It is customary to receive goodwill messages on such august occasions as one's birthday and this is great. But as I clock 40 today, I really want to say thank you to my wonderful family and friends who have been part of my journey over the years. They are so many that I cannot actually name name them all here. That notwithstanding, I want to celebrate some 40 people who have touched my lives positively in the last 40 years in many ways that I cannot forget.
Life they say is tough but these 40 people have made it a lot easier for me. We have disagreed, fought and cried together but so also have we laughed, had fun, and progress together. They've rocked my world these 40 years. And this is my own little way of saying I cannot forget them.
Listed in alphabetical order (with the exception of my parents and wife), please celebrate with me:
1. Chief Anthony Adebamowo
My late dad also of blessed memory. He died in 2004 aged 69. Dad created an enabling environment that made my childhood to flourish and to be full of happy memories. He nurtured and celebrated my academic potential ensuring I studied at the best schools around. Dad went as far as taking up an educational assurance policy to insure my education up to university level when I was only aged 9. In his words, he did that to ensure my study would not be disrupted in the event of his untimely death, what a father!
2. Mrs Oyindamola Patience Adebamowo
My sweet mum of blessed memory. She died only last year aged 72. My memory of her is captured in this tribute I wrote at her funeral. My mum was a true definition of a mother. She did ALL she knew to do as a mother for me and my siblings and that to the BEST of her ability.
It is in her memory that I am establishing an NGO (Oyindamola Adebamowo Memorial Foundation) which will be launched in the next few weeks. The Foundation is for the economic empowerment of the less privileged in Nigeria and is being set up with a modest cash gift of £6,000 (N2,000,000). Please watch this space.
3. Folasade Adebamowo
My wonderful wife of 10 years and still counting. Sade and I met while we were students at Nigeria's Obafemi Awolowo Univetsity Ile-Ife and started going out shortly before we graduated in our early twenties. My wife has been a blessing to me and our 2 adorable kids - Adeola (6) & Tola (4).
My One & Only, Sade has succeeded in cultivating an environment at home where everyone in the family blossoms effortlessly. Ever happy and smiling regardless of whatever life throws at her, my wife has has an incredible level of emotional strength that I always find amazing. With her by my side, I enjoy unparalleled rest of mind and peace at home because I know she's got my back.
4. Mr Akinbola Olamilokun
Husband to my sister Ronke, uncle Bola as we often call him has stepped in at multitude fora to act a fatherly role including at my wedding and during the funeral of my both parents. Over the years, he has challenged me with his insights, grasp of current realities, and thought-provoking questions. It was from him I learnt the difference between 'academic brilliance' and 'applied sense'. He taught the importance of 'seeking the kingdom of economy'. He introduced me to Geographical Information System (GIS) effectively influencing my career transition from Biological Sciences to IT. He sought to know why in my twenties I was traveling to the UK just to be sure I had a tangible purpose for migrating. On the eve of my departure, he set me a target of saving £10,000 upon arrival over a short timeframe, a target which I not only met but helped me in actualising my educational pursuit.
5. Anike Olasogba
Anike and I were classmates in primary school and we grew up in the same street. She was my closest childhood friend and my puppy love making our folks to label us husband and wife. In our schooling days she was a high achieving girl with whom I constantly encountered stiff competion for the topmost position in class. Friendship with Anike brought me nothing but pleasant memories. We continued to exchange valuable ideas as well as advising and challenging each other uptil I finished from uni until the vicissitudes of life in its characteristic manner meant that phase of life had to come to an end.
6. Prince Aromolaran
Prince Aromolaran of Ilesa was a father figure I first met at Lagos airport when I was travelling to UK for the first time in my twenties. He introduced himself, struck up a conversation with me and asked to know why I was going to live in UK. I found his supportive words very welcoming. I remained in touch with for several months after my arrival. Till date some of the words of encouragement he shared with me on that day continued to reverberate in my mind. He advised me thus; "Ayo when you get to England, people will tell you lots of negative things about the country but don't ever listen to them. I'm telling you as a matter of fact that there is good in the land and if you work hard, the land will yield its good to you." When I look back to that encounter and the series of subsequent discussions we have had , I'm always grateful for the privilege of meeting with wonderful man.
7. Bayo Adeola
Smart, intelligent and jovial, Bayo was my course in uni through which we became friends. Not only was Bayo a bundle of fun to be with, he was the kind of guy you could open up freely to. He encouraged me in my academic pursuits and friendship with him made studying a lot less stressful in Great Ife than it would have been without it. Friendship with him indeed was fun, spontaneous, real and refreshing.
8. Bode Akinduro
Bode's dad & mine were friends during our days in secondary school. Confident, intelligent, focussed, and friendly, Bode to me is a very dependable friend. After leaving secondary school in 1992, our paths crossed again in UK in 2004 and we've remained friends since then. I recall an occurrence at the early stage of my postgraduate studies when without me asking, Bode read the financial challenge I was experiencing and surprised with a completely unexpected monetary gift. Bode is one of the few friends I feel free and confident to turn to rub minds with.
9. Bola Adebamowo
My kid brother and last-born of the family. Popularly called Otunba, I share many pleasant memories with Bola as we grew up and studied in the same primary school. He has done so much to help make the journey a lot easier for me, going on my behalf to places I couldn't go and putting structures in place for me.
10. Brian Biggs
I first met Brian while we were living in the same neighbourhood (Boxmoor in Hemel Hempstead). He pastors a white majority church South Hill Centre which my wife and I attended in our early days in Hertfordshire. Our little girl Adeola began her nursery education at the church owned Young Discoverers Pre School. Brian and his wife are a wonderful couple whom we both related with freely. They offered us advice and support and in various ways. They generously made available the church facilities to enable me host my book launch and seminar in 2013, a kind deed I will always be grateful for.
11. Caroline Ogunmakin
In my childhood I remember her being called Opeke. Aunty Carol and I are cousins. She is a woman very much like a man in the way she handles responsibilities - very enterprising and industrious. She really is an action-lady. I lived with her for a couple of months in my early days in the UK. A very generous woman, I never knew a £50 note existed until aunty Carol gifted me with one following the death of my dad in early 2004. She went out all the way to help me look for job when I started job hunting eventually helping me find one of my first roles ever with John Lewis in Bluewater shopping complex. She offered me lots of advice and pointed me in the right direction.
12. Deji Yusuf
Deji has come to be identified in UK's motivational circle with his now popular mantra: "I see a winner in you." With a personal goal to write 40 books by his 40th birthday, it was our mutual love for motivating people to excellence that first brought us together. I first met Deji at his book launch in London in 2012. We have since become friends and have done many wonderful things together including jointly anchoring the first edition of Motivational Night. He was also a guest speaker at the inauguration of my Maximising the Journey seminar in 2013. Deji's remarkable story about how he overcame low self esteem, severe skin burns, fall from multi-story building and involvement with gang life to eventually bag a first class degree and make something useful out of his life has been truly inspiring.
13. Dotun Ogunnoiki
Nicknamed Bshallom by her brother, Dotun and I became friends in 1999 during our mandatory one-year NYSC program at the Institute of Agricultural Research & Training in Ibadan. Dotun is one of the very few people who know me deeply enough to be able to offer precise and targeted advice. She has offered me practical support in virtually all aspects of life. A drama queen per excellence, I know Dotun to be very dynamic, colourful, industrious and fun to be with. Together with her husband Lanre and their two children, they have become more like a second family to us over the years.
14. Doyin Fasan
My beautiful sister with an ever smiling face, my sister Doyin was the big sister I had during my secondary school days. Popularly known to her friends and colleagues as Anne, she is such a passionate Christian who almost cannot converse without talking about the things of God. Born in Britain herself, she facilitated my emigration from Nigeria to UK providing me in particular with information, encouragement, money and accommodation to help me settle down in what was then a completely strange land to me.
15. Gbenga Awosika
Gbenga is a definition of a true friend. Our other friends and former classmates could readily testify of this about Gbenga. Being a staff of Chevron, I often call him Gbenga Chevron to help me distinguish him from other Gbengas I'm friends with. Selfless, loving and intelligent, our friendship started from our first year in primary school and has continued till then. Admittedly I could be poor in picking my phone to call friends and loved ones but not so with Gbenga. No matter how busy he is, he would find always find time to call and enquire after my wellbeing and my family's from his base in Nigeria. Gbenga would always make every effort to seek out friends and former classmates to find out how they are doing and would become genuinely concerned about those who are more or less struggling economically.
16. Jane Jack
I first met Jane at work in Kent from where we became good friends. She was the birth partner to my wife standing literarily by her side all through labour and the birth of our first child Adeola. With family being far away in Nigeria at the time of the birth, Jane alongside her husband Dr Sam and their two little kids - Boma and Daniel were literally the family we had. Jane is one of the most hardworking women I've ever met. A great home builder, she juggles career and the homefront so efforylessly.
17. Joseph Akindipe
Joseph and I lived in the same neighbourhood as well as attended the same parish of the Catholic Church while growing up. We also went to the same university - Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Whenever I think of Joseph, I see the picture of a man who is an embodiment of humility and focus. I have never failed to be inspired by how he's risen from life's setbacks to make a success of his life. Over the years we've rubbed minds together and opened up to each other.
18. Katy Tizzard
It is no exaggeration if I describe Katy as one of the most selfless persons I've ever met in all my 40 years. My kind-hearted Caucasian friend, Katy and I became friends when we were both working in Hertfordshire. Katy went a long way to make life comfortable for me and my family while we were both living in Hemel Hempstead. If I had problems with my car or with driving, Katy was one of the few I could rely on to bail me out - and she did that times and times again. Even when I hadn't expressed a need, Katy would sense it and would volunteer to help. She's one of those few friends who made working more fun for me.
19. Kayode Idowu
Kayode aka Sparkling Kayus was my closest friend in the six years we spent together as boarding house students in secondary school. So close were we that it sounded like a tale by moonlight to many of our mutual friends when rumour once went round that we were no longer in speaking terms on account of a sharp disagreement we had then. It simply sounded unbelievable to them.
20. Kehinde Akinjagunla
My right hand man for several years, Kenny is like an adopted younger brother. Kenny has been a blessing to me in my ways. He has supported me in numerous ventures. Through our relationship I have seen some aspects of life I wasn’t previously acquainted to. He is a young man I am ever proud of as I have seen him rise above the vicissitudes of life to achieve great success in his endeavour.
21. Mrs Mary Ojo
Mum to my wife Sade, I have often joked that in European parlance she is my mother-in-law but in African parlance she is my mother. A devoted and generous woman, my mother-in-law has been a blessing to my family in different ways not the least in raising up and gifting me with her beautiful daughter as wife. She has played critical roles in taking care of our children while they were babies. Mother to my other lovely brother-in-laws and sister-in-laws: Dele (D Leo), Olaitan (Lepa), Sunmbo (Oyinbo), Abiola (Abeli) and Opeyemi (Opions), Iya Ojo's prayers and counsel are always inspiring.
22. Morinsola Eluyefa
Sister Morin as she's known to many of us is a senior friend whom I first met in our days in uni. Being from the same Ondo town and being members of the same Christian campus fellowship (ECU) in particular drew us together. Her constant encouragement during the period following my graduation from uni when I was literally at a crossroad was most uplifting. Not only would she constantly encourage me, she once suprised me with a gift of 500 Naira to support me in my hunt for job.
23. Richard Shamtally
Richard was line my manager at work for several years. Richard was not just a boss, he was a senior friend to me. He made both working and living in Hertfordshire easy for me. He was committed to helping me advance in my career. In actual sense he practically launched me into the world of cancer health informatics in the NHS. He helped me in numerous ways both in and out of work. Richard has been such a blessing to my family over the years.
24. Ronke Olamilokun
Fondly called 'Egungun' (Bone) by our dad for her slender frame in her younger days, my big sister and firstborn of the family is an embodiment of her name "Ronke" which means "the one who is cherished." Hardly do people know her and they won't fall in love with her. Whenever I think of my sister Ronke I think of an excellent woman. At 50 she remains as beautiful, smart, caring, large-hearted, jovial, and pleasant to be with as I've ever known her growing up. She has always been there for me and my own family through thick and thin, fighting my battles with me and making me joys become a reality. A giver to the core, I cannot think of anyone who has blessed me with more material gifts both seemingly little and great in my 40 years than my sister Ronke.
25. Bishop Rowland Peters
Bishop Rowland and his wife Dr Mrs Hannah were pastors of the church (Royal Christian Chapel, Ile-Ife) through which I gave my life to Christ in the early 90s. I also had the opportunity of meeting them again after a 6-year break during my mandatory one-year NYSC in Ibadan in 1999 where they freely opened up their home to me enabling me to live with them for a couple of months. I know Bishop Rowland to be a man of great faith and deep insights into the Word of God. From him I learnt I learnt not just the theories but the practical things of life, finances, faith and marriage. Together with his wife, Mrs Hannah they helped in no small measure to set me on the right path. They have offered me shoulder to lean on at some of my darkest hours.
26. Rev Sam Olatunji
When I became a committed Christian as a teenager, Rev Sam was the pastor of the church I began to attend. He gave his best to nurture me spiritually until I left the early part of my days in uni. His prayers, counsel and teachings went a long way in helping to solidify my faith in God and commitment to the work of the ministry.
27. Segun Bajulaye
Dr Baju as he is popularly called was a senior colleague while I was in the Ondo State Civil Service. In those years he was a mentor to me. He had fascinating perspectives that were a rarity among most of the people around us then. Dr Baju encouraged, challenged and inspired me to aim for nothing but the best in life. He would question me on my vision and plan for life. He encouraged my potential as an author to blossom. As a matter of fact, he reviewed the first 2 books I wrote: Success Power and A Life of Impact. I equally cherished the fun times we had together when we would go out to unwind after work at our favourite joint with hot suya and chilled drink. Over the years we've remained in touch as I continue to draw from his fountain of wisdom.
28. Seun Adewuyi aka Primate
There's no way my roll call will be complete without a reference to Seun's invaluable input in my life. We first met at Winners Chapel Akure where we were both members before I left for UK. Since then Seun has been practically a part of all the key events in my life - the good, the bad and the ugly – sometimes at his personal inconvenience. At the funerals of both my dad and mum, he was there helping to ensure things work out well. He was the best man at my wedding. He helped us found Iya Eji, the woman who turned out not only to be my mum's best carer ever but also her live-in companion in her last few years on earth. When there was a serious health challenge in the family in 2006, he was literally by my side running around and travelling to different places with me. If I needed anything to be done for me in Nigeria, all it would take is a phone call to Seun. Highly resourceful, street smart and enterprising, he is simply a bundle of great potential. If as the Yoruba people say, "Igba iponju la n m'ore (It is in adversity we know our friends), then Seun is qualified to be called a friend.
29. Sola Imoleolu
Sola is married to my cousin who is also Sola by name. I first met him while they were both preparing for their wedding. I know Sola to be highly resourceful and with a good heart. He is committed to his calling as a youth worker and missionary. Over the years we've rubbed minds together and I have drawn lots of nuggets from my interactions with him.
At the early start of my living in the UK and now away from my sisters in London, I found out that life in the UK could be notoriously lonely and boring. However I found friendship with Sola aka Mydoh Father very comforting in that critical period. As it's typical of many Nigerian immigrants to the UK, I met Sola a graduate of Geology while he was working as a cleaner in an hospital. Attracted by our mutual aspiration to work our way to the top, we have remained friends even after he returned to Nigeria to start a family.
31. Tayo Ojo
Popularly called brother Tayo, he was the closest I had to a blood brother shortly after my arrival in UK. Over the years he has offered me immense support and valuable advice. I hold lots of pleasant memories I shared together with him in rubbing minds, travelling extensively, shopping, socialising and worshipping at RCCG's Place of Restoration under the pastorate of Dr Abiodun Obisesan in Highbury, North London. He and his wife Abigail opened their house to me freely and theirs was like a second family to mine. In the months leading to my wedding, he offered vital counsels and financial support. He has been a great support encouraging and helping me actualise my dreams at different points in time. In my days as a single young man his wife would regularly pack foodstuff for me whenever I was heading back to my base outside London.
32. Titi Akomolafe
Titi was my right hand person for several years. We became close friends while we were both working in the Ondo State Civil Service in the earlier 2000s. That role being my first permanent job after graduation, her friendship greatly helped me in managing that transition from studentship to working life. She was my counsellor and confidant. She assisted me in no small way including in finding a place to live and furnishing it. She supported me in no small way during my late dad's funeral and at my wedding. For years after leaving the job, friendship with Titi continued to be refreshing to me.
33. Tokunbo Adebamowo
My big brother and first son of the family, my life story would never be complete without acknowledging his leadership influence and adventurous spirit in my life in our growing up years. Popularly known as Anthony to his friends, I strongly suspect his cool headedness rubbed off on me. I have happy memories of growing up with him. His advice and guidance has been of great benefit to me. He taught me lots of those skills that you get to acquire as a boy growing up. Cool headed he has a genuinely good heart.
34. Pastor Tunde Balogun
The senior pastor at Kingsborough Family Church in Uxbridge, Middlesex, I first met pastor Tunde while a member of the church in 2006. He's been a mentor and very supportive to my wife and I in the early years of our marriage. A senior alumnus of my university (Great Ife), he is one of the few great people I refer to as my mentor. Confident, visionary and programmatic, he is adept at moulding people’s destiny and bringing out the best in people. I have always said without hesitation that he is one of the best pastors I have been under. With a genuine interest in people, he is graced in spotting and nurturing potentials in people.
35. Mrs Victoria Hotonu
Now in her eighties but still fit and travelling the world, my aunt, mummy Hotonu as we call her was the closest relation of my mum that I knew as a child. A woman with a large heart, she is the founder of Igbehin Adun Nursery School for the Deaf Children in Lagos. I continue to hold fond memories of the time I spent in her place during my school holidays as a child. The first three-piece suit I ever own as a child was from her! Kind hearted and selfless, she has been a supportive pillar to our family. Even in her advanced age, she continued to act as the big sister to my late mum – looking out for her when her health began to deteriorate.
36. Mrs Victoria Oloro
My siblings and I often call her sister Vic. She is a sister to us in practically every way except for the fact she is not our biological sister. I have always thought if only we can have a few more people like sister Vic, the world would be a much better place to live in. While my siblings and I lived mostly far away from home, sister Vic was the big sister we had to help in coordinating mum's welfare and healthcare provision in her last few years. To a very large extent, she helped put our mind to rest. To get anything done for mum, a phone call to this wonderful woman was all it would usually take us. She made mum's place her second home coming in virtually every day to check on her and spend time with her. With sis Vic in charge, our mind was at rest. Very jovial, selfless, large hearted, devoted and prudent she practically epitomized Jesus's commendation when he said, "I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came unto me."
37. Yejide Oloruntola
Yejide and I became friends in the cause of our postgraduate studies at the university of Greenwich studying for a Master's degree. Yejide is someone I can rightly describe as a dependable - the kind of friend you can call upon for help readily and confidently and who will not let you down. She's been around literally at all the key moments of my life in the UK. Even at my mum's funeral, she ensured she was represented by three people her mum inclusive.
38. Yele Akinbohun
Intelligent and street smart, Yele has been more than a cousin to me; he is to me a reliable friend and one of the most reliable people I can count on. He has stood by my side through thick and thin. He was there when things were rosy and when things were rough. He would look after my interests without any pecuniary motive. He would advise me again and again including on making strategic financial investments. He would always encourage me to do things he himself would have loved to do if he had the wherewithal.
39. Yomi Bello
I first met Yomi early 1993 at a tutorial college in Ile-Ife where we were both studying to gain admission to university. Our path would later cross again when we eventually became students at Obafemi Awolowo University. So close were we in uni that our roommates in Room 116 Awo Hall actually thought we were blood brothers. Yomi greatly helped make the period of my academic sojourn at uni less difficult. He exerted a very positive influence on my faith and character. His elder brother Sola was also a source of immense blessing to me in the period following my NYSC.
My first contact with New Covenant Church (NCC) was through my wife who was then a member in Ibadan. Over the years we have come to take NCC as our family church. In that period we have met lots of wonderful people who have become to us family members and not strangers. I cannot but be grateful for a wonderful child of God Peter Oni an associate pastor at NCC Dunstable. Brother Peter as we call him and his wonderful wife sister Dorcas are selfless, hospitable and would go to any extent to demonstrate the love of Christ in practical terms. He has come to my rescue on several occasions when I was stranded. I celebrate a darling daughter of Zion always bubbling with life my dear Mrs Dupe Afuye. Her feedback and words of encouragement to me are infinitely uplifting. I celebrate the wonderful pastors I have been opportune to have and their spouses – Pastor Femi Mafoh (NCC Luton), Pastor Sunday Olatunji (NCC Dunstable) and Pastor Sam Ajetunmobi (NCC Chafford Hundred). My very wonderful sister Hannah is a precious daughter of Zion with a pure heart of gold. I have benefitted in practical ways from her friendship, her ever smiling face and her world class cuisine skills.