•At The Same LONDON Church Where He Got Married
•Reveals His Love Story With Wife, TOKUNBO
In the next few months, respected Ibadan High Chief, who is the Agba Akin Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oloye Lekan Alabi, and his lovely wife, Chief Mrs. Tokunbo Alabi (nee Laditan) will be jetting out to London to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in the exact church where they tied the knot in 1978.
It promises to be a colourful ceremony. In this interview with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, the Chief revealed plans for the London even plus how he hit it off with this young lady, Miss Laditan he met in London as a student.
You are always looking younger and younger with the passing of each day. What is the secret?
We must thank God. It is not peculiar to me. 1st is my gene which I have taken from my parents. My mum is 91 years old. She is very alert. She does not use a walking stick. No pair of glasses. No false teeth and has a very retentive memory. Aside from that, everything I do is with caution and in moderation, from my diet to my social life. In summary, I think it’s the Grace of God.
You and your wife will be celebrating your 40th wedding anniversary in London very soon. How does that make you feel?
I always tell people like they say Some marriages are made in heaven. Let us consider that in all modesty we should consider our own to be one of them in the sense that when I was young, I predicted that I was going to get married in a white man’s land which eventually turned out to be United Kingdom and London to be precise.
My wife when she was also a young girl, her paternal grandmother predicted and told the father, the late Chief Abraham Adejumo Laditan, the Seriki of Ilaro, the Registrar of Co-operatives Societies in the old western region, civil service that the little girl would get married to someone and they should not discourage her or stop it and that everything will work like magic.
So, here we are 40 years after. We got married exactly on August 12, 1978 at the St. Johns Anglican Church, Hamstead in London, United Kingdom. And come August, 2018 which is just 6 months away, we intend to pay a courtesy visit to the Nigerias High Commissioner to the U.K Justice Oguntade, because one of his predecessors, (that is in 1978) was the Chairman of our wedding reception.
It was a great honour We are going to have the 40th wedding anniversary service in the same church, St. Johns Anglican Church, Hamstead, London, UK and very, very remarkable is the fact that the Reverend gentleman who performed our wedding anniversary service, who is now retired, the very Reverend John Rankline has promised to also conduct the service on Sunday, August 12 this year at our 40th wedding anniversary service.
As I said, he conducted our wedding service 40 years ago and also conducted our 30th wedding anniversary in the same church on August 12, 2008. Then, a very respected Nigerian and international industrialist who is my beloved uncle has promised to host to a wedding reception in Spain. So that is it. So, when we return to Nigeria God willing, later in the year in October, 2018, exactly on my birthday, October 27th, 2018 we are going to have the Nigerian wedding anniversary reception in Lalupon, Oyo State.
Lalupon was where I was raised by my paternal grandmother, the late Mama Asimawu Odunola Alabi. She was a famous textile dealer at Lalupon, apart from been the Women Leader of NCNC, under Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi), in Ibadan in the 1950s. And it was in the same Lalupon that my father was introduced to my mum by my paternal grandmother 70 years ago. They met in 1948, got married in 1949 and gave birth to me October 27, 1950. So that is the celebration programme God willing.
How have you been able to sustain your wedding?
Like I said before some marriages were made in heaven. Not all marriages celebrate 1st, 5th, 10th, 20th or even 25th anniversary or 50, 70 and so forth. It is not that the couples are devils or sinners. Some couple are lucky to celebrate these landmark years. But it is not because they are angels. It is because of divine grace.
Two, tolerance, love and what is called Give and Take between them. We count ourselves lucky but we are not claiming to be perfect or angels. Remember, I am a Muslim and she is a Christian and I am the 1st Muslim to get married into their family. Here we are, the daughter of a Baba Ijo. The late Chief Laditan was the Baba Ijo of St. Pauls Anglican Church, Ilaro. But he was a very liberal man. Till he died, I removed in-law from the appelation of Father-in-Law. He became my father. I thank God that he took me as a son.
How did you meet her? How did you know she was going to be your wife?
I resided at 82 Prince George road, Stock Newton, London N16, United Kingdom. A co-tenant was celebrating his birthday and he made me the Master of Ceremony. That was in 1977. Some ladies lived with us on the same premises. But they chose to stay out of the house at that time because they didn’t want to attend that young man’s party. Of course, the celebrant didn’t invite them. So that day, as the party was going on, somebody kept pressing the bell on the door. The celebrant said we should ignore the caller, perhaps he or she might be a gate crasher.
But since I was a tenant of the house and I had the same right with him and others, I said for anyone to be pressing the bell for this long, he or she must have a reason. So I went to open the door, lo and behold, I saw this pretty lady. She asked for her friend who had gone out. She and her friend (who she was looking for) were classmates at Pitmans College in London. I invited her into the party she refused.
Rather, she said I should please tell her friend she came I asked for her name, she gave me a wrong name. She told me she was Miss Tokunbo Williams. When her friend came back ( she is now late may her houl rest in peace) I now told her that a friend came, she said her name was Miss Tokunbo Williams. She burst into laughter. She said No, No, No. don’t mind Tokunbo.
She is not Tokunbo Williams but Tokunbo Laditan. Invariably, she gave me somethings for her in case she came again because this lady tenant who is late, called Miss Olanipekun, was returning to Nigeria. So when her friend, the false Miss Tokunbo Williams came, she met him at home again. I now told her, I am sorry I can’t give you the package. The package I have is for Miss Tokunbo Laditan and not Miss Tokunbo Williams. She now apologised to me for giving me a false name. I took an exception to that.
I said: do you think I belong to the class of people you can deceive? She apologised. She came in I delivered the message to her. I gave her a cup of tea. And the rest is history.
What were the striking things you saw in her that made you go for her?
The fact that when I asked her to enter the flat and join us in the birthday party she refused. That was a sign of good breeding, discipline.
The 2nd was when we became friends, I could see she is discipline. In the home where she was a tenant she had a Greek landlady and landlord who could not speak a word of English but their daughter who was born in London of course, could speak English.
So whenever I visited her place those Greek landlord and landlady made it a rule that their daughter must stay with us. And the tenure of the visit should not go beyond an hour. I found all these unimaginable in far away England. So there are the things that added up and ofcourse when I got to meet her parents, particularly her late father, Papa Chief Abraham Adejumo Laditan. I thank God.
And of course, recall that I told you that I had made a prediction years back, when I had not started school that I was going to marry in a white mans land. Her own paternal grandmother, had predicted too, so it was divine.
At that time, were you in England to study?
Oh yes! I was in the famous College of Journalism Fleet Street, London. She was in Pitman College studying Secretarial Studies. The College of Journalism has since been matched with the University of London. It was one of the best schools for journalism training for people all over the world.
I was the captain of my class. I enjoyed my stay. You can see the output, since 1978 to date.
40 years after, I still write a column for you probon. I syndicate for other media. And I have written about 25 books.