By Denrele Animasaun
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”-Maya Angelou
Every generation has it its challenges and life and living is never linear. Difficulties and challenges, though may be arduous and desperate, it helps us to develop resilience. We sometimes attribute this to misfortune but it is too simple and it is unhelpful way of seeing growth in the guise of challenges. We should not pray for an easier life but to gain fortitude and resilience to enable us to overcome obstacles and hard times.
Some of us are so used to seeing only despair wrapped in the cloak of bad luck. We must stop catastrophising, no one is out to get us ..well no all the time.
Arthur Ashe a famous African American tennis player, on being diagnosed with a life limiting illness : “If I were to say, “God, why me?” about the bad things, then I should have said, “God, why me?” about the good things that happened in my life.”
Exactly right, we are forged when we are submerged in hard times. You develop a character; to sink or swim.
It is a very surreal time we are witnessing. This invisible rogue is an equal opportunity enemy; it attacks everyone and anyone, money or position and no one is immune.
2020 definitely had thrown us all a curve ball, one that the most brilliant minds did not see coming. It definitely made its impact felt ; seismic, felt in every corner of the world. It spared no one, no country and no households regardless of race, social class or age.
There have been some strong voice of descent from dubious faith leaders, who tried to kaboshe the effort of the scientists, the government by insisting that people should congregate in spite of scientific fact that such activities will spread the virus and resulting in thousand killed.
Common sense and other credible faith leaders who along with the government convinced people to stay home. We have known all along that It makes sense and comforting to know that God is everywhere. Anyone that says indifferently has anterior and selfish motive.
For the first time in a long while, devoted Nigerians have been able to see the greedy doom merchants in disguise.
This truth, maybe, will be the making of us.
It is apparently clear that what many of us who previously feel divided or disenfranchised now realise the feeling is minuscule compared to this unseen enemy. We are fighting a war that does not respect borders or people or religion. We have put aside our differences and faced the enemy together and united.
That is what had to happen; we are listening to the advice of the scientists and community health, to wash our hands, avoid large gatherings, stay home and lockdown. It is remarkable, what we can achieve, together . The president and state governors have really shown their worth by working tirelessly to coordinate this herculean feat. It is worth of acknowledgement.
We saw kindness of strangers in the midst of wanton greed; distribution of essential supplies to the needy was either stolen by those who were responsible for distribution or many used this as a photo opportunity. For those who genuinely care did so without much of photo opportunity or fanfare.
The billionaires made use of their stupendous reserves for philanthropy, ventilators, kitting out badly resourced hospitals with new and state of the art equipment in lighting speed. It has been remarkable. Sometimes it takes a tragedy like this to make the big and powerful realise that we are all in this together. If we are to survive, it will take a national and global effort.
We realise that, health workers are essential and they should be given their due respect and worth. Life as we know it, will and should never be the same. The lockdown exposed the underbelly of a long and sustained neglect of millions of Nigerians living in abject poverty, desperate to choose between coronavirus or finding food. This should never have been a choice but it still is.
We need to address this disparity and inequalities in opportunities and in health. I am sure when the dust settles, we will begin to address the mass exodus of health workers and scientists and perhaps begin to make conditions in Nigeria more enticing for retention of key workers who, as we have come to appreciate, are the backbone of any nation’s lifeline. Imagine if health care is prioritised and investment is encouraged, there will be no need for health care tourism abroad.
It has taken an unexpected pandemic to knock sense into the out of touch , rich elite that unless they invest in Nigeria, their money is meaningless when they cannot escape to their overseas borehole for R&R. They may have to see the state of nation through the eyes of the less fortunate.
We saw people who selflessly give and support their fellow kind. Then we also saw the greed and the selfish, who tried to capitalise on tragedy to score and defraud others.
We can no longer touch, hug, hold hands. That’s basic human connection and practice. This enemy has denied us show of love and affection. This is our new normal. Lessons learnt here should reside in the nation’s psyche from here on.
In midst of despair, it was obvious that if anyone or everyone is to get through this at all, it will take a global effort like no other.
Those who have had endured something similar pandemic like the SARS or Ebola were quick to bring out their road map of what worked and what did not.
They say if you fail to plan then, you plan to fail. The continent of Africa has had its fair share of virulent diseases, seem to be coping very well as compared to developed countries. They had forecasted millions of people would die and so far that had not materialised. This has been due to the determined effort of home grown scientists, public health professionals and health workers, who worked tirelessly and acted swiftly to stem the hold of the virus.
Senegal and Ghana have shown preparedness that has yielded dividend. They closed their border early, with extensive contact testing, able to utilise extensive community health workers, innovative satellite and hub contacts where they were effectively able to test larger numbers effectively and the cost effective around $1 dollar per persons compared to the European version of around £350 per person . These two countries had two figure deaths as a result.
Madagascar seem to have found a cure for Covid-19 amongst it’s natural resources; Flora from the daisy family; Artemisia Annua and the president of Madagascar Rajoelina. The WHO though sounded caution and calling for clinical trials, despite another country Germany already conducting clinical trials of a similar breed of plant already claiming so far, some interesting results.
In the meantime, 20 African nations including Nigeria, have ordered the Madagascan sweet worm a more potent version of this herbal drink have shown to have active effect on the eradication of the Corona cells. It will be interesting to see how effective it is and if is in the continent of Africa the race to find a cure will be won.
In fact, the money poured in to find a cure in Europe and America is liken to arm race so the one to have the cure, will dominate the market and make enormous profit by selling it at a prohibitive costs. It is unnerving that even at the midst of a global crisis, these pharmaceutical corporations are putting profit before people. Africa has so much going for it and it would be prudent to use this opportunity to reset their mind-set, that it can find answers to it myriad of issues by looking within. It has a young population ,untold resources and most of all, natural resources and manpower for self reliance and unity in purpose.
“Do not lose hope, nor be sad.” Quran 3:139
I lost my dear father coming to a year, we have been bereft and finding comfort in Allah everyday. I want to thank so many incredible people and organisations who continue to offer prayers and pay respect to my dear father. May Allah enrich you all.
“The bravest heart is the one that stays close to Allah (God), even, when it’s in pain.” Anonymous
I wrote an open letter to my father less than a week of his passing and we as a family continue to pray for Al Jannah Firdaus for my father for others who have lost their loved ones. Bereavement is not a precise process and it continues to come in waves, we are learning to deal with our loss the best way we can; by talking and coming together. We cried, we laughed and most importantly, look back with fondness and pride that we were so lucky to have had such incredible God fearing soul amongst us.
“When you forget that you need Allah (God), He puts you in a situation that causes you to call upon Him. And that’s for your own good.” Omar Suleiman
I hope this brings comfort to those who are grieving and may you find peace.
“Never underestimate the power of Dua (supplication).” Anonymous
My open letter to my father is below:
Dear Daddi mi,
I still can not believe you are gone, never to hear your voice again. Who is going to call me, in the midst of what I call being busy. You just call me because you want to hear my voice and know that I’m alright? If I am working late, you leave a message like you were writing me a letter, you will say; this is Kola Animasaun here, your father (-as if I do not know that).
Then when I call you, I will call you by your full name(dont blame me, my little sister started the trend but it’s so endearing) and then, you respond by saying;Ade mi. Oh how I wish, you could call me again. The way you say my name always makes me feel like a kid being wrapped up in love by a loving parent.
You always start every conversation with Alhamdulillah, finish by ;and we will see, InshAllah.
I feel safe when you begin our greetings with; Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh . My children take delight and they are convinced that only their grandad lay special emphasis on: Wabarakatuh.
When I call you on the phone, and I say; Daddi mi and you reply Ade mi. I am going to miss your kindness and your telepathic timing when you just know, I needed a call from you. Every time we finish speaking and I always feel that everything is again right with the world.
I want you to know, we are going to be fine and your darling wife, Ayinkus Modupeola Silphat, will be loved and taken care of, wrapped up in warm embrace by not just your children but by the extended wall of love that you and mum watered and nursed through the years. You say she is your pet, she is so lovable, she has not changed. Still the mother hen. We have been inundated with numerous stories of people you have helped in cash and deeds. The whole area has never seen anything like your passing. Hundreds followed your body to your final resting place, many have been coming to pay their respects to mum. The house is full to the rafters.
Their outpouring of emotion typifies your character and exemplary life. You are indeed a generous soul and what a man! You know, I can hear you say; I am just doing what Allah asked of me. You are going to be a tough gig to follow but then you know that and you have always said; be yourself and follow your truth. I will and I’m going to do exactly that.
You have prepared me and my siblings for this day but, we never wanted it to come this soon. I am 55 years old and so why do I feel abandoned? I feel some part of me is missing but I know I am complete.
I am going through the stages of grief so please bear with me while I process your loss. I am going to be fine once I stop being an emotional mess.
I will be brave and in time I know, I will be talking about you without bursting into tears in months to come. Right now, I am finding it hard to be brave.
Gov Rauf and many others came to visit mum. They said you were their mentor. They are going to miss you sending them Jummah prayers on their mobiles.
You are and always will be the first man who loved me unconditionally and with whom I learnt life lessons by your exemplary life.We left nothing unsaid, we have no unresolved issues but I am selfish to say that I didn’t want you to die. I can hear your cackle, so pleased you will find it amusing.
Everyone loves their dad but, I can say that you, daddi mi, you are my hero of all time. You have left us your blueprints everywhere we look, your books, your columns, your letters, the people that you touched their lives positively and your extended families. We are so blessed.
I tell you this all the time in your living years and you would smile that smile of yours, I am going to miss it so much. I see you in my siblings, your grandchildren and great grand son.
Yes, I had one dad and you were one helluva father. As long as I live, I am going to tell people how much you shaped my life and my thinking.Who will I call to discuss my angle when I am choosing a subject or topic for my column,? I can you hear you say, I have done my bit, its your turn now. Daddi mi, you sure did.
Who do I get an editorial opinion from, when I sail too close to the wind and you tell me to go further and give them the bitter truth? In the last 10 years since taking up the pen for Outside Looking in, I got to know more of Nigerians, share the frustrations and the despondency with you. You gave me the courage to tell my perspectives without leaving the shores.
You were a proud father, when your Voice of Reason fans became my fans, I could tell how happy it made you.
Whenever the trolls wrote their poisonous verbiage, you reassure me that, you, yourself a seasoned columnist had a fair share of their nonsense and you fill me with Parental courage that I should pay no mind but focus on telling the truth.
Every Sunday, I look forward to you and mum’s take on my literary offer, you were proud, so proud and I know it.
You loved your children and gave each one the love and attention they individually deserved. We did not have to jostle for your attention, you made us all confident in your love and attention.
We could not imagine that you will leave us this way, although, you prepared us for this time many years back. When you jokingly mention that, you can go anytime, we change the subject or try to make light of things. You said it, we just did not want to know. Every time you and I depart, you always remind me that, maybe this may be the last time we will see. I want you to know I treasured every moment we met and departed.
I found your letters you sent me from decades back, before WhatsApp and mobile phones. I will read them when I need to hear you and your support. You really cared, you are my hero and you always make me feel ten feet tall. I have told you this throughout your living years, so there is no change here.
You admired my toughness and independence. You tell me always that I am the embodiment of your formidable mother, Ayisat. Am not sure, I was that fierce but you always tell me that I am. I want you to know that it is you, that gave me the courage. Everything that I have always done, I could not wait to tell you and you were always so proud and pleased.
So pleased I shared with you that I was on the feature page of my professional journal in the UK and in it, I mentioned that you, yes you are my inspiration. Mum read it to you and you had that lovely glow . Mum always accused me playfully that I only want to speak to my dad before her. Yes, I am guilty. You then will jokingly plead that I better speak to your mum or she will be so jealous. This was our thing. It has always been dad first then mum.
So glad it was because it may be because, I needed to cram all my time with you in your living years.
I know mum was pleased that we loved you the way we did. I mean, what was there not to love? You were so lovable and spending time with you was very precious, and I cherished every single moment.
You painted my front door when you came to visit me in the UK, you would look into my fridge and do my shopping, you paid for my nursing registration not because I could not afford it but because you wanted to. Mum will tell us how you will wake early to make her tea, you start up the generator, you were meticulous in your forward thinking.
You had got your burial shroud ready many years ago but you offered the first one when a young relative unexpectedly died. You never leave anything to chance. I love the way you helped me organise my affairs from afar.
Just to let you know, I have saved your messages on my phone and when I am strong enough, I will sit and listen to your voice again and again. We truly lived in moments and we had loads of them.
You taught me to treasure moments and we did. We have so much to look back on, your surprise 70th birthday at my place when you returned from Istanbul. And we had several misses; your mini stroke at 69, your car accident a decade before, your skirmishes with military heads. You gave your wife grey hairs and us, well, you mischievously tell us that, that we will almost die sometime. You have been preparing us for this moment for decades and I think, we got so complacent or possibly just did not want to accept the fact that we are not in this physical plain forever, life is transient and you tutored us well .
I am no longer afraid, when my time comes, dad. I welcome my time when Allah wills it in the meantime, I will make you proud and your legacy is safe.
May Allah grant you Al Jannah firdaus….. Sun re ooo Sootofaiye of Aiyede Ekiti, Baba Adinni of Gbagura, Akede Adinni of Shitta-Bey Mosque and Agbeesinga Adinni of Dopemu.