Our exceptional father was born on 24th December 1931 (hence the name: 'Abiodun', which literally means 'born during the festive season') to our grandfather who we affectionately called Baba Lagba and our grandmother, Mama Makun. Abiodun was the second of four surviving children of Mama Makun by Baba Lagba. He was born in Ijebu Waterside, but the family also had roots in Epe and Ijebu-Ode (Ita N'tebo Street). Baba Lagba, a truly impessive man was at least 6 feet 5 inches tall. As the eldest offspring, I remember that each time Baba Lagba visited when I was a toddler, he had to bend strenuously to enter through doors!
Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa's tribute to Dad:
Dad was simply unique. His middle name vis-a-vis his children was 'sound education embedded in exemplary behaviour'. I still keep the red umbrella-shaped dress dad bought for me in 1969 from 'Kingsway Stores' Marina, Lagos for my interview into Queen's School, Ibadan. Though the dress is now old and tattered, I have told the story of my loving father, who prioritised education to my children. Apart from buying a special dress for me for the interview, he took me to the hairdresser to have my hair fixed! He drove me from Lagos to Ibadan the day before the interview!
Then we checked into Lafia Hotel, Ibadan (I don't know if the hotel still exists). From 7pm after dinner till 12 midnight, dad drilled me using sample questions from 'C.V. Durrell' - a standard Mathematics text in those days. Dad also made me revise English and Verbal/Quantitative Aptitude tests! Expectedly, the interview was a work-over for me. I was top of the admission list. Thanks to dad. This caring nature of dad was evident at each stage of my life. Even when I was an undergraduate at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), in the 1970s, my dad never failed to visit me monthly!
The same passion with which he loved our mother, Rosaline, was extended to us, the children. Dad excelled at everything he did. At work, he was always a shining star at every duty post and he eventually retired as National Sales Manger at Lever Brothers Nigeria Ltd (now Unilever Plc). My siblings and I owe our command of the English language to our dad, who ensured that before the age of six, each child knew how to correctly pronounce words before the tongue ceased to be malleable! Thank you dad for your love and the sound education you ensured we acquired. You have extended the same level of care to all your grandchildren. Whatever I am today, it's because of you and mom. On behalf of my sons, your grandchildren (Dr. Tope Kusa, Seun Kusa & Ayo Kusa), I'm eternally grateful to you, dad!
The story of dad's life (contd.)
As a dynamic teenager who had just completed his Primary School education in Ijebu-Ode, Abiodun came under tutelage with the local Marine Corps/Seafarers affiliated with the parent body in the UK. There he quickly learnt how to operate ships with dexterity. As fate would have it, while carrying out his duties as an Assistant Operations Officer of a ship, the vessel was boarded by an Irish Reverend Father who took particular interest in him. When he alighted the ship, the Reverend Father asked the young Abiodun if he would like to become a teacher because the former had watched the latter with keen interest as he operated the huge ship at such a tender age. The Reverend Father felt Abiodun would do well as a teacher.
This brief but rare encounter changed the course of Abiodun's Life. He contacted his to be benefactor, lived with the Reverend Father and later attended St. Leo's Teacher Training College, Ijebu-Ode, where he was awarded the Teachers' Grade II Certificate (the College was later moved to Abeokuta, Ogun State). He started teaching in a Primary School and in a short while he moved to Odogbolu Grammar School where in record time he rose to the position of Vice Principal. While teaching at Odogbolu Grammar School, he met the love of his life, the delectable Miss Rosaline Olaitan Adeyemi. They exchanged marital vows in 1958 and lived happily as man and wife for 54 years until Rosaline's demise in November 2012. Her demise affected him negatively.
Abiodun secured gainful employment in many blue chip companies. He was a journalist with the defunct Morning Post Newspaper in the 1960s where he later rose to become Features Editor. Then came his appointment as Brand Supervisor and subsequently Manager in Cadbury Nigeria Ltd in the 1970s. His sojourn in Shell Petroleum as Marketing Manager was rather brief. Dad was indeed restless and ambitious because he wanted to give his family the very best, and he did!
Not done yet, the dynamic young Abiodun 'landed' in Lever Brothers Nigeria Ltd. (now Unilever PLC) in 1975 as Regional Sales Manager, until he retired in 1985 as National Sales Manager. While at his various jobs, Abiodun went to the UK and the USA to attend courses, where he obtained several awards. Post retirement, Abiodun was a veritable Consultant to many outfits, including start-ups he helped to build. Many flourishing organisations also gained from dad's wealth of experience.
Beyond his professional prowess, dad was a notable Lagos socialite. In the 1970s, dad in the company of mom was a regular face at the defunct 'Caban Bamboo' Club for their monthly couples' night out. Later, dad joined Island Club, Onikan, Lagos. In the 1980s, dad was the Assistant General Secretary of the Island Club and remained a life member till his passing. He supported many humanitarian causes in church, the corporate world and NGOs. A devoted Christian, he was Patron of St. Rita and St. Mary's Society of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Aguda, Surulere for several decades.
Abiodun was a man particularly devoted to his family. He enjoyed advising his growing children and indeed grandchildren about life. The union of Abiodun and Rosaline was blessed with four children: Adedayo, Olusoji, Olatunji and Moyosore. See the link to the write up by my husband, John Olufemi Kusa about my mother, Rosaline Olaitan Oluyemi, when she passed on in 2012: thenationonlineng.net/olaitan-roseline-alaba-oluyemi-oct-1936-nov-2012/. Abiodun was a doting dad, grandpa and mentor to many. He'll be missed by all those whose lives he touched positively in various ways during his fruitful life. May his gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Lord. Amen.
Photo above: 'Dust to Dust' by Dayo (middle) @ New Ikoyi Cemetry, Lagos: L-R Dr. Moyosore Oluyemi (Sister) & Olatunji Oluyemi (Brother)