By Jide Taiwo
Eni ija o ba ni pe ara re l’okunrin- You are not a braveheart until your strength and character have been tested by adversity. Yoruba proverb.
Life or something like it. One minute everything is right, the next; you’re left asking for answers: how did it happen? Why did it happen to me? And the thing about life, there is no one answer.
When it was reported that Dbanj‘s son had died on June 24, most of us reacted with shock and disbelief. ‘How?!’ was the question. ‘Wasn’t his birthday just a few weeks earlier?’ It didn’t take long before the news circulated: one-year-old Daniel died in a swimming pool accident at the family home. As Dbanj is a public figure, there were conjectures and theories by fans, non-fans and quite frankly, a number of despicable analyses by some people. The blogosphere went abuzz with comments ranging from commiseration to blame. ‘Oh, they should have done this and that.’ Don’t forget the horrible human being who worked at the morgue that the toddler was taken to and thought it was worth his (or her time) to send the ‘gist’ to Instablog. They’ll get their comeuppance some day.
Still, there was a massive outpouring of love that assured Dbanj that people did care for him and his family. He spoke about it on his Instagram page a week later. But there was one person who needed that reassurance the most: his wife and the mother of the child, Lineo.
Her pain cannot be imagined. Not to talk of the guilt. How could she be alive while her baby is dead? How can life go on? Why didn’t she die in his stead? Why, how and why again? The pain is enough to drive anybody berserk. And it’s a pain that would remain for a long, long time.
Let’s backtrack a little bit: how did a family tragedy become an issue that everyone had an opinion about? Well, it’s because, for the past decade and a half, Dbanj has been one of the biggest stars on the continent- and for a run of eight straight years, he was the biggest. He was not just a musician, he was a movement. His partnership with Don Jazzy remains one of the most iconic ever- the producer may have had the beat, Dbanj was the ‘engine room, the gear and the piston (Sorry MI). Even when their friendship fell apart, he continued forging ahead and still being very visible, not to talk of valuable. Brands fell over one another to pay him handsomely.
And he did everything correctly. No baby mama drama, no sex scandal, no nothing. His relationships were secrets until they were just about ending or ended already. None of them had a bad word to say about the man. As a matter of fact, Dbanj’s biggest offence was supporting Goodluck Jonathan in 2011- as if being a celebrity disenfranchised his God-given right to choose whomever he wanted.
His wedding was Jay Z-esque. Nobody knew who the lady he was dating was or where it was happening. Only a photo where he wore a wedding band gave him away- after the ceremony had ended. The attention was because of him and he did all he could to protect his beau from the prying, demanding and often cruel thoughtlessness nature of the public. When it was reported that the couple had given birth to a child, not much was known still. Dbanj had mastered public relations and relationships and used that knowledge exceedingly well. But like Ola Rotimi wrote in his play The Gods Are Not To Blame, joy has a slender body that breaks too soon; ayo a bara tintin. Daniel the Third was given to them for only 13 months. It is a terrible tragedy that should not befall any parent, a painful experience no mother should have to bear.
However this is life and tragedies sometimes happen. When it does, survivors are left with the task of rebuilding their lives and attempting to heal. Attempting to heal is what Dbanj does on What You Want, his tribute to his wife Lineo in the aftermath of their loss.
Like Dbanj himself, the song makes no pretences to be a pop hit or a ‘club banger’ from a current flavour of the month. Instead, it is a public affirmation for someone who’s grieving and who needs to be reassured that she doesn’t have to suffer alone. Thirty seconds in, Dbanj delivers the most important part of the entire song: Me and you are for life/ Even when it goes wrong, baby girl it’s alright. That’s right- although they grieve now, slowly most certainly, the gloom will lift and they would come out of the darkness.
That’s the message in the otherwise simple song. Never mind Dbanj going on about buying her Ferragamo and wanting to chow garri; anyone who has met him or seen any interview of his would know corny jokes like those are in stock in trade. The last thing on Lineo’s mind would be new shoes to add to some 300 pairs she probably has already. It’s safe to imagine her hear those words, shake her head like, ‘Ferragamo sha…’ and smile wistfully at the lopsided offering. That smile is what Dbanj would live for, hoping to comfort her until the day their joint pain ceases being raw as it is now and turns into a pensive memory, but a memory nonetheless.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:4.
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