Here’s the story of a hero without a cape, but with a black bulky worn out with love- leather purse firmly tucked underneath his arm. If you knew my Papa, you would often see him carrying this leather bag and depending on the time or season, there would be a variety of other parcels or items that he would carry along. As if physically, he wanted to reflect his true nature which was to carry every one’s burden, always striving to make things easier for his family, friends, colleagues and business partners. On the 19th of July 2022, our families lost a link that forged a precious bond between the old and young, rich and poor. A great cotton tree has fallen and my world is thoroughly shaken by it.

Oladipipo Wilfred Josephus Robbin – Coker was the eldest of  five (5) children, husband to the most beautiful woman in Sierra Leone and father to two dynamic humans. Papa raised us to know our worth! He believed in consistency, hard work and paying attention to details. For years on end, he never missed collecting books and videos from British Council as our weekend treat. Growing up at Byrne Lane; our Saturday morning chores meant scrubbing marble tiles and polishing them until our reflection shone through. The window panes, should be without finger prints and brass handles would glisten with sun rays. His favourite phrase – Cleanliness is next to Godliness.  In Class 3, Mama found out that we knew nothing about money, Papa turned us into mini- accountants- he would give us lunch money to last 30 days – I became Miss Jew. I would lend my friends money for an interest and we would discuss my profit margin. One time I came 5th, after regularly being in the top 2, without yelling he asked whether the other kids had two heads – I said NO – then he said ‘Well prove it’. I needed, no further prompting.

The first time, I truly realized what the words good and evil meant, was around the age 6+ when Papa gave me a lecture on my picky eating habits. He went on to say that scores of children go without food on a daily basis and I must count myself blessed. He sternly pointed out that throwing out food could land one in hell and gluttonous folks would not be spared. I believed him!

Pa Rob as he was fondly called by some friends, could pass for your hype man, he inspired his colleagues to be entrepreneurial minded and to invest in property as opposed to fancy things. He was your regular behind-the-scenes guy who never wasted an opportunity to fix things quietly, not wanting applause or recognition. His long years in the civil service made him a master of human resource, there was no mission that was impossible with Papa- his regular statement when family in the diaspora wanted some paperwork would be – Are must know person way go sign the document.

There were no gender roles in our house, Papa Pipo would cook foo-foo, pick plasas and undo my hair on the regular. I felt safe with him, I would talk about boyfriends and solicit his advice ever so often – He gave me wings to fly – spoilt me some would say – Took me out at 16 to cut and dye my hair blonde- as you can see, I am still addicted to that trend. I would spare you the details of my first club experience- as I doubt the clergy would be excited to hear- however I must say – My Papa was my date and he taught me how to navigate my way through predators. He took pride in his women – ‘we for bluff 24/7’ – If I was without lipstick on a work day – he would immediately ask, ‘you nor day feel well’?

The list of extraordinary things would keep me telling this story for years to come- I wouldn’t do him justice if I idolized him- Pa Rob, made lots of mistakes. He loved bossing my Mama around and expected her to fit into his ideals – he was Mama’s hair dictator- she had to wear her hair in a certain way to earn his smile. He pushed my brother into accounting and the whole ACCA yagba -a field I am sure he would have rather not spent a couple extra years on. Robbin was a hoarder, the king of recycling- all kine ‘jaybay jaba’ – that he thought would come in handy but became clutter.

Perhaps his most vicious of all crimes was being unapologetic about his love and adoration for me. Often the rest of the family, would say – Pipo you too lek Ariana.

My Papa was super irritating when it came to things like timing- He would be on time to an event that is known for being late- His mantra was to be there, get a vantage spot and settle down – often we would become the guests that helped set up at events- Imagine that!

Oladipipo, loved entertaining, and could easily become worked up over the quality and quantity of drinks, everything had to be top notch, na bin sober krio boy – e lek business bad – on the flip side though – he didn’t talk much- weirdo – the guy didn’t even watch tv. He would listen to radio and question Asmaa’s interviewing on 98.1 endlessly or applaud her depending on his mood.

What started off  as a prickly relationship became a unique bond with my son- Oluwapelumi- he spoilt him rotten – served him breakfast and played ludo with him– things that he never did with us! Oh! what amazing times they had taking selfies and solving math problems.

Towards the end, my Papa reclaimed his strong Christian heritage – he would ask me to pray about certain decisions that he wanted to take – as if I was his lucky charm. I am truly blessed to have spent those last moments praying and singing with him – as he stepped into the heavenly realm. I am so honoured that I could tell him before he transitioned that I was so proud to call him Father. Papa! you worked day and night to create a formidable team and we promise you that by the Grace of God – we will live up to your name and legacy. Sleep well Papa, till we meet again.

I Love you.




This Tribute was first shared at the Farewell service for Oladipipo Wilfred Josephus Robbin- Coker on Monday 15th August 2022. Watch here


Written by: arianadiaries

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