By Kayode Samuel
Egbon Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, former Editor of the defunct Sunday Times and a true master of the craft passed on yesterday. I never encountered him in the newsroom while he rode the crest in journalism but our paths crossed years later during my days in the Government of Ogun State when he was an adviser to the Governor.
I recall a story he told us in those days. The incident he narrated involved himself and it occurred during the run-up to the 1983 elections. As one of the young men highly regarded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he was usually in the inner circle of the affairs of the Unity Party of Nigeria, Chief Awolowo’s political platform in the Second Republic.
On this day, he said, an argument had arisen over the course the party was to take on a certain issue. As the argument wore on, it turned out that the elders were on one side while the youth were on the other side – with Ogunsanwo leading the charge for the latter.
At a point, it became a direct verbal confrontation between him and a particular elder close to Chief Awolowo. Suddenly, in the middle of the heated exchanges, Ogunsanwo said he felt a need to use the toilet and excused himself.
On returning, he found that he kept feeling the need to go back to the toilet. He went, he said, for a total of ten times in the spate of a few minutes. He also started to break out in sweat as soon as he returned to his seat and felt a strange heat sensation all over his body.
Sensing that something was amiss and seeing the perturbed young man’s acute discomfort, Chief Awolowo looked in the direction of the party veteran that Ogunsanwo had been arguing with, called him by his first name and told him in Yoruba, “… lo tu omo yen s’ile” (go and unchain that child).
An exchange of embarrassed glances went round the meeting as the elder called Ogunsawo by his first name and asked him to lay fully prostrate before him. He then took off his shoes, placed the heel of his left foot on the back of the flat-out youth’s neck and uttered a few words to himself. Relief soon returned to Ogunsanwo as the meeting got back into session and he never felt a need to go back to the toilet till the meeting ended.
Now, I don’t know what forces were at work that day. But I picked up a lesson from that story about the kinds of argument I’d henceforth get into with certain elders.
May Egbon Gbolabo’s valiant soul journey well. Amen…
-Kayode Samuel, a former Commissioner for Information in Ogun State, is a public affairs analyst
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