Christmas is celebrated all over the world in commemoration of the birth and life of our lord Jesus Christ. It is an annual and festive season that family and friends look forward to for the purpose of getting together in a common place to appreciate God, spend quality time with each other and exchange gifts. As family ties are strengthened in every occasion, we also remember our relationship with other wonderful persons with whom we share no family ties but who nevertheless make our lives beautiful. This special holiday season also brings many bittersweet memories as we feel the loss of those who we have had to say goodbye to- those who lived for others until their passing and whose absence continue to make the heart heavy.
For me and many others, sweet memories of our dear friend and brother, Late Captain Hosa Wells Okunbor will continue to surface around this time of year in remembrance of his unfettered kindness and unrivalled philanthropy that evidently transcended this season of Christ’ birth. Over the years, Captain Hosa had developed a knack for tending to the needy every day of his precious life and the Christmas season was usually the climax. In Benin city, his house was usually a beehive of activities as trailers would be seen offloading food items such as cows, rams, bags of rice, cartons of oil and many more while pickup vans and private vehicles reload same for easy conveyance and distribution to various destinations including orphanages. It was always a carnival of some sort as persons with varying backgrounds including passers-by benefited from the largesse courtesy of this great and totally detribalized Edo son. He would provide for traditional rulers, churches, communities, homes and individuals across the state and beyond. Unarguably, he was a phenomenal and an uncommon giver.
This December, his house in Benin has been quiet unlike yesteryears. No trailers, no pickup vans, no one. All are aware that the angel in human form has returned to his maker. Nonetheless, since the acts of the departed sometimes challenge those of the living, we cannot allow the example of love and giving that Christmas is known for and that Captain Hosa demonstrated by his unmatched benevolence die with him. Captain did not do what he did because he sought political office. He loved to give and gave not for the reason that he had too much but because he firmly believed that extending a hand of fellowship to our neighbors was the surest route to our common good. At all times, he sought to fulfill this belief of his- he provided opportunities for too many irrespective of their status, tribe or religious inclination, uplifting their spirits and igniting their hopes. Last year, while terminally sick and abroad, he still didn’t relent in this yearly ritual. He gave to friends and foes alike, expecting nothing in return.
This Christmas, we reminisce on his life, his time and his transition and our wounds are reopened. We feel bruised and hurt and wonder how this Christmas will be celebrated without him. Christmas is supposed to be about joy, peace, and hope but how possible is it to be celebrating when we feel less than these each time we remember this amazing soul? Even though time does weaken the blow of death, the mended pieces of our hearts will never be the same especially when we know that there will never be another Christmas with this kindhearted, generous, and dependable man- no new memories to be made. Although the situation seems to mock our hope and cloud our days in perpetual darkness, we still have to take solace in those uncommon contributions he made towards the advancement of the human race. Indeed, he was a rare gift! Proverbs 18:16 tells us:
“A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great”.
We will continue to remember him for his eventful life in which he savored much- good friends and good times and the blessing of a lovely family. We recollect his peerless and selfless acts of service and for the love he shared beyond mere words. We call to mind his open heartedness and undying love for God. Although death may have truncated his good works, his past deeds cannot be forgotten. In him we are reminded of the word of God in 1Timothy 6:17-19:
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Death cannot erase his amazing love for people, his humility and Godly spirit. We miss him, thousands of people miss him but we are consoled by the assurance that he has gone to rest having finished his race. Captain’s life has become an epistle for all to read and emulate. Let us strive to be like him this Christmas- in love, in giving and in sharing. As we do so, the legacy of Captain will know no end and the essence of Christmas will be actualized.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu