By Diipo Fagunwa
The big eyed owl showed its face while the crow cawed thrice as Àyàngbéndé’s drum brought the dirge that no one wanted to hear. The kite left on a long journey, its head bowed while the cuckoo called from the North looking to the ground in supplication. Àyàngbéndé’s drum was sad. It was a long time that the world heard such a rhythm. He is the bringer of the news of the gods and when he does that the earth held sway and world was at a standstill.
Àyàngbéndé’s Ìyà Ìlù went on its sad mission as Ohùnrόnbí’s voice brought the wọ́rọ̀ that shook the world to its axis. Ohùnrόnbí is the lady with a thousand octaves, her adagio echoed the news of the last journey of a son of man. She chanted that “Let everyone listen wherever they may be. Let the town rat tell the country rat, let every fish go to the bottom of the sea; let the abyss be at standstill; let the wind refuse to blow; let the heavens darken and the rains refuse to fall; let lightening fill the sky and voice of thunder follow in its chase. Bọ̀dé the son of Oyèéwọlé is on his last run; he shall not come back home. Òyé-é Bọ̀bọ-ọ̀! has sung his closing glee; the heavens want his presence in eternity. He gone home to finally rest in peace from the agitation of this world of peril, pressure and discomfort”.
But the tone of Àyàngbéndé’s drum meant nothing to earthlings and its message was nonsense to all. Pentecostals rebuked the message in Jesus’ name; Christians read the psalms from beginning to the end. Moslems rejected the sad prophesy in the name of Allah and traditionalists cursed it to the abyss charting the news to the land of resistance in the name of the heavenlies and grace of departed patriarchs. Everyone flicked fingers above their heads and invoked disaster to avaunt and quit their sights; evil should leave and get behind them. No one in their homestead shall have the portion of death they prayed. But Àyàngbéndé continued with his elegy as his Iya Ilu travelled over the land and waffled across the sea with the tide while Ohùnrόnbí kept on her sad story telling whoever has ears to hear that today is a day of reverence, the heavens have called home a great man, a geezer of joy; the number of saints in heaven has increased. Paradise is in glee as Àyànàgalú took his drum to the street of heavens tasking its leather with ululation that befits the glorious that Bọ̀dé Oyèéwọlé has arrived at the land of the blessed.
I call him Brọ̀dá Bọ̀dé while some call him Elder Oyèéwọlé. His phone call came through to me exactly 7.09am yesterday 14th July 2020. I took it with every excitement ready for our regular banters but his voice was distressed. He was very ill and has been referred to the UCH. He instructed that I should contact doctor alumni of our Alma Mata at UCH that I may know and tell them that he was very unwell and on his way to the hospital. I called back 7.25am to feedback that our school network was in progress. But his voice communicated more distress than our earlier conversation. He told me he was feeling really poorly. He was struggling to manage the phone conversation and handed the phone to his daughter. I was thereafter in constant touch with the young lady until they got to the UCH emergency but her voice continued to show increasing distress and fear. Bọ̀dé Akinluyì, Ṣọlá Fisher and Femi Ojúróngbé joined in the phone search for assistance. We got Professors Adénipekun, and (Mrs) Wúrà Ṣókúnbi and Mr Káyọ̀dé Owójọrí who went immediately into gear arranging treatment and providing support for him. My sincere thanks to all the names mentioned above. They did Christ’s School proud and were their brother’s keepers.
At about 11.53am when I called for feedback the young lady dropped the phone twice during our conversation in distress and at 12.01pm when I called again, Káyọ̀dé Owójọrí picked up the phone. He had no good news. “We lost him”, he said. We have lost a gem of an unimaginable value. Christ’s School Alumni have lost a great one, the world is bereaved, a star is gone. Brọ̀dá Bode Oyèéwọlé was a special breed. He was a man with a home that has mattresses for all.
Brọ̀da Bọ̀dé, was my big brother. He was a man of immeasurable value. Indeed in him God perfected decent works. I have known him now for 52 years and never once regretted this. We met in 1968 when I entered Christ’s School. We were in the same Babáḿbọní House. He was in Block 2 while I was in Block 1. He took a liking for me almost like a bee to honey. Ever since he treated me well, doted on me like gold, received me like someone of importance and celebrated me as if I were a prince. He honored me like a person worthy to be seen with him and cared for me like his younger brother. Brọ̀dá Bọ̀dé held me in high esteem like I was more than I am; many times he did my head in with the honour he bestowed on me. The mention of my name was a password to favours from him. We were very close. He confided in me on personal matters albeit even those confidential. Phone calls with him were precious moments; he said nice things and had words of encouragement for me.
Brọ̀da Bọ̀dé, was a leader that is worthy of followership. He was the chairman of the NUJ chapter of the WNTV/ WNBS at the young age of 23 in 1975 and was the former chairman of the 3SC football club. He served as Chief Press Secretary to a former Ọ̀yọ́ State Governor, the late Kọ́lápọ̀ Ìṣolá. He was farsighted and started the thriving Face Book page of Christ’s School Alumni. He was also in the process of resuscitating the comatose sketch newspapers of the Old West. He paraded merit, was pragmatic and honest. He was never found where uncleanliness and absence of rectitude was the watchword. He lived a life of integrity. He was a Christian, clean and committed. He had space for everyone in his heart. He had a farm in Èrúwà where he recently lived.
Our last physical encounter was 23rd June when he came to Ìbàdàn. He wanted to come to see me at home in Àpáta so I could give him my newly published book. However that was the day the daughter of my friend Délé Morákinyọ̀ was getting married at the UI Botanical Garden in Ìbàdàn. Brọ̀da Bọ̀dé attended the wedding ceremony at the short notice. He had a smile on throughout the event and had very nice things to say to everyone.
Adébáyo Adénẹyẹ – Adéjùwọn’s Facebook post three years ago always imparts me to recognize my role as a human being who can only pray but will never be able to answer prayers. That you and I are alive today is partly a result of efficacy of prayers but more importantly we are breathing because God is not done with us yet. When God is ready to take us home He will do so without consulting anyone. Not me, not you. He never did in case of Brọ̀dá Bọ̀dé and will not for whomever. Thus, in this season of pandemic, let’s stay safe
Earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. God be with Brọ̀dá Bọ̀dé Oyèéwọlé till we meet again. He was a man that has mattresses for all in his home. He lived well
Ọjọ́ á jìnnà síra (Àmín).