If you have met my father, you will not only believe in the biblical heroes of faith, you will believe in my father ‘Baba Super,’ MOSES OLALEMI OKEGBILE as a hero. My father was the Supervisory Councillor for Health and Social Development, Atakumosa Local Government between 1991 to 1993. ‘Baba Super’ beyond a political figurative alias was the community description of my dad because of his fatherly hospitality, love, selfless and philanthropist services to the community and all the churches and mosques in Osu. Evangelist Julius Oluwanisola, the former Director of Administration of the Atakumosa Local Govt described my dad as ‘a sample of love, humility, simplicity, honesty accommodating and integrity.’

My father, born on a Friday 28th March, 1928 passed on almost four years ago on May 2nd, 2014, but on his 90 years posthumous birthday, his legacy and vision lives on. Dad, though I shared with you only 50 of your 90 years, I can remember most of them with gladness. When I was a child, I have a million ways to annoy you. As a teenager, I had million reasons to defy you. But as an adult, I have million opportunities to make you proud of me. I did all that, but I have missed out the most important thing – a million chances to say I love you when you are still alive.

My dad, friend, first mentor, teacher, and choirmaster, your honour is ours to wear through the Risen Christ. You gave us a name that was free from shame. You lived in the morning sunlight and marched in the ranks of right. Life for you was a stopping place, a pause along the road to Eternity. You stood to the sternest trials, as only a brave man can. God blessed you with the strength of a mountain, patience of Eternity, the Majesty of a tree, the calm of a quite sea, generous soul like that of nature, comforting voice, leg and arm like that of night. Indeed, a light from and pillar in our household and community is gone, a love we loved is stilled, a place is vacant in our home, family, community, church and nation. Dad, to us your children and those who had contact with you, you gave the joy and pride of an honest name with contentment, integrity, education, spirituality, and faith in Jesus Christ. Though your physical form is gone at 87, your spiritual impact, formation and mentoring on us can never be forgotten. Your life was an inspiration and your memory is a benediction. Bola, my late sister called you her ‘best friend and confidant … Baba mi, you brought me up with strict discipline and taught me hard work.’ Bola described you as her ‘strong backbone in my times of difficulties, I will never forget your last word of advice which is “bo giri o ba lanu, alangba o lee wobe.” Iyabo, my senior sister eulogies you as “

Omo Olowu le pe, Omo Olowu loke ona, Mo re Owu, Omo aji pepe si re, Omo ateni gbade, Omo oloke lo mo he gigun ki oke ile ran ke ju gun an da wo ti di, Omo oloke ma yi ku gbin, Omo olobi kokoro gb ko, Omo alare re wa di dun, Omo Ugbagudugba, Omo Ugbagudugba, Omo Oloke Ona.” Bola reminded us your tenor voice and your favourite song “Oloore Ofee, eleru niyin, Olorun agbaye, mo gbe ooo ga.”

The pain of losing you is still unbearable but this does not mean that we will no longer celebrate your special day. We commemorate your birthday with thanksgiving for a loving, caring father, community leader, and devoted servant of the Most High God. I am sending across my best birthday wishes to the best dad I know. He may not be here now, but he’s forever in my heart. Dad, your life was a practical gospel. With the help of your mum, Alice Ogunhunmilola, you struggled to educate yourself. You at a point in time stopped schooling at Methodist Primary School, Oke Oja, Osu, due to illness. You started again in 1937 and passed your standard 6 examination. Dad attended The Apostolic Teachers College, Ilesa between 1954 to 1955 and Christ Apostolic Church Teacher Grade Two College, Efon Alaye 1960-1961. After serving for 35 years teaching in Ondo, Ekiti, and Oyo states, dad retired voluntarily in 1984 and relocated to Osu. My father served as the pioneer Executive Secretary, Osu Progressive Union, 1987 to 1988. He was the President, Progressive Union and Men’s Fellowship, Methodist Church, Oke Oja, Osu. Dad, thank you for teaching me how to be strong and responsible. But I am sorry for I let you down especially on the day when you said goodbye. I was on mission, thousands of miles away from you. Honestly, I can never be strong enough to acknowledge the fact that you are already gone. I will not immortalise you in the stars since they fade away. I will not remember you with a poem for it will soon be forgotten one day. I will just keep you and your legacy safe here in my heart, supporting excellence in education, community development, and church leadership.

Since my dad changed his address four years ago, everyday, I reflect on my father’s life and on the lessons he taught me often. I often think about things we talked about or things we argued about — because we argued often — and as I grow older I try to put his lessons into perspective if and when I can. I remember when we went to the Holy Pilgrimage together, we agreed that dad must keep his money while I do his shopping for him. At a point, I asked my dad to give me some money till we get back to the hotel. To my amazement, dad said, one of the members in our group was in dire need and he gave the money out as a gift. Dad was a wise and compassionate man. Dad was wise beyond his years, beyond his formal education level and beyond what he knew or acknowledged himself. My dad was strong and smart, yet kind and gentle when he needed to be. We called him “The Good Samaritan” because he was a giver to a fault. Anyone who knew him knew that when he was around, there is no dull moment. Happy birthday most amazing Dad. You are the greatest father I could have asked for. Thank you for always putting God first. When I think about my childhood and memories, I remember dad, his prayer and devotional lifestyle as unique. I remember, it was always a joyous moment riding with dad in his motorcycle from Apomu, Ikire to Osu on holidays. I often remember your love for farming not just to for food production but to show us joy of hard work and to also teach history and life lessons. Dad gave us new meaning to “teachable moments” because every second of every day was a teachable moment for him. You… with your little formal education worked hard to raise us to be proper human beings with morals, values and respect for society and people. You… with your little monthly income worked relentlessly to push us to believe in ourselves and be strong individuals that could stand alone. You… with no help from anyone built a life full of abundance, full of love and most importantly full of laughter.

Daddy… you taught me to be strong, to have courage and to have faith. Daddy… you taught me to love with all my heart and to always be truthful no matter what. You taught me to be passionate and fearless regardless of what others thought. Dad, thank you for supporting me when I discussed my calling to go into the Methodist ministry with you after my Masters degree in Visual Art, University of Ibadan. I was doing well with my Joy Communications outfit I established after my service year in Imo/Abia State (1991). Some of your friends and family members in the community came to ask you, ‘Is Ayo okay by his decision to go into the seminary in Sagamu while other graduates in the community are being employed in good companies?’ They asked you to talk to me for me to have a rethink about my decision. Your response to them, that you are okay with my decision to serve God continues to be the inspiration with the help of the Holy Spirit that drives me. On your 90th birthday, Daddy… I thank you. I thank you for being the most amazing man in my life. You taught me what true love is and you taught me what it is to be a parent. Dad, I see you in the eyes of my children everyday. I see your love for music, helping others, and your sensitivity in them. Dad, on this day, I honour you! I honour your faithfulness and your strength and I honour your love and commitment to Christ. On this day I will sing your favourite song, “Oloore Ofee, eleru niyin, Olorun agbaye, mo gbe ooo ga.” Dad, your last few days and the way you slept on May 2nd continue to inspire me how a true Christian should die. Few weeks to his departure, dad left Ibadan, my sister’s place despite every persuasion to still stay and rest. Unknown to us, Dad went to Osu to put his house in order and to say final goodbye to his wife and family members. He went to see his Presbyter and made his final contribution to the church before returning to Ibadan towards the end of April. After his return to Ibadan, all dad’s conversations with my sister, Iyabo and with me on phone was about his recent dream where he found himself singing with group of people all in white in a golden open space. Till dad’s last breath by 7:05 am on May 2nd, dad was full of singing praises and thanking God for His love to him and his family. Dad, you died empty like the death of the righteous. You poured your all out to God and humanity while on earth. On the day of your burial, the Lord poured showers of blessing upon my dad. The rain that started immediately after the church service lasted just less than 30 minutes immediately after the committal. To us, it was God’s showers of blessing and welcome for dad to his Saviour’s bosom.  Dad, your 90th birthday renew us to continue you legacy by promoting educational and leadership development. Happy birthday to the greatest man in my life.