When we were kids in secondary school, there was a football match between my school and a neighbouring school. Every student seemed invested in that match; I think it was like a semi-final to determine who would stand a chance at the finals which was the state championship. I was a new student but the fever caught everyone. Every afternoon after classes till late in the evening, the football team practiced till it appeared they were living and breathing football.

It was just a few days to the match when some students brought very discouraging news to the school. They said that the neighbouring school had gone to a very famous diviner to enquire about the outcome of the coming match and that the diviner assured them that they would win the match. In fact, the news was that even if they stopped practicing, they would win the match because the ‘god of football’ was favourably disposed towards them. The news dampened everyone’s spirit in my school. If the other team was going to win, what was the need struggling and working so hard to perfect their moves, our footballers wondered aloud. I think some senior students quickly and surreptitiously billed themselves and all other students that were keen to participate; they wanted to raise money to go to the same ‘powerful diviner’ and buy the favour of the ‘god of football.’

The games teacher discovered what was going on and called the students to the assembly hall for a meeting. Emotions were high, some students were still convinced that we could win, some were in total disbelief of the news and others were too dejected to react. However, the prevalent emotion was fear. He calmed everyone down and told us several stories about diviners whose predictions had failed in the past.

“They are human beings and make mistakes like everyone else.” He said.

His words held some hope but some students were still fearful.

The teacher told the students something that has stayed with me for decades: ‘There is no alternative to proper preparation.’ He said that anything that made a person to fold his arms and wait for handouts is already preparing the person for failure. He then told the students to hold him responsible if they practised properly but failed to win the match. The whole hall was quiet. All the students wanted to believe him but he was just a mere man, not a diviner and definitely not a close pal of the ‘god of football.’

The few days to the match were very busy. The team practised morning and evening. In fact, many students joined the football team and formed two junior teams and an extra senior team. The whole school was sold to football. All too soon, the day of the match came and everyone was in a panic. The games coach repeated his inspiring words. He reminded all of us that the team had prepared excellently and that there was nothing stopping them from winning. The match started and we were all cheering our team. By half-time, our team had already scored five goals. That was when the real drama began. The opposing team refused to get into the field without seeing the diviner.  Most of them pretended to be injured and said they needed their own special physiotherapist. They secretly sent for the diviner who promptly arrived at the field.

A murmur went through the field when the man stepped out. Our teachers led by the games teacher went to protest the presence of the diviner. There was a ruckus; children were screaming everywhere as the teachers talked with the referee and the sports officials. Finally, the match resumed. We won by an exciting 7-1.

At the end of the game, the government representative addressed the crowd. He said that an important lesson had been taught and learnt in that match. He repeated what our games teacher had said: for everything in life, there is no alternative to proper preparation. He explained that when the proper planning is not achieved, there was already a high possibility of failure. He admonished the defeated team for putting their entire hope on the diviner who had decided to teach them a big lesson. He said the diviner said he would never help a student to pass an examination or win a competition that he needed to work hard for. The diviner said it was against his personal work ethics and that he always punished people who came to him for a quick solution instead of working hard.

We got our ticket into the finals and for many of us, an important lesson had been learnt that day; do your best at all times. It is not enough to have access to some high powered official or be related to the Officer at the top, prepare as though you know nobody and give your best.

So long!

Fatherhood with Ibe



We all filed into the expansive office of Olorogun’s  lawyer. He was in a short meeting when we arrived and asked his assistant to serve us refreshments while we waited – the fifteen minutes wait could have been a life time. I was stuck in the room with obviously and suddenly unfriendly co-wives and children. Every attempt I made to bring the family to a neutral conversation fell flat. Silently I was disappointed with Iyabo’s role; I know that Olorogun would have hoped for her to show more leadership, take charge of the family as she had always done … but not so recently. She was a different Iyabo.

The door into the office opened and in came Temi Johnson, SAN. He was a diminutive fellow with excellent and fluent diction. He was calm and as always, completely in charge. He settled down, took a roll call of every one present, walked out two relations who had each accompanied Iyabo and Seun as they were not part of the interested parties in the Will. Next, he identified the names of the executors; myself and Olorogun’s younger brother, and then made us all sign the register of attendance. He then settled down to business and addressed everyone.

“Let me start by saying that I am hoping at the end of this exercise all family members will, for the sake of the lasting memory of the deceased, accept his Will and bond rather than fight. I reiterate what I have told many people in similar situations like yours: No one is entitled to another man’s riches. If it comes, it is a boost and a bonus. Each of us must work for what we own as that is the biblical injunction. Olorogun was the child of a carpenter and inherited nothing from his parents. But he became a very successful man and today we are here to distribute his wealth. I would wish that when it is time for all of us to go, we would be in the same position and distribute wealth to other people.” He adjusted his sitting position, took a sip of water, cleared his throat and began to read the will.

The reading lasted nearly one hour as the Will included a statement of Olorogun’s impressions of his family members, admonition for the neglect he suffered in the hands of some and his advice to each of his family members. At the end, he split his wealth in four parts. One to each of his wives and the fourth to a trust account to be run by a foundation to help the poor. He put the control of that foundation under the care of the church he had attended all his life. To each of his children, he gave nothing new because he said he had given them education and built their personal homes for them. He advised them to work with their mothers to manage the vast resources he left them.

The SAN also announced the caveat.

“Olorogun has also stated that any wife or child who challenges the Will would forfeit their share or in the case of the children, their mother’s share under the WIll. In that event, the share of such a wife shall go to the foundation.”

Temi had barely finished talking when curses and abuses began to flow. Most of that was directed at Seun and Ese especially who although they benefited equally with Iyabo were seen as not being entitled to same because of deference to seniority.

As the war of words continued, I excused myself and made to leave but Omisore blocked my way and wondered why I was silent under injustice. I was offended by the challenge. I looked at him with irritation and menacingly told him that if he did not step out of my way, I would get security men to arrest him. That seemed to silence the room.

“I am shocked at your ingratitude and lack of leadership.” I sternly addressed him.

His mum, Iyabo quickly knelt to apologise but I was already drained by the whole situation so I left. I was sad that Olorogun was not present to see the legacy he would not have imagined he left behind. But I remembered what my father used to say when he was alive.

“The problems a man leaves behind are for the living, not the dead. If the living do not sort those problems out, the problems will haunt the living while the dead will rest in his grave.”

I made a note to pray for Olorogun’s family next time in church and to look in on them in a few weeks to see how each arm of the family is coping.