I have observed, since 22 April, the outpouring of emotion over the death of Oladapo Olaitan Olaonipekun, aka DaGrin, the young hustler who rapped his way from the streets onto the stage, into the studio and up the charts, and then, just when he was beginning to blow up, was blown out.
And in the wake of his untimely demise, a deluge of feeling has borne our collective grief; we have vented anger at a country where trucks are parked on streets overnight and emergency health services grossly inadequate; we have mourned the loss of the music he will now never make. We have pasted his pictures all over Facebook, lambasted everyone from the unknown truck driver to the inept LUTH staff, and filled the airwaves with the sounds of “Pon Pon Pon” and “Thank God.”
But in all our outpouring, we have largely maintained, by unspoken agreement, a strange silence on one small but widely held point: that DaGrin had been drinking and driving fast.
Now I know it’s considered gauche to speak evil of the dead, but I’d like to think that, beyond mere eulogy, they would have us learn of them. So if the widely held belief is true, then the real tragedy of DaGrin’s death was not in the truck driver, LUTH or Nigeria: it was in a young man’s forfeiture of his life dreams for the momentary (and in retrospect, irrelevant) pleasures of alcohol and high speed.
A harsh statement? Perhaps, but no less harsh than the brutally irreversible fact of his demise. We may play his songs and scream “DaGrin lives!” until our speakers blow and our voices crack, but his grieving father’s arms won’t be holding him again this side of eternity. And if you think me self-righteous, I only ask that you consider, for a moment, your own death.
For tragic as DaGrin’s end, the far greater tragedy will be if, in some yet unseen tomorrow, he should have to tell us, in the words of his record label, “Misofunyin”: I told you so.