I lost a friend. I streamed through my Facebook Timeline and was hit by the news. I wrote this short tribute as a portrait of him and our friendship. It appeared in pieces for three days, on Facebook. It hurts that we didn't meet again as we kept postponing hanging out. But I will always remember the time we had together.
I still don't know what's going on. I'm probably repressing an emotion. I'm gaming the reality and it might slap me soon. Babatunde was a sparring partner. We used to take random walks in Victoria Island, arguing over ideas and ideologies, exchange books, and whatnots. I worried (fuck, it's past tense already) him with pages of well-written prose. He would come to my house, brimming with enthusiasm, to share some new campaigns. We used to plan mischiefs. Dude was available to join me in any prank. I had schemed a plan to embarrass an Australian Creative Director we both worked with. I shared with him and we got planning. We shelved the plan when he pulled the ultimate prank to travel to Germany. He's famed for it now. Sometimes we will make fun of each other's ideas. I used to be impatient with his random errors. I'd get finicky with spelling errors and half-thoughts. When I get crazy over his ideas or mock the hell out of him, he'd say, "Ogunlowo, be grateful I'm not on crutches anymore. Your head should be bleeding now." And I will mock him again. Dude was brilliant and a fine thinker. (I'm tensed by these past tenses). I think I'm writing nonsense now. Everything feels surreal.
To have been Babatunde's friend was to have experienced an enchanting human connection. To have been in a team with him was to have experienced genuine teamwork. I believed he was acutely aware of his limited time, which informed his brazen approach to work. I may be wrong. I couldn’t understand his intensity. He loved advertising. I will notice the seriousness on his face, sometimes looking into a distance as though negotiating a wayward idea from a stronghold. I would quip through a messenger, “You’d better chill. Copywriting will not save the world.” He will throw a look and yank himself back into work. He was restless and quick to throw patches of idea or sometimes resign into long contemplations. I sometimes detested been teamed up with him. While I’m thinking about an idea and burning on brooding, dude will punctuate my thought with figments of his own thoughts. And I will consider darting his skull with staplers. He will sense my irritation and throw my words back at me, “Ogunlowo, copywriting will not save the world o.”
We both worked on one of the most demanding projects I know – the 2010 FIFA World Cup. MTN was an official sponsor. I had just joined DDB Lagos and we were in the same team. For months, we knew nothing else but the World Cup. I used to tell him I’ve written so much for this World Cup the equivalent of a big book. Dude will laugh and throw amusing remarks. He once said my mates are winning literary awards but I’m in DDB Lagos writing for MTN. I can’t remember now; I probably elbowed him. (When he found I had left DDB Lagos to start my own company, he teased me again with literary awards and I told him I'd rather be on Forbes list than on the Nobel Prize list. He laughed and stopped teasing me with it).
He was mentally strong and would spend crazy hours to pull out a campaign. His obvious frailty belied the strength in him.
Each man, a paddle; to hold tightly or faintly, to negotiate through this vastness, to the left, to the right, forward, backward, waywardly, carefully, confidently, uncertainly, at will, against the current, against this current, seeking, sinking, surfacing, marking seasons, occupying, spacing, lurching, staying aloft, missing, finding, dreaming, undreaming, uniting, dismissing, warring, loving, fainting, enduring, forging through this vastness, through this madness, through this blissful madness, smoothly, constrainedly, with fortitude, like Babatunde Adebola, until our finals.