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In memory of Professors Adetona, Adepoju

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Brethren, during the past two weeks and in fact up till this moment, I have learnt and still continue to learn the hard lessons life and living constantly teach. I have learnt and continue to learn the lesson that there is a world of difference between giving sermons and receiving sermons. I have discovered that the easiest vocation in life is that of a counselor. I have found out that the hardest posture one could ever take in life is that of a witness to a tragedy in which the beloved is the victim!

Both Professors were ornaments in this field, in this world. By the world, I meant the world which remains ours but has since ended for them. L.M Adetona belonged to the crème-de-la-crème of the intellectual circle in Lagos State University; A. Adepoju was an icon reaching for the stars in Tai Solarin University of Education. The first was the occupier of the full Chair in Islamic Studies in Lagos State University; the second was “on the way” to the full Chair in Tai Solarin University. Suddenly death came calling. They answered the call, the last call, just like the first call, by force, not by choice. But unlike those other places and spaces where, whenever death comes calling the question that would be asked is: “why me; why me”, at the demise of these two great colleagues of ours, we could only mutter, inna lillaah wa inna ilayhi rajiun- “to the Almighty we belong; back to Him shall be our return”.

“You are not alone “dear sisters” in these moments of grief and loss. You cannot be alone. You cannot be alone because you have never been alone. He the Almighty was there for you before they emerged into your lives; He was there when they came (after all He was the one who brought them into your live); He is there ever standing even at this moment when they are no more beside you, on that bed; around the dining table. But He is there and would always be here. Yes; for you, for me and for us all.

Whenever death takes the beloved away, the lover feels such a pain only the bereaved could describe. My Sister, nothing can describe the pain of loss other than the pleasure of gain. Yes; such is the logic of and in antithesis. Nothing tastes better than life that is born anew; nothing sours the soul most than life when it is taken. We live in the knowledge of death as inevitable; we live life in constant and willful denial that it could be you or me or any of the beloved. We are usually forgetful that appointment with death is usually not about age; that passage into eternity is not a function of status or race; that departure from life into another life is not because he is closer to the Almighty or farther away from Satan. How forgetful indeed are we that the child is old enough to die the moment he takes his first breath in life; that the ‘taste’ of death is as ‘sweet’ as the taste of life. However just like the experience of life and living, only the dead could describe what and how it feels dying.

But Professor Adetona and Dr Adepoju are not dead after all. They are alive. They live on in the minds and hearts of those they impacted while they were alive. They are alive. They live on in our hearts- the circle of scholars of Arabic and Islamic studies in Nigeria. They are alive in the memory of those whose life reached for the stars thanks to their fortuitous interventions at those moments of need.

But what a way to end one’s sojourn on earth? Only a couple of days before he tasted death, Professor Adetona opened his library and lent a book to one of his numerous mentees. He handed “the world” to the young mind seeking the world, seeking to know. Brother! where else other than in books do civilizations nest? How else could you attain eternity other than through books and in books? I once had cause to say as follows: to write is to become an author; to author is to become an authority.

Yes. He lives on in our minds, in our hearts. Only weeks before he died, Dr Adepoju was toiling night and day on how he could strengthen the Islamic Studies programme in Tai Solarin University. He was working night and day on how to increase the human capacity of Tai Solarin University. Minutes before he died, he was busy dispelling ignorance, conscientizing the Ummah. Dr Adepoju died in active service to his Creator. Professor Adetona was far away from Lagos basking in intellectual communality. The last duty Dr Adepoju carried out was a public lecture at a wedding ceremony. Professor Adetona never knew his cadaver would be interred not in Lagos but in Ilorin.

Yes. The unknown resides with the Knower of the known and the unknown, the Almighty. He knows it all; He says it all: “Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with the Almighty (alone). It is He Who sends down rain, and it is He Who knows what is in the wombs; nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow; nor does anyone know in what land he will die. Verily with Him is the knowledge of all things and He is acquainted (with all things). (Quran 31:34) Show me a “prophet” in this clime and time who knows where he would expire!
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A. AdepojuL.M Adetona
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