It was a solemn assembly. Virtually everyone in attendance was in tears. There was nobody to console the other. It was something like a crying competition.
If tears were capable of raising the dead, Mr. Felix Adebayo would have jumped out of the white casket where his remains were laid into the warm embrace of his immediate family and loved ones.
A notable feature of the wailings that pervaded the air, however, was that they were laced with curses on those who threw the family, the church and the community of the deceased into agony.
In spite of the chaotic atmosphere, however, some middle-aged women ensured that they sandwiched Adebayo’s young widow, to ensure that she did not jump into the graveyard with her three-month-old baby girl, like she repeatedly threatened to do.
The venue was a virgin plot of land in a serene community called Adaba near Apete, Ibadan, where the remains of the 43-year-old chartered accountant were buried on Tuesday. Adebayo, who was said to have uncovered a major fraud in the expatriate oil company he worked with, was reportedly killed by yet-to-be identified gunmen in front of his house in Ojodu, Lagos while he was returning from his office on Victoria Island.
The number of old and young people who besieged the burial site bore testimony to the fact that the deceased was well loved in the community and beyond.
The tone of the service was set by the choristers and pastors of the Gospel Faith Mission, Eleyele District, Ibadan, who led other sympathisers to sing the opening hymn. As the words of the hymn–on the resurrection morning, soul and body meet again, no more sorrow, no more weeping, no more pain–rented the air, the widow, Tayo, could not bear it. While others stood to sing, she remained seated, gazing at nothing in particular.
She held tenaciously to a copy of the Holy Bible as if her life depended on it. Right in front of her laid the lifeless body of the man she had only a few years earlier vowed to spend the remaining part of her life with, for better, for worse.
Even in her grieve, the young widow managed to script a few words in the order of programme where she lamented that Adebayo’s death had created a big vacuum in her life. She recalled how her son, Samuel, was fond of saying “Hello Daddy. How are you? God bless you” each time the deceased called his family on the telephone from his base in Lagos. As if she knew the import of the programme, her three-month-old daughter started wailing uncontrollably, forcing one of the family members, who had carried her, to return her to her grieving mother.
The church’s District Pastor, Pastor Gabriel Alayande, did not waste time since the funeral service did not need any fanfare. In his short exhortation, Alayande said the deceased lived his life as if he was in a hurry.
The pastor said that although Adebayo died young, he impacted positively on his family, neighbours and the church. While urging the bereaved to take solace in God’s word as recorded in John 11:25, Alayande asked family members to continue with the deceased’s good works. It was shortly after the sermon that the white casket containing Adebayo’s remains was moved to the graveyard dug at the far end of the plot of land for burial.
The deceased’s widow, siblings and friends could no longer hold back tears as the casket was lowered by four male undertakers dressed in traditional attires. The widow broke down completely during the traditional dust-to-dust aspect of the burial. Emotion ran high again when she insisted that the three-month-old girl must perform the dust-to-dust rite after her elder brother, Samuel.
She held the toddler’s hand and helped her with a handful of sand which she assisted her in throwing into the graveyard before breaking into tears again.
Right behind them, a woman who had decided to stay away from the graveyard apparently because she knew she would not be able to stand seeing the corpse lowered, gazed at the deceased’s photograph on the pamphlet of the order of the burial and said, “See Brother Felix staring at me. I still have the order of service of his wedding at home.” Immediately she finished muttering the words, she started wailing.
As the mourners found their ways out of the graveside and moved to return to the bereaved family’s residence in Apete, they unleashed a fresh onslaught on Adebayo’s killers, raining curses.
The officiating pastors later rendered another round of prayers at the deceased’s residence before they and some other mourners left the bereaved family to continue to mourn the departure of their breadwinner.