Dr. Teslim Sanusi: The Ordained Trojan @ 80
Every biographical work is a portrait of thesubject as he paints it straight from his heart, in addition to the views of others who have been associated with his life and his experiences. This may include wife, children, friends, associates, peers and others who know the subject sufficiently. To borrow the viewpoint of advertising/marketing professionals, every individual is a “brand” that has something unique to offer. The subject, in Dr. Teslim Sanusi: The Ordained Trojan at 80 is not different in that respect.
The 206-page book, authored by Adebowale Adegoke and published by Mbeyi & Associates (Nigeria) Limited, 2022 (Third Edition),
opens with Chapter One, filled, The Cradle Of A Family. This is the story of the subject from birth at the Ilorin General Hospital on Wednesday, the 23rd of December, 1942. His father, Dauda Adeniran, was an itinerant Railway worker, who eventually became a Station Manager (S.M, a prestigious position in those days!). Mother, Abibat Titilayo, was equally an itinerant trader who bought and sold cash-crops. A product of a polygamous home with several wives and nine children, he unfortunately became the only surviving child of his mother, the preceding twin-sisters having died, one as stillbirth, and the second shortly after birth.
Dr. Sanusi had step-mothers of Yoruba, Igbo and Fulani origins. His father’s highly mobile job at the Railways made him a sojourner in several towns including Erin-Ile, Kwara State (his home-town), Kaduna, Beji, Enugu, Onitsha etc. This experience was to be the building-blocks of his fluency in Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa, and his eventual cosmopolitan outlook to life.
Chapter Two, titled Early Years: Reminiscence, we are regaled with his early life childhood at Kaduna, at their No A020 Nasarawa Road, residence, a modest abode of peace and sernity where everyone was welcome. As a child, Sanusi played pranks and games with equals-Boju-Boju (hide and seek), kite-flying and making a variety of structures with paper. Primary education was at the Baptist Day School, Kaduna from 1949 -1956. Here, he was to start a long-standing friendship with his peers, the most outstanding of which has been with his bosom- friend, Deacon Tunji Olajide, a friendship of spanning over 73 years!
In addition to formal schooling, Sanusi attended Quranic School (Ile-Kewu) at his father’s insistence, between 3pm and 5pm daily and hawked the famous “Shakleford Bread” (brought by train to Kaduna) between 5pm and 7pm daily – the beginning of an enduring lesson in resourcefulness and entrepreneurship.
Secondary education was at the Eastern Academy, Onitsha, Anambra State (father was at Enugu) between 1957 and 1961, completing the West African School Certificate in flying colours. Here at Onitsha and Enugu, he learnt the Igbo language. But he also sneaked out of the school-hostel occasionally to watch the legendary Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe speak/give lectures, whenever the sage was in town.
Dynasty In The Making is the title of Chapter Three. Here, we are informed about the beginning of his marital adventure and work- life after completing secondary education. This also includes the meeting in Kano of the first real-love of his life and first wife, Modinat, a light-skinned beauty through the instrumentality of his late friend, Tunji Adepoju in 1965. He says that amongst other considerations, Modinat’s light-skin was a contrasting complement to his own dark-skin, for which he was nick-named “blackie”, by his friends.
His eventual marriage to Modinat Abiola (nee Oyedunle) mother of his six children was a divine fulfilment. In the same chapter, we are also informed of his search for the proverbial golden fleece which took him to Leeds, England in 1969, to pursue a professional training in Insurance at the Polytechnic.
Already a father of three at home, in England, he came across a Malaysian born to a Scottish father, Miss Tara Payne. Friendship led to love that almost ended in marriage. But Tara reneged. She wanted Modinat, his first wife confined to Nigeria. In the words of Sanusi, “Tara was the love that refused to fly”. Subsequently, several years after returning to Nigeria, Sanusi found himself, still threading the path of polygamy through a friendship with another, light-skinned beauty, Tawakalitu Kofoworola (nee Agboluaje) in 1988. This relationship moved through a wedding introduction in 1993, and a Nikkai (Islamic wedding) in Ibadan in 1995. Kofo is mother to a son, Ibrahim. His marital life has been a success, what with cooperative wives, respectfully obedient and lovely children, all graduates with specialization in economics, political science, law and engineering.
Chapter Four goes by the title, Divine Relationship. The Chapter opens with a litany of Sanusi’s several acts of total submission to, and dependence on God (Allah) for all things-inspite of his intellectual, professional, physical and other endowments. He says that God has to be approached mainly through prayer and service; that the power of prayer is unfailing, and that alms-giving and fasting are catalysts to God’s response to our requests. He believes that for a Muslim, the 5–times daily prayers are sacrosanct; that piety should be extended to business dealings too.
Although he admits that your religion is about “you and your God”, it is quite importantly a personal thing. Here, he postulates (perhaps based on personal experience) that whatever happens to people in life is dictated by three forces-destiny (70%), other peoples influence (20%) and self (10%). He further observes that although these forces are independent, they are under the influence of God. He maintains that his relationship with family, friends and business associates is guided by the position of the Quran which he totally subscribes to. He adds the clincher; that he tires always to do right to everyone that crosses his path, irrespective of social status or religious belief or other sentiments.
Humanitarian/Social Services is the title of Chapter Five. Dr. Sanusi’s humanitarian services are guided by two mutually reinforcing factors: giving, as enjoined by his religion, and a sense of selfless commitment to uplifting others, as espoused by the Lions Club, of which he has been Charter President and District Governor respectively.
In addition, he claims giving as part of his DNA, an inheritance from his free-giving parents. Over the years, he has committed himself to giving back to the society-sponsoring pilgrims to Hajj and Jerusalem, scholarships to needy students (local & foreign), paying health bills of those challenged, school examination fees for the needy, start-up capital to willing but struggling small-scale entrepreneurs, etc. As a younger person, his act of service included offering lifts in his car to elderly people and pregnant women!
As Lions Club President at Charter and District levels, he has initiated/supervised and completed several projects some of which include Lagos State University Diabetic Centre (2011), Eye Centre/Eye Bank at the General Hospital, Ota, Ogun State etc. In all, he seems to have imbibed the saying of the English poet, William Cooper (1731-1800) that “the only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose”
Chapter Six is titled Living Healthy. Sanusi here shares with us, the recipe for his healthy living and recommends it to all. He posits: “I have come to realise that no matter one’s measure of wealth, it pales into insignificance if one’s health is poor”. An attack of diabetes forced him into vagan vegetarianism. But his other recipes include avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, eating healthy foods devoid of fats, oil and dairy products. Rather, he eats half egg, boiled or fried bean cake, amala, oat-meals plantain, beans, brown rice, nuts, etc. He also recommends a regimen of physical exercises appropriate to one’s age (perhaps based on doctor’s advice?).
To be continued tomorrow