I have learnt, first to respect him, then to trust him, and now, I am happy to find that I love him.
It is Yele’s birthday today. But that is not exactly breaking news. The numerous terrorists that this foremost terrorist of the Nigerian state and its rulers have raised, have assured that the rest of us cannot forget the birthday of the man that the Nigerian state and rulers hate, and the man that they have also feared. Everything that you have hated, you would also fear, and everything that you have feared, you have also hated.
Unless you have found a way to stay off the internet today, you are already aware that it is Yele’s 50th birthday. Yep! It is official, the stormy petrel that has defined Nigerian civic activism for the better part of the last three decades, is now an old man. Like me.
I did not always like him. I viewed him with suspicion. I thought him too impetuous. I believed him erratic. I spent years dismissing him and labeling him quixotic. I now believe myself to have been redundantly myopic in my estimations of him. I was not alone in my myopia, and I am constantly pained to see that several remains in my former state of intellectual indolence and spiritual immaturity.
Each man, would interpret his role, in the terms that are reflective of their personal experiences, and individual proclivities. These are the shapers of human perceptions, and the determinants of the developed instincts, and seemingly unprocessed choices of actions, and inactions. We have judged others by our own unique, completely personal, and thereby jaundiced viewpoints. Few Nigerians have been more wrongly judged and thereby injured than Omoyele.
Even if Yele lives another 50 years, he’ll remain and die a young man at heart. I had known Yele from a distance since we were young men. I didn’t like him. I thought him mad then, and I believe him to be a lunatic these days. The difference is, I have learnt, first to respect him, then to trust him, and now, I am happy to find that I love him.
The Yele that I have come to know since he became Buhari’s hostage, is extremely easy to love. Around Yele at any time, are a core of young men and women, fiercely loyal and protective of him, and to observe Yele in their midst, is to see a man at home. Yele has no airs about him, and he is genuine. Love him, hate him, he is simply himself, sickeningly consistent in his beliefs, and unyielding in his refusal to give a quarter to the Nigerian evil.
As Yele turns 50 years younger today, and I use the adjective, younger, deliberately; for Yele is an ageless spirit, a man that has refused to be tamed by age, or jaded by the many painful experiences in his Nigerian peregrinations, my prayers for him are simple and short: may your spirit remain eternally young, may you find the enabling grace of God in all that you do, and may your strength be as Caleb’s in your old age. Amen!
Happy birthday, kindred spirit. Live long and be blessed with things that money can buy, and with blessings that all of Dangote’s riches, cannot purchase. Amen.