Ogunseyinde: Venerable squash player at 70 -By Festus Adedayo

Filed under: Life And People |

Squash is an indoor game that is not only addictive but a revealer of the personal traits, virtues/vices and demeanor of its players. It is common understanding by players of the game which was said to have been originated by American prisoners that, when you enter the court to play, squash downloads you in totality. So you can write a truckload of thesis on your squash partner by merely playing squash with him. A man who loathes cutting corners in life will exhibit same on the squash court while one who is consumed by the thirst to short-change the other person will begin to demonstrate this immediately he gets to the court. I have played squash with those who were privileged to play the game with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and they claimed that he brings totalitarianism to the court. An elderly friend who once played squash with late General Sani Abacha while he was General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Ibadan’s 2 Mechanized Division said he was not surprised that Abacha ended up a despot: his squash foretold this.

One of my most amiable friends, Oyo State’s former Commissioner for Integration, Tayo Koleoso, had told me the story of how he had gone to play squash at the Meadows Sports Club in Baltimore, Maryland. There emerged from the blues this elderly white man who wanted a partner to play with. Volunteering to squash it out, they both entered the court and after a bout of furiously swinging the racquets, they both emerged therefrom into a session of discussion.


Wole Ogunseyinde

Asked by the white folk what line of business he ran, Tayo had told him he was having problem breaking into the American market as each potential partner ran away after hearing he was a Nigerian because, hung on his lapel was the infamous profile of a dubious and untrustworthy nationality. But my friend’s squash partner’s retort shocked him. “You are trustworthy. Your squash tells me this and I will do business with you,” the white folk was reported to have said. This began a robust partnership.

One person I have played squash with severally and who comes to me as a gentleman par excellence is Venerable Wole Ogunseyinde. He will be 70 years old on Wednesday and will be retiring from his position as Vicar of the Ijokodo Archdeaconry of the Anglican Church in Ibadan on that same day. A squash session is being organized by the Ibadan Recreation Club to honour this man of God. Avuncular and endowed with a teaching and teachable spirit, Ogunseyinde corrects you on the court with a fatherly mien and kindred-like spirit. A medical doctor who chose to abandon the scalpel for the spiritual, he attended Loyola College and Government College in Ibadan and graduated in medicine from the University of Ibadan. He was ordained Anglican Priest in 2000. When Ogunseyinde plays squash, he is patient to get his points and does not rush to get every point off you. Outside of court, he exhibits same mien to life situations. Here is wishing this complete gentleman, a man of God, a happy 70th birthday and happy retirement.