Yinka Odumakin and the unfinished work of nation-building

 

In William Shakespeare’s classic Julius Caesar, the chief protagonist, a Roman statesman and general boasted deafeningly to his wife Calpurnia and by extension to Cassius and Pompey, the other power brokers with whom he formed a triumvirate that “Of all the wonders that I have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing death, a necessary end, will come when it will come”. So does society view the rather dreary phenomenon called death? But whenever it occurs, either for the youngest or oldest, all express a great “aww”, instinctively.

The news of the death of one of Nigeria’s most outstanding social critics, civil rights activists, and non-conformist, Yinka Odumakin on the night of Friday, 2nd April 2021, was received by great portions of the society with a deep “oh no!”. Born 1966, he was just 53 when his time of passing came. This was announced by his equally truculent wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, in an emotion-laden statement. Though without tooling bells, no bellowing gunshots, and no half-mast flying flags, Nigerians mourned and still mourn him across the board. Why, for his upstands against oppression, against injustice, and for his lack of airs about political correctness. They also grieve the exit of his extraordinary contribution towards our efforts in actualizing more firmly the Nigerian project. He was a man of strong and courageous views about how he thought Nigeria should be and what needed to be done to attain that.

Yinka was in unexpected ways, a spectacular character, and his nonconformist credentials spoke loudly. He was outspoken and repugnant to injustice and lack of equity and fair play. He fought for an egalitarian country where no Nigerian had a feeling of exclusion on account of birth, creed, or status.