…….Buried like a King
…….Don’t mourn my father
……..Tears as he was lowered into the grave
………His last words
Chief waving: Goodbye to you all
The church was as silent as a graveyard while the music written by Jeremiah Rankin in 1882 was in mezzo forte form
God be with you till we meet again;
By His counsels guide uphold you
With His sheep securely fold you,
God be with you till we meet again…..
Till we meet,till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet……
Born in Owo and laid to rest in St.Louis, Missouri, America
The funeral service started at 12 noon at The Redeemed Christian Church of God ( RCCG), City Of God , St. Louis Brentwood, 8614 Manchester Rd, Brentwood, MO 63144 Missouri , USA. Those who could not attend the programe were watching (and participating ) from live stream programe .Outside the Church premises too were over 100 people from families and friends who ‘defied’ the stay at home order courtesy of Corona virus pandemic as they all wore their masks and sat in their cars to avoid the airborne disease. That was on Friday ,April 3 when sympathizers, close friends and family members came out to pay the Chief their last respect while those who could not turn up were glued to their phone on live stream to participate in the funeral service , thanks to technology . In fact over 500 viewers were sighted within 30minutes while on live stream .
Many were shedding tears .Some were groaning and shaking their heads
Pastor Jegede delivering the sermon
intermittently as tears was streaming down their cheeks .Some were biting their lips. Some wore long faces .The voice of a female was heard as she showered the family’s panegyrics (oriki) on him. Gboyega’s glorious exit was colourful but emotional and painful .But here psychologically and philosophically everyone was not only weeping for Gboyega but weeping for themselves for the thought of who next (?) filled their minds. It reminds one of the Yoruba’s sayings that Oku nsunkun oku ,akaso lori nskun ara won.
Chief Oloja’s Final resting place in America
Outside the Church premises were different types of vehicles. Members of Egbe Omo Owo Association in Missouri all came to give their active member the last respect and a heroic last honour . Some called him Adegboyega, some also called him after his chieftaincy title Oloja, others too simply called him Chief. He was installed as Chief Obagbemisugha of Owo Kingdom by His Imperial Majesty Olowo of Owo Oba Gbadegesin Ajibade Ogunoye III some months ago.Yes, he was popular in St Louis.
Only few people were allowed in the church with a little distance to one another.Two officiating pastors, Pastors Yomi Jegede and Niyi Aruwajoye preached .Jegede delivered a thought-provoking sermon quoting some Bible passages. He made references to the parables of the Rich man in Matthew .He quoted Psalm 39:6, Matthew 16:24-27. He narrated the story of the Ten Virgins and how we can build our treasures in Heaven.The Pastor implored every living man to serve God and desist from sins such as fornication,adultery, lies, bribes,masturbation among others in order to gain eternal life.
Pastor Femi Omiye spoke about Chief Aruwajoye
Pastor Niyi Aruwajoye in his sermon described the deceased as a very good man , he added that he was happy that the deceased who was his brother gave his life to Christ before he died .Aruwajoye assured the mourners that heaven is real and that Gboyega’s believing in God and accepting Jesus Christ as the Lord and his Saviour will surely make him to go to heaven.The Pastor advised everybody to get prepared for one could be called home at any time”
DON’T MOURN MY FATHER——Tobi
While giving a vote of thanks , one of the children of the deceased, Tobi Aruwajoye thanked whose who stood by this father and the family during their trying period.He described his father’s life as an open book, his words ” His life is an open book, I will not call this mourning , please don’t mourn our father but let us celebrate him. He was always happy even when things were not going on well.”
Tobi went down memory lane and gave reasons why his father loved colour white, ” When I asked my father why he loved wearing white, he said he loved white colour because his late father Chief S.B.Aruwajoye loved white colour and he always wore white clothes during his lifetime. Aside that my father used to say that his heart was clean and white represents clean and pure heart. He was never afraid of death”. Tobi acknowledged his sisters and brother (in Dallas) at home ,infact he mentioned Bolu his father’s adopted child and the last wife of his father who all could not come all the way from Nigeria to attend the ceremony to pay their last respect.
ROAD TO THE FINAL RESTING PLACE
The beautiful white coloured casket was kept in the limousine with a flower on top.The Limousine was followed in a convoy to Bellefontaine Cemetery, 4947 W Florssant Ave, St .Louis.MO 63115 with a Condolence register. Engr. Samson Adekunle Obanigba, Gani Obanigba (President of Egbe Omo Owo Association, Missouri),Kofo Osun( MD of African Palace Restaurants, St.Louis, America and Akure in Ondo State, Nigeria) , Pastor Femi Omiye, Mrs Kike Osun, Pharmacist Bayo Ogunmolawa , Gboyega Lobo Agaun, Bode Fadeyi , among others were not left out to bid Gboyega a final goodbye .
The motorcade was heavy, the limousine car where the casket was placed had Gboyega’s big poster in his immaculate white with his beads on it. He was flamboyant in life so also in death. Pharmacist Ogunmolawa tried to control the traffic as shown on live stream. Mrs.Osun was sighted as she said ”I will miss you Brother Gboyega who would come to African Palace and ask for his delicious food”.
BY THE GRAVESIDE
Only the immediate family members were allowed to be at graveside to perform the dust- to- dust rite . Lobo Agaun who was present said ” Infact Brother Gboyega was buried like a king. The honour given to him was like burying a King. People trooped out , the African-Americans trooped out to say a final goodbye to him.He was greater in death even if his remains were brought to Nigeria for burial he couldn’t have been honoured more than this”
Although only the immediate family could get closer to where he was buried as fleet of cars that were there but sympathizers were in their cars as the rule dictated due to the pandemic of Coronavirus . The white, the Blacks and African -Americans too were present to bid him the final goodbye .After the dust-to-dust rite performed by children; Tobi, his sisters and his African -American wife many burst into tears. Fadeyi a close pal to the deceased , said he broke down and could not continue with the recording again. Others in their vehicles said immediately they saw him lowered in the grave their eyes turned red when it now dawned on them that Gboyega has truly gone, gone for ever.He died at the age of 59.
From the graveside everybody turned back leaving Chief Oloja Gboyega Aruwajoye behind. That was the glorious end of a popular man in his own country and in St.Louis, Missouri , America.
How are the mighty fallen!
WHY MY FATHER WAS BURIED IN AMERICA
Tobi ,son of the the late Chief said his father’s last wish was to be buried here in America .
While many called this reporter asking why the remains of the late Chief were not brought back to Owo,his hometown in Nigeria to sleep. Investigation reveals that it would be saddened to bring his remains back home because of his aged mother . Again another caller said money could have been the problem while this was punctured because the Aruwajoye family is rich and could afford bringing his remains back home .
When asked why the late Chief was buried in America, his son ,Tobi replied ” That was my father’s wish.He said he should be buried here in St.Louis , that was what he told me”, the handsome and brilliant son of the deceased said as American accent reflected from his speech. This view was supported by some friends who said ” he lived all his life here.He had his family here , so this place is his home and it makes sense .All the children are here so it is okay for him to be buried here”, his friend who begged for anonymity said .
HIS LAST WORDS
Gboyega Aruwajoye was a man of the people both in Nigeria and in America, read what he told his people
PHARMACIST BAYO OGUNMOLAWA
The renowned Pharmacist said Gboyega was a jolly fellow human being . He took life simple and this I will continue to remember. According to Ogunmolawa ” when I went to meet him at the hospital , he told me that he would feel bad if he dies before his mother. He said he would have loved to bury his mother but not the reverse.But I told him that God owes our life.His wish is unchangeable. He was passionate about his mother”.
He said ” The last time I saw him was when he came back from the hospital and he was bubbling, he told me he was getting better. I was very close to him. I never knew that would be the end. We spoke last on phone, when I saw him he had no strength again.He was a nice man”.
The late Chief was a half brother to Sanmi. Sanmi said ”I called him on phone while he was still at the hospital, he said ‘I am still here o, I am still alive o’. But I responded that ‘You are going nowhere my brother’ .Painfully , my younger sister called me on Sunday evening to break the news to me.I was devastated, for I prayed he should survive it. I am pained”, Sanmi burst into tears on phone as he cut off the phone in tears.
PASTOR NIYI ARUWAJOYE
The late Gboyega was half brother to Pastor Niyi . The Pastor said ” I am happy that he gave his life to Christ before he died.When he was in Hospice I was there to see him and the last words he said to me was ”All is well” .We spoke and spoke .I encouraged him and told him he should have faith in God .He passed on peacefully.I thank God that he accepted Christ before he passed to glory.”
DR. LAYI OLAGBEGI
The respected Medical Doctor said ”We were classmate, we attended same Primary School in the 60s, since then we have been very close. He was a jolly fellow. The last time we spoke was when I was on my way to South Carolina . I called him and he said ‘ Dr. hope you are doing well o, I am still here and I told him you will be okay in Jesus name’. He was a very, very nice guy .I am pained”.
GANI OBANIGBA spoke with him three days before his death
The President of Egbe Omo Owo Association in St Louis , Gani Obanigba said ” He (Gboyega) knew he was going , but I encouraged him that he should not give up. I said ‘Don’t give up, God will do miracle’ , that was three days before his death”.
We spoke last week , he said ‘he couldnt eat , the food is not going , and I told him I would call him back .When I heard about his death I was sad”
The man of God Bode Fadeyi was very close to the late Chief, he said ” I attended the burial and when I was in the car , and tried to do a video but when he was being lowered into the grave, I could not stand it. I was crying , I couldn’t stand it and I left, crying. He was my best friend and brother . So Chief is gone?”, he lamented and continued crying .
O digba , o digbose
YAYA HACO OMOLOJA
The late Chief Oloja was loved by many , infact he was called ”Man of the People” as Omoloja described him. Omoloja said ”I went to meet him at the hospital .I never thought he was going to die for he was full of life. Whenever I called him he would say ‘I am still here o’. Sometimes when I called and he did not pick , he would later send me text messages and replied that he was sleeping when I called. When I saw his casket I was shivering .I couldn’t stand it when he was being lowered into the grave.I wept .The last time I wept was in 1992 when my father died. The painful aspect of it was that they did not open the casket for us to let us say final goodbye to him. They just drove straight to the graveside while only his children were there .My daughter , Kehinde wept uncontrollably and couldn’t eat for days .She wanted to attend the burial but I didn’t allow her. Oloja’s death is painful,he was jovial. Who will make us laugh again?”, Omoloja burst into tears.
KOFO OSUN of African Palace
The Managing Director of African Palace in St Louis who also has a branch in Akure, Nigeria spoke glowingly about the late Chief. He said ”I spoke with him before he died , he knew he was going , he called Rotimi my younger brother and told him to take care of his wife. I was there when he was rolled down into the grave.I was touched. He was a good man , he was jovial and loved. I wept .This life is just ephemeral .Only people like the pastors and the children were allowed to be by the graveside . His second born couldn’t come due to his duty. He is a soldier in Dallas. Gboyega was a fun guy , he was jovial all the time , everybody gona miss him”.
PASTOR FEMI OMIYE
Pastor Femi Omiye of Freedom Church, St.Louis , Missouri, described Chief’s death as painful and untimely .The Pastor however produced a small video clip in his memory. Omiye said ”I prayed for him and I always prayed for him .Before he died he called me and asked me to take him to the hospital and I did . But he was weak. Whenever I called I would pray for him and he too would ask me to remember him in prayer’
Engr. AKINWALE OLUWADARE
The man who was his classmate at Government Technical College, Owo cried on phone, he said ”We were classmate when in Technical School. He was a very nice man. I want we his friends to organize a candle light for him and celebrate him here when this Coronavirus leaves.We should honour him here too .He deserved it ”, he said as he was crying on phone.
OLUNAUN of UNAUN
The Olunaun of Unaun., Prince Olanrewaju ABEGUNDE cried on phone . He said ” So when he came to Owo last time was the last time I would see him? .This life has no meaning at all.But we still thank God that he left behind children and grandchildren.I pray May God console his mother and the family he left behind”.
AKINWALE WEMIMO HEZEKIAH
Hezekiah lamented on phone and said ” Imagine how wicked death is, he is still having a mother at home.I know Gboyega very well, he was a nice friend as we both went to Technical College together .Death where is thy sting?”, he broke down on phone and was weeping as his phone was running .
Those who attended the funeral ceremony are :Dipo Okunrinboye, Yomi Fajagba,Dodolewa, Pastor Akano,Mr. Adeniseun Greg, Mrs Haco Omoloja, Mrs. Aariola Olugboroko, Mrs Kehinde Olagbegi -Osinkoya and Bola her husband and many others.
Lobo Agaun said ” here was a man who was loved from Owo his country home to Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, Australia and America . The story of Chief Oloja who was popular home and abroad makes the beat go on as his humility, simplicity, cheerfulness and social life continues to ring bell” .