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As I was responding to numerous comments on my post regarding my family’s love affair with Renault vehicles, something struck me. It became obvious to me that parenting is the strongest way or process through which we pass the right kind of value to our offspring, regardless of our state or status in life.
I can never forget the day I drove into the AP filling station in Ife University Campus, 20 years after leaving Nigeria. I asked the attendant to fill up, walked into the maintenance bay, with folks around looking at me curiously. I sat on the bench next to the elderly man in overall who was fast asleep. After a few minutes of musing to myself, I tapped him on the shoulder and called his name. He woke up, looked at me, screamed my name and we embraced each other in a bear hug despite his dirty overalls.
Not a single soul around could understand what was going on – who the man corporately dressed who had stepped out of a nice car was, how he could sit and then embrace without any care in the world, a man in a dirty overall.
They could not understand that the older man, was for many years the one that I took my parents’ car to for wheel alignment, even before he got the workshop space inside the campus. When I left the country, my younger brother took over and we had all become like one big family.
Thinking about it, it became vivid how as children, my siblings and I unconsciously copied traits from our parents.
During the presentation of my father’s autobiography in 2017, I publicly acknowledged how my parents built long lasting friendship and relationship with classmates over 40/50 years.
“Those parents of mine that I asked to stand up earlier on are epitomes of very close relationships my father and mother were able to sustain for more than 40 years. Dad and Dr Kolade have known each other from his Oduduwa College days and Chief Mrs Akande happened to be my mother’s best friend growing up while her late husband was also one of my father’s closest friends – a tale of two friends marrying two other friends. There was a friend of my father. They became friends in 1972 during their postgraduate diploma course in education. Until he passed away a few years ago, you can be sure that on his way to Ibadan or from Ibadan back to Akure, he would stop by to see my Dad. As he drives into our compound, you will see my mother get up, go into the kitchen, followed by a pot of water on the stove to prepare Amala. As his friend comes through the front door, a constant was an affectionate shout of Oje Mi Oje followed by greeting my mother and the question ‘Se omi amala mi ti wa l’ori ina?” Today I remember with fondness Dr. Babasola Chris Ogunfuyi of blessed memory.”
My parents did not just build relationships with those of their educational and/or social standing, but even those others would consider lower – artisans, mechanics, drivers, etc. I am constantly amazed how a call from my Dad would make many people to leave what they are doing because ‘Baba’ wants to see them.
The Yoruba have a saying “Ò nwá owó lọ, o pàdé iyì l’ọ́nà, tóo bá l’ówó ọ̀un tán, kí lo ó fi rà?”
It is not about you having money or being wealthy. It is about establishing and nurturing relationships, which in corporate parlance is called ‘networking’. There are places your wealth will not be able to reach, but I am yet to know places that the right relationship cannot explore.
If you do not know how to nurture relationships across different social strata, go and learn. It pays.