We had met way before we became cool friends. His name had always been carved in silver and gold.
Back then to every AIESEC student member, the name Kunle Olaifa meant a whole lot as he was renowned for helping AIESEC Nigeria get enviable partnerships with very big companies while also always helping every AIESEC member he came across. My first encounter with him was at one of the AIESEC conferences in Lagos (back in University days) in which I had forcefully squeezed out precious time from my very depressing school schedule back then. Based on the stuffs I had heard about him, I had always held the name in high esteem and the respect I had for him even from a distance was unbelievable. He had an angelic aura, one you rarely found in humans, especially not in our generation. There and then I had made up my mind that he was going to be a mentor to me, no matter what.
Luckily, I met him once again and this time properly after I had responded to his random tweet while acknowledging him as a secret mentor whom I had always wanted to get close to. That was all I needed to meet the super-cheerful yet ever-so-genuinely-busy Kunle Olaifa. The meeting was scheduled the next week for the Co-Creation Hub and it eventually became one that started one of the best relationships I have ever had with a human.
In no time, we had struck a unique chemistry and he was able to help me overcome a major obstacle I was encountering in my career growth. He was a motivator and he always believed him me even when I didn’t believe in myself. He pushed me real hard..when I say real hard, I mean real hard! He even empowered 3 close family and friends including my younger brother.
Kunle found everything a little too easy and always felt it was supposed to be the same with you. And even though he was sleeping, breathing and eating H.R, Kunle also excelled in marketing, graphics design and presentations, project management, financial management, football, speaking, and things you can never even imagine. Just name it. He was as multi-talented as Messi and I often joked that if a company had 5 Kunles’ in the organisation, they won’t need no other. He was more like a super-human.
While I worked with him on several human capacity building projects such as EditmyCV, Career Solutions Africa, Job Fair, Cascaid, Future of Work, and some others, I learnt a whole lot. I learnt how to be selfless and impactful, how to embrace anyone that I came across no matter how busy I was, how to be the best boss and how to manage employees, I learnt how to be an awesome husband and father, I learnt how to believe only in possibilities and most importantly, how to change the world in several little ways.
It wasn’t all rosy between us though.. We had some internal issues but no matter what we encountered, he would never forsake me. He may go all quiet but he just won’t forsake you..that wasn’t the Kunle I knew. In addition, Kunle would share anything and relatively everything he had. His food, drink, money, time..everything. You only needed to send him a mail or text to get a reply that very day. He cared so much about everyone around him.
There is this Yoruba saying about a bigger personality not been about the age.. Yes Kunle was only 4 years older than I was, but it felt like he was 45yrs older. I couldn’t even bear to call him by name, even though he particularly despised the typical Yoruba style of respect and insisted on being called Kunle, I just still couldn’t. That was how much I respected him.
I would say this with all authority that Kunle Olaifa was the best and most humble man have I ever met.. I bet on all others to take up the challenge! Heaven was made for people like you bro. May your gentle soul rest in perfect peace as you rest in the bosom of the Almighty.
Adieu to my Mandela. See you in Heaven.