Happy Posthumous Birthday to a dear brother, Opeyemi Bamidele Alabi.
It’s the 3rd of September – This means it is your birthday and this year, we would have been celebrating a Special Birthday as you turn 50. Your phones would have been on constant charge for calls and texts coming in to wish you Happy Golden Birthday.
It is painful that just five months to the Golden Birthday, the ugly and callous Mr Death came calling on March 29, 2018. Nothing can describe the pain of your death, but we have accepted in total submission to God’s will.
We didn’t usually discuss birthdays, but I am sure something would have been planned for today. As the fiftieth birthday is usually a special one, this year’s would not have been like the birthday wishes of the past. Indulge me to use the cliché, “man proposes, God disposes”. But I am sure the angels in heaven are celebrating with you now. We would have loved to give you a surprise birthday party/reception and sing a song to you while you cut a cake with Happy 50th Birthday inscription on it.
The angels may be singing for you now but it still cannot be like the party YOU would have loved. Knowing you, doing anything to celebrate with your dear ones here on earth would have been fair game. You would have loved to dance with your lovely wife, Bukky, hold the hands of your children JJ, Kiki and TT and make others around you laugh until their ribs hurt. What a celebration it would have been?
September 3 is your birthday and nothing can change it. It will always be your birthday and I assure you, it will continue to be celebrated. We will say prayers for you and reminisce about everything that you held high when on earth.
Opeyemi, I celebrate you today. You ‘are’ a selfless brother and friend. You rode the years like you knew life was too short to waste. At the start of every day, what you saw was a blank canvas and by night-time, everyone could see what you have done on the canvas.
Your 49 years were fulfilled. You were definitely a trailblazer in your field. You were celebrated, and in death, you are still celebrated for your contributions to the geographic information sciences, in Nigeria and abroad.
There are moments when one wishes time can be “stood still” so as to enjoy memories of the past. Or the moments one wishes he is endowed with the powers to slow walk into the past and relive some nice times. And let not one of my readers pretend they have never wished they could turn back the hands of the clock to some periods in this journey of life.
This is how I feel today. I wish I had the power to bring back the growing up years, our days at UNILAG High Rise, at N33 Ipaja Estate, in Edinburgh, in London and finally in Leeds. How I desperately wish I can bring back those good throaty laughs, joviality, and the misunderstandings.
Your voice has refused to leave my head. Strangely, I can recite my last conversation with you on March 27, 2018, as you were heading towards Heathrow Airport. I remember now, not with sadness, but with joy. I listen to your hearty laughs anytime I want to because they have just refused to get out of my head.
Suddenly as I write this piece, the picture of you at your birthday party in 1974 came up to me. You were in a white safari suit with matching shoes. We were kids and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at this party. There were loads of sweets and lots to eat and drink. I remember us running up and down the hall without any care in the world.
My brother, I wish you a happy 50th birthday and continue to rest in peace.
One black morning
When this life is over
I’ll see your face
Every day that passes
Is a day that I get closer
To seeing you again
We miss you big, and we won’t stop
‘Cause we can’t stop, that’s right.
Lyrics from Missing You, Sean Diddy Combs and Faith Evans