Transition: Three colleagues Three friends Three tragedies Of philosophical proportions Adieus!!!

Three colleagues
Three friends
Three tragedies
Of philosophical proportions

Joshua Abayomi Ajayi

The first one
Sudden transition date
November 26, 2010
That was
Joshua Abayomi Ajayi
Sudden heralded birth date
October 1, 1953

We were young together
From elementary to Secondary – the travails of youth defied
Even irregular HSC did not separate us – the ambition for the golden-fleece embraced
And we connected again at Great Ife – belonging to that 70s indomitable generation
One on the way out, the other a cotching pirate – both neophyte philosophers
One pursued the letters
The other administered those who pursued the letters

Migrations separated
But memories lingered
Then, boom!
Like a bolt of thunder
News of a passing unexpected
Cause of a passing unheralded
Time of a passing unappointed

Yet the clutches of the final terminator unavoided
Rest in peace, Yomi omo Ajayi
JA, your sojourn was not unremarkable
For that you can be sure
And appreciation a plenty abound
In the hearts of those marking time behind
What really happened remain unclear
Adio called me out of the blue
Knowing how close we were back in the days
To tell me the sad news of one dear
Who took ill so suddenly
Rushed suddenly
To teaching hospital
Manner of illness undiagnosed
Nature of death undisclosed

Treatment in Nigeria for the ailments taken as minor in other climes
Assume death-dealing frights to all
Prayers from various quarters
Make up for what should be structured medical partners
Coordinated professionals going about their tasks
With care emboldened by love from all

Relying on genuine medications that assuage frights from all
Because they are not from Okrika or Mumbai
Taylor-made for Nigeria bootleg markets
Where all standards have lost the tasks
And profit to alter bringing with liturgical praises
Worships to deliver to clowns parading in cassocks
Mumbo jumbo filled airs awaiting miracles

Alas, Yomi
We all must bear in the guilt of our collective
We must not spare truth in unproductive
Clamouring and venting
Mourners rented, pall bearers renting

Yoruba people love the living
Yoruba people love the dead
Ancestors creating
From rafts of akara balls
To mounds of pounded yam
From crates of Omi Asoro
To bags of water
Crates of maltina
Kegs of palmwine
Wo k’ilu mo
Aran and Oguro alike
Various mixtures and brews in between
Depending on taste and creativity
Lubricating salivation
Making Ayan’s task of drumming easy
Inspiring dance-steps
Reducing the grief

Yomi, to what end do these all redound is not clear
The departed must be ushered
Into the presence of Eledua
With ululations and vibrations
JA, we are now left to our own devices
Even with the belief that you are in the clear
Carefully presented to our ancestors
Properly attired before being ushered
With ululations and remonstrations

Loved ones will certainly miss you
Acquaintances will remember
Whatever happens, it was worth it
Days may roll into nights and eternally repeat
But you remain the only JAA
Rest in peace
Suunn’re o

Kolawole Olu-Owolabi

The second, Kolawole Olu-Owolabi
Transition suddenly on Sunday, September 16, 2012
Without warning
Without Ceremony
Without notification

Kolawole Olu-Owolabi
Began his tenure on terra firma
May 30, 1961
We knew about each other at a distance
We respected each other from early
We linked because of the common philosophical bond
We maintained contact even at a distance
And the contributions of each complimented the other’s efforts
You shook University of Ibadan
UI shook
With a brilliance remarkable
Double barreled attack
A rare blend
A rare breed

Just before it happened
As if by prescience
I was at UI with colleagues
The one and only UI of Ibadan
Having not seen the legal luminary philosophy colleague for a long time
I decided to pay homage
But I was informed he was now the Dean of Arts
At the one and only premiere University

Undaunted of the absence of an appointment
Knowing the caliber of the person sought
His accommodative and ever friendly nature
Walked in I did, unannounced
There he was, down to earth
We acknowledged each other with an embrace
A handshake and an embrace that spoke volumes
As usual, he was
In his natural element
In the midst of colleagues, friends and all
Those who had appointment
Those who did not
Those who merely wanted to share the moment with Ojogbon Amofin
Those who needed assistance
Those who needed to see Ojogbon Amofin
All were welcome to the presence
Of Ojogbon Amofin
Kolawole Olu-Owolabi

We greeted
We back-slapped, remembering the good old days
We bantered
We so-longed, lamenting distance – artificial as it is
Pleasantries, Compliments, Appreciations

Then we parted, that day, never to meet on this terrestrial plane
Little knowing that was the last
But never fraying the memories linger
A full life, intellectual
Well lived, active
Loaded with existential forays of defiance
Full of epistemological jurisprudential dilations that astounded
Short, but eventful, with loads of materials for generations to peruse
Tomes of ideas quickly rendered
To challenge others
Even while saying Adieu!

When the call came
I knew something was wrong
Such calls that come from colleagues at such odd hours
These are calls that bode wrong
Whenever they came
Without warning, odd, unannounced
One is filled with trepidation
Then the news

Why should terrible tragedies be called news
English is such a funny language
It does not recognize that sand messages should not be called news
But the originators of the language
Probably out of malice for our feebleness
Iterate, reiterate, commiserate, obliterate
Finding no better imagination
Talk about news
Where there’s nothing newsy

How can it be news that ebullient, lively Kolawole
The lawyer philosophy
Passed without prior notice
While doing what he does best
Working and being the indomitable
Caring and dutiful
Even when it means ignoring
Personal comfort to make others comfortable
Slumping as the body demands rest
Which the mind – active, effervescent and reflective
Commands not to slack

We all must take heed
Those among us who live with no understanding
Our lives are only like that
Here today
Gone tomorrow
Tomes of ideas
Some done
Some on the drawing board
Ojo kan ni’na n s’ile lehin a sun isu je

You did your best
You shone the light
To our legal murkiness
Cerebral luminary
To our philosophical clumsiness
Ojogbon to mofin
Oni’mo Ijinle to mo aro’jinle
Erin wo, erin o le dide
Ajanaku sun bi oke
O di gbere
O d’arina ko
O d’oju ala
Suunn’re o.

Moses Oke

The third …
Really close
Painfully close
Painful to the marrow
This was right there, unmediated
Erin wo, Erin o le dide
Ajanaku sun bi oke
Moses Oke
Mose Oke lo
A o gburo re mo

We met as undergraduates, philosophy drawn
Apart from that, where does one start?
Or where?
And where?
Is it from Iya Ila?
Or Mama Egin?
Or Papa funrare?
Or escapades with Iwin?
Or your adoration for abula?
Or reminiscences about the omas?

Brothers we became
Fellows at varied escapades
Senior but very accommodating
Quiet, but deep
Generous to a fault
Unstinting in kindness
Hence, it is difficult
Hence, extremely difficult

Hence, Mose, you will understand why the delay
This notice has garnered
Belated, but not without reason for being delayed
It’s like a relay baton dropped
Retrieved and relay continues
The beauty of this is
Dropped batons, delayed eulogies
Narratives postponed
Only make the experience more profound

Last time we were to see, never materialize
TOFAC was at Lead City
Heard you were in Ibadan
Planned to meet
But such plans was aborted by Aluta
Which derailed the examination you came for
Since Aluta prevented exams
You returned to Ife following day

Same exam you were dutifully going back for
When the enemies did their worst
DC was I
When news was broken
By a mutual colleague
By a neighbour and friend
The circumstances couldn’t have been more painful
But circumstances usually not the wishful
Choices we scarcely ever make
But they constitute exits we make

Hardly a day passes
Without shared moments and thoughts flashing
From ideas of starting the Philosophical Church of God
To penning the Ours-Theirs Dichotomy
To hours spent pondering the tragedy that was Nigeria
To reflections on reflections
Issues untended

From Koiwo
To More
And the one and only Malam – born Christian
Being the third
Tenanted to Duduyemi
Made the experience indelible

Those were the days
When men were men
When the eyes were on the knees
Chatalian, Makinde, Sodipo all greats with impact
Shaped and molded what we became
Not to mention Great Waraites that we were
Then Angola
Then Awololo
Then Fajuyi
Visitations to Moremi
Incredible A go dooooo ooooo in Physics
Your love for things bottled
The foamy palmy
Day old or aged
It was beyond legendary
O fe da bi a fi se
Abuda paala

You were never afraid of going over the top
Indeed you often reasoned that there is no point
Except to get to that height
Where the real becomes blurred with the fantastic
Diminishing not the astuteness of intellect
Elements of erudition
As if heightening intellect
Grammar upon grammar flowed after each sip
None out of sync, nor wanting in construction, nor scarce of meaning

Your philosophy spoke volumes of existential vision
And when you lighted on the issue of truth
It was to reveal the soul of the concept
In a special way the was original
But eefin ni’wa
A i wa’ye eni a ma ru tu u
Kuruufin, ata loogun emi
Emi ti o j’ata, emi yepere
Pe pe pe pe
The one and only Oke, a million men rolled into one
Eniyan teere ti’n g’esin l’osan, gun’mo ‘niyan l’oru

You stood for integrity
Ee melo ni mo pe o
Oma fun r’are

You left while in pursuit of excellence
You left
But the excellence glitters
Fading not
Shining bright
Your efforts
Remain challenging

October 5, 1949
In Ola-Ejigbo
Was remarkable
January 17, 2014
In Ile-Ife
Was even more remarkable
For the achievements
For the singular contributions
For the difference
For the life lived on your own terms

What can I say?
At such times
The most succinct communicators our ancestors favoured
Are the grunts of heavy heart
Grunts of loss at the loss to philosophy family far and wide
Grunts of pain at the loss of a compatriot, friend
Grunts of anger at what doesn’t have to have been
Grunts of missed opportunities
Grunts, grunts, grunts
No eulogy can capture the many phases
No elegies are detailed enough to represent the depth
Everyone knows: eniyan o suwon l’aaye
But you would rather remain MO
The one and only Mose

Because your preference is for vivacious beingness
You would rather not a Gbegilere become
Who is to say?
Whether there is a tun wa
If not, why not
The present
Being the present
Remain the present
The domain of being
The past
Being the past
Untouchable, unchangeable, but dependent on memory
Cooked and cookable
To fit imagination

Spin doctors will have a field day
MO was never shy of controversy
Night or day
He was bold to affirm
His opinions and beliefs
Generations of students
Appreciates this in the master teacher

Historicity and historiography
Even hagiography
Blended and mixed
Communicates to sundry interests
Like statistics
Capable of being used
To tell whatever story one wishes

But yours
Mose omo bibi inu Oke
Omo Ola
Omo Ola
Baba Sunday
Okunrin mejo
O g’esin l’osan
Gun omo’niyan l’oru
Moses Oke
Eee melo ni mo pe o?
Ma j’okun, ma j’ekolo
Ohun won ba nje l’ajule orun
Oun ni o ma a ba won je
O d’arina ko
O d’oju a la
O di gbere
Suunn’re o

Thanks for the blessing of being you
Sure, you took a break
When it was least expected
But such is life
And such is death
None can tell when one is coming
(At least that used to be the case
Before modernity began mago mago)
Nor the exit point
(Same as the last point
Before modernity brought in Dr. Death
Popularizing euthanasia)
A marvel to humanity
A constant to humanity – so, Adieu, friend!

Omowe Mose
Ogbologbo tisha
Ojogbon MO
O da rin’na ko
O tun d’oju ala
Adieu, MO
Suunn’re o