For Prof Femi Odekunle: It’s Two Years In Absentia, By Abdullahi O. Haruna (Haruspice)

All the things that defined his existence had traces of constricted struggles, if he wasn’t fighting against nature’s unequal template, he would be up against man’s unfair manifestations to fellow men. He was born a rebel and died a rebel fighting against popular norms that tend to choke men by those with oppressive upper hands. Even on his deathbed, Professor Femi Odekunle was up against a corrupt system. When he was diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus, he was asked to pay a certain amount in millions before treatment could commence. Not that he didn’t have the said amount but he queried the rationale behind the said amount at a time this virus was considered a national health priority. Why should patients be made to cough out the money in millions before they are attended to, he smelt not just the odor of corruption but the insensitivity laced in this racket.
With constricted breath, he cried out to those who should hear. The repercussion of speaking out about the contraption of the covid-19 scam was the sparse medical attention he received while in isolation at the Gwagwalada Specialist isolation center. He was left to his fate, it took the sacrificial bravery of his wife, Toyin Odekunle who became his nurse, doctor, and caregiver for the late sage to last the 12 days he battled with  breath. With no medical personnel ready to be there for covid 19 patients, the woman had to hire volunteer /private nurses to tend to her husband.
The man suffered the worst excruciating choking of the coronavirus and met the worst medical attention, after 12 days fighting alone, he succumbed to the virus when everything else failed including the absence of gas-powered ventilators. Corruption eventually grabbed Femi Odekunle by the jugular after many years speaking against the same monster. That was when the rebel teacher, the irrepressible voice against injustice and the bridge between the old and young ethos breath his last- this time, Odekunle who has survived life’s fiercest tribulations succumbed to a cowardly virus that was aided by corrupt inhabitants of a compromised system. Indeed, Prof Odekunle died so cheaply.
Call it a paradox of words, call it an irony of truth, consider it a metaphor of reality, but I know,  you know and we know that Professor Femi Odekunle was a man of historical, contemporary, and future value. He was a bridge between the age the old and the young, across path of the generations who witnessed the mistakes of our fathers and stood as an opposing force to the misdeeds of our nation. Today, he lay still in the belly of the earth after 78 years of sojourn on mother earth.
Everyone has a story worth telling and saving. Sometimes, life gives us the privilege to tell our stories ourselves; other times, the lives we live become reflective mirrors for others to reject or emulate. The life and times of Professor Oluwafemi Odekunle recounts the story of a shining star that appeared on the horizon of the world,  grabbed people’s attention, and then disappeared into the cold embrace of death.
The tragic demise of the sage hit everyone who knew him with every telltale of a snowstorm. It is one excruciating swipe, that shattered our defenses and brought many of us to the brink of delirium.
During the 78 years in which he sojourned this troubled world, Professor Odekunle lived an effervescent and unassuming life. He was a rebel against mediocrity and didn’t succumb to scripted efforts to stifle his voice in the midst of multitudes. As an erudite academic, he demonstrated an impeccable dedication to the service of God and humanity.
Like every mortal, death comes to us all. It is our collective destiny and the ultimate umpire that draw the curtains on our lives regardless of how fascinating it is or the extent to which we cherish it. Death humbles the rich and brings the poor to the lowest rungcrust of solitude. It recounts the vanity of life. We’re here today, basking in enthusiastic health and zest, tomorrow, we become victims of vanity.
In the end, the debate doesn’t dwell on whether we live, but on whether we lived right. It quizzes whether we recognize the fleeting nature of time and how it rubs off on our lives. For someone who confronted life with every deal of cheerfulness he could muster, Professor Odekunle’s Odekunle’s final submission to death at the Gwagwalada Isolation Centre in Abuja on the 29th of December 2020 was the end to of a battle against COVID-19 that lasted 12 days. The scions of Ogboni descendants breathed his last after battling hard to stay alive against the unpleasant grip of the infectious disease. He wrestled against death, and when he emptied himself into death’s wicked embrace, it drew a close to a trajectory of an eventful and inspiring story of a man who gave his all for his family, friends, the nation, and the world.
Professor Odekunle, though no more, his soul hovers around us with pleasurable presence, for good men don’t die; they live forever. His deeds speak for his absence, while the awesome incredible memories others have of him sustain his existence. This succinctly captures the thoughts of American novelist, Ernest Hemingway, who crooned thus: ” Every man’s man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”.”


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