Rasheed Gbadamosi: A tribute

TODAY, I write about my friend and fellow compatriot, Rasheed Gbadamosi, who passed on to eternity some three weeks ago.Like I always say on this page, death is a price all of us must pay. It is a supreme sacrifice. Believe me, there is a time to be born and there is also a time to die. I say it again, no matter how long we live, we must bid the world good-bye one day.

And so it was with Rasheed Gbadamosi. One early morning, my friend, Alhaji Aro Yahaya aka “Uncle Kwara” woke me up with a call from Ilorin, informing me that Rasheed Gbadamosi had died. “Sir, I am sorry about Rasheed Gbadamosi’s death.” He had told me on the phone. I was quiet for about 20 seconds. I then pulled up courage to ask: “Aro, Rasheeed Gbadamosi dead?” “Yes,” he replied. There were instant tears in my eyes. Aro Yahaya knew we (Rasheed and I) were close. He knew that Rasheed was the son of the late Papa S.O. Gbadamosi, a friend and confidant of the Avatar, Papa Obafemi Awolowo. Aro knew that Rasheed and I had worked together some years of our lives as revolutionary combatants, fighting the cause of the people.

Infact, Rasheed Gbadamosi and I were born the same year. He (Rasheed) in December 1943. I was born in January 1943. Rasheed was about to turn 73 years when death came calling. I had turned 73 in January 2016. The death of Rasheed was too crushing for me. There is, however, nothing that anyone can do to stop Rasheed from the journey of life he had embarked upon. He is gone and gone for good.

Rasheed was, however, not strictly a politician. Though his father, Papa S.O.G, was, Rasheed operated on the fringes of politics. He was every inch aware of political developments in Nigeria, Africa and the world.

He was a Lagos State Commissioner under the governorship of “Egbon” Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson in the early 70s. He was very successful.

Rasheed Gbadamosi’s mother (is by the way) from Isale Eko in Lagos State. His father was from Ikorodu, where Rasheed was buried on his transition.

Infact, Rasheed was a very keen and enthusiastic Eyo masquerade promoter in his life time. Rasheed later became a Federal Minister in the government of General Abdulsalaam Abubakar, who had taken over the reigns of power on the demise of General Sani Abacha. Rasheed was in charge of National Population Commission (NPC). Rasheed was a very brilliant Nigerian who was ever at home with any subject discussed under the sun about national governance.

In the very early 70s before he became a commissioner in Lagos State, Rasheed was involved with some of us (his friends) in the formation of a powerful social movement group called National Association of Patriotic Writers and Artists (NAPWA). It was an association of powerful writers very well groomed in matters relating to arts and culture. Other members of NAPWA were Oladele Bank Olemo, then at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Lagos; the late Olu Akareogun of the Daily Times of Nigeria Limited, the late Akin Davies (the son of one of the builders of the Nigerian nation, Chief H.O. Davies); the late revolutionary Kanmi Ishola-Osobu, a radical lawyer in Lagos; myself and some others who were connected with the promotion of radical arts and literature.

Rasheed Gbadamosi co-ordinated the activities of the NAPWA. Our meetings were always held at the then famous Martinee-Ago-Go Restaurant, down the then Broad Street in Lagos. The restaurant was then promoted by our friend, Yemi Martins, who was an old Ibadan Grammar School student. Those were days.

I believe that Ajibade Fashina Thomas aka “Jabby” of the Daily Times was involved with us in the activities of the NAPWA.

Rasheed was a literary genius. He wrote many plays that depicted the frustrating lives of Nigerians.

One of the radical plays authored by Rasheed Gbadamosi is “TREES GROW IN THE DESERT.” The play was to land many of those who had acted it on Radio Nigeria some spell in military detention. The play, “Trees Grow in the Desert,” was produced by a former deputy governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor. Rasheed Gbadamosi had talked of a “coup” in the script of the play.

When Radio Nigeria aired the play, soldiers were so annoyed with its presentation that they immediately moved to arrest anyone connected with airing it on radio. Senator Akerele-Bucknor, the late Steve Rhodes and Chief Christopher Kolade were all arrested and sent to Kirikiri prison. It was a very bitter experience for Rasheed Gbadamosi. He was a very fine writer and activist.

All these travails never dissuaded Rasheed from continuing with his life of dedicated service to the cause and plight of the common people of Nigeria.

Though a practicing Muslim, Rasheed was, however, never a religious fanatic; he radiated a unique liberalism in his practice of religion. He was married to a Christian wife, Tinu Adedoyin and Rasheed never did anything to disturb the wife from continuing with her Methodist faith. Rasheed encouraged her never to abandon her Methodist faith.

When Tinu turned 70, Rasheed followed her to the Emmanuel Chapel in Ikoyi, Lagos to celebrate the event.

Rasheed Gbadamosi is gone! We all love him but God loves him more!! May his memory remain blessed!!!

Rasheed, goodnight and goodbye!


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