Monday, December 7, 2020 2:28 pm
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
It is exactly 57 years today that Chief D.O Fagunwa died in Lokoja. Since then, many things, some apocryphal in origin, were said about the circumstances of his death inside River Niger on 7 December, 1963.
Before her death at the age of 85 (on Saturday 7 April 2018), Chief Mrs Elizabeth Adebanke Fagunwa, His wife of the dispelled some of the myths around her late husband.
As published in the past on this platform, were such tales like: D.O Fagunwa was not a human being; that when he died, his body was not found; he was taught how to write those books by water, tree and rock spirits! He was the author of Ògbójú Ode Nínú Igbó Irúnmale, (The Forest of A Thousand Daemons as translated by Professor Wole Soyinka).
Mrs Fagunwa made the clarifications on Thursday 27 July 2017, her last. In her words: “Fagunwa was a human being, he was not a spirit. I married a man not a spirit. Against the notion that Fagunwa’s body was not found, I want to tell you that his body was found and buried in Oke Igbo.”
That was when eminent Nigerians, scholars and students gathered at the Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, UI, to once again celebrate her husband. It was put together by Fagunwa Study Group, FSG, in conjunction with Bookcraft. In other words, it was a public presentation of a book titled, Celebrating D.O. Fagunwa: Aspects of African and World Literary History, edited by two scholars, Professors Adeleke Adeeko and Akin Adesokan. The book reviewer was Dr. Ayo Adeduntan of the Institute of African Studies, UI.
Below is the tribute written today by his son, Dipo Fagunwa
IT IS 57 YEARS TODAY THAT YOU LEFT FOR ETERNITY DANIEL ỌLỌ́RUNFẸ́MI FÁGÚNWÀ
The sound of Àyànàgalú with his Ìyá-Ìlù should wake you up beyond the horison Oròówọlé our master storyteller and rose giver of brilliant literature for today is your day. Indeed the ricochets of the heavenly omele with the clatter of its gold rings should ginger your memory Ọmọ-Béyìíòkú that today is the day of celebration that travels beyond you far into the constellations and deep into the abyss.
Yes, today is the memorial of fifty-seven years ago when you crossed over the seven hills, Jàáníìni. December 7, 1963 was the day you ferried over the seven seas with no one to stop you but the heavens to welcome you into glory. Indeed that was the day of history and the day you left for the grace beyond. Àgòrò-bọ́gunbọ́lù-ú, on that day you left with a benediction that tarries behind you like the whale in the sea. The world misses you today Daniel Ọlọ́runfẹ́mi Fágúnwà our doyen and perfume of Yorùbá literature. You left this world with your reputation loud and ovation intact; you were a blessing to man and honour to God. The world respects a man that gave his all to man with his writings and celebrates the surrealist that broke the barriers of imagination with an audacity of the blessed to create a world in our heads that shall guide us on the best of values.
The world remembers you today Jàáníìni for what you were and how well you lived in the land of the living. We bless your memory with gratitude to God for time well spent and a legacy you left behind that is celebrated to the ends of the earth. You had character in your writings, you expressed capacity in your stories, you showed commitment to the course of African culture and was competent in the promotion of Yorùbá literature. You remain a pride to Yorùbá race and lesson to man in the course of history as he spends his life dealing with throes in his sojourn across the universe.
I salute you Oròówọlé for the legacy you left behind and the joy you gave me and the world through your storytelling art. Òkèigbό remembers you for the prominence you brought to its space; Agbo-Ilé Asùnganga remembers you, for the joy you brought to honour your clan and your children Ìbùkúnadé, Kὸfowόrọlá, Àjọkẹ́, Mobíàyọ̀ and I revel on the altar for the grace God oozed into us every day through the life you lived well.
Today is the memorial of the fifty-seventh year of your crossover to sainthood Ọlọ́runfẹ́mi. We miss you dearly but the heavens love you more; Saints want you there in glory and the Trinity prefers your aura as a treasure in the garden of bliss.
Rest in peace Bàá Diípọ̀ where you are with your gem Ṣayọ̀adé Àpèkẹ́ regale in your arms listening to the voice of angels and the chorus of saints beautiful to your hearing. God be with you till we meet again and have my toast our master storyteller as you enjoy your bliss in the bosom of the Lord until we meet to part no more.
Oròówọlé Jàáníìni that we all call Daniel Ọlọ́runfẹ́mi Fágúnwà,
Ọmọ Aílù-ú tẹ̀-ẹ́nígà-á
Ọmọ Olúpérún, ọmọ olúpégba;
Ọmọ Olúpérún, olúpérún mo geṣin ṣawo
You lived well