ROTIMI EWEBIYI: A Rare Socialist Class Fighter Passes On
By Peluola Adewale
Rotimi, photo by DSM
We are republishing this obituary to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Rotimi Ewebiyi who played a key political and organisational role in the building the DSM during the military dictatorship and the first years of civilian rule.
RE is dead! It is shocking and heart-rending. This is a bitter but a must pill to swallow. It is an unfortunate reality. Rotimi Ewebiyi popularly called RE by comrades died at a Lagoon hospital, Apapa, Lagos on June 6, 2004 at the age of 42 after a protracted struggle with the cancer of pancreas. He was buried on June 8, 2004. Tragically, his wife and the youngest child had died few weeks few weeks before RE’s death. He was survived by three children, aged mother, brothers and sisters.
RE was a full time worker as the national organiser and de facto editor of Socialist Democracy, paper of DSM for almost 14 years. He was a member of the National Executive Committee of the organisation and also a member of the International Executive Committee of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), an international socialist organisation, which has DSM as its Nigerian section.
RE was one of the earliest members of the organisation as he joined and became a socialist activist in the 1980s as a student at the University of Lagos, where he obtained a first degree in Physics. Since then and until his death, he contributed and participated immensely in all the struggles of the working people in Nigeria for democratic, social and economic rights. He was a major contributor to all the publications of DSM since 1990s particularly the bi-monthly publication of DSM, ‘Socialist Democracy’, which has as its forerunners ‘Labour Militant’ and ‘Militant’. Socialist Democracy is today the only regular and most widely circulated socialist paper and propaganda in Nigeria.
He wrote mostly anonymously or at times with the name “Friday Foluso” or other pennames. This attribute was not born out of fear of repression. He actually served prison terms in Kano state in 1990 after himself and Comrade Biodun Olamosu were arrested for pasting posters demanding an immediate end of military rule. As far as RE was concerned, his semi-anonymous role was something vital to ensure balance with other comrades compelled to play a more open role. RE’s uniqueness however lies in that he played this role so excellently without any ill feelings or petty-bourgeois vanity of being regarded as humble or altruistic. He was sociable, a courageous and excellent public speechmaker with an elucidating and convincing ability whenever occasions demanded. He was a source of inspiration and a counsellor to many comrades. He was admired by all for his good nature, calmness, humility, dignified comportment, honesty, intelligence and hard work.
With his untimely death, the Democratic Socialist Movement, DSM, and the working class internationally have lost a pearl, rare revolutionary class fighter and a committed scientific socialist. But he did not die in vain as he was able, within his short but well spent life, to leave his bold imprint on the promotion of those living ideas, the genuine ideas of scientific socialism. He engraved his name on the marble of history in gold as he dedicated his life to the cause of humanity through the teaching and practice of Marxism, building of revolutionary socialist organisation and organisation of the working people to overthrow capitalism. The DSM and CWI call on members to redouble efforts to replace the decadent capitalism with democratic socialist society along with the working people as the greatest honour to his memory.
EXTRACT FROM RE’S CONDOLENCE REGISTER
“A really rare revolutionary class fighter and socialist. A life, though short but well spent – totally devoted to the emancipation of the working class. We will miss you and also remember you by redoubling our energy towards the ideas you stood for – the emancipation of the working class from oppressive capitalism. Adieu”. – Wale Eleto