"LEGACY of The CAP" 

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                                                                                              LEGACY OF THE CAP

                                                     STORIES OF LIFE JOURNEY ON THE FOOTSTEPS OF MY ANCESTORS
                                                                                     

                                                                                        Tòkunbọ Àlàmú Yéròkun, Ph.D.

 

Contents:              Inspiration and Dedication                              A Journey to Remember                     In the Land on the Upper Side
                                From Royalty to Royal Stable                 Fate Intervenes in the Life of Àlàmú          The Life of Àlàmú at a Crossroad
                                Name and Cap Cannot be Bought       The Cap on an Immortal Head Drops       Àlàbí The Friday Child
                                Passing on A Legacy                                         Gertrude Goes to Èkó                         The Birth of Àlàmú II
                                Life in A New Nation                                            Life With Our Uncles                           Adventures in the Wild
                                The Wind of Change                                        Cum Christo Progredere                       Vic! Vic! Victory! Olivet!
                                The Roar of Thunder at Olivet                      Life of Youth and Exuberance                 Àlàmú II Goes to America
                                Another Cap of Legacy Drops                       Àlàmú II Returns to America                  Gertrude Goes To Rest
                                         Collection of Poems                             SAYGER Foundation White paper          

 

Author’s comment;

There is a strange thing that happens as this enigma called getting-old creeps in, little things begin to loom so large and mean so much. I marvel at the brain’s capacity for data storage and even more so when all these things begin to ooze out, events long stacked away in the farthest recess of my thoughts, but indeed, they did happen and they are not just imaginations. For certain events, wisdom rings clarity and subtle events take on new meanings, history does not repeat itself.

 

Inspiration and Dedication;
Mimọ ! Mimọ ! Mimọ !
Funfun Lẹlẹ ni
Olúwa
Immaculate ! Pure white ! such is God !

 

The loving memory of all my dearly beloved ones who have passed on to greater glory forever remains an inspiration. May their souls rest in peace! The words of courage, fearlessness, love and humanity in this book is dedicated to our ancestors, who have lived their life stories, leaving behind a legacy along the road upon which we reverently walk. This book honors their works and pays tribute to their indefatigable efforts, perseverance and tenacity.

 

 

 

Chapter 1
A Journey to Remember
 

“Aiyé! Life! a journey on the narrow road through which our forbearers travailed as we match into the wider path of the infinite possibilities that lay ahead”.
At some point in time in the year 1980, my mother had asked one of my uncles, Rájí, to sit down with her, so he could tell her all he knew about the ancestry of her husband. If anyone in the family was more familiar with the history of the Yéròkun family in Ìsẹyìn and had the temperament to spend time recounting some of these, it had to be uncle Rájí. Not only was he very knowledgeable of the Yéròkun ancestry, he was easily one of the most approachable of the relatives around. Uncle Rájí had, by all accounts, grown up knowing Àlàmú my grandfather. He was familiar with many of his accomplishments and was aware of how life had been for the entire family when they first arrived in Ìsẹyìn. More importantly, uncle Rájí was also very familiar with the life story of my father Àlàbí, they grew up together as siblings, and maybe he was slightly older than Àlàbí, or the other way round. In my culture, such information are revered, you never inquire about the age of your elders. ------------------------------------------------


Time and age have a way of forcing sober reflection on one. The knowledge of passing memories, reflections on the beauty, joy, accomplishments, sorrows of the past and the hope for tomorrow, all intertwined in the milieu from which emerges a yearning to memorialize these life events, experiences and realities gone by. It has been said that the reality of life is life itself. A dynamic process, life is forever changing, never still and when one ends another reality emerges. The questions of old, when not answered in a lifetime, become a burden for the minds of the new generation and on and on it goes. Thus, the question for me was whether the realities of the lives of my ancestors could be allowed to remain hidden forever. It is a fact that the physical part, that very tangible component of their life had passed, but not the reality, a never ending truism and an essential link in the chain of life itself. Luckily for me, my mother had the foresight to write down the verbal account of the Yéròkun family history she heard from uncle Rájí. My father had his diaries and notes, throve of information from which experiences in his life and the life of those before him, including his own father, could be glimpsed. My siblings, other relatives and friends also had their versions of stories about the
family they had heard from other sources. I also had some stories to tell, from the ones I experienced up close and in person. For the priceless contributions of all these individuals, I remain immensely appreciative, as I recount in this book, the stories of courage, sacrifices, survival and determination.

 

Chapter 2
In the Land on the Upper Side of The River


-------------------------------------------------------------As one of the sons of the Onísábẹ and therefore a prince residing in the royal palace, Àlàmú was on the palace grounds when the invasion occurred. The intrusion was so swift, arrows still rested in their quivers, the swords never made it out of their saber, not a single bullet proceeded out of their muzzle. There could not have been surrender, the sentry had not forewarned the king of impending danger, and no army was assembled to defend the town. The young and able-bodied males of the town were either busy on the farm tilling the grounds, or they were about their other daily chores, nonchalant and oblivious to the events taking place at home. The animals were being fed, for there was plenty of grass that had been brought from the farm a few days earlier. Young
girls endowed with firm breasts, evidence of adolescence, young ladies had elegantly painted their faces with colorful saps derived from plant roots, make-ups that were tell-tale signs of adulthood and maturity, as they swayed across the yard while men watched in utter admiration. ---------------------------------------------------

 

The rain came down in a drizzle but you could tell the temperature was high and the aroma of apprehension filled the air. The season was about to change and change it would, in so many ways for so many lives. On that afternoon long ago, the water that rolled down like a transparent ball from the brow of the strangers was not from the raindrops, it was the sweat emerging from the sinus of their skin. That was the day my grandfather, Àlàmú Yéròkun, in the company of some of his relatives, arrived in Ìsẹyìn, the town that was soon to become his new home. ------------------

 

Àlàmú, my grandfather must have been born in the latter part of the 19th century. For the family, our best earliest account of his youth starts with his arrival at Ìsẹyìn. --------------------------------

 

Emerging from the surrounding hills and moving into the grassland, an easterly route from Saabẹ to Ìsẹyìn takes you on a journey through such places as Wasimi, Ijio, Iganna and Oke Iho. These small towns along the route remain in existence to this day, now with 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, still retaining several of the cultural backdrops reminiscent of rural life in the early twentieth century. --------------------------------------------------
On any given day, the heavens can really open up with water inundating the whole town of Ìsẹyìn. Objects are thrown everywhere, more so when people started using corrugated iron roofs in place of straw roofs, which made the flapping noise to become ceaseless. On one such downpour and in the ensuing melee, several birds got caught and were either killed or maimed. There was the taboo among the people of the town against killing or eating any of these birds, the Lékeléke, Àdàbà and Igúnungún, as they called them. Rather than being randomly killed or eaten, they were sometimes used as sacrifice to different deities. -------On that day, nature provided the perfect opportunity to overlook the taboo about eating these birds. -------------------------------

 

                                                                                           Ìsẹyìn-Land of Alluring Beauty (2010)
                                                                            In the Land across the river Is the essence of beauty
                                                                                    The land of incessant beat From rain drops
                                                                      And wings of birds flapping Above the majestic mountains
                                                                   The land of a thousand and one Brooks that flow into streams
                                                                      And streams become lesser rivers Where the “Sango” deity
                                                                   Armed with Creator’s approval Allows blacksmith fan the coals
                                                                                     And with the hammer In a downward stroke
                                                                        Strike hot metals on anvils The land where Grande designs
                                                                      From the weavers’ spool emerge Attires for kings and queens
                                                                                     Princes and princesses The rich and the pauper
                                                                                The land of farmers Ceaselessly tilln ‘til harvest time
                                                                                         Life abounds In this alluring land of beauty

 

Chapter 4
Fate Intervenes in The Life of Àlàmú

-------------------------------------------------------------He arrived as a surety to the sacred agreement and understanding between two kings. An Àlàmú that was alive was more valuable to the Asẹyìn because it made it possible for the king of Saabẹ to keep his promise of paying annual homage in the form of goods and farm products to him.
At the time, the Yorùbá people that resided along the coast, particularly in Lagos, as well as, the Ẹgbas, had experienced frequent contacts with white people only as traders and missionaries. In the interior, further north from the coast, King Abiodun Atiba, the Aláàfin who reigned over the Ọyọ Empire from 1837 to 1859, had extended the first invitation to the British for an official visit into the interior of the country.----------------------
A kì í pè é lẹrù ká pè é lọşọ.
One does not call it a burden and also call it an adornment
Now, the same words used in praise of warriors were being used as accolades for Àlàmú, with a rather contrasting resonance in view of the circumstances under which he had arrived in Ìsẹyìn.
Àlàmú---èyí k’ẹsin ró; ẹrú Ọba kùru
Àlàmú, keeper of horses; the king’s fearsome slave
----------------------------------------------------------Within a short period of time, the emotions of all the parties concerned had become so highly charged and the acts committed by certain disgruntled individuals on one October day, would turn out to be fatally climatic, with about 20 people being murdered and several private homes burnt. --------------------------------------
On the day indicated in the letter, several dignitaries were executed. How my grandfather Àlàmú was able to escape this whole chaos unscathed has to be considered an incredible feat and one can only imagine that it would have further contributed to the legendary status he had established for himself.
Chapter 7
Àlàbí The Friday Child
It was going to be another of the sun-shinny summer day in 1922, and from the minaret in the nearby mosque came a call to the five O'clock Morning Prayer ------"Allah u wa kubaru----".

 

On one of the visits by “Ayára bí Àsá” to Àlàmú in Ìsẹyìn, he advised him that an imperishable legacy he could leave for his children was to give them sound formal English education. ---------------------------------

 

At this stage in their relationship, Àlàbí and Gertrude were strongly emotionally invested, seeing each other almost daily, even though they were not siblings nor were they married. -----------------------
Her anticipation had become heightened both because Àlàbí had been gone for three days on one of his many business trips and the move to Èkó could have a major impact on their maturing relationship. --------------------
Gertrude went off to Lagos under a cloud of whether they would be able to sustain the relationship over the long distance that would be between them. --------------

 

The rekindling of his relationship with Gertrude resulted in their getting married in 1944. It was a Saturday-in-December wedding at the Baptist church in Ìlọrá, with all of their relatives and friends in attendance, to witness the special occasion. ------------------------------
In the middle of all his political activities, there were already their three girls and three boys with aunties, uncles, cousins and nephews all part of the growing Gertrude and Àlàbí’s household. -------------------------

 

In 1963, he was selected as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Information, Mr. T.O.S. Benson, one of the more popular and flamboyant politicians in the country. --------
Now, just like Àlàbí had done years earlier, it was my turn to go to Ọyọ, a journey through the same narrow road that remains my favorite road. My destination was to a completely different part of the town, on its outskirt, at a memorable spot, on the right hand side of the road, at the kilometer 13 marker, as you depart the ancient town of Ọyọ, heading to Ìbàdàn. There, on a hundred acres of land stood an iconoclastic institution for secondary education, whose principal administrator later came to be considered an icon. ---------------------------------------------------
Exerting an even greater influence on the life of students was the school Principal, John Bamidele Preston Lafinhan, “JBP”, as we all loved to call him. -----------------------------------------------------

 

The bell tower was not too far away from the chapel, where they both complemented each other in a unique way. Both stood like
the rudder of a ship, a symbolic moral compass, a lightning rod of academic excellence, moral fortitude and beacon of eternal hope.
As far as JBP was concerned, every student ought to always aspire to achieve academic excellence, athletes were expected to prevail in their sports events, and the choir had to be ready to render angelic melodies before paupers and kings. -----------------------
Tesilimiu “Thunder” Balógun, the doyen of African football superstars was still as popular as when he was at the peak of his game playing against other superstars such as “Pele” of Brazil, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks or Clyde West of the England Football team, or Eusébio on the Portugal squad. It was probably no coincidence that another group of students JBP seemed to be fond of were the athletes, especially football players.
Olivet Heights emerged in the late 1960’s as a force to reckon with in athletics and particularly in the area of football. You knew you were making some headway when ----------------------------------
One day, it was Popson and I who decided we had to satisfy our craving for fried plantain, “dòdò” as everyone calls it. At a place popularly referred to as “bukateria” by students, people visited whether they had business or did not have any business being at the hospital. ---------------------------------------------------------
My other memories of Olivet Heights are filled with the hilarious stories students used to tell, “fàbú” we called them, a word probably coined from the English word fables, these were usually fabulous tales, far beyond imagination, one has to laugh at them.
Maybe a cultural thing, you had to have the sense of humor to appreciate them ------------------------------------------------
It was a beautiful day, the sky was clear for the plane to take off at the exact time it was scheduled. This was the major airport for the country and several flights to all other parts of the world took off from the same spot. ---------------------------------------------

 

"What is your name son", the clerk asked, as he pulled out a huge reservation book. My name is Yéròkun, "yea-row-koon", I spelled out in a thick and what must have sounded to the clerk like a --
In the days of my first arrival in America, life was relatively much easier to travel around the country. ----------------------------------
Thousands of miles away in the USA, far from the watchful eyes of Gertrude, the Yéròkun boys were busy in school, doing exactly what Àlàbí must have been doing several years earlier--------------
After the phone conversation, I had the dubious task of having to deliver the same sad news to both of my brothers who were still fast asleep in their rooms. As sad and devastating as it would be, I did not have the option or luxury of withholding such news--------
The Nigeria of the early 1980’s seemed one of the more vibrant period in the history of the country---------------------------------
At the end of my NYSC program, I returned to Ìbàdàn and would always spend the weekends with my sister Nike, or with our mother, when she was not with my sister in Ìbàdàn. The NYSC program was a very enjoyable experience for me, although it did not whip up the type of patriotic sentiments I expected it would.
Arriving at Afikpo, HT our host, was most hospitable feeding us and introducing us to several of the really nice friends he had made since he got there. We went round the small town, ate some of the local dishes and felt very much at home-----------------------
The fun time we had at Afikpo, similar to what most people all over the country seemed to be enjoying did not last forever. It was not long into the new civilian rule when socio-political discontent began to brew, the lavish lifestyle people enjoyed and seemed to revel in was beginning to have negative impact on the country’s economy. People’s expectation of economic well-being and---------
Within the span of less than a decade, transatlantic flight had reached new heights, shortening travel time between continents to one or less than a day--------------------------------------------------

 

Social interaction with the opposite gender is never a cheap proposition for most species including humans ---------------------
Everything went as planned and within a few weeks after the wedding we were back in the US as a married couple---------------
These are Ọmọshaléwá from Fúnkẹ’s mom and Àdùkẹ from my grandmother. These names are more than serving their sentimental purpose because------------------------------------------
This much I knew, it would be almost fifteen years after I had returned to the US, when Gertrude joined Àlàbí on the other side, where both of them can rest eternally in perfect peace--------------
On what turned out to be one of the most beautiful weekends in Ìsẹyìn that I could remember, a funeral procession assembled on a Saturday morning at Òkútapàmọ, just at the outskirt of town as you come in from Ọyọ. The time was probably only about nine o’clock in the morning ------------------------------------------------
As I sat with others along the pews in the church during the funeral service on that beautiful Sunday, some of the thoughts that went through my mind were those of Gertrude visiting with us in the US. The opportunity she had to meet her daughters’ in-law and many more of her grandchildren----------------------------------

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