By BOLATITO ADEBAYO
Bishop Kayode Fanilola is the founder and President of Throne of Grace and Miracle Ministries, based in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also the President of Mission and Crusade International. Bishop Fanilola has a deep passion for rural evangelism. He has conducted many mission trips to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Before he yielded to the call to gospel, he was a lecturer of Yoruba Language and Literature at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria; Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, and Morgan State University Maryland. He is also an author of many books. In this interview, he shares his many memorable moments with his 83-year-old mum, Madam Grace Adenike Fanilola and how she has influenced him as an adult.
What was your growing up like?
I grew up in a rural place; I am from Ekiti State and I came from a Christian home. My parents attended Anglican Church and my father, by the standard of the time, was educated because he was a customary court clerk. I am the first child and so my father insisted that we should all go to school. He was a disciplinarian who believed in corporal punishment. He was also a farmer so we went to school and, after school, went to the farm. During the holidays we farmed too.
What was your relationship like with your mum?
My mum is also a disciplinarian but not with corporal punishment. If my mum says that you will not eat in the house on any day, don’t think that she will change her mind. My mum won’t change her mind and she won’t beat you. My mum is a moralist; if you lie what she says is that any child that tells lie will graduate to be a thief. My mum says that all the time, so which means she didn’t want us to tell lies.
Is your mum still alive?
Yes, she is still alive.
When last did you see her?
I saw her last year but I am going to see her today or tomorrow.
Between your dad and your mum who is your favourite?
Naturally, you will love your mum I grew up in a polygamous house and my father had three wives. So, in a polygamous home, you will naturally tilt towards your mum and mothers have ways of impressing things in the heart of their children. Some of the things my mother pumped into me that were superstitious beliefs, now as an adult I am trying to do away with some of those things. Women have such hold on their children; they have great influence on them too.
What are the lessons you have heard from your mum that you still hold dear your heart?
I think it is the one about telling lies and then graduating into a thief later. This was like my mum’s slogan that time and so anytime I want to tell lies that thing will still strike me even now as an adult. Before I became a man of God it was very difficult for me to lie, I am not saying that I have never told a lie but whenever I do, I feel that I have not only violated God’s work, I have let my mum down.
What was she doing back then?
When I grew up to know my mum she was dealing in textile materials, she was selling fabrics. Later on, she shifted to having a restaurant and just trading generally.
What is her favourite meal that you enjoy most?
My mum is a specialist when it comes to cooking Efo riro with iru (vegetable and locust beans). She is very good in that and there is this food that she also makes that if you eat it and you are not careful you will have a problem with your wife but I overcame that.
What food is that?
That is egusi soup. When my mother cooks egusi, you can’t resist it. I remembered when I just got married, my mum came regularly to visit us and she brought soup with her and my wife felt so badly. Especially, when my food was served and I would say ‘please bring that soup that mama brought from home.’ I was a young man and I didn’t know the implication that time but then women can be very sensitive.
What is the relationship between your mum and your wife like?
Initially, it was not smooth but you know a man plays a vital role in how you want your home to be and this depends on the wisdom God gives you. My wife is not from my state, I am from Ekiti while she is from Kwara State. My wife thought maybe I would marry someone from my place but that didn’t happen. Moreover, my mother didn’t know much about where my wife came from too and my wife knew that my mum didn’t really warm up to her. I was a lecturer at the University of Ilorin then and I usually travel to Ilorin. Each time I was travelling I would buy sugar, milk and other provisions, and I would tell her that the provision was from my wife. Then I would give my mum money to buy me pepper, spinach, stockfish and some other things. So, when I get home, I will hand over these things to my wife and tell her they came from my mum. She would look at it and put it somewhere. So, I kept on doing that for a while until my mum said to me one day that, ‘if you had even married from our place maybe she won’t be as good as your wife.’ Afterwards they became best of friends; in fact, oftentimes my mum will consult my wife first before me when she wants to do something.
What’s the greatest sacrifice you mum has ever made for you?
When I was still in the final year at the university, when this happened, I mentioned earlier that I came from a polygamous home and my dad was very okay before. I don’t know what happened but just when I got into the final year at that time he was retired and he was into business. But all of a sudden the business went down and nothing was moving. Things were so hard because he also had other children and final year is usually financially demanding because of projects and other things. But my mum rallied round and she got help from her sisters and cousins to make sure that I was able to finish. My mum till today, we are very close because there was a time she was very sick in 1983 and everyone thought she wasn’t going to make it. They started buying burial rites materials and so I took her from the hospital and took her to the celestial church at that time. Although my dad warned me sternly to take her to the teaching hospital I didn’t and I took her to a church. Miraculously she survived it and that was in 1983 and then I was a youth corps member. Until today my mum still talks about how I saved her life, she still spoke about it last week. The bond between my mum and I is strong, most times when she listens to the radio and hears that there is heavy snow she will call and I will tell her that it wasn’t in our area. Sometimes she would call and ask me if I had eaten and I would laugh because will she bring food to me in America? She will tell me that she is just asking. We are very close.
What did she tell you about ladies when you were quite young?
She always told me that any boy that takes women as a priority at that our age then would not amount to anything. So, she would always encourage me to do the things that were important then. However, I wasn’t even really into women so she really didn’t have to keep emphasizing it. Right before I became a pastor I wasn’t into women and I think I had a girlfriend when I got into the university. It is not that I didn’t see the ones I liked but I wasn’t just into women. Maybe it is because of my nature that I didn’t want to spend money recklessly and I know going after women would cost you money. In one of my books, you will read a chapter there where my mum asked me when I would I get married and I told her until I had my PhD. When I told her when I would get it, she screamed.
How long have you been a bishop?
Just last year. I was consecrated on May 28, 2016.