Soyinka to Lead Discourse as Friends Gather for Kunle Ajibade


By Raheem Akingbolu

Journalists, literary giants and members of the human rights family will converge on Lagos this Wednesday to celebrate one of their own, Kunle Ajibade.
Ajibade, a renowned journalist and author, has functioned as a crucial actor within the Nigerian media space over the last three decades.

He turns 60, today, May 28. To honour him on attaining a milestone six-decade on earth – and particularly in view of efforts of those like him whose cumulative struggles and suffering saw to the present democracy that Nigerians enjoy, the Friends of Kunle Ajibade and other well wishers are holding a one-day colloquium at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on Wednesday May 30 at 10 a.m. This would be followed by a Cultural Evening/Poetry Reading at the Freedom Park to start by 5:30p.m. on the same day.
A statement issued by the Friends of KunleAjibade @ 60 Committee, in Lagos, indicated that the colloquium would be led by Professor Wole Soyinka, the 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, on the theme: ‘A Bright Future for Nigeria and How to Get There.’
According to the statement, fellow speakers on the day would include; Dr. Kingsley Moghalu; Mrs. Ayo Obe; Mr. Femi Falana(SAN) and Ms. Ayisha Osori. The list also includes; Mr. Owei Lakemfa; Mr. Sam Omatseye and other notable speakers.

Ajibade’s roles in the media have seen him serve as reporter to media houses, a Senior Correspondent for The African Concord magazine and Assistant Editor with The African Guardian. He has also held different editorial and management responsibilities in the now rested Tempo and A.M News titles, before being Executive Editor of TheNEWS magazine and P.M.News.
It was his work in the Nigerian media in the dark days of brutal military rule that saw him crusading on the side of social justice, and hence running against the murky essence of the vicious Abacha military regime in its high noon.
KunleAjibade was arrested on spurious charges and ‘jailed for life’ in 1995, after a kangaroo and contrived judicial process,in similar vein to the encounters of other journalists like George Mbah of TELL Magazine, Chris Anyanwu of The Sunday Magazine (TSM), and Ben Charles Obi of the Weekend Classique, about the same period.

His experience of arrest, imprisonment, and subsequently release from the gulag of military dictatorship after three harrowing years are chronicled in his memoir, Jailed for Life: A Reporter’s Prison Notes, which won the Victor Nwankwo Book of the Year award in 2005.
He is also author of What a Country!, which details Nigeria’s travails under cruel and repressive rule.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the birthday soiree, has stated that the Cultural Evening/Poetry Reading that would follow the one-day colloquium, would comprise tributes, readings and music,involving poets, solo saxophonists, drummers and other performance artistes.