He Will Never Be 50
Dipo Famakinwa was born July 7, 1967
Providence trusted on him something bigger than his shoulders.
He strategized for an entire ethnic group.
He planned development like he was development.
I watched as people much older called him; uncle, brother and egbon.
I have seen older people prostrate for him.
Together we laughed!
Together we joked, that soon his age will be revealed to their consternation.
I teased him on the "idobales" he may have to return.
Now, he will never be 50.
He planned my 50th birthday with others.
He was there for me.
He held my hand.
He wore the Aso Ebi proudly.
He designed his Fila specially.
He was one of the first to arrive.
He launched my book.
He stayed with me, until we left the hall at dusk.
But, he will never be 50
I planned to return the favor, BIG!
I was excited for him.
I imagined the governors that will be present.
I imagined the cross section of business and political elite to be invited.
I imagined his joy.
I thought of big things and small things.
He will never be 50.
Five weeks ago, I asked if this "leg" will heal early enough for our party
He said, "maybe we will do thanksgiving instead".
That worried me not at the time.
I looked forward to the thanksgiving.
The daily calls turned into trickles.
The calls, became text messages.
Text messages became infrequent.
I became agitated.
I had no idea he will never be 50.
I begged him to come to America.
He said the doctors were doing their best.
He assured me he would be fine.
He believed in the system.
Each time, I told him
The chicken does not die from a leg fracture.
That is from the elemental invocations of our ancestors.
Adìye kìí t'esè ku.
My friend will never be 50.
He braved it!
Was that necessary?
I will never know!
Too late now.
Then he agreed to seek help abroad.
I was hopeful.
I prayed! I prayed!
Last Saturday, I missed his call.
I felt like slapping myself.
He sent text in quick successions.
That he will be leaving for treatment.
I couldn't call back because it was late in Nigeria.
I sent messages.
I was worried but hopeful.
On Easter I wrote, invoking the resurrection of Christ for his healing.
I would never have known he will never be 50.
I was woken with the often dreaded call.
Dipo Famakinwa passed this morning!
I was beyond devastated!
I thought of the dreams we shared;
How we never spoke about ourselves but Nigeria for hours;
The meaning of this devastating personal loss;
The meaning of this loss to our people;
The planned projects;
His handshake across the Niger;
I am inconsolable.
My friend will never be 50!
I'm filled with regrets.
Should I have pushed harder?
Should I have drawn attention to him?
What is the power of humans over fate?
Is this destiny?
Was he in a hurry to achieve this mission?
Why did he hide the enormity from me?
What did he feel towards the end?
Did he know the end was near?
When he swam into the cold river of death, did his faith endure?
My friend succeeded in everything a man should succeed in.
But he will never be 50.
I have no closure.
I wish I did not miss that last call.
But our friendship endured.
I was restless hours before his death.
I could not sleep.
I sent him a message; praying for his recovery, hoping to talk to him in London.
He was in the throes of death at the time.
That message was never read.
It will never be read by him.
He was a true, loyal and dedicated friend.
Everyone who called told me how he respected me so much.
It was reciprocal.
I'm glad I told him several times how I love and cherish him.
I forever will.
I will mourn.
I will mourn this great personal loss
I will think.
I will question a lot a of things.
When this overwhelming grief leaves me.
That is when I will be back here.
I will mourn Dipo.
He will never be 50.