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33 Years On…. Dele Giwa, RIP

4 min




How can I ever forget? That day,and the events that transpired, will for the rest of my life be etched in my memory.
I bid you come with me.

It was a tranquil Sunday, so it started with a few drops of rain that has ceased before this traumatic and tragic event occurred.

I was at work, precisely on a weekend call. Then, I was still practising medicine. The place was at First Foundation Medical Centre, Opebi. The building still stands till today but no medicine is practiced there anymore but used for other para-medical purposes.

At about 12.25 pm, there was a loud noise and commotion created by someone who ran into the belly of our reception hall of the hospital,asking loudly for urgent attention. I was just completing my consultation with a patient sitting in front of me.
Then,the nurses dashed in to get my attention as regards the bedlam created by the gentleman who rushed shouting hysterically.

My first admonition was to remind him that he was in an hospital where some decorum is required. He shouted the more and beckoned me, rather, pulled me to go out with him to see the reason of his theatrics and hysteria! I followed him with the nurses in tow, to an open Kombi bus to see the patient he gestured.

This could not be anything else but a dream or more appropriately, a nightmare!
That patient was covered in a white sheet already drenched in his own blood, and almost lifeless! That patient was Oladele Sunmonu- generally known and called, Dele Giwa, the Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch!

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Sitting by her bleeding husband was Funni Giwa. We brought him in on a stretcher and the emergency procedures began!

The Medical Director, Dr Tosin Ajayi, had arrived and in all the bedlam, he had the presence of mind to separate Funmi, from the scene because she wanted to remain by her husband’s side.
She was told quietly and firmly that her presence will hamper our efforts.

I remember vividly that Drs Essien and Maghoha, our external Consultants, were summoned to join the in-house team, to attempt every resuscitative efforts to save the life of Dele Giwa. It was a titanic battle. Unfortunately and painfully, we lost Dele Giwa!
The man died – with his thoughts, his brilliance and contagious vibrancy!

My friend and brother died – right before my eyes! Slowly and slowly, he travelled to be with the angels! He was a good man. He loved his family.

Even in that state, he asked after Funmi and Aisha, who was a baby then, and was trying to crawl to the room where the bomb that killed her father went off! He still had the presence of mind to ask after them both!

Dele Giwa died at about 01.00pm of Sunday, 19th October,1986, a few days after the Nigerian and African literary giant, Prof Wole Soyinka, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature!

Our joy turned into ashes in our mouths! Till date,we are still asking – WHO KILLED DELE GIWA???

Oh yes,as humans,we may never know, at least for now, but someday, the earth will yield the culprit and the world will know the architect of this heinous crime against humanity.

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Who killed Dele Giwa?

For now, I take solace in the words of that song – the answer my friend, is blowing in the winds. The answer is blowing in the winds.

Uncle DG,as I used to call you, I remember you again today, 33years after you were killed gruesomely. The pains and aches are still there, accentuated by the memories of the dastardly and cowardly act.

After about 15 years post that date, I made a private ceremony of burning the clothes and shoes I wore that Sunday that had your blood on them! For those years, they hung at a prominent space in the corner of my room!

Mana Elekia died without getting an answer as to the culprit that cruelly took the life of her son. She died broken!

I don’t know where Uncle Biodun is now. I last saw Funmi, your dear wife, some years ago.

Oh, there was a strong and stoic woman! She bore the pains for years. I really hope she is good.

Today again will bring back the painful memories of that fateful day.

Bili must be somewhere now reliving the events of that day. Aisha must be a woman now, with her own family, but then as an innocent child, deprived the love of a doting father!
Ronke and I used to attend the same church but I haven’t seen her in ages.

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Uncle Dele, you now belong to the ages and I can only imagine how you will be agonising not over the hidden name of the culprit that terminated your ebullient life, but the state of our nation!

How can I ever forget all these?

My boss, Dr Tosin Ajayi, was devastated but it became his lit to console me as I busted into tears,and my other colleagues as well as gently break the news to Funmi Giwa.

Shortly after, that indefatigable and restless defender of the oppressed, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, arrived and trajectory of the story changed. He pursued the elusive justice till he died. I am certain that both in their celestial abode now, are ruminating over this same event.

How can I ever forget? That fateful Sunday, Uncle Dele had agreed to see his friend who lived opposite our hospital, Mr Abiodun Sobanjo and then branch to check me whilst on duty because a few days before then, i went to check on him at the office where I was told that he has gone to see the SSS people!

How can anyone forget this event of the 19th October, 1986? Not me!

Uncle Dele, rest in peace. We love you still.

Goodnight my friend and brother.

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Jake Clifford

Jake Clifford is a Nigerian Born blogger and a fast growing Journalist, whose aim is to inform Nigerians with happening across Nigeria. Send story tips to him via [email protected] or


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