By Abdul Mahmud
Death is an act of oppression against life and the living. As an eternal act of oppression, life and the living are always at the mercy of death. So, in many ways, death always compels us to constantly do the audit of the life we lived and are living, the poignancy of the moments and the now we live in, because we don’t know the very hour we will succumb to death’s fiendish act of oppression. It is in both the flitting and fleeting nature of life that we find our own nature that Shakespeare wrote about with glow in Macbeth: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more”. And, perhaps, and correctly too, it is in recognition of that eternal battle against death that he captures life as encompassed by the “fitful fever” that humanity succumbs to. But, he consoles us: “after life’s fitful fever, he sleeps well”.
So, when Shakespeare harks back to the reality that life is both flitting and fleeting, his words eternally remind us of the fragility and temporality of our existence: we are here today; and we are gone tomorrow.
The passing on to immortality of my dear friend and comrade, Dare ‘Aristotle’ Ariyo, is painful; but I am comforted by the fact that he not only lived a life of service to our humanity; but he was also faithful to his Christian beliefs, and the causes that shaped the core of his being. Dare was my comrade who trembled with indignation at every injustice, to paraphrase the icononic revolutionary, Che Guevara.
It is never an easy task to pay tribute to a departed younger brother, no less a comrade of inestimable value. When one mourns a departed brother and comrade, putting one’s thoughts down to his blessed memory becomes a difficult challenge. There is so much one can say about Dare that makes one proud of being part of what defined his essence, causes, works and the triumphs that made him who he was while he was with us. I am proud that I knew him, worked with him, and fought battles with him. Permit me to say the following as pointers of essential Dare ‘Aristotle’ Ariyo.
I begin with the personal.
“The day of thanksgiving shall come and we shall all celebrate”, he tweeted a few days after news of his illness filtered into the public space. The day he tweeted about came in his eternal absence as I give thanks to God for his beautiful life of service, philanthropy, charity, and the causes he selflessly dedicated all of his being.
We met twelve years ago last month, October – few weeks after I relocated to the country. No sooner I set up my practice in the Central Business District, my office became the place we plotted our early projects of engagement. From our engagement in the CSO-ACN-CPC merger process to the streets’ marches, he showed courage.
Now, the public.
In 2016 when the rabid supporters of Buhari made public protests impossible, Dare and his friend, Jude, braved it and joined up with me to organise a march in defence of Amnesty International Nigeria, whose office in Abuja had become the target of vicious attacks. While our march on the streets of Abuja was in defence of liberties, it was also in defence of minority groups like the Shiites, on whose behalf Amnesty International Nigeria became victims of Buhari’s rabid and vicious supporters because of its campaigns for the religious minority sect. Dare showed his genius in mobilising the Shiites and coordinating the march, which passed off without a single incident, in spite of the provocations of Buhari’s supporters.
However, what distinguished Dare and centred him at the hearts of our people were his campaigns for the passage of the Electoral Bill into law. Here, that we hold on to the hope that next year’s elections will improve on past elections, and that we brim today with confidence that revolution can be wrought on the ballot box, is down to the breathtaking efforts of Dare and many citizens of conscience.
Finally, Dare has gone ahead at a time that our earthly revolutionary works need more comrades of his standing and repute; and with the understanding of theory and praxis. I am confident that in his absence, we’ll continue with the causes he believed in – as a debt of gratitude we owe his memory, while projecting his ideals and ideas.
I never had the opportunity to say goodbye to Dare during his last visit in August to my office. It is hard to say goodbye now.
May the angels guide his path to eternal light and love.
May God grant his wife, Bola, and his two young boys the strength to bear his eternal absence.