I first met Dr. Yakub a while back in 2013 as an undergraduate student. He, without a doubt, was one of my favourite Lecturers not only in my view but also in the view of most of the students he taught. He was a modest gentleman, a forthright person, and a great teacher.
When Dorine Sambla, a Tanzania-based teacher and one of my undergraduate coursemates, asked me to either confirm or dismiss the news sprawling in the streets of social media regarding Daktari’s unfortunate death, I was quick to dismiss it and tell her to ignore the same, for Daktari could not be dead. On second thought, I called my teacher Sir John Midega over the same. He was lost for words; he only mentioned that he was taken ill three weeks ago and then ended the call prematurely.
I decided to navigate social media, and I couldn’t help but understand that the rumour could not be far from the truth. In Kiswahili, it is said, that ‘Lisemwalo lipo’ meaning what is said exists.
My mind stubbornly refused to process the truth.
Life is, indeed, very fickle.
A year after completing my undergraduate studies, I badly wanted to pursue my masters in the field of literature. I consulted a number of individuals, among them Daktari. When I finally made up my mind, he encouraged me to fast-track the application for a scholarship at the University of Sheffield in the UK which I had scouted as among the institutions I would wish to join for my postgraduate studies. When the time came to write a referral, Doc did it passionately. I managed the stages but got stuck when I was told to produce an IELTS certificate. I argued that there was no need for one since I had a Bachelors degree in English. Unfortunately, it ended in premium tears.
Doc was disappointed when he learnt that I missed it merely on account of arguing against an established process and not merit. He, among other teachers of mine, were willing to help me pay the twenty thao or so that I found unnecessary and unwarranted.
He, nonetheless, encouraged me thereafter.
Dr. Yakub, as he was famously called was a man of great demeanor, temperament, and faith. He was the go-between person for most students whenever all options had been exploited. He did his work charmingly and would attend to his students even beyond working hours. Besides, he was a man of faith and never shied away from expressing his reverence to God even in an environment where reason appealed to people more than God.
One particular case that will forever remain etched in my memory was when a disabled student had failed an exam because he could not attempt the main question in an exam. The question carried 30 marks and required a drawing which was not possible. The course lecturer on the other hand was unaware of the development leading to the disability. After the student formally complained to me, I raised the issue, then serving as the Chairperson of the Education Students Organisation (M.U.E.S.). Doc called me the very day and shared that the issue had been resolved to the joy of the affected student.
Students and colleagues, both past and present, have thronged social media platforms showering praise to this great teacher, colleague and friend, most expressing anger at death and how picky it is—as it seemingly only picks the best.
Maseno University English and Literature Students Association (MUELISA) had the following to say:
“Dr. Yakub Adams, Our memories together will keep us going. We feel your presence even though you have gone to be with the Lord. We know that your kind soul is in Paradise watching over us. Till we meet again. Rest in Peace Doc.”
Dr. Benard Kodak, a friend and former colleague had this to say:
“Dr. Al Hajj Yakub Adams Wuod Onjiko Kobong’o Ahero Nyando, fare thee well.“
Chrispine Ochieng, a former student posted the following:
These days we merely exist,
See, the world has turned –
Its back on us
Our lives have become utterly fragile
One moment we cruise around,
Filled with life to brim!
Another moment we drop still,
Devoid of life!
Oh, what a cruelty!
Today our hearts are heavy
We roast in anger and agony
We drown in acrid seas of tears,
Knowing that our beloved has departed
Today we smile in pain,
Reliving the pleasurable times
We spent seeing –
Our beloved’s charming smile
We shake our heads in denial,
Knowing we’ll never see it ever again!
And even with knowledge –
Of how futility our efforts and wishes are,
We still curse death,
Hoping that some day,
It dies a painful death too!
Journey well, Daktari,
Journey well, Mwalimu,
Journey well, Rafiki,
Journey well, Ndugu,
Journey well, Baba
Journey well, Yakub Adams!“
Kelvin Nyamache, a former student and former M.U.E.S. chair posted:
“His voice that once rang out has been stilled by the inexorable power of death. He rests now with the sages.Goodnight Dr. Yakub. We will miss you“
Bryson Omwalo, a friend and colleague at Maseno University shared:
“Let us mourn our friend the best way we can Let us scribble our feelings in whatever way!“
Opiyo Odongo, famously known as “Shakespeare” and the immediate former Somu President had the following to say:
“Life is indeed too short. My Lecturer Dr. Yakub Adams has left us with the unit halfway….Maseno University has lost a very dedicated lecturer. May your sould rest in peace Japuonj“
Words can not capture with exact precision how impactful Dr. Yakub was to his family, students, friends and colleagues. There are many accounts of his goodness, most of which may never be shared. Doc was a honourable gentleman, a good human being and a great teacher. Nind gi kwe Daktari.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Allah we shall return.