By Tunde Ipinmisho
The setting was in numerous countries across three continents and, at each location, it was simply breath-taking. It was a non physical gathering of a distinguished group of personalities made possible by cutting edge information and communication technology which linked participants in Africa, the United States of America and Europe. It was real time; it was hitch free.
The participants at the celebration made possible by Zoom included a first class Nigerian traditional ruler, at least three university professors, Pastors, top civil servants and other eminent professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora. They had assembled to join Taiye Lambo and Kehinde Lambo-Aderiye to mark their golden jubilee.
The twins are the first children of the former Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, and his wife, Dr. (Mrs) Esther Olufunmilayo Lambo (nee Aragbaiye). They were born on January 23, 1971 at Abegbe Memorial Hospital, Oremeji, Mokola, Ibadan.
So, when they hit the landmark age of 50 years last week, parents, relations, friends and associates spared nothing to give them a memorable golden jubilee celebration. A live gospel music band and five pastors (two from Abuja, one from Lagos, one from Canada and one from the United States of America) were on hand to give it the needed Christian ambience. The Atlanta (Georgia,USA) home of Taiye and his wife, Adebunmi, and the Chatham (Kent, England) home of Kehinde and Yinka Aderiye were decorated with colourful buntings which proclaimed for all the Zoom participants to see the purpose of the gathering: Taiye and Kennie at 50.
On hand to add the hue of royalty to the celebration was no less a personality than the Olowo of Owo, Ondo State, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye, a first class traditional ruler who is a first cousin to Dr. (Mrs.) Lambo and her youngest brother, Mr. Oluwadare Aragbaiye, the Ondo State Government Head of Service.
More than 100 personalities, many of who were meeting one another for the first time or had not seen each other for several years, had been brought together in cyberspace at this unique golden jubilee of the twins, who themselves are now the parents of wonderful boys and girls. And although the celebration was non-physical, the attendees could not help but have the feeling that something great was happening. Three generations of the Lambos, which Professor Lambo often refers to as the Lambo Clan, were on hand to celebrate two of theirs. Although most of the members of the clan were in Atlanta, every family celebrated in its own home. Professor Lambo and his wife, who are holidaying in Atlanta, were also in their vacation home, participating in the event.
The master of ceremony, Mr. Bidemi Omokore, who took charge of the show from his London apartment, had invited the Abuja musician, RevySax, to open the show with soul-lifting gospel music and that moment signaled to the guests that they were in for a great outing. Not a few of them, particularly the women, were seen intermittently on their feet, as the show progressed, dancing to the pulsating music from the Nigerian capital.
The opening prayer was taken by Professor (Rev) Olutola Kehinde Peters, who was in Canada but shielded from the nasty winter snow outside his home. Professor Peters is a long time spiritual mentor of the Lambos, right from his days as the Pastor of UMCA Theological Seminary Chapel in Ilorin, Kwara State. That relationship and close association with the Lambos came into play in the choice of his prayer points for the celebrants.
When it was time to speak, Taiye, a cyber security expert and consultant with his wife, Adebunmi, by his side, made it known that he had not celebrated any birthday other than his 10th Year. He noted that he did not look good in the photographs of the occasion “due to petty sibling rivalry”. He said he was particularly glad to celebrate their golden jubilee because it was an occasion of thanksgiving to God for pulling Kehinde off “the valley of the shadows of death”.
Taiye expressed appreciation to God for keeping them and making them see that day. For their parents, he also had a lot of thanks to offer for their love and for pouring into them, the values that made them to be who they turned out to be. Taiye also thanked their siblings and friends from far and wide for their love and support over the years.
For their parents who, with satisfaction written all over their faces and who were participating in the event, he had some assurances. He pledged that they would continue to uphold their treasured values and virtues. Recalling his knack for breaking and fixing things in his first decade in life, Taiye said he had decided to use his talents and skills for good, instead of bad. He also showered kind words on his wife, Adebunmi, and children, who he said put in much work to make the event the success it was.
For Kehinde, she said she had only gratitude to God for sparing her life to witness their golden jubilee. She recalled that she, in 2013, had a gory encounter with gun-totting robbers in her residence in Lagos from which she narrowly escaped death. In 2018, she said she was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo a major surgery to remove the tumor and also had some post-operation cancer treatments. The following year, she said she was again diagnosed with cancer and had to go through the required cancer treatments.
Kehinde, a Management Accountant, said it was her faith in God that helped her to pull through those tough periods of her life. She thanked God for how he made her “amazing parents” to be great role models and for how they had always supported her for the past 50 years.
When she took her own turn, Dr. (Mrs.) Lambo, the matriarch of the clan, expressed thanks to her late parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Aragbaiye, her husband, children, siblings and other family members.
She recalled the traumatic labour and delivery of the twins in Ibadan half a century ago as well as the ensuing blindness for three days and a disastrous post natal fainting spell. The past 50 years, she said had been a period of passing through waters, rivers, fires and victories all the way. She admonished the twins to hold on to their faith in God as well as to love and obey Him. She also urged them to obey all constituted authorities because it was God who ordained them. Dr. (Mrs.) Lambo also enjoined her twins to choose their friends wisely, differentiating between destiny helpers and destiny destroyers, as well as to pursue holiness and righteousness.
On his part, Professor Lambo thanked God for giving him the wife of his dream and for seeing her through the first pregnancy and prolonged labour. He also expressed appreciation to God for keeping him and his wife alive to witness the golden jubilee of their twins.
While praising God for seeing them through the first half of their lives’ journey and helping them to overcome the various challenges that had come their way, he reminded them that at 50, they were now old enough to know themselves real good but were still young enough to make things happen. While they are still too young to retire, he urged them to have a sense of urgency to be more intentional to find and fulfill their lives’ purposes. He urged them to be more confident and immune to the judgment of others of them as well as to make more conscious decisions because they now had the experience and trust in themselves more than before.
According to Professor Lambo, at 50, the twins still had enough time to re-invent themselves if they so desired. He then gave them a 14 point charge for them to: be more intentional about their lives than before; make the development and implementation of their 15 – 30 year strategic life plan a priority; strengthen their relationship with God on a daily basis; listen more to what God is saying rather than telling Him or asking Him for things most of the time; pay more attention to helping others and giving back to the society and to support the work of God as much as they can.
Professor Lambo also charged them to: carefully and prayerfully prepare for the time all their children would go their own ways; make good health their priority; purse something like a hobby, preferably with their spouses, that would give them fun, pleasure and joy; save more for the rainy day and live simple lives; be intentional in managing their reactions to stress; keep learning and developing themselves every day; continue to hold high the Lambo family’s values of faith in God, humility, contentment, generosity, hard work, perseverance, honesty and integrity as well as to diversify their income earning sources without outstretching themselves.
Then, it was the turn of the nuclear families of the celebrants to pour out their hearts in love. Taiye’s wife, Adebunmi, recalled that when she and her husband first met, they had no inkling of what was ahead. “All we knew was that we were in love and we just had to be together”, she said. Attributing their success so far to God’s mercies, grace and love, she said they once again had reason to rejoice. She expressed appreciation to her husband for loving God with all his heart and for building the family on the solid rock of Christ. Adebunmi also praised her husband for his humanitarian work, and for being a thought leader in the field of cyber security. She also expressed her thanks to her father and mother in-law “for giving me a fine man to marry”.
Similar thoughts also echoed from Chatham where Yinka, the husband of Kehinde, also thanked his wife for always being by his side and for always loving, supporting, caring and protecting him and their children. Describing her as their family’s super-woman, Yinka thanked Kehinde for being the kindest and most vibrant woman they knew. He had prayers for her and Taiye, “an amazing person with a big heart”, that God would spare their lives to have many more of such celebrations.
Introducing her mum to the cross continental guests earlier, Damilola Aderiye said she stood out with two qualities of excellent time management and problem solving skills, the former she took from “Grandpa Lambo” and the latter she inherited from “Grandma Lambo”.
From their Atlanta home, Valerie, Taiye’s daughter described her father as an incredible leader, mentor, friend, husband and an amazing father.
The Olowo of Owo, right from his palace in the ancient Yoruba city of Owo, poured blessings on the twins and wished them long and happy lives. Similar prayers were also offered by the former Vice Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Professor Afolabi Soyode, and his wife as well as the Head of Service of Ondo State Government, Mr. Oluwadare Aragbaiye.
Then master of ceremony, at a point in the proceedings, summoned Revysax to the band stand once again and directed the twins and their spouses to the dance floor. It was not for long as the audience clapped for them. Then it was time to cut the birthday cakes, one in Chatham and the other in Atlanta. Supported by their spouses, they cut the cakes to the admiration of guests and were rewarded with a round of applause across the various countries represented in the gathering.
Throughout the celebration and although they tried to keep a low profile, the other members of the “Lambo Clan”, Mrs. Oludolapo Oluwatosin Famakinwa, a supply chain management expert and her husband as well as Dr. (Mrs.) Abimbola Abidemi Lambo – Ogundimu, a public health specialist with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) headquarters, Atlanta, Georgia, loomed large as they intermittently and through the chat channel on Zoom welcomed guests and expressed their thanks.
It was indeed a night of many prayers, prayers and more prayers. Pastor Dominic Ehikhuemen, formerly of Family Worship Centre, Abuja but now residing in the United States and Pastor Wilson Adegbe Akubo, also of Family Worship Centre, Abuja took turns to pronounce the blessings of God on the celebrants. Pastor Akin Romeo Akinwande gave a very powerful charge to the celebrants before praying for them, their families and parents.
Then it was closing time and the turn of the man Professor Lambo calls his “Senior Pastor”, Dr. (Rev.) Babajide Olowodola of Four Square Gospel Church, Asokoro, Abuja, to pray for them as guests await the next celebration in another half a century. Rev. Olowodola, having served as Special Assistant to Professor Lambo in his days as Health Minister, left nothing behind in his arsenal of prayers to wish them well.
Soon, it was 9:30pm in Abuja and three and a half hours since the programme started. Guests in their chats spoke of having had an exhilarating time as they, one by one, left the group. To many, it was yet another Lambo exclusive.