A Birthday Bash With God’s Children | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Columnists, Uncle Sam's VOICE

A Birthday Bash With God’s Children

Posted: Jan 17, 2016 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

She strikes you as a 30-year-old beauty queen. But, beyond outward appearance, Ann Farouk – as she is fondly called by her friends and husband’s friends – radiates an amazing inner beauty, the apparent source of her captivating personality.

About two weeks ago, I got the information from Gboyega Fatimilehin that Ann Farouk would be celebrating her birthday on Saturday, 5th September, 2015. Suspecting her husband thought I was still marooned in Gombe, I decided to pay the family a visit in the evening of Friday, 4th September, 2015. As usual, Uncle Idi Farouk was in his favourite couch in his modest livingroom. The moment I took a seat, I posed the question: Is madam celebrating her birthday tomorrow?  Flashing his ever-familiar smile, he said yes, but she would be celebrating it with the St Mary’s Home for Orphans and Destitutes at Gwagwalada, a sprawling but left-behindtown outside Abuja. He then promised to send me, via phone, details of the route to the orphanage. Ann arrived a few minutes later, and, wasting no time, asked if Uncle Farouk had given me her invitation; and, without waiting for an answer, she brought out a card from her handbag and handed it to me with a firm ‘We’ll be expecting you.’


Although I had ruminated overnight on the choice of the venue for the birthday celebration, I was not in any way prepared for the surprise that hit me when I got to the St Mary’s Home for Orphans and Destitutes, the well-kept orphanage run like a seminary by Reverend Fathers and Sisters. The serenity of the environment makes the place an instant home for any visitor. The conviviality among the children in the orphanage easily gives the impression that they were there for a picnic. But, unlike us (the over 20 of us who had joined Ann Farouk at the venue), the nearly one hundred children – between the ages of six months and 18 years, who were dancing and singing their hearts out to our pleasure – were orphans and destitute children who depend on the magnanimity of people like Ann Farouk to enjoy the very basic necessities of life. From her interactions with the Reverend Fathers and Sisters, and, particularly, the children, one could tell she had had a long-lasting relationship with the orphanage – an impression she affirmed later, when she told me she is one of the Trustees of the home.

Sundry thoughts crowded my mind on the way back to Abuja, but one question that engaged me most was: Why would a woman of her class choose to celebrate her birthday at an orphanage instead of going to Dubai or any of the other places where rich, celebrated Nigerians go to have their parties? The request on her invitation card was for a widow’s mite for the orphanage – not gifts for her. At the end of my wild thoughts, with a better understanding of why Ann remains delectable, I found myself envying Uncle Idi Farouk. Good heartedness reflects on one’s personality. Like a healthy fruit, a lady with a godlike heart and concern for humanity will forever remain young.  That outstanding quality is nature’s reward for doing what most of us can do.

Knowing her husband, one is bound to ask who must have influenced the other. Idi Farouk, former Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), has an ethereal personality. He is one of the most detribalized Nigerians alive and the most dependable friend anyone can ever have. Anyone who habours the feeling that I am exaggerating could reach out to people like Peter Igho, Sunny Wilson, Dele Olowu and Sam Nkira, and ask them why their friendship with Idi Farouk has lasted for well over fifty years.

These great people and Uncle Idi Farouk define friendship – friendship made in heaven. There is no contract legally binding them, as they say, but they are bounded and will remain so because they are inseparable. In their friendship you can observe and feel genuineness, trust, acceptance, respect, support, dependability, thoughtfulness and shared humour.

With that kind of environment, it easy for Uncle Idi Farouk to have a life partner like Ann Farouk. It is in that spirit that I say thank you, Ann Farouk, for showing me how to worship and love God. I also enjoin all of us to live love. Let’s not just feel comfortable in verbalizing love and friendship. Let’s live and do it.