Our Duke has gone mad again… Edgar reflects on the passing of Herbert Wigwe


Opinion article by Duke of Shomolu, Joseph Edgar

When I see the pictures of all the dignitaries going to pay their condolences to Papa Wigwe, I notice something. Daddy is calm and even seems to be the one consoling the people sef.

My big brother Aig sits and appears totally downcast, with no colour on his face. Do you blame him? He is the ground zero of all of our gloom.

I do not think Nigerians have collectively mourned anyone like they have mourned Herbert since Murtala Mohammed was assassinated. Maybe the mourning of Chief Awolowo and Fela could also be compared.

Herbert’s passing, like JFK’s, slashed very deeply into the hearts of many Nigerians, throwing a collective national gloom on us to the point that, like Americans with JFK, we started asking ourselves the very pointless question—where were you when it happened?

As if that was not enough, people started sharing their last encounters with him. Oh, he told me he would see me when he came back. Oh, I had an appointment with him on the Monday he was to come back, and then some others started showing people their last chats with him, the last pictures they took with him, or the last letter he wrote to them.

Herbert didn’t have to live long. Such people do not need a long life to make a meteoric impact, and that is why he seemed to be in a hurry to deliver on his projects.

Herbert lived a very different life, and that is why Nigeria seems to be mourning him even more than his biological relatives, who move around like they know something we don’t know, or how do we explain their seeming ability to take this impact with the kind of dignity that they have without as much as betraying painful emotions at the passing of this icon?

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They seem to be the ones telling us it will be OK. Their carriage has gone a long way to console us and may just give us strength. Abi how do you keep wailing when you see PA Wigwe stoic in his belief in the afterlife and Ma Wigwe firm in her belief in the sanctity of immortality for the chosen few?

You can’t help but garner strength and provide a shoulder for the weak who still reel from the shock that was the drop from the sky that fateful Saturday in a faraway place—only God knows where.

As preparations for his journey to the afterlife begin, I consider myself extremely lucky to be given an invite to what will be the greatest gathering of Nigerians since the Union Jack was dropped and Nigeria gained its independence

The 4,500-capacity hall will be filled to the brim by people of all colors, all united by the need to pay one last respect to this silent Iroko.

When the Iroko tree falls, it falls with a resounding thud reverberating very far and wide to distant climes while making all creatures big and small pause for a moment in deep honour to the passing curiosity.

Herbert was our Sage, and he didn’t die; he only just transcended, and those of us he has left behind must, from the moment his remains are lowered down, resolve to uphold the tenets that guided him and made him what he was in life.

Hmmmmmmm!!! Hmmm mm! Hmmm mm!!!! We murmur in full obeisance to the all-knowing and all-mighty.


 *Duke of Shomolu*

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