Pa Fálétí, Another Icon Departs



Pa Fálétí is gone, never more to answer our calls or supplications, except from the other side, in the surrogate voice of an ancestor. But we do not mourn him. Rather, the mourning is for ourselves, for those of us left behind. What we mourn indeed is not his passing, but the void that stares us in the face, the apprehension we feel that there is no immediate successor to replace him. But still, we have to accept this not as a defeat but a collective challenge. We do not indeed mourn the loss of Fálétí, because in Yorùbáland our custom is not to shed tears of grief for men or women who have lived a long and amply fecund life and left a bounteous legacy for their offspring. Why should one cry for a life that grew to sedate ripeness, mellowed in dignity, and is remembered everywhere with affection and respect? No. Instead, we celebrate such men joyously. We bring out the drums and sing our sonorous songs and adorn ourselves in our finest robes. We give ourselves generously to merriment and feasting and thanksgiving. We laud their achievements and serenade them as luminous inspiration to the living. Adébáyọ Fálétí has gone but ̀ not gone: his presence will surround us forever because of what he accomplished for our culture and our people.
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