Buhari’s secret identical twin brother – Part 1
When Professor ‘Folabi Olumide chose Harbour Point, Victoria Island for the celebration of his 80th birthday, he failed to produce his secret identical twin brother – President Muhammadu Buhari, but we shall come to that later.
The party was not meant to be “the party of the year.” It was just great fun and the ambience was a perfect score – food, drinks, music, poetry, dancing plus a review of two books written by the celebrant. Such infectious joy and abundance of conviviality are increasingly rare while we are under siege as we ponder on the destiny of a nation that has been ambushed by vandals, bandits and marauders. All the same, the celebrant Professor ‘Folabi Olumide accompanied by his radiant wife Folasade made the event memorable by reminding us that even if its only by a thin cord, we are still connected with civilisation. The sacrifice of Monday – the first day of the week, for thanksgiving and the acknowledgement of the bountiful mercies of the Almighty is too little a price to pay while wrestling with the profundity and complexity of change. The climax was the recessional hymn:
“We expect a bright tomorrow
All will be well
Faith can sing through days of sorrow
All, all is well.”
On Tuesday, the party continued at our private Club on Victoria Island, Lagos for the weekly lunch (ladies strictly forbidden). The celebrant in his usual manner walked in and sat quietly at his table (number 4). He had a glint in the eye and the new spring in his heels did not go unnoticed. Ever the perfect gentleman, he limited himself to a few words of thanks to those within earshot who had been at the party. Like Buhari, he is a man of few words. Certainly not your noisy neighbour. All that we managed to extract from him was the admission that with eight decades behind him, he really did not feel any different today than he did the day before.
Anyway, matters look a different turn when the President of the Club (in absentia) proceeded to announce the names of those who had celebrated their birthday since the last lunch, with Professor Olumide as the latest celebrant. As if determined to continue with the celebrations of the previous day, he had provided plenty of wine to lubricate our lunch. This may have provoked an eminent retired professor of dentistry to launch into flawless Latin to hail the celebrant (a repeat performance of the toast he had delivered at the birthday party).
I cannot now recollect at which point we got rid of the St. Gregory’s College, CMS Grammar School and the Igbobi College boys but as the afternoon withered into evening the wine was still flowing. The only ones left were King’s College Old boys as confirmation that stamina and endurance are in our genes.
Inevitably, matters drifted to feasting and masticating on the two books by the celebrant – one a collection of poems and the other his autobiography. It was typical of Harman’s House boys (from King’s College) to commence a clinical examination and surgical operation on the literary exposition of our distinguished birthday boy and surgeon. By common agreement he had succeeded in connecting the left brain with the right one. Stylistically, his poems are more in the style of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865 to 1939) than John Keats (the English Romantic poet 1795-1821). Without doubt, he has mastered the intricacies and ethereal melodies of rhyming couplets. Most of the poems are devoted to the adoration of the Almighty and appreciation of “God’s divine love” – a subtle tussle between supplication and exhortation.
We have the author’s testimonial:
“These poems always give me inner peace
and tranquillity surfeit of sublime equanimity.”
His invitation to us to partake of the feast is irresistible on account of his “utter candour, wholesome honesty.”
“How many years must a man exist
before his mind is at peace?
How many books must a man digest
before he can hope to be wise?
It is all due to “constant search for truth.”
Perhaps the best offering is : “Ode To The Surgeon”
“a paediatrician is a physician who
indulges in ‘child’s play’!
an obstetrician is obsessed by
child birth, and genitals !
a psychiatrist is a
physician of the mind, the soul !
a physician is a ‘drug-peddling,’
much talking physician !
a pathologist is an ‘after-death’
physician, morbid and cold
but a surgeon,
God bless him, is
all these, and then more,
a lot more;
We are driven to truth and finality
“for, at autopsy
The truth must emerge.”
Then comes the verdict:
“Only God is the perfect Surgeon !!”
For those who have neither time nor disposition to stand and stare or smell the flowers, the author’s sojourn in Saudi Arabia has located an oasis:
“Could His magnificent ecstasy,
such blissful calm, utter beauty,
nature’s natural land-scape,
modestly designed off-white
castles, standing erect
on deserted pre-maghreb prayer streets;
lonely alleys, clear
dark cloudless skies
now dotted with
the orion here,
over there, the
Followed by fear, desperation and despair
“to summon sleep; a beer, a scotch
maybe a pill.”
The search is for happiness in the wrong places
“will these cells grow ?
try them in the spleen
complex plumbing job,
portal flow to spleen !
will these liver cells find happiness,
neatly lodging in the spleen ?”
Fortunately, beauty and God are inseparable:
“As sunset greets the skies
and daylight’s charms depart
no fears disturb my heart
for God within resides.”
and joined by love:
“true love is everlasting,
fed by faith and understanding.
I must confess that I very nearly prescribed the author’s medicine to him as retaliation when he asked me to review his poems. The job should be given to a committee !!
“Committees for making plans
and committees to check the plans
Committees that wreck these plans
a Committee to make new plans !”
Eighteen pages of the book are devoted to riveting photographs from the family album (and rightly so). Each photograph tells its own unique story and provides confirmation that indeed a photograph is worth a thousand words.
• To be continued
• Bashorun Randle is a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa Region. He is currently the Chairman, JK Randle Professional Services.