“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” – Tecumseh
Aside the pains of losing someone that traversed the length and breadth of this country offering a helping hand in the best way possible and always taking up the pains of others as his own, irrespective of the sacrifice and danger inherent, in his relatively reasonably short years on earth, Olawale Salami, popularly known and referred to as, ‘DON OF ALUTA, AND DON OF THE STRUGGLE FOR A BETTER NIGERIA’ is sorely missed on a day like this considering the unabated economic degradation and the insufferable amount of insecurity that seems to pervade the entire nooks and crannies of Nigeria barely two years after his exit from our planet. This would not surprise many that had the privilege of knowing him, whether during his sojourn at The Kwara Polytechnic, where his ideological and intellectual clarity first sprouted as a moving force in the creation of many study groups in the 80’s during the heady days of the military and various school authorities that acted more like garrison commanders administering their inferior officers rather than university and polytechnic managers that should exude high level of intellection and foster germination and flourishing of ideas in a manner that terminates at the doorstep of supremacy of logic.
One of the uncanny gifts of Wale Salami is the ability to explain most of the highfalutin terminologies or lingos of Marxism in the simplest terms that could be easily understood by a non-initiated, and in such a way that those objective and subjective conditions that underpinned the eras of the postulators and different thinkers, as it were, are located within the local matrix while solutions are collectively perused and clinically interrogated. According to his philosophy of social change, every attempt at winding back the wheel of deterioration in social values must be weighed against the social verve of consciousness already internalized by the mass as raw materials for launching a new order. This is because, he strongly believes that hasty actions against an oppressor system has a way of weakening the people’s resolve and faith in social revolution and oftentimes, strengthen the hands of bourgeoisie or the prebendal political class in Africa, hence, his belief in the unrelenting task of constant education of the mass on issues of relevance and he believed, so convincingly that no efforts should be spared in that regard. He was given to details almost to a fault and a remarkable workaholic that you could be rest assured to find on the frontline of implementation of tasks.
It was therefore, not surprising that after the completion of his studies, he was quite notable in the activities of most of the central organizations that battled the military that had become an albatross to the wellbeing and progress of the nation; whether at CDHR, CLO and the Campaign for Democracy (CD), most especially after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections on June 27, 1993 by the self-confessed, evil genius, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, IBB. He was like a bridge between the Southwestern part and the North due to his clear connection and understanding of the terrain and was always on ground to reinvent and refocus the core issues in the annulled mandate, even when the state used every avenues to discredit same and almost succeeded in turning it into an ethnic and lateral mandate rather than a pan-Nigeria mandate that was freely given. It was on this threshold that the DON effectively played a major role in many of the succeeding pro-democracy groups like United Action for Democracy (UAD), Coalition of Self-Determination Groups (COSEG) with fellows of like minds like Wale Balogun, Jaiye Gaskiya, Bamidele Aturu, Abiodun Aremu, et al. All this eventually culminated in the birth of a democratic order or what has been better described as a civil rule on May 29, 1999. However, the struggle continued unabated as the emerging polity only produced more of political opportunists that know little or nothing about how to plant or muster democratic ideals that would build a burgeoning nation and set it on an enduring and unshakeable pathway to economic growth, social cohesion, stability and apocalypse.
Unfortunately, the plenipotentiary ideologue, Wale Salami, was involved in an accident that affected one of his legs during his itinerary and had to be flown on operation to Cuba. He survived the operation at the initial stage and teamed up with Comrade Debo Adeniran of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, to add bite to the agitation against corruption which was perceived as Nigeria’s singular most destructive cankerworm, inhibiting progress and rediscovery. He served as the Director of Research and Programmes (DRP) at the Humanity Centre and was planning for the second leg of medical operation on the affected leg when he breathed his last, so early on this 9th day of April, 2018, when he was planning for work. In memory, he lived life just exactly like that Native American warrior and leader of a large, multi-tribal confederacy of the early 19th Century, Tecumseh, himself a hero of the Indian American stated, by not seeking for more years on earth, but living every minute of his few years as if it was his last on earth.
We would continue to celebrate you, dear Comrade Don! We miss you greatly, especially as none of the troubles imposed on us by the same decadent and short-sighted, political class you left behind has been solved; but now, we battle with natural scourge like coronavirus pandemic, hitherto unknown throughout your lifetime here with us.
Coordinator, Media and Publications, CACOL