By Dare Lasisi
The legendary king of traditional ‘oduology’ and celebrated humour merchant in Nigeria, Prince Olugbenga Elijah Adeboye tragically surrendered himself(forcefully?) to the icy tentacles of death on that Black day, April 30, 2003 after a ‘run-of-the-mill’ battle with kidney-related diseases.
Funwotan, as popularly called by his numerous fans and friends indeed tricked the monster called death, played expensive pranks with the Terminator before the final checkmate that hurriedly parcelled our’talking machine’ to the great beyond. . the game is now over, and the falconer can no longer hear the falconer, things would definitely fall apart, crashing into smithereens.
Jengbentiele 1 of Africa might have seen his death approaching, as he was once alleged to have sent out his Obituary via mobile phone text messages. Why you Brother Gbenga??What funny words did death whisper to your hearing till he whisked you away on that day?
Death indeed is a wicked fellow who criminally plucked away our beautiful flower, Alhaji Pastor Oluwo Gbenga Adeboye, without our permission!Death, be not proud for snatching away our beloved Funwotan like a candle in the wind, for the hunter shall soon become the hunted. It is a matter of time. . .
Death rudely extinguished the ‘burning fire’ of humour in you, thereby forcing you to the position of ‘no return’, jolting us all to the inevitable end called death. .
Gbenga Adeboye has played his own God-ordained role on a stage we all refer to as world. From humble family background, he conquered poverty in life and brilliantly reached stardom thereby defeating the hydra-headed beast called poverty-the first recognised foe of mankind. He stood distinctively tall among his contemporaries and by extension contributed his own quota to the enrichment of our culture.
Little wonder why his fatherland mourned the passage of this multi-talented humour merchant and king of comedy when His creator invited him to the great beyond. The glooming smoke of his death enveloped the whole nation, compelling us to appreaciate the other side of life.
T. S Eliot, the modern English poet once said’Death can kill good people, but poor death can never kill their good work on earth’
Alaaye mi Gbengulo, my dear soulbrother had the rare privilege, like the great Zik of Africa of reading his Obituary twice in lifetime before finally kissing the dust six feet below the earth surface!!Indeed ironical!
Brother Gbenga, pardon me for not attending your funeral services and programmes in Nigeria. I was away in London, the place which you once described as unsuitable for ‘lazy bones’ where everybody work day and night like machines in search of greener pasture!
When a cousin broke your news to me through an email sent from Lagos, I was deeply depressed that I could not eat for days(self-imposed hunger strike?)as a protest against your untimely death and few days later my dear father confirmed the tragic news in a phone-call from Lagos, thereby rubbing salt upon my injury!They both apologised for spoiling my days, but one million apologies cannever revive you!Impossible!
Brother Gbenga, just like yesterday-at the birthday party of Chief Razaq ‘Eleganza’ Okoya, two years ago. We both met again, and you were the anchorman/MC at the colourful event organised at the ‘earthly paradise’of the celebrant at Ikoyi, and the king of Afrobeat, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti also perfomed at the birthday bash that attracted ‘who is who’in Nigeria. You held the invited guests, mostly super-rich Nigerians and government officials spell-bound with your ever-fresh rib-staining jokes that it nearly escaped my mind to accomplish interview appointments with some of the invited guests as a bloody reporter!!
At the event, a thought suddenly flashed through my mind thus: ‘so the rich also laugh to the point of crying!’you caused it, making the rich to fall to the edge of their seat at the ‘eat-till-you-die’ birthday party.
I can still remember vividly the golden advise you gave me on that day, still ringing in my skull till date;you also prayed for me at the event as original ‘Alhaji Pastor’. I can never forget that ‘one-on-one’ opportunity of discussing ‘serious matter’ with you. why should death killed my personal adviser??
Okanlomo of Europe, Amuludun of London, Apagunpote of Yorubaland, grandfather of Oduology, Jengbentiele1 of Africa, World Officially Crowned oduology King(WOCOK), You are not dead, but only travelled to the land of the spirits because poor death cannot kill what never dies!
Your name will continue to linger on forever in our hearts till the judgement day;when we shall all meet to part no more.
I know you are ‘somewhere’in another world, laughing at everybody in your characteristic manner, cracking unfamiliar jokes with the angelic guards till they lay down their arms to throw the ‘paradise’ door open for you!Brother Gbenga, when you were born in the downtown-Gbongan on that fateful day, 30th september, 1959-just fresh from Mother’s womb, you were crying as if beaten while the whole world were rejoicing and laughing for the new addition to our sinful planet. We are still mourning and weeping like a day-old baby over your demise!!you have left an indelible mark in the sands of time, an imperishable landmark in the entertainment world and a ‘larger-than-life’ shoe size for anybody to step into!!You’re indeed a born-genius and unarguably King of Oduology of our times!
Alabefe, you are free at last, free from cheap blackmails from your perceived enemies who constantly plot to tarnish the image that you built like an empire for over two decades, you are free from broadcasting to the whole world again, (except in our dreams!)and you are indeed free from all the troubles of this world. Your detractors did not realise that the height which the great men like you reached in life was not attained at a sudden flight.
Your fans, associates and friends trooped out en masse to pay you your well deserved last respect similar to the honour given to the Chief Priest of the African shrine and Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Pillar of sports in Africa, Bashorun Moshood Abiola before your body was finally lowered six feet below the mother earth on 14 May, 2003.
Brother Gbenga, I shall continue to weave consoling words into garlands in order to have more than enough wreaths at your graveside. I will never admonish you not to eat centipede or millepede over there but please adapt to eat whatever food available to you.
Legendary Funwontan of our time, move from earth to earth, and to the deepest of the earth and may you continue to crack jokes with your ancestors and other folks in the great beyond. Rest in peace and sleep well! Goodnight our beloved Prince Gbenga Adeboye!!
DARE LASISI is a London-based Nigerian journalist/creative writer. He wrote this tribute 17 years ago.