Tuesday, November 11, 2014 4:39 pm
A collection of articles by Chidi Amuta is ready to be unveiled
A first look at the book, Writing The Wrong, would send cold shivers down the spine of a lazy reader, but as huge and voluminous as the book looks, it contains major works of Chidi Amuta, a foremost Nigerian journalist who focused more on column writing for over 30 years. Amuta, a first class graduate of the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, and currently Chief Executive Officer of Wilson & Weizmann Associates Ltd., a communications and public affairs consultancy firm based in Lagos, said he put the book together to preserve history.
With over 1,000 pages, the book with different articles, is broken into 13 segments or themes, each having various sub-topics. These segments have topics including ‘Isssues In Governance’, ‘Challenge Of Leadership’, ‘Politics And National Development’, ‘Identity And Nationhood’, ‘Aspects Of National Security’, ‘Economic And Livelihood’, Conflict And Harmony,’ ‘Ideas, Values & Symbols of Nationhood’, ‘Nigeria & The World’, ‘The Military In Politics’, ‘Contradictions Of Journalism’, ‘On Life & Living and Tributes and Salutations. All the topics and sub-topics centre on governance, the Nigerian environment, challenges and, of course, possible solutions.
“The only thing we (journalists) are known for is our writing and what we write is so current, but it is history in a hurry. The media we use, the newspapers and the magazines, are also very perishable, especially with the daily newspaper. After today, they throw it away, use it for epa and guguru and that is it. If you are not careful too, you would just be busy chasing history and may not be able to collect all your writings. So you work, get home, retire and pass on and nobody asks what he wrote, not even his family,” he said of the reason he put the book that would be unveiled through signature and public lecture on 18 November, 2014 together.
Amuta said with the book, he wanted to correct the situation where prominent Nigerian columnists have passed on without having their works documented for the future generations. “We have lost a good number of illustrious columnists over the years. Alade Odunewu, a good writer, was one of them. Dele Giwa is remembered more by how he died than what he lived for and I felt this is not right and we must learn to correct it.”
The articles featured in the book cover the author’s days in media organisations like the now rested Post Express, Daily Times, ThisDay, The Guardian, National Concord, The Nation and a whole lot of others. But a major task Amuta said he battled to overcome was getting the materials––which were previously scattered––together. For example, he said, he sometimes had to travel with his team just to get some of the materials he had written in the past. Some of these articles were retrieved from the internet, some others were in a bad shape that they needed to be re-written.
Amuta told TheNEWS that he was not prepared to launch the book where people would donate as if it was a bazaar while others would make pledges. What he wants to do on the day of the event at the Oduduwa Hall of Southern Sun Hotel, Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, is to ensure that as the Public Lecture continues, those who want to buy would get copies. “We will also donate some copies to the libraries, universities, embassies. Quite frankly, it is not a profit-making business but a legacy, a project and one would be glad that many people are able to access the book and read it. This is why I am running away from launching.”
The lecture, which accompanies the book signing and is titled: ‘Bi-Partisan Politics: Structure Of Two Party Politics’, is to be delivered by Nigeria’s Ambassador to Canada, Ojo Maduekwe, while Olusegun Osoba would chair the event that is proposed to have some governors in attendance.
In his review of the book, London-based Babafemi Ojo said Chidi Amuta can be adjudged to be in the vanguard of those who have sought to use their columns to set agenda for successive regimes in Nigeria. “At the back of this credit lies a readiness to deploy his vast intellectual asset to the service of a public cause,” he notes. “This work is important first as a piece of history…Many an illustrious journalist has passed through a remarkable career without leaving a legacy of their collected works. Future generations of journalists may occasionally be reminded of what great writers have gone ahead of them but may not have access to the best works of these writers. Most importantly, Writing the Wrong is remarkable evidence of the author’s discipline and painstaking respect for documentation in a country where remarkable public figures hardly keep records or have scant regard for records.”
According to the book reviewer, there is evidence in this work of the author’s background as first and foremost a scholar. “The attention to subject matter and coherence of theme is unmistakable. The essays in the book are neatly organised into themes such as: Issues of Governance, National Security, Life and Living, Economy, Foreign Affairs, The Military in Politics, Aspects of Nationhood, Symbols of Nationhood etc. The single most enduring attribute of the essays in this important volume is their freshness of insight and stimulating prose. In the realm of Nigerian pubic discourse, Amuta ranks as one of the most remarkable prose stylists. Each of his pieces starts with a first sentence that rings out almost like an opening shot, an arrow straight into the heart of the matter. From the outset, then, Chidi Amuta leaves you in no doubt as to where he stands on the important issues and questions that defined his age.
“As it were, the reader is shocked into attention by an unusual twist to conventional wisdom. There is evidence from the outset of an active reflective mind at work, one that has reflected on a matter of public concern and come up with an unusual angle with a view to enlightening his audience and expanding the scope of public discourse,” Ojo explains.