By Toyin Falola
The yellow ball of the sky sits on the clouds, watching mortal affairs
Some say the sun has blessed their day when it shines
Others complain it is too harsh
It retreats and goes home into the skies after its job is done.
The silvery pageant of the night; a soft glare on beings of the night
The glow of the moon casts an illumination for the nightcrawlers
Some will say its light is not enough for their sight
After the night shift, it disappears into the clouds.
Fiery red fire
Cooks great meals for all and sundry; even burns rubbish
Some only point to its ability to burn, hurt, and ruin
When the job is done, quietly, fire leaves ashes in its wake.
Cool and easy-going water is the friend of all
Water has no enemy; a proverb that is almost a fact
Because some people will tell you water is overzealous when it bubbles up
Water makes the subtlest of exits; it gradually decreases and leaves emptiness behind.
Everyone loves the flower though
They love the flower when it blooms and fills the air and nostrils with its fragrances
Nobody looks twice when it wilts and loses colour
Weary and brown, the flower falls off to nourish the next plant.
The earth is a sphere; life is a cycle
We go round and round in this circle
Some will say we did it well; others will say we did it badly
At the end of the cycle, we exit,
We rest, and everything rests…
Days ago, I referred to you as a “living legend” in an article dedicated to you, not knowing I would have to discard the “living” in a matter of days. Ayo, the man, the myth himself, your demise is nothing short of a great loss to the community and the country at large. The eggheads you nurtured during your lifetime would go wherever you go, but now, this place you have gone to is out of our reach. You have left us behind in the dust.
You have done a lot for individuals and the nation. You illuminated humanity. Your accomplishments on earth’s surface cannot be forgotten. The admiration and accolades you received throughout your lifetime will be shining examples for eons to come. Your records speak for you, and they speak loud enough.
I have expressed my sorrow through writing on previous occasions such as this. Yet, the sadness your death brings also insistently asks: To whom do we turn for comfort and your kind of intellect? Who, in your close and extended social circles, do we trust for information and insights or the wisdom you have bestowed upon your immediate community and society? I am sure you would have loved to stay longer and to do more, but we can only wish and want; all destinies belong to Providence. He decided that it was time for you to rest.
You were a loving husband and a doting father. You cannot be replaced in the hearts of the family you have left behind. No one can fill your shoes; even if they could, it would never feel the same. Your demise is a great loss for your people because you were their pillar, their oasis in the desert. We pray the Lord upholds this family you nurtured and that His grace is sufficient for them in all things.
There is a profound sense of loss and grief when a close friend passes away, and though society discourages our gender from crying out in pain or despair, we, your friends, sob in our hearts silently and lose ourselves in soliloquy. The merry table of friends will feature an empty seat. You brought life to the table; even as we made merry, we would steal from your cup of wisdom. We will miss you. You have created a void that cannot be filled. No newcomer can take your place among us. The emptiness of your seat resides in our souls forever.
Men like you are a rarity. There are only a few of your kind in every generation. Now that you are no more, when next would the world find someone like you? It is painful, but the truth remains that society suffers when the likes of yourself are not around to guide its affairs. You were a treasure, like precious stones that show affluence. Losing you is a big blow to Nigeria because who can replace you? No one.
I identified you as an àgbà because you heralded many things for Nigerian society. In a forthcoming book, I devoted two chapters to you and how you served as the voice of Nigeria through your weekly column. You issued warnings in different ways and created the necessary awareness to ensure the nation’s progress. When the country needed a guard to warn and steer it back to the trails blazed by our historical heroes, my friend, Ayo, you served as the country’s “Olutona”, sounding the alarm against the nation’s rapid descent into disaster and chaos. And when the country’s development required a griot who would not only recount historical events but also analyse the present and issue prognoses for the future, you were the “Olukoni”. You used tales from the past to make the populace aware of how history could either repeat itself positively or negatively.
You consistently put the country first in deeds and passion. Even in the face of political intolerance, you never gave up. You did not hesitate to struggle for a just country we could live in today; you also fought for future generations. Truth be told, you saw the highs and lows of life and had to endure the various changes the nation went through. Now you are no more! Who will continue the noble path that your searing intelligence has blazed? Who will liberate and remain a mentor? You spoke truth to power without fear. You upheld the intellectual integrity that rendered your opinions impartial, demonstrating your love for Nigeria and Africa.
Expressing grief is an acknowledgement of the role the deceased played in our lives while they were alive. We mourn to demonstrate how priceless the soul we have lost is and how embittered we are by the loss. Friends and family members suffer greatly when a loved one passes away, and at times it may seem as though the pain will never cease, but we take solace that even though the pain will linger forever, the Good Book has assured us that:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. – Matthew 5:4
Ayo, this tribute is to honour you as a unique individual and for your significant impact on people’s lives during your time on earth. Though life dealt you its fair share of challenges, as it is doing to all of us, you were a hero because you worked and fought for the future so that people who come after us won’t have to suffer.
Our hearts will sing once more
For those who permanently depart from us
never to be seen again
from a restless, worn-out world
into a clouded heaven.
Sleep well, my friend.