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Special Tribute To A Former Friend And Colleague; Femi Kehinde

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria BureauLife is dynamic and full of many intrigues. Human being involves in most activities of the life as well as determines their outcome. Still, there is ironical dimension to strength and limitation of man. For instance, man is deceived; thinks his scope of knowledge is broad, but really it is not; he thinks he sees, but in actual sense, the extent of his sight is very limited. Man, despite his multiple adventurous discoveries and wonderful inventions is with limited capability and very dispensable.

For another time, I have been faced with this inevitable and reality of life. Since later the very day (Thursday, July 23, 2015) his sudden death occurred, the signals symbolically kept unfolding from various fronts, ‘but man is blind’, hence my ignorance of the unexpected that has befallen me and imminent shocking news!

It all started later the very day the auto crash that consumed him, when a friend of his, visited the office and asked after him. The fellow kept grudging about how significant and urgent it was, for him to meet and discuss with my former friend and colleague. Out of pity, I was forced to advise the gentleman to relay whatever message he had and assured him it would be delivered when he resumed office the following day. As if the man was pained by my ignorance, he left in confusion and in my poor ‘innocence’ state.

About 72 hours later (Saturday) after staying long somewhere in Ikeja, I left to drive straight to the office, but not after another brief stop at the Lagos Television (LTV 8), Agidingbi to see a friend and another colleague. Yours truly was faced with another parable of the ‘news break’ soon to be received. As I dashed into the reception of the State’s TV house, my first glimpse was the big portrait – frame picture and condolence register of yet another media colleague, until his death, the Head of Reportorial. I was shocked and on getting to the newsroom, I curiously and grievously asked the next expected question, when did Mr. Solarin die? I was told, he transited about three days ago, the same day…which my online title, The African Examiner (AE) has unknowingly (to me and many others) lost one of its founding and utility and efficient members! When soul is still intact in the body, man remains a living creature, but regrettably and despite that, he knows and sees nothing!

When got through with my assignment, I made it back to the reception, signed out and as well as signed Solarin’s condolence register, but not without the appalling thought running through my mind and confusion over the exit of the former and late colleague. Not knowing the biggest shocker and more destabilizing news was looming, the deep thought lasted till I reached our office premises Saturday evening.

At last, the information landed. I was about entering the office, Saturday (July 25, 2015) when an ‘unexpected’ international call dropped on my phone. The caller was the AE Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Sunday Fase, starting usually, with the abbreviation version of my name “Taju”, but this time sounded, very worried and sober. The rudest shock followed when he dropped the bombshell that our (former) friend, colleague, the Managing Editor, Femi Kehinde (he said was informed) is dead! Dead or what?

The phone call was like a drama. The EIC as I always address him, no doubt felt terribly bad, as he was speaking with me and “shattered” as he later opened up. But if he was so devastated, he could not have as I did. The reason is that Femi and I were in the office Wednesday (the last day we saw) before the tragic incident. Besides, late Femi never showed any sign of ailment, nor did he complain of any to anyone in or around our office.

As I gaped for the next question to ask, I asked the Publisher feebly about the source of his information, he replied sadly, that he picked the sadden condolence posts, by associates, colleagues and friends, on Femi’s Facebook wall that very Saturday. It was the same day the news was broken. That phone conversation had to end abruptly as both the Publisher and I were agonized and stunned by the sudden and shocking development

Still, I could not believe it, neither helped myself, thus I broke the news to others in the office. What happened after the disclosure was plead that I should never mention again such a “bad news”, after all, he was seen in the office about 72 hours ago; very strong and reaching out to everyone, within and outside the office premises. His absence in the office Thursday was not really unusual as sometimes he was away for outside engagement. Still, staff and others who related with her, around office, expressed worries since late Thursday and Friday, complaining that his mobile lines were permanently switch off. We never imagined Femi was no more.

Shortly after receiving the call, the Publisher and I returned to internet and made further calls and simultaneously chatted for details. It was in the course of this and later the facts emerged that Femi died Thursday morning while on a trip to Ibadan, along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway! Painfully, the vehicle he was traveling with, we learnt somersaulted and after, engulfed by fire.

What a death! What an abrupt, sudden and shocking end to the life of a complete gentleman; a rounded journalist; creative and productive professional as well as businessman; a very humble and an easy going ex-fellow! Our dear Femi Kehinde, exited the world, with no one having an hindsight. Friends, colleagues, family members, neighbours, both in office and his Ijoko community (Ogun state) have not completely come to terms with the reality of the only (guaranteed) fate which has befallen you.

Although, you have taken the final bow and despite our wish that the event was reversed, (which can never come into fruition), yet, you will be remembered for some of your outstanding legacies. As a journalist with a wide field experience; an author; entrepreneurship trainer and facilitator, Publisher as well as Pastor, there is no doubt that, you had lived a meaningful life, as many have either passed through your mass media tutelage; benefited from your business acumen and ultimately inspired, motivated and prospered via your editorial (reportage and commentaries); messages in your books as well as your preaching and admonition.

Femi and I related and worked together (over the last 12 months) in the AE without any bickering or rancor that lasted for a second. I will miss that gentle and shrewd colleague who he and I operated for that not too long of a time. I feel embittered that a focus and diligent colleague had ‘gone’ on a final journey, leaving an irreplaceable vacuum in his immediate family and big burden on me to shoulder in the office.

I am not alone in this, our out station Correspondents, who did not always hesitate to put calls through, whether to inform him why they could still not send a particular story; wish to seek clarification whether a particular news break has dropped in our news hub (news Email box) or express their worries on why a particular story they sent has not been worked on and posted on our news website. And I recall, Femi would immediately called me either on phone or if in the office, would address in his most convenience, “TJ”, a reporter or correspondent has just called his attention to a development, ‘let’s work on it’. Such was the prompt and simple approach to work, of our man.

Femi, no doubt, you were still a young man, when death took you away. You were still strong and agile. You have made a significant mark in the past and till the moment in the field of journalism and other fields of human endeavour. You were never tired, rather kept working harder on the trade. This is very inspiring and motivating. Indeed, it is a big plus for you as many who had reason to relate with you, on different fronts you operated while alive would definitely have learnt some virtues from your God-given talents.

Finally, as Femi is to be interred this Tuesday, August 4, 2015, it is my utmost wish and the entire AE family that the Lord Almighty forgive him his shortcomings; grant him the eternal rest; remain with his family members; console and give them the courage, inspiration and zeal to survive the great loss. Femi Kehinde, do have a ‘Prosperous Final’ rest in the Lord. Goodbye!

E-Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Twitter: @tjaysuccess10


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