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Banji Ojewale at 71: Writing Without Retiring, By Kayode Ojewale

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Your purpose in life is to use your gifts and talents to help other people. Your journey in life teaches you how to do that – Tom Krause (1934-2013), Finnish bass-baritone.

A gifted man’s skill can never go unnoticed, even if it takes a while before fame smiles at him. Consistency has a way of rewarding a dogged and resilient individual who persists at what he does. Without monetary rewards or encouragement from people, one with talent uses it to the best for others to benefit or tap from. Preventing a gifted man from manifesting his talent is like taking his breath away; same could be said of Banji Ojewale if he is denied showing forth his God-given writing talent.

Banji holds in high esteem his name, especially if a piece would be carrying his identity. I was in a discussion with him recently, when he disclosed his opinion to me on an offer he got from a group of people. He was engaged to write an article on a subject matter that would require thorough research and asked to deliver the piece within a few hours. He declined the offer when he was told to hurriedly prepare the piece. When I asked why he rejected the offer, he made me understand that he could never compromise his writing style for monetary offer or gain, and most especially because the piece would carry his name. My take-away from his action was that Banji places a huge premium on the signature, which is indicative of identity, in all of his writings.

The veteran journalist does not joke with his way and style of putting a piece together. He cares less about how long it would take him to prepare a piece, so far as it aligns with his style and does not deviate from his honed writing pattern. His style – alliteration and assonance, mixed with the regular use of adjectives to describe clearly and capture fully the attention of his reader, cannot but make one ask for more.

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Banji captivates his readers with the aesthetics of his writing. Apart from his writing style and wide experience in the print and electronic media, his deep and robust research, deploying facts and figures on the subject matter he writes on, usually blows one away.

Of note, among other qualities that is worthy of admiration in Banji’s writing style, is his use of a regular, well-patterned vocabulary in driving home his points on a subject. He conveniently thrills his readers with the rhymes of words most times without failing to hit the nail on the head by making his points clear. Banji writes with elegance and style, which give his write-ups uniqueness and colour. Even in his sunset years, his writing prowess doesn’t appear to be diminishing. His literary style would even challenge masters of prose and poetry when they read his piece.

A special attribute one would easily find in Banji is his principled lifestyle of discipline and commitment to a course that has greatly impacted everyone around him. He admonishes everyone he has had personal encounter with to be committed to this same course; serving God and moving close to Him. There is no one, old or young, that is very close to him, who does not tap from his vast wealth of knowledge. He advises with all sense of humility and caution, especially on sensitive issues. Let me add that the Banji I know is generous and also kind to a fault.

The teachings, instructions and guardianships I have enjoyed under Banji’s tutelage as a father cannot be fully captured or expressed with words, as he only can tell how far he has gone, for his children to reach for their best. But then, he isn’t a selfish father, as he does not limit his counsel and guidance to his children alone, he also reaches out to everyone he has ever had encounter with. When it comes to keeping in touch with people, Banji’s friends and associates can testify to the regular goodwill messages they receive from him every month. He does not forget to do this to all his contacts on the first day of every month.

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Banji Ojewale, a journalist and writer, retired but still active in literary works and contributions, was born on June 13, 1950 in Accra, Ghana, were he was also bred. He has various educational and professional qualifications with vast years of professional experience in journalism and mass communication. He has worked as a media practitioner and consultant all his life till the present, in major print and electronic organisations in Nigeria. He has travelled to some parts of Europe and Asia. Banji was sponsored by a Russian News agency back in 1987, and he got rewarded for the best write-up on the trip. He was also part of the team of African journalists asked to tour parts of the Soviet Union and cover the war in Afghanistan.

Banji, in his younger years in school, won a scholarship at Wesley Grammar School, Accra, Ghana as his brilliance and intelligence announced him at an early age. As he turns 71 on June 13, his loved ones can only but wish him more power to his elbow, as he moves deeper into his twilight years.

The widely read and travelled man, fondly called TBO (Theophilus Banji Ojewale) by his friends, is a devout Christian who loves writing, reading the Bible, analysing TV documentaries and telling stories to children at bedtime. He has written many articles, feature stories and reviewed many books by different authors. Banji recently wrote a book, yet to be published, titled, Ten Tall Tales, which is a collection of children’s stories. One other major hobby you can’t take away from Banji is travelling by road. He loves seeing the beauty occasioned by nature.

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To Ijadunola-Oluwa Theophilus Banji Ojewale at 71, I wish you a very blissful and memorable day filled with rest and good health on every side of your life.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Kayode Ojewale is of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA.

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