-She cries as she catalogues the pains of losing her twin sister
‘When she died, I thought maybe I didn’t do enough’
‘I believe Taiwo is with me; that she will still come back’
‘Whenever I visit her grave, I’m reluctant to leave’
DEATH is a necessary end, it comes when it will come. For the surviving twin of the singing Oshadipe Twins, Kehinde, it’s exceptionally difficult to come to terms with the fact that Taiwo, the other half of the duo, is dead and will not come back to her forever.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly at our Ogba, Lagos office, on Friday, May 8, 2015, the beautiful entertainer gave a graphic report of how her twin sister, Taiwo kicked the bucket after an excruciating battle with the little known deadly disease, LUPUS and other sundry issues.
It has been established that Taiwo died of LUPUS. How and when was it discovered that she had the deadly disease?
After Taiwo had her son, she was frequently falling ill. Most of the time she would say she was feeling weak. That was about six months after she had her baby. She had the baby in April 2013. Once in a while, she would complain of weakness, but we thought it was a normal pain. Maybe she had malaria or typhoid and we were taking her to our regular private hospital. It got to a point it was becoming too frequent. So, some close people advised us to take her to General Hospital, reason being that they are more experienced and that they have more and better equipment to diagnose whatever maybe wrong with her. So, that’s why we took her to general hospital. When we got there the first day, the doctors couldn’t place their hands on her, they only referred us to the Department of Rheumatology. When we got to the department, they said she had to undergo a test. It was after the diagnosis that they ascertained she had SLE (LUPUS). And we didn’t know what that meant. We just had to ask them, they simplified what it means to us.
What were the early symptoms of the ailment?
The early symptoms Taiwo showed was first, she was complaining of weakness. And at a time, she couldn’t walk for too long. If she walked a very short distance, she would be gasping for breath. Then she was having pains all over her joints, especially in her legs. It got to a point she was coughing profusely to the extent that she was even coughing out blood. They conducted a tuberculosis (TB) test on her and it was negative. So, all these things were the reasons we had to go to General Hospital after series of diagnosis, and yet we couldn’t ascertain what actually went wrong with her.
Did you ever think the ailment was life threatening?
We never thought it was life threatening. We even thought she would get better after like a week and be strong again. But when we got to the General Hospital and they told us it’s LUPUS, and we never heard of it before, we had the fear that same day because it sounded strange to us but we didn’t want to scare her. But the first thing I asked the doctor was, “Are we still going to be singing together? Am I still going to be on stage with her? Am I still going to see my sister?” Then, I didn’t really know how serious LUPUS was. I was particular about our being together, our lives as Oshadipe Twins. I didn’t know it was something that would take her life.
Can you recall some of the major near death crises during the sickness?
Some of the crises were coughing out of blood, the loss of strength. Sometimes she would go blank, not seeing anything at all. There was a day she fainted. I was shouting her name, ‘Taye, Taye, what happened? Oh Jesus! Jesus!!’ And later she came alive. I now asked her, why did she do like that? She said, what did she do? I told her I was talking with her and you just went off like that. She told me she was just tired and everything was blank. Sometimes, she won’t eat well.
But we learnt people were suspecting it was a spiritual attack. How true is that?
It’s normal for people to think it’s a spiritual attack going by the nature of the ailment. Some people, up till now, still do not believe me if I say it’s LUPUS. They kept saying it’s spiritual attack. The disease is a funny one, it’s a way of your body fighting your body. And everyone that knew Taiwo would bear me witness that she wasn’t a sickler. She was a very strong person. If you see a person very strong today and the next day or few days you hear that the person is dead, you would think a lot of things. I won’t say spiritual attack doesn’t exist but in the case of Taiwo, the medical people confirmed it’s LUPUS, so let’s believe them.
Did you also agree with the report?
Yes, I agreed with the medical report. It’s mysterious though, I am not a medical doctor.
Did you also seek a spiritual means of healing her?
Apart from praying and going to church, nothing more because that’s the only thing we know. We also consulted people of God to pray for her.
What are the major efforts to ensure she was healed after discovering she had LUPUS?
She was admitted for over a month at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). Initially, the LUPUS attacked her lungs and after she was admitted her lungs were thoroughly cleared before she died. But after she got home like a month or two, she had another attack. So, the LUPUS didn’t go for her lungs anymore, it now attacked her heart. And LUPUS, according to the doctors, has no cure for now, it can only be controlled.
That’s why I am championing the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) against LUPUS. A lot of people were curious to know what really happened to Taiwo. And when they asked me, I told them about LUPUS, they all said they have not heard it before. I told them you have heard now. So, there is a disease called LUPUS. So, let’s fight it together.
On October 1, 2014, we’re together in her room. We were on the bed, watching Channels TV. She was telling me she was having a little pain in her chest and I said pain, because that month we’re billed to perform at Nnenna and Friends for children on Independence Day. And we’re preparing for the show, adverts were already on. And a week before, Taiwo went for medical checks. Among the patients of LUPUS, Taiwo was even the strongest. They’re all admiring her strength. LUPUS patients are treated with steroid, which has a tendency of retaining salt and water in the body to make the body swell. So, the drug made her face swell a little which was the reason she didn’t come out when she was sick. So, she told her consultant now that she was feeling strong, could he reduce the steroid? The doctor said he would reduce it. I think she was on 40mg before and at this point, she was already on 16mg. It’s not the kind of drug they would stop spontaneously. It had to be gradual. The doctor now said she could go for a walk and exercise around the neighbourhood. And that’s it. So, when she told me she was having pains in her chest, I asked why she said that after all she was the one that told the doctor she was strong. How come you are still feeling somehow. I said, ‘Please, don’t start that again.’ I didn’t really take her very serious. By October 2, the situation was getting severe. I called the consultant, he asked us to come to the clinic. When we got to the clinic, she was given some strong analgesic medication to reduce the pains. They conducted some tests on her and I was instructed to bring her the next day for ETB, a kind of diagnosis that checks the condition of the heart. Then from there, we both came back home.
Why I was trying to register her at the consultant’s clinic was because that was on a Thursday and her clinic at LASUTH doesn’t open on Thursday, it only opens on Wednesdays and Fridays. As I was trying to register at the consultant’s clinic, I just heard her voice, “Kehinde!” She was outside with my mom, I was inside the clinic. I ran outside, why is Taye calling me? My dad followed me, I got outside and asked my mom why is Taye calling me. My mom said Taye is in the car sleeping. She didn’t call you. My dad said, but Kehinde said she heard Taye calling her and that’s why we came outside. I went to the car and I saw her there, she didn’t say anything.
And she said she did not call you?
She did not call me. So, I went back inside to finish the registration. I started feeling funny. I said, I am a child of God. So, let me not start thinking evil. Let my faith make me believe everything would be alright. The doctor told us to go home, that she was going to be better. And we left. When we got home, she couldn’t go upstairs where her room was because of the pain. My room was downstairs, so I had to bring her things down to my room. I abandoned my bed for her, I slept on the floor. I only spread my wrapper and slept on it. And as I was lying down, I still heard that voice, “Kehinde!” And I would wake up. Doctor specifically told me I should buy more drugs for her so that I could bring her the next morning. As I was coming, I stopped at a pharmacy in Ikeja and bought the drugs. I administered the medication to her. She even told me that maybe because of the reduction of the steroid the heart was paining her. She now asked I should give her overdose maybe the pain would go down. I told her I wouldn’t give her overdose because that’s not the doctor’s instruction. I told her I wouldn’t want to complicate your situation. Just let me give you according to prescription. And I gave her the regular dose and she slept off. I would still hear the voice, “Kehinde!” And when I woke up, I wouldn’t see anybody. I would look at the bed and find Taiwo there sleeping. So, I was wondering whose voice I was hearing. “Nobody is calling me now or what’s really happening?” I would say to myself.
At a point, she woke up and sat down, I gave her the water bottle, she finished the whole water. She called me, she said she wanted more water, I gave her my water bottle and she drank the whole water. That’s early in the morning. It was our mom that woke us up, telling us it was already morning, asking if we’re not going to the hospital again. It was around 6 o’clock, and that was on Friday, October 3, 2014. So, as our mom knocked the door, I had a kind of feeling. I was afraid. It’s like there was a thief at the door that had come to steal something in the house. The feeling was just all over me. I almost didn’t even open the door. I asked, “Who is that? Who is that?” My mom answered, then I opened the door. She came in. Taiwo was breathing heavily, my mom said she heard the way Taiwo was breathing heavily. I went and sat down with her.
Even when she was really sick, she won’t want our mom to notice. She didn’t like to let her feel bad because it was barely three years we lost our elder brother. She thought our mom would be torn apart if anything happened to her. So, she was trying to be strong. I asked her in the presence of our mom, “Taiwo, how do you feel this morning?” She was almost speechless and breathless. She replied, “I feel better.” I said it’s okay. “Let’s get dressed up and go to the hospital.” That’s the last thing Taiwo said. But before then, she sat by the bedside and I held her hand. My body was touching hers, I discovered her body was cold. I held her hand but I still nursed the faith that everything would be fine. She was not looking at me, she just put her head down. She didn’t look at my face. I was just telling myself, we’re wasting time, we need to get ready and go to the hospital. I just stood up. I didn’t even bathe, I just wore something. I wanted us to leave in time. As I was dressing, my mom was with her. She said she wanted to ease herself, my mom helped her. Her urine was like blood. My mom was surprised. She said we just had to take the urine to the hospital so that the doctor could detect what’s actually wrong with her. Throughout the time she was ill, her urine was never that bad. I just heard my mom shouting, ‘Kenny, Kenny, come and see.’ I told my mom, leave her alone, there was nothing wrong with her. So, I went there and saw her. By the time I got there, she was lifeless.
I just said to myself, no, it’s not possible. Taiwo can’t just leave at this point. We had a lot of dreams and aspirations together, and she knew how far we have come. She can’t just leave me. How can she walk out on me just like that? I just called the security man in our house to help me carry her. The guy put her in my car, with my mom. My mom and the security man were calling her, she was not responding. I was looking back and calling her, Taye, Taye, Taye. I shouted, shouted her name, she wasn’t responding.
I did. I drove her to the hospital, LASUTH, to the emergency section. I called on a doctor to come and see her, I told her we have been shouting her name but she was not responding. The doctor checked her pulse, and confirmed her dead. We couldn’t still believe. I called another doctor, the same thing.
That meant she died right in the house?
That was in the bedroom or sitting room?
It was in the bedroom. She was sitting at the edge of the bed with my mom.
Did you ever blame yourself that maybe there were some things you should have done that you didn’t do to have saved her?
When it happened, I thought maybe I didn’t do enough. But God knows I did enough. Even Taye knew I did enough.
What was your immediate reaction when it dawned on you that Taiwo was no more?
After the whole thing, I was very upset. I was upset with Taiwo, I was upset with everybody, even with myself. I felt like, why can she just leave me like that? It’s unfair. What have I done? I was upset with Taiwo that there were some things I told her but she would not just listen to me. I said maybe if Taiwo had listened to me or done it my way, maybe it wouldn’t have been like this.
Like what and what?
Some choices she made, maybe as regards marriage or relationship. I was really upset why she just put me in that kind of situation. It’s becoming cumbersome. Now, her son is there, the career is there. So many responsibilities on me. Now, how do I cope with these responsibilities? And she knew I really don’t have the strength. She was stronger than me. I was upset with myself in the sense that I felt that such couldn’t have happened. All the while she was sick, I was by her bedside. Sometimes I slept on the floor at the hospital, sometimes I would be in the church praying. Most of the time I would be fasting and she knew. Even when she got back home, every night, I would go to her room and we will pray together. There was really nothing somebody could do for a sister that I think I have not done. But God knows best. Taiwo herself knew if it were possible for me to give my life for her, I would do it. When Taiwo was sick, I abandoned all I was doing, I abandoned my loved ones. I gave my all. I closed down my house. I was in the hospital with her all the time. I would be the one to take care of everything. My mom was there but how much strength does she have to go through all I went through? I believe I tried my best but God knows best.
That means the sickness lasted about a year…
It’s even well over a year because it has been showing signs but we didn’t notice. She was just treating malaria or typhoid, this and that.
And all along, you people were still performing at social events.
Yes, we were performing but most of the time she would tell me she can’t really do something vigorous because she said she didn’t have enough strength.
When was the time you realized Taiwo was no more?
I have not realized that time. Even up till now, I still don’t realize Taiwo is no more. Even as I sit down here now, I still believe Taiwo is around me. I have not been seeing her physically but spiritually, I still see her. It’s only that most times I don’t like to be emotional about it so that wherever she is, she too would not be emotional about me. As much as she has crossed to the other end, there are some of our friends that had gone, that she had seen now. So, she would try to make friends with those people and try to adapt to that life. That’s just the way I see it. I still see her as being very much around. I still see her clothes, I see her handwriting everywhere. I still can’t dispose off her shoes, clothes and other wears because I still have this feeling that Taye will still come back and wear all those things. I don’t know when. I am attaching a kind of emotion to things that belong to her. When Taiwo was here, I could say, ‘Taye, I want to use this thing. But now, I find it difficult to touch any of her things. I will just feel like Taye is not here for me to tell her I want to use her things. That’s exactly how I feel.
How did you cope for the first three days of her death?
First three days of her death was very challenging for me. I never even thought I could survive it. I would just sit and be imagining how we were together and begin to take it as my world is gone, everything is gone because Taye was my world. She meant everything to me. That’s just the truth because if the whole world should vanish now, and I see Taiwo, I don’t think I would miss anything. That’s how much we were into each other. She can’t be here and I won’t utter a word, I would just look into her eyes, we have communicated.
What was your last word at her graveside?
I just told her how much I loved her and I missed her. And that I would try my best, take care of her son. I have considered her son as mine and I will make sure I try my best which I think I am doing already. And I will make sure that the dream we passionately fought for and the hustles would not go in vain.
Have you ever visited her tomb since she was buried? And when you got there what did you say?
I have visited her tomb and when I visit, I wouldn’t want to leave. Even though it’s quiet. But just knowing that she is there is enough. Maybe people will say she wouldn’t hear me or talk back if I say something, I don’t really care. But for the fact that I know that as I am there that particular time, she knows that I am there. It took the help of our manager for me to leave the place. He was the one saying, ‘Kenny, Kenny, we have to go home.’ It’s still very emotional that Taiwo is lying down somewhere and I can’t help her. I can’t wake her up. How? That’s the most painful aspect of it.
When the thing happened, I just got tired and frustrated. I was just like what’s the meaning of life. What’s it all about? After all these struggles and everything and this kind of thing still happened, what next should I do? And you know, I am a realist. Most times when Taye was alive, I would approach her and say, ‘Taye, I am tired. I don’t think I want to do this music again because the way everything is going in this country I can’t understand. It’s like there is no plan for entertainment. The thing is just crazy. How long shall we wait? If I had even N10,000 and I invest it in recharge card business, and if it’s 50 kobo I am getting on it per day, I would be able to say this is what I have made as profit at the end of the day. But Nigerian entertainment industry, especially music, it’s like it’s getting worse by the day. So, it’s really challenging for me. But each time I told Taye I was tired and I wanted to give up, she would encourage me not to give up. She always told me there are a lot of people looking at us as role models. And I would say to her, okay, you’re saying this, how do we continue?
But I thought of it, if I decide to give up now, it will be very difficult for me. If I think about the challenges I have ahead of me which are numerous, I cannot begin to mention them because if I start mentioning them now, I won’t even leave here, which is obvious. Or I will continue to try my best and pray that one day, God will help me to achieve that which we both were not able to achieve together. I don’t just want to give up like that because I know Taiwo will be somewhere watching if I would be passive. I can’t just allow the struggle to just go like that. I have decided to try my best by continuing with music and in the drama series. I know that one day, myself and Taiwo are going to meet again. And by the time we see, I will be able to give her the account of what I did when she was not here. I hope I try my best.
Did you people consider taking her abroad during the sickness?
Yes, the family considered taking her abroad but she was well treated at LASUTH. She was at the private ward. She was adequately taken care of. She was on monitor, everything was adequately taken care of. They gave her optimum treatment and she got better. She was actually discharged, went back home and was fine. It’s not as if the thing got out of hand from LASUTH. It was after she got home that the sickness relapsed.
How is the family coping with her death?
The family is coping but it’s not something that can be forgotten just like that. The pain the death has created in the family is difficult to heal but we thank God she left a son. Left to me, I knew how I fought Taiwo because of that child, now I am thanking God she left that son for me. Three days before she died, she told me that she was sick because of me and you. I now looked at her, asking her why must you be falling sick because of you and I? I don’t understand. For what? She didn’t say anything again. We thank God the family is coping generally.
What of your mom?
We’re praying for her because when the incident happened, she almost killed herself.
How old is your mom now?
She is about 65.
What of dad?
He’s close to 70.
What are your plans to immortalize Taiwo?
My plans to immortalize her are one, I will not allow the disease that stole Taiwo away from me, I will not allow it to claim so many lives. I will continue to talk about it until people are aware there is a disease called LUPUS. Some of the plans I have for the NGO is that I want a structure erected for diagnosis because even when Taiwo was ill, some of the tests were done in South Africa. Her blood had to be taken to South Africa and it was very expensive. It cost almost N500,000 just to know that she had LUPUS or not. So, The Oshadipe Twins Initiative is an NGO that can’t just be handled by me. The federal and state governments also need to help me to fight LUPUS because its’ a deadly disease. And it’s becoming more and more common.
The ailment would have set the family back by how much?
I can’t even say exactly how much was spent but it was running to about N5 million. Diagnosis, hospital bills, medication and all that.
A lot of people will want to know the paternity of her son, his name and all that. Can you share these with us?
I don’t want to talk about the son for now. I don’t want to spur another controversy. I think her son is still a minor and I don’t want to say anything concerning him.
But can’t you tell us his name?
I am not going to say the name of her son but everybody calls him Obama. Whatever I say is authoritative. So, I won’t say anything about that for reasons best known to me.
When are you releasing the first album after her death?
I just released an album at the comeback concert, the compilation of our best, Oshadipe Twins Best.
When are you organizing a walk against LUPUS in honour of Taiwo?
We will be walking against LUPUS on October 3, 2015 in commemoration of one year of Taiwo’s death. So, from now till October 3, we will be trying to gather our volunteers and will be trying to sell our T-shirts and faze caps which we’re going to use to raise fund and create awareness for people and also to help the victims of LUPUS. So far, many people have joined the cause. Many pharmaceutical companies, Drugfield, Taiwo’s consultant, Professor Femi Adelowo, Mr. Wale Adenuga (MFR), Mr. Yinka Aiyefele, Her Excellency, the First Lady of Ondo State, Mrs. Oluwakemi Mimiko. She is one of my very strong support. She has been strengthening me on this very project and so many other good people as well.
How old was Taiwo when she died and when is your next birthday?
She died at exactly 30. Our next birthday is September 16.
A lot of people will want to know what’s going to happen to Taiwo’s dresses and car now that she is late and both of you shared a lot of clothes. Can you shed light on this?
Maybe if I am able to get over her things being around me because sometimes when I need her, I still look at her clothes. Even there are some clothes I don’t even wear again because of Taiwo. Anytime I wear them, they will bring back memories of her. So, I have so many clothes in my wardrobe. I will still tell people I want to go shopping, they would be wondering why I still want to shop again after all Taiwo left so many clothes for me and those I have in my wardrobe.
They are like, are they not enough for me? So, what are you shopping for? But I am like I can’t wear those clothes. So, if I have to dispose of Taiwo’s clothes, then I will have to dispose of mine too so that I will know that episode is over. But I am not at that point yet. Her clothes are still well arranged in her room in my house because she has a room in my house, and I have a room in her house too.
Do you people have houses?
Yes, a property we had together.
Where is the property located?
I am not going to disclose that but we have a property that we worked together for, and that we were able to build out of our sweat. And I have it in my plan that henceforth, whatever I make in the name of the brand, I will create a bank account for her son and give him Taiwo’s share of the whole thing because we both suffered together for this brand. That’s why I can’t give up. It will be unfair to Taiwo for me to give up.
Some people believe you ought to have settled down, when do you intend doing that?
Yes, every woman’s dream is to settle down but because of the society we find ourselves, most times relationship tend to limit career women. And when you see most women that are successful in their career, you hardly see them married. I don’t know if it’s because of our society. I can’t really put my finger on it. My fear is that when I am married, most of the things I am doing now, I may not be able to do them again. And it’s the prayer of all parents to see their children settled and stuffs like that. I still see there are a lot of responsibilities ahead. I pray God gives me a man that will understand where I am coming from, that will understand the kind of passion I have for what I am doing. It’s not an assignment that I can just abandon.
Even I hardly sleep. Sometimes I feel like Taye is waking me up, ‘Kenny, you’re sleeping, our career is sleeping.’ It’s the dream of two people, it makes me restless. I can’t just abandon it.
Have you found the right man?
I have not, I am still searching.
Is it difficult finding a right man?
(Laughs) I don’t know. But it’s difficult. Why? I am a celebrity number one, and most of the people that come, like I always tell people, you don’t know their intention. And most of the time, I can meet a person, to me the person is a stranger but I am not a stranger to that person because the person had already known me even more than I know myself. A mere click on my name on Google, different stories will come out. And the person will come to me with that mindset. But I am coming to the person with a mindset that I am meeting a stranger whereas to that person I am not a stranger. So, it’s difficult to know people’s intention. But I believe when the time is ripe, God will provide my man for me. I am not in a hurry.
– TADE ASIFAT