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At about noon on Thursday 14th October, 2021 news filtered in that the inevitable has happened. The long cruel arm of that random reaper, death has caught a rave of the moment.

Sadly, and agonisingly so, the whirlwind took Deborah Oluwakemi Aduke Ayeni, popular known as Yikengbe, cutting the rising star in her prime.

A scion of the Tokee brand, Deborah had positioned herself, giving everything to continue upholding the Yoruba and Ijesa culture and tradition through performing arts.

A lover of arts, Yikengbe was many things rolled into one frame. She was a dancer, a songwriter, a poet, a dance-dramatist, a composer, a script writer, a drummer and an orator.

Deborah Aduke was a typical example of ability in disability. Her dwarfed status did not deter her one bit. Rather, she found her passion and wholly gave herself to it.

An entertainer of no small measure, Yikengbe always found happiness in doing her trade, and making others happy in the process. She always leave people better than she met them.

An amiable personality, she has a friendly aura around her all the time. This always endear her to anyone who comes in contact with her. Deborah was a household name, she always become instant sensation everywhere she found herself.

In 2018, the Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa, Oba Oluwafemi Agunsoye intensified efforts on the need to continually promote arts and cultural heritage. He asked that I work on forming a cultural troupe unique to Egboroland. This gave birth to the Egboro Cultural Troupe.

Deborah was contacted and duely briefed. She promptly gathered about 18 young boys and girls in secondary school. She trained and groomed them and they have since become a toast of the society. They have performed many times within the community and even outside. She led the troupe and continued to nurture them till she breathed her last.

In these three years, Yikengbe and I worked with the troupe alongside Chief (Mrs) Latoya Aduke Ekemode. They were taught performing arts and morals. Yikengbe was the engine room. Alas! She is no more.

Though she died so untimely, at a time we least expected, yet, it is symbolic as she bowed out when the ovation was loudest. Adieu, Aduke!

My thoughts are with her children, her aged mother, her husband and siblings who are truly bereaved at this moment. I sincerely pray God to keep, preserve and provide for them all. May the Holy Spirit comfort them and heal their wounded hearts.

Yikengbe will always be remembered for a life well spent.

Tribute by Sunday Ademola Ojelabi, Personal Assistant to Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa

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