Akintunde Oyebode: Be prepared (YNaija FrontPage)

For Bankole Taiwo, who is being buried today, we can only pray that the road rises to meet him and that until we meet again, may God hold him in the palm of his hand. For the work he did while he was among us, he deserves no less.

I joined the Boys Scout in Primary Three, thrilled by the knowledge that Neil Armstrong was a scout in his younger days and the opportunity to be away from the classroom on Friday afternoons. It was an interesting journey that continued when I got into secondary school, with many unforgettable memories. My enduring memory of being a scout was formed during a day trip when I was in secondary school. We had been taught how to respond to emergencies during camps and hikes, but I stopped paying attention since we never had an incident, till my friend was stung by a scorpion. All I could remember was to wash the sting with soap and water, but nothing else came to mind. After a few minutes, our troop leader applied a cold compress on the sting, and the First Aid procedure came back to me. It was the only time the motto I muttered every Friday came alive. At that moment, I understood what Lord Baden-Powell meant when he coined the popular scouting motto, Be Prepared.

I have since taken the scout motto to heart, heightened by the fact that most of my adult life has been spent in Nigeria. A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the TENT Gathering 2012 in Ile-Ife. TENT is an acronym for Techie, Entrepreneurial, Nigerian and Talented; and provides an opportunity for technology entrepreneurs to meet their addressable market and potential investors. The decision to travel to Ife was not debatable, and I aligned my schedule accordingly. But something happened on Monday and my plan to be in Ife was up in smoke. I was informed there had been an accident involving volunteers and speakers at the event, and someone had lost his life. It was unclear if the event was going to continue, or if I could gather my weak heart to ply the same route. It was another reminder of how best laid plans are altered, and in some cases, completely destroyed.

I didn’t know Bankole Taiwo, but I knew about the social development activity tagged Warri Makeover. It was amazing to read how young people took charge of social change. In their words, the strategy included eradicating a culture of “waiting for government.” In one attempt, the team took on education, conservation and conflict resolution projects. It was a demonstration of how much we can do without waiting for our government or limiting our contribution to complaints and anger. It is sad that the young man who was the arrowhead of that movement, died because our social support structures were absent when needed. Many of us went to Ife this week, but one person did not return. It is a reminder that mortality stares us in face, especially in this place we call home. It is at the airport when we submit our lives to the decrepit aviation industry or at the hospitals that are unable to diagnose life threatening ailments till the patients are at death’s door. When we drive through craters disguised as roads, we realize we live on a wing and a prayer, or when lives are disrupted by the booming gunshots of robbers and kidnappers.

The tragedy of his death is not limited to his family, but extended to a society that continues to watch its finest wither and die. As John Donne reminds us “No man is an island, and any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

For Bankole Taiwo, who is being buried today, we can only pray that the road rises to meet him and that until we meet again, may God hold him in the palm of his hand. For the work he did while he was among us, he deserves no less.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (2)

  1. Bankole Taiwo was a very friendly and jovial individual ; great personality woow really shocked to hear of his death May his soul Rest in Peace.

  2. Well written. May Bankole Taiwo rest in perfect peace till we meet to part no more, Amen,

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