TRIBUTE: Mrs Funmi Olayinka: ‘Beautiful inside and outside’

April 23, 2013

My heart grieved when I heard the sad news of the passing of the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Mrs. Funmi  Olayinka. I remember first meeting her at a function at, the Church of Ascension, Opebi , Lagos, where she was a lay reader. I was struck by her stunning looks, first in her white robe and black headcover, and later when she took off her robes, I beheld her beauty and her exquisite taste in clothes and jewellery. When she spoke, her soft gentle, respectful manner was even more endearing. Her sister, Mrs. Kemi Balogun was working in my school as teacher for Literature and Music. Mrs. Balogun later became a Special Assistant to her Excellency.

After that first meeting at Opebi, I later met her during the legal and political struggle for the Ekiti State mandate. His Excellency, the Governor of Ekiti, Dr. Kayode Fayemi  and his wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi are our family friends. Many times, I met the personable and amiable Mrs. Olayinka in their Ibadan home and family functions hosted by the Fayemis. At a Wimbiz conference where she spoke about women in Governance, I remember thinking to myself, ‘these are the kind of women I want to see in government!’ We desire and deserve many like her- well-educated and well-exposed women, who are self-confident and of noble pedigree. Women and men who see good governance as an opportunity to serve, rather than a means to enrich their pockets! I was glad that the Governor chose her and together they made such a fine and formidable team. Whilst the Governor had a background in political activism and the NGO sphere, she had experience in the banking sector, so they complemented each other very well. My husband and I later met her husband, who is equally amiable and dapper. His love and support obviously made her able to perform her official role creditably. He wasn’t jealous of her success neither did he hold her down. What a well-balanced and exemplary couple!

I love the fact that she never lost the essence of who she was- she was never swept off nor inebriated by the euphoria of political office. She remained true to herself and her old friends. I remember at her mum’s 80th birthday, she performed her role as a dutiful and loving daughter of her darling mother, ‘Yeye Olu’. She went round, greeting and thanking us all on our different tables and she took pictures with us. Her parents must have been so proud of her. I remember she wore the same clothes as her siblings and the extended family!

She never had any arrogant airs about her. I remember at a mutual friend, Professor Sade Ogunsola’s inaugural lecture in Idi-Araba, she came in most unobtrusively! Not for her, were there blaring sirens nor gun toting policemen! Oh how I loved her elegant, simple but classy style. She made simple ‘ankaras’ look like a million dollars!

What I admire most about her was how she bore her cross with fortitude, with smiles to boot! When I learnt that she had battled with cancer for a few years, I marveled and admired her even more! Wow! Not many of us can bear such a cross without sullen looks and deep bitterness against the whole world! She was a strong woman with formidable spiritual strength. She had a quiet brave endurance in the midst of the medical storms that assailed her. I guess she had to be strong because of both her parents, her loving husband and her wonderful children. What an outstanding daughter, devoted wife and selfless mother!

Her life and times remain indelible in Nigerian history and that of women achievers. Her life, though short, was purpose-filled and impactful. My heart and prayers go out to her parents, only God can comfort them. Having lost a brother, in the prime of his youth, I know their pain cannot be assuaged by human strength but divine solace. I pray that the Lord will carry them underneath His wings. Affliction will not rise a second time in that family in Jesus’ Name. To her wonderful and supportive husband, who has lost his soul-mate and partner of many years and decades, our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will comfort him and be his constant guide and help, in Jesus’ Name.

As for the children, they have lost a gem of a mother. I know of a truth that God will never leave nor forsake you. You had a wonderful mum who was beautiful inside and outside. We are assured that as a born again Christian she has definitely made heaven and we are encouraged that we shall meet again on the resurrection morning. May we all make heaven so that we shall meet again on the other side of eternity, in Jesus’ Name.

To Governor Fayemi, who she always referred to as ‘My Boss’, the Lord will raise help for you and the good people of  Ekiti State, in Jesus’ Name. To all her friends and loved ones, please accept my heartfelt condolences, it is well with her soul. May her beautiful soul rest in perfect peace and may light perpetual shine upon her, in Jesus’ Name. Goodnight, precious child of God. It is well, in Jesus’ Name.

Mrs  Funso Adegbola wrote in from the Vale College, Ibadan.

This article was first published in The Tribune. Read more tributes here.

Last modified: April 23, 2013

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