He left for work on Friday, June 8th 2013, like every other instance, hugging his wife and two beautiful kids, while they expected his return as they bade him goodbye. Shutting the door behind him, “Egbon Joseph”, as popurlarly called by friends, never knew that he will not be coming back to his lovely family.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, his wife, received an unusual call, a distress call from the police, to break the ugly news that his husband of more than five years, had died at work. Shocked, confused and utterly bewildered, she was certain there was a mistake somewhere. A call from the state police in the early hours of the day couldn’t have been a joke, but they weren’t immune to mistakes, and Tatiana only hoped, that was the case. The husband she bade goodbye some hours ago, was certainly going out to come back to the family. He wasn’t sick, otherwise, he wouldn’t have gone for work. So, only a mistake of identity on the part of the police could offer some explanations, but certainly not the death of her husband.
The hours that passed by proved that it was not a mistake, as autopsy reports indicated that Egbon Joseph Adebayo died of sudden heart failure. The Nigeria community in Donetsk was filled with grief as the news spread about the loss of a respected and loved member of the community, especialy among the older members of the society, who knew him very well. Speculations were dismissed, as it became a fact that Egbon Joseph Adebayo is “late”. If the grips of death could grasp him, not giving him a chance to fight back, then nobody is immune, as no member of the community could boldly claim to be healthier.
Nigerian Embassy in Kiev was informed, and even thought it was weekend, the Consular was very responsive and maintained regular communications with state authorities, the family and representatives of the Nigerian community in Donetsk.
Burial was fixed, Monday 10th of June, 2013, and Nigerians in Donetsk had an emergency gathering on the 9th of June, being Sunday, to discuss about the burial arrangements.
Even with a very short notice, and everything happening in quick successions, friends and well-wishers turned up en mass, to pay their last respect to a brother and friend.
Students and representative of the students’ executive arm, Africans and representatives of African-Ukrainian Association, Ukrainians, Nigerians, friends and family members all gathered to honour the late brother, as he continued to the world beyond. Nigerian Embassy officials made frantic efforts to be present at the burial, but couldn’t make it, owing to the difficulty in securing a flight ticket for the more than 800 km journey.
Although Joseph’s cheerful face will never be seen again, those of the two beautiful kids he left behind are the only solace. Aged 5 and 3, with a mum who was a full-time house wife, the task of raising up Martin and Princess Monica, will be very challenging, if left to the jobless widow alone. Egbon Joseph died while struggling to ensure these kids didn’t have to suffer, but unfortunately, he will no longer be there to perform those duties. The fate of these kids will therefore rest squarely on good spirited Nigerians, family members, well wishers and hopefully, government agencies.
These kids love for their fatherland was glaring, when they came out to cling to and embrace the Nigerians and Africans that attended the funeral, cheerfully interacting with faces that looked just like their dad’s, whom they’re still expecting to come home.
Nigerian community in Donestk rallied to raise an ample amount, but that will only sustain them for a few months. Members present at the funeral also pledged to be making a monthly contribution, towards the welfare of the kids. However, considering that most of the Nigerian population in Donetsk consists of students, and older members that are not always steady, the realization of this monthly financial freewill pledge, might be challenging to implement in the long run.
Late Joseph Adeboye’s dreams was to raise these kids responsibly, and to one day, take them to visit their fatherland, and walk the grounds of Ondo state. One day, these kids will each clock 18 years, and would have formed a clear perception of what they will understand to be Nigeria. At that time, they will either be keen to fulfill their late father’s dreams, or treat that name “Nigeria” and everything associated with it as a plague that should be completely dissociated from.
While some members of the Nigerians’ community in Donetsk have pledged to do their best, a plea is also sent to the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine to look into this misfortune and see how they can be of assistance to these kids, who are yet to even enroll into primary school. This plea is also extended to all good spirited Nigerians, and charity organizations, to help keep alive, the hopes of a normal life for these kids. The Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine, is also requested to use it’s good office to liaise with relevant Government agencies, state and local government authorities to assist with the upkeep and welfare of these innocent kids. Done right, these kids will forever be grateful and proud citizens / ambassadors of their fatherland. Neglected, your guess is as good as mine, on their eventual perception of fatherland. Either way, they will grow and will one day tell the story.
Anyone, agency or organization that is touched to offer any form of assistance could contact the Nigerian Embassy Kiev, Ukraine. Nothing is too small, and will help keep smiles on the faces of these kids as they go through life with no one to truly call dad.
May the soul of Egbon Joseph Adebayo rest in perfect peace. Amen.
Written by Frank Ogu