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During her review of my father’s autobiography in March 2017, my sister Bamidele noted the old man’s ability not only to recount events as well as names but to keep records. To those who know my father very well, her observation is not strange to them. For any project my father handles, if you want the types of nails used, the exact number of every kind of nail, the unit cost and the total sum expended, he will whip out the records for you.
Since my mother transitioned to glory in 2008, I have endeavoured to spend as much time with my father as possible. In our conversations, particularly when putting the finishing touches to his autobiography, I will talk about some occurrences in the past and seek clarification on aspects that I did not understand. For an 80-year-old man with terrific memories, my father would look at me shaking his head, and he would wonder how I have lucidly remembered such an event that he had forgotten about until I brought it up.
Growing up, one of the new-year phenomena in our house was a torrent of calendar and diary gifts to my parents from families, friends, associates, and former wards/students. My parents would keep a few for their use and give the rest away.
When I got to the age of writing well, I became a yearly beneficiary of my father’s disposal of the extra diaries he was gifted. My late mother’s preference was the pocket diary. My preference, from unconsciously studying my father, was the desk diary. From that time until the year 2007, I followed my parents in keeping a detailed record of daily events in a personal diary.
Two days ago, my father and I had a lengthy discussion on an issue that took place some twenty years ago. Even though he knows the kind of children he has, that we have strived to live a life of integrity as he and my mother taught us, as a just man, he did not assume anything and still sought clarification from me. My lucid memory of the issue concerned and other events I had never spoken to him about were not my convincing points, but the fact that I possess diarised records of the periods in the discussion.
The Yoruba have a saying that “Ẹni tó su ma ngbàgbé. Ẹni tó ko, kò le gbàgbé láíláí”.
The person that fouls an arena with excreta will forget. The person who had the inglorious duty of dealing with that piece of shit will never forget it. That is how powerful memories can be.
My dear friends, beware. The worst man to mete any form of injustice to is the man who possesses the uncanny ability to recall events as they happened with all the actors involved and documentary evidence of what transpired.
Do you keep personal diaries? Do you have accurate records? They are not just valuable tools when you start putting together the story of the course of your life. In my father’s life, I have learnt that at the appropriate time, they become the ultimate tool to silent naysayers and those who deliberately set out to distort history for selfish reasons.