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Chude Jideonwo: For Peter Bello – Who I Didn’t Know & Never Met

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resizeEulogies are good things; they are moments of clarity. They are moments of reflection. Therefore, they are moments of truth.

Because our thoughts of death are invariably about life. About us.

I was thinking about this this morning, because I was thinking of Peter Bello. He passed on last week.

He was first Officer of the twin-engine helicopter, operated by the Bristow Grup that plunged into the Lagos lagoon on Wednesday. 6 people were confirmed dead. And Peter, who also took photographs for hobby, was with them.

The Internet has been heart-broken. Apparently for good reason.

I had heard of him, fleetingly, once. But I didn’t know him; had never met him. Apparently, many of my friends, even my brother Adebola knew him well. Today, I decided to made the trip into their tributes, and then my heart, too, broke.

“You were always bearing gifts,” my friend, Lamide Adedeji wrote as part of a long stream of about 10 posts. “If you’ve been here 50 times, then you’ll have been here with 50 gifts.”

“Thank you for always checking up on me when I moved away,” Bayo Oke-Lawal shared. “For constantly caring without obligation.”

“Peter is the person I’d be if I were the best version of myself,” said Patrick Utomi. “Not sure I’ll ever be, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try much harder now.”

And Ebuka Obi-Uchendu gave a clearer example, in his umpteenth post over a period of three days: “He never missed Rubbin’ Minds. “And he always gave me feedback for every single episode.”

He paused. Then a few minutes after, again: “This is too hard.”

It wasn’t just the public outpouring. Though that is valid, even where it appears loud or insincere (because, it doesn’t matter. We process grief differently). It was thw sore sense of personal loss that ran through.

I sent an email to another friend, who had a crush on Peter, but which non-acceptance Peter had handled with such tenderness, and such dignity: “Is this not your guy?”

She was heart broken: “I don’t know what the point of living is.”

Perhaps it came to me more poignantly because I am, at the moment, on a journey of reflection, on a year I decided to live differently, with love. Or maybe it’s the sheer power of his life, so I would have felt this strongly anyway for a stranger. I don’t know. But I do. I feel this.

To see Peter’s life so mourned, so deeply, so painfully is to know Peter’s life, one of purpose, of beauty, of inspiration.

I don’t think of the ‘transience’ and ‘pointlessness’ of life when ‘good’ people die,” I shared this morning on my Twitter feed, inspired by the tributes.

Transience, I am reminded of everyday. Beauty? Purpose? Inspiration? Love? Ah, that’s the one that’s in short supply.

“I am inspired instead by a life beautifully lived,” I continued. “Because, always, they go to a better place. Life has a point. That we live our fullest, that we be our best, that we give our all. Death, painfully, clarifies that.”

The last time a person’s death hit me this closely was only a few months ago. Oronto Douglas. A mentor, whom I was even angry at. Still I cried, not just because it was a terrible loss, but also because his was a beautiful life, one that touched so many people, personally.

I didn’t lose Peter. Still, his death has touched me, and so many others who did not know him, in a meaningful way. Because, yet so young, his was clearly also a beautiful life. That touched so many people, personally.

So thank you, Peter, for a life that inspired. And more importantly, that inspires. Even after you are gone.

Because nothing else matters more.

Jideonwo is a storyteller, using the research and evidence on human flourishing to inspire new narratives about politics, markets, faith, identity and society in Africa.He is a co-founder of RED, which he ran for 13 years before stepping down in December 2017. One of its companies, StateCraft Inc. handled communication for the Muhammadu Buhari campaign in 2015 and has worked in elections in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

18 Comments

  1. Ure

    August 17, 2015 at 4:41 am

    This is beautiful. I’m sure Peter is saying thank you wherever he is. A life lived to inspire, no matter how short, is the most beautiful life!

    • Pretenseslayer

      August 17, 2015 at 9:30 am

      Yes,beautiful . Thank you Chude for a loving,genuine tribute. Not that self-serving piece Adebola wrote. May God be with the Bellos and all his friends.

  2. anon

    August 17, 2015 at 6:29 am

    This passing also hit me hard… even tho I never met him I know people who knew and only good things have been spoken about him. Its really so sad. This thing called death is so scary and really mystery to me but we know its inevitable. R.I.P Peter Bello

  3. the generous economist

    August 17, 2015 at 8:07 am

    I asked my friends yst if its possible to mourn someone you never met..bcos dts how iv been feeling since the news of his death broke…am close to many ppl who knew him, and the great things they say abt him..the pictures and chats they have shared…have just made me feel like I lost sme1 I knew, and apparently a lot of ppl who didn’t know him are feeling the same way…cant begin to imagine the anguish his family feels right now..but all we can all do is pray for them to become stronger as time passes…I also pray..to truly imbibe the lessons his life showed..and contribute to the ppl around me..God knows its so easy to forget and get wrapped up in the many daily struggles…we can never understand the mysteries of life…why someone so young, so energetic..full of life..will just pass away…but then hopefully..one day in some place..we will get the answers..

  4. precy

    August 17, 2015 at 9:09 am

    this is so sad he was still young ,I feel for the family may God consoles and comfort his family. they say good pple r e ones who always die early but the family must know that heavens gained a soul and am sure he is at a better place. I have lost a friend last yr after she qualified to be a Charted accountant got a good job and she died of asima she has manage control for yrs, e most painful part she passed on a week before her wedding. so all am saying is e family n close friends must tek heart its not easy to deal w a loose of someone close to u. Am frm zim but I was touched by his death he was still young

  5. Oyindee

    August 17, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Every time i read a tribute written in Peter Bello’s honour i always get teary eyed,its just so sad….i don’t know you personally Peter but even in your death you are touching lives,i guess the heavens couldn’t wait to have you…Rip Peter Bello,Keep soaring

  6. Segi

    August 17, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Four people died in that ill fated crash, Peter you’re one of them and probably the youngest. However, for the family and friends of the other crew/passengers that lost their lives, I want you to know I pray for comfort for you. Your family members might not be trending on social media platforms but their death is registered in the heart of all who heard about this unfortunate tragedy. Be comforted in knowing you had them for as long you did and their memories will continue to live through you – Be comforted!

  7. Mr Gbajumo

    August 17, 2015 at 11:39 am

    HOW ON EARTH DO YOU MOURN SOMEONE YOU NEVER MET, CHUDE?
    FAME MONGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Idomagirl

      August 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      This is very ridiculous and small minded.

      You can absolutely mourn someone you’ve never met, this is exactly why people around the world cry and weep when tragedies like the Taliban school attack in Pakistan happened. We mourned and wept for the school boys slaughtered in Buni Yadi even though we didn’t know any of them personally.

      We mourn and weep for people who die in terrorist attacks, plane crashes etc. You do not have to know someone to mourn them, every normal human has something called EMPATHY, this makes it possible for us to feel sad and mourn even when we do not know the people personally.

      I am sorry, but if you’re one of those who only bother when something directly affects you, then there’s a serious problem somewhere.

      Empathy is a big part of our humanity, I suggest you get some.

    • Jhennique

      August 17, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      @idoma girl don’t even bother with the ****

    • Moshdeesown

      August 21, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      Does the word “empathy” mean anything to you? Must you be so cruel? Fame monger who??? Have you ever heard if you aint got nothing nice to say ZIP IT!!!

  8. Mr Gbajumo

    August 17, 2015 at 11:41 am

    HOW DO YOU WRITE A TRIBUTE ABOUT SOMEONE YOU NEVER MET?
    CHUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    YOU PEOPLE WILL NOT KILL US…

  9. Adaeze Writes

    August 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I didn’t know him myself but I felt so sad about it when my sister told me of it. She didn’t know him either but she had been touched by the tributes of those who knew him well. This goes to say, that we all have to live our lives well, even as we live to the fullest because no one knows the time, date or place. May God continue to rest his soul and give his family the strength to bear his irreparable loss.
    May his gentle soul and all other that died with him in the crash, rest in perfect peace. Amen.

  10. cinderella

    August 17, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    He touched lives of those who knew him before his death and in his dying he has inspired me and so many others. Never knew you peter kayode bello but I’ve learnt humility kindness and living a life of purpose from you .rest in peace peter heavens gain.

  11. Jhennique

    August 17, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Oh Peter! What is this life?

  12. Uzoamaka

    August 18, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Honestly, thank you Chude for a genuine tribute. Absolutely different and not that self-serving piece that Adebola Williams wrote. May God bless the family and friends with the fortitude to bear these irreplaceable loss!!!.

  13. mrs sarah Nsiah Asare

    August 19, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Its soon sudden to hear this .you will forever be miss son. Really remember wayback in the university in Ghana UV been coming to my house ….as a son we eat together do everything as mom and son because of my daughter Pascaline you schooled together with my daughter Pascaline wayback in Ghana kNUST .we were all together as one big family. Still remember you with your mum in ma shop after your graduation here in Ghana. Son ur humbleness even kills me .very quit ….handsome nd kind…its soon sad that such a person has just left the seen….son you are always remembered and forever be missed ….God be with you son …may your humble soul rest in perfect peace. Go rest in the bosoom of Abraham

  14. mma

    August 21, 2015 at 4:02 am

    I never knew him either but for some reason it has been so saddening. Rest in God’s perfect peace. Reminder that life is for the living.

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