My dad passed away recently, hence the almost silence on the blog and social media, it was sudden but a good passing. A good passing but no less sad, because someone I love and was close to is gone. There is nothing like a death to bring the family close or closer. My dad was the one who brought the family together so it was only fitting that this trip back home bring me and my sister closer to the wider family. My family is huge, grand kids, kids, nieces, nephews etc the whole gang together. Some family members we’d never met to those we lost touch with. Such was the soul of my father, people knew him and he knew people and they loved him.
Burying your dad in my culture is no small task- it is a HUGE deal by any means. There are traditions to observe, who buys the coffin, what colours to wear, (there is always a colour scheme to any occasion), the rules of wearing no black, (past a certain age in yoruba culture we do not wear black to mourn the dead- my dad was 74 and had 11 grand children, this was a celebration of his life) what ankara to wear, what undertakers should bury him, what the undertakers should wear, what roles different family members should play… its a big thing. Its the prayer for every parent that their child bury them, but for us his girls, my sister and I, it was still emotional and sad. We were far apart in distance- I got to see him for the first time in a very long in the summer of this year, and I always thought I’d be back home to see him next year or in a couple years, he’d be there at my wedding to walk me down the aisle, wait around to see have children… I had all these prayers and wishes that were never to be, but I am glad for the life we had together. He got to see my sister get married, walk her down the aisle, give her away, observe the traditional wedding rites, meet her son, know his other grand children as well from my other siblings etc. and to that end I am grateful.
Its consoling that every one, every single person who knew my dad, was at the funeral, only had good things to say about my father. Like the song Fela sang, Water, E no get enemy. My father had no enemies, only friends, a lot of friends. He was a huge political influence, always on the ground of every campaign. He was much loved, and meant so much to so many, so this was not going to be just a simple funeral, everyone got their chance to say goodbye. He was a sports enthusiast; boxing, squash, an avid Liverpool supporter, obsessive even. He was a prankster, often hiding behind cupboards to jump out to scare people. He was also fun, super fun; he would walk into a bar, get on the piano and play the perfect rendition of The Way You Look Tonight and have the bar under a spell. When asked for an encore he’d admit to only knowing to play that one song…lol but he could read a music script like no other. His mother was an acclaimed writer who wrote one of the most famed stories in Nigerian Literature, Oluronbi’s Promise and she encouraged his artistic endeavours.
Remembering all of this, being told these stories, made this an even more wonderful send off and celebration.
We stayed in the house my dad grew up in- his cousin’s house where we spent countless holidays with my cousins. Fun times and many great memories. Seeing old faces and meeting new ones.
We haven’t been back in over twenty years and whilst our house was under repairs my aunt opened up her house to us. It was fun to see my nephew run around the compound, chasing chickens and goats, rolling in the grass and kicking up a ton of fun. Just like we did decades before him, and just like my dad did decades before us.
The swing set and wheel barrow above are as old as I can remember, we rolled around in the wheelbarrow and had a ball on the swing set. The trees are still as wild and big as ever, hanging over the house and providing much needed breeze when NEPA decides it has had enough of giving us a good thing. Gosh all those memories of time gone by.
Death is the only certainty in life, and every one of us must pay those dues, I guess what’s important is the legacy you leave for those you have left behind to remember you by. For my dad his was love and kindness; he was so quick to love, I don’t ever recall him being angry about anything, and he never sweat the small stuff. He was the most easy going and loved person I have ever known. I hope to lead a life like that.
Rest In Peace Dad.