By Dr Yomi Oyekanmi
Olufemi Adegoke Osibona; the man behind the collapsed tower in Lagos was a year my junior in Mayflower School Ikenne under Dr. Tai Solarin. He joined the school in 1974 as I was moving to Class 2. You will agree with me that the name “FOURSCORE” is not a nickname that is easily come by and most people will probably not know what it means or stands for.
For those of us who attended Mayflower School during the time of Dr. Tai Solarin, it was compulsory to memorize a particular Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech. Lincoln gave this speech in Gettysburg USA at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863 to the Union soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gettysburg four months earlier during the American Civil War.
Now, Tai Solarin was so given to this speech that he mandated the whole school to memorize the speech and he called on any student at anytime and anywhere to recite it. Failure would draw a minimum of 6 strokes of the cane on the spot and it could be worse. It was so difficult then that there were students in their fifth year that still could not recite the speech in full. The importance of this exercise is still a mystery to me apart from expanding our “craming” ability.
January 1974, we organized a variety night as it was customary to welcome the new intake and the time came when the new students were invited to the stage to perform. Some sang and some danced or recited poems but when it came to Femi’s turn, he grabbed the microphone and “vomited” the whole Abraham Lincoln’s speech.
”FOUR SCORE and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”.
The auditorium exploded and that was how he became “FOURSCORE”. I didn’t know his name until four years later in 1978 just before I graduated and left Mayflower. This was also because we didn’t use our names in Mayflower as each student is assigned a *”number”* like a prisoner which we used for all things that concerned us throughout our stay in the school. That was also the last time I saw FEMI even though he lived in the same suburb; Waterkloof with me during his time in South Africa and his church was on the same street with mine yet we never met.
I heard of his exploits in Estate Business over the years and I have also read of the various versions of what led to the calamity that befell him recently but I will rather let God be the judge of that. Instead, I will hold on to and preserve the memory of the young boy who recited Abraham Lincoln’s speech in the first week of his arrival when I was yet to master mine in the second year*.
I salute his bravery, audacity and tenacity to achieve what he did in the UK, South Africa and Nigeria; doing it over and over again proving that it had nothing to do with the location but for God and that thing which was inborn in him – that thing that made him excel over and above his peers – that thing we all can make use of as it is right now.
May the good Lord receive him, forgive all his trespasses and bless his soul in eternity in Jesus mighty nam
Dr Yomi Oyekanmi
Mayflower No: 2834