I remember being crestfallen, as the tears fell unhindered down my face during the Commendation Service held in his honour at the Ikoyi Baptist Church, yesterday in Lagos.
If being present could make me feel this sad, giving my tribute to this dear Father, Mentor & Friend proved to be even sadder; not because there weren’t copious amount of fine things to say about his sterling qualities, rather, it was because I had lost the one man who practically changed my life and set me on track – Daddy Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode, OFR.
Below is my tribute in his honour.
THE GIRL AND HER GODFATHER
Some people owe their careers to oppressors, naysayers, gangsters and exploitative human beings; those for whom we challenge ourselves to forge ahead and beat Life hard on its back.
But for me, I owe the great tales of conquests and early victories in my work life to Daddy Onosode – for you shaped me. Everything I do today are the result of being taught assiduously by you, and imbibing the qualities of your unalloyed leadership.
As Pioneer Chairman of Rise National Youth Forum, you arrived ahead of everyone else, and well before time, proceeding to check if the bathrooms were in order – what sedulous attention to detail!
In your late 70s and early 80s, your youthful swagger, towering spirit of perfection, the smooth baritone of your voice, your impeccable English, peerless integrity, a sartorial taste that belied self possession (an indication of your innate confidence) and modesty (which showed your consideration for the sensibilities of others) made you inimitable on all front.
You would refuse to a sign a letter I had written if my punctuation was found fault with. Though exacting in a loving way; I held you in awe still, and marvelled at how much you loved the white walls of your Adelabu abode, even as the child in me prodded me to embrace them and face the consequences.
You would pick on even the fine detail in all things and if anyone misspelt your name, such fellow got an earful in finely delivered grammar as to inspire one to learn quickly and earnestly from such mistake. Another person, and he would easily come across as an oppressive nitpicker; but because there could be no malice found in you, I understood it to mean that you expected a higher standard of me because you knew I was capable.
In your infirmity, you flew from London to attend my wedding, fulfilling your especial role as the Chairman. In your infectious jocund manner, you announced how you had kept a low social profile for the best part of a year at the advice of doctors – the same ones who must now not catch wind of the fact that you had attended a soiree in frail conditions – yes, only a man of a calibre such as yours could make light of a thing that grave.
And if I knew that I wouldn’t have one more dance with you after that day, I would have hugged you tighter, stared at you harder and made you sing and dance like you loved to do.
You honour your word. You honour Love. You cherish your children. You were a hands-on father, a skilled mentor, and a conscientious disciplinarian. You were a giant in business, in church, in education, in your family, in your community, in our country and in my life.
I knew you like my own father, and inside of you is my Forever Inspiration. The greatest gift I will return to you even in your absence is to live purposefully like you did, and even better because you would expect it of me.
Daddy Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode.
My Iku Baba Yeye. My One Tree that makes the Forest.
Simple. Immortal. Irreplaceable.
My ONOSODE Lesson is that a life of impact is the most superior. Impact is Influence, Relevance, Representation & Replication of oneself.
Daddy knew everything.
Daddy could do everything.
The Classical Mr Onosode wish was that death would meet him alive
And it was Morning and it was Evening on September 29 2015 when Greatness went on his way home.
May 22nd 1933 – Sep 25th 2015