By Rowland Olonishuwa
It was the ancient Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, who advised that humans ought to indulge the fear of death while William Irvine, in his book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, is of the view that the prospect of death can actually make life much happier than they would otherwise be.
He reasoned that we should allow ourselves a flickering thought that someday we would die and someday the people we love are going to die.
It is, therefore, in the context of the foregoing that one would appreciate the life and times of late Mrs. Abigail Omotinuke Odetundun (JP) who slept in the Lord on 20th July 2020.
One of the activities that kick-started her final journey home was a Christian Wake-keep held at her residence located at No. 36, Agba road, GRA, Ilorin, on Thursday, 27th, August 2020. The short program which started at 4pm was witnessed by a large turnout of family members, relatives, friends and sympathizers.
The program featured bible readings, hymns, music ministration and the word. Opening the floodgates of the testimonies/tributes was Mrs. Abioye who described the deceased as her ‘benchmate’ in church.
According to her, “Mama was a committed Christian who pays her dues regularly, was a cheerful giver and a true child of God who loved the Lord with all her heart.”
Chief Mrs. Olarewaju who spoke on behalf of Wives of Estate Surveyors also described the deceased as a mobiliser per excellence and a woman with a heart of gold.
Mrs. Ogundele of the Ladies Band of St. Stephen Anglican Church, Agbonda, Agbonda Archdeaconry attested to Mrs. Odetundun’s commitment to Christ and her passion for the work of God.
Mrs. Ojuile, who described her late mom as her Angel, gist partner, confidant and prayer warrior among many other endearments, recounted the many times her mother had stood like a pillar for not just her and her siblings but the whole family.
She spoke of her mother’s philanthropic and accommodating nature, love for people and most importantly love for God.
“Indeed, we have lost a gem, my mother was like a string binding so many people together, faithful lover of her family and siblings. Iya ni Iya mi, she was my sister like some of my friends will say as she looked so good and young and actually looked like my elder sister and not my Mum….I am also encouraged by the beautiful testimonies of who you were/what you meant to different people, you were indeed an Angel amongst us,” she said in an emotion laden voice.
In his short exhortation at the event, Rev. Prof. Peter Awojobi stressed the need for Christians to always be conscious of death as it is certain.
Speaking from the anchor scriptures, Psalms 90:12, the cleric urged Christians to take the scriptures to heart and always pray that God should, “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
He explained that Christians must always be conscious that the timetable of our lives lay in God’s hands and no one knows when the time would come.
The cleric further gave five points for meditation.
According to him, “we must never forget that life is a privilege. You are privileged to be alive today because there are many people better than you that are no more. You must also not forget that death is certain. It is a transition from this temporary site to the permanent site.
“Also, you must serve God and humanity. If there is anything we must do while we are on earth it is to touch lives. If you are not serving God diligently here on earth you will not be welcomed home.
“We must not forget that there is life after death. We shall all give account of our activities here on earth and that is why our lives are been recorded daily all the time. Lastly, Jesus is the way to heaven and that is why when a believer dies, he/she is only sleeping in Christ as the bible make us to understand,” he said.
Testifying, the cleric stated that the deceased was not a rabble rouser but rather a very peaceful and accommodating daughter of Zion.
Prayers were said for the children, husband and relatives of the deceased.
The evening was crowned with an ‘ewi’ (oral poetry) chant from the duo of Torotoro Abefe and the famous Ajobiewe.
The commendation service for the deceased held the following day at United Missionary Church of Africa Theological College Chapel, (UMCATC), Ajase-Ipo road, Ilorin where a special prayer was said for the family.
In his sermon on the occasion, the pastor in charge of the church, Pastor Paul Oyeleye reminded Nigerians, especially Christians, that death is an appointment that all mortals must keep someday.
While speaking from the anchor scriptures, Hebrews 9:27-28, Pastor Oyeleye said, “Death is an appointment for everyone so we should always be ready for it. We should be careful in the way and manner we live our lives because no matter who you are you will surely die.”
He noted that when it comes to the issue of death, man is limited. He pointed out that it is therefore wisdom to always be prepared for the unknown appointment.
According to the cleric, one must live life as if the next minute is the appointed time. To do this he said one must accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
“You must give your life to Christ, that’s the first step in preparing for this unknown appointment we call death. You must also live your life to please God and not the flesh. You should be the salt and light of the people around you because that is what the bible commands and that is one of the ways to tell the world that you are a true child of the living God. Lastly, you should serve the Lord with all your heart.”
After the commendation service, the hearse moved from Ilorin to her final resting place at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Agbonda, (Agbonda Archdeaconry of Igbomina Diocese) in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara state.
The hearse and its convoy entered Agbonda at exactly 11:15am and proceeded to the church where the choir were already singing praises to God for a life well spent. The convoy stopped a few meters to the church and the undertakers in gaily dressed aso-oke attire took over the show.
Amidst gunshot salutes and traditional drummers, the undertakers took the corpse into the church after a brief dance.
In his sermon at the funeral service, the Diocesan Bishop of Igbomina Anglican Diocese, The Rt. Revd Emmanuel Adekola, started his sermon dramatically by calling a roll call of some ministers present and then calling the name of the deceased.
He thereafter pointed out that the deceased could not answer ‘present’ because she had answered ‘present’ on a higher plane.
“Although we all chorused absent as Mama is not here to answer for herself but I’m happy to inform you that Mama has answered ‘present’ before Someone greater than you and I. And all of us that answered ‘present’ today will one day not be on this plane to answer again.
“If we must answer ‘present’ in heaven we must first give our lives to Christ. Mama gave her life to Christ and that is why we are confident that she is resting in the bosom of the Lord.”
The cleric further informed the congregation that death is gain for a child of God and not lost.
After the service which featured bible reading, singing of hymns and prayers, the corpse was brought out into the church compound and interred.
In his tribute to his late wife, Prince Niyi Odetundun, FNISV said, “As a wife, Omotinuke was very caring and respectful. She was very committed to the family both immediate and extended. She was like her late father a prayer warrior, a God-fearing woman a caring mother and very responsible grandmother. Because of her sterling qualities the children have virtually concluded arrangements to surprise her with a 70th birthday treat in a few weeks time. But as God would have it death surprised us with her exit. We now celebrate her exit, instead of her birthday! Our God knows why, we trust that the Lord is with us and who can be against us.”
On his part, a son of the deceased, Mr. Ademola Olabode Odetundun disclosed that he would miss his mother’s prayers and love.
In his words, “I will miss mama’s prayers and the love she has shown to me. From when I was young mama is my pillar of support always and sincerely, I don’t have a replacement for her as I speak but I pray God will bless her soul and grant us the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
“Mama is an Angel assigned to me from heaven she hhas been a solid pillar of support and whatever I have achieved today is mostly due to my mom’s prayer in my life.”
“I will miss everything about her she is a very… she was a very caring and lovely mom. She’s been so supportive in whatever I lay my hands on and she is my prayer warrior. She prays for every one of us all. I find it so difficult to comprehend (her death).
“I remember on the 20 (of July) when it happened around 3:30, my younger brother called me that I should rush down to the hospital when I got there I saw her and we took her to the mortuary together but I never believed she was truly gone. It is just now that we are putting her into the grounds that it started to click that she won’t be there for us physically again.”
Born in the year 1950, late Mrs. Odetundun was a dedicated teacher and was committed to the upbringing of the next generation, and in her long teaching career, she was an exemplary and devoted educator.
She had the opportunity to teach in schools like Bishop Smith Memorial Primary School, United Primary School Ilorin and Odore Government Secondary School.
She was headmistresses in several schools including Kwara Polytechnic Primary School, C & S Primary School, and St. John’s Primary School. She retired as a deputy director in the Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board.
Late Mrs. Abigail Omotinuke Odetundun (JP) is survived by husband, children and many grandchildren.