Musidat Damilola Yekini is just three years old and for many, she could be said to have been born not just with a silver spoon but a golden one. Her father, Rashidi Yekini, is regarded not just as a national hero but an African Legend.
However as young as she is, it’s a story of pain and her first visit to her father, who is regarded as Nigeria’s goal king, was by the grave side.
Damilola, Premium Times learnt, only had physical contacts with her father once when she was only a few months old, definitely too young to register his face.
Damilola’s mum, Bilikisu Yekini, is the last of the late Yekini’s three wives. The youngest Mrs. Yekini is based in Abijan, Cote d’Ivoire, one of the places Yekini made fame and money playing football and scoring great goals.
Balikiz insists the distance between herself and her husband posed no challenge to their marriage. Telephone calls were sufficient, she says.
“I have been talking on phone more frequently with her father in recent times and one major thing he was saying was that he wanted to see his daughter again,” she explained.
“When I was told that he was sick I called but he [Yekini] said he was fine that was in March so I never imagined that it was something serious that would lead to his death.
“I feel very bad that his wish of seeing his daughter could not be met. Damilola would only be seeing her father’s picture and maybe videos.
“It’s unfortunate that the first place she will be visiting her father in Nigeria is by the grave side already interred not even seeing his dead body,” Yekini’s widow said.
Appeal for support
Damilola is currently in nursery school in Abijan. Bilikisu says she will need all the support she can muster to see that Yekini’s daughter has the best of education she can get. In truth, the widow is already foreseeing a difficult future with regards to educating her daughter.
“Due to the fact that Yekini did not have so much of western education, he has always reiterated that his children will have the best of it.
“Damilola is living with me in Abidjan and is in a nursery school and financing her education all alone won’t be easy,” Bilikisu said.
On her part, Yemisi Yekini, the eldest of Yekini’s three daughters, described her father as the best in the world and that he could literally go to the end of the world in a bid to satisfy his children.
“He [was] a great dad; he called me every other weekend to ask after me. He could be over protective but he is a very nice person. I’m gonna miss him a lot now that he is gone,” Yemisi, who is currently studying in the UK, sobbed uncontrollably as she spoke to Premium Times at the eight- day Fidau prayer for the repose of the soul of the legendary footballer.
Many also attested to the fact that Yekini was a lover of children.
For Sikiratu Yekini, the aged mother of the late footballer, the grief that the sad death of Yekini brought could only be ameliorated if the children of his late son do well in their chosen careers.
“What else can I do, his children are the only thing left for me.
Once they are doing well I will be happy. Rashidi is gone but the children he left behind must not be allowed to suffer or have cause to miss their father’s absence,” she said.
Yekini, 49, died on May 4, 2012. After initial reports suggested the gangling striker died in a herbal home, Sunday Tribune Sports reported that Yekini actually died at Al-Amin Hospital, Awotan-Ibadan, Oyo State, contrary to reports that the striker died at Osogbo or Ilorin.
Sulaimon Yekini, the late footballer’s brother, who initially promised to show copies of receipt received from the private hospital where Yekini died but later declined, confirmed on Sunday evening to Premium Times that Yekini had actually died in the said hospital.
“Yes you are correct, that is the name on the receipt I wanted to show you, I just forgot somehow,” he said in a telephone interview.