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CHIEF DR AYODELE ADEYEMO
Mondays are unique, especially in this part of the world, where we rigidly regard days for special activities such as days for business, social events, and rest. Of all days, Monday is loaded with seriousness and freshness, and as the enigmatic Afro musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang, it is a day of huzzling in Fela’s words, “Eko, ko ni gba igbakugba lojo monde” simply translated, “no nonsense in Lagos on Monday.” You can then imagine receiving such a call at 7.00 am. on the demise of a bosom friend. That was it on Monday, February 5, 2024, when a mutual friend between him and I, Alhaji Olohunde Hassan broke the news of the passing on of OLUMIDE LAWAL a.k.a Castro, a renowned journalist and publicist with a call all the way from Lagos. Torrents of questions were fired to Hassan, who immediately understanding my frame of mind, changed his information dissemination pattern by saying he just wanted to confirm from me what happened to Olumide since he knew that I and some other friends are together in Ede. In cutting off his phone, he just said, “Chief, I will confirm and call you back.” Definitely, his information was real and complete. Castro has gone away without bidding anyone, friends, colleagues, and most importantly, his immediate and large family farewell.
Many cognomens and imaginary features have been given to Death. The simplest and most descriptive is “separator.” Death does that perfectly in separating human earthly relationships without a blink. That was how it was on the day our friend Olumide was called by his maker. AbdulLatif Olumide Lawal a.k.a Castro breathed his last and left the stage in the evening of Sunday, February 4, 2024, after some 72 eventful years on earth.
Olumide Lawal was born in Ailaka Compound in Ede, precisely on January 11, 1952, to Pa AbdulWahab Iyanda Lawal and Madam Rafatu Ayoka both of blessed memory. AbdulLatif Olumide was raised by his late paternal grandmother, Alhaja Sinatu Abegbe. Young AbdulLatif was a pet to Mama Sinatu to the effect that she was usually called IYA LATI.
As a journalist, Olumide caught his teeth in Radio Nigeria, Ibadan, and traversed virtually all aspects of functional media, electronic, print, and social media, including public relations, biography writing and personality promotions. He was a versatile feature writer on events, places, and personalities. As a wordsmith, OLUMIDE was a master of the art. He was an avid reader with so many books in his library. If he knew you as that kind of a genre of a human being, you automatically become Olumide’s paddy.
Olumide was different things to different people. This is human and not in any way strange. To some people, he was perceived as easily prone to anger but not quarrelsome. To many, he was gentle and would want to remain discreet with his personal challenges and efforts. However, the common denominator by whoever came across Olumide is that he could be unbelievably generous and kind.
Olumide is unquestionably an unrepentant Ede Patriot, a well-known feature writer on Ede sons and daughters. He would never compromise the perceived interests of the ancient town. On this towering virtue, a friend of his, Bayo Adediran says:”Alhaji Olumide brandished the pen as truly mightier than the sword during his lifetime as he delighted in confronting not only the government but also any person at all, that tried to cast aspersions on Edeland and her illustrious sons and daughters. In this area, he had no rival as he did not care whose ox was gored in his stout defence of his cradle, Edeland, and fellow compatriots of the ancient city.”
For those who looked at him from far prisms, Olumide could be mistakenly taken as temperamental. He also was aware of this perception of him. At times, people found his articles very vitriolic, especially on the issues that concern Ede interests. As a man of principle, he explained himself in one of his many public-spirited articles where he said: “That was my love for Edeland. I leave the rest to posterity.” Hummnn!!
A very childhood friend of Olumide is Elder Adedayo Adeoye, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG)) who, on hearing his death, was lividly shaken. It took him hours to fathom the shocking news. As expected, Adeoye DIG Rtd took the loss of a bosom friend with Christian equanimity: “On the death of mine childhood mate, I say to God be the glory. He takes us at His will. Who are we to question Him? To Abdul Lateef, you told me and Alhaji Mumini Salam when we visited you that you would soon be at home. Is this the home you promised? No! I am at a loss to believe that you have departed this sinful world.”
In another tribute by High Chief Tunji Lawal, Babasanya of Edeland, a school colleague, he has this to say in a poetic way: “I will miss you, Adventist Grammar School, Ede Old Students Association, the Media Group, all your friends and associates, Ede Senior Citizens Club, Federation of Ede Descendants Union, Ede Elders Council, the entire Sons and Daughters of Ede will all miss you. Kaabiyesi, Timi of Ede, Oba (Dr) Munirudeen Adesola Lawal, Laminisa 1, who shut down the Monday weekly palace sitting and ordered your exit day as a day of mourning for all Chiefs and Mogajis will miss you more. Kabiyesi ordered the attendance of the Chiefs and Mogajis at your dignified burial led by the Chief Imam of Ede Land and the Imams in Council with the Grand Mufti of Yoruba Land”. This can be appropriately described as a tribute from the palace of His Royal Majesty, who traditionally is not supposed to mourn. Hummnn!!
The remarks made by Emeritus Professor John Ayoade, a distinguished community leader in Ede, say it all with this remark in his tribute: “No news is good news. Surely, not the news of Olumide’s death. He left a legacy and a good memory. He was passionate about Ede. He was respectful and equally respectable. Above all, he was genuine.”
The outpouring of emotions was spontaneous and legendary for a man that many of us regarded as someone who devoted his writing skills to illuminate the minds of the public on salient, human, and societal issues. Olumide was a flowery rose plucked by the cold hands of death, sending chills to his families, soul mates, colleagues, and town mates.
Olumide is gone, only his work and memories remain.
What else do we say about a man who spent his lifetime promoting and defending his birth place?
Sleep on peacefully our own lovely Castro, in Aljana Fridaus.
.Chief Dr Ayodele Adeyemo JP
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