One Year Of The People’s Eye

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A Review of the Transition of Historical Personages in 2018

For this year, our theme for the review of the year, 2018, is the transition of some of the historical personages that have affected the course of human history and culture, both in our country and worldwide. In Nigeria, we have also looked at this very theme, with individuals in mind, from across several generations.

The year 2018, like 2017 before it, was quite a tragic one for Nigerians. The fallouts of the economic downturn, occasioned by a recession, was pretty harsh on the populace, a condition made worse by the many internally displaced persons, whose communities were sacked by rampaging terrorists and Fulani cattle herdsmen. There were hundreds of recorded deaths, also brought about by the activities of the bands of terrorists and herdsmen.

Soldiers and policemen were not spared, either. And neither were young graduates, undergoing their mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps  programme. Scores of soldiers sent on missions to the troubled northeast of the country to fight the terrorists, either never made it back alive, or went completely missing. So, were some of their counterparts in the Air Force, who flew fruitless sorties and were brought down by enemy ground fire. All of the chaos and subsequent deaths were unprecedented in the history of peace time Nigeria.

The high and the mighty and celebrities, also went down with the year. It was a year that witnessed the passing of several historical personages, even worldwide. In Nigeria itself, the country’s first executive president, passed on within 13 months of his executive vice-president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who passed away only in November of the previous year, 2017. This was also a first in the country’s chequeredSHEHU

SHEHU SHAGARI

The death of Alhaji Shehu Shagari brought to a climax, the tragic year of deaths in Nigeria, bringing the last month of the year to a sad close. He passed away on Friday the 28th of December, 2018, aged 93.

Shagari was Nigeria’s first Executive President and was elected into office in 1979.He ruled the country for only one term, until December 31, 1983, when he was overthrown in a military coup by Major-General Mohammadu Buhari. Although his government was marked by massive corruption and abuse of office by officials and politicians, Alhaji Shehu was never implicated in any scandal and was a man of great, personal integrity.

Two other notable Nigerians passed away towards the end of 2018:

DOZIE IKEDIFE

Dr. Dozie  Onyeanusi Ikedife, medical practitioner, political figure, philanthropist, highly revered community leader and one-time Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo, passed away in his hometown, Nnewi, Anambra State, on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, aged 88.

AEX BADEH

Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh was a Nigerian Air Force officer, the 18th Chief of Air Staff and the 15th Chief of Defence Staff of Nigeria. He was also the first four-star general to emerge from his home state of Adamawa. Aged 61, Air Chief Marshal Badeh was assassinated by unknown gunmen along the Abuja-Keffi highway on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

CELEBRITY DEATHS IN NIGERIA

Several celebrities passed away in Nigeria, in 2018, notably in the entertainment industry. Sadly, a couple of them were veterans and well-known icons of yore.

MOSES OLAIYA: Much-loved comedian, dramatist, actor, better known by his stage name, Baba Sala, died on October 7, 2018, in his hometown, Ilesha, aged 82.

OSELOKE AUGUSTINE ONWUBUYA: Nigerian reggae artist, popularly known as Ras Kimono, died in Lagos on June 10, 2018, shortly after turning 60. Unfortunately, within weeks of his death, his wife, Efemena, also joined him.

OLUWATOSIN BUCKNOR: Charismatic daughter of the legendary musician, Segun Bucknor; on-air personality, actress and social media content creator, best known as Tosyn Bucknor, passed on, November 19, 2018, in Lagos, aged  37.

VIP AND CELEBRITY DEATHS AROUND THE WORLD

GEORGE H. W. BUSH

George Herbert Walker Bush was the 41st President of the United States of America, from 1989 to 1993 and the country’s 43rd Vice President, from 1981, to 1989, before assuming the Office of the President.

President George H. W, Bush was a highly distinguished individual. He was a war veteran, a celebrated fighter pilot, whose aircraft was shot down during World War II and he ejected into the Pacific Ocean before being rescued.

He was a very successful oil man but, above all, an exemplary husband and father, who sired six surviving children that raised an entire clan. His first son, George W. Bush, became the 43rd President of the United States.

He passed away in Houston, Texas, on November 30, 2018, aged 94, after a battle with vascular parkinsonism. After a state funeral attended by all living former presidents of the United States and their spouses, including the incumbent, his body was taken by a  special train to College Station, Texas, where it was interred in his Presidential Library, beside his wife, Barbara and their daughter, Robin, who died back in 1953, at just three years old.

KOFI ANNAN

Kofi Atta Annan, was a Ghanaian career diplomat, who became the first person from within the ranks of the United Nations system to emerge Secretary-General. He served as the organisation’s seventh Secretary-General, from January 1997, to December 2006.

During his tenure as Secretary-General, Annan and his organisation were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 He was the founder and Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation and was also a member of an international organization known as The Elders, founded by Nelson Mandela.

Kofi Annan married twice, first, in 1965, to a Nigerian model named, Titi Alakija. They were both divorced in 1983 and in 1984, he married Nane Lagergren, with whom he lived until his death. He had three children – Kojo Annan, Nina Cronstedt de Groot and Ama Annan.

The African icon passed away in Bern, Switzerland, on August 18, 2018, aged 80 years. He was interred in his home country, Ghana, after a state funeral on September 13, 2018.

STEPHEN HAWKING

Stephen W. Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA was, unarguably, one of the greatest minds of both the 20th and 21st centuries. He was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author. Professor Hawking was also the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, at the time of his death.

Quite early, in his life, he began developing signs of Multiple Sclerosis, or the Neuron disease, a highly debilitating condition that eventually, not only paralysed his whole body, but also robbed him of his voice and the ability to speak, altogether. But nothing could stop this brave man. He soldiered on, his expansive mind, moving from one lofty height to another, exploring universes. It was in this pitiable condition that a computer engineer in faraway California, United States, heard his story and designed and built a special system with a voice synthesiser that sat with him on his special wheelchair, enabling him to communicate with the outside world, once again. Hawking had, thus, defied one of the most debilitating of human conditions.

Professor Stephen William Hawking passed away on the 14th of March, 2018, in Cambridge, United Kingdom, aged 76. He had three children: Lucy Hawking, Robert Hawking and Timothy Hawking.

ARETHA FRANKLIN

Aretha Louise Franklin became known as ‘The Queen of Soul’ for her prowess in delivering her soul-stirring genre, Gospel-rooted music, also known as Soul Music. She was an American singer, pianist, songwriter, actress and rights activist.

She  recorded 112 Billboard charted singles, including 20 number one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artiste in history. Several of her hit songs like ‘Respect’. ‘You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’ and ‘Rock Steady’, literally became anthems of their time.

During her long career, Aretha Franklin carted away 18 Grammy Awards and sold over 75 million records, worldwide. She was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and also received numerous other honours, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As a highly respected, well honoured and celebrated performer and American icon, of worldwide acclaim, Miss Franklin was a regular performer at the White House.

The celebrated singer had four children: Teddy Richards, Kecalf Cunningham, Clarence Franklin and Edward Franklin. She passed away on August 16, 2018, aged 76.

JAMAL KHASHOGGI

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist and author. He was a columnist for the Washington Post and a critic of the Saudi royal family. He was also a general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel.

On October 2, 2018, exactly 11 days to his 60th birthday, the Saudi dissident was seen entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, but has since never been heard from, or seen again. After series of denials by the Saudi government, the Turkish authorities released a secret CCTV footage, showing graphic details of the alleged killing and blood-curdling dismemberment of Mr. Kashoggi’s body, in the Saudi Arabian consulate, in Istanbul. His death is still generating a lot of heat around the world, particularly between the Turkish and Saudi Arabian authorities, as well as between the Saudis and the Americans, including, also, other Western nations.

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