By Rotimi Akinbinu

On 8th May 2009, a young lad, Jacob (maybe 5 or 6 years old) had his wish granted to compare his hair with that of the President of the United States. After having a feel of this powerful man’s hair, who bent low to compensate for Jacob’s height, Jacob screamed in excitement “Yes, it does feel the same”. Needless would it be at the time, to quantify Jacob’s fulfilment.

Pa Akinkunmi was a man whose life was selfless and in many ways made people “feel as much the same” as he felt it. I am compelled to narrate a story I am personally privy to.

It is that of a young boy (13 years old) many years ago who got to live a few meters from the Akinkunmi’s residence. He had prior heard a lot about the man whose bakery produced one of the best breads in town, and whose loaves filled his belly lots of days before he went to school. But there was a change in residence and hence the providential proximity to the Akinkunmis.

He would now be faced with the daily quest for water to satisfy not only his thirst but also his innumerable exclusive water-dependent needs. And then he found a hand, stretching out an offer of assistance without requesting repay. He joined the tens of households who came to disturb Pa’s peace every evening but Pa would not object but bend so they could have as much water and feel the same as he did in his house. This habitual gesture, which was possibly taken for granted by his neighbors, must have saved an unquantifiable cost of treating waterborne illnesses and also prevented loss of lives. My story source also has it that Pa’s influence made them enjoy other benefits e.g. power supply and motorable road (which theretofore plagued them). Chief, as he would later be installed had tamed water (life) into dams which could be channeled into productive course, rather than allow an unconcerned erosion retainable lives.

Saved by the benevolence of Chief’s proximity, he would go on to achieve his life’s dream. He went on to become a physician. But as fate would have it, he was faced,16 years later, with the responsibility of attending to Pa’s medical needs. This afforded him more proximity to late Chief and he would also know more about the respected figure he had revered from afar. He saw the brilliance, simplicity, hard-to-find honesty and ever young handsomeness in Pa. These qualities have kept him endeared to lots of people and of course his ever strong wife and everclose children who continually defied space in all ways possible to support Pa in his ailing days. This love he earnestly deserved remained with him till he finally departed from us.

I am honored to give this speech and to be the young lad who benefitted for four years from the Akinkunmis. I am glad to be a part of his last moments and wish I could have held his hands in his final minutes. He was a father, friend,adviser and humorous even in his discomfort. I would always admire the strength and glamour he put to life. I would always remember how he told his Queen he would not be leaving soon and admire the sincerity behind those words.

I enjoin us not to mourn anymore. We have had the last 48 hours to do that. We must remember we are mortals and live a life of impact as late Chief did, so people can also have a feel of our experience and say like Jacob.. ‘yes it does feel the same”

Rest in peace Pa, till we meet someday, and then I would be the goalkeeper while you topstrike.


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