I think the 3 times Governor of New York State who lost a Mayoral race to the late Ed Koch of New York at one point in his amazing career was the kind of father I love to be.
I used to pray in my youth to be like my grandfather Kabiyesi Deji Afunbiowo Adesida the First who lived for 125 years. I wanted to be like him because I was only looking at the sunny side of him. The man had sought the throne three times before he finally got the nod of Akure Kingmakers in 1897. He had, earlier on, lost to His Royal Highness Deji Odundun in 1882 and one more time too many in 1890 to his half- brother, His Royal Highness Deji Arosoye.
In those days losing the contest for the throne two times in a row was enough to bankrupt you because "ti o ko ba j'Oba wa je gbese"in Yoruba Language. Anyone who has sought the throne and lost like filthy-rich Prince Ladejola Oginni of Ilesha would tell you. My grandfather went through all of that mental torture and rejection, but he never lost his composure.
He sought the throne the third time and won. He ascended the throne on June 22, 1897 and he went on to reign for 60 years and was succeeded by 3 of his direct children who added another 48 years of their own in sequential order to establish the Adesida Dynasty of Akure. The man was my childhood Hero. I used to believe he would live forever.
My grandfather returned from a visit to Ibadan where he had gone to receive the current Queen Elizabeth the Second of Britain who was paying her first official visit to Nigeria in 1956 following her coronation 3 years earlier.
I was so impressed that I told my grandfather I would like to be like him when I grew up. I was shocked by his response when he told me he would not want me to be like him. I left his powerful presence feeling totally deflated as I narrated in tears to my grandmother what my grandfather had just told me. The man simply told me the honest truth I needed to hear but did not want to hear because I was dam ignorant "Son, you certainly don't want to be like me, if you knew my full story. You are only looking at the brighter side of me and there was more to me than what you saw on the outside" I am quoting him verbatim.
The man did not go any farther than that but his statement left a far reaching impact on me as I grew up and it became clearer to me as I went around collecting materials and information I needed to write his biography as the pioneer architect of the golden century of Akure History from 1897 to 1997. The title of the book is "The Lion King and the Cubs" which I published and launched at the Federal University of Technology Akure, 50 years after my grandfather's exit.
Grandpa was right. I would not have wished to be like him as I began to see and understand all of the adversity he had to endure in his epic journey to the Deji's throne. He later became the longest reigning Deji and arguably the greatest and the most benevolent of them all in the History of Akure.
He was a victim of discrimination among his own people due to no fault of his. His own father was the 37th Deji, Oba Ojijigogun who reigned for 30 years from 1852 to 1882. His mother Queen mother Adojolomo was the first daughter of Sashere Lagookun of Idanre. Akure Kingmakers turned him down two consecutive times in 1882 and 1890 even though his Ifa divination was the best on both occasions. They rejected him because they believed he was going to favor and give Akure Land to Idanre if he ever became the Deji.
He would have reigned for a total of 75 years on the throne if he had ascended the throne in 1882. He survived a rebellion against him in the popular mutiny of Akure people otherwise referred to as "Ogun Okuta" in Akure.
Deji Odundun the First who got selected in 1882 never saw eye to eye with him and those other competitors for the throne. Afunbiowo had to run to Ilado Village in the hamlet of his Father-in-law close to the spot where the Midland Farms of Chief Oluyemi Falae is located today to escape the vengeance of Odundun.
The particular village where Afunbiowo ran to was later renamed "Arodoye" village by him many years after his coronation in 1897. As part of his preparation as a candidate for the Deji's throne, it was revealed to me by those who knew him better that the man had tried to secure his own life thru a Voodoo covenant known as "Agbelepota" in Akure traditional medicine.
The covenant simply means he must never knowingly contemplate any evil against anybody be it a friend or foe. Anybody who was intentionally trying to kill or do him any harm would also prematurely die, even if the person was a close family member like a wife or even his own son or daughter.
The man intensely believed in his heart that he lost some of his loved ones who were trying to hurt him but who did not know he had such powers. So when he told me I must not aspire to be like him, my grandfather knew exactly what he was talking about.
So when I say I want to be like Mario Cuomo and when I say I am praying for sons like Andrew and Chris Cuomo, I know I could be taking some risk because what you see is sometimes not what you get. I want children like Andrew and Chris because of the way the two of them have done their parents proud from all we are able to see of them.
Both of them are carbon copies of their father not just in physical appearance but in intellect and charisma. Andrew the big politician among the two is now the two term Governor of a State his own father had governed for 12 years without a break.
Mario Cuomo was one of the greatest American political orators of all time who could melt a stone with his eloquence. He became one of the few Americans to deliver a keynote address two times and could have been called upon to do it the third time had he lived longer. He could have been the first Italian American to be elected President of the United States in1992.
He chickened out of the race for the White House because he thought he could not win against an incumbent who at one point in his presidency had a 90 percent approval in the opinion polls but went on to lose to a young man of the same age with his son in William Jefferson Clinton who had the fire in his belly to take on George Bush Senior. Bill Clinton went on to beat George Bush in one of the greatest upset victories in American Politics. Mario Cuomo's second son, Chris Cuomo a star reporter on CNN and the star of this article is the reason I am doing this article. Even though he is a journalist by training, you cannot count him out of Politics at some point in his life.
The young man is razor-blade sharp as a trained lawyer like his father and brother and he is a powerful and very eloquent speaker like his father. If Donald Trump a businessman can be President surely Chris Cuomo can be President any day if he shows interest. I am convinced beyond any doubt that one of the two brothers is destined to attain the height their father narrowly missed before his death. I am in love with the two of them for that reasons and I wish I could be their father.
I have been watching Chris Cuomo and I am totally impressed about the way and manner the young man has carried himself as the alter ego of his father. The young man reminds me all the time of his great father, a gifted orator, a brilliant lawyer and one of the greatest politicians on the Democratic side of the great Divide in American Politics.
If the dead is able to pass any judgment on what many of the Living do on Earth, Mario Cuomo must be feeling very proud in his grave about how well his two sons have been holding the fort for him in their areas of specialty.
Their mother who is still alive must be feeling very proud about the great success of his two sons and their sister. The Cuomo children have been spectacular but the two boys are something else. I have a strong premonition one of them is going to be President or Vice President of the United States at some point in their lives. If they do, the dreams of their father would have been realized long after his death. I appreciate that as a father.
I see a Mario Cuomo in Chris all the time. I even rank him a few notches better than his brother the great Governor of New York. The young man is as smart as they come. He is so thorough and deep and people who appear before him have to adequately prepare themselves or else he is going to floor them in intelligence and quick thinking. His verbiage compared to that of President Trump is first class. He speaks English better than Donald Trump who is so limited in his verbiage that I guess he could never have been President without cutting corners or getting some help from KGB Vladimir Putin.
Chris Cuomo asks questions without being judgmental and in full anticipation of the answers his guest might give in response. He is never caught unawares. I cannot think of any student of Law who can beat him in his game. I am always praying for a son like him. I love the guy so much. I am encouraging my grandsons Folarin, Rayo and Teniola to study Law because of Chris Cuomo.
I want to be able to sing my "Nunc Dimitis" like the great Mario Cuomo who decided to quit Politics sooner than anticipated by anyone because he was sure he has already reproduced himself in Andrew and Chris Cuomo. He could therefore go home to rest with gratitude to God and with a sense of fulfilment.
It's a great feeling when you see your children and grandchildren exceed your expectation as a father. Andrew and Chris Cuomo have done that for their great father and I appreciate them for that with this unsolicited tribute.
I rest my case.