Saturday, February 11, 2017 1:46 pm
By Olufunmi Peter-Omale
I wrote my first book at 13 years! It’s a typical fairytale, a romantic and happily ever thing a romantic addict like me would do! I discovered Mills and Boon at just a few months short of 10 years and got hooked. Oh no, they were not as steamy and cheesy as they are now! I was intrigued by the storyline – boy meets girl, girl had misunderstanding with boy and left. Boy goes to look for girl and they got married and they live happily ever.
My dad was mortified when he found out I was reading such adult book rather than face my studies. He banned me from ever touching the stuff again. Too late, I was already addicted. I was so hooked on reading Mills and Boon that I even devised a crooked means of defiance even in my poor dad’s presence without him having an inkling. I’d put my Mills and Boon in the middle of a larger textbook like my biology, maths or geography textbooks. God forgive me, i even used to put it in the Bible!
Poor dad, he’d come into the room, or see me on the dining table and thought I was studying. Bless him, he was always so convinced I was studying, that he’d risen to my defence if asked by my older siblings or my step mum to do house chores. “Leave Funmilayo alone to study, send someone else.” He’d say.
My siblings later discovered my trick but never grassed on me, thank God. But they’d grumble and fumble when asked to do what I was supposed to do. Me, I didn’t care. I was just happy, that my dad was absolutely glad and proud that one out of his seven girls had taken after him in reading and reading endlessly. (My daddy can read for the whole of England!).
All be it, Mills and Boon, Nick Carter, James Hadley Chase, Barbara Cartland and Pacesetters series were my guilty pleasure back then. But eventually, he did find out somehow about my trick and unfortunately also discovered he couldn’t do much about it!
He could only verbally reprimand me a lot of times, maybe a few times getting me grounded and then later he warned me not to flunk my GCSCE. Maybe he threatened me sef. But I smashed my GCSCE, the JAMB and all. So he need not have been worried!
I must confess that my dad did encouraged me, and in fact all of us his girls and boy to read, read and read even much more. Thus, our family library was very rich indeed. We had an array of choice books in all languages and all creeds. By the time I was 16, I had read the Grail Message, the Quaran and of course the Bible more than once. That was the kind of dad we had, exposing us to all, and allowing us to make our own choices.
Being exposed to all sorts of books in different languages and cultures sort of informed my decision to go into journalism, though he thought I’d be better off a lawyer. I said to him, my choice was journalism. And he did not argue with me, he supported me all the way and after he retired from the University of Ibadan, he left me under the guardianship of his friends Prof. Dapo Adelugba and Dr. Folarin, both of Faculty of Arts.
Today and always, we celebrate you daddy, Oye Cornelius Akinboade. You laid that foundation for us. You taught and demonstrated to us selfless love and importance of education. Today, we all are not just graduates but all of us Master Degree holders too! And all glory to God, we are all nurturing ours, as you did us. Thank God for putting you in our lives, your life may have been short, but it was more than full of impact. You taught us exactly all we needed to know before you were called…
You pops, taught us
to live and love;
to read and reach;
to give and take,
to respect and never to neglect,
to be conscientious and to have conscience in all and everything we do.
And above all to fear, love and have a personal relationship with God.
It is exactly 25 years you transitioned into eternity. Rest in everlasting and eternal peace daddy. See you in glory later on…
–Olufunmi Peter-Omale writes from the UK