“I tell you sincerely, from the bottom of my heart; This is where the Lord wants me to be.”
Those words hit me more than anything he’d said during his address that morning. At my request, Oba Adedokun Abolarin went on to reiterate this statement about four times. His conviction and seriousness in speaking those words only served to stir my mind further into contemplation. Why did those words have such an effect on me? And what did I learn in my contemplation? The answer to that is “plenty”. I learned plenty from the Oba’s statement. Before I delve into that however, let’s briefly examine the Oba’s life so you can better understand why the monarch making such a statement was enough to send me into meditation.
Oba Adedokun Abolarin’s Career, Educational and Philanthropic Achievements
It was on September 24, 1958 in Oke Ila-Orangun, where the Alayeluwa Oba (Dr) Adedokun Abolarin, the Orangun of Oke-Ila Orangun in Ifedayo L.G.A. of Osun, was birthed. It was glorious, for he was born in one of the three ruling houses in the community. His birthplace paved a promising future for the Oke-Ila community, and more importantly, for the purpose that laid ahead for the future king.
The Oba showed profound interest in education from his early days and remains a staunch believer that education can help a man derive meaning in his existence. In line with this, he was well-educated and holds a law degree, in addition to a Master’s degree in Public Relations and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, all from Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ile-Ife), Osun state, Nigeria.
Oba Adedokun went on to become a supreme court lawyer at the Supreme Court of Nigeria and was the Principal Partner of Dokun Abolarin & Co., a legal firm which has served as Company Secretary to various corporations including Pacific Holdings and Tell Publications among others. Furthermore, Oba Adedokun is a leading academic authority on Nigerian government having carried out extensive research on the period from the 1914 amalgamation and recent times.
As you can see, Oba Adelokun Abolarin had amassed a name and reputation for himself prior to his coronation. Despite this, he was known as a philanthropist. Following his coronation, however, his philanthropic activities took on new life. With his new position and all the influence that came with it, the Oba fast-tracked several development projects for his kingdom of Oke-Ila.
One of his most prominent projects is the Abolarin College in Oke-Ila where pupils are provided with quality education, accommodation, and feeding – all free of charge. The pan-Nigerian institution was established in 2014 to support the education of financially disadvantaged children and is the perfect monument to the Oba’s devotion to providing free quality education for poor kids and an opportunity to change their lives. The school is tuition-free and all educational materials, from clothing to educational materials are provided. Admission is reserved only for the less-privileged in the society and pupils are admitted from anywhere in Nigeria.
What drives a man of such caliber to devote his life and wealth to providing free education for children of strangers, even from outside his kingdom, was a mystery to me for a long time until recently when I read an interview he did with The Guardian, a Nigerian news outlet, in 2018 that shed some light into his thought process. In the interview, Oba Adedokun commented on why he doesn’t think his royal status should be used to amass wealth but should be to move his subjects and the community forward. According to him, “the chroniclers of history… are recording events. What are they going to say about us when we are gone?” In the same interview, he lists a few other traditional rulers to whom he looked forward and how these contributed to their respective communities and the present generation are reaping the benefits.
The interview also helped me appreciate the humility of the man as he recognized that community development was a bigger task than he alone can accomplish. He took the most important step in the journey to the ultimate goal nevertheless – starting the process. He said, “…mobilizing our people for development is a huge task for me, but exciting because development doesn’t have to be big, but development must start with the first step, and to the glory of God, we have taken the first step; and it’s a gradual process…”
I recently had the opportunity to listen as the Oba addressed an assembly of the students of the Abolarin College and that was where the event I described at the outset took place. He’d mentioned his belief in the pupils as the future of the nation and the ones who will bring further development to the region and country at large. He then went on to say, “This is where the Lord wants me to be.”
I wondered at the monarch’s conviction of his divine purpose. Being in the Oke-Ila community, and using the royal stool as a means to bring quality education to the financially underprivileged children of the region was his purpose. He’d found this out and had been living this purpose for years now. If the Oba could be so joyful about this, then surely, everyone must have a purpose in life too, their contribution to humanity and something that will make them truly happy. If so, what could your purpose be?
Finding Your Purpose in Life
Sure, not everyone can be a king or achieve as much prominence as Oba Adedokun Abolarin. Still, how are you meant to contribute your quota to the community? Finding your purpose in life isn’t some dream or fairytale that never comes true. On the contrary, it can be the key to your living a happy and fulfilled life. Finding and realizing your purpose can be pretty challenging. For this reason, I have prepared a few tips to assist you on the journey to self-discovery.
- Be a Giver
Getting into the habit of performing altruistic behaviors such as volunteering for a non-profit organization, helping out people around you, or donating money to a cause you care about is a huge step towards finding your purpose. Researchers at Florida State University have found that being more of a giver than a taker is linked to finding meaningfulness and having a more purposeful life. This has certainly worked for Oba Adedokun Abolarin. The monarch radiates intense joy and fulfillment.
- Watch Your Company
Your choice of company or association can affect your sense of purpose and meaning either positively or negatively. No, I don’t mean your family members or co-workers or others whom you cannot avoid seeing. Outside of work and family, the people you surround yourself with can either build you up or tear you down. After all, it’s hard to feel purposeful when your associates can’t be bothered about making positive contributions.
- Converse with New People
Strike up conversations with new people when you get the opportunity – while alone on the subway or at the bar waiting for a friend, etc. Speaking to people outside your circle can open your eyes to new activities, or places to explore. You may learn about a cause that you’ll come to care about or career opportunities you weren’t aware of.
- Consider Injustices That Bother You
Is there anything that makes you unhappy in your community, region, or the world at large? Is there something you can do about it? Be it a civil rights issue, animal welfare, etc., you may find ways to do some good in the community – and find your purpose while at it.
- Rediscover Your Interests
Simply thinking about what you truly love to do can be the key to finding your purpose. Consider your skill set, talents, and passions and see ways you can use them to benefit others. Perhaps you love musical theatre, could you bring live performances to children so they can benefit from the exposure to arts? Doing something you’re passionate about while benefiting others at the same time, nailing two planks in one swoop!
Take note that finding your purpose is a lifelong journey. It’s not something you can achieve in one week or month. Thus, the important thing is to start taking the steps immediately. Like Oba Adedokun Abolarin said; “Development must start with a first step… it’s a gradual process.”