LOUD WHISPERS: My Christmas Gift

I have not written for almost three months now. It is the longest break I have taken from writing since 2016 when I started the Loud Whispers column for my Above Whispers website. I did not make a conscious decision to take a break, it just happened. On October 5th, I lost a very good friend, Mr Sam Oluwalana. Egbon Sam as I used to call him, was a veteran Journalist and at the time he passed away, he was a Senior Special Assistant in the administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi. It was Egbon Sam who encouraged me to syndicate my weekly Loud Whispers articles in national newspapers such as Daily Independent, The Sun and Vanguard. I would send in the articles every Wednesday, Thursday at the latest, for publication from Friday onwards.

The week before he left us, I saw a call from him, I ignored it because I assumed he was chasing me up for that week’s article. A few hours later, after I had sent the article, I called to let him know that I had done it. His wife picked the call and told me that she was the one who had called to let me know that Egbon Sam was very ill and was in the hospital. Egbon Sam was discharged but he had to be readmitted a few days later and he passed away shortly after. It was so sudden and I can’t begin to say how shocked I was. Egbon Sam was gone, just like that. For weeks after his death, every time I sat down to write, I would freeze. In October, I recycled an old essay I wrote in 2019 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As I forwarded the article to the Above Whispers team, Sam Oluwalana’s name popped up as well, since he would also have got the article the same time as the team.  I keep telling myself that by now, loss should not affect me so much. However, because it was linked to my weekly ritual of gathering my thoughts and sending them out, with Sam as one of my channels, I suddenly felt adrift. Rest in peace Egbon Sam and thank you for all the encouragement and support you gave me. May God console the family you left behind.

In November 2005, when I was still working as Executive Director of the African Women’s Development Fund in Accra, I went to Puerto Rico for a philanthropy conference. On the third of the three flights I had to take to get to my destination, I started feeling unwell. On the second day of the conference, the organisers had to call a Doctor for me because I was running a fever. The fever got better, but I was still unwell with a bad cold and cough. When I got back to Accra, my Doctor gave me antibiotics and other medication. The cough got worse. He sent me for an X-Ray and I was diagnosed with Atypical Pneumonia. I was placed on another course of antibiotics that were so strong that I started suffering from side effects which in turn required another round of medication. It took almost three months for me to fully recover. I had never been that sick in my whole life.

In 2021 when COVID19 struck, I thought about what I went through in 2005 and told myself that if it happened to me again, I would be in serious trouble. I was very fortunate not to have caught it when everyone else around me did. Then the vaccines arrived and we all heaved a sigh of relief. I got my first shot in March, the second in May and a Booster shot early December. Somewhere between a range of activities outside and within the State, and a flurry of end of year activities, I eventually caught Covid. I had to abruptly cancel all my engagements. Apart from the fever, aches and pains that went away after two days, my other symptoms were a cold and cough. It was the cough that bothered me the most, it was dry and persistent. Through it all, my chest and lungs were not affected, and my oxygen levels remained normal. The last time I coughed so hard and for so long was in 2005 and memories of that prolonged discomfort and debilitation kept flooding back. I am thankful that I have been fortunate enough to receive all the available vaccinations. If I had not been vaccinated, perhaps my immune system would have given way. When you are incapacitated with an unpredictable ailment, you think about all kinds of things. I will be lying if I told you that I did not feel afraid or scared at some point. There are many cases of mild Covid symptoms becoming a major crisis. When thoughts of the possibility of dying crossed my mind, I thought about the friends of different generations who I have lost recently in quick succession. I finally allowed the pain and grief to sink in. I recalled the sermons that are preached at people’s funerals. I have sat through enough of them to know that regardless of whether the sermon is five, twenty or fifty minutes, whether the sermon is an exciting one or bores you to sleep, or if the service is for a young or old person, the message is the same – Are you prepared? Every day we wake takes us a step further to answering this question and it never really matters if we are prepared or not. I am thankful to God Almighty for his divine grace and mercy, and I am grateful to scientific innovations that give us hope. I received the best Christmas present ever when I got my results on Christmas Day and I was Covid negative.

My key message here is that Covid19, and its cousins such as Delta and Omicron, is still very much around. I can’t count how many times I have asked people why they have no masks on and they reply with, ‘Coro ti lo’ (Covid has gone away) or ‘I can’t get it because I drink a lot of herbal remedies and I take Vitamins’. You can drink as many concoctions as you like, but wear a mask in public and get your vaccines. After this experience, I will no longer feel like a fool or the odd person out, when I insist on keeping my mask on in public. After the world spent most of 2020 trying to escape the ravaging Covid19 pandemic, 2021 was when we all had to start learning how to live in new times. It has changed the way many of us work, travel, communicate and play, and it is going to be that way for some time to come.

I would like to end on a more entertaining note. While I was in isolation, I watched old clips of a popular female preacher who is notorious for her outlandish sermons on how to make it to heaven. According to her, if you want to go to heaven, you must not take Vitamin C, Titus Fish (Mackerel), wear jewelry, make-up or use Mastercard! Also, according to her, there should be no Blood Banks either because the only place where you have such things is in the demonic kingdom where blood is the currency for everything. All this coming from a woman who has on a pair of glasses and a wristwatch, and who uses a microphone to amplify her voice. I am also 500% certain that she has a mobile phone. This same woman also claims to have come to earth many times before and spent one of her lifetimes as a soldier in the Egyptian army. I am not a Mental Health expert so I am not qualified to make comments on her mental state, but I think the State Security Services should keep this woman (and others like her of whatever faith or denomination) on their radar. We don’t want to wake up one day and hear that she has ‘raptured’ her many gullible followers. As my young friends on social media say, ‘I come in peace’.

I hope you received and gave nice Christmas gifts. There are so many things money cannot buy and I am deeply grateful for the Christmas gift I received. I wish you all compliments of the season. May God answer all our prayers and may all our dreams come true.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

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4 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: My Christmas Gift

  1. Femi Diipo December 30, 2021 at 12:27 am

    Amen!!! Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you too ma’am, you have been greatly missed.
    Its always sad and extremely overwhelming when someone so dear is so suddenly lost, my condolences ma and may God console you and all the family and friends of the deceased.
    I really do hope for a covid freer 2022, and looking forward to a greater year.
    It’s really good to have you back ma’am.

  2. Dseed December 31, 2021 at 8:52 am

    I thank God for your life ma. You’re missed. Merry Christmas ma. And for that preacher, all she needed is what you have just stated ma. She needs close supervision. LOL… I also come in peace. Happy New year in advance

  3. Olakunle Olajide January 5, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Oh! I am so happy you won covid 19 ma’am. I would like to wish you a happy new year and would also wait patiently for your 2022 prophecies(smiles).
    Please do accept my condolences on the lost of a loved one, may his soul rest in peace.
    And for the mummy GO, all I can say is it is well with her soul..
    Do have a beautiful month ma

  4. Akintola Victor January 9, 2022 at 4:25 am



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