It’s a case of the hunter hunted! For the best of my 70 years on Mother Earth, I have been the news hunter, armed with a notebook, a pen, a tape recorder, a camera and a prayer, searching for a newsmaker, searching for the good, the bad and the ugly, to put on the cover, on the front page of my newspaper. That is the story of my life.
Now, the tables have turned and the hunter is the hunted. And here I am being put on the cover of a magazine being celebrated in the majesty of news, being called names that I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams: “a living legend,”“a revolutionary media bigwig” who “revolutionized human interest journalism in Nigeria,” who “sculpted The Sun newspaper into a crossbreed of tabloid and general interest paper, something that made it a toast of many readers, and the leader on the newsstand.”
Oh, God! Am I dreaming? Is it another Mike Awoyinfa being the only subject of a 140-page special edition of The ELITES magazine?
Here is the “EDITOR’S NOTE” which introduces the latest edition of The ELITES Special by Kemi Akinyemi, the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief. The cover story is titled: “THE ICONIC MEDIA CRAFTSMASTER AT 70.”
In truth, it took me by a very pleasant surprise that I will be so honored, unsolicited. The lesson I have learnt here is: In everything, do your best. People are watching. One day, your reward will surely come. The Good Book says: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the reward.” (Colossians 3:23-24).I thank God Almighty and pray that you reading this piece will be celebrated too while you are still alive, not when you are dead.
HOMAGE TO A JOURNALIST OF EXCELLENCE
By Kemi Akinyemi
There are more than one million ways to describe him. But energy, commitment and ingenuity are all words that begin to capture my image of Michael Ajibola Awoyinfa, a living legend by all standards, revolutionary media bigwig, writer and master of breathtaking headline casting.
Does he even need any introduction? You do not describe a man who produced journalism of excellence day after day, year after year throughout his career. You pay homage to him. Or how does one paint a perfect picture of someone who has left a legacy of commitment to quality and values that should be goal to many journalists, when his legendary masterpieces are there to show for it?
In case you were not in the bandwagon of those who gained immensely from his journalistic voyage which blossomed in 1989, sorry you missed it. But if you were, let me refresh your memory that Mike Awoyinfa revolutionized human interest journalism in Nigeria when he, alongside his late ‘inseparable twin’ Dimgba Igwe, pioneered the highly successful Weekend Concord in that year. Weekend Concord became a breakaway success from the get-go, due specifically to the ingenuity of the duo.
In 2002, as the pioneer managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun, he sculpted The Sun newspaper into a crossbreed of tabloid and general interest paper, something that made it a toast of many readers, and the leader on the newsstands.
There is this aphorism that Nigerians do not read, but in the heyday of Mike Awoyinfa, when there was no explosion of the Internet, and there were no blogs, Nigerians read. Who wouldn’t? The creativity embedded in any paper edited by Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe, his co-traveller (May his soul rest in peace), was too delicious for anyone to resist.
Awoyinfa was—and is still—a great journalist, a tough taskmaster and a supportive boss who has inspired many a journalist even beyond the shores. Perhaps one standout feature about him is that he loved to hang out. I guess that was where the inspiration emanated from. He is also a great writer. He could take any piece of writing and make a mountain out of it.
That explains why he is a successful author at the moment. Two of his books, “50 World Editors: Conversation with Journalism Masters on Trends and Best Practices” and “50 Nigeria’s Boardroom Leaders: Lessons on Corporate Governance and Strategies” are currently bestsellers on Amazon.
Awoyinfa has just strolled into the septuagenarian league and that has graduated him to being a legend. As expected of this calibre of person who touched millions of lives across the nation while he bestrode the media world like a colossus that he is, tributes have been pouring in from expected quarters and unexpected ones too.
President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged Awoyinfa’s best of prose and literary prowess, lauding his “40-year career of informing, educating and entertaining the public.”
Special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, had also penned a personal and very touching tribute to the media guru whom he worked with at close quarters, praying for the ink in his pen never to get dry, especially for the up-and-coming media men who look up to him as a role model.
The governor of Awoyinfa’s Osun State added his voice in extolling the virtues of a great asset to the state. He praised Awoyinfa for his dedication to the media profession and his remarkable contributions to nation building through his insightful interventions on national issues and wise counsel to political leaders.
Many journalists who either crossed path with Awoyinfa or were honed by his creative adventures in the newsroom, also had one, two or three things to say about him. In the usual tradition of The ELITES, we have gathered all the goodwill messages and more targeted at this great journalist just for your reading pleasure.
I personally have learnt and got a lot to learn from this living legend of the Fourth estate of the realm.
Hope you will too.