Behold the oldest Vendor in Akure

Pa Gabriel Ayodele Ajayi

…………Oldest Vendor in Akure

……….. His favourite song

……..Sold newspapers during Civil war

……..Honest and faithful man

As the old man got to the  Newspapers’ Distributing/ Agent’s office at Oyemekun Road, Akure    to  collect his papers for the day’s  sales ,   he firstly  glanced through all the newspapers   reading  the headlines  before he   packed his own allotted   newspapers for  sale  for the day .

      He  placed  some newspapers   on  the top bar  and others on the handlebars stem of  his Raleigh bicycle, mounted it and sat on the saddle , peddling  as he   rode  away . ”He would not return until  there is no single paper on his bike ”, one of the Vendors told this reporter on that Monday morning.

That is Pa Gabriel Ayodele  Ajayi who has been a newspaper vendor  for over 50 years.

        His dressing is unique, he wears simple but casual dress with a Bucket  Hat on his head   to  keep him away from the scorching sun. He gets to the Agent’s office as early as 6:30am.

   The old man sells for the high and the low in Akure the capital of Ondo State. He knows many streets, many big men in Akure here , and also   all the nooks and crannies here too. Speaking  with the old man proved a little bit difficult for he was in haste to go out and sell his newspapers. In addition, the man is a man of few words as  he managed to respond to this reporter’s questions  . Asked when he has been selling newspapers , he responded  ” I have been selling newspapers for over 50 years. I sold newspapers  during the Nigerian Civil War when  the war  was hot. I have lived for many years in this town   (Akure)”. Asked whether it is true that he was once a photographer , he smiled  but did not give an answer. When asked  about his family, he declined to answer. Asked the time he would come back from selling his papers, he replied  ” when I finished selling ”.

     Asked another question again, he refused to answer , as he  put on his Bucket’s Hat , he adjusted himself , pushed his bicycle , mounted it and left.

”Although his hearing is  partially impaired yet he could  understand and get what he want.  He is a disciplinarian and does not tolerate nonsense , he time conscious and   always the first vendor to come here and pick his newspapers to sale. He goes out early and closes by 3:30pm ”, said a Vendor. Baba  celebrated his 75 birthday two years ago, the Vendor added.

        One of the vendors  at the  Distribution Centre said ” this man is popular and known  all over Akure here and  he  sells to  the high and the low. I met him doing the job. I believe he has old customers and supplies to individuals”.

HIS BICYCLE & HIS HONEST LIFE 

       Looking at his  Raleigh   bicycle one would know that it has seen ages!. Chief Alade Adewale ( a one- time  Newspaper Agent )  spoke  about the  septuagenarian Vendor and his  bicycle, he  said ” Baba’s  bicycle  is over 17 years old and he  bought it brand new.  He used to collect newspapers from me. The man is a mystery . He does not cheat, if he is paid in excess by mistake he would refund the money.  Nobody knows about his family ,nobody knows his wife or kid”.

      Adewale continued  ” the old man  is also a photographer , we don’t know much about him  but all we know is that he is from Ikogosi. The   man is ever  neat, always at alert , well  kitted , well dressed  as he wears apron to show his  professionalism”.

     The old Vendor’s motto is   ” We should look  for peace not war ”. His  common saying  is “Keep Nigeria one is a task to be done ” and this is what he has been shouting when he came , another Vendor stated.

        John Kolawole said  Pa Ajayi  always tell them the stories about the   Nigeria’s Civil War , ” he  told us about  the Civil war  of 1966/67 and June 12 1993 and the 1983 Governorship crisis  of  Ondo  State where he  went out  selling his papers . He would sing  Laarin ota ibon, yiyan le mi o yan ,  (I will march on in the middle of hail of bullets ) .

     Tayo Ade a Vendor said ” Baba always sing songs of encouragement and tells us  stories of how he used to sell newspapers during the Nigerian  Civil War. He is ever neat and straightforward”

   Another Vendor said the old man plays  with everybody.  If he dies today they will call all  vendors to come and attend his burial and pay homage to him  because he is faithful to the organization , he does not miss any meeting”.

What  a hardworking, dutiful and honest Vendor!

This was the last  interview  conducted  with him.

NOTE:

The old man passed on four months ago. He has since been buried in his home town,  Ogotun-Ekiti

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Published by

Taiwo Abiodun

I am a blogger . taiwoabiodun.com and TAIWOABIODUN.BLOGSPOT.COM