As accolades continue to pour in for the Director General of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, (DAWN) Commission, Mr. Dipo Famakinwa who recently passed away at the age of 49, it is fitting that I add my voice to the deserved eulogies that have accompanied the passing of a great man. Dipo Famakinwa was a first rate mind and an intellectual in a class of his own, the like of whom we may never see again.
Of course such is the impact that the late Famakinwa has made that it is the crème de la crème of the Yoruba nation, its Governors, and elder statesmen that have been eulogizing him. Thus I am under no illusions that this piece would probably end up like the needle in the proverbial haystack; lost in the sea of tributes from individuals whose words carry more weight than mine. However, it is fitting that I try to pen a few words about the late Dipo Famakinwa, the man, the activist, the leader, the enigma.
I will not attempt to affect any measure of familiarity with the late Dipo Famakinwa. I do not have a chummy relationship with him in the sense that some people can claim, perhaps as a relative or as a friend or even as a subordinate or as a protégé. So perhaps it can be argued that is death might not affect me as it did for some, yet here was a man I had the opportunity to interact with at various for a, a man whose, brilliant, strategic, first class mind I came to admire. The late Famakinwa was a man, who as the DG of DAWN Commission was fiercely passionate about the Yoruba nation. He was an activist for Western Nigeria’s development, a Yoruba man through and through who fiercely believed in the pride of place that the Yoruba, as a people, deserve in Nigeria and who inspired everyone around him to share that belief. He was a man of many talents, an articulate, intelligent, well-spoken gentleman, an Omoluabi in the truest sense of the word.
I had met the late Mr. Dipo Famakinwa a few years ago, through a friend, Paul Adepoju of IbPulse, who invited me for a programme at the Cocoa House Office of DAWN Commission. The way Mr. Famakinwa outlined the Agenda of DAWN for the Yoruba nation/ South West region as well as his own agenda as Director General turned me into a convert of the DAWN movement. From then on, I made sure I never missed another DAWN Commission event, if I was in town. It was the “Yoruba know thyself” event that I had the opportunity to witness the deep reserves of knowledge that the late Dipo Famakinwa possessed and the astute philosophies that he embodied. His passing is a huge loss to DAWN Commission and the Southwest region in particular and to Nigeria as a whole, for despite his deep commitment to the cause of the Yoruba, He was a man who welcomed all regardless of ethnic affiliation. Seldom do astute strategist and visionary activists like him come around.
Dipo Famakinwa died at the age of 49, a few months from his half-centennial. There is this feeling that perhaps if he had crossed the threshold into his fiftieth year, he would have totally been accepted as an elder, a true sage who would be qualified to dispense from his wellspring of knowledge to the next generation. Notwithstanding, Dipo Famakinwa has achieved at the age of 49 what a lot of men might not achieve even if they lived for a hundred years. Perhaps one may be sad that such a great leader, with the sort of vision, that he had, suddenly left without achieving his dreams, but again we should celebrate the things that the man stood for and what he achieved in his short but active life. One of the quotes which he made at the “Yoruba Know Thyself” lecture series, which remains in my notebook to this day: “The Yoruba are a proud people who have a distinguished past and that thought should propel us to a great future.” That quote is the testament to the profound insight that the late Dipo Famakinwa possessed, and how I would like to remember him.
Rest in Peace, Dipo Famakinwa, now your watch has ended, and now others must continue the race from where you stopped.