The news of his death first came to me on Sunday evening of June 12. I had just finished a zoom meeting when Bola Adewara, publisher of E-life magazine called and said he had just been told Michael Awe had passed on.
I retorted almost immediately. I said, “no it can’t be Mike Awe. It must be another Awe. You probably got the name wrong. It’s not possible.” My tone was final.
The person who gave Adewara the information is not a frivolous person. But it was hard for me to believe because Bro. Mike, as I used to call him, had chatted with me on phone on Thursday evening. That was two days before he died.
We had a long conversation about the just concluded primaries of political parties in the country. I had just done an editorial on the primaries as it relates to the church. So he called to share his views. Usually, whenever he called we would talk at length. He was my phone gist partner.
Death came to him on the road
So it was not easy for me to come to terms with his death. But then instead of living in denial, I put a call through to one of his neighbours’ Evangelist Tunde Aluko to find out if he heard about the incident. He said he was not aware. I was happy. I said if he had died, his neighbour should know.
But I was wrong. About three hours later, Aluko called me and said it was true. What happened? He said, Awe had travelled to Ilesha, Osun State and had a fatal motor accident around the Shagamu interchange.
How come? Was he the only one in the vehicle? Could he not have been saved? Why would he just be allowed to die like that? Questions poured through the phone.
My brother went silent at the other end only for his voice to come back with a mournful rhythm ‘base ri ni yen ooo’ meaning, “that was how we saw it ooo”, Aluko muttered. I was numbed.
Aluko said from what he gathered Awe was reluctant to embark on that journey. But he travelled all the same and then death. He was 58. My heart sank. Is this how people die? What is going on?
Pastor Femi Martins: WATS
Incidentally, I had just lost another close friend and big brother, Pastor Femi Martins. He was the Provost of the West Africa Theological Seminary. Martins was an excellent man. Though 67, he was full of life and vision. He was a man of ideas and always ready to break new ground.
Martins came to the WATS community at a time the institution needed some fresh air. And God used him for that purpose.
Martins was instrumental to the successful celebration of the 400 years of the KJV Bible in the Year 2011. Church Times was the official publication for the celebration. We worked together along with a number of top church leaders on the project which was the brainchild of the founder of WATS, Dr Gary Maxey,
The Nigerian version of the celebration extended to some West African countries. The event went on for Months. The ingenuity of Pastor Martins came to play throughout the programme. We had remained close till he passed on May 28.
I was told he had prostate surgery which was successful. He was to be discharged the morning he died. He had gone to the toilet when he slumped and passed on.
And the Enitar Ugwu passed on
And then I saw a message on my phone inviting me to the wake-keep of a long-time friend, Enitar Ugwu. He used to work in the Guardian Newspapers. We first met in 1992 at the Outlook Newspapers in Enugu while I was doing my NYSC. Enitar was one of the people who took me in while I was in the east. He later came to work in Lagos and we had maintained close contact. He died on June 4 at the age of 58
These three deaths were just too heavy for me. They happened in succession.
Mike, a bundle of talent
Bro Mike was a big egbon (brother). He was a loving brother and a great counsellor. He was always ready to listen and always yearning for genuine change. We had worked together in the Punch newspapers in the 90s. He moved around a number of media houses and finally settled to do his own thing.
Awe was a bundle of talent. He was a great music analyst and always had an opinion on topical issues.
His weekly syndicated column on relationship issues under the pen name, Michael West was quite enchanting. It was a regular. Every Thursday the column would hit my mailbox and pronto, I would publish it on Friday on the Church Times site. He used to tease me that I had a way of creating my own version of his column.
Good night to all
It’s heart-rending to see how wonderful people bow out of our space unannounced. But then we take solace in the simple fact that there is no continuing city in this world.
We all have to leave the stage one by one. The bell may toll at any time for anybody. When it will happen nobody can tell. It’s wise to always stay prepared.
Good night Femi Martins. Good night Michael Awe. Good night Enitar Ugwu.
By Gbenga Osinaike