Monday, 27th February 2017
It was 5 pm and the last thing I was expecting that tiring evening was a phone call. Scratch that, the only thing I was expecting was a long sleep-filled night. And right there at that moment, like straight out of a movie, my phone rang. I could have sworn I was hallucinating until Google Assistant gave out the caller ID of the person on the other end of the call.
And it wasn’t just a random person; I could have ignored, have the phone on silent, sent a text that I was in the middle of something important or at most, switch off my phone. It was Kiki Osinbajo,
ex-crush, long time coursemate, colleague, project partner and yeah, daughter of Yemi Osinbajo (Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria). I quickly ran through the few spoons of rice I had left on my plate and picked the call just before it ended.
Unlike several other friendship relationships, I and Kiki have built a connection that has evolved over the past couple of years and it got stronger every single time. It’s why regardless of how tired I thought I was, I couldn’t ignore such a call. But, I still knew what to expect; random banter to catching up, core life issues, jokes and boom! 1 hour and 3 “Take-care-of-yourself” greetings later, we would still be on the phone.
Like I had anticipated, we went on and on until midway into the conversation, she brought up her dad’s 60th birthday celebration plan. Midway, into the discussion about plans for her dad’s celebration, I got lost and for so many reasons; one being that she sounded too excited for me to hear her in details. The only thing I could get which for me was the most important was that she wanted me to be at the special indoor breakfast worship session at their home.
It was a big deal for me and for much more reasons that one. In the over 8 years I had known her, it was the first time they were celebrating his birthday with people who weren’t immediate members of the family. I had always been particularly intrigued by the strong cord that I felt existed in their family.
Being one of the participants of such a carefully curated breakfast worship session revealed to me that I meant much more than a friend. I was family. Even as a regular friend of the family, I had only met Yemi Osinbajo a few times and it was understandable – he’s not the person you just randomly run into whilst in the house. He’s always engaged in one activity or the other.
Right there on the phone, I began to plan my clothing and flight arrangements and very interestingly, Kiki had made arrangements for my accommodation at their house. What more can I ask for from
an ex-crush a friend turned family!
After a few minutes of random banter about my new haircut (which I don’t want to talk about now), the loss of my phone and some other random things, we ended the call and the formerly – tired me had switched into travel preparation mode. As much as I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t too excited and I just wanted to have my things packed early, I knew the truth wasn’t too far from me. I was too excited!
I arrived Abuja the next Monday and I could practically touch the “celebration”. The euphoria was real.
There was so much in-house buzz about it. For some reason, everyone was looking very excited for the ceremony ahead.
Wednesday came so fast and as agreed, we gathered in the living room morning. The worship was really tight; Unscripted, real and very intimate. It’s definitely not the type you expect in a church; quality of sound and instruments alike, but it was so much more. My best bet was to enjoy the spontaneous session and get the best out of it because like every other thing in life, it wasn’t going to be on forever.
After about 45 minutes, Grandma (Prof. Yemi’s mother) took centre stage. First, with her surprise cake, then with Yoruba prayers, choruses and chants of thanksgiving to God over the life of her son, after which we all took turns to pray for him.
Shhh! Prayer time…
We were done in no time (Not like it was a deliverance service, anyway) and Prof spent the next few minutes in thanks to God and those of us present and before we knew it, it was all done, he had some other things to do and we had partying and eating to do.
I could tell my heart skipped like 5 beats and for the singular reason that I just wasn’t expecting it
I can’t remember how I walked my way up the stairs. All I can recollect now is that I met him up the stairs and he held my hands and we walked into his room.
Since my glasses were on, it was fairly easy to dodge his gaze. I was clearly shy. I looked around the room. It was massive. If this could be the other room, Buhari talked about, then, maybe being in the other room isn’t such a bad idea, you know. It was a combination of class, taste elegance and style (Not like I expected anything less from the second in command anyway).
One word from him and I was snapped out of my other-room fantasy.
I would never forget the passion in his eyes as he shared on the build capacity now that I have the time and resources to do so. To engage in reading books, strengthening my relationship with God, building relevant skills and ensuring that the future I seek after is one that I actively work towards. How can I forget his statement on “returning to the closets in order to grow deep” because, according to him, success is first about growing yourself.
Prof shared on respect, the value of people, why they should be cherished, valued and honoured because humans make the world go round.
He enlightened me on the need to pour all of my being into whatever my hand finds to do and be very diligent and skilled at it.
He moved on to share several other things; many were confidential and my tired self won’t allow me to share the others.
As soon as he felt he was done, he stretched out his hand, reached out for mine, closed his eyes and began to pray.
For the first time in a very long time, I felt strength, freshness and unexplainable peace all around me as he did this. Things had never felt so perfect and meant-to-be.
It was at this point during the prayer that I heard faint footsteps of movement towards which later became louder and louder till I finally opened my eyes.
Apparently, was my big sister leaving home for work and her movements in the house woke me from my sleep.
Sigh.. Long sigh… Heavy sigh..
This might have been one of my dreams but it’s hard to forget what Yemi Osinbajo told me in that one moment of truth, vulnerability and intimacy. I’d hold them very firm to my heart and work hard to see these virtues at work in my own life. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, I know I met him yesterday.
So, what if you could take a cue or two from what Prof. told me during his 60th birthday? because of a truth, they are values I have learnt from his life.