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Remember the hit track by Father U-Turn titled ‘Yetunde’ in his 1999 album, Padlock Your Mouth? Well, that was the song I used to tickle my friend and professional colleague, Yetunde Oladeinde (née Francis), who passed on just over two weeks ago.

Yetunde Yetunde o Yetunde mi da
Yetunde Yetunde o Yetunde mi da
Yetunde o, my darling o
Yetunde o, Ololufe mi

And Yetunde would laugh and laugh, and then cover her mouth with her palm. She knew I was just joking, kidding, as I am who and what you would call an SU (Scripture Union member, as all born again Christians were referred to then). As SU, I could only bark, and not bite, as far as other ladies were concerned. But I followed music keenly, and that was how I knew of ‘Yetunde.’

Never been able to forget that hilarious spectacle since I heard of her death on February 19. She would have been 57 in October.

Yetunde Francis joined us in the then Weekend Concord in late 1991 or early 1992, in what was her first major journalism job. Fortuitously, her desk was right beside my own in the newsroom.

Weekend Concord then was a tight and crack team of only male reporters. When I joined in May 1991 from Vanguard Newspaper, Dele Momodu and Omololu Kassim, two star newshounds, had just left. There were Mike Awoyinfa, the great editor, Dimgba Igwe, his deputy, Shola Oshunkeye, Lat Ogunmade, myself, Sunday Umahi, Blessyn Okpowo, and some others. On industrial training were people like Ose Oyamedan, Waziri Adio, Lanre Issa-Onilu, who all went forward to become accomplished journalists. On the Production Desk were Felix Asimole, Emmanuel Otaru, Lanre Ajeboriogbon, and Gbenga Opebi.

A bit later, Eric Osagie, Ben Memuletiwon, and some others came in. Mrs Wale Sokunbi became the second female, but under Shola Oshunkeye’s editorship.

One thing about Awoyinfa, our editor. Get your lead (or intro) wrong, and you have lost him. He becomes tired of your story, and may not proceed further. But get your lead right, and he begins to vibrate. He would leave his office, come to the general office, and read out what you’ve written to the other staff. He would commend you openly.

As a beginner, Yetunde sort of dreaded Awoyinfa. So she never submitted any story without getting me to first vet it for her, particularly the lead. Sometimes, I reworked the lead, some other times I gave her the thumbs up.

She had nose for news, and knew what would excite the editor. She became a reputable reporter.

From Weekend Concord, I became Features Editor of National Concord. Yetunde joined me there. When we were setting up The Sun Newspapers in 2002, she became a natural choice for Head, Life and Style Desk. By then, the song Yetunde was out, and that was when I used to pull her legs once a while.

When Sani Abacha closed Concord Press in 1994, Yetunde left as Miss Francis. But when we got reopened in late 1995, she came back as Mrs Oladeinde. I remember the day she and her husband visited me in the Features Editor’s office, bearing their first baby.

From The Sun, Yetunde left for National Life, then to The Nation, where she practiced till she went to eternity.

I saw her last sometime in 2014, before I went to serve in government in 2015. It was about 2 am, when my phone rang. As a journalist, you must pick your calls at all hours, however odd. Yetunde was at the other end.

“Sir, I have issues. Things are not going well with me. I need to see you,” she said.

I promised to call back during the day, which I did, and we fixed a lunch appointment for a restaurant in Ikeja area.

Yetunde said she was already feeling better, but she still told me what the matter was. A cocktail. As an SU, I pointed her to closer walk with God, an advice she heeded.

All through my service in government, we never saw. But she never forgot those once in a while phone calls.

“Mama Oyinkan, how are you,” I always responded. Oyinkan was her last child and I always called her that way.

I also phoned her whenever she came to mind. Ever optimistic, she would tell me things were better. Till February 19, when I got the rude shock.

Yetunde Yetunde o Yetunde mi da
Yetunde Yetunde o Yetunde mi da
Yetunde o, my darling o
Yetunde o, Ololufe mi

The song simply means where is my darling Yetunde? Oh, where is she, my lovely one? And there’s real cause to ask that question now. Where is Yetunde? She would never laugh to that song again, covering her mouth. We would never see on this side of the divide again, except in dreams. O di arinnako, o tun di oju ala. Only in dreams, yes dreams. In the words of George Orwell, it is now “one world less, one mind less.”

Of the original Weekend Concord team, Gbola Adebayo was the first to go. Followed by Sunday Umahi. And then the big one, Dimgba Igwe, the deputy editor. Now Yetunde.

Yetunde Yetunde o, my darling o

Incidentally, Father U-Turn, who sang the song had exited in November 2013, after battling a terminal disease. The Kabba-Bunu native, in Kogi State, was only 36. His real name was Olufemi Mayomi.

I’ll sure see Yetunde again. On the day of the Great Gathering, at the beautiful river that flows by the throne of God. And you know the song I’ll sing when I see her?

Yes, you guessed right.

*Adesina is a journalist, author and farmer

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