Like every mortal, curtain of worldly activities drew to a close for Baba Bello Akande Adewale Durodola on 17th August 1990 following a brief illness. It is now 30years and director of Cleft & Facial Deformity Foundation, Abuja, Dr Seidu Bello in association with the family members took time off to remember a caring father.
Like most people of his age, record of birth of baba Bello or Baami Agba, as was fondly called, was not available. However contemporary evidence puts his birth between 1900 to 1910. Born to parents that were traditional worshippers, he later converted to islam with the advent of Islam and Christianity while his younger brother converted to Christianity and was called Mathew Adesola Durodola. His father was called Durodola, who was one of the many children of the legendary Salako that established the present Bale Agbe compound at Ago Are, Oyo State. The mother was called Atunwa and a princess from the compound of Aare of Ago Are, the traditional ruler of the town. The other children of Salako were Alaba, Abilagbo, Oke, Iya Elesu, Adekola (from Otu) etc. The descendants constitute the majority of the present day people of bale Agbe’s compound, Ago Are.
Growing up with baba was interesting. Baba’s early marriage attempts were not productive until he got married to our mother, late mrs Shifau Abeke Bello, when he started having children around 40 years of age. So, in summary, we were all children of an old man, ‘omo a fi agba bi’ and enjoyed maximum care attributable to such scenario. Typical of children born while approaching old age, baba was always fond of children around him. I found it very convenient to lie on his stomach while he was relaxing on locally made armed chair specially constructed to allow for an individual to lie on his back for few hours of sleep. It was almost completely impossible for baba to eat alone; we were always having our meals together. An unforgettable experience was the way baba used to carry two children on his ‘Raleigh’ bicycle with the two children facing each other inside a special rectangular basket called “apere kuba” With benefit of hindsight, one wonders how much energy was required to achieve this feat, but this is a true story and not a fiction. Baba simply enjoyed our company, be it on the farm or at home, despite our inability to add value to his farm work.
Manifestation of baba’s love and care became more glaring when we started attending school as pupils. As a peasant farmer, it was always a big challenge paying the one Naira development levy called PTA levy. However, baba always ensured that the money was ready for payment before resumption of school activities. I was always among the first three to pay the development levy in my class. Another unforgettable experience was the submission of handcraft during examination period in our primary school days. In an attempt to ensure that I scored high in the handcraft examination, my father would weave a very nice basket for my submission in school thereby placing me ahead of my peers.
Early loss of our mother in 1980 while I was around 14 years brought out the best in baba regarding the care of the children. Through thick and thin, we survived the remaining 10 years of his live managing our cooking after a brief assistance from a family member.
Even though baba had little to contribute in terms of cash during my stay at the higher institutions of learning, but he would ensure that I had enough food materials to ensure sustenance. Memorable instances were when baba would prepare dry melon, dry pepper and other food stuffs, package them and sent to me at the university of Ibadan, through the then popular ‘’Bedford lorries’’. It was indeed an unforgettable experience. My father was poor but he was a caring father.
Baba came, saw and conquered. A unique lesson of life I learnt from baba was his simple approach to life. As long as I could remember, he was always contented with his achievement in life which by all standard was very poor. He strongly believed that with a small family, an accommodation and a Raleigh bicycle, he had tried in life. He was always fond of saying “Pray for my children, I have tried enough in life” This is worthy of emulation because the concept of self-contentment is still relevant today.
As at the time baba finally got to his final bus stop, he died a happy man and was survived by few children who have multiplied into a generation of ‘Bellos” today, and are gathered to remember him 30 years after his demise.