Now I can give marriage a thought –Odia Ofeimun at 60........

Published 9 years ago by: Sheenor Kunley
at 10:36 AM, 20/03/2010 (9 years ago)

(14717 | Hero) (m)

 
   
Mr. Odia Ofeimun
Former private secretary to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Odia Ofeimun, who turned 60 on Tuesday, breaks his silence on marriage and describes how his relationship with the late Premier of the old Western Region and founder of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria turned sour. He speaks with ADEOLA BALOGUN and ABIMBOLA ADELAKUN.


Since your home seems to be full of books, how do you keep them out of the reach of rodents?


That is a question well worth asking because, frankly speaking, the protection of books is a major part of the business of keeping a library. This area is full of rats. Even if you kill all rats in your own house, rats will still come from the other compound. But I am a fairly lucky person. When I came to this house, there were cats in this compound, wild cats, and nobody owned them and they bred and multiplied. They reduced, in fact, on one occasion. There were nine little ones and the rain swept away five of them, but somehow they just go on breeding. I used to detest them. But I suddenly realised that when cats were raiding other compounds, they didn‘t raid this place. And when the cats left, I suffered in this house. I can‘t remember what made them leave. After a while, they came back. In the interim, what the rats did to these doors was unbelievable. But when the cats came back, they drove the rats away. Now I am obliged to feed the cats because I don‘t want a resumption of that period when the rats were the lords and masters of this place. Surprisingly, when they were everywhere, the rats did not go after my books. They ate the doors and punched holes, but they left my books alone. I cannot quite explain it. I can only put it down to luck.


How many of these books do you have to read again?


Books are not bought because you have to read all of them. They are bought because when you are in trouble, you know where to go. I think it is a mistake to imagine that it is only when you need to use a book that you must have it. From my childhood, I know that when books are around, children gravitate towards them; either to tear them or to just look at the pictures. I started by looking at the pictures, I never allowed a book to be torn. What I am doing is to make sure that whatever information I need is available in this place. Before the Internet became the vogue, having books around me was the best. Even today, the feel of holding a book has more excitement for me than surfing the Internet. I like it inside my head to put a book on the shelve and extract it when I need it. These days, I deliver a lot of public lectures. There is no topic under the sun you want me to give a lecture on that I will not handle. I will first sit down in this library, read thoroughly what they are saying, and if there is any medical term that I don‘t understand, I can then go look for it wherever it is possible to do so.


When it comes to books, somebody said you can sacrifice everything, including marriage and having children, just to avoid distraction


You are asking me a very popular question in a very tactical way. The truth is that I like books. I like the knowledge that books provide and I always like to share it. I have learned that when some people see that things are plenty, they want to have some, not because they need it. Some people see plenty of books and imagine that they can have some. When I see that attitude in anybody, my first response is to say no. And there are some people who like acquiring books, but they will not buy. You talk about distraction. The truth is that I can live and work in a market place. But you need one moment in your life when you have time to be on your own without any intervention. In such moments, I don‘t have to excuse myself for whatever, it is the only thing I do that gives me enormous pleasure. There are other things you do in the world that keep you going. But if I have to live in a world without books, honestly, I would just be a vegetable.


You have not answered the other part of the question


The question of not getting married? My not getting married, frankly, has nothing to do with books. But it has everything to do with the fact that if you must live your life well, it is always good to live it with somebody who is not at variance with your vision because you don‘t want to fight battles everyday of your life. You don‘t want to spend the whole of your life pleading with people around you to be allowed to live your life. You need to have people around you who at least see what you are doing as normal. Because if people do not see what you are doing as normal, in my view, as an artiste, if you can‘t stop them, run.


But what about making compromises and at least, sharing with somebody else?


You can make compromises in the world, but a compromise that ends what you consider the main project of your life is not worth it. Look, I don‘t know of any child of Shakespeare or wife. I don‘t care whether he was rich or poor, but when you hold a Shakespeare‘s Sonnet in your hand, you know what you are holding. People can make up their mind what they want to leave behind when they die. Having children is a great thing, not just the mere ‘go ye and mu

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Sheenor at 10:38 AM, 20/03/2010 (9 years ago)
(14717 | Hero) (m)

What was it?


No, I won‘t tell you. So I had to sit the old man down and said you know Bola Ige is my friend, it‘s simply that he did it. It wasn‘t Bola Ige who did it, but the people working with him. And Bola Ige knew that they did it. But then, the other people on the other side did not know that. They kept piling on pressure on Awolowo to get me out. I did not know I could be accused the way I was accused and in fact, that was what annoyed me because the letter that was leaked was actually leaked by somebody who was working for the other side. And it was Chief Awolowo himself who gave the person the letter. The person read it, went to the next room, and quickly made a photocopy. I saw it happen. I wasn‘t in any doubt, so that on the day I was accused, I simply told Awolowo to come and ask whoever did it. The reason I am not mentioning the name is that I don‘t want to spoil the telling of this story because I want to tell it my own way when I am ready. It pained me, not because I was sacked; but because of the reason I was sacked. I never saw Chief Awolowo‘s copy. But what was strange about it was that I saw his own reply to Zik for the first time when it was published by the National Concord. And after I was sacked, in the process of investigating why I was sacked, I met Chief MKO Abiola and immediately I saw him, voluble man that he was, he just started telling the story. As I entered the room, he started telling me about the people who brought the document to him. I was supposed to interview him just before I went to live in Britain for four years and he said I should not worry, that one day he would come down there and we would have a good interview over the Atlantic. But he started running for presidency.


Is it true that during the Nigerian Civil War that Awolowo visited Ojukwu and told him that if the East should secede, then the West would go, too, and that Awolowo betrayed him?


It is a lie, it never happened. The transcript of Awolowo‘s meeting with Ojukwu is published. All that talk about an agreement between Awolowo and Ojukwu never took place. Readers of Soyinka‘s book titled ‘You Must Set forth At Dawn will hear of Awolowo‘s story as he narrated it to Soyinka. But I was the one who helped to make public the transcript of Ojukwu‘s meeting and Awolowo. I have written it in one of the books that I am talking about. It is true that Awolowo did not want the war to happen and he told Ojukwu that, but on the condition that states should be created, and a union of the south and the minorities in the north be allowed to come together and present the other Arewa people with a case for governing Nigeria in a different way. Ojukwu did not want states created. Basically, that was why that union flopped. And in any case, Awolowo said, militarily, he believed Ojukwu was not prepared for that war, that he was jumping the gun. And Ojukwu‘s generals, as Njoku wrote in his book, warned him that they were not prepared for the war. If Nigeria had fought the war normally, the war would have ended in a very short period because Nigerian generals, as Obasanjo has explained, were fooling around with the war efforts because they didn‘t want it to end quickly. And Awolowo was for a quick end of the war.


But there is this story that Awolowo quickened the end of the war by starving the Igbo


We needed to end the war quickly. When


you talk of starving the Igbo, people forget that government is not about personal animosity, no matter the personal interest you have in it. The decision was not taken by Awolowo, the decision was taken by the Nigerian soldiers during the war. It is true that Awolowo was the vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council , but for God‘s sake, when people want to accuse Awolowo of that decision, they ought to do what the Jews did after the end of the Second World War, by making sure that they investigated every story and apportioned responsibility.


But it has been going on for a long time


The reason it has been going on is that some people love thriving in rumours. Many people tell you ugly stories. Awolowo voted for Ernest Ikoli who was an Ijaw against the Odemo of Ishara who was a Remo like him, and they said he was a tribalist. A newspaper that managed to turn a simple case of ideological differences into an ethnic war is doing a different job from what a newspaper should do. Let me tell you this, the fight between Awolowo and Zik was just a fight between an elderly person who was already dominant before a younger person enters the stage and the older person simply could not take the angle that the younger person was taking. Awolowo was a very methodical person, Zik was not. People cannot say that truth and Zik himself could not face it that this methodical man had programmes and was very pragmatic. So, there was one way to rubbish Awolowo, put a tag of tribalism on him and consistently repeat it. There was the other case where they said Awolowo was negotiating with Zik and he was negotiating with the NPC. It is a lie. By 1958, the British had already got Zik and Ahmadu Bello to agree that when independence came, they would work together and the British made sure they rigged the election in the Western region so that the NCNC in the West would team up with the NPC in the North. Zik had a divided party. The Igbo wanted Awolowo. Don‘t let anybody deceive you about it that the Igbo hierarchy in

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Toks-E at 11:54 AM, 20/03/2010 (9 years ago)
(37754 | Addicted Hero) (m)

wat is all this long story abt?

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