Sunday, January 3, 2021 10:00 am
Sunny Ojeagbase at 70: A brilliant mind, a builder of journalists
By Moji Danisa
There I was in school, acting, modelling, writing for the Guardian Express. I was just doing my thing, trying to create my space and fashion a style. After some good professional advice from the great Sports guru, Mitchell Obi, I decided to go with my inate, God given flow…just be me, fresh out of Benin, down to earth factual, free, shocking and easy to read style, laced with heavy humour only a Benin street girl can muster. It wasn’t for nothing that the president of the country, Ibrahim Babangida was said to have picked my column, TV Watch as one of his favourites.
So there I was in school and I got a summon from a certain Sunny Ojeagbase to come work in his new society magazine. I was told the title was Climax. Climax? visions of Lolly and Dauda flashed through my mind. Climax was sure to be that raunchy and my innocent self was not ready for that. I did not consider that job prospect suitable but a few weeks later, there I was seated in a cafeteria and Bam! Climax Magazine was staring at me. I picked it up and as I browsed through, I realised it was fashioned after the style I actually wanted to be part of. It was a bit of the UK Woman’s Own, a bit of Woman and a bit of Elle. Climax was me. I had tons of the above mentioned Magazines in my library and was subscribed to almost every magazine of it’s genre in the UK. Without any waste of time, I marched myself to the heaquarters of Complete Communication, publishers of the already super successful, Complete Football.
I was given an appointment immediately to the position of Woman Editor. The first Woman Editor of the new Climax Magazine. I met the prolific writer Ekerete Udoh, who was Editor and was introduced to The Braimah, a brilliant writer who became friend, guide and brother.
The man Sunny Ojeagbase began to shape the rough stone called Moji Danisa into a jolly, smooth pebble.
He recognised my talent, he gave me the confidence to explore and refine my writing without losing my essence by careful guidance and a lot of brotherly love. Whenever I made a mistake, he encouraged me to do better. His organisation was the real school for me as it was for every person who worked with him. You never ever left as you came in. When he made me editor of the magazine and Ehi Braimah who was Deputy Editor and I decided to change the focus more on investigating and having our cameras in the homes and bedrooms of celebrities, our boss left us to do our thing and we became the early starters in what is today known as Soft Sell Journalism.
If you called me the Queen of Junk today, my boss would make my next birthday present even bigger. I was encouraged beyond measure.
He seemed to understand me so well, he knew all I needed was the right nudge and not a shove, a leader, not a slave driver…only now do I realise how much emotional sacrifice must have gone into that …cos I am not the easiest of staff, I can freely tell you that.
Well, I left Climax after we had made it the magazine to beat and with a bag load of fame and fortune. I left because I discovered a new and exiting turf, I wanted to enter the offices and follow the crime trails of the high and mighty. That is a story for another day.
Today is a day to celebrate the boss of all bosses. The man who made me, the man who shaped the writer who became known as the Queen.
This brilliant mind, a builder of journalists, a teacher who transforms stone into diamonds, a man who is as concerned about your private development as he is about your professional growth, a brother, father, great husband, is 70years old today.
How time flies!
I wish you, Sir, a very Happy Birthday, I thank you for who you are and for all you did for me, the innocent unwise girl from the streets of Benin City and I pray God grants you many more decades of happiness, prosperity and peace of mind.
Guys please let’s wish the great Sunny Ojeagbase, a most glorious new decade.
From him I learned the words: “Winners Never Quit and Quitters Never Win”.
If you ever stepped into the office of Complete Communications, those profound words were the first thing you saw and we saw them every single day as we resumed work.
Happy 70th birthday, Sunny Ojeagbase, sir.
-Moji Danisa, former editor of Climax, is a public affairs analyst