Remembering FO Babajide Afolabi Afonja


Uloma Jide-Afonja

Tomorrow marks two decades since you passed on November 7, 1996. You were so full of life, love and many dreams for both of us. With the unbelievable void and emptiness, my life changed forever.

I’m sorry I waited 20 years to write you this letter. The fact is I never knew I could survive this long after you died. I felt there was no reason to live anymore. After all, our dreams together were shattered when you passed on less than two years into our marriage at the age of 31. I was just in my early twenties and had no bearing; I felt lost.

Sweetheart, I still remember that painful reality that was too devastating to comprehend. The hardest part of losing you, Jide, is learning to live without you, your touch, unfulfilled dreams. Your death will continue to stay with me; the burden never goes away.

It was more tragic losing you in a plane crash because I had to openly mourn you with the public interest in plane crashes which added more pain to the trauma.

The tragedy of your death was just too much for me to bear especially since I was just through with NYSC, without a job and eight and a half months pregnant with our second child, Mayowa. You are my one true love. Irreplaceable.

Sweetheart, I was angry at God for taking you away so soon and leaving me vulnerable and broken. I hung on to every shred of hope that the Julius Berger crane would pull out the body of the aircraft from the Itoikin swampy river at Ejirin and maybe, just maybe, you could be one of the survivors.

That kept the fire of hope burning in me. I held on to that hope of a miracle from God. My family and friends let me hang on to that hope for my sanity’s sake. I was angry with ADC Airlines when they informed you were presumed dead. I wanted everyone to focus on getting the body of the aircraft out from the swamp; to save you. When eventually the reality hit me, I wallowed in disbelief, self-pity.

My life became more focused when I got my job and concentrating on it thankfully kept me going. It has enhanced my confidence level and is an enjoyable source of diversion from my pains.

Sweetheart, I’m doing better now. Putting God first, being with the children and love from those who care about us keep me going. I see you in our children. I know you would be proud of how well they have turned out; amazing young adults now.

I have a peaceful relationship with Mummy (your mum) who always gives me a listening ear and prays with me when life’s frustrations become too much. I really don’t know how she copes with her own pains. I know God is on the throne! Daddy Ibadan, and his wife have me and the children in their prayers always.

Sweetheart, your death has made me really appreciate the beauty of marriage and companionship. It goes beyond sex. I counsel my friends and all to enjoy their marriages and partners because life is indeed too short.
I wish you are here to see how well your fragile Uloma has grown.
So sweetheart, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I didn’t say I’m sorry that often.
I’m sorry I complained about you going without me to watch Lagbaja in Ikeja.
I’m sorry I complained about your demanding job. I have one now and I love it.
I’m sorry I didn’t go with you to watch Yanni play live.
I’m sorry I refused to relocate to the U.K.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I complained…about anything.
Sweetheart, I’m glad I met you.

You indeed wooed me…were patient enough to wait for me to love you in return as deeply as you did. You loved my naivety and imperfections.
Njide and Emeka still play Yanni Live in the Acropolis in your memory. They are always there, Faithful as ever.

Indeed, God has neither left nor forsaken our children ( Jide& Mayowa) and me. He has been meeting us at the point of our needs. The children have your eclectic taste in music, way beyond their age. I do not compare. Rather, I have learned to count my abundant blessings

This doesn’t mean it’s easy. No it’s not. I still struggle and fall. After all I am only human and still a work-in-progress.

Most times people ask me how I cope. I try to live each day as I see it, and hold on to God when it’s way too much to bear. I know He is always there.

Sweetheart I don’t know what the future holds for me and our children. But one thing is sure in our lives; that the “promises of God are certain but they do not all mature in 90days.” I hold on to His promises.
Rest on my darling until we meet to part no more.

Father God, thank You for always being there for me and the children no matter what we face. I know You will never fail me, even in my most intense trials. Lord, please remove all the sorrow and grief I feel sometimes in this my journey of life…help me to trust You more. I ask this in the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

––Uloma Jide-Afonja is eife to FO Babajide Afolabi Afonja, Co-Pilotof the ADC Airlines plane that crashed in Lagos on November 7, 1996.