So this past week has been filled with people dying or the remembrance or interment of dead people. Not anyone I knew personally, but you all know how I get about death. It’s the sharpest wake up call for everyone, myself inclusive.
First off, Stephen Keshi passed on the 8th of June, he wasn’t up to 60. Keshi holds quite a few awards and records (which I’m sure you all already know so I won’t go into them). He is however the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, and the second person in history to win the competition as a player and as a coach after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt when he led the Super Eagles to win the tournament in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Whoop!
His wife of 35 years passed on sometime last year (she had cancer), and news reports say he never really recovered from her death. News reports also say he had a heart attack. A few things.
- His four children are now orphans (incredible how one event has now changed the course of events for their children)
- Even people who gave him great grief as coach for Nigeria’s football team were singing his praises after he passed.
The 8th of June is the anniversary of former military dictator Sani Abacha. He died in 1998. I think everything I think about that is summarised in this tweet I pushed out same day.
Then, last night I watched the memorial service for Muhammad Ali, an inter-faith service in his hometown Louisville Kentucky and attended by the leaders of just about every religion. I read somewhere (and I think Lonnie Ali, his wife mentioned it too) that he had planned his funeral this way, just like he planned his mom’s.
Quick recap from the BBC’s website about Ali.
I don’t think I’ve watched a ‘richer’ memorial service, overflowing with stories about this one man who was and will always be the greatest. Everyone talked about how he had helped, inspired, rewritten the rules, stood for what he believed in, on and on, and on; his vanity and great sense of humor not excluded. It was really beautiful and makes me want to do so much more with my life. So much more.
Then, this morning, just seen on Twitter that the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amodu Shuaibu, has passed on, aged 58. Apparently he complained of pain in his chest last night, and didn’t wake up this morning.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead, and I pray God in His mercies provides the comfort and strength that only He can.
We need to have an urgent national conversation about life expectancy in Nigeria, and healthcare services beyond the workshops, conferences, and stakeholder meetings that do not achieve anything tangible beyond per diem and pretty stationery.
A bigger conversation we need to have within ourselves is the one about what we’re doing with our time here, and what we want to be remembered for. And also about life being short and therefore striving to make every single day count.
I heard this quote last night; John Ramsey, family friend and former radio host said Muhammad Ali used to say, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” He said Muhammad not only paid his in full, he’d paid it forward.
What’s up with your rent?