Yima Sen: A tribute, By Abiodun Adeniyi


By Abiodun_ _Adeniyi_ , _PhD_ _(Leeds)_ ,
_Department_ _of_ _Mass_ _Communication_ Baze_ _University_ , Abuja.

I am paying this tribute from two standpoints. First, for the university-Baze University, and second, from a first person, personal experience of knowing Yima. At the University level, Yima was one lecturer who instructed on the back of a rich experience in the town. He was a good cross between the gown and the town, growing his pragmatic lessons in the society, in the systematized university atmosphere of abstraction.

He was one of those respected for their expansive social worldview, a deep-seated history of political exposure, and a penetrating insight of what the world that was, truly is. Yima combined both with ease, powering his thoughts through an avalanche of understanding, unmatched by the usual brain; and only appreciated by the uncommon brain that his brain truly was.

Baze University grew from a culture of having faculty members with industry experience. The catch was to blend practice with theory, to prevent ideation and intellection only from the esoteric point of view. The university is founded on the idea that while theories are valid, their essence is more meaningful through application.

As a reasoner, a man gifted in high stake ratiocination, Yima was well at home with all that the university stood for. He was critical, patently pedagogic, and indisputably hands-on. Everyone respected him, from the founder, and Visioner, Distinguished Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, to the cleaner, and much else.

Before the students, he carried himself with grace, and power, evening up to a regular preference for him as a project supervisor. With my privilege position as his HoD, in the last couple of years, I had to sometimes intervene, so students won’t choke him with requests for his guidance. He was good, beyond being a fantastic balance between theory and practice. The department of mass communication, and the university will surely find him irreplaceable.

At the personal level, I was only a growing up professional, as The Guardian political correspondent in the early 90s in Lagos. Yima was already established as a major source of political news stories, having been a chieftain of the General Theophilous Danjuma led Committee for Unity and Understanding (CUU). He was always a phone call away for news bits, sense of perspectives, and profound analysis of stories, features articles and much more. He was additionally eloquent, untiring, and friendly.

On encountering him decades later at Baze University, I was not just awed, but also cowed. But he quickly woke me up to the reality of the conference of the past and the present, and how the past and the present can intermix to produce tomorrow. We flowed. We were friendly. He was a senior brother. An adviser, and a critic-all rolling into a complete man.

What more can I say that has not been said? What praise can I heap on him to wake him up? What adjective can I deploy to capture this intellectual colossus, this titan of thought, who represents piety, who portrayed decency, and who displayed good culture, and mannerism to no end? Permit me, dear listeners, to drop these lines from the Yoruba language:

“Eni ba mo agbe, ko ba mi se d’aro aro;
Eni ba mo aluko, ko ba mi d’aro osun;
Eni bamo lekeleke, ko ba mi se d’aro efun;
Erin wo, igbo pa loo loo;
Efon lo, iju da kerere”

And here is a loose interpretation, provided by Prof. Kole Ade-Odutola, of the University of Florida Yoruba Language Studies:

“Those who know the woodpecker will join in the indigo’s lamentation,
Those who know the Toucan will join me in the camwood’s lamentation,
Those who know the Cattle Egret will join in the lamentation of Chalk’s whiteness,
The Elephant has fallen, and the forest is silent.
The Buffalo is sound and the wilderness is without sound”

And to end this tribute, permit me to take you nearly five centuries back. William Shakespeare portrayed Mark Anthony as praising Marcus Brutus in the play Julius Caesar, at Brutus’ funeral, after the Battle of Philippi. Anthony said in part:

_His_ _life_ _was_ _gentle_ , _and_ _the_ _elements_ ,
_So_ _mixed_ _in_ _him_ , _that_ _Nature_ _might_ _stand_ _up_
_And_ _say_ _to_ _all_ ,
_This_ _was_ _a_ _man_ ”

Yima Sen, was, indeed, a man.
May God rest his soul.

*Being text of memorial oration delivered for late Baze University Mass Communication lecturer, Yima Sen, at a memorial ceremony held in his honour at the National Women Centre (NWC), Central Business District, Abuja, November, 11th, 2020, at 10.00AM.