By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
I can name all the madmen in the history of Nigerian journalism, but the maddest of them all happens to be Azuka Jebose Molokwu.He is madder than the entire Yaba-Left and Aro Mental Hospital Abeokuta put together!
Let him take me to any court and, as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang, “I go open book for am.”
Where do I start? Jebose was a crazy street bohemian back then in Mafoluku, Lagos where on his marginally sane days he admired the works of the celebrated columnist Sonala Olumhense who turned 65 on May 15.
Because of his crazy ways the beat of entertainment in journalism fitted Jebose like the torn T-shirts he wore all over the place.
All the musicians were his friends – the good, the bad, the ugly. His centre-spread splash every weekend in The Punch was craziness in overdrive. Anything could happen within those pages.
When THISWEEK magazine needed some frenzy to be added to the stable by publishing a tabloid named MIDWEEK Jebose was hired through the facilitation of his ex-Punch mentor Sonala who sent another former Punchman Tunji Lardner to do the headhunting of the unstoppable madman Jebose.
My role in all of this is that one must not leave a madman alone or he would harm himself very badly. So my duty was to save Craseman Jebose from himself. It was a thankless and very herculean duty keeping Jebose away from all the dangers he courted ever so merrily.
My duties of minding a confirmed madman quadrupled when Jebose and I left THISWEEK to work for the Lagos City newspaper City Tempo floated by Sonala.
What can be more lunatic than Jebose’s story idea of going to the homes of nearly all the eminent people in Lagos and asking them only one question: “Where best do you like to do?”
To save Jebose from imminent lynching I had to follow him to some of the assignments. I remember the Lady of Songs Christie Essien-Igbokwe lamenting that it was only because she had not completed building her properly gated house that Jebose could have such easy access to her home to ask her the madcap question!
The rollicking pilot Jerry Agbeyegbe said he found it hard to know if the one done inside a cockpit was better than that done on top of coconut tree!
The then editor of The Guardian on Sunday Amma Ogan had to write on her column of the madness that had overwhelmed journalism through a reporter walking up to a personage and asking: “Where do you like to do best?”
Some of the celebrities like Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey did not get angry with Jebose. They gave him food knowing that hunger was a good dose of his madness.
Talking of food, there was the young lady Theodora who had a mini restaurant on Toyin Street, Ikeja where Jebose always dragged me to pay for his food. A very likeable friend of Theodora’s, Ebele, who was pregnant for a runaway boyfriend was always around and Jebose devoted so much mad antics to her entertainment such that the babe was saved from depression until she delivered her baby.
To give him his due, Jebose’s loony ways can at times be therapeutic.
After conquering all the vast grounds of madness in Nigeria, Jebose felt it was time to take his lunacy abroad like a soccer pro going professional.
It was to the United States he went, a madman abroad. I had to travel to the US myself to see how he was faring.
Once I settled into a friend’s house in Jersey City in New Jersey, Jebose called me on phone and we spent the entire day talking. When my host wondered at the endless talk, I told him I’ve been on the line with a certified madman who would never leave the phone.
I also told my alarmed host that if I did not exhaust all the talk with Jebose on phone he may end up visiting us and biting rabies into my host’s body!
His yet to be published autobiography is entitled My Scattered Life. Can’t you get the drift?
The madman never dies. He once flew into Nigeria to organize an unprecedented musical concert featuring the duo of Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade that fell through.
Jebose is one madman that every oppressor fears to cross paths with. You have to go as far back as Cervantes’ legendary novel Don Quixote to meet a knight that could rival Jebose in ferocious fights with windmills of all shapes and sizes.
All non-salary-paying media moguls cannot stand the madness of Jebose. When Jebose barks to bite, they pay up.
So-called billionaires who oppress whole towns and villages are always taken on by Jebose in fights that always seem apocalyptic.
The madman always wins.