Sunday 6 June 2010


A day in 1973
The memories go far into childhood and they are as vivid as yesterday. We were playing outside our maternal grandmother’s house when we uprooted some cocoyam tubers to play with.
In fact, they just looked like cocoyam tubers with the distinction that the leaves had white and red spots and so the tubers were not the edible sort.
By happenstance, the cocoyam skin was breached and the sap accidentally touched his skin and all hell broke loose. The sap created such an irritating itch that for a 5-year old, it was unbearable until the adults around applied red palm oil to his body to soothe the irritation and warn us off ever playing with funny plants again.
That was the earliest memory of child's play I have of my cousin.
A man at work
As we entered adolescence, he was the next younger male cousin of our huge extended family and in fact was my closest friend even though it would appear his older brother was closer.
We went to different schools but always met up on holidays and after secondary school he was the first to have a serious vocational qualification in Electrical Installations with the City and Guilds, as we struggled with academic pursuits he was bringing home the bacon.
An unassuming, humble, respectful and diligent gentleman, one in whom you would want a brother and more, we kept close until I left Nigeria.
Worthy of emulation
Since then, I have kept abreast of matters second-hand and been mightily proud of how he built his career, his family and did not faint when opportunities we took for granted did not seem to work in his favour.
The sense of contentment and fulfilment he had still made him a man of considerable skill, insight and worthy of adulation and respect – he was most loveable and loved, a demeanour that endeared him to all that knew him.
Over the last year, he fell very ill and one would not be remiss in saying that the health system in Nigeria that failed his mother some 27 years ago, really did fail him too – no one could with certainty diagnose the problem and that makes for poor treatment and other unintended consequences.
There might be a spiritual dimension to every illness, but even that spirit needs to live in a body and medicine does have a place in every healing process if one were to understand what to pray for and what signs to look for in terms of recovery,  but that is a topic for another day.
Good bye
I mourn today, my cousin, my brother, my bosom friend, and the memories of a love for each other that would never ever be forgotten.
His name meant having two crowns, his reign on earth might have ended but his kingdom will endure through all those he left behind, his wife, his children, his siblings, we his cousins and his dearest father who have over the years has borne so much grief and sorrow but remains the pillar of strength for us all.
Thank you Deji for being in my life, may your wonderful precious soul find eternal rest and repose.
Good bye!

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