Wale Oginni wanted to celebrate his elder sister’s 24th fourth birthday in a special way. Modupe was excited turning a year older last Saturday. Wale , her charming 22-year-old brother, along with his friends and family members, planned a boat Kayak to the Catawba River, a few hours road trip from their North Carolina home.
“He invited me to go because it was my birthday,” Dupe whispered during a brief telephone conversation late Monday evening. Hours after the party settled into fun of clear blue sky river scenery and in the middle of what seemed an exciting kayaking and rafting adventures for these young fun seekers on a birthday celebration, Wale allegedly dived into the warm waters of Catawba River.
At the time of writing this report, it was not clear what led a young man kayaking on a hot humid Saturday with his sister, family members and friends, to plunge into the river without wearing life jacket.
Different reports emerged from the death of the young Nigerian. Sources close to his friends said Wale fell into the river during a freak accident while other sources said he dived into the water and never came back. He allegedly got out of the boat and went under water, and never came back up. Authorities sought reasons why he chose to dive into the River. His body was found about ten feet underwater by divers. A distraught sister has been shivering since Saturday because she lost a dear brother and sole provider for the family. Their mother remains in shock over losing her first son under strange circumstance.
“Sorry sir, we are in shock and cannot say anything for now,” Dupe said.
The handsome athletic built Wale came with his parents, Olanrewaju and Margarete Oginni and siblings to the United States in mid 90s. Here, they found a new life and challenges as they settled into their adopted home. Some years after arriving, the family was fragmented. The marriage ended and the father moved away from their family home. Family sources said Wale assumed the role of a husband, father and big brother to his mother and siblings.
“Jebose, this young man protected and provided for his family, especially his sisters and mother in the absence of their father. He grew quickly and became the head of their household,” said a neighbour.
His father, Olanrewaju, who is vacationing currently in Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria said he had yet to be informed of the tragic incident as of Tuesday.
“I have neither been called with regards to this tragic news of my son nor been informed by his mother. There is nothing to say this time until I get real time information,” he said.
The 22-year-old aspired to become an engineer. He was on his way towards realising his dreams when this freak Saturday tragedy happened in the Catawba River at the U.S white water rafting centre.
“The Catawba River (named after the Native American tribes that first settled on the banks) originates in Western North Carolina. The river is approximately 220 miles (350 km) long. It rises in the Appalachian Mountains and drains into Piedmont, and is impounded through a series of reservoirs for flood control and hydroelectricity. The river is named after the Catawba tribe of Native Americans. In their Siouan language, they are identified as the Kawahcatawbas, ‘the people of the river. (Wikipedia)
Early this week, Wale’s friends lunched a social media campaign to raise funds to bury a beloved colleague. The social media surged as friends remembered a dear friend, popularly known to his circles of friends as Wale ‘Nigeria Boy.’
His cousin in Lagos, Nigeria, Adesiyan Bola Adekemi remembered late Wale thus, “Wale was a gentle, respectful and humble boy. He took a person’s burden as his; always available to render help to anyone. He never discriminated, neither proud, nor arrogant. I remember his last words to me when he came to Nigeria few years back. He said, ‘Sister Bola, you’ve got a very small stature and Sister Dupe looks like your aunty.’ I smiled at his words. He was always ready to put a smile on your face. He was kind hearted and accommodating. May God please forgive his sins and keep him in His bosom. Wale was from a family of four children: he left behind two sisters and a brother. It’s sad. Before he left Nigeria, we both attended the Adeola Towers of Excellence Nursery and Primary School in Ondo State.”
Another young friend, Ashley Fisher, mourned the departed young soul thus, “you never know why certain people come into your life but I’m very happy that I met you; you’ve brought happiness and joy. I hate that you’re gone, I can’t believe you’re gone. RIP Wale Nigeriaboy.” Leangei Gomez, another young friend, posted this on Wale’s facebook wall, “I still can’t believe you are gone, I have spent my night crying as well as my morning. You were like a brother to many of us, you always had a smile on your face and you were full of life and hope. We will all remember you not as the person we met in high school or the person we met at job, but the person that brought laughter and adventures to our lives. You always knew just what to say to make all of us feel better. I will always remember all the crazy phone calls, our adventures with Manuel, our fights in school; your crazy but amazing and hilarious stories and most importantly, your kind heart. The beloved ones always leave first. We’ll miss you, I will miss you big brother. Rest in peace, Wale “Nigeriaboy.”
On Tuesday night, Dupe, together with friends and family, was still making funeral arrangements to bury her younger brother that took her to an exciting birthday experience and celebration but sadly drowned. “We hope to bury him in Raleigh on Friday.” Friday was yesterday.