there i formed some friendships that still exist till today.
So, when i left secondary school and i told my father that i wanted to further my education, it didn’t go down well with him.
He told me in our Ijebu dialect, ” eni ka iwe  mewa se de  ne” ( a secondary school graduate has tried enough ).
He wanted me to look for employment and be sending him money every month like my half elder brother who was  already working with the Nigerian Customs Service.
Fortunately for me , I had an uncle ( my mother’s younger brother ) who was interested in helping me to  further my education beyond secondary school.
So, i left Ijebu Ode to join my uncle in Lagos .
This further exacerbated the gulf in the never existed friendship between my father and i. He didn’t like it at all and his displeasure was made  known to my mother who he constantly harangued about my not coming home regularly. My mother told me  all these anytime she came visiting  me in Lagos.
I did not  bulge . I kept on pursuing my education career . On the few occasions that i travelled to Ijebu Ode to visit my mother or for anything , my father would derisively call me “alakowe” ( an euphemism for someone who loves books) or Baba Eko ( another euphemism for those living in Lagos and did not come home regularly for visit).
When i completed my university education and i started earning a wage, i went home (Ijebu Ode), during one of  the Ileya (Eid Al- Adha ) festival celebrations . I gave my father  substantial amount as part of my own contribution to buy rams for the Ileya festival.
I remember the following morning my father as usual after his morning prayers was playing his favourite genre of music – sakara by Yusuf Olatunji aka Baba Legba in his sitting  room. I came in and i joined in the singing as it was oozing out of the old stereo.
My came out of his room looking quite surprise and amused . He asked in our Ijebu dialect, “alakowe, iwo ne mi ko Yusuf ” ( Academic, you too sing Yusuf ). I said yes . He now asked me how I came about knowing the lyrics so well. I told him it started from my childhood . That while he and his friends were playing the music regularly then , it was going into my memory .
He said he never thought anybody who went to university could be singing sakara music .
He asked if I drink beer too . I said yes . He asked me my brand of beer . I told him Heineken . He told me I should try “33” Export lager beer and that i would never regret the choice .
Before I could make up my mind whether to accept his choice of beer or not , he had called one my younger brothers to buy one for me for a start.
In the spirit of the new friendship with my father i accepted the offer of “33” Export lager beer . By the time  the ram meat was ready for consumption more “33” Export lager beer had been  ordered by me for other family members and relatives who had come around for the Ileya festival merriment.
Subsequently, every time i went to Ijebu Ode , whether during Ileya or for any family/social event, it was a time for my father to call me for a discussion of course , over bottles of “33” Export lager beer and Yusuf Olatunji’s sakara music playing in the background.
In fact , when i went to seek his blessing after i purchased my first car, i went with a bottle of Aromatic Schnapps for the traditional blessing and a carton of “33” Export lager beer tucked in the boot of my car for the celebration thereafter.
My father died few years ago at  the age of 85. But before his  death , we became very close . It was a friendship that i still cherish up till the present moment going by the discussions we had together while he was alive .
Since his passing on , I have singlehandedly sponsored the annual slaughtering of rams for the Ileya festival and entertaining family, relatives and friends who come around for the celebration ; with “33” Export lager beer of course .

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