Melodies for Colonel Babajamu: Garlands, accolades for soldier turned writer


It was a time for accolades and wreath laying yesterday at the public presentation and launching of Melodies for Colonel Babajumu held at the Mustapha Akanbi Library and Resources Centre, Agba-dam link road.

The book, a collection of poems, that celebrated Colonel Oladele Babajamu rtd. was part of activities celebrating 20 years of meritorious and impactful writings of the retired solider.

The colourful ceremony which had in attendance an array of academics, retired military officers and other dignitaries was also attended by family, friends and well-wishers.

Authored by a performing artist, poet and puppeteer performer, Ebika Anthony, the collection was reviewed by Dr. Kehinde Akano of the Department of English, Linguistics and African Languages, of the Kwara State University, Malete.

Speaking to News Hub Mag! on his reason for writing the collection, Ebika Anthony, disclosed that he was fascinated by the person of the celebrant.

“I met him in this same compound of Mustapha Akanbi Library and Resources Centre, Agba-dam when he was the chairman of Kwara-ANA. He later became a national officer of the Association. I got fascinated by his kind of person; being a soldier turned writer,” he stated.

Anthony who said the work took him about two months to write noted that he decided to celebrate the retired soldier in his own little way because of his view that, “we need to celebrate our heroes while they are alive and not when they are dead.”

In his review, Dr. Reuben Kehinde Akano described the collection as a dairy noting that a reader of the collection would notice a kind of telepathy between the poet and the celebrant. According to him, “the work is of few poems that make a collection but these poems are in longer lines.”

While stressing the issue of telepathy between the poet and Col. Babajamu he acknowledged that, “We know that poetry is usually expressed in imaginary and in intensity of emotion but there must have been some form of communication between the celebrant and the poet because a number of lines and subtitles are shrouded in some mysteries which the poet refrained from but only give us in words.”

According to Dr. Akano, the beauty of the work is that it truly achieved its aim which is to celebrate Colonel Oladele Babajamu rtd. He revealed that the work celebrates its subject in three important ways.

He said, “This work celebrants its subject as a retired Colonel who has given his due while in the Nigeria Army. The work portrays the retired Colonel as a man who lived above corruption even while in the army; he was hated, he was attacked and denounced yet he stood his ground and came out of the army without blemish.

“For someone who came out of the army unscathed we should join Ebika Anthony, the author, to celebrate Babajamu’s faithfulness, courage and gallantry.

“Another reason for this work which the collection foregrounds is Col Babajamu’s transformation from a gallant solider to a man of the pen, a man of activism worth celebrating. And you have his record of service, ‘No longer in Artillery but now in the artillery of pen’ of creative writing. And as soon as he metamorphosed into that he has worked tirelessly to ensure that the body of authors, especially in Kwara, continues to grow in leaps and bounds. He’s been chairman of the Association, he’s been a national officer and today he is a reference point, a father figure both in Kwara and the Nation at large.”

The Reviewer said the collection also celebrates the humanist in the celebrant. According to him, the collection portrays Col Babajamu as a humanist despite his background as a gallant soldier.

“The poet celebrates his subject as an activist and writer, he describes the retired Colonel as a humanist to the core and there is this description of him that the poet says signpost him; his broad smile.

“Infact there is this subtitle, ‘he gave them a broad smile’ where the author alluded to a time when the celebrant was able to overcome some disgruntle elements who wanted to tarnish his image by giving them his broad smile.”

In his remarks at the event, Pastor Gbenga Odebiri, urged the celebrant not to relent in his pursuit reminding him that there are many more goals ahead for him to achieve. The cleric who described Col Babajamu as an endowed personality who excelled in the military and also the literary works charged him to continue to be upright and good to all.  

On her part, the wife of the celebrant, Mrs. Adenike Babajamu who said she is very proud of him disclosed that he takes his writing rather too serious and expressed appreciation to the author for honoring her husband.     

In her words, “I’m very proud of him, I have been married to him for over 30 years now. In the early days of our marriage, I thought my rivals would be women and his career, it was after he left the army that I realized that my rival was his writing profession. He writes a lot and each time he travels he comes back with a lot of books but I’m so proud of how it all turned out.”

Some of those present at the event described the celebrant as a man of many parts who loves others regardless of religion, tribe or political leanings.

The Director of Administration, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Alhaji Oba Hassan Kadir a close relative of the celebrant described him as a very versatile man. “He is a man of many presences, he is into many things; You could call him a nurse, a soldier, a rental man, a writer and many others. You can truly know him when you move close to him. He is soft minded despite his background as a soldier. I really thank God for him.”

Also, Hon. Babarinde Adeniran who described the celebrant as his father and mentor said he came down all the way from Abuja to witness the event given the impact of Col Babajamu on his life.

Speaking with News Hub Mag! the celebrantdisclosed that he published his first book in the year 2002 and he has not rest on his oars and 20years after he has over 20 books published.

Recounting how he started twenty years ago, Col Babajamu disclosed that, “It has been very fantastic journey so far. When I started, I told some of my mates that I wanted to write a book on Artillery and they said I should tell them what it is all about but I said if I did some parts would be lost and I won’t be able to write again.

“When I finished writing it was about 30 pages and when I finished typing it was barely 15pages. I almost withdrew but because I had made noise about it I had to go back and search inwards and that was how I came out with my first book in 2002. 20 years after I have written about 20 books,” he stated.

On the challenges he had encountered in his 20years of writing, Col Babajamu said he had had to deal with rejection of his works by publishing houses because most of his works have military tone.

According to him, despite all the challenges he had received some awards in the course of his writings but most importantly he said the psychological fulfillment he feels in putting his thoughts on paper for people to read does not allow him to count the many challenges on the way.

Reacting to the writing of a book in his honour, Col Babajamu stated that when the author first told him about the project, he had jokingly told him he didn’t take permission before embarking on the project.

“But I was happy and elated when he told me he was writing the collection in my honour. I always say every author is a messenger, the author was given a message to deliver and I’m happy today it came to reality,” he said.


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