My thoughts on Stephen Keshi

By Osasu Obayiuwana


Well, I am in the early hours of Monday, August 1st.

It is just after 1am and have since returned to Lagos, after spending three days in Asaba and Illah, to carry out my professional obligations as a journalist and broadcaster, as well as my personal duty to a very dear friend that died way too young.

After the multitude of people that witnessed the burial of Stephen "Big Boss" Keshi on Friday, at his country home in Illah, Delta State, Nigeria, had left, I returned to the grave for a second time on Sunday, to say a very personal goodbye to my friend, whom I admired and respected a great deal.

I had time to say all that I wanted to say to him, without a multitude of people to disturb my monologue, which was heard by Mary Keshi Ado, Stephen's youngest sister. I didn't know who she was until I had a subsequent chat with her.

Mary told me about how devastated Stephen was, after losing Kate, the love of his life for over 30 years, in December 2015.

But, as was his way, Stephen, a man that liked keeping things to himself, never wanted people to realise how heartbroken he was over losing the woman that he dearly loved and trusted.

"Stephen was a man that has handled his own business from a very young age, so he was really never very good at revealing his innermost feelings. He always felt that he could handle his issues on his own, without help from anyone," she said.

"I tried and tried to get him to share his pain but Stephen was not one that was very good at sharing. He would tell me that he was okay, even when I knew he was not."

Before leaving his Illah country home on July 31st, Mary and I both listened to the 2012 recording of my last major interview with Keshi, a few months before his glorious triumph at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, where he became the second of two men in the continent to win the trophy as a player and a coach - the late Mahmoud El Gohary of Egypt is the other.

Mary told me a few new things about Stephen that I never knew. I plan to talk to her a bit more, for the very major piece that I am writing on the life and death of Stephen, for the October 2016 issue of NewAfrican Magazine.

Believe me when I say that you don't want to miss that issue...
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