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.
Residents, Motorists Panic Over Hawking Of Sharp Cutlasses In Traffic
The indiscriminate sale of sharp cutlasses in traffic at some bus stops and junctions in parts of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, is causing panic among residents, motorists and passengers.
It was discovered that the presence of menacing-looking hawkers clutching handfuls of sharp cutlasses is fast becoming a common sight during peak traffic hours at some bus stops in the FCT.
The development is more prevalent at junctions in the outskirts of the FCT, particularly along the Kubwa expressway.
The uneasy feel associated with the development is heightened by the fact that, in most cases, the hawkers selling the cutlasses are able-bodied young men.
Some residents, motorists, and passengers who expressed concerns at the development said they usually feel frightened and unsafe at the sight of the cutlass-wielding youths who hawk the implements.
A civil servant, Emeka Onyekwere, who spoke concerning the development wondered whether the FCT authorities and the security agencies are aware of the development.
“I was afraid the first time I saw youths wielding cutlasses in the traffic, I thought they were bandits or hoodlums who were attacking unarmed motorists and passengers. It was quite shocking because I never expected that cutlasses would be openly hawked in traffic. I wonder if the (FCT) authorities and the security agencies are aware of this,” Onyekwere said.
One of the hawkers, who identified himself as Abdullahi, noted that it would come in handy if there was a need to defend the household in the event of an attack.
“You need one in the house,” Abdullahi said, adding that the cutlass has very strong and sharp steel.
A closer examination shows that the cutlasses could indeed pass for swords, and appears to be specially made for combat.
“You can also use it to cut grass and kill snake around the house,” Abdullahi added when asked if the machetes are only meant for ‘self-defence’.
However, he admitted that some motorists and passengers whom he approached with the weird wares complained about the cutlasses.
“People usually complain about the cutlasses. Sometimes when I approach a vehicle to display the cutlasses to people inside the car they will tell me not to come closer. I notice that some people are scared when they see the cutlasses but I don’t know why they will be afraid. We are just selling goods just like other hawkers here,” Abdullahi said.
Motorists and passengers who are alarmed at the sight of cutlass-wielding youths in the traffic are not the only ones that are worried over the indiscriminate, uncontrolled sale of the materials.
Interestingly, some other traffic hawkers, and roadside traders at bus stops, are also uncomfortable with the public parade of the ‘arms’.
A fruit-seller at the Phase 4 Junction on the Kubwa expressway, who simply identified herself as Mrs. Justina, said the presence of the cutlass-hawkers is a major cause for concern for other traders.
Justina explained that the hawking of machetes in the traffic at the junction was a relatively recent development.
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“It was not so long ago that they started coming with the cutlasses to this junction. At first, some of us complained and told them to leave and at that time they were being very careful because people said the police will be brought to arrest them. But nothing like that happened and they are now operating freely,” Justina said.
While the other traders have learnt to mind their own business, Justina noted that they are still afraid of the cutlass-hawkers. On a particular occasion, according to her, one of them inflicted machete cuts on another hawker over an argument. “Whenever you have a misunderstanding with them, they will threaten you with the machete,” she added.
As further observed by Justina, “nearly all the young men that are hawking the cutlasses are from a particular part of the country“, a fact which, according to her, makes the development even more worrisome.
The animal called dino
By Tunde Odesola
Ever since I was a kid, the printed word held an amazing fascination for me than both the television and the cinema. In the last three years, you can hardly catch me seated before the mega screen of the cinema or the screen of the television. This isn’t to say I’ve grown to dislike the TV or the cinema. Nor is it because I now love news, sports, geographic documentaries, comedy, crime investigation and music less than I used to. It’s because globalisation is pushing Man to the cul de sac of hurtful individualism. Gone are the days when family members sit together to enjoy soaps on TV or series on radio or blockbusters at the cinema – no thanks to the emergence of phones, tablets, iPads etc as purveyors of digital video and audio services from online retailers such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Roku etc.
These new mass media dominators are eclipsing traditional print and electronic media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio and outdoor advertising. Today, there’s no radio station in the world I can’t access on my phone in real time. Today, my phone not only serves as a tool for wellness, calling, texting, buying and selling, travelling, research etc, I also have the full complement of all the stations on Xfinity live on it, availing me the opportunity of watching live football games, among many other amazing programmes.
Last week, I was browsing in the social media sea of my weather-beaten phone when a video sailed in onboard the ship called WhatsApp. Though the video wasn’t a documentary by National Geo Wild, it was, nonetheless, from the animal kingdom. In the video, a huge dinosaur was seen before a mirror in a cozy apartment. Dinosaur is a big word, you know. But most great things come in small packs. Because of my love for the printed word and for simplicity, I looked up the word ‘dinosaur’ in the dictionary to see if it has a short form and ‘dino’ popped up. Wow! So, the word ‘dino’ is the short form of dinosaur, I thought to myself as I suppressed a burst of laughter.
The dino in the luxurious apartment that looked like a hotel must have strayed in from the wild because it was clearly a misfit in the habitat. Strangely, when it opened its mouth, it began to sing like a human being. This stupid dino must have been overawed by mistakenly finding itself in a human environment and couldn’t help exhibiting the animalistic traits in it. With crooked fingers, the dino tried futilely to video itself in its new-found human environment, using a phone. It attempted to focus the camera of the phone it was holding on itself in a bid to show its face to the human world. But its wish won’t just materialise; the camera won’t lighten up the face of the animal. The pudgy fingers failed to capture the monster’s face on the phone’s camera. Or maybe the camera sensed rightly that the hand holding it was a beast’s, not a human’s – hence, in protest, it blurred the face of the dino into an evil mask unworthy to be shown to humanity. The animal also sang a song of sorrow in the background.
That was when I remembered the late Fuji maestro, Chief Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, in his 1981 evergreen album, ‘Suuru Baba Iwa’, which contains the classic song about the gorilla that wanted to become a human being. In Barrister’s tale, the gorilla failed to remain in isolation for seven days as God instructed it, jumping out to celebrate anticipatory victory on the sixth day of a seven-day miracle. Just like the gorilla in Barrister’s song failed to become a human being as a result of impatience, the dino in the WhatApp video fell short of exhibiting humanistic ideals because of insane greed as captured in the brainless song of lamentation that it sang.
This is the Yoruba song the dino broke into, “Bami gbe o (4x)/Bukata mi, enu mi ti fe, bami gbe(2x)” Translation: “Help me bear them (4x)/My financial commitments are enormous, help me bear them (2x).”
For believers in Darwin’s theory of evolution, the video could earn them bragging rights because it showed the dino replicating human’s manipulative trait. After the first few lines of its supplication to God for assistance in its financial obligations, the dino, in subsequent lines, revealed the real intention why it shot the video – to bask in the opulence of ill-gotten wealth. Knowing full well that children resonate with the masses, the dinosaur cleverly began by begging God for assistance in the payment of its children’s school fees and the payment of its staff salaries. Then it went ahead to the raison d’etre of the video, listing its houses in Dubai, USA and London as some of the financial obligations God should help it bear.
The madness is surely not in its early stages, it seems advanced. The madness gripped the dino by the scruff, seized its soul as it listed the cars in its garage to include Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, begging God to sustain its ostentatious and greedy lifestyle. As the foolish dino was singing about its perishable earthly possessions, it simultaneously showed off the apartment’s elegant interior, videoing the mirror, kitchen, television, trash can, carpet, chairs, lamps, stools, table, drinks, curtains, ashtrays, neighbourhood etc.
How much low can it sink? To think that this dino has no record of inheritance or industry to justify its profligate status highlights the degeneration in the zoo called Najria. To think that this dino was only a fledgling a few years ago and now shamelessly flaunts thousands of hectares of grassland with edible fruits, nuts, vegetables and game for gluttonous consumption show that some animals are shameless thieves, and this fact tears the heart asunder. To think that the dinosaur, who later became one of the leaders in the animal farm, could think and act worse than a maggot is quite disturbing.
I wish human beings can seize this dino and drag it to the psychiatrist for a comprehensive mental evaluation because it needs help urgently. Dinos are extinct creatures, we must keep this last dino alive to teach future generations our story of greed, stupidity, laziness, bigotry, gluttony, avarice, wickedness, deceit and corruption.
I just can’t stop pinching myself and asking, “How did this dino stray into humanity? How?”
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist and a columnist with Punch newspapers
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