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Prof. Adebayo Williams: Celebrating my Mentor, Beacon of Hope, Inspiration and Voice of Courage, By Friday Olokor

By News Express on 24/11/2017

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 •Friday Olokor and Prof. Adebayo Williams
•Friday Olokor and Prof. Adebayo Williams

By all standards, I’m from Osun State, by virtue of my academic tutelage and friends from Ife, Ilesha, Gbongan, Ikirun, Oshogbo, Modakeke and many others. Although a senior Lagosian, my wife shares similar view.

Dear friends, brothers, sisters, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. Today, I bring to you an academic scholar, journalist, University teacher, literary critic, novelist, writer, satirist and journalism mentor. Although I have read his essays in the then “The Guardian Literary Series” (1990s), my first encounter with him was in 1992 at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife.

At a time when lecturers Take-Home-Pay couldn't take them Home, he dressed very well, rode on good cars and therefore inspired many into academics by rewriting the negative History that, “Teachers’ Reward is in Heaven”.

He had been a regular columnist with the then famous Newswatch Magazine right from Dele Giwa’s days), TELL, Dateline, TheNEWS/TEMPO magazines and several newspapers. As a young Jambite then, I still remember the day I knocked on his door in Humanities Block One, while he was having tutorials with Part 3 students. And  behold when the door was opened, the class expected to see a giant but instead saw a young man who was bold to 'disturb' the early morning class. I was treated like a King before the seniors in a class of over 30 students, some are now already Professors.

His keen interest in me started after the brief introduction and whenever he sees any article in any newspaper written by me, he would encourage me to “keep it up.” That’s life, Bright Bayo Oladeji, knows this: those who never wrote a single “Letter to the Editor” end up being rewarded with fat cash in Journalism, even at the detriment of their conscience. Even your long-time friends and classmates you drank with and together, did dirty things in the past, end up being your bosses, “harassing” you with queries and “oppressing” you. But the job must go on; no brother, sister or friend!

Few months after teaching us a Rain (2nd) Semester Course, “Modern Literary Theories” in Year 3 (1995), he was chased into exile by the late Maximum Ruler, General Sani Abacha, after actively partaking in sacking IBB from the political landscape through the NADECO Revolution. Through him, the word – “Kafkaisque”, a neologism from Frank Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, became a refrain among students.

A great satirist, among his published Novels include “The Year of The Locust”, “Remains of the Last Emperor” and “Bulletin From Land of The Living Ghosts”.

“A properly educated mind will not accept crude tyranny; for to accept tyranny will be an act of intellectual self-dispossession. Long after the guns have been silenced, the supersonic boom of ideas and thunderous artillery of thinking will continue to echo.” This has been a famous quote which I got from an essay and tribute entitled: “An old man in a Hurry”, published in TEMPO in 1996, written by him to celebrate the late elder statesman and nationalist who moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Anthony Enahoro.

Today, I bring to you one of the few who inspired me in Journalism; a son of Gbongan, Osun State, and one of the decision makers in Lagos State and South West politics, PROF. ADEBAYO WILLIAMS. He has been my Referee and will continue to be. If anybody stumbles on any Curriculum Vitae (CeeVee), bearing my Name and he is not one of my referees, that Ceevee should be regarded as fake and invalid.

In August during my annual leave, I was with him in his office in THE NATION Newspapers in Mushin, Lagos State for close to two hours. Our discussions with another great mind from Great Ife (1985), Femi Macaulay, has been memorable! From one Desk to the other, my friend, another senior and refined gentleman from Great Ife, Gboyega Alaka, took me round. It was a thunderous ovation in The Nation Newspapers . . .

According to CHRIS ANYOKWU, Associate Professor of Literature in the Department of English, University of Lagos (UNILAG) and one of the many he mentored, “Bayo Williams is the best Essayist in Africa.”

I also had a good time with another perfect gentleman, Lekan Otufodunrin, who knew me and my wife about 17 years ago, during one of those meetings organised by Journalists for Christ. I worked with him during his brief stint with the then National Interest Newspapers. My greatest disappointment was that I couldn’t see another refined gentleman and former Editor of National Interest, Festus Eriye, the man behind the success of The Nation (Sunday Edition). Like his wife, Olutoyin Eriye, I’m yet to see any Reporter that does not speak good of him. Among the three title Editors, he is the most celebrated, especially by Abuja colleagues. Please, my friend, Olola Seun Akioye and others shouldn’t envy me because I ‘belong’ to every Newsroom in Nigeria. Rome wasn’t built in a day . . .

I was happy to have seen the doyen of Sports Journalism in Nigeria, Ade Ojeikere, the man who paraded the best squad in National Interest, including Onyewuchi Nwachukwu. I can’t also forget Alhaji Lawal Ogienagbon, of the popular Daily Times brand. I mean the man who can teach Law better than Lawyers because he revolutionised Judiciary Reporting in Nigeria.

This piece written by Friday Olokor (Head), Plateau State Bureau of THE PUNCH, was first published on his Facebook Page.

Source News Express

Posted 24/11/2017 1:44:25 PM

 

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