BAKARE: ANOTHER SUNSET AT NOON

by Mahfouz Adedimeji
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Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”

For most Nigerians, like many other people across the world, yesterday was a day of festivity and felicity. It was a Sallah Sunday and millions of people were ensconced in their various homes in devotion, celebration and merriment, after a 30-day fasting regimen.

Then, like a bolt from the blues, a newsflash jolted me into heightened consciousness as I lay in bed, ready to be embraced by the comforting hands of sleep. I quickly rummaged through the social media till I got to his timeline where the worst of my fears stared me in the face.

Truly, he was gone. A status update by our mutual friend and social media aficionado, Oludare Lasisi, also buttressed the shocking news. Innaa liLlaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’uun.

It was a death on the day of joy. That was how Allah destined it. Was it not also on an Eid day that Prophet Muhammad’s son, Ibrahim, died? Truly, life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, an illusion, a delusion (Q.57:20). May he be heralded to Aljannah Firdaws.

I have known the late Editor of Saturday Telegraph, Waheed Bakare, since at least 1995. Though he was a year ahead of me in the defunct Department of Modern European Languages of the University of Ilorin, we bonded easily as fellow campus journalists.

It was because of Bakare that I joined Modern Writers, one of the prominent press clubs then and I can still visualize his beautiful handwriting on the foolscap paper plasted on the sun-beaten wooden press board. I later left the club to chart my path in Campus Crescent Press Club.

As a student and campus journalist, Waheed Bakare was brilliant and hard working. With him and other soul mates in campus journalism, we formed the Union of Campus Journalists. He was a gentleman to the core and serious-minded Muslim who didn’t joke with his prayers.

We lost touch afterwards in the late 90s. I would subsequently be seeing his byline in The Punch and I was glad that he didn’t deserve less than that as a ‘modern writer’.

As fate would have it, he survived a ghastly accident that could have grounded his spirit. He was flown abroad and he bounced back in full fervor, despite the physical impact of the accident on him.

It was not surprising that when The Telegraph, a newspaper I am proud to be associated with, birthed on the Nigerian media scene in 2014, Waheed Bakare was one of the top-notch professionals assembled to give the media outfit the needed vitamin to fly like an eagle. By dint of hard work and excellence, he carved a niche for himself and he soon emerged as Editor of the weekend title of the paper.

A versatile journalist and top-rated professional, Bakare was a regular face among analysts that dissected national issues on television. I saw him a couple of times on ‘Jounalists’ Hangout’. A devout Muslim and respected practitioner, he was also among the select Media Ambassadors of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) where our paths met again.

The death of Waheed Bakare is a not only a huge loss to his family and journalism but also to Islam and humanity. He was a fine journalist, cerebral reporter and excellent editor with eyes for the details. That was why in a short tribute earlier today, the veteran journalist and well respected columnist, Femi Abbas, Chairman of the Media Committee of NSCIA, described him as “an ardent journalist of international repute”.

Though Waheed Bakare died in his prime, another sunset at noon, it is gratifying that he lived a productive and impactful life. Afterall, it is not the years in our life that matter but the life in our years. His own life was not that of the proverbial snake that crossed a rock without leaving a mark. This suave editor’s impacts on the lives of people and his chosen profession are permanently etched in gold.

In commiserating with his family, friends and colleagues, at The Telegraph newspaper and beyond, on this devastating loss, his demise is another warning to those of us remaining that life is a privilege and we all have the same debt of death to pay.

This life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury” but that’s not all about it. What gives substance, voice and rhythm to life is righteousness spiced with good deeds, which this departed compatriot had in abundance.

Adieu.

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