Ikenna Obioha and Damilola Fatunmise
A few months ago, popular artiste, Adebanji Oyebanjo (D’banj) and his wife, Didi rolled out the drums for the auspicious celebration of the first birthday their son, Daniel. An elaborate party was thrown to mark the occasion. As expected, the toddler’s birthday party attracted many celebrities, close friends and family members.
On Sunday, June 24, the sad news of the demise of Little Daniel hit the Internet, dousing the frenzy built from Nigeria’s Super Eagles victory over the Iceland team at the ongoing World Cup. Reportedly, the boy was left under the care of much older children of family friends who paid his mother (Didi) a casual visit.
She had left Daniel with them with the understanding that they were capable of looking after him until she returned.
Daniel’s body was later recovered from the indoor, un-barricaded pool at their Ikoyi residence. He was pronounced dead on their arrival at the hospital.
D’banj wasn’t in the country at the time. He was thousands of miles away, attending the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards held that same day in Los Angeles, California, USA.
In his reaction following his son’s death, D’banj noted: “Trying times, but my God is always and forever faithful.”
Emerging onto the music scene in 2005, D’banj operated under the code of a ‘playboy’ who was down to party at all times. But in recent times, he seems to have left that school of thought. First, his mellowness started manifesting after the revelation of his secret wedding to Lineo Didi Kilgrow. An extroverted ‘kokomaster’ would later be sensed as operating under the radar, all, in a bid to shield his family life away from the tabloids.
Following the birth of his child, the world saw an even significant drift, away from the ‘party cracker’ personality that most fell in love with. This change was evident in his Instagram post with his son. In it, he is seen as portraying a new brand of masculinity, one that involved a show of an endearing father with his son.
It was a special moment for him, and he made it even more special for his son by creating memories of them on social media. His fondness for Daniel was unparalleled, as though there was no field strong enough to pull them apart. His son had made a gentleman out of him.
Following the death of Daniel, thousands of fans and well wishers took to the social media to show love, respect, and sympathise with the couple through tweets and timeline updates. Nigerian celebrities also took to various platforms to express their condolences.
D’banj’s former partner, Don Jazzy, broke down upon hearing the news, saying: “Just heard the worst news in a long time.” Also, writing on his Instagram handle, Innocent ‘Tubaba’ Idibia urged D’banj to “Stay strong for you and your woman in this time bro. I can’t even start two imagine how you feel right now @ iambangalee. May Allah give u strength”.
Paying his condolence to D’banj, showbiz impresario and now Senator Ben Bruce twitted: “I am really, really sad to read about the death of your lovely son. Death of a child is the hardest thing for any parent. On behalf of my family and I, please do accept our sincerest sympathy,”
Also, long time friend, Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji, took to her Instagram to pray for the family whilst imploring others to join in the act. She wrote: “Please join me in saying this prayer as we commiserate with the Oyebanjos at this time. We can never fully understand the pain of others but every little prayer helps. @bangalee, our hearts break with yours.”
Celebrity club owner and son of late magician, Prof. Peller, Shina says: “One of the saddest things in life is to lose a child. The first question is, why? Easier said than done but at such a time, the advice is to accept and understand that God has the power and right over everything. And He alone knows why. My heart goes out to you and may God be with you @iambangalee during this very difficult time.”
While consoling D’banj, actresss cum politician, Funke Adesiyan, also reflected on her time of loss. “Lost a child three years ago. It’s still the singular devastating thing that happened to me. This is a pain that never goes away. You just learn to grow with it. I’ve been there and I know no one can comfort you except God Himself. May He give you the fortitude to bear this.”
On his part, ace comedian, Ali Baba says: “My brother @iambaganlee accept my heartfelt condolence on @danieldthird. I cannot imagine what you are going through. I have experienced loss that shook me to the bones. Zakilooooo and Endutance… two of my brothers. I still wear a blank band for each one till date. That’s like five years after. So I cannot say, snap out of it. Because it doesn’t go away. But what I can say is, may the good things and times help you in dealing with the pain. If it was not going to happen, and you could do anything to stop it, I know you, you would not top at anything to stop it, I know you would not stop at anything to keep him alive. Be strong. Be bold. Be a true father. Keep the memories. And let them comfort you.”
Didi wasn’t left out of the ‘blamestorm’ too. Several persons opined the sad situation as being entirely her fault through her failure of executing proper childcare for Daniel, while others suggested her arrest by the police for poor parenting leading to her child’s death. Collectively, they blamed both parents for the reckless structural design (of their mansion) adopted to showcase opulence with little consideration for the safety of their child.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that friends and family members have been staying with the bereaved woman since the incident, even as D’banj is yet to return from abroad.
The Lagos State Police Command has also stated that after their mourning period, it would invite the parents of the toddler to shed some light on the circumstances surrounding his death.