THE sonnets of William Shakespeare says:
“Farewell thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know” at thy estimate:
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate;
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that Royal background (Bibire) where is my deserving;
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting.”
I met my wife Eyinade at Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife in 1952, 64 years ago. Our courtship started not long after she arrived with her other sisters at Oduduwa College. It was love at first sight and it was intense and became the talk of the college and the Ife community.
My testimony is that if Eyinade’s father had not brought her daughters from St Annes Ibadan to Ife, I might not have met my future wife.
Eyin and I courted for three years before we had a break in 1955 when she travelled to UK for further studies immediately after her Oversea Cambridge School Certificate Examination. I was privileged to travel to UK on the same ship, M.V. Aureol, with His Majesty, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, who later became my father-in-law.
Because I travelled on the Cabin Class of that luxurious vessel, I became very close to the monarch on the boat.
My testimony is that if I did not travel with Eyinade’s father on the same vessel to UK, our reunion might not have been as smooth as it became. Eyinade came to Liverpool to meet her father from Manchester.
Although I had just arrived in UK with a Cambridge School Certificate without scholarship or stable financial support from home, but very brilliant and focused the fire of our secondary school love started to burn fiercely, we could not stay apart from each other for long. Eyinade had to move from Manchester where she was at a private school to seek admission to North Western Polytechnic London. We attended the North Western Polytechnic together. We were like brother and sister.
We got married at the Hammersmith Registry West London on January 18, 1958. Our marriage was the birth of our dreams, and the product of this testimony of faithfulness.
Many of our friends may not know that on two occasions, God had moved quickly and miraculously to save our lives. The first was from the hands of hired assassins sent to our residence in Ikoyi on August 18, 1988, as I was preparing to retire from UAC, and some people thought I was not going to. The assassins came to our residence at 1, Macdonald Road, Ikoyi with guns. We were having breakfast with a visitor who had spent the night. Confused, they miraculously changed their minds and left us unharmed without removing anything from our house. They even refused the money we offered them saying that they had been adequately paid for their mission.
God also delivered my wife and I from the attack of armed robbers who waylaid our car at Ijora, Lagos in July 2004 at 8pm. They tried fruitlessly to break the glass windows of our Mercedes car with a big machete, but eventually left us in frustration and disappointment. I believed that what the Lord did that day was to place a barrier between their machetes and our bodies and the Mercedes car where we sat behind and the driver had escaped.
During her life time, we were totally dependent on each other. She seldom travelled alone; we visited and had our holidays in virtually every part of the world, including annual cruises on Queen Mary and Queen Victoria to the Caribbeans and the Mediterranean. We were privileged to go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and Loude in France, and in October 2015 on holidays to Dubai, for 10 days with her family, in fulfillment of my wife’s desire.
During the period of my successes and accolade, occasional trials and tribulation, my wife was my counsellor, and unwavering supporter. She stood by me and the children during days and nights, in sickness and in good health, in plenteousness and occasional draught, until she was taken away by death at the First Cardiology Consultants Hospital, Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos on June 11, 2016.
May the good Lord accept her to His bosom. Amen.
This is my tribute to a dedicated partner, sister and dependable companion on the departure to glory of a virtuous and precious wife, a loving mother and generous grandmother, Omo-Oba Aderemi Eyinade Oyindamola Subuola Apeke Omidiora, alias “Egg-Omi,” to whom I say farewell, till we meet and part no more.
- Balogun Omidiora is an elderstatesman.