Baba Faleti and I once hawked kerosene to make ends meet — Wife

Last Thursday, July 23 made it three years since the passage of renowned cultural activist, playwright, poet and actor, Chief Adebayo Faleti. In this interview with ADEWALE OSHODI, his wife, Mama Olubunmi Abosede Faleti, speaks on what many don’t know about her husband. Excerpts:

IT has been three years since the passage of Papa Faleti. How would you describe him?

Baba was a man of integrity who did not lack in contentment. Despite that, the reward he received from the government was not commensurate with all his good deeds. He really protected his dignity as a man; he was upright in character throughout his lifetime and in his career as a civil servant.

I could remember an incident that happened when my husband was the head in a government office then. A vehicle allocated to him to carry out official assignments was faulty and a mechanical engineer was called to fix it; after the diagnosis, instead of paying the mechanical engineer what he asked for, the accountant paid him less and the rest of the money was shared among the lower cadre of workers in the office. The mechanical engineer had no choice than to fix the vehicle, but with annoyance, which he kept to himself.

My husband came to check the vehicle after the repairs had been perfectly done, and he noticed the countenance of the mechanical engineer. But the engineer was afraid, at first, to say his mind when asked why he was looking unhappy. Left with no other choice, he thereafter explained all to my husband.

The revelation really made my husband to be angry with all his staff and he gave them 24 hours to return the money.

Baba was also a loyal man and he taught us to be loyal in all that we do.


You once mentioned that you and your husband once hawked kerosene…

Yes, that was around 1986 and 1987; we both hawked kerosene together to make ends meet and earn a good living. We knew almost all the market days as we would surely be present in most markets during their buying and selling days.

After leaving home to hawk the little kerosene we could in the morning, I would have to come back home again and quickly take some ice blocks too for hawking that same morning before finally going to the office for the day’s official job. Then, I was a staffer of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Ibadan.

It was then a very hard time for me and my husband to survive. But we just had to do this, to survive. My daughters too had to hawk soft drinks after returning from school, just to be able to make enough money for them to take to school the next day. My husband was a very caring and humble man indeed and he was always not ashamed of his hustle.


Despite being a very busy man, how was he able to work on his films?

Baba always began working from 8:00 a.m; at that time, nobody would disturb him again and he would work till 5:00 a.m. In fact, he loved eating fried meat, so whenever he was working on any project, I would fry some meat for him, which he would eat throughout the night. Anytime he was working on a project, he didn’t like to be disturbed and everybody was aware of this. I would just sleep quietly as we shared the same room, and if he needed anything, he would call me. He was so dedicated to his work and he practiced those things he preached in his works like honesty, integrity, among other positive virtues. He was not after the money to be made but to change the society through his works. That is why his works are still relevant till date.


With what he has been able to do, the family should still be earning enough money as his works are evergreen…

We are not seeing anything. It is even now that the family is supposed to be enjoying the hard work of Baba. However, there are some people who have been so wonderful that if I start mentioning their names, I will use the whole day to do that. These people know themselves and God knows them and God will reward them abundantly.



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