Tomorrow is the last dance. Last dance with my mother. I like that song by Luther Vandross, in which he lamented that he would not be able to dance with his father again. It goes thus in part:
Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around ‘til I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
How I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again
Well, my mum passed away on August 5, and the final obsequies for her holds tomorrow. It would be the final dance, for her, and with her. Luther Vandross wished he could get another chance, another walk, another dance with his father. That is my wish too. Another chance, another walk, another dance with my mother. But that can only happen in the realm of dream, of imagination. Oh, if only I could get another chance, “I’d play a song that could never, ever end. How I’d love, love, love, to dance with my mother again.” But it won’t happen. Mama Ruphina Olajumoke Adesina sleeps, after what William Shakespeare calls “life’s fitful fever.” She has taken her exit from life’s stage, and the curtains have been drawn. What a reality to live with!
I am never jealous of any man, no matter his stature or station in life. That is what the Good Book has taught me. But since August 5, I have found myself becoming jealous of a set of people – those who are old, and who still have their mothers around. How blessed, absolutely privileged they are! If only God had given my mum five more years to live up to 80. (Don’t mind that if she clocked 80, I would have asked God for five or 10 more years for her). The truth is that while I live daily with the constant realization of my own mortality, and ready for any eventuality, I refused to consider that my mum would die one day. That was equally the mindset of my other siblings too. Three days after she passed on, all seven of us, her children, congregated in her bedroom. And Foluke (Professor Mofoluwake Ogunleye) said: “I never thought there would ever be a time Mama would not be here. I just refused to consider it.”
Foluke spoke for all of us. We had refused to consider a time Mama would not be with us. But it is an inevitable, inexorable, ineluctable fact of life. Though we tried to run from it, it still caught up with us. Now, we’d love, love, love to dance with our mother again.
The Commendation Service in Lagos tomorrow concludes the rites of passage for a mother who was my friend, my confidant, my prayer warrior. Whenever I travelled, on land, in the air, or over the sea, I feared no evil. Why? Because I knew my mother was praying. In June, I had gone to Paris, in France. On the way back, over Algeria, the plane ran into the worst turbulence I’d ever seen in my flying career. It was so bad that raw fear was evident in the faces of the passengers and cabin crew. But I was unfazed. In fact, that was the period I drifted off into sleep. How come? Because I knew my mother was praying back home in Nigeria. If she was praying, why then should I bother my head? I just slept off.
Whenever I land from a trip, I would send a text message to my wife, then call my mother. Her first exclamation would be: “Praise the Lord!” And then we would catch up on our conversation. We never seemed to stop talking. Even in the morning of August 5, we still spoke, unknown to me that it was the last chance, the last walk, the last dance. You could imagine my situation when I landed in Lagos from a trip to Asaba early last week, and there was nobody to call. The pain was in the pit of my stomach. I felt so lonely, though there was a crowd round me.
Luther Vandross sang further of his dad: “Never dreamed that he would be gone from me.
If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
‘Cause I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again.”
I cried for 14 straight days after my mum passed. And I did it anywhere– in the office, at home, in the traffic, in church, everywhere. I lost count of the days, until when my secretary, Mrs Jane Nwosu, sent me a text message after she had just left my office one day: “Sir, you’ve been crying for 14 days now. Please be strong. Mama has gone to rest.”
Fourteen days? I didn’t realize it. I pulled myself together, and tried to be a man. And I really tried. My resolve held, till Tuesday this week, when I got a copy of the programme for the Commendation Service. Immediately I saw my mum’s picture on it, the dam burst again. Raindrops, falling, falling from my eyes.
At the last dance tomorrow, will I cry? I’ll try not to. I’ll only tell those who still have mothers, in the words of Sade Adu, to hang on to their love.
“In heavens name why are you walking away?
Hang on to your love.
In heavens name why do you play these games?
Hang on to your love.”
Love your mum as if there will be no tomorrow. Mothers are special. Leave the gods, and worship your mother. Before the last dance comes. It is an inescapable path to pass through in life, but you can make the best of the time you have now. If I had a choice, I’d never have opted for that path, giving it a wide berth. But it is involuntary.
One sure day, I’ll see my mother again. Another chance, another walk, another dance. How I’d love, love, love to dance with my mother again.
In the meantime, let Mrs Adenike Adesina enjoy her bragging rights that she’s now both my wife and mother.
…And IBB dazed me
Those who have read me over the years (since Concord Press days) know that I have never been an IBB fan. But I must say he has dazed me pleasantly with his call. IBB, phoning somebody you can call one of his media nemesis? Really, really surprising! “When two enemies shake hands, a suffering soul shoots out of Purgatory,” goes the saying. I must salute the generosity of spirit, and large-heartedness of the former military president.
PDP, the wind and the whirlwind
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had it coming for a long time, and it got its just desserts last weekend. The party broke right down the middle at a special convention held in Abuja.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former acting national chairman, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, former national secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and at least seven governors walked out of the convention, to announce the birth of what is now called New PDP.
Since the party was formed in 1998, the PDP had been everything else but democratic. See the way all the party chairmen had emerged or left office – in crisis. From Solomon Lar, to Barnabas Gemade, Audu Ogbe, Ahmadu Ali, Vincent Ogbulafor, Okwezilieze Nwodo, and Bamanga Tukur, it had been stormy all along. PDP was merely taking Nigerians for granted, arrogating to itself the status of Africa’s largest political party, when it is nothing more than a votes grabbing Leviathan. It wins elections by hook or crook.
See how presidential candidates emerged in the party. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was handpicked, when it was crystal clear that he didn’t have the physical requirements in terms of health, to be president. Goodluck Jonathan himself emerged in clear violation of the party’s constitution. Ifeanyi Ararume won the primary election to stand as candidate for Imo State governor in 2007, he was denied, and the party preferred not to field anybody for the position. Why hold primaries in the first place, and in a party that has the word ‘democratic’ as part of its name, if the baby would be thrown away with the bathwater? This was autocracy, and no mistake.
Olusegun Mimiko wanted to be governor in Ondo State, but the powers-that-be asked him to go and queue, and wait for his turn. That one left, joined Labour Party, and is now in his second term in office. If he had stayed, PDP’s variant of ‘democracy’ would have ruined his political career.
Also in Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi won the primaries for the 2007 gubernatorial race. Somebody said his candidacy had k-leg, and unilaterally replaced him. But it is said that the witch can do exploits in killing and eating babies, till the day she kills twins. That is when the bones will be stuck in her throat. Since 2007, Amaechi has been like a bone in the throat of PDP, and in a way, he is central to what is happening to the party now.
We know how the Rivers State governor has been hounded, harassed badgered because he simply demanded his democratic rights. Part of the ripple effects is that the PDP is now broken into Old and New PDP. That is what you get when you play God.
I had always warned that unless it changed its way, the PDP would either implode or explode, or even do both. What is happening now is both an implosion and an explosion. And see all the personalities involved. A good number of them can be described as ‘Obasanjo’s loyalists,’ except maybe Atiku and Amaechi. Wonders, as they say, shall never end.
We keep tabs and see what becomes of PDP. But one thing is crystal clear: Africa’s vaunted ‘largest political party’ will never be the same again, just like Humpty-Dumpty in that nursery school rhyme. Unless the party mends its ways, and returns to democratic ways, not all the king’s men, or all the king’s horses will be able to put Humpty-Dumpty together again.
Right is the Good Book when it says: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, the same shall he reap.” (Galatians 6:7)