Celebrating a veteran newshound, Olatunji Dare

Celebrating a veteran newshound, Olatunji Dare

Sunday, July 20, 2014 2:00 pm


Veteran journalist and academic, Professor Olatunji Dare is honoured in Lagos by friends and associates with a lecture and book presentation. At 70, his wishes return to the very things that touch the heart.

Professor Olatunji Dare (r) with Prof. Femi Osofisan (m), and Wale Adebanwi (l) at the launch of “Memories of Censorship: Struggling For Press Freedom In Africa”  in honour of his 70th birthday, held in Lagos.

Professor Olatunji Dare (r) with Prof. Femi Osofisan (m), and Wale Adebanwi (l) at the launch of “Memories of Censorship: Struggling For Press Freedom In Africa” in honour of his 70th birthday, held in Lagos.

At 70, his wishes return to the very things that touch the heart. Not the regular kind of philanthropy, but a commitment to a class of people who deserve all the help and support they need to wade through life.

It is that feeling of compassion that veteran journalist and academic, Professor Olatunji Dare has said that he will spend his retirement working towards a better welfare for autistic sufferers in the country.

He made this known at a lecture and book presentation in Lagos to commemorate his 70th birthday. Professor Dare who has an autistic child, pledged to use “whatever influence I can wield and muster resources to work for better welfare of autistic children in the country,” he said.

He thanked the guests many of whom are his colleagues, students and admirers for turning up to attend the event.

In his remarks, General Theophilus Danjuma who chaired the occasion, admonished Nigerians to love their country because it is the only place to call theirs. “One of the things that most Nigerians take for granted is our citizenship – the fact that we are Nigerians.

Until events happen and you have cause to flee and become a stranger in a foreign country, when you are asked ‘Where do you come from? When are you leaving? You won’t understand.”

The former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence expressed admiration for the celebrant, thanking him for his contributions to the society as a journalist and teacher.

In a lecture titled “Memories of Censorship: Struggling for Press freedom in Africa,” Professor Kwame Karikari traced the historical encounters that the media has had with despots across the continent.

He listed erstwhile dictatorships in Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and others for having frosty relationships with the press in the past and this led to the deaths of journalists.

Professor Karikari who has been involved in projects aimed at freedom of expression recalled how journalists in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Liberia and Sierra Leone were killed extra-judicially by despots who wanted to the media permanently in the leash.

The situation, he said is gradually changing. He cited several individual efforts and organization support and the liberalization of the communication space as factors that have contributed to new lease of life that the media enjoys.

The University of Ghana, Legon professor noted that much has been achieved as the dictatorial grip and frequent muscling of the press is losing and journalists are having some level of freedom.

He identified particularly the establishment of the ECOWAS court of justice as a palliative that has set many journalists free from the jaws of tyrants in the West African sub-region.

He however warned media practitioners to be wary of government who may exhume extant laws, especially on libel and assault to victimize media practitioners.

He cited the possibility of governments enacting regulations especially to cage the new media which has so far democratized the information space in the continent.

In a remark about the book, Professor Wale Adebanwi who edited the festschrift titled “Public Intellectuals The Public Sphere and The Public Spirit” noted that the collection of essays is a demonstration of what the celebrant means to the contributors.

The contributors, he said were drawn from media industry, rights activists and academic.

He said professor Dare is one of the finest public space intellectuals that have emerged from the country in the last three decades.

Professor Dare was described as a quintessential public space intellectual who has contributed to deepening democracy in the country in Africa. Dr. Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State for example described Dare as an example of a public intellectual who has played an active role in the public space.

“I regard Professor Dare as one of the very best in the industry and that’s why I am here. I consider it a duty on my path to pay homage to someone who has taught us the importance of public intellectuals in the development and deepening of democracy,” the governor said.

Other speakers also thank Professor Dare for the contributions he has made towards raising the bar of journalism practice in the country.

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