“A generation starts from a person, expands to two and
eventually becomes long”.
I, Adefoluke Temidayo Odekunbi was born on the 20th of
October, 1941. My father had no western education but he
wanted us all to be educated in the western way. He was
not a segregationist like one of my uncles, who educated
only his male children and believed that the females would
end up in the kitchen of a man.
Despite the quest for western education, we were all trained
farmers, although hereditary, we farmed before and after
school hours. On daily basis, we did all the fundamentals to
make us complete human beings.
My father gave birth to a lot of children, I was the seventh
and I still have about eight siblings, permit me to say, my
mother was the only source of us. Actually, menopause was
not believed in then having a lot of children was prestigious
and it really helped on the farm. From one generation to
another, my father had family members on the farm. Our
progress was rapid that our school mates found it difficult
to believe that our father was a mere farmer.
We competed favourably with the children of the elites:
Reverends and majorly teachers. They had the wherewithal
to be students; even they were usually traveling abroad
after their secondary school education. Mainly, our father’s
attitude was influenced by his closeness to the Reverend of
our church. When we were not forging ahead as expected
of us, we were referred to the Reverend for encouraging
I went through the normal mode of life, I started from the
primary school. I was not too brilliant neither was I a
dullard, I was an average student. My female teachers were
interested in who I was, they wanted my life to be different
from others, this was as a result of my mother’s association
with one of them in the church, she introduced me to the
other teachers. At times, when we were in the class, I
would be lost in thought, thinking about the undone work
on the farm, but I would be called to order by my lovely
teacher, then, I thought it was wickedness but I follow their
If you have not forgot, the type of primary school was the
one wherein your hand must touch the ear on the other side
of your head before you could secure an admission. I was
almost a full-fledge girl before starting school. My male
teachers were majorly bachelors, they wanted to maximize
their opportunity seeing innocent girls like me.
Thanks to the protective arms of our female teachers, some
knew their tricks. We were able to confide in them, and
skillfully they always helped us against all of their male
teachers. I was scared of telling my father all of these
because one cannot underestimate his reactions, he could
turn the whole blame on me, he had always said, women
call the attention of men with their gestures. All the same, I
had a pillar to cling to in my trying period.
My Primary School Leaving Certificate was good, I could
not progress straight into the Modern School, I had to wait
a bit for my father was in a financial strait coupled with his
expenses on my elderly ones. I returned to the farm. I
reunited with my siblings and daily activities in full. My
seasons of trails were assumed over. Despite leaving
school, some male teachers who resided closely to my
house still paid visit whenever my father was away.
Due to my age, my chores changed, I was sent to my
mother, I now had to help her with harvesting, making of
garri, frying of games, more with care of home. My family
had not for once been gender conscious in its entirety. We
did all together but we specialized: boys on the farm and
girls in the house but this became more obvious as we grew
After two years, I returned to school, the modern school.
This level of education was interesting. I met men, old
enough to be my father, they disappointed me, they behave
like he-goats. I cannot see the reason for today’s girls’
complain; we yielded not, even amongst my classmates,
who came from diverse background just like myself. These
teachers were not relenting, the more I dodge the trap of
one, I will fall into another.
Three years in the modern school was no joke. We were
trained, equipped and it became obvious that the western
form of education was gradually becoming part of us. My
brothers’ were getting much more tuned to dressing in
shirts and trousers with straightly ironed shapes, tucking in,
with a well-patterned hair, with good shoes. My elder
sisters’ and I too would wear our skirts and blouses. From
time to time, my father would re-orient us, he would
encourage us to wear our traditional attires and speak our
local language, Yoruba, although he could not speak in
English, we would communicate in fluent English language
whenever we met at home during holidays; my elderly ones
and I. Nonetheless, we were elements of pride for our
father in the community.
Our community recognized nobody as nobody’s child, it
was joint care. I could re-collect someone who was sent
abroad on a joint pooling of money by the community.
Whenever you misbehaved, you would have been dealt
with, asked who your parents and taken to them for further
discipline. You would be afraid of committing any crime in
the society, all eyes were on you. You were responsible to
everybody, once he or she is elderly. Never forget, there
were no fenced buildings then, whatever you did was seen
I was twenty-three years old when I gained admission to
the Popular Teachers’ Training College for my Grade III
certificate. I developed my morale better, I thought of
organizing my life and times. I was in the college for
another three years. All of those who had me were
expecting much more for me. I was in a fix at a point in
time, I considered myself as being in trouble, repaying all
of the children of those that had helped me.
Children, especially girls of today complain about our
dressing in those days, they knew through our photographs.
Although our clothes were skimpy, it was not like the ones
they want to wear, short, décolletages, jumpers, nets and
other forms of provocative clothes. We were decent, we
held in high esteem our dignity as ladies, we were not as
flirt as girls of today, we dare not woo a guy, we were
proud of our gender, no tension at all.
We benefited a lot from school, we were not only given
qualitative education, we also had the opportunity of
feeding in school. If I mention the amount of money we
paid then, you would be excited but mind you, before you
could get such an amount, you would sweat a lot.
Our days in the college were fun-filled. It was necessary for
us to be part of the assembly that was conducted in a
Christian mode. We would leave the assembly for classes,
we had our meals prepared, it was a great privilege going to
such a school. Reading was a hubby, we had well-stocked
library that had all types of books: Literature, sciences and
accounting. I was interested in literature, by the time I was
through at this level of education; I had exhausted the
When I was at home for one holiday, my parents called me;
they questioned me about my marital life. I made it clear
that I was still a student and it would be better if I didn’t
place too many pieces of iron in the fire at the same time. I
categorically stated, ‘guys of this age are not committed
Christians, I want a God-ordained husband’
My father insisted that he wanted me to marry someone
from my home town, he was not concerned with his
spiritual status. How would he? He had for long been a
devoted person to the bar, he assumes ‘otika’, despite the
slow rate of its digestion, that was his best brewed drink.
After he had completed his daily task, his next point of call
is the ‘odan’ tree where he would be with his friends till
Quite alright, we were Christians, we attended the First
Baptist Church in our village. I belonged to various groups
within the church : the Yound Ladies’ Society, the choir
and others. These societies had served as training ground,
we had been taught about Christian homes, relationships,
courtships, dealing with spouses, our parents, children and
others. This had hardened my heart and taught me about the
essence of not giving my heart to just anybody.
After few months of returning from school, the programme
was over. I was posted to a school in a nearby village to be
a teacher, somehow I was moving ahead. Some of my
friends that had not gone to school were married, some had
had three children. They were pressurizing me to become
married, their children were calling me ‘aunty’. Our
relationship was as strong as ever, we still sew the same
kind of garment. I paid for it, they were glad because some
other friends who had became teachers had dissociated
from them. Don’t mind them, they had more money than
we who were paid salaries, they had money according to
I resided in the village with one of my cousins who had
built his house there, since I had no friend, I would be
indoor after returning from school till the following
morning. Once a while, we would chit-chat but a lot of
times, I kept reading, personal development distinct me in
all forms from my co-workers. Life was progressing.
At another time when I had a cause to go home, I got
confused, my father would not want me to tell him I was
still expectant but that was the plain truth. Then I made up
my mind, I would go home, if I was questioned, I would
tell him I had a suitor, if he asked about his personality, I
would tell him to wait till they saw one another soon. Just
as if I knew, I was just entering the premises when he asked
me these questions. I answered as earlier planned. I saw
ecstasy written all over his face. He went to his friends, he
did not reveal what gladdened his heart, but bought ‘otika’
for all of them, they all filled their belly to the brim.
Days were unfolding, I became a prayer warrior to see him.
I was seriously involved in church activities, probably one
of these young men will be interested in me. My prayers
were answered but he came, applied, he talked to me, I
can’t tell you all that happened.
Bro. Dayo Oyesunmade was the choir master, he had also
gone through series of experiences in life. His father was a
little richer but he was not cared for as such, he grew up
living with his grandmother. To cut the long story short, he
had gone to the Teachers’ Training College too, but I was
not interested in the continuation of poverty. I made up my
mind to consider his proposal, obvious I did not know what
be the end result if nobody came, I would give in.
Banji Ogundamilare came my way through Banke, my very
good childhood friend. He had a better level of education,
this is better! He had his education at Yaba College of
Technology that was real academic endeavors then. He got
a very good job that had afforded him the opportunity of
going for some trainings in the UK. He had all the
necessities of life : house, car, all he wanted but no wife.
This had been a source of concern for his family members.
Banke introduced me to him, she had earlier told me of his
virtues. I saw this as an opportunity of making my
Banke told me that they were on their way to his friend’s
house but she agreed on the grounds that they would also
visit me. He looked pleasant, peaceable, cool, mind you, all
the good qualities I had wanted in a guy was evident in him
but I was pined off, he consumed alcohol.
I had to soft-pedal when I remembered that my father was
waiting to meet my suitor. I had to think over it when I
realized I was not getting any younger. After eight months
of leaving school, I was much confused.
Bro Dayo had not stop a showing his love despite his
financial incapabilities, he was optimistic of a better
tomorrow. Banji was showering gifts on me, I was drawn
more to Banji. I had to tell Bro. Dayo that I was engaged
after one year of persistence, Banji won my heart finally
after eight months.
We started going strady, we were in different places; he in
Lagos, I in the village. He came home once a month, I was
not interested in traveling to Lagos considering the stress, I
sent him postcards. I had the best treat whenever he came
to town. I was puffed up by the type of person I was into a
relationship with, I was envied by people, was it not at my
The joy was unstoppable, day by day, I told of him to
people, definitely he did that too. Once a month seemed too
far, he had to cut it into fortnightly, he would come without
his car and be with me till Monday morning before he
traveled back to Lagos. Do you know that my father was
not patient with me again, he ordered that I must bring him
money at the turn of another year.
I told Banji, he obliged. We went home the weekend I
turned twenty-seven. My father was glad, he saw that my
suitor was from a well-to-do family, had good moral
upbringing and ultimately Banji’s father was his childhood
friend. Good God, his wish of having me married to
someone from our village materialized. No more question
for me, my elderly ones were gradually preparing, my
siblings were waiting for a feast. I was preparing for
marriage, another stage and phase of life. This is a
challenge for the age I have reached.
A weekend came, I left our town for Lagos to visit Banji. I
saw nothing bad in it, so far we had agreed to be married.
He asked me if I would join him in bed, I consented. We
were entangled that night and that was what resulted into
conception. This was a boost for our traditional wedding.
We were glad, what could have served as an hinderance
later in life had appeared. Nobody could object it, moreso,
we had come of age.
December 15, 1968 was the D-day when Banji wedded
Foluke. I wore the traditional ‘iro and buba’ made with
‘Aso oke’, he wore his ‘agbada’. We were envied by all
and sundry. People came from all walks of life : my fellow
teachers, his fellow professionals, members of the Farmers’
Union, the towns’ men and the reigning king were present.
Affluence was displayed, our level of education was
reflected, how could I have forgot this day?!
Until recent times, our wedding was the best in our
community, most especially the presence of those from
Lagos who were predominantly socialites. Everybody gave
all within their reach to make sure the day was successful.
Despite the age differences, my elderly ones wore the same
attire with my siblings although the pattern differed. They
all had tables to entertain their friends, the world stood still
just to be a part of my wedding. If marital bliss was implied
by the colourfulness of the wedding, there would have been
no need for this novel.
...to be continued...
Labels: African Writing, Celebrating a Matriarch, Childhood, Creatives, Family bond, My Children, Novel, Novella, Olutayo Irantiola, Womanism, www.i-proclaim.com, Yoruba