No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth – Plato
I owed Mr Sumonu Dele Giwa, ace journalist and founding Editor-in-chief Newswatch who was killed in his prime at age 39 a tribute for his influence on my love for writing and reading. I remember the legacies of his refined journalist, though the unanswered question about Dele Giwa at 70 and 31 years after his brutal assassination on Sunday 19th October 1986 remains: Who killed Dele Giwa? Who sent the merchant of death with the parcel that was received by Dele’s son Billy on behalf of his father? Dele’s attempt to open the parcel followed with a blast ‘tearing open’ his lower region. What a wicked urban elites with evil ideology.
Few years when the first edition of Newswatch magazine was distributed on 28 January 1985, it “changed the format of print journalism in Nigeria [and] introduced bold, investigative formats to news reporting in Nigeria.” The emergence of General Ibrahim Babangida who took power in August 1985 received a friendly publicity in Newswatch magazine but the relationship did not last for too long when the magazine ‘took a more hostile view of the Babangida regime.’ Kunle Ajibade aptly provides us the refined attribute of Dele Giwa as a no nonsense journalist. According to Ajibade, ‘Dele Giwa, who was initially very uncritical and naïve in the way he related to Presidents Shehu Shagari and Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, later became committed to making sure that they and others who were in positions of authority were challenged to account for their deeds. He never liked to be the errand boy of some powerful elements: he enjoyed it when he dominated his environment as a journalist. He once wrote in one of his rejoinders: “I have said at every available opportunity that NOBODY tells me what to write in my column. It is my property, and I guard it jealously, for it is my freedom to think and write as I see. Nobody higher than me in the Concord Group has ever demanded my column for editing before publication. Any reaction to any of my columns has come after publication” Giwa wrote two columns for the Daily Times between April and November 1979; a column in the Sunday Concord between 1980 and 1985; and wrote for Newswatch between 1985 and 1986. He did all that in addition to his job as an editor and his obligations as a manager. It is formidably instructive that many years after his tragic demise we are still grappling with many of the problems he wrote about.’ In one of his columns, “The Problem of living by the Pen” on 23rd May 1979, Dele Giwa described the responsibility of a journalist as getting information that other papers don’t have, “All a journalist is supposed to do is to go out to collect materials for stories that he must write in clean, clear and simple prose … That’s what a journalism should be. Information is not simply public relations garbage, but it is something new and newsworthy.”
The truth is that the killers of Dele Giwa and other practitioners of evil ideology in Nigeria, full of false consciousness are living in a state of denial about the coming future and judgement. There is no amount of constructed view of reality that can cover the truth about evil and corrupt ideology. Coupled with the brutality of the merchant of death and their masters, Nigerians experienced the deep humiliation of having the symbols of truth, the symbols of God’s presence taken away in agony, treated and bombed as commodities. The practitioners of evil ideology and corrupt leadership will continue to treat the people as commodities to use and dispose at will until the people discovers their God’s given image and rights.
The mistake of our urban elites and their ideology is that they imagined that their life are so good and secured that it would never be interrupted. For the fact that the ideology of our urban elites is one of assurance issuing in entitlement and privilege, they will not give answer to the question ‘Who killed Dele Giwa?’ because the facts and narratives on ground ‘must be denied in order to sustain a world view of entitlement and privilege.’ The killers of Dele Giwa and our urban elites shoot an arrow to the sky and cover themselves with a mortar, if the earthly king does not see them, the God of heaven and earth is watching and waiting.
To the killers of Dele Giwa and their merchant of death, Dele Giwa lives on and still speaks. According to Ajibade ”Every anniversary of his death has remained for me a moment of sobering reflection on the precarious nature and power of journalism. It has also remained for me a time to re-read Giwa’s essays, remembering the indebtedness of many members of my generation to his own inspiring spirit of journalistic enterprise. Frequently, old writings in journalism fade or lose their effect. But Giwa’s wonderful writings, after several seasons of rereading, have not lost their shine, their wit, punches and astonishment. They still repay attention. As one of the pioneers of modern Nigerian journalism and one of its exemplary practitioners, Giwa raised the bar of investigative journalism as the features editor of Daily Times, as the editor of Sunday Concord and as the editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine. He died a hero’s death and his legacies of a good name and enchanting words will not be obliterated.’ Except you repent, the Bible says, “The way of the wicked will surely perish” (Ps 1:6).