By Onyeka Onwenu
Oh, how time flies when one is having fun. It has been an interesting life in every way. Yet you are still young at 70—arriving at this 7th floor of life just months behind me.
You represent the best of Nigerian journalism. I also remember your twin brother from across the Niger—the late Dimgba Igwe. The story of your relationship with Dimgba Igwe is the stuff of which legendary friendships are made. It resonated throughout the country and beyond, as the true bond of brotherhood and friendship which we should all emulate. It was exemplary even as it was inspiring.
When Dimgba passed away in 2014, I prayed hard for you. I worried about your ability to get over that loss. I was sure that you never would but I also knew that you would find a way to continue giving to life the very understanding that you and Dimgba represented. I had no doubt that the spirit of the departed would hold you to the task and that you would not disappoint. You have held up admirably. God bless you.
As a journalist I can spot and appreciate the talented and professional ones among us. You were at the top of the list. The qualities you possess are rare commodities in this noble profession, in our beloved country but Mike Awoyinfa has never wavered and never failed to impress with his impressionistic and descriptive style of writing.
At the Concord and at The Sun, wherever you have served, you have been a beacon of professionalism and innovative work.
You never write to disdain or disrespect. You never write to inflict injury or carry out a personal vendetta as others have used their positions to do. You are not for hire either. Rather you are curious and inquisitive—a consistent digger of truth. You say it like it is, with thoughtful analysis and verifiable research. You edify and uplift where it is called for, you condemn what is condemnable. Your criticism is constructive and fair. Mike Awoyinfa does not pander to popular opinion. He is prepared to stand apart as long as he speaks his truth. You certainly take incisive and well-informed stand on issues. You have remained relevant for those reasons.
“The story of your relationship with Dimgba Igwe is the stuff of which legendary friendships are made. It resonated throughout the country and beyond, as the true bond of brotherhood and friendship which we should all emulate. It was exemplary even as it was inspiring.”
At the release of the socially relevant songs “Choices” and “Wait for me in 1989”, the very first efforts at collaboration between two Nigerian music stars, King Sunny Ade and I, we visited newspaper houses to promote the idea of family and the delay of the onset of sexual experience by young people. We of course visited the Weekend Concord. It was at the time the eminent entertainment journal which ruled our reading habits.
It struck me that rather than dwell on the prevailing gossip of a rumoured love affair between Sunny Ade and I, Mike Awoyinfa quickly delved into the meat of the matter—the reason why the songs had been written in the first place and which was responsible for our being at the Weekend Concord. Such prioritization was refreshing and I was impressed. Dwelling on the said rumour and perhaps concocting more fictitious details to it would have further sensationalized the project and would have perhaps sold more copies. But it would also have trivialized it and reduced a noble idea to a passing fancy. Yet the interview was riveting, entertaining and informative at the same time. We were well received, treated with respect and acknowledgement. That was the Weekend Concord with Mike Awoyinfa on the driving seat.
I have always been an admirer of his style of engagement. Mike Awoyinfa’s writings remain a source of inspiration in steadfastness for me. Thank you.
At 70, God is not done with you yet. There is still much work to be done in our failing nation. You are needed now more than ever.
May God continue to use you as a light for others to look up to. Continue to impact our generation and the younger ones for the rest of a very fulfilling life to come. With good health, strength, wealth and Godspeed will you be blessed.
Happy 70th birthday indeed!
*Onyeka Onwenu (MFR), singer, songwriter, actress, human-right activist, journalist, politician, is the author of an autobiography,“My Father’s Daughter.”