How my dad died writing his last book – Dupe Jemibewon | Reveals unheard before secrets of her late father, JB

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Mr. Dupe Jemibewon with Gbenga Dan Asabe at an event in Abuja in 2013
Mrs. Dupe Jemibewon, wife of former Minister of Police Affairs under the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo and former Governor of the old western region General David Medayese Jemibewon have broken her silence for the first time on the demise of her author/teacher father, Chief John Bosede Ajayi who passed away on Monday June 22nd.
Giving a vivid narration of events that led to the octogenarian’s death amidst slip of emotions and upbeat mood, the very intelligent and crisp knowledge French graduate of University of Ibadan and business woman told Africa’s number 1 celebrity encounter blog Asabeafrika in a late hour encounter inside her Ikeja, Lagos property in the evening of Wednesday July 29th how she lost dad while offering an evening mass.
Dupe Jemibewon who is known for her pragmatic way of life and sense of humor told us how dad raised her and other five siblings plus the last project her father couldn’t finish before death came calling. Find your favorite drink and snack as you enjoy the story of the unknown father of famous Mrs. Dupe Jemibewon.
Ma, can we talk about your dad, Chief John Bosede Ajayi?
My dad is a teacher of teachers, a great and dynamic human being. A great educationist, the very essence of being a catholic is my dad, I grew knowing him as an apostolate of St. Jude. There are many saints in the Bible but it depends on who you find good for intercessory purposes but St. Jude is a very prominent apostle and dad was a great fan of St. Jude. He is my friend; mostly my friend, my confidant, my dad, my brother, my next of kin. He is a consummate book keeper that is my dad, a prolific file keeper. If you want anything and you ask JB (John Bosede) he will bring it out for you.

Dupe Jemibewon

Was he a confidential secretary?
No, he was a teacher, he is also an author. He wrote so many books, the last one he is writing he didn’t finish it which is the History of Catholicism in Ekiti, he was writing it but he didn’t finish it before he was called. He is a teacher of teachers.
He was well taken care of; his home was very well kept. Like all men, I am not saying my father was a saint but I am telling you, my father was a good man; he was a good man who put all he had into humanity. Not only his biological children, there were too many kindred that the man touched their lives in the entire Western Nigeria and even in the whole of Nigeria.
A lot of people feel Catholicism is a minority religion in Ekiti, so why was your dad digging deep on it?
Catholicism is not a minority religion, it can’t be; the French brought Catholicism to Ekiti before the Irish came, it is not what you people think and his parents were Catholics. So, when I tell people that I am a third generation catholic that is exactly what I mean. Even his parent’s marriage was the first catholic marriage in that neighborhood. So, my father was born into a catholic home in Orin Ekiti.

So, nobody can say he is more catholic than the Ajayis?
(Laughs)Let me tell you this, the first Yoruba Reverend Sister, Mother Mary Emmanuel is from Orin Ekiti. I mean for an Ekiti girl to have become a nun in those days, the first Yoruba nun is from Orin Ekiti. So, Catholicism dates back in our culture. I can’t even afford to talk about my dad in the past because he is just too real. We were not expecting him to go now.
But many people felt he was ripe to go at 85?
His mother lived to be 102, so we were thinking at least he will be hundred before he passes on. But I guess he was missing my mum.
Oh, she was his only love?
Not even after her demise, our father didn’t marry. My father…oh, dear God (Emotion breaks but quickly put up a strong smile) (Kept quite, falling into a pensive mood for 5 minutes)
…Maybe something struck you about them?
They had a very successful home and they were like hide and skin. I wont call them Romeo and Juliet because they were practical people, they were very practical people. My dad radiated with my mum and I think the two of them complimented each other. Fortunately, the two of them were Catholics, they were catholic born.

Mrs. Dupe Jemibewon with a friend

It sounds rare in a country where people of mixed religion marry each other, I mean a Redeem Church member marrying a Catholic vice-visa?
Redeemed Church was not in existence when my parents were born and it wasn’t a congregation that flourishes until present times. It was pure traditional church congregation and they lived so perfectly well with their faith. It was a great moment.
The Bible says a man’s age will be 70 and anything beyond that is addition? What is the secret of dad’s grace to 85?
He was well taken care of; his home was very well kept. Like all men, I am not saying my father was a saint but I am telling you, my father was a good man; he was a good man who put all he had into humanity. Not only his biological children, there were too many kindred that the man touched their lives in the entire Western Nigeria and even in the whole of Nigeria. He was born to a man who was far ahead of his time and that really impacted on him. My grand father we were told was first and foremost an Ekiti person who lived in Ile-Ife and had the likes of Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu the father of late Chief Emeka Ojukwu as business partner, I mean Louis Ojukwu, Ikemba’s father was a trading partner to my grand father.
What is the name of your grand father?
My grandfather was Raphael Ajayi, he was an olden day’s merchant and he died pretty early too.
At what age?
My grand father died even before he was 50.
So how was his scion able to make success of age?
Well, my grandmother was a great girl, let me tell you the truth, she was a very great person who invested all she had in her kids. Very lucky woman, her name is Mary, my mother is equally Mary. In my family, all my uncles are married to Mary. That name just kept playing a role in our live. So, grandma did so well to bring up her kids and that equally impacted on the life of my dad.
So, how did you got to know about your dad’s death?
I was in Abuja. Actually, in the last few months he has been weak, I saw him fading away but I didn’t know it was to eternity. Ah, that man! (Fell into emotions again, looking into space)

Chief Bosede Ajayi in his 30s

Did he tell you anything few hours to his death?
Even the day he actually died, his care-giver was still telling me was sleeping and I said ‘Don’t wake him up because I was hearing him snore away and I know he is not heavy, I didn’t know he was taking his last breath and I said ‘Put the phone next to him’ and his care-giver said ‘Mummy, Daddy is sleeping, don’t worry’. I didn’t know that was the last I will see of him. Then, the Doctor that came earlier in the day, he is a very good class mate of mine who is also like a brother. When he came and I asked him ‘how is daddy doing?’ he said ‘he is alright’. He will be okay that whatever he is doing, he is easing him to sleep. I didn’t know that meant time was up.
Were they trying to hide the reality from you?
They didn’t hide but I didn’t just get the message because I didn’t know he was going to die because I know the brand of person my father was, he was never a laid back person. He kept himself so busy, like the book he was writing, he was busy getting resource materials and documenting stuffs but you could feel it that he was weak. I knew and my kid sister had to come home from America. I am happy she did, to see him, because the old man was getting weak and he eventually stopped eating. That was when I was afraid because my father loved his food. So, when they told me ‘daddy was not eating his food I got a bit panicky. But I was very confident he will pull through.
So, at what point did the news hit you that dad is gone?
I went for evening mass on the 22nd of June and all I was praying for was ‘if it was his time o, Lord, let him just transit in peace’. And it was his cousin, Professor Tunde Adeniran (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs), when I left mass I wanted to inform him that ‘Daddy was getting weaker’ because he was always sending people to check how his health is doing in Ibadan. Apparently when I was at mass, my father has passed on. So, I went to the house of my cousin, Professor Tunde Adeniran to inform him that I think Daddy’s situation is getting critical. And he said ‘yes’ and that ‘actually, he passed on about thirty minutes ago’, oooh, dear, dear, God!. I didn’t know that Professor Adeniran and my husband has talked because they called my husband and informed him but I took it with equanimity of course my mood was obstructed and I had an immediate swing but Professor Adeniran and his wife were there for me. He insisted on taking me home and from then till now, here we are.
So, how about his book project?
We will find the detail and complete it because my father is a very detailed person. Let, me tell you, even from primary one to my university days my dad had a file on me. There is none of his children that he doesn’t have a file, huge file on. When I was cleaning out his house in Ekiti, his first personal house, I was filled with goose pimple with the kind of books dad had in his Library. I want to believe he has one of the biggest and best book libraries in Nigeria. I think eventually we will make a library of those books in the house. It is unbelievable. I think it is partly because my father read history, he read history and he is a very consummate book acquirer.

Chief Bosede Ajayi @ 85

That means he will love books than buying clothes?
My dad bought the best available dresses for us; even as children, my father will order our canvass from England, our shirts, they will put in nice packs. You know in those days it was by postal order. Nigeria was a great country in those days, from England, they mail the things to you, those are the kind of things we enjoyed when we were children but now when I look back, I discovered the man (Dad) was just a teacher. And to have been able to make life comfortable for us, I appreciate him. I wish him the best in eternity.
How many of you?
We are only six (Dr. Dayo Ajayi, Dr. Tunde Ajayi, Dr. Ajoke Akintade, Barrister Abimbola Ajayi and Pharmacist Funmi Jegede) and I am the first child and the least educated among the six. I am the only one who doesn’t have anything attached to my name, no Doctoral or Ph-D or a barrister or a pharmacist at the back of my name. I am the least educated. I read French and that is it. 
Were your mum and dad both strict or one is cool and the other hot?
Well, they were biblical. ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’. They made us go through it and will never indulge us in any way. Let me tell you a story, I remember when I was trying to gain admission into University of Ibadan, we had the child of a relation living with us, a cousin of mine and you wont believe that my mum abandoned my own challenge and ensured the guy got his own admission before mine. So, that was the kind of parent I had, they are people who are selfless to a fault and they will not do something for you because they feel, ‘oh you are our child’. With benefit of hindsight, I can now see a lot of wisdom in what they did at the time. We care for others before self.
So, the rod was always landing on you at intervals?
Yeah, yeah, yeah but when you discipline children, it doesn’t mean we don’t get pampered. We got what we needed at any given time. Let me tell you another beautiful story. When I graduated from U.I because I am so used to taking pocket money from my dad, his decision to halt it shocked me. My dad provided you money every week for your upkeep. So, when I graduated from U.I after the first month I didn’t get the money I used to get and I was already doing my NYSC program. So, I went home and said “Daddy, what happened? Where is my stipend?” and he said “What money? You have graduated, my contract with you is finished, so, find your way in the world”. I just couldn’t believe it and that was what he did to all of us on graduation. On graduation, that your monthly allowance is stopped. And I said to him “Dad, I have a car to maintain” and he said “Yes, maintain your car now yourself”. (Laughs heartily) he was a great man, he was indeed a great man, he was a teacher.
Dupe Jemibewon with Oba Otudeko
So, what is the biggest philosophy dad gave you that still work for you till date?
“Be pragmatic and be resilience and invest in humanity”. Those were his doctrines; and you must not let any situation overwhelm you, my father says ‘if a child falls, the child looks forward but if an elder falls he must look at the back. And he is always saying, your situation, you may think it is worst but at the end of the day, your situation might turn out rosy compared to another person. He is a very practical person, very practical but he is equally Catholic. That is him, a catholic by living, thinking and doing. Catholicism is a way of life, it is not a religion. Being catholic is a way of life and only few can keep to that tradition.
How are you going to immortalize him?
There are so many things to do to immortalize my dad, I just told you that we will probably make a library of his books and allow humanity to take advantage of what a single person has been able to put together for humanity because all these things are not for him but for the benefit of humanity. We will probably turn the old house in the village into a library so that children can know that from the corners of this country, great men abound.
On a last note, what do you have to say to people who have been sending in condolences?
You see my father…oh dear, oh dear; even his friends we have known them with him from childhood and they still remain his friends. So many family friends we have and the kind of emotions some of them have demonstrated at the loss of their friend is something one should think about. The best man at his wedding is a very close friend of his; his children are like my own siblings. His name is Chief James Oni, a friend of over 50 years because my dad and mum got married in 1952 and till my mother died, she used to call him “Best Man”. I thank all of these people and many Nigerians that have besiege us with condolence messages. I am proud of the legacy dad left behind.

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