Venerable Rufus Eniola Ariyo is gone!
He was a principal who never spared the rod to spoil the child. I was woken up early in the morning few days ago by a call from one of his children, Tokunbo, who most dejectedly broke the news that Patriarch of the Ariyo family had joined the Saints on August 8, 2017. It was a piece of news that brought vividly to my memory how God used Pa Ariyo to shape my destiny to what I am today.
Through providence I was fortunate to be mentored by the late Venerable at Olofin Anglican Grammar School in Idanre, Ondo State, from 1963 to 1967, for my West African School Certificate, and at Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa, Osun State, from 1968 to 1969 for my Higher School Certificate. I was not only his student; I was also one of his many non-biological children.
I could remember vividly how on getting admitted into Olofin Anglican Grammar School at the age of 13 he took special interest in me. He had known my father a poorly remunerated Catechist in one of the village churches close to the school . Pa Ariyo graciously listed my mother to be one of the food vendors . I could remember also that the proceeds from my mum’s supplying of beans to the school helped in augmenting my father’s meager salary. In addition to this, Papa Ariyo would not see me go hungry–he told me not to be too far from his residence. He said pointedly that if I needed anything I should let him know. On many occasions, I did and his wife, whom I fondly called mummy, always invited me with smiles into the house.
The Venerable Ariyo was equally a disciplinarian who never spared the rod when we erred. I remember like it was just yesterday, an incident in the school in 1963–a day the students went on a rampage, in protest Against being served a dinner without meat .In their fit of anger, the students trooped out in the dead of night chanting unprintable war songs demanding that Pa Ariyo should be transferred. I became excited as I took the scenery as fun and joined the unruly crowd to raise dust against him. Incredibly, it never crossed my mind that I was doing something bad against someone that took me as his son.
When the uproar subsided the following day, late Pa Ariyo vented his anger on those of us he regarded as his children. He could not understand why we should be part of the needless protest to unseat him. He invited six of us to his residence, and in our innocence we thought we were going to have breakfast with him as usual to compensate for what triggered the wild protest the previous night. We were wrong! The Venerable had reserved ‘koboko’ canes ; in his anger gave each of us six strokes of the cane. It was the first time my buttock experienced the wrath of a rod as a growing child.
Papa Ariyo, like a father, blamed us for joining the protesters, more so when they were singing abusive songs against him. That was a lesson I would never forget; this taught me never to join a crowd to do evil. We learnt later that our seniors used us as pawns to protest against the principal noted for his Spartan discipline, and that they only latched onto the issue of no meat as a cover.
After that incident, I became wiser and late Pa Ariyo encouraged me to take active interest in sports both in athletics and football. I was among the first eleven of the soccer team at Olofin Grammar School, Idanre. And following my brilliant performance at the WASCE, he encouraged me to follow him to Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa for my Higher School Certificate. Undoubtedly, this sharpened my interest in sports till today–of course, I ended up being the captain of the school football team for two years.
Pa Ariyo was inspiring, dedicated and helpful. Overall, the great teacher and character-builder was a person I wish everyone had had the opportunity to meet during his eventful and impactful lifetime.
Folu Olamiti, a Media Consultant wrotes from Abuja. [myad]