A Tribute to Bamidele Olatunji: When a Friend Fails to Pick My Calls
By Segun Olanipekun **
We were the best of friends, right from the cradle. We had shared time, treasure and talent together like Siamese twins.
Our town denizens, IdofinIgbana, often referred to the two of us as twins, weaned by different mothers but bonded by an inseparable glue of umbilical cord.
As kids growing up in rural Kwara, we ate meals together, went to school together, farmed together, played together and fought like other kids, at times against each other and for the other.
But no matter the situation the bond of friendship never for once broke down.
So it was that we often fell into amnesia of an unending lifelong relationship of friendship.
This was a relationship that was predictably and naturally extending to our children and the ever-expanding coterie of members of our extended families.
We were forming a clan, not of blood, but of intimate knowledge and of living for one another. The fostering relationship, without doubt, was graduating to a family band with its own codes, frames and values of discipline, dedication, determination and hard work with godly contentment.
I and Bamidele Olatunji, as father figures, were the indisputable teachers in this group, our own shortcomings notwithstanding.
Alas! One of the teachers fell to the insatiable swallow of death on Friday, September 21, 2018.
My best and bosom friend, my cradle mate, playmate and co-teacher, legendary native wise cracker, gave up the ghost during a relapse of a prolonged sickness that we had hoped and prayed was survivable. I am bereaved and despondent.
BamideleOlatunji, aka Kokumo (the-one-that-will-not-die-again), my childhood friend, had lived a life, distinguished by hard work coupled with a rock determination to succeed.
Like me, we were born into families of peasant farmers whose parents laboured hard to ensure that we both received adequate Western education in spite of their own lack of opportunities.
So, it was that we were the first generation of college graduates from our respective families.
Kokumo, was so called, because he was the first surviving child of his parents after several earlier sibling-kid mortalities; he studied hard and worked hard to ensure that the incomparable legacy of education was unfailingly bequeathed to his children.
Today, I am proud of my friend that he succeeded in flying colors in that determination as all his children earned their degree diplomas before his passing to glory.
In addition, my friend left a legacy of impeccable character, enviable work ethic, unwavering faith in Christ and the resurrection, and a home that is an epitome of love, peace and joy.
Today, as our native motherland, IdofinIgbana in Oke Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State, Nigeria, opens up to take in one of its illustrious and famous sons, Engr. John Bamidele Ayanda Kokum Olatunji, I am consoled by the fact that you came, saw, unafraid, and fought the good battle of life triumphantly. I sorely miss you too much, Ajonny Boy!
OMG! I now know why you can no longer pick my calls or reply to my texts and taunts, including those entreaties and banters from Olufunke, your darling wife, and the lovely children Funmi, Dupe, Kemi and Ife.
Rest in perfect peace!