News of Senator Bayo Salami’s demise came with a devastating shock. It has left me for the past few days unable to comprehend life and its essence. Flashes of our past moments of contact and relationship flooded my mind in torrents and, like a hurriedly arranged episode in a video clip, it all came to a stop without any further expectation of vivacious conversations and philosophical statements we used to share.
We spoke last in September, 2020 when he called from the blues with a foreign number. As I never knew he had already travelled out of the country, I was surprised to hear “Bayo Salami speaking”. He congratulated me on my being shortlisted for conferment with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) which was then under processing. He, in advance, and with his usual attitude of motivation and encouragement, celebrated the award with me.
“Uncle Bayo” as I used to call him reflected on the contributions of our fathers to the establishment and development of Ansarudeen Muslim Society in Osogbo and why the legacy should never be allowed to perish. He gave a comprehensive update on efforts being made towards rebuilding the Central Mosque at Sabo, Osogbo and that he had nominated my poor self as one of those to make huge contributions in this regard. I smiled at his suggestion of “huge contributions”, considering the state of my pocket which I knew was not huge. He impressed it on me to be ready to do the needful as quickly as he would call on me. I never knew the call would never come.
As if he knew he was on the last leg of the race of life, his earnestness and sense of urgency to donate to the cause of Allah only came to make a meaning to me when I heard of his demise on Thursday the 7th day of January, 2021. Probably if I had heard he was ill, I might not be so too jostled.
Long distance and absence of further communication made his demise most unexpected. I immediately recalled his absence at the last annual celebration of Oyopeju which held on the 26th of December, 2020 whereat he was supposed to play a prominent role, the vacuum of which I was compelled to fill. I recalled his presence at my father’s funeral on October 26, 2019. I remembered my visit to his abode in the GRA of Osogbo after his father’s funeral about four years ago when he took me through the life and times of Pa Salami, using a brochure of photographs and narratives published to celebrate the noble patriarch of the Salamis.
I remembered our occasional meetings at Asiwaju Tunde Badmus’s house, one of which was to deliberate on re-building the Osogbo Central Mosque at Oja Oba and the efforts being made to relocate the surrounding family compounds. He was always, with exultation, hailing me “aburo mi” anytime we met either accidentally or by design. And like episodes in a documentary, it all turned to a mere series of flashbacks. Life!
His role in Osun and Nigerian politics cannot be trivialised. His lifetime impacts on everyone he met are remarkable. Always smiling and quick to laughter, Senator Bayo Salami’s truly gentle soul passes a message of humility to all who care to appreciate. Sincerely, death is sufficient an admonition for the wise.
Adieu, Uncle Bayo.
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