State of the art cars lined the motorcade in front of Number 5, Igbago Crescent, Ikoyi. Two outriders were stationed at the main entrance to the house; each with the Nigerian flag hoisted at half-mast. Throngs of dignitaries, politicians, and clergymen, businessmen from all walks of life and diplomats from the world over trooped in and out of the palatial structure to pay their last respect to Nigeria’s immediate past envoy to The United Nations, Ambassador James Olayiwola. His portrait had been displayed on all the sections of the walls of the house that even the rich neighbors had dubbed ‘Buckingham’. They had all gathered to see the woman whom he fondly called his jewel of inestimable value. Ambassador Olayiwola was known for the famous introduction in his speeches; “I bring you greetings from my jewel of inestimable value to whom I owe all my devotion besides God Almighty”. The introduction usually preceded his presentations of the Nigerian government’s position on international affairs, and it always seemed to many that he had more trust and confidence in his wife than the entity he represented.
Ambassador James Olayiwola died in an ill-fated helicopter crash on
his way to Lagos from Abuja on the 1st of December 2011. He had left
an all-night meeting with the President to make it to Lagos early
enough for the naming ceremony of his grandson who he had planned to
name *Ilerioluwakiidojutini, meaning ‘The promises of God will never
disappoint’. The helicopter crashed on a farm land in northern Nigeria
shortly after the pilot complained of bad weather.
dignitaries that poured in to commiserate with her on the death of her
husband. There was a smile on her face that masked the pains of loss
underneath. James had tutored her on methods by which diplomats smiled
even when a million negative emotions boiled within them. She smiled
with ambassadors and their wives, governors, and representatives of
the United Nations. By four o’clock in the afternoon she was tired out. She retired alone to the room she had shared with her husband of thirty-five years and knelt down by his side of the bed weeping. “God. Why? Why? We never had this agreement….no…God….” she screamed and clutched her deceased
husband’s pillow tight. “James, you should have told me you will not be here today.” In tears, she crossed into a surreal state while on
Oluchi finally succumbed to the nagging from her immediate family.She felt the trip to her late lover’s house was a precarious one, and so she preferred to hide herself until the burial was over, but her mother advised otherwise.“Oluchi, you cannot be here. No. You have to show your face in his house” . Oluchi replied,“Mama, when I get there how will I introduce myself? His former mistress? Our relationship ended two decades ago.” “Your relationship never ended, not with Emeka alive. Show yourself. Let his wife know her husband has a son called Emeka. Your Uncles and I are here to support you”. Her mother tried to convince her. Oluchi threw a black guinea brocade at Emeka who had been standing at the door, and asked him to dress up as they would be showing up in his father’s house later that evening. Shivers ran through her spine. She was not sure she would be able to face Aduke Olayiwola alone, and she wondered if her mom had forgotten several encounters they had both had with the woman, especially after James insisted that he was not going to take her in as a second wife. It was a relationship she lived to regret. She was twenty-three when she met the bustling James, a diplomat per excellence, who worked with the federal government in the Ministry of foreign affairs at the time. He was a socialite, and a chronic womanizer. He was the envy of all women. He drove the finest cars and moved within the best circles in government. She remembers how his first few words at Ikoyi club threw her off-balance twenty-two years back. “Young lady, I find it hard to agree that you are beautiful. I’d rather conclude that your resplendent charm glows from any distance. You should be a queen you know”. Those words were the foundation of the magical relationship that produced Emeka two years after. One year after Emeka was born, James became a born again Christian and called off the relationship. For five years after that as the news of his fame spread across the world, her mother engaged all manner of spiritual forces in order to ensure that James came back to marry Oluchi but she always encountered one major roadblock. It was a woman, It was Aduke; Aduke the lioness. She had seen Aduke in many dreams and pictures. Today, she will be seeing her in body for the first time, and it was hard not to wonder what the evening had in store for her.
“Just checking up on you mom”, Sola said. “And Ileri is saying Good evening grandma”. Aduke stretched her hands to carry Ileri, the boy that represented the hope of a future without her husband. “Thank you my dear, I hope you have gotten something to eat”, she looked at Stephanie for an answer. “Don’t worry about us mummy. What will you eat?” “I’m okay as long as Ileri is here, but you could help me with a glass of juice. Thank you.” “Mummy, I have asked that the gate be shut. All the visitors are gone. I think you should come out and be with your children”, Sola said. He kissed his mom on the forehead and pulled her up.“Now don’t go snuggling around me like your father, go meet your wife”. They laugh and exchange stories in memory of James until Stephanie returns with a glass of jug of cold juice and a glass cup on a tray.“There’s a family waiting to see you in the sitting room ma.” Stephanie said, “They asked to see mummy in particular”, she said,looking at her husband. Aduke took two glasses of juice, tied her gele and then went in the company of her grandson to the sitting room. As she stepped into the large sitting room, she saw from a distance a boy that sat down like James and a woman she knew very well. Her heart shifted with nostalgic grief. The face was familiar, and she understood the entourage that came with her.
She found her croaky voice andsaid. “Good evening Oluchi. Hello Emeka. And may I know the rest of you?”.
*iyaaladura -prayer warrior
**oko iyaaladura e n le o – husband of a prayer warrior, I greet you.