Farouk Martins Aresa
We were walking around Obalende one day looking for suya. Rinde was mobbed by jobless university graduates. They shouted SSG, SSG, SSG! He was the Secretary to the Lagos State Government. He quickly cautioned them that he had retired from that post a while back. Gave them some money and they left. We were sad only for the fact that when we left college, we had jobs. The only people running after the wealthy then were primary school dropouts.
Before Rinde retired, he also held the position of Chairman to the Local Government. When we went to Waka near Campos and Maureen’s place where Lagosians drop by to have one or more drinks, some asked that he paid or “raise” them. He never hesitated. You simply do not tell your friends (Omoarea not areaboys) you are broke that day and you would make it up the next time.
There is no doubt about Rinde’s generosity. Even when he retired, people still demanded their children’s school fees from him. Actually one of our older cousins that was playing fine-boy when we were little, reported Rinde to this writer. You see, when you start paying fees, it never stops after their first or second child. Retirement is no excuse.
Yet, the generosity of Rinde to families and friends was never enough. Those of us in the same situation as he was, understood his responsibilities since some of us had ours to a lesser extent. It is the African way. Unfortunately, time has changed. Most of us cannot afford the amount of money it takes these days to help others because our little business, consultancies or pension, no matter where it comes from (home or abroad) can no longer cope with politicians’ inflation.
Rinde’s sudden death brought not only sadness to his wife and children but to his relatives and friends. Most of us appreciate the role he played in our lives growing up together around Campos and how fulfilling he has made it for those less fortunate. There is nothing greater than our legacy. When everyone dies, our legacy remains alive for ever. Rinde rose among families and friends. We all demanded more of his time, even when we do not desire a kobo from him.
This write called Rinde and left messages. He later called back also wondering why he had not heard or got a call. Waiting for the weekend to get a calling card was a big mistake. It was a day or two too late. That was the last message from Rinde. He was gone!
Crime was so high in Lagos more than a decade ago that on a visit, some of us expressed fear of being mugged in a taxi or private cars. Even those of us that have our own houses did not want to stay home alone. Fortunately, we always have a brother or sister to stay with. It becomes a problem if they are out of the Country. This writer never had to worry since our friends decided Rinde had a police escort and would be the best person to stay with right from the airport.
Stay with Rinde, he and his wife would almost spoil you with kindness. When Rinde studied in Maryland USA, he never let go some American ways. So his house was full of variety of foods. But this writer was looking forward to real Amala and gbegiri, Iyan, efo orisirisi and isiewu. The cook was excused, and the wife took over! I have never kept my mouth shut since! Omo-okele!
Our focus had always been on how to make Nigeria a better place that would give the children the same opportunity we had when growing up. One of the kids adopted, he sent to Kings College. Unfortunately, those schools including St. Gregory’s College he attended have lost their past glory. The old boys of many of those schools always convene meetings, make donations and give ideas on how to improve those schools. Ironically, those that attended his last meeting with could not believe that he died a day or two later. He must have died fit and handsome.
Sixty-five years of age is no longer an advanced journey as life expectancy is up and Arugbo-boys are living until their 80s and 90s. Rinde was very careful about his health and always up to date on his food and vitamins. The writer was embarrassed, despite his background when Rinde cautioned him to stay away from cholesterol in shrimps in efo-riro with orisirisi. Heart attack, stroke and diabetes give no notice of our death. Whatever Rinde died from, gave us no notice.
The Igbo of West Africa always celebrate life during wake-keeping, even for young people. The rest of Africans must emulate them. We have lost some dear Igbo relatives and friends, but during the wake-keeping, sad and sulky moments suddenly turn into celebration. While some of us still find it hard to eat if the diseased is very young, one must be a stone not to be swayed or moved and consoled by the music. Food, dance and contribution always flow with enthusiasm.
It brings up a very important point at the end of our life. The sadness we feel for the loss of a brother or a sister is different from the one we feel for father or mother. It is also different from the sadness we feel for a wife, husband or our best friends. Yet, this writer is not aware of some different ways of expressing feelings for these different types of sadness. It may be due to his limited knowledge of languages. The fact remains that most languages never capture our gloom.
Our despair for the passing away of Rinde Da Silver cannot be expressed in words. When Funso Williams passed, most Lagosians in our age group felt some type of anguish hollow that could not be expressed in words and void, unfulfilled in Eko politics. Some Nigerians may remember that some people, including the Head of State then, expressed Funsho’s death in harsh words.
How do we express Rinde Da Silva’s death? Or is this a dream?
If we realize early that no matter how low or high we rise, no matter how much properties and money we acquire or how much we oppressed our fellow man, deny the next generation as we have never witnessed in Nigeria; we must think of our legacy in life. It is never too late to grow up, never too late to make a difference and never too late to contribute quietly as Rinde did. Su Re O!