Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The death of Jahman Anikulapo

Godwin Agbroko, the former Editor of African Guardian, The Week, Newswatch, and lately Chairman ThisDay Editorial Board, was brutally killed on Friday(December 22) night, less than two kilometres to The Guardian's Rutam House office.

Ruonah, his (awaiting NYSC) daughter published the article below the following day on Saturday, December 23. Now, I know why i have been so sad ever since Oga Goddee -- as we fondly called him at The Guardian in his days here -- was murdered. In some ways I have become an extended member of the family…

I had not met any other member besides Oga Goddee, until I met Ruonah, the daughter by accident on Wednesday December13… well, I had met her through reading her columns on the pages of ThisDay Plus every Saturday… I recall that I had even had occasion to make enquiry about her, having read one of the stuff she did on, I think, the fuss about dressing culture of the young… I need to check this out.

I thought that for a young person herself that depth of reasoning san all those stuff about `they are young, let them explode' was inspiring…I was talking about meeting Ruonah physically, right?

Now, on December 13, I had gone to Eko FM as a guest of the popular `Breakfast With Mr K', a programme thatis truly innovative in every sense of the word.... it is broadcast live from the studio of Eko FM but it is cast also on the internet such that anywhere you are in the world, you could access it. In fact while I was in the studio (with NAFDAC's heroine, Dora Akunyili)calls came in from as far as France, UK and the USA. Also, inventive is the Celebrity News Reading .. I read the news with Dora…. come deh shake gbirigbiri for mouth… even though I had done same (and on magazines) in 1986/1987 with FRCN as a jobless fresh graduate, and later in mid-90s as an adventurous co-presenter on The Beat (with Kole Ade-Odutola andToyin Akinosho)…

Anyway back to meeting Ruonah: I was embarrasingly late into the studio that day. I was expected at 8.20pm, but did not get in until about 9.10 am. Why? It was the day the madness of Governor OjuYobo Tinubu's Lagos (may God deliver us from his spell ofi ncompetence and inept governance in 2007) decided to play its worst drama. The traffic was maddening, as Area Boys and all the crazy fellows in uniform mounted inexplicable barrierseverywhere.. .
Surprisingly the traffic only occurred where-ever you see Tinubu's uniformed rogues!.... at other places, trust Lagosians, they got around to sorting (or slugging) it out. Well, sadly and out of character, I made the studio solate.

As I rushed in there, I was accosted by a slim lady in a smart jeans dress... `Uncle Jahman, so this is you...' she washed off my mix of agitation and anger. 'Uncle Jahman? I had to look around for that fellow… `Uncle!'Me ke? Me that should have been flogged for getting late to alive programme. Well, I unleashed the tyranny of my tongue... I am so sorry, it is this impossible Lagos, those crazy Danfo drivers, the madmen of Lagos trafficscheme bla bla......

`No, Uncle don't worry we wereall victims of that traffic too. Ruonah said. " I spent two hours on that same route.. from Ire Akari", she had recounted. "It wasserious o, Uncle..".`Uncle', again! Okay, it is me she is talking to, right? But who is this smiling lady Uncling me all the way? I was still working out the best way to get that query across, when she helped out…My Daddy speaks so highly about you? I even told him Iwanted to start writing for Life magazine. I love whatyou do with that magazine. My dad loves it so much,and so I told him I would want to write for themagazine. Her Daddy?

`He said he worked with you at The Guardian?' All the while I still had no clue.. Ruonah who?Haaaaa!`Writing for Life is simple…. Okay, give me your number..'She wrote her name,,, and wala! Ruonah Agbroko!

Oh, so you are my Uncle's daughter? She smiled. You are the columnist in This day, the one I have been reading… wow, you are so young…. She broke out in a broader smile now…. And a wink of caution had to come from the studio minder… as Dora was all the while being interviewed by the main anchor/ initiator of the programme – Kayode Akintemi. As I was going to keep the praise-singing going on, Iwas summoned to join Dora at the Mic to present the news…. That broke my fascination with this young, deep and intense lady.. one I could actually call my niece.

In any case, we continued after the programme, as she reminded me of her earlier request to be part of the committee for Relevant Art's subsequent programmes. That was when I invited her and the entire crew of the`Breakfast with Mr K', to the Formal Presentation of the Prince Claus Award to CORA holding the next day December 14 at the Netherlands Embassy on Lagos Island. The team attended the show. I recall Ruonah dressed in skirt suit, looking fit and trim. I think I joked that she looked like an air hostess, and earned that smile once more. The team was busy on that day – it was desirous of talking to Ambassador Ariel Van der Weil, who was chief host of the day, which explained why we eventually never got to talk.. but I saw when the four-some `Breakfast with Mr K' team was leaving thevenue. A joyous group, I remember now. I saw that smile again.

Now I shudder to see tears roll down those innocent young cheeks that spoke so passionately about `My Daddy…'; My Dad'.. on my first encounter with Ruonah. For that, I have been hell scared to head to the family house in the Isolo area to pay my respect to Oga Goddee, that committed journalist, fine columnist whose main writing virtues were the depth of his thought, sincerity of intellection, and simple-ness of prose… the man who as Editor of the African Guardian, accosted me one day on the staircase, gave me a stick of cigarette and bellowed... `No think say na only Guardian and Lagos Life you go deh give all that your arts stories… we deh here too o'… He did not even wait for an answer from my shocked lips, he just walked on in his`rolling style'…

But that was what launched me into copies to that magazine that died an untimely death with the Abacha proscription in 1996.


The Prince Claus/ Cora ExampleBy Ruonah Agbroko, Email:wudupls@yahoo. com, 12.23.2006

A week ago, I heard for the first time that His RoyalHighness, Prince Claus of the Netherlands in 1996 hada fund inaugurated in his name as a 70th birthdaypresent. What this has got to do with the price of teain Milan? Well, nothing, really. But, it’s got a lotto do with Nigeria. And the issue is that the PrinceClaus Fund for Culture and Development made Nigerianculture advocacy group, CORA, a recipient of thePrince Claus Fund Award 2006 worth 25,000 Euros,(approximately N4 million).

Principal Officers of The Committee for Relevant Art(CORA) went on air to aptly say the awards were “mannafrom abroad”. That innocent people like you are hearing CORA, or Prince Claus for the first time doesnot at all faze me. What does is the fact that thename CORA had been heard and read in the proposallists of almost every corporate organisation in Lagos,and yet, “for 15 years CORA was run without governmentor foreign donor support”. Granted, a prophet is without honour in his home, butwhat kind of a home celebrates the ‘prostitute’children and frustrates the ‘well-behaved’ ones?

Everything, from crappy comedy shows to the albumlaunches of washed-up artistes bear long, long listsof blue-chip sponsors, yet, an organisation that has convened amongst other things- seven editions of TheLagos Book and Art Festival and fifty-nine ‘ArtStampedes’ (a discursive platform) still manages to gounheard of and un-helped by the overwhelming majorityof Corporate Nigeria. Speaking to the members of CORA whom I have known for some time, they put flesh on the skeletons of my thoughts. Most corporate individuals and organisations are always on the lookout for cheap and loud avenues to exhibit corporate responsibility. That is normal. What, however gets my goat mewing and my cat bleating is the irresponsibility with which these avenues are chosen.

Credible, enduring avenues are irresponsibly veered-off while faddish unnecessary routes are taken. Let me explain. Oftentimes, the bearing, or usefulness of an event or project to Society is not taken into account. So long as sponsorship recognition is loudly fĂȘted, there’s always a willing sponsor. Examples abound. The average company would rather come up with a Lagos marathon doused in some humanitarian theme, than go to Gombe and quietly build a children’s hospital.

The average company falls over itself to give participants in reality TV shows endorsementdeals. The average Nigerian “philanthropist” would rather film for posterity – and campaign purposes-some flimsy humanitarian gimmick than help set up an art and craft centre. Corporate Nigeria wonderfullyhas a list of priorities, only they scarcely realise they’re reading the list upside-down. It’s appalling.

For even at that gathering, I did not see, or hear of a local government or blue-collar donation. Yet CORA needs to build six libraries in sixcities of this country to give our reading culture that much-needed shot in the arm. CORA seeks to resuscitate that brand of Theatre where performances were staged at pocket-friendly venues. Prince Claus himself says it as it is “…It is impossible to ‘develop’ another country from outside. People develop themselves, and so too do countries. All that we can do is assist that process if asked to do so.” No one can develop our film, book, art, dance,and tourism potentials – our culture- better than us.

I do not ask that Corporate Organisations andblue-collar/ babaringa billionaires refuse to sponsorbeauty pageants and album launches. I only ask that the prophets- the ones who see impending consequences and are doing their best – be helped in their efforts. It goes beyond culture. In entrepreneurship, small-scale businesses, health care, name it. I do not ask for much. I merely ask that in the coming year, in the coming budgets for well-heeled companies and private pockets, let there be intentional, corporate responsibility. The kind that casts off greed, and would sometimes risk losing a tad of self-hype for the future of its society.

As HRH Prince Claus (of blessed memory) put it: “Tie-wearers unite. Cast off the rope that binds you.Risk your neck. Liberate yourself and venture forth into open-collar paradise.

Christmas Greetings Hurrah! We made it! Saint and Sinner alike, Democrat and Despot alike, Common man and Con-man alike, we all get to see another Christmas. It’s surely not our doing; else the bad folk would long be six-feet below.It’s the grace of the Almighty we all get to see the eve of the eve of Christmas. For my family…I love you all much more than I tend to show. God bless and keep you. For the rest, readers, friends and foe alike… may the goodness of God be your portion this Christmas and forever more. AMEN!


Mrs Somebody said...

My 1st time here on your blog and I like it.

Mrs Somebody said...

i like your blog.ONB keeps talking about you i just had 2 come over and see you.

CORA said...

Mrs Somebody, this blog belongs to the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA). I just manage it because I'm a blogger and its me they can bully (laugh).

My site is