Bimbo Odukoya: In remembrance
By Taiwo Akinlami
OUR culture preaches that you do not say evil about the dead even if or her deeds were evil. It is a culture that if historians had used as the compilation formula of the life and times of Adolph Hitler, he would have been given a clean bill of health despite his many atrocities. It is a docile culture that is not conscious of history and posterity. I daresay that it is a culture that must be discarded by every true and conscious chronicler of history. For me an article about a departed soul or any other subject (at all) is a historical document and a writer of integrity and truth must make sure that whatever comes out of his pen must stand the test of history. Thus, I always consciously swim against the tide of our culture in the foregoing respect.
This piece therefore is not an exercise in the direction of an unproductive culture. It is an exercise in enriching history and posterity on the information available to it on this personality that touched every arena of our lives for good as an unusual wife, a caring mother, a dedicated minister of God, an uncompromised nationalist, a hold-nothing-back philanthropist, a rare mentor, a hardworking social engineer and above all a woman, who feared and lived for God and served humanity. This piece is in remembrance of a woman, who was an eye to the blind, a leg to the lame, an ear to the deaf, a voice to the voiceless, a mother to the motherless, a friend to the rejected, a hope to the hopeless, a light to a world enveloped in the darkness of sin, a salt to a decaying earth and most importantly an ambassador from heaven to introduce many lost souls to eternal life. All these she did creditably well and to the applause of man and God! The response of our world to her demise bears eloquent testimony to the foregoing. That our world stood still in honour of this heroine of faith in God and service to mankind on Saturday, December 10, 2005 is no news. In fact the dusts are yet to settle in the horizon of human memory.
My relationship with Pastor Bimbo Odukoya spanned a period of a decade. I first encountered her when I joined the Fountain of Life Church, a local assembly, she co-pastured with her dear husband, Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, the Senior Pastor of the church. From my first meeting with her, she stood out not just as a co-pastor or pastor’s wife but as a woman on a mission to positively impact her world. On and off the pulpit boisterous Pastor Bim, as she was fondly called, palpably radiated the unconditional love and compassion of God to humanity.
I had closer encounter when a few years ago, I picked up an appointment with Pastor Taiwo Odukoya and I was posted to work from the home office. It was an opportunity to discover the real personality behind the well-known Pastor Bimbo. There I found out firsthand that she was a practitioner of every principle she preached. She was a woman of many inspirational words; I must quickly add that as much as her words were, her actions were more and deliberate. She would never share a principle without providing a platform for its practice. She was a protagonist of practical living and effectiveness in human existence. Her principle was simple, I must not leave you the same way I met you.
She would not teach the singles how to choose a life partner without creating a conducive environment for them to meet and mingle. She would not encourage singles to get married without empowering those who did not have the resources to do so. She would not point you to God without paying attention to your immediate needs. She would not tell wives to honour their own husbands without showing consistent examples in her relationship with her own husband. She would not promote a healthy family unit as the foundation of nation building without building her own family as a shining example. She would not talk about the love of God without first showing it abundantly in her dealings with everyone that came her way.
In fact she believed she was a conduit through which the unconditional love of God was to be savoured by a neglected world. She would not tell you that you were valuable to God without treating you as a man and a woman of value even in her choice of adjectives. She would not tell the youth that they had a future without a readiness to personally raise funds within her rich network to foot the school bills of those who were indigent. She would not teach you that it was more blessed to give than to receive without emptying from time to time her wardrobe and bank account in pursuit of worthy causes. She would not teach against discrimination and rejections without opening her arms of fellowship and generosity to men and women from every cadre of life.
Did she have any weakness, I was aware of? Like every human being, who was subject to human foibles, she definitely had her weaknesses. But I must quickly say that she was a woman that perfected the rigorous and uncommon habit of pricing her service to God and humanity over and above the dictates of her human foibles. Thus, she was unimpeachable in the discharge of her duties to God and humanity.
For me it was a privilege of a lifetime that I did not only read about her, I saw her on the pulpit and that I did not only see her on the pulpit I had the rare opportunity of firsthand relationship; and encounter that changed my life and destiny forever. I got married recently after a long wait and one person whose presence my wife and I missed dearly was Pastor Bim. The relationship that culminated in our marriage is an undiluted product of her ministry.
This piece will be incomplete, if I do not thank Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, her dearly beloved husband, a vessel of honour, used by God to nurture and launch her into an unalloyed service to God and humanity. A man she did not fail at all times to acknowledge and aptly refer to as her ‘husband, best friend, pastor, mentor and bishop’. As I remember her today I find solace in the words of Tobi Odukoya, her last child at the burial service held for her at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos that we all have a responsibility to honour her mother by ensuring that we all continue the good works she lived for. Shalom dear mother and keep resting at the blissful feet of our Lord and Master till we meet again on the day of resurrection.
Akinlami, a legal practitioner, is based in Lagos.