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Apagunpote: Anatomy Of A Death - Redefining Understanding Of Ambition As Mirage When Death Is Not Minded

08 June 2012

By Abdul-Warees Solanke

On Sunday 4th March, I received a tragic phone call from home in Ibadan on the death of my "first son", Sherif. As I took the next available okada from Ikotun to Iyana Ipaja to board the last bus to Ibadan, hot tears streamed my flat cheeks. His death reawakened in me the real meaning of life, the meaning of meaninglessness, of futility. It redefined my understanding of ambition, ambition as mirage when death is not minded. After all, Sherif was one of my dreams. He was clay in my hands. I was his potter. I was already glorifying in my dexterity as potter of sorts. He died on Friday march 2, in a tragic accident in ikire, Osun State while returning to Ibadan from Ede, where he worked as the farm manager with the Oodua Farm Institute.

Following the birth of his new child, Abdussalam, a month earlier, he had relocated his young family to Ibadan for necessary post natal support and care. It was in the course of his weekly family run that he met his martyrdom in the cause of his young family. With his death, he became my broken pot, shattered into smithereens, in my hands. I was involved in digging the grave of this promising son of mine. And, as I joined rows of my sympathisers behind this broken pot of my ambition and unfulfilled dream for the last ritual of janaza at Orile Erunmu via Iyana Ofa, Ibadan, I reflected on the colors of ambition. Not colourful, if not mindful of the hereafter.

Few days later, the deputy inspector general of police, John Aruna went down with a helicopter around Plateau State, crashing to death while on active state service, this tragedy coming barely three months after another top fly in the policy who was also just promoted Deputy inspector general, died in a hotel room in Ikorodu Lagos while representing his principal, the IG on an assignment. In the duo's death I had another glimpse of ambition, Ambition crashes when it is about reality.
And there is another color of ambition in the death of the Apagunpote of Egbaland last month, in the lake of a golf resort he superintended, a place he originally designed for comfort and relaxation, but ended being his abode of annihilation. The death (whether suicide or otherwise) of a scion of Abeokuta, Apagun Oluwole Olumide who played very visible role during immediate past government in the Gateway State which many Ogun sons and daughters are praying Never again also gave me another insight into the colors of ambition. Ambition fizzles when the ovation is loudest or man is at a Kilimanjaro of the actualization of his dream, when being on a Mambilla could be as equally fulfilling.

As my homestead is at the foot of Olumo Rock, I have a ritual of celebrating Eid-el Kabir every year in Ikija. So, I am not deaf to the venom poured on those who demolished family houses at Ese Olumo, and barricaded natives from entering their homes in the name transforming Olumo Rock to an international tourist centre. They usually say the proceeds from Olumo Rock Tourist Centre do not benefit the natives. So they invoke curses on those who rendered them homeless. As Apagun, a very successful architect was the government contractor who transformed Olumo to an international appeal, with the design and construction of escalators to reach the Olumo heights, many see his role in government as being the caretaker of OGD's perfidy. They also cite the appropriation of the Abeokuta Golf Resort in which lake his lifeless body was retrieved as a case of crippling the Gateway State. Many are therefore reading so many insinuations into his death one of which is situated in the theory of nemesis, especially with the claim that he has in his hands the evidences to nail OGD who has being shuttling EFCC office and the courts to render account of his stewardship while being the landlord at Oke Mosan. Since I am a Diaspora son and not part of the politics of my home state, and I don't have access to privilege information on what transpired in Abeokuta in the preceding eight years of OGD, except what everybody reads on the pages of newspapers and rumours that fly around, which in any case I treat with disdain, it becomes impossible for me to join the bandwagon of critics on the circumstances of Apagun's death.

From Apagun's pedigree however, all I know, is that he was a man of ambition. So in his death, I gained a new insight into the colors of ambition, that not all men of ambition have a death bed laid with roses and surrounded by light and beauty, nor do they have the grace to sing the song of Ebenezer; Here is where the lord hath led me in pleasure and satisfaction. They may never even have the privilege of smiling at the moment the black angel comes knocking, violently, mercilessly. Nonetheless, I have another view on his death, rooted in Yoruba mythology, after all Apagun was a Yoruba cultural ambassador, a traditional title holder of the chivalrous order.

I am looking at his death from the warrior class he belonged, the class of the Baloguns, the Jagunmolus, the Oloroguns, the Akoguns, the Ajagunlas, the Jagunnas, the Jogunomis, the Agbaakins and the Aare Ona kakanfos. After the royal class in Yorubaland, the Warrior class are the most revered, very powerful. In fact, they can hold the king to ransom or hold the kingdom hostage. That is the extent of their power and influence. Usually, as in Ibadanland, they also aspire to the throne or are the immediate lieutenants of the kabiesi. This warrior class in medieval Yorubaland, are devotees of the powerful god of Iron in Yorubaland, Ogun Onire Okunrin Ogun. Lakaaye Osinmale, olomi n le feje we, o laso nle fimo bora. Onile kangunkangun ona orun. They live by the sword, ever in the shadows of death with unmistakable courage and charisma, intolerance of errors of judgement and impermanence of relationships but of interest. In modern political philosophy, you are likely to see them as students of Nicolo Machiavelli, author of the Prince. For them, the end justifies the means.

Everything about this warrior class spells blood, betrayals, conspiracies and death. So you are not unlikely to see them as very mentally alert and skilful in politics, fire eating and fire spitting, choleric like Sango Olukoso, with blood shot eyes bordering on attachment to liquor and allegiance to cigar. Their elements are likely to be dominated by fire and wind, ferocious when ignited. As devotees of Ogun, they carry death in their pouches. They are Anikulapo. Their scabbards are ever loose, their swords ever sharpened or greased, either to slay and gain victory or slash open their own bowels to cover shame or dishonour. Defeat is not in their dictionary. Their pledge in battle is to return home with pride or end it all on the battlefield when defeat is imminent. They, like Julius Ceaser, the Roman legend, are also not unlikely to receive the hardest dagger thrust from their most trusted ally as Brutus, when vested interest takes precedence over personal relationship.

The traditional title of Chief oluwole Olumide is Apagunpote of Egbaland. In simple meaning, it is a title which imbues one with ambition and power and exposes one to intrigues and conspiracies. In fact it seems once you assume a title like Apagunpote, a front liner in the warrior class or the chivalrous order, death stalks you all the time because you are supposed to be a warlord that stamps out rebellions and conspiracies. Unfortunately too, like the Aare Ona Kakanfos title holders as Yoruba history has shown, the ilk of Apagun usually die violently or in controversial circumstances.

Wallahi, this is why a muslim who understands his deen very well runs away from all traditional titles that will shift his focus from the real purpose or essence of creation, which is to worship Allah, and not any other ambition. As Allah says in the Quran , 'I have not created the Jinn and mankind except to worship me'. They are afraid to let their ambition for power and influence or lust for recognition deters their journey to eternity. So they don't fancy the fanciful and powerful titles, satisfied with the simple title, Muslim, the title bequeathed to the father of faith, Ibrahim and his progeny.

For me as a muslim, my ultimate ambition, in whatever I lay my hands on, in whatever I pursue, the goal I set, my vision for the future, in whatever partnership or allegiance I forge, in whatever project I handle, is to attain the pleasure of Allah. Ridhwanullah. So, as I reflect on the death of my first son, my eldest sister's first child, Sherif Ariyo Ayobanji Alani Abdulazeez who died at the age of 33, while on active duty and family commitment, I was consoled that he attained a purpose in life, a modern day farmer who found pride farming and training young farmers at Oodua Farm Institute, leaving behind a very large loving family, his death a wakeup call that longevity is not the definition of reaching the goal of life. As I contrast his death with death with those of the two late deputy inspectors general of police and that of Apagunpote Oluwole Olumide, I realize that death is most painful when at the point of declaring celebration either of attaining position or preparing to retire peacefully to enjoy the fruits of toils and ambition, death comes knocking, especially violently, tragically and controversially. From Allah we come, to Him is our return. Inna lillahi, wa in ilaehi raajiuuna in all deaths.

Abdul-Warees is the Head of Training, Voice of Nigeria, Ikoyi, Lagos, (korewarith@yahoo.com korewarith@voiceofnigeria.org  , abdulwarees01@gmail.com ) 08090585723



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