My good friend, Yemi Ogunsola, a.k.a. UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) has become part of earth. O ti di ara ile. He was committed to mother earth today, Friday, 4 Feb 2022.
When I heard of his death on Monday, 28 Jan, 2022, I was shocked beyond words. I was shaken. I have not been so shocked by death in a long time.
Only the previous Friday, I had sent him a message on WhatsApp, but he did not reply. But when I checked the message at the news of his death, I saw that he had read my message. I learned at his funeral that he had been hospitalized since Thursday. He didn’t reply apparently because he was on hospital bed.
I met him some thirty-something years ago at the Tribune, and we all called him UFO (I was actually the one who gave him that nickname) because he liked to research and write about unidentified flying objects, horoscope, astronomy and mysticism generally. Those were queer subjects in those days. So, most people considered him weird. But he was an affable fellow, and easy going. I never heard him quarrel with anybody.
We maintained contact and saw infrequently over the years even after we had both moved on from Tribune. We spoke on phone at least once a month.
At his funeral, all those who spoke about him, family, friends, neighbours, church members and sundry, dwelled on his honesty, conviviality, and kindness.
Somebody spoke about a man who had leg infection. When Yemi heard about it, he not only took the man for treatment every two or three days until the leg healed, but picked up the bill, even when he was not a man of ample means.
His son told the audience that his father would sometimes neglect the needs of his family to solve the problems of outsiders. He said he and his father were often at loggerheads, and it reached a head one day when his father told him that he would rather have no children than have ones who would not uphold the honour of the family.
What honour are we talking about? Yemi was fond of reading the horoscope of his friends. He would ask for your date of birth, the month, the day and the hour, and he would tell you about your future. When life became challenging for him, I counselled him that he could use his knowledge of horoscope, astronomy and the rest of them to make money. That he could set up a consultancy, on and offline. That Nigerians were fickle and would patronize in him droves, and he would soon be rolling in money. His reply was that his knowledge was not deep enough, and he was not the type to deceive people. He refused my suggestion despite repeated persuasion that what he knew about the subject was enough for him to make a comfortable living.
That was the kind of honour his son was talking about. He did not leave behind for his family houses, cars, and fat bank accounts, but he left them honour and a good name which is better than gold and silver.
Though Yemi was a committed Christian (he did not carry it on his head), and I am a Muslim, that never interfered with our friendship even though we discussed religion a lot. Despite our commitment to our faiths, we were honest about the shortcomings of both religions, and if some Christians read what he had written about Christianity, he would be ex-communicated. But they were honest goddamned truth and that did not stop him from being a good Christian.
I could feel him squirm in his coffin when they referred to him as Baba Ogunsola. There’s a joke between us. We were age mates, so when he turned 60, I started calling Baba Yemi. He would protest that he was not a Baba, him that was young, and I would taunt him to stop fooling himself, and we would laugh over it.
He was a great writer, a Titan, as his associates referred to him. A man of uncommon intelligence. A very deep man. He wrote widely on things spiritual and mystical, and as is my habit when someone great dies, I have brought out one of books to re-read – “Thoughts Evergreen…Even God is a Humanist and Other Stories.” Topics he treated in the book among many others include:
Sons and bastards of God
Beware of inspiration of lower Angels
Oguro for Holy Communion
Can Ifa divination be computerized?
Who’s the God of the Jews, I & II
Who fooled Moses on Mount Sinai? I & II
The Fraud of Ages
Each time he wrote a book, he would email it to me to edit for him. The last one he sent in 2015 was about giving new perspectives to some of the stories in the Bible, especially about chariots bringing angels down to earth to save the Israelites. His contention was that those were not angles but beings from other planets.
Yemi was an original thinker who brought fresh perspectives to religion, including traditional African religion. He never condemned any religion, but he questioned all.
As you go home today, may the Lord receive your gentle soul in the finest of His mansions as your abode. May God console your aged mother, your wife and children, your extended family members and friends. May God abide by your wife and children through the coming years.
Rest on Yemi.
Otun d’arinako, o d’oju ala
Ma jokun, ma je ekolo
Ohun ti won ban je l’ajule Orun ni ki o bawon je.