He is young, dapper and cosmopolitan - features that are inconsistent with the public’s vision of a mortician. A graduate of English, Adebayo Ogunsola’s TOS Funerals is one of few funeral service providers that are forging an agreeable image for the mortician. He speaks with Azuka Ogujiuba
As a young man what influenced you to become a mortician?
I am a funeral director and, simply and honestly put, my strongest influences career wise have been my parents - my mum, principally and my late dad who involved us early in life in general business management and operations.
What is the biggest challenge running TOS which is, more or less, a family legacy?
TOS is a family business, and faces challenges that any regular business faces, plus the fact that in Nigeria, a lot of people still do not believe in honouring or at least giving a befitting burial to a deceased person. It seems people pay more attention to the celebrations. Sustaining the legacy is a call to commitment, consistency and an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge in our area of specialisation. Our hands are on the plough, and God helping us we will not grow weary.
Tell us about TOS funeral home?
TOS (Taiwo Ogunsola and Sons) Funerals Ltd is a family business established in Nigeria 13 years ago to improve the failing standards of mortuaries and to shed new light on the funeral industry. We are family owned and operated, offering mortuary facilities, traditional burial or cremation services, reasonably priced caskets, urns and markers, hearse services, floral tributes, catafalque decoration, pall bearing and brass band. We are now able to offer counselling and grief support services. Additionally, our services include procurement, installation, and management of mortuary and embalming equipment, as well as providing training on the use of modern embalming equipment and on basic embalming skills and techniques.
Cremation is part of your services, would you cremate a dear one if he or she passes away?
This totally depends on the preference of the loved one; if he or she wants to be cremated, I don’t see why not.
Are Nigerians beginning to see cremation as an option?
Well, I would say gradually.
How would you assess this kind of business in Nigeria?
Comparing it to what obtains internationally, especially in Europe and the United States of America, I would say there is definitely a long way to go and great room for improvement. But surely I believe we will get there.
How affordable are pall bearer services because the common notion is that it cost quite a fortune these days?
Pall bearer services is just the hiring of people, often men to carry the remains or casket of a deceased person; funeral packages involve a lot more, but do not necessarily cost a fortune. Packages can be tailor-made to fit a budget.
One of your most publicized services was that rendered during the Dana Air crash; how was it handling all the positive and negative issues concerning the crash and the victims?
For us all at TOS, this definitely was a testing period of our faith, stamina, strength and level of commitment. The team headed by our managing director did their very best, working tirelessly from that day in June when the call was made to us to be on stand-by, till the case was officially closed by the government. Our hearts even still go out to the victims and their families, and we can only hope that our efforts made a difference. We chose to see every negative publicity as a distraction, and as a team have decided to forge on, one day at a time, taking the funeral industry in Nigeria to great heights.
Your workers were alleged to have viciously attacked some journalists. What was it all about?
I sincerely appreciate your asking our side of the story, a privilege we were not afforded at the time. But as you may be aware the case is in court, so I think it would be inappropriate to do so at this time.
What has the job changed about your outlook?
It has helped me to take every day as a gift, do my best to live and love. Llike my siblings would say, “Debayo doesn’t have the heart for grudges”. Even if a man lived a 100 years, life is short.
Are you a fashionista?
I wouldn’t say that, as I do not work in the fashion industry, but I do pay attention to my physical presentation, and enjoy being well dressed at all times.
Are you a car freak or is it a bike freak?
Well, I can’t admit to being a freak, but I do love good cars and bikes and I definitely enjoy riding bikes. Riding bikes is an activity I got introduced to by my brother in law, and since then, it has not only been an effective means of beating traffic - in our line of business, you never want to be late for a client meeting, no excuse is acceptable at that time - but a nice way to relax and enjoy the wind at the weekends.
Which celebrity’s funeral do you wish you could handle?
The truth is we have at TOS funerals been programmed to take every funeral we handle as that of a celebrity. So even though I consider it a great honour to have served the families we have worked for till date, I would never forget the funeral of the late Gani Fawehinmi and Baba Obadare.
Do you cringe when you see corpses?
No, I don’t because they are part of my daily activities. And I sleep well at night because I get home tired and just need my bed. I’m not scared just like bankers are not scared handling money.
Who in the world will you like to dine and wine with?
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Which star’s phone would you like to flip through?
Which celebrity in the world do you think has a near complete life style?
Which celebrity do you think has the sexiest body?
Maybe Jennifer Lopez.
What outfit can you not be caught dead in?
Leopard skin outfits.
If a fashion police could search your wardrobe, would you be arrested for any fashion blunder?
Well, possibly, I’m not perfect.
Who is Adebayo Ogunshola?
Adebayo Ogunsola is a young, hardworking, kind, committed man, who believes he has a purpose to fulfil on earth. He believes in God to help him make a positive difference, to take him through this earthly journey and at the end of the journey believes there is an afterlife and trusts God to enter there in.
How old are you?
Twenty nine years old.
Tell us about your background?
I’m from Ibadan in Oyo State, but lived in Ikorodu, Lagos, from birth for most of my childhood. I was born by the best parents in the world, with the greatest siblings in the world including my in laws as my best friends, apart from my fiancé. I had my primary up to university education all in Lagos, and had my NYSC in the eastern part of Nigeria. I had a fantastic childhood filled with love and fun. Reverence for God was a key ingredient in my upbringing.
If you had to go on an island for an exotic weekend, what are the five things you will take along?
Sunglasses, Bermuda shorts, short sleeve shirts, beach slippers, linen pants.
What is the most memorable Valentine gift you have ever received from a woman?
Honestly, more than the tangible gift, it’s been simply spending time enjoying the company of my valentine.
What does love mean to you?
The word is more extensive than its four letters but summing it all up, it would be selfless commitment.
What is your most expensive fashion accessory?
For now, it would be shoes. Still saving for “the wrist watch”.
What is your fashion fetish?
My fly natives.
What do you mostly crave about?
I don’t seem to have any permanently consistent craving, but one sure thing is to see God more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly day by day.
Which is the most remarkable part of your body?
What is your present Blackberry ringtone?
Eko o ni baje.
What else do you like to indulge in apart from your work?
If you were the president, what will be the first law you will implement?
It would have to be a law that solves the problem of power supply.
Which celebrity in the would you describe as a sex siren?
Never really given that a thought.