They Called Him Legend I Called Him Dad
If it is indeed true that before you begin your Journey into this world you would have chosen your destiny then one choice I got absolutely right was the choice of my Dad. I could certainly not have asked for a better Dad.
My dad lived and worked at a period when the arts did not pay much, at a time when people did not value paying money to sit down in the theatre and watch live drama, probably due to their limited exposure to the importance of leisure, but he put in so much, holding down a regular job at the institute of African studies in the University of Ibadan and devoting time to Write and Act so that he could earn that little bit extra that ensured our school fees were paid and we did not go hungry. I recall asking him why he devotes so much time to a profession that obviously does not put much money in his pocket and his reply was that theater moves people and can change ways of thinking and that it can operate as the disseminator of new values. To him he was just content with being able to use his works to push for social change.
As a father Wale Ogunyemi was just simply fantastic, he developed and maintained relationships with us that offered support and acceptance, while at the same time accommodating and affirming our increasing maturity.
He felt and expressed genuine affection, respect and appreciation for us his children
How I long for those times he spent listening to us, listening to our thought and feelings about our fears, concerns, interest, ideas, perspective, activities, school work, jobs and relationship. He treated each of us as unique individuals distinct from others.
I remember vividly how he would come back late at night after his rehearsals and would check on each of us in our rooms to make sure we were all properly tucked in.
The bulk of my dad’s plays are treatments of relations between Yoruba gods, and of Yoruba myth and history.He took pride in telling us that to be good Christians and fully appreciate GOD then we must fully under stand the Yoruba concept of Supreme Being and he would encourage us to study the Yoruba Bible instead of the English Bible. He will always say that we Yorubas had believed in the existence of a Supreme Being who is responsible for creation and sustaining both heaven and earth long before the missionaries landed on our shore. He would buttress his point by taking us took us through the process of examining the names given to the Supreme Being in Yoruba mythology; we looked at names like Olorun Eledumare, which suggests the existence of a Supreme God owner of heaven, worthy of great veneration. Eledaa – The Creator. Elemii – the Owner of Life. Olorun Alagbara, the powerful God owner of Heaven. My Dad was a man proud of his heritage.
In a lot of ways I wanted to be like him, I have tried my hands on writing but I have never been able to produce anything close to even any of his lesser known plays. I have acted in a few plays but not for once have I succeeded in giving a performance that was worthy of a standing ovation. He was gentle I have a fiery temper. He wouldn’t hurt a fly but I can lay waste to a brick wall with my bare hands when angered.
Apart from the facial resemblance and his deep resonant voice I probably took nothing else from him. I have resolved however to be a good Dad by simply using him as a model at least that way I can be rest assured that when I die even though I would not have the world mourning the demise of a legend but at least my Children would mourn a loving and caring Dad. That way I would have succeeded in making the man I called dad extremely proud and happy.
I probably would not have appeared in a Nigerian Newspaper if he had not died; the series of interviews I had to grant on his death were just overwhelming and left me all confused as to why I was just not left to mourn my dad in peace. But I could not have been left to mourn my dad in Private, because the person I call dad is Wale Ogunyemi. To me I had just lost a man I called Dad but to the rest of the world they had lost a legend.
Yomi is Wale Ogunyemi’s first son