The labour of our heroes past
I wonder how many compatriots reading this get a kick from watching young school children sing our National Anthem. It usually thrills me to watch and listen to kindergarten children as they innocently and seriously sing:
“Arise o compator, Nigeria’s colobay….”.
It is, however, no laughing matter when adults, nay, prospective political office holders ‘butcher’ our National Anthem when undergoing interviews at the hallowed chamber of the National Assembly. Not too long ago, we watched one of the worst-case scenarios when one of such distinguished individuals rendered her own version of ‘the labour of our heroes past’.
What a tragedy!
THE LABOUR OF OUR HEROES PAST SHALL NEVER BE IN VAIN happens to be the most solemn part of our National Anthem. Whenever it is sung, be it instrumental or with lyrics, the musical instruments and voices are low key when we get to that particular sentence. It shows the premium that our country places on the labour of our heroes.
Events of past years, however, show that Nigeria is gradually forgetting her heroes – dead and living—as integrity and nationalism are being sacrificed on the altar of politico-financial expediency and corruption. But thank God for men and women who have conscience and still value integrity. On July 29, 2016, one of Nigeria’s real heroes – Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi – was remembered with a 50th Anniversary Lecture at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan. The lecture titled ADEKUNLE FAJUYI AND THE POLITICS OF REMEMBRANCE was delivered by a renowned Professor of English and a multiple award winner- Niyi Osundare. His brilliant, detailed, well-researched and thought-provoking paper was preceded by a poem composed by this writer nine years earlier when she was touched by Nigeria’s lacklustre attitude to her real heroes. The poem reads-
LIVE ON, FORGOTTEN HERO, LIVE ON! 1. Attention! Mark Time, March!
Lef, Lef, Lefurete, Lefurete
A refrain, strong, awe-inspiring, a rarity.
Men standing at attention,
Waiting to act with alacrity.
Men of courage and valour,
In uniform of khaki colour,
Men, strong in battle.
No place for the fearful and feeble,
Who melt at the sound of the whistle,
Trembling off to safety, scuttle! 2. To this great noble fold
Belonged The Colonel, brave and bold,
Loved and respected we are told.
Frank, principled and upright,
Like his ancestors of old.
The son of Isaiah and Osundunke Fajuyi,
From Okesa, where the moon shines on the hill summit,
In an area called Oke-Ewi,
In the ancient town of Ado-Ekiti,
Inhabited by men of agility and integrity.
Men, proudly called Oniyan Uyi.
To this clan was born Francis Adekunle Fajuyi.
3. At Agodi, his duty post, was he,
Playing host to Aguiyi,
When in barged some jack-boots.
Not a friendly mission at all, you bet!
“We are here to take Ironsi, your guest”.
Fajuyi, in a pickle, was resolute,
Fully aware of the consequences of perfidy,
And in line with his forebears’ philosophy,
Was bent on protecting the visitor in his custody.
Insisting on being taken along with the victim,
Chose to pay the debt of nature at forty.
His life was snuffed out with a single Kì
4. How strange, this faithful soldier
Rarely gets a mention!
A patriot who, like the faithful skipper,
His life surrendered at discretion,
To avert a national bloody dislocation.
You are not here, Fajuyi, to polish your image
In an autobiography of many a-page
But your biography is etched in gold
That changeth not with age.
Live on, Fajuyi, in the hearts of men
Who stand for dignity, patriotism and unity.
Live on, Forgotten Hero, live on for posterity.