Osinulu: living up to 100 is my best birthday gift
Teaching, the age-long noble profession is like a book, with each day a new page. Tomorrow, former Principal of Methodist Boys High School (MBHS), Lagos and former Registrar of the University of Lagos, Revd. Samuel Adeoye Osinulu, will turn a new page. He would step into the very rare club of centenarians, as he turns 100 years old.
An appreciative student once made a solemn prayer to his teacher thus: “May our teachers’ pages be bestsellers with adventures to tell, lessons to learn and tales of good deeds to remember.”
For Osinulu, his pages have turned out to be a classic blockbuster, leaving his immutable imprints in the lives of the pupils, many of whom had gone on to become the architects of modern Nigeria.
Among an insignificant percentage of his students who are old boys of MBHS are the first military governor of Lagos State, Brig. General Mobolaji Johnson; second military governor of Lagos, Commodore Adekunle Lawal; former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba; Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, and Senator Muniru Muse.
The centenarian is a living marvel. With no hearing aids, he listens attentively to you, repeats the questions aloud to himself, and doesn’t take a few seconds to process it before giving his succinct answers in impeccable English language.
Only a few times does he switches to Yoruba language when he needs to interject his response with some wisecracks or chant his Oriki and other folklores.
He spends his day in his living quarters, a large bedroom equipped with everything he needs to be comfortable. There are two reclining chairs, one for shop naps and the other to catch up with the world when he needs to watch television. He is fascinated by pictures and images and the reason is because his hobby as a young man was photography.
He eats very little, twice a day and mostly liquid. When The Guardian visited, he was just about to take his breakfast at about 4p.m. He spends most of his waking moments in prayers – for himself, family members, the nation and its leaders and for world peace. He ends the day by blessing each child by name, before praying for his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Life at 100, Pa Osinulu said, has been a marvelous journey. “I have enjoyed every bit of it. God has been gracious to me. My life is a gift from God. I don’t need any other special gift to mark my centenary. I have been extremely lucky to have attained all what God has plotted for me in my life’s graph. This is why I have dedicated the rest of my life for God’s service or what is referred to in Christendom as Tent-making Ministry.”
Pa Osinulu during an interview with The Guardian proved that once a teacher, you would always remain one. He had been asked if his life’s story had debunked the myth that teachers reward are in heaven by living to a ripe old age to enjoy the reward of his hard work.
In his measured response, he took the reporter back to the classroom. “Teachers getting their reward in heaven and comparing it to my longevity to mean I have gotten my reward here on earth are not totally the same thing,” he said.
“It does not mean that God is not merciful to teachers; rather the saying explains the norm, which exists till date that the employers of teachers don’t value them. However, I would be ungrateful to say I have not seen some of my rewards here with some of my students becoming heads of state, governors, permanent secretaries, ministers, etc. I have lived a fulfilled life.”
For his wife and caregiver, Deaconess Clara Osinulu, “Baba is a great link between the past, the present and possibly the future. From his early days at Agbeni and Elekuro Wesley primary schools of the Methodist Church, to getting a scholarship to study at King’s College and getting admitted to the University College, Ibadan, now University of Ibadan (UI) to study Classics, it has been God’s grace combined with intelligence, diligence and hard work.”
Remembering their growing up years, children of Osinulu are grateful to their father for the discipline he instilled in them. “In those days, we thought you were too strict; we were not allowed to read publications like the Lagos Weekend or play Ludo on Sundays. But now that we are parents and grandparents, we know better, that daddy wanted the best for us, which was why he shielded us from the outside world,” the eldest son, Adetunji said.
Former Ogun State governor and student of MBHS when Baba was the school principal, Chief Olusegun Osoba, in a congratulation letter wrote: “Papa, I am grateful for your life and the knowledge and discipline you imparted in us your children during our student days at the Methodist Boys High School when you were our father, guardian and principal all rolled into one. The training you have kindly given us during our formative stage in those days have greatly influenced us and prepared us for the challenging tasks we later faced in life.
“It is to the glory of God and to your eternal satisfaction that because we have drunk from your fountain of knowledge, most of us have today become eminent Nigerians, who hold responsible positions. I am happy that you are alive to witness the goodness and upward movement of we your children. On this historic occasion, it is my prayer that you live long in good health to reap abundantly the fruit of your labour.”
As a foundation student of the University of Ibadan in 1948, his peers fondly remember him as the ‘Flying President’ of the Students’ Union. Among his contemporaries were Ambassadors Joe Iyalla, Olujinmi Jolaoso, Bola Ige, and Samuel Edgal.
To many of his students, the will remember their former principal tomorrow for his fatherly care and unmatched discipline. As the celebrant would be treated to a lavish narration of his rich legacies, his high spirit would no doubt be enamored by the inner euphoria derived from the guiding principle of the Methodist Boys old school’s motto in Latin: “Non Sibi Sed Aliis” which translates to ‘Not for them, but for others.’