Charismatic and ever-smiling Pastor Dotun Ojelabi is the founder and Pastor of fast-rising Covenant Harvest Christian International Ministry in Lagos. Ever bubbling and always full of energy, Pastor Ojelabi, who was once a big boy with one of the Oil Producing Companies before he became a full-fledged Pastor, loves Christ with a passion and could speak endlessly on his love for God and for humanity. Another subject which also always brings sparks of excitement to his face is the mention of his late father, Adekunle Ojelabi, a foremost Historian and accomplished writer. He adores his father and speaks glowingly of him whenever he gets the opportunity to do so. He respects and eulogizes everything that his Dad stood for. This is why he has been pushing for the History subject to be reintegrated back into the school curriculum.
He recently spoke to City People’s Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, via the popular City People Instagram Live Chat and he opened up on why he has continued to respect his father and pay tributes to his accomplishments even after he has passed on many years ago.
How has it been sir?
We bless the name of the Lord for what this season is about to unleash. It is a very beautiful season. The lockdown was about to escalate lots of cases of depression but God has taken control. People are free now to fellowship with each other, interacting with other people. A lot of people now have been healed of emotional sicknesses. Personally, I am so excited with what is going on now, I mean the ease of lockdown on the churches.
I usually say this. You can’t serve God well if you are not happy. You can’t even tell people about Jesus Christ if you are not happy. Once you are happy you feel good to tell people about Jesus. Even if you don’t say it out, people will know and come to you to ask for the secret of your joy. For me as a person, I made sure nothing stole my joy in the last 5 months.
How do you mean?
The Bible says, “cast me not away from thy presence oh Lord, take not your Holy Spirit from me”. If you are truly born again you must have this joy, the joy of salvation. You must radiate joy, once you lose the capacity to radiate joy you are bound to have issues. If you look around you there is sin and transgression, when David took another person’s wife, slept with her and killed the husband, he wasn’t happy. That was when he was crying in that Psalm I quoted earlier that “cast me not away from thy presence oh God, take not your Holy Spirit from, restore unto me the joy of my salvation”.
I always make sure nothing takes my joy and salvation away from me. There is a popular saying that “it doesn’t matter what happens to you, what matters is your attitude towards what has happened to you”. During the pandemic, you found out that a lot of people were afraid and satan operates the highest when there is fear, anxiety and confusion. But when satan is looking around and he finds faith, confidence and prayerful life, he won’t feel comfortable operating in his full capacity. So, all you need is the right attitude.
I know you will ask me why I used my 50th birthday to celebrate my dad, late Adekunle Ojelabi. As I grow older I began to appreciate the fact that I cannot be me if my dad did not give birth to me. There won’t be any Pastor Ojelabi if there was no Chief Adekunle Ojelabi and Chief (Mrs.) Modupe Ojelabi. So, I begin to appreciate the sacrifices they have made so that I can become me. There is a particular case that always makes me happy. It is one of my dad’s students in Ibadan Grammar School in 1968. Last year, when we launched the James Adekunle Ojelabi Foundation to promote our father’s legacy, to advocate the return of history into the curriculum in Nigeria particularly, to promote general education when we launched the foundation I approached one of my dad’s students, Otunba Solomon Oladunni who was the Vice Chairman of Mobil Oil Producing. I approached him and I told him about what we intend doing and he asked me to come to his house.
On getting to his house, we started talking. The first he said, “Dotun, this is how your dad smiles”. You know a lot of people call me Smiling Pastor, but it is something I inherited. So it is in the DNA (Laughs).
So, he started recounting how bubbling, joyous and kind my dad was. He said my dad taught him history in HSC in 1968 in Ibadan Grammar School. Not only that, my late dad took an interest in him that one day, he gave him some monetary gift.
So, he said my dad wasn’t only a joyous man, he was also a philanthropist. He had beautiful things to say about my dad. Not just being a teacher but someone that will go out of his way to make other people happy so I feel that I have enjoyed and other people have enjoyed very rich learning. And that is why I feel August 17th should not be Dotun Ojelabi’s day but James Adekunle Ojelabi’s day. That is just one out of so many people that have so many good things to say about my late dad. So it is the joy aspect of it. James Adekunle is an intellectual, he had a first-class in History and Political Science from Calvin University in Canada. He got his degree in 1964. He was very hardworking.
My late dad is the first Jesus that I saw. I saw a kind man. I saw someone that doesn’t want others to be in pain.
I saw a role model. He lived a good and exemplary life. How I wish I can fill his shoe but the more I try the more that I discovered the shoes are too big; in accomplishment, in the way he lived his life, in terms of impact, in terms of influence. All my life the name Adekunle Ojelabi has always been opening the doors for me. So, I feel that it is an obligation now, not even only to push a noble cause, of preserving the legacy, restoring history back into the curriculum, empowering young people to know where they are coming so that they can appreciate where they are going. There is a popular saying about history that if you don’t know where you are coming from, which is your history, you won’t be able to appropriate your future.
Even as a nation if you don’t know your past on how tribes are related, there will be ethnic conflicts, and I can tell you authoritatively that when people understand how ethnicity is related then we will learn how our forefather have lived together without rancour and acrimony.
That is why the theme for this 1st year Adekunle Ojekunle Foundation is “History as a catalyst for peace and national development”. That is our theme for this symposium that is happening on the 17th of August at Jogor Centre in Ibadan.