My father had attended a burial party thrown by the children of a friend of his which was held at a venue not too far from my home. So, on leaving the party, he decided to drop by to say hello. Or maybe, as the conversation showed, he wanted to let me know what he expected from me when he passed on, while it was still fresh on his mind. Of course, he didn’t just come out and hit the proverbial nail on the head. He started off by letting me know how wonderful the party was and how the children of the deceased had really honoured their father with the way they celebrated his passing. I knew he was leading up to something but I wasn’t going to make it easier for him by jumping the gun. I sat back and waited, smiling almost imperceptibly.
Eventually, we got to where we were going. “I’m sure he must be smiling up there and he will continue to look out for them for the way they have honoured him”. I couldn’t help myself. I had to stress him a little. “But Dad, you know the party had absolutely no benefit to the dead man. He wasn’t there. He didn’t enjoy it, no matter what you think, and he definitely has nothing to contribute to whatever happens to the children here on earth”! He was aghast! He looked at me in a way that made me think he was contemplating if it was too late to request a DNA test, seeing as I was already in my 50s and also the small matter that I was his spitting image. The doubts had been raised though. How could a child of his talk like this? “So what are your plans for when I go?” he asked, anticipating the worst. Well, I wasn’t going to disappoint him. “What other plans could there be, Dad? We will bury you the same day or the next according to Islamic rites and probably serve pofpof (he knew my relationship with pofpof) and Coke in take-away bags to those that make it to the cemetery!
He was shell-shocked. He looked at me for almost a full minute without saying a word, while I struggled not to burst into laughter. Finally, he heaved a sigh like he had made peace with himself. “I thank God you are not my only child. Oya, Wasiu, let’s go home”, tapping the driver’s headrest. I couldn’t hold it anymore and I burst out laughing. I could see that even Wasiu was smiling while trying not to make it obvious that he had been eavesdropping. I assured my father that he had nothing to worry about. We all knew he what he liked and my siblings and I would make him proud whenever he moved on. A few short years later and he indeed passed on. And we had a party for him that would have had him smiling in appreciation if he could have seen it. While I don’t believe he is looking out for me from the terrestrial realm and warding off enemy attacks, I am quite pleased we were able to do his memory proud.
I of course hold very different views about death and what happens afterwards from those held by my father. Nowhere is the difference more stark than in what happens after the event. I remember once I mentioned to him about my signing up as an organ donor and he thought I had gone crazy. Why in the world would I do something as ridiculous as that? He always knew there was something ‘abnormal’ with the way I saw things but this was a bit extreme, didn’t I think? How could I have signed up to have parts of my body removed before I was buried? Who does that? Well, I do! I wasn’t surprised at his reaction though. It is not for no reason that black people generally are not famous for getting on the Organ Donor Register, even in the Western world where such practices are fairly common. In Africa, the famous camel and its cousin, the talking donkey would pass through the eye of the needle before that happens. Expecting a proper-born Isale-Eko man to willingly sign up that his heart and any other bits and pieces that could help humanity and probably save a life be removed before his corpse is fed to the worms is asking quite a bit.
I signed up as an Organ Donor over 10 years ago and I carry a card in my wallet that says so. While I do hope that I live long enough that whatever is left after I die would not be of much use for anything other than scientific research, I also recognise that I could die at any moment and there could be parts of me that would still be useful in prolonging someone else’s life. If a part of me that I no longer have any use for can extend the life of another human being by 5 or 10 years, why then would I prefer to feed that to maggots? Who knows if the young man that gets my heart or liver would live to one day become the Surgeon that would perform the life-saving surgery on my son or daughter? How can I tell if the lady that gets my liver will find the cure for cancer, whether the one that afflicts humans or the cancer of corruption afflicting my country. How do I know my kidney wont end up in the person that solves the world’s hunger problem? Yet, I would rather this does not happen because of some cultural or religious notion that I have to arrive ‘heaven’ whole or some other irrational reason that defies logic or science? I’ve got news for you, ladies and gentlemen, when you die, you have absolutely no use whatsoever for your corpse. If you are religious and believe in heaven and hell, well, its your spirit that makes the trip to either destination so you don’t need the flesh. And If you are not bothered about going to heaven or hell, why are you bothered about what happens to your corpse? You can be the gift that keeps on giving. Go on, get on The Register.
AND THREE LITTLE THINGS
Love don’t live here anymore
I think President Tinubu has probably enjoyed the shortest honeymoon of any President in the history of Nigerian Presidents. There will be lessons to be learnt by students of political science on why he has transited from being the harbinger of renewed hope to becoming what Nigerians believe is the undertaker of their aspirations for a better life in less than 60 days in office. While all front-runners in the Presidential contest made the same pledge to remove the infamous fuel subsidy which a majority of Nigerians had agreed needed to go, it seems not enough thought was given to how the consequential impact of that policy would be addressed. And I don’t mean just by Tinubu, but all the candidates. I have not heard or seen anything from any of the others that would suggest that if it had been any of them who made it into office, we would be anywhere but where we are today. It is however particularly unnerving that the Candidate who was sold to us as the ‘boy genius’ and the one who had all the answers could be floundering so badly so early on. I do hope he comes to grips with the enormity of the challenges that come with being President very quickly. Nigeria no be Lagos!
The travails of ‘Ewemefielele’
The circus that is the detention and trial of Emefiele assumed new dimensions yesterday with the Prisons Service and Operatives of the DSS almost engaging in a shoot-out over who should have custody of the prized asset! Obviously, Emefiele is no ordinary detainee. His entire ordeal is a study in ridiculousness. The DSS picked him up and initially denied having him. They then accused him of all sorts of crimes, including terrorism, for which they had no evidence, and after whetting the appetites of Nigerians finally managed to charge him for the illegal possession of ONE gun! In a country where Asari Dokubo, a honoured guest of the President who was granted a presidential platform to make insidious accusations against the Military, goes around with a well-armed private Army. What a joke. Now after being granted bail following six weeks of unlawful and vindictive detention, the DSS wont let him go and this is why, according to a friend. “You see, whichever Agency has Emefiele in custody has a ‘cash-cow’ to be milked for all he is worth. Our big men don’t like discomfort and they will pay anything to avoid experiencing the hardships they routinely inflict on the rest of us. So the DSS didn’t want the Prisons people to have access to their vault”! I feel for Emefiele but I hope his travails, much as I am totally opposed to the scape-goating, serve as a lesson in hubris to others.
Dance, Ade, dance
Nigeria is a very funny country. When you are hated, you cant do right, and when you are loved, you cant do wrong! I remember before Tinubu became President, one of the most repeated accusations against him by his traducers, mostly from everywhere but Lagos, was his love for cronyism and nepotism. It was common to hear that he had cornered Lagos, even when it wasn’t easy to point at members of his family in his cabinet. That of course does not negate the accusations of cronyism. It however appears that the ample dancer in Osun is set to elevate whatever we thought we knew about nepotism to another level. Since his capacity appears to be rather limited, the Osun people were probably hoping his big brother, or at least Davido, would be the power behind the throne but it seems the brains in the family have decided to leave the fate of Osun people in the hands of Ade Jackson. He has appointed himself Commissioner of Works. How he intends to fulfil the requirements of that office while serving as Governor beats me. More intriguing is his appointment of his nephew who just finished his NYSC in October 2022 as the Chairman of the Osun Local Government Service Commission. His justification for this appointment will probably make sense to Asake or Kizz Daniel. Meanwhile, people of The State of Osun, if all else fails, dance!
– Bakare is a columnist with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine