Fernandez; More Helicopter View of his Peninsular Home

The
road to the Peninsula is like the
road to heaven.  It is narrow and long
winding.  It would take a determined
traveler to meander his way to the very last of the islands.  Even then, only privileged few are allowed to
drive, or walk (most unlike), on that beautiful road with several awe-inspiring
bridges.  Stern-faced security men stop
all visitors, including the domestic staff for a brief chat.  Driving the owner’s car is no guarantee of a
smooth-snail.  Such is the elaborate
security network on the island.
As
soon as the traveler passes through the eye of the needle, he is confronted by
some little islands, in various degrees of opulence, each belonging to
different categories of the super-rich. 
As you continue to rigmarole your way through the labyrinthine setting,
you begin to imagine what your final destination holds in store for you.  When you eventually arrive, you cannot but
agree that the king himself lives here. 
It’s indeed Gatsby’s country.

Fernandez; A Helicopter Aerial View of Peninsular Home


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Fernandez; His Living Room on the Peninsular
THE MAIN BUILDING
The
original structure was substantially altered by the new owner, Ambassador Chief Antonio Oladeinde
Fernandez
, a perfectionist who wanted to create an architectural
wonder.  In other hands, the Peninsula would probably have been
a museum.  It is so monumental that even
the richest man in the world would be intimidated by its sheer size and
presence.
A
giant door, about four inches thick, with a glowing crest, with eerie
inscriptions of a confraternity, welcomes the visitor.  The king of the house is a traditional
African who romanticizes the beliefs and religions of his forebears. He is a
titled member of Yoruba’s highest cult, the Ogboni, which conferred on him one of its topmost titles: OLUWO. 
Inside the house, his paraphernalia adorn a lot of his portraits.  Like most Africans whose attitude to religion
is syncretic, he respects the religions of his people, especially Islam and
Christianity.

Fernandez; A part of his Peninsular
Fernandez, late wife with late Alake of Egba Land

Chief Fernandez is a proud
descendant of the Olumegbon family
of Lagos, whose ancestry date back to the 17th century. They are
Muslims and this is well-represented in the home of Fernandez.  As you turn the fat knob of the main door and
push the heavy “artifact” inwards, a portrait of a praying Muslim confronts you.  It is a symbol of the Olumegbon clan which Fernandez
holds very dear to heart.  If you turn
left, you will see a waiting room.  If
you turn right, a passage leads you to an office where a stuffed lioness stares
at you, and many portraits of African heroes like Nelson Mandela and Obafemi
Awolowo
greet you.

Fernandez; A Part of his magnificent Sitting Room
Fernandez; Another Part of his Living Room
The
whole building is like a well-choreographed orchestra.  Every room is a coordinated art.  No space is wasted.  Every choice of decoration is special and
stylish.  Don’t forget that the lovely
lady of the house, a ravishing beauty, is an accomplished artist with an eye
for the best. A great deal of time, energy, effort, imagination, creativity and
money must have gone into tendering such a stupendous edifice.

“But
pancake-frying women would soon constitute a nuisance in his neighborhood. And,
he dared not complain, or they would tell him “Baba Onile gogoro, o wa
gbele ru”
(the owner of a tall building, why not carry the house on your
head).  He would try to start some
factories in Nigeria, but government bureaucracy would knock him out”
Fernandez; Aerial View of New York Peninsular

The
couple of the house has a wonderful combination of staff to assist in keeping
the house in order.  There is the
ubiquitous caretaker, Jack, an
elderly African from Burkina Faso,
who has worked with Chief for twenty years. 
There is Joan, a burly Brazilian, who oversees the great task
of keeping the exterior clean.  There are
two housekeepers from Peru, Jackie and Sara, two friendly ladies. 
And the two jet-set guys who make things happen – Charles, a Greek, and Karim,
an Algerian.  They fly all over the
world, with or without, the influential Chief.

Fernandez; His Study Theartre
Fernandez; A Catholic Pope in the House to intercede for the Farnandez
SEEING IS BELIEVING
The
best novelist in the world would find it hard to describe the Peninsula.  Where does
one begin?  The bedroom?  The Guest section mainly reserved for President Nelson Mandela?, if he feels
like coming “home” to rest, anytime.  The
parlors with their rainbows of elegant colors?.. Only pictures can tell the
stories.

Deinde Fernandez
Fernandez; Front View of The Peninsular

A WANDERER’S DELIGHT

A
walk through the Peninsula is a big
journey.  As you move from one part to
another, you experience an epic feeling in form of streams of consciousness and
flashes of inspiration.  Take example of
these notes:
Doors:  There are doors everywhere, over 200 in the
whole palace.  Each bears an emblem,
which is the map of Africa.  Fernandez is one man who is proud of
his heritage. The doors are in various shapes and sizes. The wardrobes have
similar doors.  In them, are neatly
arranged dresses, shoes, bags, caps, ties, belts from the world’s greatest designers
Valentino, Lanvin, Salvatore Ferragamo,
Ralph Lauren, Escada, Bruno Magli, YSL, Bally, Channel, Ungaro, John Lobb, Bucheron,
Sulka, Jhane Barnes, Gucci, Stratton Crooke…
The
door handles were made in California.  On each of the faceplates is inscribed: “Agbo
meji kii momi nikoto” (two rams cannot drink from the same bucket).  And there are African maps on everything,
including the hinges.
The Paradize lane to his Bedroom and his majestic walking sticks
WINES
Chief Fernandez is obviously a great
connoisseur of vintage wines.  He keeps a
cellar where esoteric wines assault the face – Maisons Marques & Domaines – Oakland (1977), Corton Granay Grand Cru (1996), Chateau Cheval Blanc (1985), Sauternes (1990) etcetera.  The one that takes the cake is the Cristal Champagne by Louis Roederer, millennium
champagne, 2000 bottles of which
were produced for worldwide enjoyment. Chief
has four bottles of the wine resting peacefully inside some massive
caskets.
Fernandez; Aerial (Back View) of his Peninsular
ARTS
Everywhere
you look; there are enough masterpieces to make a collector green with
envy.  There are antiques.  There are contemporary carvings and
paintings.  Ben Enwonwu’s carvings stand out. 
Everything for Fernandez is
an art.  He once ordered dozens of Louis Vuitton suitcases with his
special crest engraved on all of them.
Chief
is a great lover of music and a great Sinatra
fan.  In most exotic hotels around the
world, in-house artiest know his taste. 
A rendition of MY WAY by Sinatra would automatically earn the singer some wads of minty 100
dollar bills, at The Ritz in Paris or The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, near Knightsbridge in London.
Chief (Mrs.) Aduke
Olufunmilayo Fernandez,
the Erelu Apesin
of Egbaland
since June 28, 1995, is also a lover of arts. Some of her
unfinished paintings can be found in her personal kitchen.  Chief
Deinde Fernandez,
the tall business tycoon, loves to hold walking sticks
made of gold, white fold, corals, ivory, ebony and rubies.  His crest suggests the impossibility of a dog
defeating a tiger in a battle.
Fernandez; The Lion Symbol of his Authority
FOOD
Great
attention is devoted to preparing good food in the house.  Just enter Madame’s kitchen and you will see
culinary wonders.  No Mandarin could
boast of having more cookery books than Chief
(Mrs.) Fernandez.
  There are cabinets
with all manners of food items, oils, spices, juices, dishes, cups, glasses,
knives, all kinds of bottles – oblong, rectangular, rotund, square – and the
ovens are massive.  Magazines on all
subjects are neatly arranged in files.
Even
her daughters love cooking.  Princess Abimbola, for example, makes
cookies for sale (as a hobby).  She even
has her own cash register.  She enjoys
collecting as little as 27 cents for her swear (talk of a business girl in the
house). 
Ajinijini Ogun, Oladeiinde Fernandez

The
chef of the house operates from another kitchen, which has all the facilities
to cater for top celebrities, many of who drop by once in a while.  Chief’s love for good food was demonstrated
recently when he employed an Argentine
chef
.  The manner of employment was
dramatic.  He had contracted The Ritz to recommend a very good chef.

The
name of a young man called Christian
surfaced but he was said to be in Italy.  Chief located him, talked some deals and the
chef couldn’t resist the offer.  Chief
was elated.  He quickly bought a home
costing about $400,000 to house Christian.
Not only that, he sent Christian
to London to learn how to prepare Nigerian dishes like asaro (yam porridge), Jollof rice etc.  He got his tutorials from the Buka Restaurant on Kilburn High Road and
from the wife of OVATION publisher Mrs.
Bolaji Momodu.
  He soon flew back to New York, ready for the Chief.
Fernandez inside Private Jet
LIFE OF A LEGEND
When
the young Anthonio Fernandez migrated
to the United States of America on June 8, 1954, he was barely
18.  Like many young men of those days,
America held out so much promise as the fabled land of opportunity.
Before
his epic journey, he had spent time at various popular schools in Lagos like The Holy Cross, Saint Gregory’s and C.M.S Grammar School.  Even at that early stage, he was well-known
for his incredible height.  And he was a hustler,
who tried to give himself a good life. 
He had a troublesome bicycle at Greg’s,
the tires of which were always going flat. 
Unknown to him then, he was destined for greatness.
America
would turn his ambitious dreams into reality. 
Two years after the eagle landed, Fernandez
made his first million.  According to
close sources, the money came from the most unexpected place – Jos, Nigeria.  The sociable man had ordered for some bauxite ore, which was in dire demand
in America.  The mineral laid fallow in Jos. 
All he had to do was to arrange its shipment to America.  By the time it came, Fernandez was on his way to being one of the world’s richest men.
Money
begets money.  Fernandez understood this
very well.  He started thinking of how to
recycle his wealth and make it bigger. 
He would touch a few other good businesses. He would meet kings and
Presidents.  The African Prince would
begin to carry his height proudly like a true blue blood.  He would be crowned all over the world as King Midas and as an international
negotiator, a quintessential peacemaker. 
The color of his skin will matter less.
Years
later, he would go into oil exploration and make it so big.  He would be named Ambassador of other nations but his own country, for his people are
not known to support success.  They
relish in backbiting and self-destruction. 
He would build a TOWER FERNANDEZ in his native Lagos Island.  But pancake-frying women would soon
constitute a nuisance in his neighborhood. And, he dared not complain, or they
would tell him “Baba Onile gogoro, o wa gbele ru” (the
owner of a tall building, why not carry the house on your head).  He would try to start some factories in
Nigeria, but government bureaucracy would knock him out.  He had other bitter encounters.  And, he stopped doing business with Nigeria.

Fernandez; His Dress Room
Fernandez; Staircase to one of his living rooms in the Peninsula
The
story of Fernandez is an epic.  He would
establish a solid reputation as ‘Mr. Fix
It’.
  His name would reverberate
across the world as a diplomat of diplomats. 
At the United Nations, friends and colleagues would come to see him as
an avuncular figure.  Nations would
engage his services, in order to make the near – impossible possible.  And he is so efficient, smooth and
dashing.  His business card today reads:
“CHIEF ANTONIO DEINDE FERNANDEZ
Grand Officier de I’ordre
National du Leopard
Grand Officer de I’ Order du Mono
Commander de I’ Order National du Merite
Centrafricain
Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative to the united
Nations and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs”
If
that is not an achievement, nothing is. At 64,
Fernandez continues to dream of a
powerful mother Africa, a continent that can join the comity of other
continents in their march towards prosperity.
Fernandez; Another Magnificent Part of his Peninsular Home
THE PROFESSOR IBRAHIM
GAMBARI’s TESTIMONY
Ovation Magazine visited one
of Africa’s most experienced diplomats, Professor
Ibrahim Agboola Gambari
, Under Secretary – General and Special Adviser on
Africa, in his 37th floor office at the United Nations, New York, for his comments on Chief Fernandez.  He had this to say:
“Ambassador Dehinde
Fernandez is a big brother.  He has done
a lot for the African group here.  I
remember when I organized ECOWAS Group of Ambassadors and there was a problem
of funding our monthly lunches.  Chief
came in a big way, financed it and organized it and so on”.
Fernandez with Mobutu & others on his yatch

“Secondly, when we
had a lot of problems with hosting Kofi
Annan
, Chief arranged one of the most spectacular banquets at the Warldorf
Astoria”.

“Ambassador Fernandez
is one of the most active participants in matters relating to Africa.  He is a true pan-Africanist who believes that
charity must begin at home.  He’s always
been in contact with us.  After Mr. Kofi
Annan was elected, the first person he met was Chief Fernandez in his house and
I gave Mr. Annan a paper about what and what I think he should do.
Chief Fernandez is a
great brother, a very devoted compatriot and a great son of Africa.  We are very fortunate to have a man like him
in Africa”.
“My hope is that he
will set up a solid Foundation for sustaining future leaders of the continent
in economy and public administration, the press and others, in order to help
all those institutions that help sustain democracy”
Story by; Chief (Dr.)
Dele Momodu, Publisher, OVATION
International
Magazine
Photo Credit: OVATION International Magazine
The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with his good friend ex-US President George Bush Senior

The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Anan with the former Prime Minister of Mozambique

Fernandez’s House on New York Island

Fernandez’s Hallway to his Living Room

Fernandez’s Avenue; An Insignia

Fernandez; Trespassable Parts of his Peninsular

Fernandez; The Man’s Wardrobe
Fernandez; A white man ferries visitors from the helipad to house

Fernandez; A beautiful side of his Diplomatic Living Room

Fernandez with Mobutu

Fernandez on traditional attire with Mandela & Others
Deinde Fernandez; The Security Gate to his Island
Deinde Fernandez with British Diplomat Bob Angel
Deinde Fernandez as Permanent Representative of the United Nations in his Life Time
Fernandez; More Aerial View of his New York Island Peninsular

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