I idolised Fela so much I wanted to stop schooling to be like him —Adedoyin
Maye of Yorubaland, Dr Ramon Adedoyin, is the President of Oduduwa University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, among other educational institutions. He shares the story of his life with SEGUN KASALI.
How did you cope growing up in a polygamous home of 22 wives?
When my father died, I was seven years old; immediately that happened every one of them was fighting one another. I was made to know that they believed that my mother was my late father’s favourite and for that alone, she must have been the person who contributed to his death. So, she took me to Ibadan because of the aforementioned issue in the house.
She was trying to protect us, the children, and I was her first male child. So, the best she could do was to take me out of the home. Perhaps she saw that I had a good future. Hence, she took me away from the polygamous environment. So, I was under the tutelage of an Islamic scholar learning Arabic studies for a short while until things stabilized a little bit and she had already moved out of the house and felt safe. She later brought me back to Ile-Ife to start my primary school education. I could remember I was so stubborn while growing up.
Yes. I was very, very stubborn. Up till today, some people still look at me and say ‘Oh! God is a wonderful God. How could this stubborn man achieve so much like this, around the same environment where he lived as a young boy and he is still in that environment and he is still making it.’
How stubborn were you, sir?
Let me give you an example. When my school certificate examination result came out, they questioned why I had not applied to the university when my other colleagues had done the necessary. They asked me to go and bring my result. Then, I told my mother that my result was bad – that I scored F9 in all the subjects. My mum simply kept silent.
A visitor, who was with my mum at that time then said: “we would go to that your school and check the result in order to see how you got that F9 (Laughs). So, it was when he got to the school that he discovered that this young man did not get F9 at all. In fact I got A1 in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and other subjects.
So, why did you lie?
It was because I wanted to be a musician like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. So, at the back of my father’s house, I usually gather other children together disturbing the environment by imitating Fela’s music.
So, I was always using the back of my mother’s house because I was the ‘owner’ of the band and just being a kind of nuisance. When this man took me to the University of Ibadan to study Medicine or Engineering and I was not admitted, I was very happy because that would allow me focus on my music career, but I was still not allowed to do my music.
So, I applied to then University of Ife, for the same courses earlier mentioned but they offered me Mathematics and Education. I rejected it because I did not want to be a teacher but I was encouraged to do it. Eventually, I read Mathematics and Education. So, that shows the degree of my stubbornness; except for what the man did by forcing me to bring out my result, my mum would have believed what I said about having F9. Maybe I would not have been what I am today; on the other hand I could have been one of the famous musicians in the country today.
Why did you want to be like Fela?
Honestly, I can’t remember my motivation then, but I guess it was simply because of my love for his music. Up till today, I still love Fela’s music so seriously. I became acquainted with Fela’s music by mere watching him on the television. At that time, we used to watch Fela on our local black and white television during his weekly shows.
That was all and I took interest. I would have released a record if not for the man who uncovered my result secret. But, I did not go far at all with the band because immediately I gained admission into the university, I forgot about everything that had to do with a band or Fela’s music.
How much of Fela’s character did you display?
Whenever my mother was not around, I would put on beads. I would not button up my shirt and then I would be bouncing around the neighbourhood. I was just a nuisance, but I never smoked. Yes I loved and still love Fela, but not to the extent of smoking.
But the course eventually became a blessing in disguise.
Fantastic. While I was studying the course, I had the opportunity of teaching Mathematics in one continuing education centre then. So, I was teaching as an undergraduate and one of the things I saw there motivated me to establish a Remedial programme centre immediately I left the university, apart from the fact that a professor in the university identified me and asked me to teach the children.
So, as I was teaching, other people kept on bringing their children. And when I left the university, I was not interested in doing any white collar job, so I established the remedial school which I called Universal Tutorial College. And with that one, I just kept on into the business of education- From Universal Tutorial College to the Universal College of Technology to The Polytechnic, Ile-Ife, to Oduduwa University and other ones started springing up.
So, you can see that it was indeed a blessing in disguise. I recall that I told those who persuaded me to study the course that ‘I was told that a teacher cannot make it in life’ and that ‘I would not want to be a teacher.’ But, I ended up as one now. Recently, I asked my vice chancellor if he could give me some hours of schedule so I can be teaching Mathematics. They all laughed and said ‘no, no and no, don’t teach.’
Riding on the note of success, how much have you reached out to the under-privileged?
Oh! I do that every Friday and it is one of my principles that even when I give to people, they should make sure that they give to other people. I still say this every time. I told them ‘when somebody gives you something, make sure you give part of it to other people. People always queue up in thousands because they know that I would always give them some things. I also thank God for the kind of children the Almighty God has given me.
Which of them is taking after you?
Virtually all of them. One is the Registrar of Oduduwa University, my son, who is also working in the university. My daughter, who read Accountancy at Obafemi Awolowo University, also has a PhD and she is the one managing my Micro-finance bank. I have another promising son managing my hotels. Some other ones are outside the country. So, I have every reason to praise God all the time.
Did your mum’s experience in her polygamous home caution you against polygamy?
I just don’t know why. I don’t believe in polygamy. I think I am just satisfied with this one woman because I had the opportunity to go for a second wife, third wife and so on. This was because my wife started with a girl as first child; second one was a female child; third one a female child; fourth one a female child and the fifth, a female child. So, a lot of female students, lecturers in my establishment wanted to get close to me such that they could become second wife. But, as God would have it at a certain time, two male children successively when I was about to stop having children.
How were you able to manage advances from those ladies then and now?
I don’t womanise, and I don’t drink alcohol. I am very moderate in all that I do. I am very hardworking and people know it. Lazy people can’t work with me.
I play table tennis and I like dancing. If there is a music player here now, you would see the way I dance.
How do you like to dress?
I like to dress in my chieftaincy regalia. But when I’m playing table tennis, I put on sportswear.
You must be grateful to God for all your achievements…
Yes, presently, I am the only Nigerian who has three universities and two polytechnics. And I know where my colleagues are now. And it is not only these five schools. I still have so many other businesses and all of them are thriving. So, I have every reason to thank the Almighty God for this time. Also, each time there is something I wanted to do and that thing failed, it means there is something better than what I wanted to do.
Source: Nigerian Tribune