Remembering Elder Folarin Coker


Ajibade Fasina-Thomas

Shangba fo! The mold is broken! The masterpiece is shattered. When will the immortal potter cast another edition of the incredible “Baba Eto’’!

Were he to eulogise the sparkly Nathaniel Folarin Coker, the fascinating Baba Eto, a student of Plato, the Greek philosopher, would have dished out ornate rhetorics taught according to Platonic rules. And for a man, who has a propensity to put smooth finishes on his speeches with fitting anecdotes, public speaking was a specialty!

Baba Eto regaled us with stories we were not privileged to hear or know about; and when he had his audience spellbound, he interjected with his familiar idiomatic expression: E o ti ri nkankan. You haven’t seen anything yet!

There is no room for gaucherie in his speeches, which he gave in large doses while proposing the toast of “Absentee (Departed) Members” at the monthly Elders’ Forum at Island Club, Onikan, Lagos; or occasionally at the weekly sittings of The Fish Group of Yoruba Tennis Club, also at Onikan, Lagos.

His oratorical deftness complemented his sartorial sleekness. He summoned either for appropriate service whenever needed. Folarin Coker was natty in bespoke English suits in his younger days; and Baba Eto kept the tradition in his twilight days, resplendent as always in his white agbada.

He was an accomplished author and a biographer, who remained the delight of biographers while he lived.

I have had the privilege of compering the programmes of many of Elderman Folarin Coker’s books. At one of such occasions, excerpts of my introduction of the great man ran as follows: “One generic term that became associated with Elderman Folarin Coker over the years was the saying ‘E o ti ri nkankan’, which, when translated into English means ‘You haven’t seen anything yet;’ or as the Americans would say, ‘You ain’t seen nutting yet.”

“And how true! Elderman Folarin Coker’s fertile mind is always at work. He possesses an old, accomplished hand in the business of biography writing. He has written and contributed to the biographies of eminent Nigerians more than any writer of his age.

“When he presented the chart-bursting IYA EKO, the exciting story on the life and times of personable Lady Oyinkan Abayomi, I asked the question, what propels a man to keep writing and publishing books at an advanced age of 80 years plus? I should have taken him for his words that I certainly haven’t seen anything yet…more of his books are currently in the works.
“Elderman Coker’s passion for writing is astounding. The power of his writing is formidable and his easy style of writing makes his books endearing.

“According to Webster, whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens. Elderman Folarin Coker served God and his church to the best of his ability. He has also acquitted himself in his service to his country and the society in which he lived.

“The Cathedral Church of Christ appreciated his services and honored him with the coveted Cathedral Parish Award (CPA).
His meritorious service to the nation has also not escaped the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which accordingly bestowed on him the national honor of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

“Elderman Coker is a recipient of the highest award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Peacock (GCOP) for distinguished members of the Island Club.

“At the Yoruba Tennis Club, Elderman Folarin Coker is a past Chairman; and now a Trustee and Vice Patron.”

Elderman Folarin Coker has written his own obituary in so many words and actions. He will be greatly missed in all the spheres of life he touched. But he will not be easily forgotten, because he wrote things worth reading and his deeds are worth writing about.

A toast to our departed brother… Greetings! Greetings!! Greetings!!!

Fasina-Thomas wrote from the US