•Ekiti community comes alive as family, friends bid farewell to popular columnist
By Kehinde Aderemi
For Pa Solomon Adebayo Oguntuase, a bibliophile and consummate writer, the journey of about eight decades ended gloriously recently. From Lagos to his hometown, Odo Ayedun Ekiti in Ekiti State, hundreds of family members, friends, mentees and admirers paid glowing tributes to the popular columnist who died on April 28 this year.
The burial activities began on Wednesday, July 5 at his Odongunyan, Lagos home, with a service of songs held in his honour by his family, friends and neighbours. It was a solemn gathering as some of his neighbours recounted their relationship with the late Oguntuase spanning decades. Some of the guests at the event told the reporter of how the late Bayo Oguntuase had inspired them positively in life.
The funeral programmes shifted to his country home at Odo-Ayedun-Ekiti, in Ikole Local Government area of Ekiti State. On Friday, July 14, a Christian wake was held at the family compound in the town’s Ere Quarters, where family members of the late columnist played host to friends from across the country in celebration of the life of the great man. The officiating pastor, Rev Alabi Emmanuel of the Methodist Church told the guests to get prepared for the last day. Quoting copiously from the Bible, Alabi told the guests that it wasn’t the number of years lived on earth that mattered, but how such years were able to impact positively on the lives of other people. He said from the testimonies of family, friends and admirers of the late Oguntuase, it was obvious that Pa Oguntuase lived a fulfilled life that was worthy of a good Christian. He said everybody present at the gathering should be mindful of how they made good use of their time while alive.
Shortly after the Christian wake, various entertainers took over and thrilled guests till dawn.
The following day, Saturday, July 15, the funeral service was held at the Methodist Church (Cathedral of His Glory). The church was filled with guests, from Lagos, Ibadan, Ogun and Ekiti states.
In his sermon, Presiding pastor, Pastor Alabi spoke about the virtues of a good Christian. He charged all the guests to retrace their steps from the bad old ways.
“From the biography you read about the late Oguntuase, you said the late columnist always said jokingly that, ‘I am too young to die.’ Nobody on earth would want to die, but death is the only thing that is certain in life. So whatever you are able to lay your hands on, don’ t postpone it; do it perfectly without looking back.”
The cleric admonished the guests to learn great lessons from the demise of the late Oguntuase, who wrote the ‘Mind Your Language’ column in various Nigerian newspapers for over three decades. Until his death, the column ran regularly in the Daily Sun on Thursdays.
Shortly after the church service, the remains of Pa Oguntuase were lowered in the grave. At the ensuing reception, guests were treated to assorted delicacies.
Eldest son of the late Oguntuase, Mr. Ayodeji Oguntunase expressed gratitude to God for the success of the ceremony, adding that a number of prominent people supported the family to make the event a success. He said his late father had bestowed on the children the best legacies of honesty, hard work, love and fear of God.
“I am elated that he didn’t die in vain. You can see that he was well loved by people who thronged this venue to celebrate with us. I think this is a lesson for those of us that are his biological children because right here in our presence, we have seen the reward of all that he lived for and I appreciate everybody,” he said.
Pa Oguntunase’s second son, Thomas Abayomi Oguntuase, who has lived his entire life in Germany, said his father’s death was a great loss. He recalled that he visited his father from his base in Germany two years ago after about four decades.
“For over four decades, we lost contact, until June 2015 when I visited Nigeria for the first time. He was very accommodating and I think that is a great virtue that attracted him to many people. I will greatly miss him and I never knew he was such a wonderful man. From what I’ve seen today, I think my late father made remarkable impact in life,” he noted.
Daughter of the deceased, Yetunde Oguntuase-Ojueromi, said she would always miss the hilarious jokes of her late father. “My father was a jovial personality, and there were no dull moments staying with him. He was a large-hearted man who lived for the good of all and that was why he was celebrated in such a unique manner,” she said.
Many of the guests that spoke to the reporter about the late Oguntuase spoke on his love for books and the best way to sustain his legacies. They expressed confidence in the abilities of the children to sustain the legacy of the man whose home has been described by many as a forest of books.
Wife of the Ikole Ekiti monarch, Olori Adeleye led the array of dignitaries that attended the ceremony. Pa Oguntuase is survived by five children, including Ayodeji, Abayomi, Yetunde, Abiodun and Seun.