By Ayoola Ajanaku
“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them” – Albert Einstein
Saturday, 24th July 2021 marks an important day in the life of academic, literary critic, frontline columnist, essayist, intellectual and public policy consultant in the frame of Dr. Chidi Amuta as he clocks the age of 68 on Mother Earth. Where does one start from in an attempt to pen eulogies to celebrate this milestone, as he ascends the sixth floor in his lifetime which is not diminished in any form whatsoever with his cerebral submissions on issues of national discourse that affect our dear nation Nigeria and beyond. His figure casts the shape of an elephant in the room, as it can’t be shoved away by even the blind in any space he finds himself.
To grasp the personage of Dr. Amuta, one needs to cast a cursory eye on his career trajectory in the ecosystem of public communication and media where he called the shots in senior editorial role as foundation member, Editorial Board, The Guardian; Chairman, Editorial Board and Editorial Adviser, The Daily Times Group and, until 1999, CEO, The Post Express where he engineered the novel digitalization process and syndication with frontline global news titles such as Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Financial Times Newspaper, Time and Newsweek magazines. Without mincing words, this intellectual ‘Iroko’ also experienced a stellar career in the academic sphere where he lectured Literature and Mass Communications for over a decade at renowned ivory towers such as University of Ife, now rechristened as (Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) and University of Port- Harcourt. This window characterized his stand out signature as a leading voice in the trenches of radical/Marxist tradition of critiquing as evidenced in his numerous publications such as Marxism and African literary today and Theory of African Literature: Implications for Practical Criticism, amongst others in this mind tasking endeavour that drains tears, sweat and blood of any average mere mortal who stoops to conquer. In the era where academic brilliance reigned supreme, Dr Amuta reigned supreme as a doyenne of intellectual exposition and he has maintained this enviable status till date with his flowery diction and narrative prose. If you’re in doubt about this fact, all it takes is to glean over his over 1,000 pages memoirs based on his written works in magazines, newspapers and journals aptly titled: “Writing the Wrong” with the tinge of onomatopoeia well pronounced in the title of this robust and compendium of facts and figures of expression.
In addition to this, public policy is the bedrock of human development around the world. It is the premise where institutions and societies are built to further the cause of humanity. Dr. Chidi Amuta’s intellectual exposition in this sphere cannot be underestimated in any parameter(s) whatsoever with brief stint at Rural Development Program in old Imo State. His encyclopedic knowledge based armed to the teeth with facts and figures to elucidate on issues that are germane in relevant spheres, however, is not a coincidence.
Amuta holds a First Class honours degree and a Doctor of Philosophy from the OAU, specialising at different times in Education, African Literature, Sociology of Culture and Communication. He also did a host of courses and training in public policy strategies and intelligence in academic ecosystem and think-tanks around the world including the influential Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy that’s nestled in Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts.
In the present day, Amuta straddles like a colossus as the Chairman of Wilson & Weizmann Associates Limited, a communications and public policy think thank that has paid it’s dues in the realm of public policy and perception management.
On this day to borrow from the Leaders and Company stable, publishers of ThisDay newspaper where Dr. Amuta pens the weekly column christened the Engagements, I celebrate this literary titan par excellence yesterday, today, tomorrow, always and the future. As he turns 68 today, his robust contribution to the ‘currency of ideas’ is superlative and elicits reactions far and beyond. Happy birthday Sir!
Ajanaku is a Communications and Development Policy Specialist based in Lagos, Nigeria