Wanted Dead Or Alive!

‘I was wanted dead or alive,’ Balogun recalls. ‘I escaped to Bomo, a town far from my home base of Samaru, Zaria.’

Though in Yoruba, Igbo or English attire, you could mistake him for a Hausaman. Abraham Oluwafunso Balogun speaks fluent Yoruba, Hausa and English. Currently living in Magboro, Ogun State, Balogun is well-travelled within Northern Nigeria and has lived in towns and villages such as Tudun Wada, Kachia, Barnawa, Narayi. Kafanchan, Zonkwa, Gyadi, Gyadi, Yankaba, Talese, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Sokoto and Abuja. Down South, Balogun sojourned in Otta, Calabar, Uyo, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Auchi and Lagos in his perambulations plying or seeking a means of livelihood.

Funso Balogun, Sickle Cell Warrior

The father of two was born and raised in Zaria, the firstborn of the family and the only one with sickle cell anaemia. His birth was a long-wished-for dream come to pass.

‘My dad always wanted a male child as firstborn to steep in Islamic custom and tradition,’ says Balogun.

Balogun’s dad was a fiery preacher and an imam at Zango, near Samaru.

By the time he was seven, Ibrahim Balogun knew the Koran by heart. At 10, he was following his father to Islamic conferences in northern Nigeria, hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. His mom, a Christian who at marriage converted to Islam was none too pleased but tradition sealed her lips. Who was she to criticize the religious upbringing of a child!


In the nature of things, conflicts are inevitable between friends, spouses and even faiths. Sometimes religious tensions flared up between Christians and Moslems in monolithic Northern Nigeria, sometimes from events in countries such as Iran and Syria and Iraq and Israel that really have nothing to do with them.

‘On such occasions,’ Balogun recalls, ‘my dad would tag me along to vandalise Christian places of worship around town.’ The Senior Balogun was, after all the Chief Imam of Zango, Samaru and must be seen to be hurt and upset whenever infidels anywhere in the world made life uncomfortable for Ulamma.

Mouthing imprecations at Christianity and prompting his son to follow suit, the duo, their anger emblazoned on their mien, knew they were carrying out divine commands against kaffirs.

Epiphany & Conversion

The little Islamic fanatic went to primary and secondary school in Samaru. Bouts of heavy pain crises and hospitalization frequently interfered at exam time. The school officers understood, but rules were rules. He found himself repeating classes.

On a particularly severe crises episode, the unconscious Warrior found himself surrounded by a strong, white halo of pure brightness and a voice declaring – ‘I will use you as a vessel for my glory!’

On recovery, despite strong objections from his family, he joined an informal Bible teaching class.

‘My father disowned me and made threats – so did many Islamic organizations in our town – but I stood my ground.’ Balogun was only 14 years old then.

After baptism, he changed his name from Ibrahim to Abraham.

His father would have none of it. The child was worse than an infidel. He must be brought back to the fold or …

‘I was wanted dead or alive,’ Balogun recalls. ‘I escaped to Bomo, a town far from my home base of Samaru, Zaria.’ He was just 18 years old.

Father and son would never meet again. ‘I did not once step into the house until after he passed away,’ says the younger Balogun.

On his death bed, the Chief Imam of Zango prayed for all his children – except his first born who turned away from the faith.

It was at this trying period that the Christian convert met Taribo West, the mid- fielder who came to Zaria for a crusade at the Ahmadu Bello University.

‘Taribo West took me to Port Harcourt.’

Balogun’s mom was overjoyed at his conversion but dared not display her feelings. She rejoined the Christian fold herself after her husband passed away in 2010.

Photography & Video Training

Unable to finish secondary school, he learnt Photography and Video editing at the Film Unit, Mass Communications Department, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

‘There was one terrific lecturer there who went by the name of Dr. Andrew Omebije,’ Balogun says. ‘He helped me to be the outstanding photographer that I am today.’

On receiving his certificate, Balogun travelled to Lagos, with nowhere in mind to stay. He was later introduced to Mrs. Dele George, founder, Strong Tower Mission, who allowed him to stay as a guest and paid him a stipend as a photographer.

While roughing it out at the orphanage, he met his future wife.

After marriage, Balogun would venture out from home seeking clients to photograph at so much per picture. What with his suave manner, confident approach and flawless English to boot – single ladies found him irresistible. A good number invited him to their bedroom for portraits and nudes!

How did he cope as a Born Again?

‘It was really by ascetic self-discipline,’ he replies. ‘Not very difficult if you focus on the job and not on the subject.’

Much dotted upon by his kids, Isaac and Rebecca, the first fruit of Islamic parentage has come a long way indeed.

Balogun turned 50 in September 2020.

The Sickle Cell Warrior @ 50

Balogun’s life with SCD has not been rosy in any way. He has had six surgeries including ones for priapism, glaucoma, avascular necrosis and skin grafting. He has also known deep poverty, the consequence of not having anyone to push him up professionally. Recently, he has been so ill he was at one time suspected of having COVID-19, the virus currently mopping up lives around the world.

Since turning 50 he has been having issues with his breathing and severe daily chest pains, which have prompted him to engage in the dangerous practice of taking large doses of diclofenac.

‘A doctor friend begged me to leave off taking diclo, suggesting I either grit my teeth and bear the pain or take only paracetamol,’ says Balogun.

He doesn’t know sickle cell pain, otherwise he wouldn’t ask me to be a stoic or to take useless pain medication, he contends. Apparently, paracetamol does not work anymore for the veteran sickle cell warrior.

A hardworking family man and talented photographer, Balogun now works on appointment. If you are in Lagos, Ogun or Oyo State and you need excellent photography and video services, Funso Balogun is your man.

He also needs assistance to set up a photo studio near his residence. If you are moved to help, please use any of the account details below:

Account Name: Balogun Funso Abraham

Bank: Access Bank

Ac No: 0013556639 OR

Account Name: Funsho Abraham Balogun

Bank: GTB

Ac No: 00165011868

Balogun can be reached on 08026190002 and whatsapp on 08149371991. Email address: prosperfunsho@gmail.com

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