Thursday 29 February 2024

On my fifteenth Leap Day

Of fathers on the record

Two men I celebrate in my acknowledgement of the significance of today, Joel Adebambo Idowu, my maternal grandfather who passed on in May 1961 and Josiah Olubadejo Akintayo, my father, who at a sprightly 84 years old, potters around with energy and wisdom in our hometown, Ìjẹ̀shà Ìjèbú, in Ogun State.

They were both archivists journalling the histories and genealogies of our little town which bears the historical name of Òdo Àyányẹlú and is significant in the Ijebuland monarchy as well as the animist Agẹmọ cult that represents the 16 masquerades or priests in the August festivals at the palace of the Awùjalẹ̀ of Ìjèbú Òde.

Blog - The Agemo Traditions of Ijebuland - A Primer (November 2013)

In the journals of the annals

However, within the drafts of the documentation my father did over decades of research and study, I found some interesting stuff about age grades, a 3-year grouping with fantastic names that allowed those born in our town to be represented amongst their peers. In which you only needed to know the age grade name and who belonged where to ascertain within the margin of 3 years, the age of anyone so referenced.

The age grade information starting from around the end of the 19th Century went back two to three generations before mine, my own paternal great-grandmother on his mother’s side greatly outlived all her peers by the time she passed on. The kind of rapport she and I had was utterly friendly and extensive conversation. People could not understand how or why we got on so well.

Leaping into new age grades

In this leap year, I celebrate my 15th Leap Day and it portends that those born from the 1st of March 1964 to the 29th of February 1968 belong in this artificially interesting leap day and year group. One of my former managers to whom I would attribute such lasting influence in my career was born the day before this date range and that would either make him 16 leap years old or an inductee into the Diamond Jubilee cohort. I wish him well.

Obviously, a 4-year time frame can be quite a lengthy time to consider people's age mates or peers. Still, it presents another dimension to our view of time, the passage of it, and how we reckon it relates to the people we encounter from the past in the stories we are told or the journals they have written, in the present as we recollect the memories of our youth, where we are now and our hopes for the future, and conclusively, the kinds of legacies we want to lay out for the future.

Meanwhile, how many leap days have you seen?

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