Chief Charles Obule and his Safa Boys Club’s last supper
Barrister (Chief) Charles (Jacob) Ufuoma Obule is, was, a Sapele denizen that old-timers and new-timers of Sapele would not forget in a hurry. For the man in his own unique way was too good, too, too decent as a human-being of social matters who cared profusely and outstandingly for the human condition in its generality. His relationship with all those who came in contact with him and who he came in contact with especially in Sapele, the coastal city of famous fame, that will eternally remain famous, will hardly forget his virtues in lean and un-lean seasons and years.
The wealth the Erhi of Okpe Kingdom in Delta State possessed was the wealth of philanthropy of a genuine philanthropist and a self-less bread-winner and meal-provider that his blood family members and all and sundry benefitted from. I am not exaggerating beyond the boundary of exaggeration. Thus his demise two plus or so weeks ago dumbfounded everybody, old young men and young old men. What will many of them do now that we are speaking of Charles of Charles-Ville, his stupendously palatial residence, in the past?
Since the news of his devastating death hit me, I have tried to look from my distance from them at their faces, known and un-known. How joyful they were and how joyless they are now are two astonishing experiences that are very, very astonishing. I am seeing tramps without poverty once well-fed and now tramps suffering from chronic maladaptation ready and un-ready to kick the bucket or waiting for the bucket to kick them – in just two weeks! I can see that their eyes have been ravaged by the cancer of astonishment in just two weeks! Do they deserve this fate? Of course, they, Chief Charles Obule and all of us don’t deserve this fate.
Clearly, the death of Charles has set me thinking about many things. This death has been eliciting from me many questions that are providing no answers – clear or un-clear. In fact, the more I think about what has been and whose reality I cannot change the more mystified I have become. And I am becoming a philosopher of sorts relating to the subject at hand – an un-vigorous philosopher of sometimes confused imagination and memory that is coming to me from the glorious years I shared with the gone one who was my under-graduate student as a uterine elder brother, who pre-deceased him, also was.
All is not well that does not end well. This is one philosophical reaction my mystified imagination engendered in thinking about Charles – always Jacob – the name, the actual name, his actual birth-name, his late biological father gave to him – and which only closely close ones knew him by and which I always called him in our quiet moments of infrequent meetings up to our last meeting that predated his un-expected end that has severely hurt and mystified us beyond any imaginable word or words. Who are the “us”?
The ‘us’ are fellows, friends and members of the Safa Boys’ Club. Our vigorous dead member tolls the knell of the young who has left our circle in a state of quaint quandary. To cut a short-long story shorter, on Sunday, 9, July, this year, Safa Boys’ Club, the most supremely joyous, blissful, lively and liberal social or socio-cultural club and arguably the best and most influential place for laughing lions and lionesses in Sapele and environs stretching to far and near and wide and long boundaries of places well outside Safa City, hosted this composer to an afternoon and evening of laughter and laughter for his very joyful exit out of service after longishly longish years of flawlessness.
It was an afternoon of victorious happiness and of happy happiness and joyful joy that ran to an evening of the flesh of good lambs and smoked chicken and coco-nut rice and tapioca plus nuts and well barbecued fish – and what else? Starch and banga soup plus bush meat and fresh fish, to boot. The list was long and endless. Everything was prepared very spicily by Mrs. Charles Obule. Water and assorted drinks were heard and seen splashing like speeches and words of wisdom and truth. Beer and stout and wine and fruit juices and softs of coca-cola and other brands were enough and more than enough. We were all gourmets and epicures – but not gluttons.
Everyone, including invited guests from far and near, heartily agreed that we partook of an excellently excellent meal which has turned out now, from the benefit of hindsight, to be Barrister Chief Charles Obule’s last supper which has socially and historically become Safa Boys’ Club’s last supper with him: the very personable fellow.
Before the event began in earnest, Charles and I had a very short chat which we engaged in in the form of a whisper. Chief Iroro Clarke, the Club’s Chairman, who sat next to him, I am sure, did not hear what we said – what I told Charles, my Jacob, and what he told me. Because we had an assignment and a promise he was yet to keep in respect of a long retired foundation professor in my primary place of function in my now former establishment from which Charles tasted my teaching tongue, I accused him, our now unexpectedly gone brother and friend, of trying to fob me off with his mien and demeanour. It was then he confided in me.
He had been away – in Turkey after his visit to the US – on medical grounds. He was due to visit Turkey again soonest. I was beaten and suddenly halted in my discourse for I was overcome and overwhelmed by the way he said what he said. I remained silent and sat still and dismayed. But he cheered me up. As the ceremony progressed I observed him keenly. He didn’t drink as he used to do – that is if even he was a water-drinker that day. It was as if his usual brand – stout or wine – was no use to his weary and drooping frame. But was he really a weary and drooping man? I was trying to read his mind from where I was sitting far from him and Iroro Clarke. But when he stood up to make what I considered as a golden speech of the evening I could see him radiating the spirit of the purest sky. My thoughts became robustly robust and were as fair as the fairest woman!
Yet Charles, after partaking of the outstanding meal, left the ceremony before we neared its end – quite un-usual of him. He was followed by the Chairman. He waved to us as he took his earlier than early leave – without even taking a photo with me! And the next thing I heard was that he had died! The man we are burying today has left the market-place of our existence. I am too far gone in the pain walking around my interior compartments to say more than what I have said now. Whatever tarantula or scorpion that came from nowhere to sting him instead of yelping at him and leaving him alone thereafter is power-less now over him.
Now let this unwillingly willing composer end with his repetition of his initial reaction to the death of the super delightful high being who should not have flown from us at the time he did after his last supper with the Sapele Boys’ Club. He posted the reaction to the club’s platform when the pain he felt connected with the reality of the loss:
“Since the sad news of the death of Charles (Jacob) Obule hit me, as hard as it did, silence and solitude have engulfed and encircled me. In this state Seneca’s words keep on coming and going and coming. ‘‘Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing.” And the anxiety of my silence and solitude further induces in me the ‘thingification,’ the ‘neuterisation’ and the ‘inorganisation’ of our existence, extinction and oblivion.
“In the suddenness of your sudden eternal rest, O Charles, we perceive our own ‘thanatos’! What else do I say? Rest eternally in perfect peace that is perfect peace.”
May Mrs. Charles Obule, the children and the extended family and friends that are friends overcome their great pains and confusion as the Sapele eagle of a philanthropist, billionaire, lawyer, educationist, socialite, businessman, and politician of the PDP liberal spontaneity and taciturnity is given to mother earth today. The paths he had followed here and his acquirements all are now mother earth’s the taker.
Our supper with Charles has since soared to the ground. Brace up, Sapele Boys’ Club. Brace up.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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