I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.
By Morak Babajide-Alabi
There is nothing as hard as the responsibility of writing a memorial tribute to a loved one. Not that writing one to anyone is in any way pleasant, but to someone who could be regarded as a part of you, it is the most horrendous task to be laboured with. How hard can it get when the tribute is to an individual younger than you?
This was the position I found myself last week. I had to write a tribute to kid brother Opeyemi. For many days, in my confusion, I rolled words around in my head, trying hard to form sentences, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not move beyond the starting point. I set last Wednesday night aside to do this as I thought I would be calm enough to approach this topic and do justice to the writing.
On this date, for hours I sat immobilised at my desk, staring at the notepad on the desk in front of me. The pen in my right hand was as heavy as a log of wood. I made several attempts to lift the pen so as to start writing on the white sheet of the pad. Gently, seconds turned into minutes and minutes into hours as all I could do was sigh and listen to my own heavy breaths. I was completely too disillusioned to think straight.
If you have been here before, you will identify what position I was. And if you have never been, you definitely know or have heard of situations when your mind plays games on you, when you allow what you cannot help to control you. Unfortunately, when I should be the strongest in faith I almost let myself go. I was querying what I should not, seeking answers when all I had needed was the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
On this night, as I sat there, I allowed my imaginations to run wild. I heard a whisper “why don’t you Google ‘what do you do when you don’t know what to do?’” This is what you get when your head is befuddled and you cannot think straight out of a situation because you believe too much in your human effort. I pushed back my chair, reached for my phone, and typed Google in the address bar.
At this time my heart started beating erratically, my head literally spinning, my palm got sweaty as I panicked on the possibility of Google not able to find the answer to what I wanted. But the Holy Spirit, the comforter, saw my struggles and came to my rescue. The scriptures, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 came up in my head. I abandoned my Google search and opened up my Bible App to read. It says: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
The immediate comfort that this passage gave to me passed my understanding. The calmness that I experienced was unexplainable, which also gave me the freedom I had not felt in a few days back. With this, I emerged on another level that God does not want me to sorrow over situations that I cannot help. He would rather want me to leave everything to him as he works a way out for me.
It took a few sleepless worrying nights for this reality to hit me. The loss of a loved one is always hard to accept. But the fact is, death is the debt that we owe and will pay one day. For some, they are transformed far too early and the sadness that accompanies such is so thick. While it is the desire of all to live till old age, our paths are set by the Almighty Father, and He has reasons for whatever He does. It is not in our place to query Him.
For Opeyemi Bamidele Alabi, the journey ended rather too fast. It was unexpected, painful and has left a void in the hearts of those who knew him. But the scripture was quick to remind us in Isaiah 57:1-2 – “the righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”
This is the consolation for Opeyemi. Our loss is definitely heaven’s gain. Opeyemi is gone, but we give God the glory for the life he lived while here. As the light of revelation came on me on the reality of death, I was now challenged on putting words together to describe this illustrious son of God. How can I put words together to illustrate this gentle soul that the Almighty Father gifted the world with?
If this tribute was to be written for people who knew or interacted with Opeyemi in his lifetime, I would not have laboured this much. All I would have done was just write his names down and their hearts would have related to the type of man he was. No matter what I wrote or spoke, I could not have better words to describe Opeyemi as they would.
Opeyemi was a man of many qualities. Words cannot adequately paint the picture of Opeyemi’s kind heart, and how contagious his joy was, coupled with the depth of his love for fellow human beings. How do we put words together, to sum up, the beautiful life he lived? I cannot combine words to really describe the pains of the numerous people he touched in his eventful but short journey in life.
Let us look at the various sides of this man who is heaven’s gain. Opeyemi was a family man who loved his wife and children profoundly. To Opeyemi, they are the centre of his world and his affection for them was infectious. His recent journey to the United Kingdom was the first time he had ever spent months away from his family. He missed them, but every time he spoke about them, his face lit up. Opeyemi was the happiest when he was with his family, he dotted over his children, and his wish was that they become the best in life. His wife meant the world to him, and he loved her as the scripture commands that husbands should love their wives.
Opeyemi was a dependable friend. You could count on him for genuine advice, he has an empathetic ear, a shoulder you could lean on, a listener and above all, a help that was readily available. He was fiercely loyal to his friends and he could go to any length to make sure the bond of friendship was not broken or bent. He was fun to be with. There is no doubt that many friends will miss the true definition of friendship that Opeyemi gave them.
Opeyemi was a gift to humanity. He was a man with so many capabilities, but one who did not shy away from sharing his expertise with anyone who wanted to learn from him. A First Class graduate of Surveying/Geomatics from the University of Lagos, Opeyemi was also a Shell Chevening Scholar with a distinction (MSc) in Geographical Information Sciences (GIS) from the renowned University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh. Opeyemi worked consistently hard and remained a student of life – intelligent, and always thirsty for knowledge.
Opeyemi never stopped learning and he never sat back nor became complacent. He led by example as he mentored many people in his chosen career of surveying. He was a big inspiration to people in various countries of the world. He constantly looked for opportunities to impact the world.
Opeyemi was a businessman. He believed in hard work and the saying that you only reap where you sow. In 2009 when the consensus among Nigerians in the diaspora was that the country was unfavourable for emerging businesses, Opeyemi saw opportunities and moved in with his unique business idea. He relocated to Nigeria and made a success of his venture. He worked day and night, denied himself the luxury of sleep or “enjoyment” as he pursued his vision. He was a determined individual whose vision was his motivation to act. His hard work paid off as everything he touched turned to gold. His business idea became the foundation of many services in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Opeyemi was a caring brother whom we are proud of. His exit is painful but his memories will never leave our hearts. Growing up, he was the fun, humble, respectful and ever caring brother. He rarely got into trouble as he minded his business – studying. No words can describe the pain for us his siblings. We have lost a brother who always thought of others before himself. Opeyemi knew my dream as a youngster was to live abroad. When he had the opportunity, in 2003, to make this a reality for me, he never hesitated for a minute. Therefore, my sojourn in the UK was made possible by God who used my kid brother. He knew how eternally grateful I am for this.
Above all, Opeyemi was a Christian. He was the first of his siblings to give his life to Jesus Christ. He fully trusted God with his life and was operated at the leading of our Lord Jesus Christ, As a born-again Christian, he walked in righteousness. The scriptures say: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,“ Matthew 5:16. Opeyemi’s good works speak volume of his belief, and he left this world a better place than when he found it. For this, we are very proud. He ran the race and finished well. May he find rest in the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Opeyemi, we miss you, but we also remember that God is in the midst of everything and will be glorified through the celebration of your life. It is hard to accept but we give God the glory for the life you lived. We thank you that you walked our ways and shared part of your life with us. We will not say goodbye, but we say “so long”, as we never said goodbye to Ayodeji or Daddy or Mummy. We shall all meet at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ on Resurrection Day.
We will always remember you with respect, admiration and love, always, always!
… So long Opeyemi! We love you but God loves you more. May your soul rest in peace, brother.