Journalism in the service of society

Lanre Arogundade… The well-rounded man at 60

‘…his interest in knowledge goes beyond psychology, journalism and the social sciences. If he had made effort at learning how to fly an aircraft, I would not have been surprised. His interest in aeroplanes, both the technology and business side of it comes amazing when he has time to share it. To this amazing man of many colours, I say a loud happy 60th birthday’

IT is understandable that most people think first of the NANS golden years when Lanre Arogundade is mentioned. Quite a few generation of Nigerians owe their access to tertiary education to the NANS leadership of which he was the arrowhead as President. That many of us hold him in high esteem is also not unconnected with his ability to stand up and provide leadership when required. For some of us who were around him in the years of the locusts, as Abacha era is known, the demand that he provide required leadership for journalists in Lagos did not come out of the blues. We saw in him clear vision, ability to mobilise energies and provide direction. We also saw that commitment to higher values. That on the occasion of his 60th birthday many have written about the sense of commitment, clarity in ideological perspectives and devotion to Socialist ideas is not unexpected.

The journey so far is not just about dialectics, journalism, unionism and human rights activism. There is more to Lanre Arogundade than politics and professionalism. Dotun Adekanmbi, it is probably who gave a little bit of insight into how robust this man is, in his birthday message on him this morning. He wrote about a man who probably if encouraged could have tried his lucks in the theatre. His admiration for the theatre and theatre practitioners is still very much alive. I am always amused when I see him come alive and glow when recalling live performances of some of the legends who he had seen on live stage. And does he still knows all the songs in the drama he saw back then?!

True, my earlier encounter with him was in political arena, where he was one of the advanced cadres of the first Marxist movement I took interest in as an undergraduate. Our reconnection in Lagos late 91/early 92 brought me in contact with some hitherto unknown side of him.

Lanre Arogundade

Though I was to get closer to Fela Anikulapo Kuti later as a culture journalist, my first trip to the Afrikan Shrine at Pepple Street in Ikeja was in his company. And my first time of eating Pounded Yam and Ice Cream at Gbemisola Street Kalakuta Republic was also at his behest. Introduced to Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s music right from my dad’s playing of Jẹun kóokú, and listening to his records much later, I had prided myself as holding much of Fela’s lyrics in my head until I heard him sing Fela’s songs.

You will think if he loves Fela, it will not be out of place if he was easily fell in love with Lagbaja’s music. I am almost not sure if he had not been at Motherlan’ more than I when the place was on. At the emergence of Obesere in the 90s, he was one of the few people who stunned me with their attraction to Omo Rapala.

Doubt if there is any person close to him who is not sure of his ability to discuss English League, European League, Bundeslega (forgive me if I got the spelling wrong) and the major football tournaments like a professional football commentator. Not many probably know how athletic he has been. Don’t know how many from Unife days recalled he was in ManoWar club.

And his interest in knowledge goes beyond psychology, journalism and the social sciences. If he had made effort at learning how to fly an aircraft, I would not have been surprised. His interest in aeroplanes, both the technology and business side of it comes amazing when he has time to share it.

To this amazing man of many colours, I say a loud happy 60th birthday. I wish you more energy, strength, wisdom and glow as you add more years. Happy birthday comrade, friend, boss, elder brother and in-law.

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