[Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of a talented artist, a young man just making his way up in life. Apart from his regular day job, Sina, whose home church is the All Saints' Church, Jericho, Ibadan, Nigeria, was pianist at fabled Tinubu Methodist Church, THE home church to the Methodists in Nigeria. I join those close to him: his mother and sisters and many friends to remember him today, and want to share this, awkward piece with readers.
Readership of my column in The Comet [which metamorphosed into The Nation] was confined to Nigeria as the paper was not on the web during those early days. I had no sensitivity about presenting it for “public” consumption but this blog is now a far cry from the world of what now seems a provincial forum. It was written from the heart and share it, I must, with my readership which is now very international. On many days now, readers from the United States surpass those from Nigeria while there are readers from India, Poland, Uruguay, my favorite Iceland and many other countries.
Sina’s father died soon after the passing of his son but his mother and sisters who survived him back then are still all alive. TOLA, April 23, 2012.]
I hardly knew him but our paths did cross, if one could call it that;
He appeared like a meteor at our 7.30 service on April 21
To assist the organist with some numbers.
And was dead by the 23rd in the hands of a Lagos vigilante group.
Sina was a wiry guy; tall and spare of frame, a mere 32 years old;
But in that thin frame was a talent that seemed bound for great heights;
He played the pipe organ with gusto, leaning his body in strangely on the soft notes,
And throwing it back to hammer the loud ones.
He could barely wait for the final benediction,
Before breaking out in a medley that brought to mind a Bach number:
The pipes blaring to herald the faithful out for the week,
And herald his own last-on-earth Sunday engagement.
Why? Why does this nation self-destruct, always?
Why does it take its brightest in the prime of life?
Why must such a promising young talent perish in the hands
Of one of those infamous Lagos vigilantes en route from choir practice?
How straighter could a kid be than a church organist?
What better time management could one ask from a kid
than spend time after work at such a clean endeavor?
‘Vigilante’ and ‘choir practice? What an oxymoronic pair!
Only once as said did I ever see him, but Sina had nothing
Menacing about him. His music so captivated me that
I discussed him with another young organist of same name but no blood ties,
Five days after his my-work-is-done-here appearance at our church.
But by then he already lay cold in a morgue, having given his
Final performance at the All Saints Church, Jericho, Ibadan;
Where his parents are active church members,
And where many are left asking, and wondering ‘why’.
Rest in peace, Sina, in the bosom of the Lord you served;
Where the angels must be rejoicing to receive one of their kind;
Take heart, Sina’s loved ones in the memories he has left you,
For He who takes the young and leaves the old, knows best.
The Comet on Sunday
April 28, 2002