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UMN student Tobiloba Taiwo remembered by friends after recent death

Friends recall fond memories of Tobi and reflect on his character following his death on Feb. 21, 2022.
Courtesy+of+Tony+Kamel
Courtesy of Tony Kamel

Tobiloba Taiwo, a first-year University student and biology major, is remembered by friends as caring, respectful and always smiling.

“He would always come to performances if I had them,” Jerico Manalo, a first-year student and Tobi’s roommate, said. “It really meant a lot and is [a] really good testament to his character too because he was always always there for his friends.

Tobi died on Feb. 21, 2022 at the Recreation and Wellness Center (RecWell). He was 18.

Tobi’s immediate family responded to the Minnesota Daily that they did not want to comment at this time as they continue to grieve.

Omar Rabeaa attended high school with Tobi at the Math and Science Academy in Woodbury, Minn. He was a friend of Tobi’s and frequently played basketball with him.

“He just always loved playing basketball,” Rabeaa said. “He was always the only one out of us who could almost dunk.”

Rabeaa was in a friend group that included Tobi and two of Tobi’s closest friends, Tony Kamel and Jerico Manalo. “They were like a trio,” Rabeaa said.

Manalo, a first-year University student and Tobi’s roommate, met Tobi when they were 12 years old when the two sat by each other to take a math placement test before starting middle school.

According to Manalo, the two laughed about getting the same test score and then got to know each other as they had similar class schedules.

Courtesy of Tony Kamel

Manalo recalled a funny memory of Tobi from when the two were graduating high school. Manalo said he was printing photos for his upcoming graduation party and sent the photos to Walgreens to print.

“Tobi was actually at the Walgreens that the photos were printing at,” Manalo said. Tobi texted Manalo asking if he was printing photos at the moment.

“He was like, ‘Bro, are you like printing out photos right now?’” Manalo said. “I was like, ‘Yes. How’d you know that?’”

Tobi answered that as he was walking through the Walgreens, he walked past the photo printer just as a picture of him and Manalo together was printing out.

“He was like, ‘Bro, I’m at this Walgreens. And I see a photo of myself printing out’ which is so funny,” Manalo said.

In a Medium article co-written with Kamel following Tobi’s passing, Manalo wrote, “When college started, we were still together; this time as roommates and best friends.”

According to Kamel and Manalo’s article, religion has been an important part of Tobi’s friend’s and family’s grieving process.

“[Religion] was a really big part of [Tobi’s] life. He was Catholic just like me,” Manalo said. “When me and Tony were looking through his stuff in the room after he died, he had a paper on his desk and it was just a Bible study.”

“We both were just amazed at that, because he was really an angel his whole life,” Manalo said.

Kamel said in the article he was friends with Tobi for eight years.

“[Tobi] was a soul that shined so brightly on my heart. He always made me feel loved and comfortable,” Kamel wrote in the Medium article. “Despite the length of our relationship, we never fought. We never had a dull moment.”

Tobi was a first-year student majoring in biology and wanted to become a doctor, Manalo said.

“We just had dreams of traveling the world as doctors together and just helping people together,” Manalo said. “It was definitely something that he was passionate about.”

According to Tobi’s friends, Tobi’s two main hobbies were playing basketball and creating music.

“He was always making music with his friends, either making music or sharing music that he really liked,” Manalo said.

Bennett Nunn, a friend of Tobi’s since elementary school, said Tobi was very caring and always knew the right thing to say to comfort a friend.

“He is genuinely the best person I’ve met in my entire life,” Nunn said. “I’ve never met someone so kind, so caring [and] so well-rounded.”

Dare Akinyemi, a family friend to the Taiwo family, echoed similar sentiments. “While there is nobody that’s perfect, if there is anybody close to perfection, [Tobi] represents that,” Akinyemi said.

Akinyemi described Tobi as a natural leader, saying he took care of his two younger brothers.

“He’s always smiling. Never fighting with anybody,” Akinyemi said. “He brings people together.”

Tobi is survived by his mother and father, Dayo and Kayode, and his two brothers Tomi and Tolu.

Manalo recalled a fond memory of Tobi when they were eating lunch together in middle school.

“We were just talking about our names and I talked about my name [and] how I’m just named after an actor in the Philippines,” Manalo said. “He really one-upped me in that because his name Tobiloba — his full name — means God is great and marvelous.’”

“His whole life was a testament to that statement,” Manalo said.

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