FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
[email protected]
Melbourne, Australia
FATHERLY FRIEND FASEUN IS DEAD

Late Dr Frederick Fasehun (September 25, 1938 -- December 1, 2018)

‘Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.’ - Richard Kadrey

‘Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, not yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men.
And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell,
And better than they stroke. Why swell’st thou them?
One short sleep, past we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shall die.’
                   John Donne’s “Death, Be Not Proud”

he kaleidoscopically polychromatic feature of events make reminiscence a tenuously tall order I know; but the magnetic health of the functional cerebrum, despite a trillion hours of sleep between the moment of occurrence and that of recollection, disarms the complex chemistry of the hydra-headed rainbow to pin down the themes of recoverable experience in the most categorical order the commerce of apposite chronology invites.

From commencement point, therefore I commence the historic story of meeting Dr. Faseun: Preparations for the grand celebration of the 17th March Humanity Day, the annual festival of beauty I had started seven years earlier (of course in conjunction with the appreciated efforts of humane other), sped nearer in the early days of 2013. E-mails and calls inundated my convenience, asking me to declare that year’s venue as the founder and cordinadora. We were in love with prestigious venues and we hardly utilized a venue twice. Venues of the past Humanity Day celebrations include the National Stadium’s Basketball Court, Surulere (20011), the University of Lagos Sport Complex (2009), the Laurel School’s Main pitch (2012), etc. Humanity Day was my own initiative of a better human race. All that I had concocted in the chemistry of my Samaformist spirituality I excitedly, annually expressed in the grand festivity of the Humanity Day. Humanity Day must be annually marked, no matter the cost.

A gifted singer I had the social scarce bonanza of knowing through Humanity Day, artiste Snoop Song, introduced me to the then Century Hotel’s manager, Mr. Ope. Snoop Song had worked at Century as a visiting artiste every Friday night. He had had dealings with the management then and we railed on the tracks of his connection to explore the chances of celebrating the 17th March, 2013 Humanity Day at the most talked about hospitality establishment in the neighbourhood of Ago Palace, Isolo, Lagos.

Faseun was impressed (when I joyously met him) not just by the ideational contents of Humanity Day, but also by the grammatically unimpeachable and psychologically composed ways I had spoken –to him- about them. He did approve the use of Century Hotel on zero Naira commitment. Mr. Ope and Femi Daniel (Dr. Faseun’s driver of the time) congratulated me on my successful meeting with Dr. Faseun; and with Snoop Songs, I smiled home on the titivating imports of that comforting success. I immediately named Century Hotel as the venue for the 2013 Humanity Day celebration.

Then came the D – day. Thousands gathered from most tutorial centres, as usual from Isolo, Egbeda, Akoka and Surulere. Clad in white shirts and blue jean trousers as visionary advocates of a better world, we recited our “Heal the World” anthem, pleasurably cut the 2013 Humanity Day Cake, watched stage plays, racked jokes from Kenny Black and other amazing souls, ate to satisfaction, exchanged gifts and listened to the 2013 Humanity Day speech.

Dr. Faseun arrived from a function in the thick midst of these, joined us; I gave him a moving recognition and movingly, he was applauded by the ocean of moved thousands who were excited to meet him for the first time. My Students and I were five and six; they knew the father of Samaformism and Humanity Day founder to be ideologically focused and morally strict. They knew I would not compromise the future of our cherished festival with ethically incongruous reasons. My powerful introduction of Faseun was the spiritual electricity required to spark the lacuna in the humanism we preferred and the firebrand activism Dr Faseun was known for.

One of the soldierly attackers of anarchy in those military eras represented by those souls in dark consciousness, a brave member of NADECO and emperor-founder of the Oodua People’s Congress, the man I had been reading of from my secondary school years in the 90s was face-to-face with me on the occasion of the 2013 Humanity Day! Faseun’s speech to us was extemporaneous though; its rhetorical transformer wired up the excitement of meeting him with the friendship that later followed. Thousands of my students and fans specially enjoyed that year’s Humanity Day because he was there; this humble, soft sounding human giant, allowing us to use his luxurious premises without payment and joining us to sound the Samaformist creed of “Man as Man” on the occasion of the 2013 Humanity Day, made our day!

He left the celebration ground for the Century Tower that houses his book-filled office, asking one of the OPC warriors to extend an urgent invitation to me. I put some of my loyal and spiritual lieutenants (Abaizo, Lateef, Sola and Coker) in charge of things and rolled my biological wheels up to him. He told me of his hobbies (basically reading, writing and kicking against injustice), his position on Nigeria’s situation and I was marveled. How could this lion be telling a mosquito about himself as if such information would change the mosquito into a lion? That is the truly great way of the great; in their presence, none is less than relevant; in their calculations, everyone is born to be immortal.

I told him I am also a writer and later got him a copy of my second book, Immortal Instructions, through which he intellectually had his first intercourse with me. “That book is my new Bible in bed” he impressively announced. This nationally talked about phenomenon was so proud of me that he referred to me as “Prof”. Imagine!

One evening, my electronic gourd echoed and he was the one calling. I excitedly picked. He asked if it was convenient for me to see him that day or if I would love to have the conversation done on the phone. Of course I had missed him! And though fatigued by that day’s activities and the cells of my facial windows now campaigning for sleep, I honoured the first option.

He began by thanking me for coming. He then asked if I liked the way Nigeria was and my answer was ‘no’. He asked how I thought Nigeria could be made better and I didn’t vacillate to shout, ‘Revolution, bloody revolution; for, those who live that we may die ought to die for us live.’ He smiled before turning his quench-light of objection to the acidity of my youthful submission. I was a bit disappointed. Why would a strong man in charge of six million native soldiers repudiate the idea of a revolution for Nigeria’s unnegotiable redemption?

‘See’, he went on, ‘revolution will leave most of the things destroyed and a lot of people dead. And after it, the process of building will return to the reason I invited you here, Wale my son’. I was now calm. I had to be. The man who founded OPC objected to violent socio-political transformation. I wanted to know why, but his explanations, a subject for another essay, led to the resuscitation of Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria.

Obafemi Awolowo was a man I respect so much. He was the one whose vision, brilliance and work plotted the Yoruba race on the graph of greatness in every sphere of existence. I was in the primary school when he died; but the man who currently spoke to me probably spoke to him and knew him in person. So I decided to hold the Awo’s ideologically relieving pendulum in the narrative physics of Dr Faseun. I joined the team. I was active there.

That project recommended me to the movers and shakers of things in the South-West and beyond. Faseun trusted me so much. He included me in the intelligentsia of the party and had classified meetings with me on pertinent issues at different stages of the project. We realized the surplus presence of quislings and I advised the variety of relationships he should have with different actors on board.

One thing was unique about Faseun: He was neither as closed as his OPC background suggested, nor as impossible to meet as his fame painted his hourly recurring name. He gently rebuked the idea of intimidating anyone with force. He would not have one Mr Adewale subjugated with the OPC force when the later was arranged for by a cadre of the UPN Resuscitating Committee to be beaten up for being ideologically stubborn. He was a gentle soul who would fight to remain gentle for the coming hope; but he was even more caring than he appeared: He treated his workers like friends, his handlers like brothers and strangers with expensive courtesy. His only enemies were those flying humans who would have the flight facilities of others destroyed; like Chinua Achebe suggests in one of his acclaimed novels, he seemed to be saying, ‘Let the eagles fly; let the eaglet fly; whichever says the other should not fly, let its wings break.’

This I must corroborate with the generosity he accorded me on one of the 2014 August days I publicly presented my third intellectual child, Sermons for My Planet to the whole world. That day, it rained cat and dog; I was not sure I would have a beautiful day as Lagosians dislike climatic inconveniences. But of all those expected to turn up as dignitaries, only Faseun, Dr.Quadri, Dr Richard and Alhaji Nosir braved the pounding aggression of that day’s rain to make me happy. He spoke highly of me and pronounced me his friend. The product of my philosophical reflections on life’s popular spheres, he adorned my 456 page book with a commendation that is now the umbilical cord of his literary interest in my artistic talents as an encourager.

He was my friend. He was my father, he was my joy. I occasionally rode in his car if I chose. He was more humble than humility in itself. The Nigerian stress was made light each time I remembered I could go to see him whenever I wanted. Knowing him dragged me into limelight and favour among the OPC rank and file. Loved by everyone of these invincible soldiers, baba’s son, as they tagged me, was respected and protected everywhere in Lagos. Those who knew not the chemistry of the bond mistook me for a member of the OPC. Eluku and Ranbo, Elewure and Esike, Bosenlo and Odo, Onbe and Bullet, Oluwo and Commander, Ariyo and Aboki, Ibadan, plus a host of physically strong, morally conscious, spiritually deep and socially exciting men who made my stay in Ago Palace safe for the camping they provided and the love they gave, were the intriguing human characters I met through my association with Dr. Faseun.

I was free in with his freezer: I could take whatever I wanted from it; I was popular with his book shelves: I did check regularly to see if any book existed there to be read. His immediate family took me as theirs: Bunmi and David Faseun showed me love. Mama, Faseun’s jewel of inestimable value treated me as her son, always. Uncle Jibayo, Faseun’s immediate younger brother who died March this year extended the same degree of affinity in the way he treated me. I was one of the Faseuns, by healthy social and ideological connections.

If Faseun did not seen me for a period of one or two months, he would say ‘Prof se o mi bamija ni?’ which translates as, ‘Prof, are you quarrelling with me?’ To this I always prostrated before him as the Yoruba culture demands. He would asked me to stand up and we would discuss for as much time, not as he was willing to spare, but that I agreed to spend with him. This man never forgot to occasionally give me calls!

In the month of November, 2017, a group of people whose association I cannot now remembered were to honorifically decorate him at Century Hotel and Bunmi Faseun told me about it. I went there. He was happy to see me; his special smile said so. Bunmi Faseun knew how much baba cherished me and he told me to chat with him as the reception progressed. We had an emotional yakety yak; I followed him to the point food was being served; he gave me his cap to hold as he grappled with the delicacy some fat apple supplied, ignoring about three people there who had offered to hold it. I saw love in his eyes, beauty in his heart and hope in his soul, the flooded stream of thoughts and ideas in whose pacific estuary my tumultuous ocean of friendship and fatherhood found fulfillment. That was the last time I saw and spoke with him before travelling, my fatherly friend and friendly father who now belongs to the ages.

On the early hours of the First of December, I saw and heard the explosion of guns in my nightmarish sleep. I was confused by it. A lot of hours later, a Nigerian friend of mine pasted a condolence on my Facebook Wall, referring to the death of fatherly friend Faseun in it. I checked the news from the websites of my native Nigeria and it was so. I wept. In truth, my own Faseun is gone. The only eminent Nigerian whose hands hugged me with assurance and shoulder received my downcast head without fears, is dead. In all of literature, there can be no more intelligibly apt assertion to comfort my state than in the words of Washington Irving to reinforce the tears in whose sorrowful waves I now swim, ‘There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messenger of overwhelming grief of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.’ Sleep well, the only non-conformist in the midst of betraying, dangerously acquiescing politicians; goodbye, to the healer of the sick, advocate of justice, destroyer of oppressors and motivator of mankind.


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