The autobiography of Princess Sarah Segilola Odulaja was written while she was on a visit to New York, during the months of June and July 1999.
By Sarah Segilola Odulaja
To the Glory of God
I was born in the early morning of January 1, 1924 into the family of my father, Prince Joseph Ojo Alola Folaranmi and Princess Leah Ajayi Sinyanade Folaranmi. My father, Joseph Folaranmi is from the Adeyemi Alaafin ruling family in Oyo. His grandfather, Faleti migrated to Tede here my grandfather was born. My father, Olateju was an Ifa priest. My mother's father was Oba Onitede Olaniyan, Ojola fi gigun s'ayo Igbo fi didi s'ola baba Adedigba Ayo boro tika wa Adu bi aran O t'oba tele k'o too j'oba.
My two grandfathers were friends. My mother's mother was Akanke from Irawo and my father's mother was Adekunbi Alake Olateju, an indigene of Ilesha.
As is customary for a princess, my mother was born in her auntie's room. The aunty, Iya Taiwo Asakun raised her. She was betrothed to my father, but was not ready for marriage, and her husband, Joseph Alola turned to her cousin, Sarah Ajayi. My mother was so disappointed that he refused to marry my father, but her father raised objections to her decision.
I, Sarah Segilola Folaranmi was born on January 1, 1924 at Egbe Omo compound, Tede. I did not know that Sinyanade was my mother because Iya Taiwo took care of me and my mother had to return to my father's house after two and a half years. I was the first out of my mother's five children. My immediate sister was late Charlotte Aderoju who died in Ghana in 1959 during childbirth. After her came Isaac Adedokun Folaranmi, and then, the twins, Jacob Eesuola Folaranmi who died in December 1982, and Felicia Adebisi Ajani. When the twins were born to the family, I had to move to my father's house to help my mother in raising them.
While I was with my big aunty, Iya Taiwo, my father struggled to have me attend evening classes. I declined. There was no school at Tede then. My half sister, Deborah Adunola followed the one of the Southern Baptist missionaries to Shaki. Her name was Elma Elam. Whenever my half sister came home on holidays, she came with other students. They taught us in Sunday school lessons, told us beautiful stories about Jesus and other stories from the bible. They also taught some short choruses and gave beautiful bible pictures of Christ and other characters from the bible. These experiences made me want to go to school again when my father asked me to go. My mother raised objections to my going to school, but I said that I will go. I started school at the age of fifteen years. This decision upset my mother.
My cousin, Grace Ibironke Falade and I started schooling at Ago Are Baptist Day School. When a school was opened in Tede, we had to go back home. Some of my classmates are Grace Ibironke Falade, Samuel Agbede and Timothy Ayangbemi Ayinla. My half sister was not so bright. Even though as a mission girl, she had the opportunity to continue her schooling, after a few years, she said that she did not want to go to school anymore. She learnt a trade. I continued with my schooling. Since I was already an adult, many teachers wanted to marry me. I refused. I went to Elam Memorial School in Shaki, where grown up girls were being trained as pastors' wives (iyawo school). The school and boarding fees were 4 pounds a year. My father said I should be married to one court clerk who had four wives already. I went to Shaki and narrated my problem to a missionary, Miss Amanda Tinkle, who was a nurse. She agreed to pay half of my school fees - two pounds - that was in 1944.
To God be the glory. In the school, we girls learned to do some art that could help us in the future like sewing, knitting and house keeping, laundry, mother craft and needle work. My classmates at Elam memorial were Dora, Keneku, Agnes, Victoria Ebun Oba, Alice Aiki, Binuomote Ojeleye, Comfort Titi, Olaosebikan, Omoriyeba, Tinuola Taiwo.
I took the standard six examination and I passed. This made me a teacher already. I was to teach at my home town, Tede. I said that I would not like it because I might not be respected. To my greatest surprise, I was proven wrong because everybody in town loved me. What made me unhappy was that Iya Taiwo, my faithful great Aunt was ill. She died on December 24, 1945. It made me upset and very sad because this great woman loved me too much. When I returned from school, people told me that she had not eaten for three days. I gave her warm eko. She took it and that very day, she died. She was a great aunt to Onitede Adejumo who was the son of her senior brother. Iya's funeral ceremony was a celebration because almost everybody in the town was involved.
Life as a Worker
I can never forget my first day in school as a teacher. The people in the town were surprised that a woman too could be a teacher. When I went out, people wanted to talk to me and greet me. The first day, people went to my parents to congratulate them. They brought their farm products as presents to me--Yam, vegetables, and sometimes, meat. When it was maize season, they even brought me some.
I was made to teach in Sunday School, and was a member of the choir. I read the bible during Sunday School. The day that I was invited to read the Bible on the altar was a big one in my church because the church members waited FOR me by the church to congratulate me. My first salary was one pound and take home was eighteen shillings because I had to pay two shillings as tithe. According to tradition, the money had to be given to my father. I became even more involved in Church. I participated in every programme from naming to burial ceremonies. I have to mention something that gives me great joy. Those who were my first students in my town are all well to do and successful workers today. In 1970, these old students of mine gathered themselves together and called themselves the Great Club, Tede. They made me the life matron of their club.
My Married Life
My fiancee was a co-teacher. He was late Mr. Matthew Odusanya Odulaja. When I told my parents that Matthew was my would-be husband, they were so sad that my mom was weeping as if to say that I was going to die. We did everything to let them understand but my parents refused. While I was in the family way, my late father in law and some of the relations came to pay my dowry. My husband was transferred to Ijebu Ife Baptist Day School. My father and mother in law were Anglican and my husband and myself, Baptist. When we had our first child, the choir of First Baptist Church, Ijebu Ife and the Pastor came to name the child, Morohunmubo Efunsowobo Odulaja. The day I fell in labour, everybody in my husband's hamlet gathered, young and old, and even the children came. There was no health center near. I was asked to remove my wrapper and be naked. At that time, there were about fifteen people, men and women in the room. I refused to be naked. I told them that I was cold, left the parlour and went into my room, locked the door and spread two wrappers on the floor. It was not quite ten minutes when I delivered a baby girl. God in his mercies helped me so that the placenta too followed immediately. That very day, they built a fire with a log of wood in my mother in law's room. They even lit a native lamp that was fueled by palm oil. It was forbidden for anyone to light any other lamp from this special lamp. They were only allowed to light other lamps from the fire that was built.
When I demanded a bath, my sister in law said no, because "nowadays, people get sick or die if they take their bath" (right after having a baby. I told them that in my town, anybody that just put to bed must take their bath twice a day. I said I would never eat until I took my bath, which I did immediately. I was also told that I had to sleep on plantain leaves for seven days right by the fire in my mother in law's room. I also raised objection to this. My mother in law begged me and we slept on the mat together.
On the seventh day, the mother carried the baby in her arms. Some people gathered outside. They threw water on the roof while the mother and baby went in and out of the front door seven times, and the water from the roof falls on them. If the baby is a boy, it will be done nine times. For the naming ceremony, they fried akara. There is something else they did in those days, that is that during the pregnancy, they used sheep, ram, or goat for sacrifice before the delivery. Before the day of sacrifice, friends and relatives were invited. After the animal was slaughtered, it was cut into bits and given to people fresh (uncooked). On the morrow, people will visit the family and present them with money. On the day of sacrifice, the woman wore white cloth.
After the delivery on the day of naming, the child's mother and relatives wear purple head ties. This shows that one has just given birth to a baby. The purple head tie had to be worn whenever the new mother went out. On the fortieth day, the mother went to the market in that attire to buy aadun and sugar to be given to all the people around, especially the children.
On one occasion, my cousin in law, aunty Aribigbola told me that she went to an Ifa priest and during the ritual, it appeared that I should be giving sugar to young children every eight days. I challenged my husband's family by telling them that my grandfather was an Ifa priest and nothing of such had ever been done. I told them that no such thing should be done on behalf of my child because I am a Christian. I also told them that if any such thing was done elsewhere, it should not be given to my child. Whenever I challenged these in laws of mine that I would never be party to idol worship because I am a Christian, they in turn would tell me that they too are Christians because they too go to church. They tried to convince me that their reverends too perform the same rituals. I am very happy that I did not join the family in performing any of the rituals. When food that was ritual-related was given to me, I did not eat. I never even ate their food because of the way they prepared it.
After my safe delivery, I wrote to tell my parents. The second month, my dear mother in company of three other women came to my husband's village. She brought yam, yam flour, pepper and plenty of bush meat for the naming ceremony. All this was just a surprise to the people because they use akara alone to name their children. It was told to my mother that it was not necessary to cook for the naming ceremony anymore. She gave a portion of the bush meat to be cut into pieces and served around the villages to elders, men and women. One week after their arrival, the three other women went back to Tede. The people in the village took turns to bring food for my mother, one each day. My mother also brought nine chickens which my aunty in law wanted to help me sell on the market day. I raised objection to this idea because I wanted to eat all the chickens. The people in the village were always surprised about my eating habits because they believed that it was better to have sold the chicken and have some money.
My mother stayed with me for three months. As I said earlier, people took turns in giving her food even though neither my mother nor I could eat their food. We gave it away to the people around. There came a day when one of my cousins in law brought a big fish. Mama took the fish. To her surprise, the fish was just added to the soup that they had before. She cut open the fish and there were a lot of big maggots moving around in it. She gave it to people to take away.
The young children in the village used to come and play with me, but I insisted on giving them a bath and supervise the cleaning of their mouths. Any of the children that wanted to enter my parlour had to listen and behave. The parents did not want them to come, but the children wanted it. After the third month, my mother went back to Tede. During her stay, she sometimes followed my mother in law to her business to help out. When my mother in law raised objections to a guest working so hard, she said that she could not just sit down doing nothing. I was broken hearted when we lost the baby when it was a year, a month, and thirteen days.
In the latter part of 1947, there was an eclipse of the sun around August. It was dark that day, and fowls went to their nests. The moon and stars appeared in the sky, and human beings too felt like going to bed. The eclipse happened around two in the noon. After about two and a half or three hours, the sun came up again. I had watched the eclipse of the sun in my town, but had not seen it pronounced. When there is an eclipse in my town, people danced around town, beating drums and begging God for mercy. We had to leave the Baptists that trained us to go to Anglican School, Aiyepe, also in Ijebu. However, the Baptist Mission went round to look for us, fished us out and took us back to Baptist School in 1949.
As I said earlier, my parents did not want me to get married to an Ijebu man. His people too did not want me. One day, I was introduced to one of the nieces in my husband's family, and she said: "How on earth did you give your hand in marriage to an Oyo woman, she will not stay, even if she has up to ten children, one day, she and all the children will go away." She said all this in my presence. I was laughing for I knew that as a princess, our husband has no authority over us. That very hour, I said, "I put it to you God to back me up not to leave come what may."
To all these I will say that I am a lucky woman because my mother in law cherished and loved me dearly because her son is a torchbearer about education in the area AND also had a working wife, she was happy. We were back in the Baptist Mission... We were transferred to Ilaro. At Aiyepe, my husband said that I should not work. I listened to him but I was as poor as a church rat. The Baptist Mission said that we had to present our marriage certificate. The marriage was performed at First Baptist Church, Ijebu Ode in 1948.
I was so unhappy to be so poor that I had to apply to teach in a new station at Ilaro. My husband said no. I convinced him that this was a good idea by suggesting that my own salary will be used as housekeeping and his own will be used for his brother, Solomon Olatunji and the two younger sisters, Mercy and Ebun. This he agreed to. We worked together in the same school. He was the headmaster and I a class teacher.
Ever before we traveled to Ilaro, now Ogun State, my husband did not even taste wine because he observed the teachings of the church. At Ilaro, the elders invited him and entertained him with hot drink. He did not come back home until late at night. Once, he brought some people into the house where he bought a box of beer with 48 bottles and only five of hem finished it. I had to face a life of emptiness. In June 1949, I was due for maternity leave. I went back to my family in TEDE. On the morning of June 30th, I delivered a bouncing baby girl who is now my senior daughter.
Glory be to God for his mighty hands that uphold. We are grateful to the father from above for his saving hand. When your problem leads you to God, who only can deliver.
In 1951, I had a bouncing baby boy that I lost after nine months. I had another girl in 1952 and another girl in 1954. All these children I lost one after another. I began going to the Christ Apostolic Church during the weekdays for prayer.
My family was so poor that I had to resort to selling other things after school hours. My maids, the other boys and girls staying with us all helped. In the morning, they sold ogi. After the school hours, they sold bowls or provisions or at times, clothing or eggs.
Things Change for the Better
I was trained in some crafts. I can spin and do hand weaving. My husband also had a big shop where we sold hot drink, beer, wine, and books. On my own, I sold cloth.
With the kind of company that my husband was keeping, one day, a man who was his friend came with a total stranger. Both of them asked him to become a member of a secret society. I objected that this is not the way of the Baptist Mission. He listened and did not become a member. What worried me is that my husband drank excessively and stayed out too late.
The same man who invited my husband to become a member of the secret society brought another man to whom my husband gave hot drink. He said that he would help him by preventing thieves from coming to the shop. I told the man that thieves had never come. He asked us to buy a big calabash in the form of a dish and plenty of native soap and a box. We did everything. To show that it is only God who has been our refuge, the very day that the man brought the juju preparation, thieves wanted to break down the shop door. The second day, we were lucky to find a guard, yet, thieves continued. We asked the man to be inside the house, yet, the thieves wanted to do the wrong thing. Since there was no rest of mind, there was heavy rain one day, we threw the preparation into the flood and it was carried away. Since the juju was thrown into the flood, there were no more sleepless nights.
There was a time that my husband was sick and at the point of death because of heavy drinking. At one a.m., I had to walk all alone to the doctor's house about three miles away. I thank God that the doctor, Dr. Awosika met him gasping. He administered five injections to him and asked us to open the windows. The doctor called again at 6 a.m. It was then that his sister asked me what made the doctor come to our house, because she was asleep all night long. She knew nothing about the illness. My husband was in bed for three months. He could not eat any solid food. He only drank milk. He coughed and excreted blood. When he started going out again, he did get drunk. However, he was always by my side when we joined the Christ Apostolic Church. This is when he stopped drinking.
In 1956, the Alaafin Adeyemi II, the father of this present Alaafin (Lamidi Adeyemi) came to my father's house in Tede in the company of his daughter, Aremoye Ogboja. His daughter asked me about my academic training and I told her what I had done so far. She advised me to try to have college education. In Lagos, I tried with some other people to attend adult education classes every evening. It helped me a lot. After that, I attended Lagos Teachers' Training College, Onitolo Street, Igbaja. We were taught by two foreign teachers from Canada. Professor Hall and a. Egnathoff. We also had some African teachers. Out of my thirty-three years, I spent thirteen years at Premier Day School, Surulere. Before the school had its own permanent building, we used a lot of schools in the afternoon. When we used Yaba Model School, they sent us packing. We also used St. Thomas Aquinas, Ansar Ur Deen School, Surulere, and later, Lawanson. Lagos State built a beautiful school for us at 2, Raufu Williams Street, Surulere.
We were about 150 teachers. Some of us worked in the morning, and others in the evening. We tried to form a cooperative group that included men and women. We made monthly contributions called ajo. We had a schedule where each month, we predetermined which of the members would be entitled to the entire pot. However, there were some who after taking their own share began to complain about problems in their family. After some time, we were able to lay off those that were not ready to cooperate. There were some ladies who went with me into another cooperative that we formed until I left the school. WE became such good friends that we even followed one another to our towns and villages for social events. They are Mrs. Ogunbode, Mrs. Ogunboye, Mrs Babalola, Mrs Adams, Miss Olafioye, Miss Olowofela, Mrs. Oduba, Mrs. Akintode and myself as the matron. This movement made me visit some villages and towns, including Okitipupa, Ikale, Odogbolu, Ijebu Ode, Oke Orun dun, Ososa, and Ijebu Ife. Anytime that I have anything to do, these ladies rally around me so that the thing will be successful.
During one of the teachers' meetings at Premier Day School, teachers were given different offices. I was elected to be the leader of the Girl Guides. I had to attend the Guiders' meeting at St. Judes School, Ebute Meta.
I was with the young girls as their Brown Owl and there was another Lady for big girls. This guiding led me to know some people. Every term when the school had a break, we had a camp for the girls. We had one at St. Ann's School, Ibadan. People came from all over Nigeria. We also had a camp in Lagos, at Ipaja. There was another camp in Lagos to which we invited Lady Baden Powell. Lady Oyinkan Abayomi and Mrs. Makanjuola were the rear admirals of the nation's packs and companies. The national camp that we had in 1969 was held at Lagos University. Yakubu Gowon was the head of state then. During that camp, as the head of my pack of brownies, the Brown Owl, I led my pack. The girls surrounded the flag in a big circle. Lady Oyinkanola Abayomi, Makanjuola, Lady Baden Powell, General Gowon, Mrs. Victoria Gowon were all in the center of the circle. The pack greeted them, "Too wit, too wit, too woo! They all shook hands with the children and myself.
As a Brown Owl, I should be a commissioner of the Girls Guide, but I could not swim at Takwa Bay on the sea, so I remained an assistant commissioner of the Girls Guide at the Surulere company.
As a teacher and petty trader, I stopped having a common purse with my husband because either him or myself went to Lagos to buy goods for sale every Saturday. We taught together at the African Church School, Jehovah Jireh. My husband was transferred to African Church School, Ebute Meta in January 1959. He left me behind. When I challenged him, he said that he would like me to spend my maternity leave in familiar surroundings. However, he was a liar. He took another woman with him. He took Funmilayo and left me with Remilekun and Funke at Ilaro. I had nothing. Thank God I was with some other teachers and happy with my children. In September 1959, he asked me to come to Lagos.
My Christian Life
I will always praise God for his faithfulness in answering my prayers. I thank God that my problems led me to God. Whenever I have problems and all things do not work, prayer works wonders. At Gospel Church, Isolo, Mushin, I was a member of the choir. At Gospel Pentecostal Assembly, Shoremekun Street, Mushin, I was the Sunday School Superintendent. At Yaba Baptist Church, I was one of the Sunday School Teachers. As a member of the Women Workers Union for Christ, I was the financial Secretary for many years. This society did a lot of stewardship work. We sponsored two pastors for training in the seminary, and even helped one when he was about to marry. In the Women's Missionary Union, I was the prayer chairperson.
I remember a nursing sister who works at University College Hospital, Orita Mefa, Ibadan. She was ill. The woman had a lot of x-rays to diagnose her problem, but they could not find what was wrong. She also traveled to Britain, but there was still no diagnosis of her illness. This woman was a member at Yaba Baptist Church before she got married. Because of the illness, she could no longer work. She visited a lot of native doctors to no avail, but Jesus Christ worked. The woman brought her prayer request. We prayed in church during the WMU meeting. People were asked to take the request home so that at 12 noon, wherever we were, at home, at work, in the market, on our journey, we should pray. God works wonders. The woman went again for x-rays. They now saw what had been bothering her. She was operated on. She came back to testify to God's power in the church.
As a member of the Women Workers Union for Christ, Yaba BAPTIST Church, we had a roster each month for home visits to members. At these meetings, we celebrated. We also helped each other when we have social events like marriage of our children, birthday ceremonies, children's naming ceremony, and even funerals of our parents. As a result of my involvement in church activities, I used to attend associational meetings, conferences and conventions. At Yaba BAPTIST Church, I was a member of the Gideon Association. In February 1974, we moved to Agege but I still attended Yaba Baptist Church.
In the year 1978, I started going to Union Baptist Church, 122 Ipaja Road, Agege. I had only attended for two weeks when surprisingly, the then leader of the church, Deacon Joseph Oladoke Ayinde announced my name on the pulpit as the president of the Women's Missionary Union. I raised objection and pointed out that it is the women who ought to elect their leader. To my surprise, the women stood up to confirm it. It was their making. I told them that I still had to attend my old church at the end of each month, since I was the financial secretary in my society. Papa George Amosun protested that the church will write to Yaba and ask them to release me.
As President of the Women's Missionary Union in my church, I had many responsibilities. My new church was under Ola Oluwa Association. I had to supervise the Sunbeam Day Camp, the Girls' Auxiliary in my church, organize their coronation ceremony, and also the GA annual camp. I also organized the WMU camp and attend the WMS Executive Committee meetings monthly at Surulere Baptist Church. Many women came to church on Sundays, but few attended the Wednesday meetings. I appealed to the women to attend meetings, but they did not. I visited them in their homes. Some came while others stayed away. During my tenure, I said that all former Presidents should come to meetings and they should pray for the progress of the WMU in the church, and it worked.
In 1983, the church and my late pastor, Reverend Oladiti Adedapo selected me and five others to be the first ordailed deacons. The names are as follows: Deacon Joseph Oladoke Ayinde (late), Deacon Adeosun, Deacon Bamigbola Ige (late), Deacon Toye, Deaconess Sarah Segilola Odulaja, and Deaconess Mary Iyabode Adeosun.
Ha! my God is good and great in fulfilling his promises. What I see is that I do not stay at home to take care of my children, but my husband was by my side. They behaved themselves. Academically, they were always at the forefront. We were not rich but God is on these children's side. They were able to go to the University with the children of wealthy people, but still, they excelled. Jesu o seun, Thank you.
As a Church Training Director in the Church, I had to plan a lot of programmes during the week to prepare for the Sunday programmes. I also had to visit other churches to see what they do and also give reports. My neighbours used to challenge me and ask me why I was so tireless. WMU work exposed me to a lot of travel to far and near in Nigeria. I traveled by road and air. When I returned, I always had to give a report. When Lagos State BAPTIST Conference established Isolo Secretariat, the land purchased was used as a campsite. I was the first Camp Mother under Ireti Ogo Association. Occasionally, a few selected women went to the site for prayer retreats. Anyone who belongs to the WMU is always there. During my tenure in the Church Training Programme, I often traveled to Ibatefino and Idi Iroko on the Nigerian border.
At Olusanya United Primary School, some teachers and myself started a cooperative society, Goodwill Friendly Society. We rotated offices. In 1976, I was made the chairperson. In 1984, I became a trustee, and could sign checks. After some years, it has come to be that I am the present chairperson of the society. The names of the current members are: Mr. Fakoya, Mr. Adeleye, Mrs. Ogulana, Mrs. Fakoya, Deaconess Odulaja, Mrs. Agbana, Mrs. Tomoloju, Mr. Adekoya, Mrs. Odunsi, Mr. Lawal, Mr. Dahunsi, Mr. Ajilore and Mr. Coker.
I retired from teaching in 1979. At the time, I had taught at Olusanya Memorial Primary School for five years. I had a shop in my house where I sold cloth, soft drinks, salt, vegetable oil, flour, plastic pots, pans, and buckets.
In February 1979, my first daughter Olufunmilayo was given in marriage to Yemi Meigbope. The marriage is blessed with children. In 1980, Solomon Olaniyonu married Funmilade. The marriage is blessed with children. In 1981, Olufunke was given in marriage to Muoyo Okome. The marriage is blessed with children. In 1981, Remilekun was given in marriage to Duro Kuteyi. The marriage is blessed with children. In the year 1982, March was a time of mourning for me because what I did not expect again happened. I lost Mogbolade Oluwakemi. She was 19 years old. After her death, her letter of admission to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife came.
My God is a wonderful God. In April 1982, I was blessed with three grandchildren. Two boys and a girl, Oluwaseyitan Olaniyonu, Akinwale Oluwaseun Kuteyi and Oluwadamilola Adebomi Meigbope. I pray that God will continue to bless the children, Amen. They are my joy. Who is like my God who is always good? In June 1983, Muoyo Adegbite Okome was added to my grand children. In July 1983, Yewande Iyiola Kuteyi was also added to my grand children. Seun Adepoju Olaniyonu, Bisola Segilola Kuteyi, Ayoyemi Oluwatobi Meigbope, Sesin Aderoju Olaniyonu, Oluwafeyikemi Oludayo Okome, Omoyemi Kuteyi and the little Adepeju Ayinke Akanji. These are all my grand children.
This story will not be complete if I do not mention some people on both sides of my family. They are Ojo Aibuki, the son of my great aunty that trained me. This old man loved me so much that he would not let anyone talk harshly to me. He lived in an entirely different house. Tijani Amolegbe, the great aunty's grandson, Salawu, her great grandson, Salimotu and Safuratu Amolegbe's daughters, they are my cousins. My mother's brothers are Bello Olateju Adeduntan and Gbadamosi Oyeniran. Her sister was Moradehun Ayinke Falade and Leah Sinyanade Folaranmi, my mother. They all loved me, especially Iya Moradehun Falade. The three brothers died before Iya Moradehun. My mother is the only one left behind. May the Lord give her good health for her remaining days on earth.
My father's sisters are Adejoke Asakun, Ayoola Abake, Fanike Ojetunde. The only brother was Baba Adekunle Olateju. All these people are very lovely and dear to me, especially Baba Falola who wanted me to know about his farming methods. If my uncle had been learned, he would have been a great teacher. He explained things to you and took the time to see that you understood. When we were young, if he took us to the farm, he would give everyone some work to do. He prepared the food and saw that we were well fed. He prayed for me often. His children were late Suulola Isaiah, Fehintola Olaniyi, Grace Iyiade, Faramade Joshua, Afolabi Falola and Adenike Oke. Ah! this humble, kind and faithful uncle died in the middle of his life. His death gave my father a lot of heartache because they loved each other too much. My joy was that my uncle received Jesus as his personal saviour before he died. Another is that all his children are Christians and that they are even well to do. His second to last child is a professor, Joshua Afolabi Falola. He is also on fire for Christ. My relatives are wonderful people in that we love one another. At a certain time when locusts came and ate up all our crops, my uncle cried bitterly for there was no farming that year. The insects ate up all of our crops.
My mother, Leah Sinyanade Folaranmi is a wonderful mother who I would like to call a virtuous woman, for her price is above rubies (Proverbs 31: 10-31). Whenever I think about my success, I know that my mother helped me to survive. Mama was always around to supply food whenever she found someone traveling to any place that I lived. Mama was never tired of sending yam, yam flour, egusi, bush meat, hot pepper, beans, etc. The stuff used to come when we were in need. Mama is just like Iya Taiwo who trained her. She is pushful and hard working and firm in her words. She is a good Christian. I am lucky that God gave her a long life to eat the fruits of her labour. She is blessed with good health, surrounded by children, grandchildren great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren that wanted to pay her in the same coin that she dealt them. Mama is never a burden to us. I am praying that I will not be a burden to my children. Mama is kind. God is kind to her. Mama's advice helps me not to bury my talent, to work in God's vineyard, and never to rest. As she helps her own children, she helps other people around her and even with words of advice. She does not like people to waste anything.
In the year 1994, I decided to celebrate my 70th birthday and my husband's 80th birthday. My children, Funmilayo, Solomon, Remilekun, Funke, Gbenga, Mobolaji and some of our close relatives surprised us in what they did for us. It was a big celebration. Our people from Tede, Oyo, Ijebu, church people, and people from all walks of life gathered to help us thank God for his blessings over us. The children presented us with a two bedroom flat. They carried all the expenses for the ceremony. IN fact, the party was the talk of the area for some time.
I am praying for these children that their children will not be liabilities to them, and that God in his mercies will bless them and pay them in their own coins. Their children will also be some of the great people of the world. The children will respect them and appreciate them, Amen.
In 1994, I was struck with sorrow again in that I lost the only son that I had, Morohunfolu Olukayode Olugbenga Odulaja on October 9. He was 34 years old and was about to be married. He was a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. The same month that he died, I was blessed with another baby boy, Oluwafeyikemi Oludayo Akanni on October 30. I was already preparing to come to the USA, so I traveled to the USA in January 1995. I was there for a year. I followed my children to a lot of interesting places like the Museum and Botanical Gardens. My son in law took me to see the Intrepid Museum, a ship that was used during world war II. There were planes on the ship. During Christmas time, I was taken around to see the decorations. I followed little Muoyo to his soccer games every time he played, carrying Kemi.
The Church Activities in the United States
The people at Kenilworth Baptist Church, Brooklyn took me as their sister. I followed them to a retreat which allowed me to know four other states in the US. I did enjoy the three days with prayer retreat and Sunday School retreat. WE went around to see things and did some shopping. There are other Baptist Churches around too, but we do not work together. I have to give God the glory and thank him for his mercies. My daughter, Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome was able to defend her dissertation for her Ph.D., which she did well. At this occasion, we need to glorify God for his faithfulness. Satan used her supervisor to terrify, but God showed himself to her that he is my daughter's stronghold. I told the people in the church that we should have Sunday school, but we could not. We had no pastor. We only had guest pastors.
When I returned to Nigeria in 1996, I met other deacons that were selected before I left for the USA. This group helps us a lot with the church's work. The prayer in our church too is in God's hand.
God has always showed himself to me as faithful. God has always shown himself as a faithful being. He has always helped me. The marriage of my daughter, Mobolaji Olubukonla took place in 1997. I have to thank God for his mighty hand on us. I did not know that it would happen in our presence. To God be the glory. I fell and hurt my wrist. The bride to be also fell on the very day. My husband, whom I asked to follow me to Pay and Records got lost and went somewhere else. He had fallen asleep in the bus that he took, and was taken very far away. He was so deeply asleep that he had to be waken up by the bus driver and conductor. By the time he woke up, he was so disoriented that he delayed the driver from making the turn around, and the bus driver got into trouble with the traffic police. Papa was able to explain to the policeman that he was the cause of the problem. The policeman ordered the driver to take Papa right home because were it not for him, he would have fined the driver. Papa took his normal salary but did not live long enough to receive the increment that was due him. He died on 18th March, 1998. HE was buried in May. Our daughter delivered a baby girl on March 20 1999.
When I came back to the US a second time, there were a lot of improvements. The church had a pastor. We had Sunday school and bible study on Wednesdays. On Sunday, if you have something that you would like people to help you pray for, the whole church join hands, and the pastor prays.
I came back to New York in October 1998. I traveled to Mexico with my children. While I was in the US, I got treatment for my health, my eye and stayed with my dear daughter. I was taken to places of interest. I went to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Maryland, Washington, DC. As I said, I was exposed to a lot of interesting places. The day I went to the United Nations for a meeting of women's non governmental organizations from around the world, I was late. Women from all over the world came. MY daughter registered herself and me. People gave reports of their activities on the special issues that they worked on as part of their mission. After some time, we were asked to go out into different rooms according to our issues. People often say that traveling is a part of education, but to me, it is real education. It is when you go out to see others that you will know what they do.
That very day at the UN, I met so many people who were even older than my mother. The people that I met with in the small group were the group on women and aging. Our ages ranged between 75 and 100. Many of the women were government employees, ministers, governors, teachers, public officials. There were some who did not have any other work, but they were there. We were given a chance to introduce our selves and our countries and our work. If you are able to touch anybody's life, do so. I told them that day that I am a retired teacher. What I was able to say to them at the UN is that we as elders should try to touch others' lives and try not to allow our lights to be put out. Different women from other denominations like Church Missionary Society (Anglican/Presbyterian), Methodist, Baptist, Catholic and so forth were there. The following day, there was a reception for all the Africans that came to the conference. Some people said that they would come to Oyo. They are African Americans. I was given a chance to talk. I told them that I am a Princess from Oyo. I told them that they can come from Oyo and that we are all the same. I told them that there is no more slavery anywhere in the world, that we are all free, and that there is no reason why all Africans cannot unite and cooperate with one another. I met one Mrs. Balogun from Yaba College of Technology. She said that she was sent from Nigeria for the NGO conference, but she did a lot of trading.
At the African women's meeting, we had a discussion on how much we have to do to correct the ills in young people's lives through examples in teaching, showing the way, and not being too tired until people know that you are trying to help them to do the right thing. What I am saying is that our governments too have to help to see that all hands are on deck.
I visited my grandson's school for a fund raiser that was organized by the Coalition of African American Parents. They invited gospel singers from another college. These singers moved me very much because as they sang, they also preached and dramatized what they sang. My grandson attends Hunter College High School. I thank God for Muoyo Adegbite Okome's life. He is a quiet and straightforward boy. He somebody who does not want to copy other boys with bad habits. I know that it is God's hand on him. He trusts God for anything. At the time some bad boys punched him and took his jacket, that also led him to God. He reads his bible and prays. Now he has been invited to Johns Hopkins University, he even wants to know more about god. I am praying that god may show more light in his life.
I went with Theresa Fedee, Sherman's mother to her church in Brooklyn. Some students came there to sing gospel songs, but the Hunter College High school concert was much better. An Itsekiri woman, Sheila Obasaju invited us to a Long Island Presbyterian Church for her son's confirmation.
I am now back to my church in Nigeria. I am praying that God may help me to touch some people's lives so they will become closer to God. I pray too that all my grandchildren may know God since they are God's grace.