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Mrs. Izinyon: A Reflection On Death

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By Emmanuel Onwubiko
In my first ever published work in the year 2003 while still working for The Guardian in the nation's capital, a good friend lost his father which compelled me to dedicate the last chapter of that book to reflect on the concept of death.

By then the postulations by philosophers were predominantly focused on the sacred fact that in life, human beings are apprehensive of coming to terms with the existential reality that death is inevitable.

From 2003 till now, with happenings all around us as a population under the terrible siege by variety of armed freelance hoodlums who are unleashing mass killings of hapless and innocent people, the reality of death has become a daily occurrence and indeed a notorious fact.

Before reflecting on the issue of the sudden and indeed shocking departure to the great World beyond of Mrs. Grace Oluwayemisi Izinyon -a budding writer, lawyer, teacher and the wife of Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), one of the nation's best known Senior Advocates and indeed one of the few egg heads in the Nigeria's legal profession, let me return quickly to borrow some lessons from some reputable philosophy masters on the concept of death.

In a celebrated proposition of etica (Ethics), Spinoza affirmed thus: “Of no other thing does man have less thought of than of death; his wisdom remains not in the meditation of death, but of life, which he wrote in Latin language thus; “homo liber nulla reminus quam de morte cogitate. Et eius sapient non mortis, sed vitae meditation est”.

Battista Mondin said in his book “Philosophical Anthropology” that the above suggestion by Spinoza who is one of the fathers of philosophy and modern western culture has become the law for the adult' 'mature', 'free' 'secularized' man of all times.

The argument or discussion of death has become 'taboo' not only for convivial conversations, but also for the serious meditations of philosophers and men of letters of all clime and times.

“The French Anthropologist L. V. Thomas observed that: “Between the society of today and intellectuals, there exists a tacit understanding: I count on you 'say the readers', as long as you furnish me with instruments with which to forget, disguise and negate death. If you do not perform the task I have given you, then you will be dismissed; that is, I will no longer read you”.

Ironically, death has become not only the most immanent characteristic of human existence, it is also an actual event; an absolute potentiality, and death is the fate of all human existence. For according to some philosophers the moment we are born, we are already candidates for death and condemned to die.

Blaise Pascal, one of the best known French philosophers presented the above fact of death in a very beautiful way when he wrote thus; “what we are speaking of is ourselves and our all. The immortality of soul is something, which regards us so strongly, which touches us so profoundly that we need to completely lose our good sense to be indifferent to the knowledge of how things stand. All of our actions and thoughts must take very diverse directions according to whether there is (or not) an eternal life to hope for so that it is impossible to make a sensible and prudent choice without working from the solution of this problem which refers to our final end.”

Battisa Mondin said, “Man cannot escape from the research of the existential truth- that is the truth that ensures a sense for and present and future life”.

For those who have not had the misfortune of witnessing the sad reality of death, this may appear like one of those creative tales coming out of Nigeria's Nollywood movies industry.

But death is worth reflecting on so that each and every one of us would make an introspective journey to his/her better self and resolve to do good to every member of our human family.

It was while still reading the day's newspapers on April 15th 2014, moaning, groaning and regurgitating on the level of bestiality of the members of the dreaded Islamic sect- Boko Haram who detonated bombs in a parked public park in Nyanya, Abuja the previous day that I came face to face with the obituary announcement of the death of the wife of Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN).

In the obituary signed by the senior lawyer, he had stated thus; “with total submission to the will of the Almighty God, I announce the passing and sudden painful death of my dear wife, mother of my children and friend Mrs. Grace Oluwayemisi Izinyon”.

Dr. Izinyon continued in the most poetic format thus; “you left in a sudden twist and staccato indescribable. I am proud of you that we labored through thick and thin but you left without reaping the fruits. I still love you but God loves you the better….”

Grace Yemisi Izinyon was a professional teacher and a trained lawyer. She had her first degree in Education (BA.Ed) from the University of Ilorin in 1991 and a master degree in personnel psychology (M.P.P) from the University of Ibadan in 1997.

After teaching for many years, she proceeded to the university of Buckingham, England, where she obtained' her LLB in 2002. She had her LLM in 2004 from Oxford Brookes University Oxford England.

The late Mrs. Izinyon then went to the Nigerian law school in 2004 for the Bar parts one and two and finished in 2005 whereupon she was admitted and called to the prestigious Nigerian bar in November 2005 and practiced.

I must confess that although I have encountered Dr. Izinyon (SAN) since 1998 during the course of my professional career reporting the Abuja court rooms for The Guardian, the only time I met the late Mrs. Izinyon was only few years back when she joined the rank of Nigerian writers with the public presentation of her first work in which she reflected on the history of the professional rise to stardom of her lovely husband and the book was aptly titled; “The transmutation of legal Genius: The story of Dr. Alex Aigbe Izinyon (SAN).”

In chapter eight of the 131 page book, the late Mrs. Izinyon showered encomiums on her husband and rightly branded him 'the golden fish”. Keen followers of the goings on in the ever busy political litigation industry in Nigeria, would have noticed that this gentleman has indeed carved a niche for himself as one of the most sought after intellectually deep lawyers. Izinyon became very popular with the dexterity with which he handed the case involving the erstwhile Delta State Governor- Mr. James Onanefe Ibori. Dr. Alex Izinyon represented the then Governor and this particular landmark political case proceeded to the Supreme court from the court of first instance on two occasions and on those two occasions he came tops. The stories of the successes recorded and the success story in the making from the law firm of Dr. Izinyon were replicated in this small but intellectually rich historical book written by the now late Mrs. Grace Izinyon.

She had written that her husband remains a Golden Fish in the following words; “With such a prevailing notion, there was the demanding task for him [Alex Izinyon] to carve a niche for himself and in the process build an image for generations to come, of Abuja lawyers. So he insisted that the hallmark of legal practice is qualitative legal representation which makes the lawyer the true advocate, i.e. the man who pleads the case of another.”

The passage of this intellectual queen-Mrs. Grace Izinyon is therefore not only a loss to her husband but to the literary society of Nigeria who have now lost the opportunity of reading her other collections particularly when her academic resume is so richly blessed with some of the finest post-graduate qualifications/degrees. It is true that the earthly departure of a budding and gifted literary mind meant the burning of a huge richly endowed library, but the wisdom encompassed in this beautiful book on her husband will remain admirable for years to come. The fact that she indeed helped in bringing up her children to attain lofty intellectual heights including some of them pursuing their dreams as lawyers, means that she lived a fulfilled life and the Angels of God will surely keep her good company in the bosom of our Lord.

She has transited. Equally, each of us will pay this debt that we individually owe.

Adieu great soul.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA; [email protected]