I’m sure you’ll agree with me that being brave in a chosen career is way better than serving as an elected public office holder who courts attention, be it unconsciously, and unmerited accolades for achieving a tiny fraction of the set goals needed by a constituency. You may also share the view that this reconstruction of thought is needed in several parts of Africa by Africans if we are to make peace with our past in order for us to appreciate today – as well as those who participated in shaping it with their modest altruistic acts.
The crux is that if we don’t make them feel honoured – or smile in the case they are dead, it is tantamount to telling those who have the potentials today to forget about making indelible marks that would be praised tomorrow.
Maxwell Khobe deserves to smile. Just like all the gallant Nigerian men and women that fell with him, in Liberia and later Sierra Leone during the war that spilled from the former to the latter in the 90s. They all need to smile. They need to get that sense of pride for what they’d done in service to humanity despite that they are no longer here with us to receive the medals or bouquet we might have presented to them. We need to let their families feel proud that they have produced men and women who defied all odds to stand tall even till death.
From the little we’ve seen so far, life has taught some of us to always remember those who have died, especially those who recorded worthwhile achievements that generations yet unborn will find remarkable. For others, it is just a tradition to relive the memory of those who have died to appease their conscience of well-doing in their absence.
Certain unseen factors make me believe firmly that the deeds of these dead souls could be instrumental, when related with present circumstances, to foretell tomorrow’s expectations.
Thomas Sankara started the implementation of major reforms in agriculture, income distribution and equality of rights for women before he was assassinated in his native Burkina Faso in 1987. He was 37. His admirable plans for his people were cut short despite his boldness to see the feat achieved and the fortitude he displayed in the face of resistance. As his folks do, I remember Sankara today. I also remember Maxwell Khobe.
Today, I remember a fellow Nigerian who against all odds left his footprints on the path of affirmative history before he died about fifteen years ago. Nothing should deter this simple eulogy that has been prepared for his resting soul. Sleep on, sleep well.
The man considered by many Sierra Leoneans as the hero in ousting the rebels who took arms against majority of their countrymen from the capital Freetown, died at the age of 50 in a Lagos hospital following a cardiac arrest on the 17th of April 2000.
Nigeria, and indeed Nigerians who knew Khobe, miss him. Many Sierra Leoneans, whose lives were touched by the effort of the man, miss him too. He became better known in February 1998 partly because more people relied obliquely on his bravery at the time, and some on his name as they’ve no idea who he was, for their survival. That was after he’d spearheaded the military operation that drove the then-AFRC military junta from the power seat and restored the democratically –elected president, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, now late, who had been earlier overthrown in May 1997.
Khobe was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General in May 1998 and by July, he was named Sierra Leone’s Chief of Defence Staff by President Kabbah.
If the claim several years later by a senior writer in Sierra Leone that the mission accomplished by the late Nigerian was never appreciated by those he’d fought for in the corridors of power in Sierra Leone is anything to go by, I believe ordinary Sierra Leoneans who felt the brunt of the war more do respect him and usually treat his memory with high esteem.
Those of us who didn’t get to know him will know there is a Maxwell Khobe Park in Sierra Leone’s second largest city, Bo and a Maxwell Khobe Street in the third largest city, Kenema.
While telling the story of his hard and flailed life through one of his hit tracks, ‘Borbor Pain,’ the popular Sierra Leonean artiste who has been edging closer to Nigeria of late with his collaborative efforts with TuFace and Timaya, Emerson Bockarie, described Maxwell Khobe as ‘the original Borbor Pain.’
The term Borbor Pain which I know is synonymous with a man who is truly going or had gone through hardship in a bid to achieve his desired goal in life has gained prominence widely as a result of the song.
Hardship may differ, depending on its context. The type attributed to the late Mr. Khobe is incomparable with that of an ordinary man who is struggling to make ends meet. His struggle reached its peak when he was at his peak. BBC’s Mark Doyle described him as ‘calm as a cucumber’ as h and his men moved into a war zone. He’d fought the hard battle, the hard way. We’ll rather not remember him the hard way, but with joy for a life well spent. Sleep on, sleep well.
Though the general focus of every man has always been to acquire basic necessities of life – food, shelter, clothing and, in some cases, education – for his immediate family as made more imperative by our solemn belief in men as head of any home with all eyes fixed on them to make the provision.
Late Maxwell Mitikhishe Khobe, as a man, would have been expected to perform these obligations as well. To put food on his family’s table and, considering his status in the Nigerian Army with a horde of military personnel directly and indirectly responsible to him, expected to lead in a direction that would add value to lives.
But he is no more. Realistically, Khobe took a step ahead of every man of all ranks by using his God-given potential in his area of calling. It is clear that not every man of his caliber, intellectual capability and position will write their names on similar platters that would traverse any border. Sleep on, sleep well.
If only the dead could live again, Maxwell Mitikishe Khobe could have risen at this point in time to gather the respect accorded him at death and, if possible, identify who among those he fought to protect their interest are wishing him well in his eternal slumber. Sleep well.