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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: The Circle of Life




One of my first assignments when I started working at BellaNaija was to oversee a feature that had been conceived before I resumed. However, there were a few glitches stalling the eventual execution and subsequent delivery. We wanted to do a piece on the idea of marriage, but from the other end of the spectrum – the male perspective. I took on the project with the gusto of a newbie until I realized that not many people actually wanted to tell their story on a platform as public as this. I’d say “Hey, do you want to share the story of why you finally decided to get married on BN?” and I’d get a response like “With pictures? Ah! No oh. People drop horrid comments”.

I was at my wits end and anxious to deliver results to a new employer. The weekend came and I was at home with my friend, Ati and her family. They wanted to hear how I was enjoying the new job and I lamented that there was this super fun idea I was supposed to work on and I’m hitting a stone wall. Then, Ati said, “Ahn, ahn.. see plenty couples here now. Ask Brother Deji or even Mr. Tubby. They’ll do it now.” Facing her brother, she said “Ngbo, sh’e ma so story yin ni BellaNaija?” (Will you tell your story on BellaNaija?). Brother Deji laughed and nudged his wife, Ese and said, “She wants us to tell our story on BellaNaija“. Ese agreed, on one condition, that I would put a pretty picture of her up. That was the easy part because she always looks pretty. A few days later, Brother Deji had emailed me the responses to the questions along with one of the several photos I took of them that Saturday afternoon. {You can read their story here if you missed it}

This memory is one of several that I have recalled in the last 5 days since I heard about the crash of the Associated Airlines plane that was heading for Akure. Our Brother Deji, whom we fondly called “Honorable”, was on that plane and he did not survive the crash.

On Thursday morning, at about 9am, he sent a Blackberry message to his wife telling her that he had boarded; she responded and wished him a safe flight. By 5pm that evening, the news was delivered to her that her husband, best friend and father of her 3 beautiful children was not going to come back home to her.

As I type this piece, I find it incredibly difficult to accept that he is really and truly gone. I usually say to my friends that I’m a veteran at this death/grieving business. I say to them, all the time, that I really should start holding grief counseling sessions because I have walked this road one too many times. However, tragedies still find a way of knocking the wind out of me. {Please read my piece – Visiting the Bereaved 101 here}.

Why are we here? Why do bad things happen? What is the essence of life? Why are we born if we’d have to die? Why do we have people who we love so much, so deeply, so truly and then have them taken away from us so sharply? In the midst of these questions, I got news that my darling S.E.C has a healthy baby girl. I’m gutted but I have to find the strength to rejoice with her because it is truly a magical thing to bring life to this world. And just like the mystery of death, I have no answers for the beauty of life creation.

As long as there are births, there will always be death. It may be difficult for us to deal with but it is part of the circle of life. So when we leave, what kind of memories are we going to leave behind? What lives would we have impacted positively?

I’ll close today’s piece with this. Deji Falae was very passionate about Ondo State Tourism and Culture. I know this because we worked together trying to put together all the information about the different festivals and activities that make up the rich culture of the state in a nice glossy magazine. He was making a difference in the role he was asked to play and he was working hard at it. I don’t have any illusions or disillusions of living till 90, heck I don’t even know if I’ll be alive by the end of this week; but one thing I do know is that I’m working hard to leave an indelible mark of progress on my area of influence. I’ll encourage you to do so too. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, just make your time here count guys.

Have a great week ahead. Be good, be strong, be positive.
Peace, love & cupcakes!

This piece is dedicated to the loving memory of an amazingly kind man with a heart of gold – Deji Falae. Sun re, Olu Omo. Sun re!

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Gistyinka Blog

    October 7, 2013 at 9:10 am

    So sad that the Ondo people lost you at this time around and lastly so sad for the Old man Chief Falae.. rip

  2. Anonymous

    October 7, 2013 at 9:11 am

    May his soul rest in peace and may God comfort his wife and the entire family…. Amen, life is indeed short…. Let’s make it count!

  3. Vanessa

    October 7, 2013 at 9:13 am

    May the souls of the dearly departed rest in peace in the Lord’s bosom.

  4. gh chica

    October 7, 2013 at 9:17 am

    deep piece

  5. eniola

    October 7, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Awww. May his soul rest in peace. Sorry dear Atoke

  6. Berry Dakara

    October 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Oh no! I remember that feature.

    This is truly heartbreaking. I can’t even begin to imagine the loss his loved ones are going through. I just pray for strength for his wife, their children, and all those who were dear to him.

    May he RIP.

  7. Bella

    October 7, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Life is so shock and yet we still are ungrateful at all the simple blessings we have. RIP to all those that have left us.

  8. Truth

    October 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Really sad… God console his family; and the families of all the victims. Hmmmmm, ikegwu…

  9. Zeltern Fiornkan

    October 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

    So sad!

  10. lola

    October 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Rest in peace and i pray God wil comfort his family that he left behind

  11. BN at work

    October 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Sun re Deji Falae

  12. Dora the explorer

    October 7, 2013 at 9:58 am


  13. Bleed blue

    October 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I love this piece Atoke (but then I love every word you write).

    It’s an excellent reminder of the things we cannot control and the things we can.
    RIP Deji Falae

  14. Nike

    October 7, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Death, grieving, mourning…

    These are all rites of passage as humans. My friend lost her beloved sister yesterday. She mentioned something about her heart releasing her sister. I felt selfish because not a single thought like that crossed me when my Dad died.

    After consoling my friend the one thought that crossed my mind was, “We are at the age where deaths are no longer hidden from us.” Sometimes I long for the age where our parents went through lengths to hide the fact that someone dear or close to us had passed on.

    Sadly avoidable tragedies in this country are slowly making us numb to death. Bombing, kidnapping, the terror of Boko Haram, ethnic tension, infant/maternal mortality rates, air crashes, road accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning from inhaling fumes from petrol generators, pipeline explosions, collapsed buildings, trigger happy policemen and soldiers…need I go on?

  15. Ibukun

    October 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

    May his soul rest in peace.

  16. Mariaah

    October 7, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Wow.. May his soul rest in peace! I remember the piece about how he and Ese met.. Awww…

  17. ebony

    October 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

    may the departed souls rest in peace.. Atoke, sorry for this great loss…

  18. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I clicked on the link to re-read that article that Deji contributed to. Who could have known? His death and all the deaths of the people on that plane was a true waste of life, I don’t subscribe to the whole “God’s will” philosophy about tragedies like this because that accident could have been wholly prevented.

    Atoke, sometimes when I read through comments right here on BN, I’ve wondered if all of us will still be here to drop comments the next day. I know it’s morbid but you just never know and that thought pattern started after the Dana Air crash & the Aluu killings. May God help me to keep the big picture always in sight, not just for the so-called major things which concern this life but even in my idle words and actions…

  19. Wunmi

    October 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I am so sorry darling Atoke for your loss. True: It is hard to explain why all this things happen & even more mysterious is how an infinitely loving and just God can permit lifelong tragedy and suffering especially since we have been trained as Christians that bad things don’t happen to God’s children. I cannot explain the mind of God neither do I have the intentions of doing so but I have kept sane by learning to accept that God has not made himself accountable to any man, he will not be cross examined or interrogated. He simply says “TRUST ME”. The options are to either continue to believe in his goodness and power and postpone my questions until I see him face to face (and this I am so looking forward to) or grow bitterness and anger for the suffering around me. My heart goes out to his family especially his wife. This is a great loss for all of us. Sending you (Atoke) warm hugs dearie I felt your deep sense of loss,pain & almost helplessness thru dis write up.
    So today remembering great people who have known great pain and probably still didn’t get answers to their why questions and who have hurt in spite of their trust in God. I say to them Never assume God’s silence or apparent inactivity as evidence of his disinterest. He is there.

    • damsel

      October 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      @Wunmi God does not tried us with trials and He is never the source of the wickedness you see in the world around you. (Job 34:10-12).Satan control and rules the world today.

    • The Sister's keeper

      October 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      May God continue to grant Deji and all who died in that ill-fated crash, as well as countless others who have died in one way or another, eternal peace. I also pray that their families will experience God’s strength and peace at this very trying time.

      It’s a deception for Christians to think that bad things don’t happen to good people. It is not Biblical at all. Matthew 5:25b says “He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.” What makes us stand out as Christians is how we handle those bad times. We can remain standing despite the trying times because we have the Presence of God around us to give us peace and strength. As Believers we know death is not final, it is a transition, so we do not grieve without hope. Instead we appreciate the lives of our loved ones and the privilege of knowing them. It is this mindset that will help us not to become bitter and rather draw closer to God.
      May God truly help us to number our days and walk wisely, no one knows tomorrow.

    • jcsgrl

      October 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Word sis Word!
      Atoke it is well

    • jcsgrl

      October 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Ewoo Atoke ma binu I just re-read your article on grief where you said you don’t like the sentence “it is well.” 🙂 So this is me offering a warm, long cyber hug.
      @Damsel did you read Wunmi’s comment well? She never said God causes pain or sorrows in the world. Read well before commenting

    • Margaret

      October 9, 2013 at 9:40 am

      God bless you for this insightful piece! I can’t really say I have lost anyone close in the recent events but I haven’t been the same since the Dana crash. Constant morbid thoughts keep running through my mind,feelings of helplessness and all. I keep wondering how the people left behind are coping,how I can help because I know I surely wouldn’t be able to cope with any of this but…. We have to go on. Thanks for helping to put things in perspective.

  20. AA

    October 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

    May his soul rest in peace.
    My deepest condolences go to Ati, Ese and the entire Falae family and the kids he left behind.
    I’m numb.

  21. Modella

    October 7, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Woww..I’m confused,will read it again!

  22. Iyke

    October 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Circle of Life – The reality is that we don’t always understand everything life presents us… Why that which we wish and hope for…seemingly assured…in a moment eludes us…. Why the person we pray for…dream would come for us…arrives and somehow chooses not to see the best of us… And the success and hope of the life we imaged would develop and define us…threatens not to own us…runs and avoids us… And as it pertains to death, We are never ever really prepared for the miracle and transition of death…we struggle desperately in our grief…coming to terms with the weight of final call. Yet the miracle of birth fills us with anticipation and expectancy… Each of these events engage us with similar if not the same weight of emotions spent… The parallel dynamic of joy and sadness are at extreme opposite indulgences with very different feelings and personal meanings of expression… Birth simulates the turning on of a brilliant light…while death is the resulting condition of that light extinguished. Coming to terms with these events…the power to manifest feelings beyond the measure of the human experience is daunting… Times like these we are lost in a quagmire of disbelieve…and overwhelming happiness or sorrow… Ultimately in the clearance of spiritual and righteous clarity…our greatest gift is one of “rejoicing and celebration”… In life and in death the occasion demand our attention…humility…respect and honor…reverently. It is the nature of who we are….what we become…live…feel…experience…what we die for. As life ignites…and grows…death swings in the balance…the end inevitably unfolds. Until then I am compelled to give true thanksgiving to the life gifted me…to rally the faithful who live for the glory of our best selves…and bath in the love that envelops our souls… Here in the arms of fate…I chose to live life like it matters…heartfelt with conviction…until the glow of my light blinks…and is extinguished…
    RIP to Deji and to anyone out there who has lost a loved one.

  23. Aderonke

    October 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Really sad. My condolences Atoke. May the Lord comfort his wife, kids and family. RIP Deji

  24. Gbemmy

    October 7, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I was shaking when I heard the news .. So sad he had to go like that , he was such a fine gentle man .. Can’t imagine the pain the parent would be going through now .may God be with them

  25. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    October 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    You could not imagine the gusto with which i reached for my lap top when i caught a break from work this morning to share some banter. I was almost hyperventilating when i read your piece and i asked myself: “Bobo did you really think escaping was that easy?”

    There are few things in this life that can bring a genuine smile to my face ; one is horse riding, another is watching a plane take off, like i literally hang out of the window from a moving vehicle when i sometimes hear a plane overhead. That big beauty in the sky used to mean all my Christmases have come at once. Now when i watch in the waiting lounge or from the bus my smile is now marred with the fear of mangled limbs and broken bodies and dreams.

    On Thursday, the plane crash claimed the lives of a man i knew and his son; on Saturday i saw a dead body wrapped in nylon by the road. Vehicles had run over him before someone wrapped him in nylon and put tires distances away from him . On Sunday, a man died on the way to his wedding. Today, i learnt Ese is a man short. i have been feeling like i am slowly coming apart which was why i needed a classic Atoke distraction.

    And Game rapped: they say death comes in threes who is next in line?

    • Atoke


      October 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm


    • I Rock

      October 8, 2013 at 4:27 am

      So sorry dear. God will not leave you or the family of the deceased, amen.

  26. Nike

    October 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    May his soul RIP, Your words moved me so much

  27. TA

    October 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Atoke mi,so sorry darling. *long bear hug*.
    I read your article on ‘Visiting the bereaved 101’,please permit me to just add this; ‘Never say to someone who is bereaved that I know how you feel’. NEVER,Ever! Even if you have been bereaved under similar circumstances, you do not know exacctly what that person is feeling.
    Also,instead of asking how may I help (not a bad question by the way) be practical. Look around,does the floor/rug/carpet need sweeping or cleaning? Are their dirty dishes in the kitchen?Offer to babysit if there’s is a baby in the household. If you can bring along or shop for some groceries,toiletries and other household items,please do so! If there are other errands,offer to help with them. The list of practical things to do is endless and circumstantial.
    May God console the Falaes and all others who lost relatives and friends on that flight.
    My prayers are with the survivors in the hospital too.
    Have a pleasant week you all.

  28. Anon

    October 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Just so sad!

  29. Sols

    October 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Such a beautiful piece Atoke. May Deji rest in perfect peace. May God comfort Ese, the children, Ati, the rest of his siblings, parents and the whole Falae family as a whole. Such a sad and difficult time. Let us remember to love those close to us while we are on earth and strive to do good always. Nothing is guaranteed. Absolutely nothing.

  30. Eugenia

    October 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm


  31. Ugomma Patience Ukam

    October 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Make his Soul Rest In The Bossom of The Lord

  32. slice

    October 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Pele doll. your words have done him justice

  33. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    October 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    @TA. My classic all time reaction. I speak quite well. But I offer my condolences by making myself very useful.

  34. Piper

    October 7, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Rest in peace Deji Falae. May God comfort his family and friends in Jesus name, Amen.

  35. zoomzoomzoom

    October 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Pele Atoke dear.May his soul find rest in the bosom of the Almighty God. May God comfort and keep all his loved ones. Very, very sad.

  36. fashionandstylepolice

    October 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    RIP Deji Falae. So sad.

  37. Busy

    October 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I still find it difficult to believe that Deji is gone.I have been unable to write RIP after his name since Thursday.Deji was a good friend that I met about 10yrs ago.I have good and wonderful memories of him and these memories I would hold close to my heart.

  38. dee

    October 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    wow! this brought me to tears. so sorry Atoke and may his soul rest in peace.
    What are we going to do with this country?? We can’t keep asking God to save us when we are not even trying to help ourselves.
    I remember last christmas, I was struggling with going to see my dad in Abuja because I was afraid of using any local flight. I know planes crash everywhere but when you hear that an airline actually allowed a faulty plane to fly and that plane crashed , its just hard to trust anything in this country anymore.
    What are we going to do with this country?? there are so many deaths that can be averted if our roads were good , if transportation services were excellent , if hospital services were upto standard and so much more. Oh God please give some of our leaders conscience to do the right things.

  39. frances

    October 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    My heart literarilly almost stopped when I got to the part that he was on that plane,and he is gone? Oh Jesus,may his soul RIP! Why do bad tins happen 2good people? Is death a bad tin? We do know that dis earth is only temporary,our lives are like vapours that r here today and gone as we know it is transient,it pains d ones left behind wen a man dies,but death is sometin I av come 2see as natural,it will surely happen,we only don’t knw wen or how.may we continue to keep d ones we’v lost in our hearts and may their souls indeed be in a better place..
    Ps:I did a post on this when I heard abt d crash on my blog.I didn’t feel dis pained then,but my feelings I wrote out are still what I feel about it now.

    “What happens thereafter”.

  40. I Rock

    October 8, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating thing ever and I sincerely pray to God that none of us ever experiences such again…it’s just too painful. May the Good Lord grant eternal rest to Deji and the others that died in that plane crash and may He also protect , bless and be with their loved ones left behind, amen.

  41. Vie riche

    October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am

    RIP Mr. Deji Falae. May God grant your darling wife and three beautiful kids a rare fortitude to bear this unprompted absence. IJN! And now; to the living, We need not be told again to amend our mean ways. Strive to be good and never hesitate to express kind gestures from deep within to anyone whose path crosses yours. QUIT HATING AND START APPRECIATING!

  42. Okechukwu Ofili

    October 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm


  43. Trendysturvs Blog

    October 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    This is very sad. Rip Deji

  44. holla

    October 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Very touching indeed May the God lord give us the strength to bear the losses.

  45. holla

    October 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm


  46. Miss Phoebz

    October 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Deji! I’m short of words…He was such a great guy, nice, friendly and ‘shockingly Humble’. I see people put up his pictures as their DP with the ‘RIP’ caption and it seems just like yesterday when we all had his pictures up wishing him congratulations on his new appointment…
    Like Atoke said, leaving an indelible mark of progress on our areas of influence…
    RIP my dear friend…glad to have met you. May God comfort and keep your family despite your irreparable absence.*Amen*

  47. Miss Phoebz

    October 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm


  48. Deebabe

    October 9, 2013 at 12:29 am

    So sad….

  49. Funmi

    October 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Sad, sad, sad…..may his gentle soul rest in

  50. 'Mide

    October 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    May God bless his family and those he left behind. I pray to God that they do not experience this sort of tragedy again in their lives.

  51. Buki

    October 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Its his Birthday today, he would have been 43. May he rest in Peace

  52. Joyful

    October 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Hmnn…Sad! May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace and may God comfort his wife, family, friends and well wishes!

  53. Faith Kel.

    October 10, 2013 at 5:13 am

    May his Soul R.I.P 🙁

  54. Ofonime

    October 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Heartfelt piece…..God’s peace and comfort will continue to be with the departed. we cant predict the next second. God take control and heal the wounds of our hearts. It will surely be a long process but with Time everything will fall into place…..RIP DEJI

  55. Suyacrush

    October 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I’m sorry for this loss in your life Atoke!
    I somehow didn’t get a chance to read your banter all week.*still thinking how*?
    I just clicked on this all too happy to get some good laughs to complete my pre-weekend enthusiasm…May the soul of the departed rest in peace, and may the Greatest Comforter heal and mend their loved ones hearts!

  56. omada

    October 12, 2013 at 11:32 pm


  57. ceetoo

    October 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I remember his first son was in my Sunday school class in church some 7 or so years ago, and he was very smart. He will say to me, Aunty my father is a giant and when i say really why do you say so? he says he is the only one who can reach the switch in the house. (that was really funny cos his dad was not that tall) Another day he told me my father is a hero and has the best job in the world… I wondered what job his dad did that made him think so… so I decided to meet his mum and dad just out of curiosity. That was how I meet Deji and his wife… (Ese always had a lovely smile) The Sunday school teacher that wanted to meet the hero Dad… I dont go to the church that often but never forgot that boy… Now that that Hero is gone I will ensure I pay them a condolence visit.

  58. Dbabe

    October 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I came across this old piece the author reblogged on her facebook page today, and this reminder of the importance of the kind of legacy or change we leave behind. May God continue to comfort this family, and when it is time for us all to go, may we leave behind a legacy God will remember us for.

  59. kike

    October 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    May his soul rest in perfect peace.

  60. kenya

    October 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Great article, thanks for sharing. Good job

  61. nena

    October 18, 2013 at 3:49 am

    Deji my friend!!! rest rest on…..

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