YINKA OLONODE’S SUICIDE: “BROS,SO YOU FINALLY KILLED YOURSELF?”
According to the report I culled from Linda Ikeji's Blog,
"On Monday April 29th, police said an unidentified man jumped from the rooftop restaurant of The Nines Hotel at 525 S.W. Morrison St, downtown Portland, USA. The man who jumped and died has been identified by the Multnomah County Medical's Examiner's Office as 34 year old Yinka Olonode."
The report continued thus,
"Portland Police Bureau spokesman said Yinka jumped from the hotel building's 15th floor around 6:30pm that Monday evening. He said they do not suspect foul play but that the death is under investigation. If Yinka indeed committed suicide, nobody knows why he did it.
Yinka was a model back in the day and worked briefly for Rhythm FM before relocating to the US in 2003. Continue to see the popular MTN 'Shy Guy' TV commercial he featured in over 11 years ago."
Yinka Olonode was my friend; we became close during my latter years at the University of Lagos where we both resided in the same hall of residence (Jaja hall). We were not room mates.
Immediately after Unilag, we both auditioned and got a part time job at Coolfm, Lagos, sometime in early 2002. We became co-presenters on a youth orientation radio show called ‘Get-a Grip’. The show was sponsored by ARDA (African Radio Drama Association).
Anchoring the radio show was a very fun experience; there were two other ladies on our team - Lolade and Tope. All four of us where a crazy young bunch on radio and the show did quite well, I think.
Yinka and I also auditioned for the MTN 'shy guy' TV commercial, he got the lead role while I got an executive N2,500 worth 'waka pass' role of which I opted out from.
Eventually, NYSC came calling and I landed a bank job from ‘Iseyin’ camp, decided to abandon showbizness and the rest is history. But this article is not about me, it’s about my friend Yinka. I believe Yinka was running a 5 year course or had some issues with some subjects, but we didn’t graduate together.
When I first read the report about Yinka's suicide in the US, the first thought that came to my mind was "Guy, you finally killed yourself." And then it hit me, realized that I’ve just lost a buddy.
Yinka's parents were separated, I once accompanied him to go visit his dad somewhere around Ago palace way. Yinka was a hustler in his own right, and like most of us, he loved being the centre of attraction.
I remember ‘yabbing’ (and biffing) Yinka as soon as his MTN 'shy guy' TVC hit the air waves. Okay, here's what happened; Yinka had dyed his hair golden brown for the TVC role but after shooting, he cut his hair and allowed his natural (black) hair grow. Months later, as soon as his MTN TVC kicked off on television, my guy quickly re-dyed his hair golden brown (for easy recognition) and truly relished the attention. ***Chei, if una see as babes rush this my guy back then eh***
Anyways as I sojourned into my new world as a corper/banker far away from Lagos, I was still in touch with Yinka, by this time he had landed a job as an OAP on Rhythm fm with the alias 'Noble'-and he seemed happy.
The last time I laid eyes on Yinka was sometime mid or early 2003 when my bank transferred me back to Lagos. My office was then at Ozumba Mbadiwe avenue, Victoria Island. I bumped into Yinka on Kofo Abayomi junction-he was riding a nice power bike, wore short dreadlocks and had these huge muscles from God knows where. He parked and we gisted for over an hour - catching up on life and all that.
Sadly, our last discussion was not a pleasant one- he revealed to me that he was leaving Nigeria for good. Yinka lamented to me about how he had no real friends and how people had sort to take advantage of him - at that time his famous MTN ad had stopped running. His lamentations were so deep that I vividly recalled saying to him (jokingly), "Bros, no go use worry kill yourself o, dis one wey u don dey drive heavy-okada for Lagos road." We laughed about it, exchanged pleasantries and parted ways. That was it.
Beyond the alleged suicide story, I don’t know the real details of what exactly happened to Yinka Olonode in the USA but I kind of wish he stayed back in Nigeria. Yinka left the shores of Nigeria in 2003 just when our entertainment industry was taking off – and Yinka LOVED showbiz. I have this belief that if Yinka had ‘persevered’ perhaps he would have attained much bigger success and fame in today’s Nigeria.
A lot of people that 'kissed' Yinka's Ass between 2002 and 2003 are now very big stars today; I can personally name three of them.
In conclusion, I'm a very bad mourner; I prefer celebrating the life and times of my loved ones that have crossed over.
I hope this article is a worthy tribute to my good friend Yinka Olonode. Rest in peace brother, we are all going to ‘sleep that sleep’ sooner or later. My warmest regards to Yinka's family and real friends.