Pain beyond words

Godwin Agbroko, the former Editor of African Guardian, The Week, Newswatch, and lately Chairman ThisDay Editorial Board, was brutally killed on Friday (December 22) night, less than two kilometres to The Guardian’s Rutam House office. Ruonah, his (awaiting NYSC) daughter published the article below the following day on Saturday, December 23.
Now, I know why i have been so sad ever since Oga Goddee -- as we fondly called him at The Guardian in his days here -- was murdered. In some ways I have become an extended member of the family… I had not met any other member besides Oga Goddee, until I met Ruonah, the daughter by accident on Wednesday December 13… well, I had met her through reading her columns on the pages of ThisDay Plus every Saturday… I recall that I had even had occasion to make enquiry about her, having read one of the stuff she did on, I think, the fuss about dressing culture of the young… I need to check this out. I thought that for a young person herself that depth of reasoning san all those stuff about ‘they are young let them explode’ was inspiring…
I was talking about meeting Ruonah physically, right?
Now, on December 13, I had gone to Eko FM as a guest of the popular ‘Breakfast With Mr K’, a programme that is truly innovative in every sense of the word.... it is broadcast live from the studio of Eko FM but it is cast also on the internet such that anywhere you are in the world, you could access it. In fact while I was in the studio (with NAFDAC’s heroine, Dora Akunyili) calls came in from as far as France, UK, Austria and the USA. Also, inventive is the Celebrity News Reading .. I read the news with Dora…. Come deh shake gbirigbiri for mouth… even though I had done same (and on magazines) in 1986/1987 with FRCN as a jobless fresh graduate, and later in mid-90s as an adventurous co-presenter on The Beat (with Kole Ade-Odutola and Toyin Akinosho)…
Anyway back to meeting Ruonah: I was embarrasingly late into the studio thatday. I was expected at 8.20 pm, but did not get in until about 9.10 am. Why? It was the day the madness of Governor OjuYobo Tinubu's Lagos (may God deliver us from his spell of incompetence and ineptitude governance in 2007) decided to play its worst drama. The traffic was maddening, as Area Boys and all the crazy fellows in uniform mounted inexplicable barriers everywhere... surprinsingly the traffic only occurred where-ever you see Tinubu's uniformed rogues!.... at other places, trust Lagosians they got around to sorting (or slugging) it out.
Well, sadly and out of character, I made the studio so late.
As I rushed in there, I was accosted by a slim lady in smart jeans dress... ‘Uncle Jahman, so this is you...' she washed off my mix of agitation and anger.
'Uncle Jahman? I had to look around for that fellow…
‘Uncle!’
Me ke? Me that should have been flogged for getting late to a live programme. Well, I unleashed the tyranny of my tongue... I am so sorry, it is this impossible Lagos, those crazy Danfo drivers, the madmen of Lagos traffic scheme bla bla...... ‘No, Uncle don't worry we were all victims of that traffic too. Ruonah said..
‘Uncle’, again!
Okay, it is me she is talking to, right?
But who is this smiling lady Uncling me all the way?
I was still working out the best way to get that query across, when she helped out…
My Daddy speaks so highly about you? I even told him I wanted to start writing for Life magazine. I love what you do with that magazine. My dad loves it so much, and so I told him I would want t write for the magazine.
Her Daddy?
‘He said he worked with you at The Guardian?’
All the while I still had no clue.. Ruonah who?
Haaaaa!
‘Writing for Life is simple…. Okay, give me your number..’
She wrote her name,,, abnd wala! Ruonah Agbroko!
Oh, so you are my Uncle’s daughter? She smiled.
You are the columnist in This day, the one I have been reading… waow, you are so young…. She broke out I broader smile now…. And a wink of caution had to come from the studio minder… as Dora was all the while being interviewed by the main anchor/ initiator of the programme – Kayode Akintemi.
As I was going to keep the praise-singing going on.. I was summoned to join Dora at the Mic to present the news…. That broke my fascinating with this young, deep and intense lady.. one I could actually called my niece.
In any case, we continued after the programme, as she reminded me of her earlier request to be part of the committee for Relevant Art’s subsequent programme. That was when I invited her and the entire crew of the ‘Breakfast with Mr K’, to the Formal Presentation of the Prince Claus Award to CORA holding the next day December 14 at the Netherlands Embassy on the Lagos Island.
The team attended the show. I recall Ruonah dressed in skirt suit, looking fit and trim. I think I joked that she looked like air hostess, and earned that smile once more. The team was busy on that day – it was desirous of talking to Ambassador Ariel Van der Weil, who was chief host of the day, which explained why we eventually never got to talk.. but I saw when the four-some ‘Breakfast with Mr K’ team was leaving the venue. A joyous group, I remember now. I saw that smile again.
Now I shudder to see tears roll down those innocent young cheeks that spoke so passionately about ‘My Daddy…’; My Dad’.. on my first encounter wit Ruonah. For that, I have been hell scared to head to the family house in the Isolo area to pay my respect to Oga Goddee, that committed journalist, fine columnist whose main writing virtues were the depth of his thought, sincerity of intellection, and simple-ness of prose… the man who as Editor of the African Guardian, accosted me one day on the staircase, gave me a stick of cigarette and bellowed... ‘No think say na only Guardian and Lagos Life you go deh give all that your arts stories… we deh here too o’… he did not even wait for an answer from my shocked lips, he just walked on in his ‘rolling style’… But that was what launched me into copies to that magazine that died an untimely death with the Abacha proscription in 1996.

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