So Jimanze is gone!
The last month of the last year that has just gone was a particularly stifling and monstrous year in the way and manner it mutilated our emotions and supposedly joyful joy. Many persons there are who will for a long time denounce the actual situation of pain the last month caused them without a doubt and its iota. Even up to the first day of the new year of the December of the just gone year the evidence revealed itself that the dreary month overreached its boundary of painful pain that disconcerted and more than disconcerted them. Sons, grandsons, nephews, grand-nephews, brothers, sisters, cousins, mothers, fathers, step-mothers, step-fathers, step-brothers, step-sisters, friends, etc. (not necessarily in the order of importance) cried and cried their hearts out when death, timely or untimely, took their loved ones from them. Up to now many bereaved persons are still morose – understandably. What a really monstrous year and month that one will try to erase in vain from memory later than sooner.
In December, the just gone December – running to the first day of this first month and first day of the new year – I lost several relations: friends that were real friends, a cousin, great forebears, that is, predecessors, in journalistic column-creation and column-writing, a former wonderful teacher in my tertiary education term and other colleagues, senior and junior, who revealed themselves in different guises in their truthful truth as human beings. I cannot and will not dwell on their truthful truth as human beings who were full of sweet ironies about the nature of creation and its cosmic realities. I cannot and will not dwell on all of them here and now -about the nature of their perspectives and perceptions about what were and what were not because I am not in the mood or situation of clear sightedness to do so. I am too emotionally weak to do here now as I would wish to do. I am too crippled to allow my creative spirit to soar beyond the space of my present despair. And may the God of the Christians not frown at me and punish me with damnation for my seeming inability to break all limitations in my mournful thoughts.
I must not pretend. I must not lie. The odds are not with me as I am writing this: about a friend I had been conversing with in early December after I focused on him in this column. I had re-read his book entitled Minorities as competitive overlords and drawn attention to the thoughts of its author, an arresting public intellectual, publisher and newspaper columnist. I admired him a great deal essentially because he was a true patriot, a thoroughly detribalized Nigerian of the right hue. A number of times, and more than a number of times we disagreed and quarrelled over our respective strong views on many issues. At times I acknowledged his arguments but dangerous ones, I must admit – as I used to tell him. Yet we got along very well despite our argumentative combats. He had tremendous respect for my views and what he used to call my mighty guts spiced and laced with poetry possessing the scent of water. But that is another story.
Who have I been talking about? Of course, he is no other one, no other person, than Jimanze, as indicated in my title, who is now gone, who is now dead – before his appointed time. Jimanze Ego-Alowes and I had known ourselves for decades before he ended his sojourn on this earth plane on 24th/25th of December in Warri, Delta State in the gone 2020 that allowed a conspiracy of constricting conspiracies against the majority of us in this fatherland our fatherland.
How come that our Nkwerre, Imo State-born died in Warri and not in his dear Lagos he lived in for many years after he relocated from the East to work rigorously as an author, publisher and journalist who denounced all traitors in the land? After my December essay on him, he informed me that the liver cancer that eventually killed him was having its bad weight, muscle and effect on him. I gave him some prescriptions that would halt the intimidation of the cancer in its quest for his health and well being. But as I learnt later he did not follow my prescriptions. He depended hook, line and sinker on his medical doctor – which I advised him against when I discovered that his condition had truly worsened. I had a pretty chat with his cousin who was always taking time off his own family to nurse our dear friend who was living alone. Of course, I only knew this when Jimanze was near far gone – even though he was still clinging stubbornly but heroically to life. When I called next to inquire about his situation, the person who eventually answered me was a lady who told me that our philosopher was now under her care in Warri. I was shocked to hear that she introduced herself as Jamanze’s sister.
On introducing my person and after pleasantries she said she knew my big family and that one of us now late was her boss in the Warri steel plant. I asked her to give her brother the phone. She did. Jimanze did not know that it was I, Tony Afejuku, who was on the line. His voice, which really was no longer a voice, was gone. I was immediately blinded by mourning. My good half and I summoned courage to go to Warri, our home base, to visit him. But somehow we could not do so due to the almighty monster called COVID-19 whose real name is Coronavirus, Miss Dreadful. On 24th/25th when I called next to buoy up his spirit with merry Christmas wish his wailing sister gave the wailing cry of a miserable sister who moaned:“Your friend is gone. This night… In the General Hospital…” What did I do or say? What does it matter now in my loud speechless silence of visible pain?
But I must say here that I sent as a message to a Mr. Chuddy Oduenyi when he contacted me to inform me of what I knew already: “May God have mercy on Jimanze’s soul. Our fallen man was a worthy friend and brother and a core patriot of our country.” Our great but under-valued and “under-celebrated” intellectual-and-philosopher was buried yesterday at Ndimbara Amaegbu Nkwerre in Nkwerre Local Government, Imo State. Jimanze, one of the core heroes of our generation, as our fallen original thinker truly was, never shall be erased from our sweet hearts of authorship, scholarship and journalism. Even though he is gone, he is not permanently gone. Our first encounter in the nineteen eighties when he accosted me with some published books in his stable will keep on germinating in the grains of friendship that never dies. May his books and thoughts help to make our intellectuals and journalists see themselves “as a chivalric order.”
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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