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November 25, 2023

Remembering The Dead, And Those Targeted To Die, By Muyiwa Adetiba

Remembering The Dead, And Those Targeted To Die, By Muyiwa Adetiba

Muyiwa Adetiba

November is the month for the dead. November 2 every year, is All Souls’ Day. It is a day to pray for our departed loved ones whose deeds on earth were not deemed good enough to take them to heaven nor bad enough to take them straight to hell. These are called ‘souls in purgatory’; being souls in a sort of half-way house where, unable to help themselves, intercessory prayers of Saints and loved ones can help purge their iniquities and set them on their journey to heaven.

It is not coincidental that it comes immediately after the All Saints Day when Churches irrespective of denominations, are expected to acknowledge the roles of Saints in modelling the Church into what it is today. It is also a day to plead the Saints’ intercessory prayers for the faithful, the Church and the world as a whole.

Yes, November is the month for the dead because the Universal Church in its wisdom, has realized that just one day, the All Souls’ Day, is not enough to do justice to the memory of all ourfaithful departed, and has therefore, dedicated the entire month. While it is true that thoughts of loved ones are never too far from the heart, having a dedicated month helps in refocusing thoughts and memories of people who have passed on.

I have for example, thought a lot about many of my dear departed in the past couple of weeks. I have thought of my father wondering how he would have re-acted to certain decisions I have taken in the past four decades since his demise. He was a quiet but deeply spiritual man who loved and was attracted to children. I thought of my father-in-law who died before I really got to know him.

The tape that plays in my head sometimes and which came up again this month, was when I visited him in Benin with a senior colleague, veteran journalist OluAkaraogun on our way to visiting late Brigadier Ogbemudia who had just been made Governor. Late OluAkaraogun was an ebullient man who could make any room come alive. He enlivened my quiet, conservative father-in-law in a way I had never witnessed as they shared memories of Government College Ibadan, their alma mater.

This gave an inkling to a side of my father-in-law I wished death didn’t take so quickly away from me. But my mother-in-law, I got to know a lot more. She was the kind of mother-in-law anybody would want. She was supportive but not intrusive. Every visit added value and we all looked forward to her visits which were few and far in between. A home builder, her real strength was in the quality of advice she gave to her daughter during those years I was hardly home trying to build a career and the line between work and play became too thin for comfort.This is the twentieth year anniversary of her death. This is a tribute to her strength, resilience and motherly love. May her soul continue to rest in peace. We still miss her.

My mother’s death is still so fresh that I don’t need November to remember her. Since her death two years ago, I have relived being a child again – being fed, being scolded and being loved. It is true that one never grows old to a mother. I took her love for granted because I knew she would always be in my corner. And she was until death did us part. Rest well mama mi.

To my friends who departed this world, I have re-scanned your faces and memories again this November. I particularly remember two of those who died during Covid19. They were both retired Commissioners of Police. The last time I spoke with DrElokaAbuah, he had a cough. I asked him to check it not knowing it was the beginning of his journey to eternity. As for Yomi Onashile, I spoke with him barely two weeks before he died.

I always remember the former during tennis matches because he would call me while the latter, a formidable squash player in his younger days, was our beloved D.J at our monthly group get-together. I miss you both. Two elderly people who once played a part in my life at different times, died a couple of months of each other recently. OtunbaSubomiBalogun and Chief Chris Ogunbanjo were alike in many ways, yet different.

Both were lawyers and Old Igbobians who distinguished themselves as Nigerians worthy of emulation. Our conversations will play in my head from time to time. Finally, two of my childhood friends, Bolaji Williams and SesanOgunro. Both were of the same age – a few months apart; both got married the same year – a couple of weeks apart; both were extroverts and successful entrepreneurs. While this is the tenth year – almost to the month- of Sesan’s death, thinking of him and the things we did together still bring a dull ache to my heart. Bolaji’s death barely five months ago, is still very raw and he comes to my mind very often especially during the monthly meetings of a club we both belong to. May their souls find repose in the bosom of the Lord.

Sadly, this November is not only a month for the dead, it is also a month of the dead. It is a month when many more theatres of death have been opened all over the world. The Russian/Ukraine war which is in its second year continues to claim innocent souls. Whatever restraint Russia has had in the past year is being withdrawn after seeing what is happening in Gaza where wanton and gruesome killings are going on.

A journalist in Gaza lost every member of his family after sending them out to a supposedly safe place. He has become part of larger statistics of families that have been dismembered; communities that have been decimated; and houses that have been destroyed. No age is safe in Gaza as babies and the elderly are being routinely slaughtered. No gender is safe in Gaza as males and females meet the same bestial death.

Nowhere is safe in Gaza as camps and hospitals are regularly bombed. Nobody living in Gaza can say with certainty that they will live to see this Christmas since those who are not being bombed are being starved. That we can watch these atrocities calmly over dinner or a can of beer and still go to bed shows the world has lost its humanity. That we can even debate a ceasefire given the genocide that is going on shows the hypocrisy of the so called Western leaders. Can the world which has not forgotten the holocaust after all these years, be able to forget this genocide in years to come?It is sad that the victims of one have become the perpetrators of the other.

Finally, the month of November teaches us that we will all die and leave all our acquisitions,all our dreams, and all our powers behind irrespective of how we have utilized them.It is a month for the dead, the dying and those to die. The November bell tolls for all of us.