Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has shared the last moments he had with his late younger brother Professor Femi Soyinka.
Femi Soyinka, renowned professor of dermatology, venereology and clinical immunology, died in the early hours of Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at the age of 85.
Soyinka described how her brother kept a tight grip on her hand, communing with silence, during those emotionally charged final moments before his death as a sign of love and gratitude, according to PM News.
Femi, according to the literary icon, grabbed her hand twice, refusing to let go even when nature called.
Soyinka made the revelation during the event titled Evening of Tribute in Memory of Professor Femi Soyinka held on Thursday, June 29, 2022 in Ibadan, Oyo State.
In the postscript to his tribute titled The Secret Life of Baale Kukumada (as shared by his fairly conniving brother), Soyinka jokingly describes Femi as an unrepentant bundle of mischief who remained one until his dying breath.
The tribute was read by the literary icon’s eldest son and former Ogun State Health Commissioner, Dr Olaokun Soyinka.
“I was with him barely forty-eight hours before his departure night. I had been on the road for hours and when I arrived I should have gone to the bathroom. However, this need was properly forgotten in my anxiety to see him, and I let his wife lead me directly to his bedside.
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“She pulled up a chair and I sat down next to him and took his hand. Femi returned the take and we sat for a while, communing in silence. Some time later, nature reminded me of a neglected duty. I tried to detach myself but he held on, quite gently, without letting go.
“So I stayed put. Inevitably nature gave a more imperative nudge until finally I had no choice. I gently untied her hand, walked away, delivered and came back. Again I took his hand and again he turned the handle. The pressure, however, was somewhat different in an indefinable way. It was still firm but soft, so maybe it was the pulse that had changed.
“Kofo had joined us. She sat down next to his head and tried to make him recognize my presence in a more obvious way. It was not necessary. I am convinced that he knew me, that he sensed who I was. That change in pulsation, I feel reassured, was his response, an inner, mischievous laugh. And what that rapscallion said was, “Broda, I almost made you pee in your pants,” Soyinka recounted.
The newspaper reports that Soyinka left after spending a brief time there as he was apparently filled with grief at losing a younger brother with whom he had been very close and had shared many fond memories. And indeed, the complicity between the two brothers was palpable during these last moments that they shared.
Born in 1937, Femi, who shared a striking resemblance to the Nobel laureate, was renowned for his contributions to the global HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. Not only has he pioneered several types of research in the field of HIV/AIDS, but he has also worked as a consultant to various international and local agencies, including the World Health Organization, DFID, UNDP and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, based on its vast experience on the subject in various parts of the country.
Former Head of Dean of the Faculty of Health, Provost of the College of Health Sciences at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and President of the Society for Aids in Africa, Femi completed an MD in Medicine and Surgery MBChB from Heidelberg University, 1964; and Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the same university in 1965. He specialized and practiced as a dermatologist, venereologist and allergist at the University of Giessen, in 1969.
In 1972, he earned a master’s degree in public health from Hadassah Medical School, (MPH) Israel.
He has worked in the academic field for 30 years, holding various positions ranging from Chief Medical Director to Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Rector of the College of Health Sciences at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
He has also been involved in extensive research on tropical skin diseases and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in collaboration with the Federal Government, international donor agencies and organizations such as the World Bank, UNDP, DFID and the BritishCouncil.
Femi was at the forefront of mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. By translating the results of its research into clinical practice. He had a significant impact not only on the lives of many individuals and families living with the disease, but also on the nation as a whole.