You should be reading our Reflection on Nigeria’s 55th Anniversary as an independent nation, especially in an era where hope of change and national resurgence is bright. Instead, we are paying a Tribute to someone who is a heroic personage; one who has served this nation in a heroic way. Now, there is a sense in which the contribution of Professor Adefuye to Nigeria’s national and international essence is itself the kind of activity that cumulated to true independence in n terms of identity-retrieval, national consciousness, and path-finding as we pay respects to one of us who has joined the ancestors having contributed to ‘the labours of our heroes past.’
So many profound and incisive Tributes have been paid to this scholar-diplomat, great teacher, formidable intellectual and sound historian by people who knew him deeply and genuinely and who are themselves genial minds that nothing really special or new can be added toward building blocks for his immortality here on earth As I said in my on-line tribute, after all the seminal and passionate tributes showered on Prof Adefuye, especially the earliest ones by Professor Biodun Jeyifo and Emeritus Professor Jide Osuntokun, it is needless trying to find anything to add ‘than to let this great historian, inimitable and patriotic intellectual and scholar diplomat live on eternally in our bled hearts and national memory. ‘
Both Biodun Jeyifo and Jide Osuntokun are inveterate intellectuals who delve into issues, any issues -be it about persons, events, society, culture or economy with thoroughness and comprehensiveness that they leave very little no room for fresh explorations, except merely for adornment and essentially ingenious repetition/emphasis, lest you spoil the menu on a very painful event like this. . They have written, along with others of Adefuyes loyalty to any cause he embarks on, his patriotism to this nation and his penchant for making contributing inventively to anything he embarked upon.
Professor Osuntokun in particular, any Jejifo had hinted at this in his own tribute, had discussed Adefuye’s profound contribution as High Commissioner in the Commonwealth Caribbean Island of Jamaica where, in his apt words, ‘he brought the weight of his academic scholarship as a historian of Africa to bear not only on his diplomatic assignment but also on historical pedagogy’ in the Caribbean institutions where deliberate, ideologically conscious effort had been made to undermine the ‘contributions of Africans to world civilization.’
However, when I read Professor Akachi Ezeigbo’s own tribute (one of Adefuye’s earliest undergraduate students at the University of Lagos, herself a bright mind with an incredible power of story-telling with a definite original angle to the story of the life our late Ambassador, to the West Indies (Jamaica), England and to the United States, having taught and mentored as a Professor of history at the University of Lagos and retired there before ‘starting a new career as a diplomat and Administrator at the Commonwealth, it became obvious to me that there was need to add my own experience of the man to those critical stones to the building of the house without walls of immortality that Ambassador Adefuye has become. For, the truth is that Professor Adefuye , having left all us, his wonderful family, colleagues, friends, the nation and those countries where he has left indelible imprints, staring stupefiedly at the shores and gazing at the horizon, hoping, hopelessly, that we might just catch another glimpse him, somewhere!
This is in fact the point about death-its frightening but not frightful finality and finitude; its unpredictability more than its certitude; its inevitability rather than its awesomeness. This may just be why death itself has become one of the most unresolved subjects of debates and topics of discourse-indeed, more than the subject of life itself. For indeed, what is there to say about someone who is alive and living, except to undervalue or scorn him/her? This may just be why poets do their best to minimize the power, essence, and damage that death inflict on those of us living after our valued and dear ones have left with unburdened of either thought or care.
Poets after poets approach the subject of death with defiance, derision, castigation and indeed despair. They ask for its sting or victory without receiving an answer. Brave ones like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar scuffle at ‘cowards’ who are those that must ‘die many times before their death’ because the valiant will not die more than ones. This is why he lashed out to stun his adversarial friends thus; ‘It seems to me most strange why men should fear/ knowing that ‘death is an honourable thing/ It will come when it will come’. Yet, when death happens to our bravest, most valiant and best, when we least expect it, and we really never expect it though we live close to a century like our national Matriarch Yeyeoba Dideolu Hannah Awolowo just did, by ‘shocking all those who were preparing for his hundredth, who now have to convert that celebration to another kind of celebration!
That was the character of the man Adebwale Adefuye- a man who took the assignment of a diplomat beyond the ordinary, giving a new character, ennobling it with scholarship and expanding its scope as a ground for re-inventing the identity and essence of Africa to the patronizing West. Here then was a passionate patriot, an incredibly profound intellectual and a creative , scholar-diplomat and a global citizen whom death, with its famous cowardice and irrationality snatched from his family, the academic and diplomatic world and the entire globe. Adieu, dear brother and friend.