Although, neither was I invited nor informed by him, about what the Americans, prefer, most times, to call dob (date of birth), which we, the British colonies call birthday, NOR has he ever, since he’s been celebrating all he has been celebrating, be it of his children’s dedication to wife’s OR his own dob and his climb to new offices, by certain political appointments, I’ve thought it wise and worth the worry (?), to pay tribute to whom, honor is due!
It’s been my personal dialectic to celebrate those whom we grew together, in the same milieu, under similar experiences and upbringing, be it my younger, older in age, junior OR senior in life’s position, etc.
I live to celebrate people and their achievements, be they, at the local OR national and international levels. It’s much more pertinent and expedient for me, when the celebrant OR celebrator, is a contemporary of mine. We must endeavor to celebrate one another ; life is short, and it needs no envy OR malice. We should endeavor to be there for one another, especially, at the time of need!
In one of my tributes on this my childhood buddy, the man whose name above, is my today’s contemplation, I’d proudly told my readers, that we’re of the same age brackets OR age mates. We grew under the same parental tutelage and environment.
Oko Sunday Ebeku and I, almost shared the same mother. Our mothers were so knitted in friendship, if it were today, vulgar meanings would’ve been read into it. Oko’s late mother, Mama Paulina Eba Ebeku, knew everything about my mother, including my life’s story, the relationship between my late mother and my father, and how I was begat. All of my late mother’s children, grew to know Mama Isonī OR Mama Ísondē/Bad Boy, as Oko’s mother was known and addressed by us; My late mother and Oko-Sunday’s mother, shared clothes, like wrapper and shirts. Later, another lady, who made them trinity, was Mama Eddie. Mama Eddie, as called in Óchūmode, the language of the Yala people, Éne Edī. Initially, it was my mother, Aunt Josephine Agbahi and Mama Ísondē.
Yala people often the letter ‘I’, at the beginning of most names, especially, foreign names. For eg, Íklement, for Clement. Íjo, for Joe. Ímosis, for Moses. So Sunday would simply be called, Ísondē!
Their neighbor, the Bekwarra people will call Clement, ikley, etc.Aunt Jo(sephine) seperated from the three ladies, leaving Mama Edī, who’d just returned home from Lagos, alongside his children, Eddie and Lucy Achi.
Oko Sunday Ebeku and I, were the real bad boys, in our play days : We went about, killing chickens and lizards, with our catapult and stones, chopped off from plastered verandas.Oko and I always ran around with our amgbarángbā (bicycle wheels) and ítaya okpikpī (motor bike used tyres), playing truancy, along St Joseph and opopū Ímaje, combing through ímada enclave (leprosy colony) and sometime, cleaning up our dust filled bodies, at Ōgwo-ókobá iyē (a small river, where pigs swam through) to a nearby cassava farm, close to a stream, off the then, Gboko road, now, Imaje road, where we hid the sweets and goodie-goodies, which we stole, sorry, pilfered from our mothers, which my mother brought from her Lagos journeys and shared in equal quantity with her friend, Éne Bad Boy, sorry, Ísondē.
We always, were pushed by both mothers, who were more like twins, to St Joseph Elementary School, though, we weren’t of school age, so that they could face their businesses of travels and ogbéte (palm wine). We followed our older brother, the Late Frankurl Wodah Inah O’dey, while we were reserved to the playing ground, because our hands refused to grow, in order to touch the opposite ear on our heads.That was in the days that Mr Ogalama Ogamode, was headmaster of st Joseph Elementary School, Okuku. If it were today, our mothers would’ve found us, enrolled in a creché, while they went about in their so-called ‘hussling’.
As Ísondē and I grew, we found ourselves, in different locations, with different social, religious and political leanings.
That’s life. We all have our purposes and paths, in this earth life.
While I was much more into High Jump, Pole Vault, Hand Ball, Volley Ball, Man O’ War and Dancing, my friend, was deeply into the game of soccer.
That’s where he got his most popular name, which he’s very famously known by today ; everyone knows and addresses him as Otolo! At a very young age, Otolo began playing, magically, that magic game, called by the Brits as Football. He played with people, far above his age. Otolo has played in many football clubs, especially, in Ogoja and Benue State of Nigeria. Due to his soccer proficiency, he was a mercinery to many soccer clubs, within and outside our state.He was one of the star players in our Marco.
Otolo’s feet signed many goals and gold, for many schools and club sides, just as they beckoned not a few ‘okpekes’ OR ‘omoges’ for him. Otolo, on the field of soccer, regaled and mesmerized spectators and fellow footballers, so deeply, once, while Marco scored a goal against Ntol Comprehensive Secondary School, the winning goal scored by Otolo, the referee and the Ntol captains, unconsciously, clapped for the scorer ! Otolo’s feet did what the dancer iftour days, Merenge and Ajazz would’ve done with dancing the beautiful Congo Zaire and Congo Brazzaville high life jams.
If Otolo were born in this generation and had began his soccer, any where in this country, and no matter how cruel and tribalistic any coach/soccer scout may be, he would’ve been encouraged and advertised to play for a foreign team. If Otolo had played football for any European club, I swear, not even Ronaldinho, with all the world press hype around him, would’ve met his match. Otolo is both a Yala and Ogoja pride. While the young Maradona was being encouraged by his parents and country to play for the country, winning global fame, Otolo was being beaten and discouraged by both parents and the society, who thought that, if it isn’t school certificate, it’s nothing else. That’s how many gifted kids of my generation, missed their divine callings!
Sunday Oko Ebeku, is a calm headed, gentleman. He’s soft spoken and deeply appreciative. Mr Ebeku is a noiseless giver, not given to the nature of our home boys, whose act of giving is as political as it is advertorial and distructive.Unlike our local politicians, whose stock-in-trade, is envy and malignant gossiping with endless backbiting, in order to gain a plate political meal, Oko-Sunday is taciturn and self discipline ! Otolo is a fine, handsome man, whose heart, is as fine as his face.
Amongst his later years allies, whom he inherited in the Sen Greg Ikaba Ngaji political clan, Otolo could be said to be one of the most peaceful, sincere, humble and determined, yet unshaken by the bitterness of life. My good childhood friend, Oko Ebeku, had lost four of his children, simultaneously and in circumstances, that defy human comprehension while he’d been confronted with very tough economic and political times, which many of his political gangs, would’ve passed out OR contemplated suicide, but he left his entirety in the Hand of his Creator.
His wife, Gyna, whom i fondly call my wife, over the years of their decades of union, has been a huge support, like the rock of Gibraltar. Mrs Gyna Ebeku, has swam through all the tough times alongside her better heart, in circumstances, other women of low esteem and empty character, would’ve pulled off on life!
Otolo owns a water factory, a clean and modern barber’s shop, both at his home town, Okuku, and in Calabar, where he resides with his family. As the Mr Ben Ayade-led junto winds up, my friend, my brother, Oko Sunday Ebeku, aka, Otolo ,ban appointee of the former, shall be handing over to whoever may succeed him, as General Manager (GM), Waste Management.
As Otolo, the soccer meastro, the soccer marvel, the soccer machine, marks his 60th dob today, I call on his friends, relations and my readers, to wish this good hearted, unassuming, taciturn and family loving, God loving buddy and chum of mine, God’s awesome grace and outreach, iJmN !