In Nigeria, it is extremely difficult for the children of the common man to rise and shine. It takes hard work that is twice as much as the normal, and an extremely good talent to thrive.
This ladder of greatness and difficulties was climbed by Dele Giwa, son of a laundry man and he became one of the most loved heroes of journalism in Nigeria. Fate was cruel to Giwa, but it had excused him for some years to leave a mark indelible enough for Nigerians to remember him thirty-nine years after his demise.
The nature of the death of the former publisher and founder of Newswatch is one that will never be forgotten by Nigerians. In a period when the military went over the confines of human rights to dish out savagery, Giwa stood, critiqued and criticised when necessary without a tinge of fear. He made the Ibrahim Babangida government stand on its toes and that was what they hated him for. Oppressors hardly love to be questioned and this, Giwa did glowingly, when it was of utmost necessity.
Many stories have been told about his death and not a single one of them described him less than the excellent man he was. Even in death, his great works are still seen wide and far, sparking courage in the modern journalist and daring the younger generation to question oppression.
The truth is what many people, especially those in authority don’t like to hear but it is what always stands the valiant out. It is the forte of the best journalists in every generation and it is the hope of the common man. Giwa came from the common clan but wrote his name in gold, with his talent, penchant for the truth and love for his people.
He died at the young age of 39 but had done enough to live far longer than his presence – the rare reward of a hero; immortality. Not much has changed since Giwa left the surface of the earth, in fact, he will be rolling in his grave to see the current state of his darling country. Nigeria is far worse than Giwa left it and the legacy he built has not been really followed, most thankfully to a very media-stifling government.
Giwa’s biggest achievement was putting the government on its toes, and he showed precepts of how to become better citizens without selling one’s soul. His presence sparked courage for the populace and his death left many more with clenched fists, but struck by their powerlessness at the face of powerful, careless and disregarding leaders.
Today, some journalists have trailed Giwa’s path, revealing stories out of the needle’s eye and putting their careers, and sometimes lives on the line to tell the truth, reveal the details and spill the beans. Their courage, and hope, like Giwa’s is to see a better Nigeria, and they’ve shown a relentless poise to ensure this becomes a success.
More importantly, Nigerians have grown more courageous, are telling their own stories and are the investigative journalists themselves. A lot has changed since Giwa’s death, for worse, but the little that has changed for better leaves a mark of belief in the fact that, the son of a common man will someday change the course and cause of this great country, like the great Dele changed journalism and his country.
His stories are still much present and the narratives he painted in the past now strike Nigerians at every turn and in every corner. The Nigeria he so much desired is yet to be, but there may be light at the end of this long tunnel so Dele must watch on. Heroes don’t die, they look on.
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