Bidding a Loved One Goodbye

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Only those who have had to bid their loved ones goodbye would truly understand the pains of the Oladapo Selesis, who laid their father to rest at 78, while reminiscing about his life, Rebecca Ejifoma writes

Right at the concentric cathedral of the Daystar Christian Centre at Oregun Ikeja, the hall boomed with nostalgia. Families, relatives from both far and near, well-wishers among other dear ones gathered to bid the late Olakunle Oladapo Selesi, his final farewell. He died on July 7, 2018, following an illness that started in 2013.

Thus, it was a blend of sober reflection and grateful hearts as the congregation sang out their hearts through hymns like ‘Great is thy Faithfulness’, ‘In Christ Alone’, ‘Through the Love of God our Saviour’ and ‘We Shall Gather at the River’. These songs opened the service and set the atmosphere.

The officiating ministers were the senior pastor, Sam Adeyemi; Kenny Folarin and Boluwatife Oluyomi alongside the Life Changers Ministers, E.O. Daniels (senior pastor); Mrs. V.B Daniels, Henry Olufemi and Solomon Israel, who read the set verses for the occasion.

They recited audibly while the congregation echoed Psalm 90 verse one through 12. The ministers first described God as the hiding place of the saints in all generations.

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever, thou had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” the senior pastor, Adeyemi read on.

Speaking still, he harped on verse 12, which beckons on God to teach them to number their days that they may apply their hearts to wisdom. He went further to quote first Thessalonians four verses 13 through 18.

Having given them these encouraging portions to digest, the instrumentalists and the congregation unanimously chorused the song, ‘Through the Love of God our Saviour’. Adding that all will be well, the bereaved family vocalised soberly over and over again, “all will be well”.

Indeed, the massive turn up was evident of his life before death. “It is difficult to describe my father. But he was great man. He was a man of the people, very dedicated, focused and entrepreneur by heart. He loved his children and his family and he wanted to leave a better family behind,” his first son, Mr. Dipo Selesi, enthused.

Then he admitted how much he already missed him. “I miss him because he was a man that touched lives. He was kind and generous, he had godly attitude and patience. He was a family man that wanted the best for his children, which he accomplished.”

For Dipo, who is the first son and second child, there is hope that some day, he would see his father again to really tell him how much he missed him.

Now, the late Otunba, as he was fondly called, was born into the family of Pa Daniel Oyebola and Salamotu Selesi on June 10 in 1940. He was the second of four children. He attended African Church Primary School in Abeokuta in in 1946 then to the African Church Grammar School in 1952, where he was made the Labour Prefect.

Upon graduating from Grammar School in 1957, he worked as a clerk in Tabolt Industrial Ventures before he travelled to London to further his education in 1962. There, he clinched the job of a postman and also Transport for London as a Bus Ticket Inspector and Clerk to save up for his tertiary education.

Swiftly on the heels of his menial job, the late Otunba enrolled for a degree in Business Administration at the Kingston Polytechnic London now Kingston University, Kingston Upon Thames Surrey and graduated in 1966.

Grappling every opportunity, he went on to do a part time course at North Western Polytechnic London and the Institute of Marketing and Sales Management English, where he bagged a Higher National Certificate in Business Studies and a Diploma in Marketing.

It was while in school that the late Selesi got married to Mrs. Paulina Wuraola Selesi (nee Lashore) in 1966. The union had seven children. Having completed his studies, he worked as a management consultant for a few years before relocating to Nigeria in 1972.

Indeed, with his many international and local expertise, the late Selesi had enhanced his penchant to lead, a drive that inspired him register Deluxe Markings Ltd before returning home to Nigeria. The company started with the marketing of Romanian tyres, number plates among others. He also delved into Penguin Diaries, an ice-cream factory.
He was said to have lived and fulfilled many dreams including those of his children who couldn’t run out of words to portray his person before the cold hands of death touched him.

Today, however, his company has metamorphosed into more due to his undying entrepreneurial spirit. He owns Selabab Nig Ltd, Deluxe Colour Productions Ltd, Ospal Global Resources Ltd, Miller Buckley Nigeria Ltd and Variables Building Systems Ltd.

And in the mid 80s, the late Otunba, had a union with Mrs. Ejinma Winifred Selesi (nee Anozie-Onyeagocha). They had two children.

Fortunately for the late astute businessman, he had about nine children and eight grandchildren to pay him last respect and perform the final rites at his funeral.

They all had heartbreaking eulogies for him in their various ways. His first daughter and first child, Mrs. Olayide Adeoshun, had beautiful things to say about her father.

She said: “He was loving and caring; very quiet. He was one of those men that believed in the spirit of excellence. He believed and wanted his children to strive in life to become giants in their different professions. He was a man who did a lot for so many people. He was very compassionate and assiduous. He aspired for greater heights.

“I miss him. But I thank God he lived a good life and left a good legacy. I couldn’t have asked for a better dad. Obviously, he made some mistakes here and there. But who doesn’t make a mistake? May his soul rest in peace.

“He was hardworking. Always wanting to set the pace. He was liberal. When I told him I wanted to study graphic design since I was good at fine arts in school, he made a funny comment, ‘Layide, all those doing arts act crazy. However, if this is what you want to do, I’ll support you’. He did. He never imposed on his children. Each of us chose our professions and he backed us up. He never used condescending words. He was super quiet in the house, the exact opposite of my mum and he never spanked”.

Having passed on, the late Otunba did not only bequeath material things to those he left behind, but he also successfully injected his trademarks into them.

“Till date, I’ve learnt to be compassionate, respectful and sympathetic to people’s situations. I thank God for the grace to be able to give just like my father did in his time,” she added.

In all, the late Otunba was celebrated rather than mourned as songs of thanksgiving and rejoicing shook the hall rather than songs of dirge.

Finally, the entire family laid him to rest with the hymn ‘We shall gather at the river ‘, while his remains on the shoulders of the pallbearers was lowered for the last time, thus returning him to the dust, as his loved ones blew kisses into the air to say goodbye.