"Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies." Elie Wiesel
I have waited for all to pour in the tributes, lamentations, all the ‘had I know’, ifs and how come. Plenty lies, praise, buck-passing and as usual the good morning at night of government and its officials. All the half-truths, propaganda and truth that we may never come to know.
He was a stand alone, reclusive, players were jealous of him, did not pass the ball to him at the World Cup in USA '94. All sorts of cock and bull stories.
Players, colleagues have explained away why this and that, the rasion de etre all makes one form of sense or the other.
We were and are still being treated to stories in different media of how he battled 'mental illness'. At some point this writer recalls the police was involved in Ibadan.
But close to the truth is that his mother and siblings came one day and bundled him away, out of love, to find a cure for perceived ailment, were they culpable, what happened, many of these questions in the Nigerian way may and will never be answered, if we push to much, our always wonderful Police and security agencies will go into an "arrest overdrive". Arressting everything and everyone in sight connected to the man.
Nevertheless, all the is just part of my hurt at this heroes death.Recently he was to be involved in some ambassadorial role for a youth soccer project with Segun Odegbami, one which was going on fine.
It seems we were more concerned about his sanity than what really happened and how it could have turned out differently. However Yekini exposes the question, what does Nigeria offer her hero and heroines? What is the reward for patriotism?
How do we treat those who through one form of art or other skill gave millions of Nigerians a smile?
The list is endless; Muda Lawal is still being owed by his last employers. What was really done for Sam Okwaraji, Majek Fashek is ebbing away.
Rashidi Yekini was NOT mad, I state this emphatically. Madness doesn't kill in Africa like that, just weeks many testified to him driving himself. He could or was depressed but not mad.
No certified doctor confirmed him mad or insane. He was not running around naked and chasing people with an umbrella. He was not unkempt.
If anything two sets of people are culpable--my constituency the media, that reported the story and the rumour mill. So he was largely mad by rumour and media reports--what a nation and a people, including you and I.
Okay, let us for logical reasons agree that gangling Yeking of goals was insane, so what did we do, what did the nation do? In his little way he served well, as a people how did we serve and save him.
Now the Kwara state government wants to name its stadium after him. Jonathan don greet family, Oyo state go name street after am. Bringing the question what's wrong with us?
Kanu is not mad yet, neither Okocha nor Odegbami, Amokachie and a host of athletes, musicians and artistes. Like Abia state governor that boasted that he spent three million on James Iroha burial, when really a million would have kept him alive.
Maybe these stars earned millions, yes maybe they did not plan but how do we tell them thank you. We give thieves our higher and highest awards and insult our stars with Akish and paw-pawish massage.
Our heroes are treated as lepers, given no Medicare or at best poor Medicare. We even grin-facedly mock them by having them appear in all sorts of demeaning kalo-kalo, like who wants to be a millionaire.
Thank God you were not killed by vices, thank God no one could accuse you of owing him or that you took his wife, like the vultures and ravines in power today.
Rashidi Omo Yekini, the onetime panel beater--you were the car, after the sandpaper bruised you, from KKD (Kaduna, Kick and Die) you moved to Green/Super Eagles. The paper we threw away, the Eagle you were, and you flew high, glided, and did your bit and your best.
Carter Burwell said "death is always around the corner, but often our society gives it inordinate help". How true of this, in our clime. We score the own goal always and play ostrich, when we are guilty.
In general sporting terms, as in soccer a goal scored by a player accidentally playing the ball into his own team's net.In informal usage it is any action that results in disadvantage to the person who took it or to a party, group, etc. with which that person is associated.
For Yekini, it is an own goal, o.g as we call it in those days of street soccer. One that we will all score ourselves, by our actions or inaction, actions that will result in disadvantage to us.
Your death is an own goal, after all those goals, memorable to all being that first ever World Cup goal, you succumbed to the hands of death, an own goal which every soul must score.
Your death again has shown that Nigerians can be united. You brought joy to Muslim, Christian and pagan, juju loving soccer fans, to Igbos, Hausas, Ijaws, Idomas, Efiks, Tarokhs, Nupes who loved and enjoyed those goals after goals.
We say good night, sa i de sa fe, soun re, ka chineke du gi...Nigeria and our own goals--time will tell.