I remember him today, Rasaq Aremu GAWAT—–that model of excellent Ramadan-themed media engagements. From the tiny enclave of the NTA studios, via his “E Dide E Mu Saari Je” Sahur quiz programme, Gawat took joy, hope, and of course knowledge, to the homes of mostly poor Yoruba Muslims in the month of Ramadan in the 2000s. I remember him now as I do Wahidi Ariyo, the nightingale who brought pristine Islamic morality to us in sublime poetry.
I think now about Wahidi Ariyo as I think also of Wasiu Kayode Sideeq, the one whose voice brought simplicity to otherwise esoteric (Islamic) concepts in open markets and motor parks in the 2000s. From Wasiu Sideeq, many people across the streets of Yoruba-land took ownership of Islamic ideals couched in melodic tunes: Iya Mulikatu in Gbagi Market perhaps knew how to perform ablution; Iya Moriamo at Idumagbo understood the concept of Janabah; Baba Rasaki at Panseke Market probably had his major understanding of the benefit of Zakat etc.
I remember Sideeq as much as I do Qamarudeen Aiyeloyun, the one who stood as the badly needed balance between Ariyo’s conservative generation and Ahmad Alawiye’s seemingly adrift generation. All of their warts notwithstanding, I remember Alawiye as I do his peers who brought joy to our people despite their flaws: Mumeen Damilola Esin-Ogbamilaye, Ibrahim Labaika, Sauti Arewa, Shaurani Abuu Rido. I remember these elements as I do their female counterparts: Seyidah Fatimo, Hafsat Sideeq et al.
I remember these characters as I do those who, WARTS and all, provided meanings and gave contexts to issues we struggled to understand about the Deen in those years of innocence: Sheikh Adam Al-hilory, Sheikh Kamaldeen Mufty Ilorin, Sheikh Shazilly Zambo, Sheikh Muhydeen Ajani Bello, Sheikh Liadi Akilapa Ajisafe, Sheikh Salam Abdullateef, Sheikh Sulayman Amubieya, Prof. AGAS Oladosu, Professor Alaro etc.
“Hell is other people”, quipped Jean-Paul Sartre. So I remember them because even in their imperfections (and, oh, they were/are grossly flawed humans!), they brought to us the most important of Islamic ideals: tolerance, togetherness, piety, hospitality, and respect for (as well as protection of) that “Other”.
Like Ariyo, many of these people have since passed on to the great beyond. But the case of Gawat remains eternally puzzling to this day, and only Allah has the ultimate answer. What we do know is that in July 2012, Gawat went missing. Few days later, his Black Toyota SUV, with Lagos Registration Number RE 77 AAA, was seen on the Eko Bridge inside Apongbon at about 11:45pm by some LASTMA officials. There was also a speculation that his lifeless body was seen beneath the same bridge but that was immediately debunked. Alas, that was the last thing we heard about him. It’s almost a decade today, and Gawat is still missing. Wa’LLahu Aha’lam.
It’s the last 10 days of Ramadan already, the part reputed for forgiveness of sins. I pray Allah forgive those who have passed and overlook their (numerous!) shortcomings. May He extend his blessings and gaze of forgiveness to the rest of us on here, too.
• Oladeinde Olawoyin is the Deputy Business Editor, Premium Times
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