Sight, the king of the five senses, is superior to touch, taste, hearing and smell. But sight is inferior to insight. I contemplated this truth last week when I interrogated the essence of a man whom life blinded with a vicious uppercut. But, instead of lying floored on his back in defeat, he rose up to live and die on his feet.
Benjamin Aderounmu wasn’t born blind. His nameless stepmother, driven by mad envy, mixed alligator pepper with lime juice, tiptoed to where the 10-year-old laid his head in sleep; pulled apart his eyelids and stuffed her toxic mixture into his innocent eyes. After three days of satanic agony, total darkness enveloped Aderounmu’s world.
Subsequently, the little jewel from an Owo ruling house in Ondo State dropped out of school and began to wander in search of kindness in a cruel world, earning along the way, a curious nickname, Kokoro (Insect), which probably reflected his peregrination from his Owo hometown to Ilesa, Osogbo, Ede, Ibadan and ultimately, Lagos, where he found meaning to his existence and lived 62 years of his almost 84-year life.
When the wicked act of his stepmother stopped him from furthering his education, Kokoro embarked on the path of self-rediscovery. He knew he was on a mission to preach love, unity, kindness, honesty, courage; peace, perseverance, hard work, godliness and hope to humanity. Getting a sound education was, clearly, a means through which Kokoro could have achieved his mission on earth. Ascending the throne of his forebears was another. But blindness slammed the door shut on both options because Braille then wasn’t a popular form of writing he could afford and no kingmaker would enthrone a sightless man.
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Quite unlike Nigeria’s Presidency, Kokoro set forth at dawn, evolving a solution to the stumbling block against his desired success by mastering how to sing and play the drums, ultimately specialising in the tambourine. He didn’t just sit down in Owo to bemoan his tragedy or fold his arms and watch the days go by – like the Federal Government shilly-shallied on coronavirus before imposing travel bans; Kokoro was restless – moving from one town to the other, looking for answers to the riddles of his life.
In contrast to the General Muhammadu Buhari administration, Kokoro was an inspiration, whose life struggles inspired the popular novel, “The Drummer Boy,” by Cyprian Ekwensi. Kokoro worked with two of Nigeria’s departed musicians, the evergreen Bobby Benson and the legendary Victor Olaiya, yet he didn’t abandon the recipients of his message who lived on the street like the Buhari-led Federal Government shunned the dead and living victims of the Abule Ado gas explosion around FESTAC Town in the Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos, on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
It’s terrible that none of the politicians raised by Lagos since 1999 has visited Abule Ado to commiserate with the state in her moment of need because none of them wanted to be seen as doing the right thing which Buhari failed to do. “Do not outshine the master,” is the first law of power recommended in “48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene for survival in a cutthroat world.
Kokoro is receptive to learning and change. He didn’t marry more than one wife, having experienced one of the dangers of polygamy which culminated in the loss of his eyes. The Buhari government is intolerant to change.
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Unlike the leadership of the House of Representatives, symbolised by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, Kokoro believed in the country, invested his time and talent in it, and never preferred the allure of foreign land to the ricketiness of Nigeria. He never exhibited preference for foreign cravings over Nigerian foods, music, environment and culture. Being a proponent of Nigerian music, people and spirit, Kokoro wouldn’t have gone to Dubai to wax an album or to celebrate his mother’s birthday. Kokoro was a dyed-in-the-wool Yoruba man who would choose buba, sooro and agbada over bespectacled three-piece suits, false marxist beard, white hair of unintelligence and fake populism – all legislative euFEMIsms for deceit.
The minstrel would not doublespeak like the House of Representatives that preaches love for made-in-Nigeria goods but ordered 400 brand new Toyota Camry cars when a local automobile plant, Innoson, begs for patronage.
As a sad prince, he probably could have abandoned the country for Benin, Togo, Ghana or elsewhere, but he chose to sink or swim with Nigeria, celebrating her successes and failures. Kokoro wasn’t a prodigal son. When he travelled abroad, Aderounmu sang the dignity and honour of Nigeria, propelling his audience to give out money to him, which he brought back into the country to spend. Unlike Gbajabiamila, Kokoro didn’t pack money from the country and headed to Dubai on a lavish birthday spending spree, happy that the sightless eyes of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission weren’t on sight.
In one of his online videos, I watched Kokoro sing for his wife and kids in his poor house. He had a happy family. His kids danced to his music while his wife listened. He was content. He wasn’t a woman beater like that crawly maggot in the legislative chamber who ABBOminably beat up a young mother at a sex toy store, making her life hang by the CLIFF.
Kokoro didn’t reap where he didn’t sow. He played his music for the high and mighty at highbrow concerts, and also for the low and little on the streets, making people happy, think, repent and become better persons. People appreciated Kokoro for his art, passion and belief as some gave him alms while some sought his harm. Kokoro would have played to the delight of home-bound students in front of the 79-year-old Reagan Memorial Baptist Girls’ Secondary School, Yaba, but he would neither have coveted having the school named after him nor thought of having the remodelled Reagan Memorial Baptist Nursery and Primary School, Yaba, changed to his name – for robbers in his time were tied to stakes and shot.
Though blind, Kokoro would know that it was honourable to preserve the legacy and memory of American Baptist missionary and philanthropist, Miss Lucile Reagan, who established the school to nurture girls to womanhood.
Born in 1897, Reagan, a native of Texas, arrived at the Lagos port on October 12, 1921 to start an awesome missionary career that watered the flourishing Baptist Academy, Lagos and birthed the Yaba Baptist Church, Lagos, Baptist hospitals, among countless other enduring legacies across Nigeria, mastering the Yoruba and Hausa languages in the process. Reagan died on July 12, 1937 after being stricken by Yellow Fever and was buried in Ogbomoso, Oyo State. Though Kokoro never saw Reagan because he arrived Lagos blind, he would have known it is evil to attempt to erase the memory of such an inspiring character and replace it with that of an undeserving, average politician.
Kokoro was ubiquitous, but he wasn’t the greedy Jagabat, whose pretentious wife REMInisces about her fair skin without recognising the virtues of a fair character.
Though he had an album to his credit and was always on the street singing to earn a living, Kokoro could have died without a roof over his head if not for the Lagos State Government headed by Babatunde Fashola that built him a bungalow in Shasha, Lagos.
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Unlike Nigeria’s political leadership, Kokoro showed his irrevocable commitment to modesty in these words, “The right place for my music is here with poor people on the streets of Lagos. I’m not a recording artist, though I did once record an album; my aim is to sing directly to people in the street, and give the message of my song to them face-to face. My life is simple, I’m a minstrel, a beggar. I don’t care about what others do.”
Sight is truly inferior to insight.
Sleep on, Kokoro, the unsung songster.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, writer, and a columnist with the Punch newspapers
Outrage As Adeboye’s Son Calls RCCG Pastors ‘Goats’
Leke Adeboye, the son of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, slammed erring pastors of the church, calling them ‘goats’ for preaching their sermons after the G.O. had finished speaking and preaching.
This generated outrage on social media as many condemned the statement while some others called for his suspension.
Usually, first Sunday of every month, parishes of the RCCG are linked up with the National Headquarters of the church, where the G.O. would deliver a sermon – expected to be the only sermon of the day. Meanwhile, some parish pastors often do a follow-up preaching after the G.O’s.
Reacting to such a move, Pastor Leke took to his Instagram account and referred to the RCCG pastors who preached their messages after the G.O. had preached his sermon as ‘goats’.
“Why would you go and preach another sermon after Daddy G.O. had just finished speaking and preaching.
“You are not a son, you are a goat, sir. Next Thanksgiving Service, just do an altar call, then thanksgiving,” Leke posted.
Tweeps bemoaned this statement, called it rude and others demanded his suspension by the RCCG.
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“#rccg should suspend Leke Adeboye for calling ordained pastors #GOAT. What a gut,” @ollynetworker said.
“That’s very rude of you, Leke Adeboye! You are the goat here,” @Joanna8214 tweeted.
@TomisinAmokeoja said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right, Leke Adeboye calling pastors goat was way overboard. Really leaves much to be desired. Always been controversial though. I wonder how he would have reacted if he was the G.O.”
A tweep, @CeciliaOkoroma, said that such a statement was not nice and unexpected from a man of God.
”This is simply not too nice a statement from ‘man of God’ and in particular, son of G.O RCCG,” she tweeted.
Eguakhide Bags AFAA 2021 Award
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), FECHA Project Fashion Design and Exhibition Hub, Mr. Alex Friday Eguakhide, has bagged the 2021 African Fashion and Arts Award (AFAA) for being the best fashion exhibition organizer.
Speaking at the well attended ceremony, the National Director of AFAA, Amb. Raymond Pangwen, said the organization has come a long way with a track record and knack for excellence performance in the fashion industry over the years.
He said, flowing from that, it has constantly looked for who has been able to break the glass ceiling in the industry.
He said from the various success stories he has heard about Mr. Eguakhide, the association decided to beam its search light on him to know if they were true and eventually, he was a true reflection of what people who patronize arts works said he is.
Amb. Pangwen added that it is one thing to be a fashion designer, it is a different kettle of fish entirely to know how to market arts works.
He said marketing arts works is majorly done through exhibitions, stressing that, that is where people get to know major cutting edge arts works.
He added that from exhibition also, people get to know the latest arts works.
The National Director of AFAA pointed further that people visit exhibition stands to know and buy any arts works that catches their attentions.
He reiterated that some exhibitors don’t know how to package their works to attract attentions but for Eguakhide, he said, he has been able to distinguish himself over the years, thus paving way for this well deserving award.
He further urged him never to relent but that, the award should be a catalyst to spur him up to put in his best in what he is doing adding that the reward for hard work, is more work.
On his part, Mr. Alex Friday Eguakhide, the CEO of FECHA Project Fashion Design and Exhibition Hub, thanked the organizers of the award and the association for the honour done him.
He said he would live to cherish it dearly.
Eguakhide further capitalized on the occasion to call on other organizations to emulate AFAA who has bent on promoting arts works in the country so that people can put in their best in whatever they are doing and be rewarded for it.
FECHA Project Fashion Design, Exhibition Hub CEO, Eguakhide Emerges Best Fashion Designer Of The Year
The Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) of FECHA Project Fashion Design and Exhibition Hub, Mr. Alex Friday Eguakhide has emerged the winner of the Best Fashion Designer of the Year in the 2021 Edo Fashion Week.
He emerged the winner after a keenly contested competition that saw various notable fashion designers contesting and showcasing the stuff they are made of.
Addressing the co-contestants and the guests at the event, the organizer and CEO of Hello Management said, the road was a tough one and the contest itself, was a fierce one too but nevertheless, a winner has emerged.
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He said the winning of Mr. Alex Friday Eguakhide, Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) of FECHA Project Fashion Design and Exhibition Hub, did not come to him as a surprise because of his wealth of experiences in the fashion industry adding that the only surprised he would have had, is that, if he has not won.
The CEO of Hello Management told other contestants who contested but lost out not to be deterred by the outcome but should put in more efforts next time so that, they can also win in the forthcoming edition.
He said the Edo Fashion Week is instituted by the association to promote the Benin cultural heritage and its arts works.
He said over the years, despite being a fashion designer, Mr. Eguakhide has demonstrated a high taste for the best.
He urged Eguakhide to savor his victory and to always have an eye for the best assuring him of more wins.
Responding, Mr. Alex Friday Eguakhide, Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) of FECHA Project Fashion Design and Exhibition Hub, thanked the organizers of the highly talked about event.
He said as an Edo man, there is nothing he could have done than to promote anything that has to do with the Benin cultural heritage especially in its fashion and arts works.
Mr. Eguakhide said that he will always do his best to promote fashion in all sense just as he admonished his other colleagues to contribute their parts in promoting fashion.
He said fashion is evolving and that all fashion designers must move along with it, if they want to remain fashionable and remain relevant in the business.
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