THE LEARNED SQUIB By Adesina Ogunlana

No Comments » October 21st, 2007 posted by // Categories: General Articles



 

 

TUW is just about four very grown up children of a famous Nigerian lawyer who died in 2005. These children, all boys, sorry, all men are warring amongst themselves over the control and I dare say, enjoyment of their late father’s vast estate.

So far, it is an even, balanced contest – it is a two against two thing. That’s an indication of how decent and fair minded children from a greatly cultured family background behave even when at war. Two against two is neat, nice and meet.

Now let me give some flesh to the identities of the dramatis persona.

The paterfamilias of the four fighting children is none other than Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams S.A.N a.k.a Timi the Law. Timi’s first son is Ladi a.k.a “Ladi Gentleman” (in his younger days). The second is Kayode, a prosperous land tiller. The third is Folarin, a lawyer and business man. The last but not the least or darkest is Tokunbo, a lawyer too and a Senior Advocate like his first brother – Ladi.

FOLATOKS.

So far, the most intriguing aspect of the plot of the play is the absence of F.R.A Williams’ Will. That fact to many people seems quite odd indeed. How can it be that a lawyer of F.R.A Williams’ status would not leave behind a Will to govern the administration and appropriation of his vast estate? There is no record of a probate attorney to found either. A situation which makes little sense as the late gentleman was a lawyer himself and obviously understood the absence of a will with such estate would most definitely cause drama, at the least.

This is the question millions of Nigerians have been asking one another since the opera debuted. Of course, everybody knows Rotimi Williams was not just any lawyer. He was the best, the very best, not only in Nigeria, but in all of Africa. So why should such a man leave a vast financial empire without a will?

Could his action stem from ignorance? Could it be an oversight? Could it be from wickedness? Could it be from indifference? I suspect and there are a few others who suspect that, the extraordinary F.R.A actually wrote and left a will, but in an extra-ordinary manner. Such a will cannot be seen with the naked eyes, or held with bare fingers. It is only sages and deep spiritualists that can see F.R.A Williams Will. Are you puzzled? If so, then this story will help.

 

Once upon a time a wealthy trader died. Before he died, he gathered his twenty children around his bed and prayed for them. Days before his transition he kept telling his children never to depend on his wealth or other inheritance but to struggle and really make their own names and fortunes. Just before he died, he indicated where he kept his fortunes – a very large, uncultivated farmland of several acres.

Said the old man, – “All my jewelry, my sacks of money are somewhere there.”

What news this was in the ears of the children – they knew never knew how really wealthy their father was! After burying the old man, the children could hardly wait to discover their fortune.

Three days after their old man was committed to mother earth, the troop rushed to the farmland. They searched diligently through the bush, combed all the undergrowth but drew blank. The failure to find the bags of treasure their father hid on the farmland saddened and puzzled the trader’s children. So they embarked on another search, this time around, more thoroughly and very slowly. Alas, after three days of meticulous search, they discovered nothing more precious than a dozen eggs of a partridge, ten snails and the shed skin of an old snake.

Feeling very sad indeed, the troop decided to seek from an elder, counsel about their predicament. The elder asked them to dig up the farmland; “somewhere on the farm lies your father’s treasure.” It took the twenty children three whole weeks to complete their labour. It was indeed a backbreaking job. But once again, it yielded no treasure.

Thoroughly beaten by now, the embittered and dispirited children trooped back to the house of the elder who had instructed them to dig up the farmland and told him of their misfortune. The elder however insisted that their father’s treasure was nowhere else but in that field. The old man spoke with such confidence and authority that the children went back to the “treasure site” reinvigorated, to conduct a fresh search.

Armed with hoes, cutlasses, rakes and other farm implements, they ploughed the earth once again. This new effort took them twelve days to complete. Yet, no dice! Now, completely miffed and exhausted, the poor children of the wealthy father dropped the farm implements, sank to the ground and began to weep.

Oh, how they ululated! And what a sight they made. Twenty grown men weeping their heads off in the centre of more than fifty acres of freshly ploughed land.

They were so lost in their emotions that they did not realize that the sky had started turning dark with rain clouds. Suddenly, the big, loud, slow grumbling rumble of thunder sounded in their ears. A few minutes later, scattered fat drops of tears from the sky dropped to the earth. Some of the sparse sprinkles fell on the children.

Suddenly, the eldest child, a man of sixty years, called Niniola jumped up and hushed up his brothers.

“Listen to me,” Nini shouted and looked up into the heavenlies with arms outstretched. His brothers were surprised at his rather dramatic pose. But they became even more startled when the man started laughing –first gently, silently and then vigorously and uproariously. Nini’s brothers quickly scrambled to their feet, worried about their brother’s sanity. Poor chap, they thought, the disappointment had surely “turned his head.”

Their fears became reinforced when Niniola, with quite a rapturous look on his face declared:

“My people, the treasure is here, I see papa’s treasure. It is here! It is here! “Where is it?” the other brothers shouted in unison, feeling the stirring of hope once again in their bosoms.

Our father’s treasure, his gold, his money, everything is all around us, here in this field now, and in other fields.”

“But show us now, now. We’ve suffered enough. No need to waste further time,” chorused his brothers.

“If I show you how to get it, will you believe me, will you obey? “We all will!” shouted his siblings. So Niniola showed them. He told them to plant the vast acres with seeds and tubers. And mercifully, they obeyed. And the Lord blessed their efforts and they became richer than their father, richer than they could ever have imagined, certainly more than they could have been, if they had been content with sharing amongst themselves, their inheritance.

Now let’s get back to the story of Rotimi Williams and his quarrelling children. Can you now begin to see that the great lawyer in not leaving a Will, actually left a Will?

Timi, the genius lawyer was neither a fool nor an irresponsible father. I assure you. Can you see the old man’s will now? I see it. And I tell you its contents. The legend reads:

“Ladi, Kayode, Folarin, Tokunbo, my dear children.

I leave you all this vast estate and stupendous wealth.

If I share it equally, one or two of you will complain and contest my Will. If I do not share equally, one or two will complain and contest my Will.

But if I leave it for you to share among yourselves, the whole world will see and judge by the way you handle my wealth whether you are indeed children worthy of coming from my loins or not. If you handle it well, the glory is yours.

If you handle it badly, the shame is yours.

Remember I am no longer in the flesh. Material wealth does not count with me any more.

“Alagemo ti bi omo e na”

“Ai mojo ku sowo e.”

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