The Tales Of Tajudeen Obasa, The Iced Water Merchant Representing Ojo Fed Constituency By Bose Bamidele (La’bos)
Rags to riches stories are not uncommon in this part of the world, they abound everywhere and in different categories. Many great men have tales of humble beginnings to tell, a fact that buttresses the saying that ‘nothing good comes easy’. It is even a common saying here that ‘He who craves to be tall would not mind to have tiny legs’. So it is believed that greatness and success come carrying a huge baggage of sorry tales.
While many tell their grass to grace stories to the world to give strength to failing hearts and burdened souls, others do so to gloat and brag from their new position of strength, wealth or power, whichever the case is. More often than not, these tales of rags to riches reflect hard work, diligence, perseverance and staunch determination!
Such is the story of Honourable Tajudeen Obasa, the honourable member representing the Ojo Federal Constituency. A man whose story of glory is not just encouraging but also a challenge to many youths. Obasa never waited for opportunities, he grabbed them. He never waited for windfalls, he created them. While others were dreaming with their eyes tightly shut on king sized beds, his dreams followed him everywhere even on the streets!
Blaring horns could not stop him from dreaming, no, he dreamt everyday until his dreams materialised.
At quite an early age, TJ as he was fondly called amongst friends and close family members realised his ends would not meet if he kept waiting for his struggling parents to do everything for him. The young lad knew he could not forfeit education no matter what his situation dictated, he had to create his own tunes and dance to the outcome, he grabbed his fate with both hands and made some life changing decisions that did just that-changed his life!
The streets of Ojo and its environs would not forget in a hurry that 13year old lad who knocked on their doors on scorching sunny afternoons to give them succour in the burning heat with glee in his eyes as he serviced them.
While on otherwise rainy days, when his services might not be really needed, he still lurked by their doors but this time without the sureness of the sunny days!
What services did TJ bring to their doors? ‘Iced Water’! For those who grew up in the late 80s and 90s, the phrase iced water should ring a bell and bring funny memories of a time long gone. These days in its place we have the sachet water popularly known as ‘pure water’. Well TJ didn’t hawk pure water but iced water. Iced water was processed right in rooms, or kitchens or corridors! All you needed was water, forget its portability, a cup, some nylon wraps and you have a business. Whether iced or not, it was basically referred to as ‘iced water’
And this was how Obasa became known on the streets of Ojo by everyone he serviced and even those he did not service.
However, his dreams followed him even as he chanted the lyrics that brought him closer to everyone ‘Ice water tutu ree’ (meaning: here comes Iced water) He knew what he wanted for himself, so while he chanted rhymes and arithmetics in the classrooms of Awori College, Ojo in the mornings, he hawked his goods in the afternoons and evenings piling his wooden bank with coins daily.
Youths these days fault their parents all their lives for their inability to give them a luxurious life. They look at privileged kids and wish they were living their lives. In the bid to live large, they embrace many wrong ways and vices that end up destroying them.
“Fingers are not equal” as the popular saying goes, and this implies that we all can not have rich or influential parents who would pave the way for us while we tread without fear of slipping or stumbling. Tajudeen’s parents were not rich, not even remotely so. They were struggling people who only wished they could do all they could not do.
Obasa knew this, he never blamed their inability to give him everything. The gift of life they had given to him was all he needed and he utilised his little strength even as young as he was.
His beginnings did not push him to engage in bad vices, he wasn’t a ‘yahoo boy’. So every time he slipped or stumbled, he only hesitated for a while, gathered his wits and started afresh.
He missed opportunities like many, success at a point became a mirage to him, he almost did not see it happening!
Yet he was unstoppable! His dreams were big because he didn’t conceive them lying down with eyes closed! He dreamt right on the street, everywhere, in his class and he worked hard, nothing was served to him on a platter.
Talking of rags, his rags were really rags in all the sense of the word and metaphor. He had nothing. His shirts would not be changed until it had been patched at least a couple dozen times.
Yes, he had shoes but he had to get one that was at least two sizes larger so he could grow into them and even when the sandals had no soles anymore, he had no excuse to throw them away. They were still his size.
Yet he made friends, he never suffered any complex. He shared his dreams and everyone knew them. They knew his vision. They knew he wanted an Ojo community with little or no poverty.
They knew a TJ that wanted to better the lives of everyone he came across.
Even at his young age, he already had a slogan that made everyone refer to him as ‘the councillor’
As he grew, he began to channel his energy towards the cause of young people within his immediate community and his neighbours. He became largely involved in politics at a very early stage and at every phase, his vision was the same. “To contribute his quota towards realising the dream of a vibrant legislature that is fully aware of its rights, duties and responsibilities to the people it has pledged to represent”
He successfully made himself a literate through a frighteningly determined disposition towards life and success. “To succeed or to fail were the two choices I had then and I chose one” He says these days to many, and without being told, the choice he made is glaring today. Not once did he relent, never did he stop scheming positively as he climbed the ladder of politics from the very beginning, what we refer to as grass root.
His humble beginnings did not drive him far from God, it drew him closer to his maker, religious, but far from being a fanatic, Obasa knows how to serve his God! One would think the oceans of politics would swallow the likes of Tajudeen Obasa, many even laughed and scorned him for not following the ‘sole licking’ trend that was believed would open doors for him as far as politics was concerned.
What many did not know was the fact that he had paid his dues through the right channel and to the right channel-the people.
His party was scorned, his dreams were not seen. However, the politics of TJ was more than a party politics, it was a journey that many were oblivious to.
He knew his people, they knew him.
He wanted to represent them, they knew. He pledged his loyalty, they trusted him.
Nothing could stop him…he took his oath, to serve humanity, to sit in that chamber on behalf of more than a million citizens and give them a worthy representation, the kind he wish he got when he screamed ‘Ice Water tutu ree’ in the sun and in the rain, the kind of representation we all crave for.
Behold, the iced water lad in the National Assembly to put a stop to the iced water days… “I know, it will take time and I am glad that we have time…poverty will be a thing of the past soon. We’ll make an entrepreneur of everyone” That was TJ’s urge recently to some youths he mentors.
No matter how tattered your rags are, never mind, you probably had them since they were new and there is a big chance they would be new again. My own rags were really tattered and I plegde that if I can help it, our rag days are over…he admonished.
Today, Parents in Ojo community tap their children when they complain and say “Oori Taju?” (Don’t you see Taju)
The young ones are reminded daily of where and how he started and they have no reason to murmur or grumble.
TJ is the son of Ojo, he is their pride and their hope. He has promised a candle for all the dark days of that community and they wait patiently for him just like they waited when he promised ‘Iced water’ for every sunny day.
He fulfilled his promises and soothed their parched throats, he will fulfil it again this time to men, women and children of Ojo federal constituency!
By: Bose Bamidele (La’bos)
A Reporter and Poetic Oracle.