(For Adekunle Suara and AFCS Ibadan Alumni)

Sometimes you can’t change

You can’t choose

Most of us were just children obeying our parents, trying to get some distance away from our homes, or happy to attend the same school as our siblings. The rest were probably just following some scripted fate- destiny, if you please. But after we got beyond those air-force blue gates, we were greeted by a sense of security, and we grew to know we would never be the same.

We were proud- an acknowledgement of our worth- and with good reason. We had the best of everything: academics, socials, sports, intellect, beauty, facilities, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Directorate attention. If you never heard our anthem, the second stanza said:

Oh Air Force Comprehensive School

You are the model among such schools…

The giant of armed forces schools

Our Commandants had a hand in that pride. They said we were “jewels of the jungle”. It was almost literal. We were intelligent children in a clearing bordered by forests on the Ibadan/Iwo highway. Our troubles were many, as with intelligent children. But we made them proud all the time, I swear we did. When they weren’t bemoaning our “escapades”, they were beaming with pride. They liked to beam more than moan, so they subjected us to discipline. Lots of it.

You see, we could not choose to emerge from the ‘jungle’ less than conquerors. Disciplined, strong, intelligent, the best at good and mischief… a coven bound by years of tears, swears, punishments, victories, discipline, pride, optimism, confidence.

Sometimes it seems you gain

Less than you lose

A black BlackBerry messenger display picture on a Saturday morning by one of ‘us’ made no sense. Saturday is one of those gifts of God -and whichever tyrannt designed the work calendar- to man. But that Saturday was August 29, 2015, and there had been a plane crash in Kaduna, Nigeria. It had been a NAF Dornier 228, and the pilot had a disturbingly familiar name. Kunle Suara. That name resonated with the jungle none of us would ever forget. Hurried calls were made to our schoolmates in the Force.

Screams, frantic Google searches, arguments borne of disbelief, tears, hysteria, shock, speechlessness…

In the end, we were sullen faces gazing into empty spaces. We were seeing break dances on social nights, a peculiar sweet smile that had too many girls ‘tripping’, that pace of walk by which we knew him. Senior Kunle Suara. A seasoned NAF pilot trainer, promoted last year, immersed in flight safety by international training, partner in a 4 year young marriage with a beautiful woman. In our pain, on our different forums, we tried to understand, tried to analyse. I think we hoped we would come up with such answers as “it didn’t really happen”, or “it can’t be true”. Inevitably our thoughts drifted to others we have lost, others we would never forget: Adeyoola Adeshola, Lanre Sanu, Abednego Maiyaki, Amadi Kindom, Jennifer Iliya, Wole Ladele, Wale Lawal, Shehu Sabo, Dauda Bello. We remembered the little ones the jungle claimed: Mildred Ifeanyi, Nike… The officers: Uncle Tokunbo, aka Gboks, who said merry christmas and deserted us before we returned to say happy new year. We wondered the same thing, I think: why do the good ones go early?

ks2Our hearts felt constricted by pain, and breathing was a difficulty. Another jewel had left the jungle of life. We were less our number, another star shut down in its prime. Perhaps we should have been ‘ordinary’, not so intelligent, so we would be less exposed to risk? Perhaps? What the fuck was life about? Why the hell did we run the risk of hurting loved ones if we lived? Why? Why? In our haze, we asked many questions. No answers came.

Now we’ve got holes in our hearts

Yeah we got holes in our lives

We are left to patch the pieces, to fill the holes however we can. We bear the pain marked on our hearts, from where their memories would sometimes rub raw. A picture, a song, a voice, a slang, a ‘step’, a stranger in a  crowd who moves like them, a body that looks like theirs from a distance… Those times, tears would fall off our lashes, or sad smiles confuse our faces. Fear, hope, and excitement would war; and we would be bathed cold to reality with the memory of loss.

Our hearts are at half-mast, our faces downcast, our memories pierced. We have holes. Spaces of people who would no more be in pictures or at events. People who would watch us from the after-world and maybe wish we did not hurt so much. Perhaps they too would carry holes even as they greet themselves and seal previous holes. Perhaps they would think of our holed hearts, and wish it wasn’t so. I don’t know.

Let’s not get scared and wonder if perhaps we should not live so fully though. For what is life if the heart does not feel the chill of fear, bat madly in joy, pound in excitement, thud crazily in love, bleed in pain? Let’s listen to songs, close our eyes, feel the pain… then get up when we can, to face the duty of honoring them with our lives

Well we’ve got holes, we’ve got holes

But we carry on

p.s: Thank you for the lyrics, Passenger (Holes).


39 thoughts on “HOLES

  1. My heart is still very heavy. But I laff as I remember senior Kunle in his baggy trousers and popped collar hopping and stepping to Mack Morrison’s ‘Return of the Mack’. I still feel the pride when I see pics of him in his uniform and helmet, ready to fly!

    Keep flying Senior Kunle!!!


    • Aah yes. You are right on track. Now every time we see NAF planes, we would feel the slight pain but more… the immense pride in what he achieved. We can take consolation in that.
      Baggies were “it” that year. How times does indeed fly


  2. Indeed we have holes in our hearts. Holes, big gaping holes. Sr Kunle was my favourite senior along with Tunde Ojibara. Hercules House boys with a difference.

    Thank you for a truly heartfelt tribute Dupe, even though I know not who you are. I pray his family will have the strength to bear the loss.


  3. Yemi Adegboye says:

    Beautifully written… Captures my emotions… Kunle you will be surely missed.. Say us a hello to other AFCS Angels out there….


  4. Rayhana Mahmoud-inshora says:

    Hhmmm…, I was able to pull myself together this morning to go to work after a weekend of horror. But reading this beautiful but heartbreaking piece, I feel as if my patched wounds have been reopened. I have been speechless since I read about the incident up untill last night when Halima Mukhtar called me and broke my silence. We spent more than an hour on the phone talking about Kunle Suara. About the diffrent times we met after AFCS, about the “ojo gari” we shared in school, ojo gari in AFCS was no ordinary gari. It was “ojo” so had to be considered special. About his mime acts, his cute baby face…. We went on and on for more than an hour cried and consoled ourselves inbetween. Oh Lord, You know best why You took him away.


    • You did right to go to work; we need someplace in which to pour the pain, make the world beautiful, make our hearts lighter. Work is good as any; maybe the best. The pain… that would live with us forever. Carefully tucked away in our hearts


  5. Mariam Ajadi Bajulaiye says:

    This is a beautiful blog for Kunle Suara and all the departed souls from AFCS. May their gentle souls rest in peace… #AFCS mourns.

    Thanks Dupe.


  6. Omobo says:

    this is such a beautiful piece Dupe.. i just saw a video of him in his parachute… I couldn’t help it.. as I shed tears. I fondly remember him as the cute guy all the girls loved.. he was adored especially during social night performance. Kunle till we meet and part no more… We will always remember you… Sleep on and Rest in peace. My sincere condolences to his wife and family during this difficult time…


  7. Tooni says:

    Nice 1 Dupe…Dis is so so sad… May his soul find eternal rest in God’s Bosom
    Also remembering Kemi Folaranmi and Tinuke Adebambo(Lara Adebambo’s cousin)


  8. Dayo Aluko says:

    Nice piece Dupe. Kunle was a Hercules boy like me. I vividly remember Kunle nailing Puff Daddy’s I’ll Be Missing You on stage a performance for which he got an award. We will indeed be missing him. The parachute video confirmed he went down doing what he loved. In the video he said ” its beautiful up here, its peaceful up here” Kunle you now live up there where it is peaceful and beautiful. May your soul and the souls of our dearly departed continue to rest in peace


  9. Nnadi perry says:

    Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye?

    Let me make this easier than saying goodbye: let me tell you hello in advance for the next time I get to see you.

    Saying goodbye is never easy. Especially when the one who is bidding farewell is a good friend without any explanation.

    May ur soul rest in peace..u will forever remain in our heart.


    • Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye?… One of those questions to which we have no answer. So yes, let’s “hello” away to ease the pain


  10. La bloke says:

    Nice one Dupe.
    I had this sharp pain on my head imeedialtely I saw Kola Kuddus bbm dp nd pm on saturaday morning because couldn’t believe Kunle I pray for everytime I remember him or see his picture to be Chief of Air Staff. Still can’t believe that this pray wouldn’t be answer. Don’t even know I to break the news to my mother.
    I pray this would be the last premature death we would record as AFCS family in JESUS name. AMEN
    Kunle rest in peace.


    • you’ll have to tell er someway you can control the effects. Don’t let her hear it from someone else who might assume she already knows; hence speak of it as that. We all felt that pain. It was unbelievable. Kind of still feels like a mirage


  11. Otas says:

    I knew him from a distance, he was a peaceful and kind Snr! We lost a beautiful soul and it hurts really badly! Dupe your piece is a capsule of memories


    • When I say we are intelligent: “capsule of memories” It hurts Otas, and we all wish it could just be a collective nightmare. We would be stronger in the end. Incomplete, yes. But stronger


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