“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist that is all” – Oscar Wilde.
For anyone who had the privileged of knowing him, Rtd Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle fondly called black scorpion did something rare. He lived his life to bring unity to Nigeria, he put everything to see that Nigeria remains one Nation.
Benjamin Adesanya Maja Adekunle was born on June 25, 1936 in Kaduna state. His father was a native of Ogbomosho south in Oyo state while the mother was a member of the Bachama tribe in Adamawa state. He attended Government College Okene, Kogi state.
Black Scorpion enlisted in the Nigeria Army in 1958 shortly after completing his school certificate examination. He was dispatched to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom for further military training.
Benjamin Adekunle was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant
on December 15, 1960 and as a Platoon commander, proceeded to Kasai Province in Congo to serve with the 1st battalion in the United Nation peace keeping mission.
Benjamin Adekunle also serve as the aide-de-camp to the then governor of the Eastern Region, Sir Akanu Ibiam, before he proceeded to Defence Staff College in Wellington India in 1954.
Benjamin Adekunle played a very significant role during the Nigeria civil war when it erupted in July 1967, he was tasked to lead the 7th and 8th Battalion to Bonny in the Bight of Benin in 1968. Black Scorpion won the admiration of his men on and off the battlefield, many of whom are still alive today and will remember him for his active participation beyond the war planning room.
After the civil war, Benjamin Adekunle was promoted to Brigadier in 1972 and was deployed to Lagos port, a position he held until his compulsory retirement came in August 1974. This post–war service was at a critical junction for the country because Nigeria economic activities were at a stand-still due to port congestion, he solved in short order what was feared to have been an insoluble problem.
Black Scorpion was a dogged fighter and his achievement during the war singled him out as one of the most mythologized military figure in Nigeria history.
He maintained a dignified silence ever since and vehemently refused to be dragged into the murky water of Nigerian politics or economic rat race.
Benjamin Adekunle, the Black Scorpion became ill in 2009 and eventually died on September 13, 2014 quietly in his bedroom.
Today, Rtd Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle is remembered by the children, who fondly recall him as an imposing charismatic yet loving figure. A man entirely at ease looking after babies and one who made excellent okra soup. He is remembered by his children, grandchildren and the entire Thomas Adekunle family and all the people of Ogbomosho South in Oyo state, Nigeria.
Godwin Osaghae writes from Lagos
Pix: Benjamin Adekunle.jpg