Friday, July 9, 2021 6:00 am
By Babafemi Ojudu
I am reading Chief Anthony Enahoro’s Fugitive Offender once again. I first encountered it more than three decades ago when most of the issues and references made were not as clear to me as now.
In my hand now and as a companion on an air flight the value is more than gold.
It is the story of his chequered life up to the moment he was deported to Nigeria by the British authorities to face treasonable felony trial.
Beyond the stories , which are historic, informative , enlightening and educative and in many parts hilarious , if you want to enjoy or learn how to write effectively ,effortlessly and tell stories with clarity and panache pick up this book and read. It is a very refreshing prose . Highly recommended for students of Writing.
His style and manner of writing is rare and unique. I have only encountered penmanship similar in Chinua Achebe’s books as well as those of Lord Denning , the famous British juror .
Yet this man who moved a motion for Nigeria’s independence at 27 and became an editor of a national newspaper at 21 , never stepped through the gates of a university. He had only the opportunity of secondary schooling at the Kings College, Lagos.
His mind, his understanding of issues, his world view was similar to that of some who went through the academic rigor of Oxford University.
Many at times I keep wondering what the educational model was in his generation that gave them such knowledge, such confidence , such style and dexterity and such capacity to reach such dizzying heights and horizon despite their humble backgrounds. I had an uncle who went only as far as Standard Four and till now I do not measure up to him in his capacity to write in English Language. His hand writing could pass for art.
Imagine , just imagine , we had kept and improved on that mode of education . Just imagine that quality had subsisted. Nigeria’s story , our story , would have been different today. Development, the growth of society springs from knowledge , from good education. The reverse is production of a mass of shallow, characterless and unworthy citizens. So much for nostalgia.
How I wish Chief Enahoro had left us with an insight into the second part of his life. It would have been a major contribution to Nigeria history and to writing of an immortal ranking.
He totally rebuffed all the pleadings that he should put pen to paper at the twilight of his life.
I remember visiting him several times in 1996 at his base in Virginia while he was on exile in US and I on a Fellowship at Howard University in Washington DC.
Every time our discussion drifted to my request that he write the second volume of his story one saw him get uncomfortable. Once, he had to frankly tell me he was not doing it. The finality was that of ‘stop disturbing me about this.’ “ I will die with all I know and participated in during those periods you are referring to. After all most of the dramatis personae are dead and they won’t be able to affirm or refute whatever I write about them”, he once said matter of factly.
Notwithstanding, he was a compulsive story teller. He regaled me with several stories of his political engagement, disagreement and parting of ways with his leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo; his joining the NPN , the NADECO struggle and fleeing from Abacha’s terror.
At that difficult moment he and his wife were so generous and great entertainers in the tiny two room apartment where they found refuge in Virginia.
May the soul of Papa and Mama Enahoro continue to Rest In Peace.
*Senator Babafemi Ojudu is Special Adviser on Political Matters, The Presidency.