I promised myself some few months ago that I would celebrate people while they are alive and not when they have gone to the great beyond. Unfortunately I have been proved wrong at the death of Mr. J.B. Tella. He is a man of great mien and composure of the perfect gentleman of his age and creating relevance for the upcoming generation.

My relationship with him was not too much of physical contact despite the proximity but virtual. Sometimes ago, I wrote a tribute titled, “Like father, like son: An analogy of Chief T.A.A. Ladele and Prof A.A. Ladele” this was at the promotion of A.A. Ladele to the rank of a professor which is no mean title in the academia most especially in the University of Ibadan.

Mr Tella was the first person to comment, it goes thus on facebook, “Congrats to Prof. Ladele! However, I am also happy to note that Papa T.A.A. Ladele was my teacher in the late 60s in Oranyan Grammar School, Oyo. Baba, e ku orire o! Meanwhile, keep up the good work, Tayo Irantiola. It shall be well with you in Jesus name. Amen.” I could not hide my excitement, despite other comments, I replied only him thus, “@ Dad Tella: I am overwhelmed by your comment, being the first person to comment! May you live long to see us make you proud! Have a nice weekend!”

I continued on my path to writing online, I published the biography of my maternal grandfather online, he read it and he was of the opinion that I should have used that medium to get more funds but my mindset was to have people from all walks of life no matter the location to read the book. Why am I telling all these stories? Words could be said but they live so long after the pronouncements, I can’t forget those words despite being brief. I am also making reference to how relevant he was until death; he was trendy despite his age, he embraced technology most especially by being a part of the online community via facebook, he was connected to all and sundry. A person that refuses to be updated will be outdated.

I have always thought we were related, my grandparents all have history linking us with the ancient Oyo kingdom but I asked my grandmother of our relationship with the family, she said it was much more as brethren. Mr. Tella’s father worked in Okeho and they happen to be members of First Baptist Church, Isokun, Oyo, a church my grandfather once pastored.

My last contact with him was on the 12th of December, 2010 in church, he was chatting with Mr. Egbinola and I asked the duo if they have read the biography I wrote and Mr. Tella’s response was apt, “you know I have read it online however I a still on it”. I told him of my anthology just published but I did not know he would not have a copy of that before his transition to a greater kingdom.

It’s quite painful for me to hear the news of your departure but it’s quite encouraging to have seen these years spent purposefully, it is quite disheartening seeing you go but it’s quite a joyous moment knowing that we are here celebrating you and not you mourning us. We would all have wished to have you for many more years but we give all glory to God. May your family be strong in the faith at this time. Amen.

29th December, 2010.

(c)Olutayo IRAN-TIOLA, Lagos, Nigeria
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