Thursday, August 13, 2020 10:12 pm
By Joe Okei-Odumakin
There are so many things that we will forever remember Ambassador Walter Carrington for.
The first was his skin: He was black as black could be, being a Black American or African-American, as Jesse Jackson, another notable American of African descent, taught us to call it.
Carrington was, perhaps, the first black skin to be America’s ambassador in Africa’s most populous Black country.
He was an ambassador who did not act ambassadorial but mixed with the hoi polloi.
He had no airs but moved in both low and high circles, taking in the whole essence of the Nigerian society.
Carrington was here at, perhaps, the most critical period of this country’s political history: The struggle to end military dictatorship and return the country to democratic governance.
He minced no words in speaking out for civil liberties; he left no one in doubt that he was making his stand with the people.
In this, he stepped on powerful toes; he drew the ire of military goons and was at the receiving end of their viciousness.
Undaunted, Carrington stood like the wall of Gibraltar and gave the much-needed courage and hope to Nigerians fighting to see the back of the soldiers of fortune.
Oftentimes, his life and his family members’ were threatened but Carrington remained as constant as the Northern stars.
He was, indeed, a man of courage and a man of conviction.
He had an uncommon sense of history and an impassioned zeal to write his name in the sands of time.
We will not forget how soldiers armed to the teeth stormed the venue in Lagos where NADECO & CD had gathered to hold a send-forth party for him.
We cannot also forget how the stormy petrel himself, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, confronted the wanton troopers, bared his chest and dared them to shoot!
The cowards retreated, tail between their legs; they fled and Carrington had his honours.
Carrington loved this land so much he married one of its daughters, Arese.
That way, he signed an everlasting pact with us.
In life and in death, he remains one of us.
We therefore mourn him deeply.
Eternal rest grant him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him!
May the good Lord comfort and strengthen our sister Arese and the other members of the family.
Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin
President, Women Arise & Centre for Change.