News of the sun having set for our brother, friend and compatriot, Yinka Odumakin, filtered through the airwaves yesterday, Saturday. It was shocking, unsettling and benumbing, especially for those of us who weren’t aware that Comrade was battling his own existential battle of ill health. Flags of the Yoruba nation immediately and automatically threw themselves into flying at half mast, without prompting. Yorubaland lost a gem.
Odumakin was a Yorubaman who wore his Yorubaness on his lapel without caring whose ox was gored, to the chagrin of the enemies within the race. He was an Awoist in deed and in truth who did not subscribe to the reigning fad among political octopods that you had to genuflect by the feet of cows in order to have a chunk of its meat. He was a thorn in the flesh of the Hausa/Fulani establishment and their minions who, in obeisance, gave unworthy rankadede so as to be allowed to mount the horse of power.
To the very end, Odumakin poured libations by the feet of the gods and ancestors of Yorubaland and invoked the spirits of Sanpona and Obaluaye to consume the enemies of his people. You might disagree with him on the modus operandi of untying his people from the twines that the Nigerian system used to bind their feet and legs but you could not disagree with his verve, grits and courage.
Perhaps due to his link with those who hold the levers of power, Odumakin knew so much about the system and was privy to its unworkable nature. He was a delight to journalists who sought his riposte to schisms in the polity and the wonky views of enemies of the Yoruba people.
Fearlessly, coherently and with unassailable logic, Odumakin granted interviews which must have delighted the alale ile yi – the patrons and custodians of the land and riled those who disdained Yoruba’s frontline, nature-bestowed position in the Nigerian equation. He was not a snake that meandered on the rock without an imprint. He left his wide marks on the Nigerian soil. Paradoxically, it is the same soil, the same land, that will open its mouth presently to swallow yet another hero of the race.
Odumakin and I met late last year when we were summoned by a major custodian of the culture of the Yoruba people – the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, to his Oyo palace. It was our last. We however exchanged periodic messages which bordered on our common interventions in the Tribune newspaper.
Those who feel that they can mock or disdain the memory of Odumakin because he was a thorn in their flesh should borrow the garment of Methuselah and refuse to die. The great Comrade went the way of all mortals, a road which we all must tread.
Rest on, Comrade. Rest on, Omo Yoruba atata (beloved son of Yorubaland). Rest on by the feet of the progenitors of the race which you valiantly stood for.