Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has narrated his last moments with his younger brother the late Prof. Femi Soyinka.
Femi died on June 14 at his home in Kukumada Village, Ibadan, Oyo State. He was 85 years old.
At an evening of tributes in memory of Femi on Thursday in Ibadan, Soyinka described how his brother kept a tight hold on his hand, communing with silence 48 hours before his death.
The tribute was read by Soyinka’s eldest son and former commissioner of health in Ogun, Olaokun Soyinka.
“I was with him barely forty-eight hours before his night of departure. I had been on the road for hours and, on arrival, should have gone to the toilet. However, that need was clean forgotten in my anxiety to see him, and I allowed his wife to lead me straight to his bedside,” Soyinka said.
“She pulled up a chair and I sat beside him, and took his hand. Femi returned the grip and we sat this for a while, communing in silence. Sometime later, Nature reminded me of a neglected duty. I tried to detach but he held on, quite gently, not letting go.
“So, I stayed put. Inevitably, Nature gave a more imperative nudge until finally, I was left with no choice. I gently detached his hand, went off, delivered and returned. Again I took his hand and again, he turned the grip. The pressure was, however, somewhat different in some indefinable way. It was still firm but gentle, so perhaps it was the pulse that had changed.
“Kofo had rejoined us. She sat next to his head and tried to coax him into acknowledging my presence in some more obvious way. It was not needed. I am convinced he knew me, had sensed who I was. That change in pulsation, I feel reassured, was his response, an inward, mischievous chuckle. And what that rapscallion was saying was: ‘Broda, I nearly made you pee in your pants.’”
Femi was renowned for his contributions to the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign globally. He also worked as a health consultant to various international and local agencies including the World Health Organisation, DFID, and UNDP.