Uncle Dele: Last In, Last Out —Funso Adegbola



Samuel Oladele Alaba Ige was Bola Ige’s ( my father’s), immediate younger brother. My father always regaled us with tales of their childhood in Kaduna and Esa-Oke. Their parents, Solomon and Emily Adeola Ige had 5 children. The first was Comfort Folorunso (after whom I was named), the second was George Adeleke Abimbola, the third was Victoria Fehintola Taiwo- the surviving twin, my dad was the fourth, James Ajibola Idowu and uncle, Samuel Oladele Alaba was the fifth and last child.

The first child, Comfort Folorunso passed away in 1973. The second to go was my Dad, who was assassinated on 23rd December 2001. Three weeks later, my uncle- the eldest son and Head of family passed away on 12th January 2002. The third child, Victoria Fehintola joined her siblings in 2009 and finally, the last man in, Samuel Oladele joined his siblings on Saturday 12th May 2012.

I thank God for my uncle’s life. We are taught that in all things we must give thanks. We enjoyed quite a lovely relationship. He made a point of attending all my School functions and family events, especially after my parents passed on. When my children were much younger, he earned from them the unique name ‘Grandpa Biscuit’! He had what seemed to be an inexhaustible store of biscuits, sweets and other goodies in his study. What the kids probably didn’t know was that Uncle Dele had an extremely sweet tooth and that he kept those things for his personal consumption! But he always generously shared with them whenever we visited. Although we had a good relationship, when we disagreed, which was not often, it was like the proverbial 3rd world war. We would have these really heated arguments on occasions. I guess this was inevitable, as I inherited this streak of the defiant Ige gene!

He and his siblings were very close, especially his brothers. I could never really understand their closeness and I was sometimes irritated by my father’s attempts to force on us, his own children, the same relationship. But I realised as time went on that they certainly grew up in a different world from what we know and this must have conditioned their closeness. They all spoke fluent Hausa and whenever they wanted to discuss things they wanted to keep away from their wives and the children, they would resort to Hausa. We teased them to no end about this and would ask them what current mischief they were planning!

As in many families, I sometimes noticed elements of sibling rivalry between the men and it was fun to observe any two of them ganging up against the third! Sometimes it would be my Dad and Uncle Dele against Papa. At other times, it would be Uncle Dele and Papa against my Dad. Hardly was it ever Papa and my Dad against Uncle Dele. I think this had to do with the fact that from early on, my Dad had taken on the role of being his baby brother’s protector and he really indulged him in many ways! Even as a child, he was said to have been extremely pampered by his parents and siblings. All in all, there is no doubt whatsoever that they loved each other dearly. Consequently, when he lost both his brothers in quick succession, he inevitably lost some of his zest for life.

Of the five of them, Uncle Dele was the most emotional. He cried on virtually every family occasion, and he never disappointed, as almost on cue he would burst into tears. We the younger ones always made ample fun of him for this among ourselves, trying to predict what could be the next trigger for his tears, even when he was missing his brothers and sisters.

He lived a good life. His death though sudden, was peaceful. He died right before his loving wife, children, grandchildren, sister-in-law, nephews and nieces at a family gathering. And it was like he indirectly handled the baton to his nephew and the eldest Ige son in our generation. We thank God that he didn’t have any illness neither was he predeceased by any of his children and grandchildren. For this and all His mercies, we bless the Name of the Lord.

With the exit of Uncle Dele, the last chapter of Solomon and Emily Ige’s direct offsprings is closed. In their generation, they strived to keep the family name well. Like all humans, they may have made their mistakes, but who are we to judge?

They have tried their best. We, the members of the next generation, led by our 78-year old cousin, Mama Ibeji, Mrs. Titilayo Okanlawon promise that we will keep the name without blemish and hand their legacy of love to our beloved children.

I wish you goodnight Uncle ‘Dele. May light perpetual shine on you and may the Lord grant you eternal rest. We are assured that on the resurrection morning we will all meet again. It is well!

 •Mrs Adegbola is the first daughter of the late Bola Ige