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My maternal grandfather was a great and powerful Muslim cleric and scholar by the name of Sheik Nurudeen Sa’ Id. He was from Ilesha. He was also a civil servant and he spent a good deal of his adult life in Lagos. His father, that is my maternal great-grandfather, was a pure Yoruba man from Ilesha. However his mother, that is my maternal great-grandmother, was a pure Fulani woman from Sokoto.
My grandfather, Sheik Nurudeen Sa’ I’d, who was half Fulani and half Yoruba, got married to my grandmother, Alhaja Abeke Sa’ id (nee Williams) who was a pure Yoruba woman. She was also known as ”Mama Ofin”. She was from Lagos (Isale Eko) and she was the daughter of Alhaji Isa Williams who was a key leader in the Muslim community and the richest businessman and trader in the whole of Lagos in his day.
Sheik Nurudeen Sa’id and Alhaja Abeke Sa’id had three children and the youngest of those three was my dear mother, Mrs. Adia Adunni Fani-Kayode (nee Sa’id). She was born into a Muslim family and she practised Islam all her life until she met my father, converted to Christianity and then they got married.
It is clear from the foregoing that my mother had one quarter Fulani blood in her and I have one eight Fulani blood in me. Out of respect to the Muslim side of my family, that is the Sa’ id’s and the Williams’, all of my father’s children have Muslim names as well as Christian ones. Mine is Abdulateef. Amazing isn’t it? When some say that I am anti-Islam and anti-Hausa-Fulani I just laugh. They know little about me, my heritage, my bloodlines (which, unlike most, I take very seriously), my background or my thought processes.
I am a proud son of Nigeria- a son of the soil-and I have deep ancestral and spiritual roots in at least two of the three great Abrahamic faiths even though I and my immediate family are practicing Pentecostal Christians. I have Ife, Ijesha, Egba, Isale Eko and Fulani blood running through my veins. This is my heritage and I am very proud of each and every one of those blood lines. The fact that I can trace my lineage and my blood lines to Ife, Ilesha, Abeokuta, Lagos and Sokoto emboldens, enriches and strengthens me. The fact that some members of my family are Christians and others are Muslims excites and ennobles me.
I am a true Nigerian and regardless of our numerous challenges in this country I will love and live in Nigeria till the day I die.
(This was written by Fani-Kayode on April 17, 2013)