The Last Dance (For Jimi Solanke, 1942-2024)


By Wole Olaoye

His artistic gift was of elephantine proportions,


So, to each encounter-er, Jimi Solanke was at once

the compelling thunderclap amidst the loudest of silences

the coarse hair of Ajanaku’s tail mounting sentry

behind an otherwise hairless mass

Those piercing eyes conveying visions from unshared secrets

— Lamp posts of an aerobicised body

Ernest and persistent, commanding and pleading…

If six blind beggars are telling different tales

About the same mass

It is because they feel the elephant from different sides.

Is it the ivory of the tusk that tickles your fancy?

Or the rough tarpaulin of the body?

Or the four pillars with which it pounds the earth?

Or the trunk— nature’s straw

Enabling the slaking of thirst?

The elephant lies down like a hill

On its death day

Carvers bearing cleavers gather…

The last question on the elephant’s mind

Is, “Who will mourn my demise when I expire?”

The heavens and the earth know

That Father Time’s unseen eyes do bear witness

To Lakatabu’s connection of the dots

Between the cradle and the grave

And they lead the cortège…

Yes, they do

 to attest that this funeral blurs the line

Between a requiem

And an alleluia

As Baba Agba does his trademark bata dance

Into ancestor-hood.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *