Nigerian veteran actress, singer, and philanthropist, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, in an emotional recollection has revealed how losing her father at the age of 12 broke her in ways that probably still affect her.
Speaking on her relationship with her father up till his last moments with the founder of Joy, Inc., Chude Jideonwo, the actress and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, shared some of their fondest memories.
Omotola also discussed a period that changed the nature of their father-daughter relationship and caused a strain to their bond.
“When I was about nine years old, I was shipped to Command Secondary School in Kaduna. By that time, they had just given birth to my younger brother. I was a child and I did not take it well at all. I even remember when he was leaving and we both were crying. It really affected me – I thought the reason was because he now had other kids, and I was no longer important to him.”
While in school at Kaduna, her world was shattered by the news of her father’s death, at a time when she was beginning to anticipate returning home to spend more time with him.
“I think everything I have been, positively or negatively, was solely because of my father’s death. It affected me so much; I did not even know how much at the time. I did not even mourn my dad.
At the age of 12, I was becoming a little lady, and I was excited to spend time with my father. That was when I got called out of school because I needed to be home. I knew someone had died because of how everyone in school was tiptoeing around me.
The only thing I kept saying at the airport was, ‘I just hope it is not my dad’,” she added.
“For some callous reason, I was okay with it being anyone but him. When I got home, I was greeted by a crowd. As I walked into the house, I was thinking about which of my family members had died. I saw my brothers, then I saw my mum, and, at that moment, I froze because I knew it was my dad that had died.
“I’m not sure if it was the guilt of wishing death on someone else, and not him, or because I was too young to process it or because I was still angry with him for shipping me off, but I was numb and emotionless, and it has affected me to this day.
“It was like something died in me,” she concluded.