I never knew Grace Akujobi personally. But one, she was a journalist, which makes her one of my own. Secondly, her passing was just sad, to say the least.
I can not but feel the pain of the Nigerian female national team, the Super Falcons. Grace Akujobi was their Media Officer, and a journalist. They must have seen each other, stayed together in camp, eaten meals together all through the preparation for the African Women's Championship, to the competition proper in Namibia last October. They laughed and rejoiced together when Nigeria won the African title.
Then they went to camp to prepare for the women's World Cup in Canada. They stayed together in camp, in the U.S., all through till they got to Canada. She was their spokesperson, treated all media enquiries all the way to Canada during the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Returning from Canada, they were together preparing to play Equatorial Guinea this weekend just gone, in an Olympic qualifier.
Thursday morning (16th July), they must have woken up in camp, had breakfast together. And some of the players would have retreated to their rooms only to learn a few hours later that Grace Akujobi is dead! She didn't pass out, she's not ill. She's actually.....gone! Never to be seen again.
When I heard it, my stomach turned. I felt sick. It was sad. I felt it. So I can't just imagine how those players, officials and most important, Grace's family must have felt, and must be feeling even now.
Her Twitter handle - VivaGracious - shows that she was full of life, with her whole life ahead of her. And it is quite a shame that her life has been cut short.
As a journalist who was just doing her job, we must pay tribute to this young lady. Her death defies explanation but commiserations to her family can not be over emphasised. And I can only pray for strength in the Akujobi family to be able to bear the loss, and pray for the peaceful repose of the soul of the departed.