By Taofeek LAWAL
January 22, 2021 (Friday): I saw him hale and hearty this particular day when I took my daughter to her new school. Apparently, he did not recognize me until I called him. You won’t blame him (he was surely not a snub). The Covid-19 pandemic has turned us all to a mini-Lagbaja (apology to Egbon Bisade Ologunde). But immediately I removed my face mask, he was all over me and asked if I stay around the place and I told him what brought me there. Simply put, that was his ebullient self.
February 10, 2021 (Wednesday): I was going through my phone that morning, my daily routine (everybody’s I guess). As usual, we all check your Facebook, WhatsApp, messages and lo and behold, the ‘strange’ message stared me in the face. I was lying on the sofa and quickly readjusted when I saw the message that accompanied the picture. My mind raced back to January 22 when I saw him and I was asking questions with answers from nowhere. This life my brother!
March 6, 2021 (Saturday): It was end of a lifetime as he went the way of all mortals; a time to be born and a time to die. He played his game very well and he delivered.
Don’t blame me for coming this late with this write-up/tribute. In fact, I have been grappling with the essence of this life since his remains were committed to mother earth on March 6. I knew Egbon Segun Ogunjimi as far back as 2005 in Ibadan. He came to watch Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan match at the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, I cannot remember against which team. But I vividly remember that he and my boss (Alhaji Abdulfatai Oyedeji) were exchanging banters at the press gallery of the stadium and I felt that conviviality in them both. They were calling each other ‘Agbosume’ which I didn’t really understand (I got to know later anyway). Abdulfatai got me introduced to him and he greeted me warmly.
When some years later, I ran into him in Abuja (in 2012 or thereabout) and reminded him about our meeting in Ibadan with Abdulfatai and the ‘Agbosume’ cognomen, he welcomed me with open hands and whenever we met, whether at assignments or at the National Stadium here in Abuja during the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) congress or any other place (January 22 comes to my mind with memories and sobs), he would accord me every respect even though he was far older than me. He would say, ‘Aburo, bawo ni, se alaafia ni, so wa?” meaning: How are you my younger brother, is everything fine with you? That was Segun for you.
It would be an understatement to say that his departure took all of us (the sporting media, the general media, friends and families) by surprise, but who are we, mere mortals to question the Almighty? I keep on remembering the January 22 encounter with him in his ebullient and characteristic manner with no sign of sickness not knowing that he had just some few days left in this ephemeral world. God, where is Thy Face?
Segun was described in glowing terms by acquaintances, colleagues, associates, pastors and sports stakeholders during the service of songs held in his honour at the NUJ Press Centre, Utako on March 3, 2021 and at the Gudu Cemetery on March 6, 2021. He was described as a hardworking, strong and a good Christian who gave his all to his Creator and would never missed any church programs and activities no matter what. His employer, The Nation newspaper, represented at the service of songs by Alhaji Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operations, said Segun was a family man who put his family first in all he did. He also described him as a symbol of perseverance, a multi-talented journalist and a brilliant sports writer who served The Nation diligently.
The chairman NUJ Abuja chapter and his SWAN counterpart, Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ndubueze Chidoka respectively in their tributes described the late sports journalist as a big brother with a very big heart whose humility and mediating power stabilized and unified pen pushers in the two bodies in the nation’s capital. Every journalist said same. The turnout at his burial laid credence to the fact Egbon Segun was a man of the people. Though, they wore sorrowful and sombre looks but they were comforted by the words of the pastor at the graveside who said Segun has gone to rest and would surely rest well.
As I looked at his lifeless body in that casket before his internment on March 6, 2021, I discovered more that there is nothing to be crazy about in this world or keep malice for in this world. We are all here to die and when it is time to leave, the whole world cannot stop it. As the casket was being lowered into the grave for his final and eternal journey, it reminded me once again about the vanity of life because Segun could not ask us not to leave the cemetery; he was not buried with anything and as we made our ways to our different homes, it dawned on me that I will no longer see Egbon Segun again anywhere in the world but in the hereafter when we would have been called by the Most High to account for our deeds in this part of the divide.
Adieu Segun Ogunjimi, rest in peace.
LAWAL is an Abuja-based media practitioner