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Dele Momodu’s Prodigal Son

I was at the 10th Ovation Carol night anniversary that took place at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, on the magical night of 17.12.17. 

It was my first time since the iconic event kicked off ten years ago.  My professional son, Chief Dele Momodu, had invited me along with the family of his other boss, the late Dimgba Igwe who was my deputy at Weekend Concord where Dele was the first News Editor and the reporter who gave us our first story that launched the paper into the stratosphere of soaring success. 

Oh, what a night!  A night indeed to remember.  A night of nostalgia.  A night that brought back memories.  All kinds of memories.  I was watching a documentary on the story of Ovation as narrated by the founder and publisher of the magazine—how he was chased into exile by the nightmare of the Abacha regime and how he found himself in London, searching for what to do.  There and then, God planted the seed of Ovation magazine in his mind.  Today, Ovation has become a pacesetting magazine that glamourizes the achievements of the rich and famous.

In starting off Ovation, Dele Momodu remembered the words of his former editor and “my boss for life” Mike Awoyinfa who said that any magazine or newspaper that didn’t come into the market with a big bang, with an earthshaking story, with a make-or-mar world exclusive, will not make it.  Journalism is a marathon race which you have to run like a hundred meter dash.  You must explode out of the starting block like a bullet, like Ben Johnson, and you must accelerate all the way to the finishing line which does not finish.  Oh, Dele Momodu brought back sweet memories.  He is one grateful son who has made me proud, a son who is following his father’s footsteps and running with it even faster.  A son who sees the need to diversify the Ovation brand into different media platforms in line with the changes and challenges of the disruptive times we live in.  This era of social media and online journalism that has disrupted and eaten deep into the incomes of the traditional media.  To survive, to stay alive, to thrive in the new social media order, you have to be nimble on your feet, you have to be innovative, you have to be creative, you have to be able to adapt to survive.  The other day, Dele Momodu was asking me: “What does it take to write a book, a biography?  Where do you find the time, sir?” 

I told him it’s not too different from journalism.  Only that you have to raise your game, only that you need discipline and patience, only that you have to find the time to write, even if there is no time.  I am happy to announce that Dele has now joined the league of biographers which is a form of advanced journalism.  I am waiting to read his first biography.  I was filled with pride and joy to see my biological son, Kehinde Awoyinfa is also following my footsteps as a video biographer with his outfit called Itan which in Yoruba means story or storytelling.  It was my son who produced the short documentary on Ovation that was shown at the Ovation Carol night.  He is also working on a video biography of Chief Dele Momodu.  After watching a video biography of the lawyer and construction mogul of the 70s, the late Chief Abdul Gaffar Omokayode Animashaun produced by my son Kehinde Awoyinfa, Dele Momodu was so impressed as to ask Itan to produce his own visual biography.  He will interview the whole family and friends of Dele Momodu to come with a comprehensive life and times biographical story to be kept for posterity.  My biological son working on the story of my professional son!  Wonderful!  The lesson I have learnt is that whatever you do, children are watching.  The father is the first role model.  They try to follow your footsteps.  So to all fathers, be a good role model to your children.

Did I enjoy the carol night?  Yes, I did.  I enjoyed every minute, every moment.  I enjoyed the Amemuso Choir from Abuja.  I enjoyed the opera singers.  Nigeria indeed has talents.   Dele Taiwo, Wale Thompson and Shina Peters stole the night, bringing back memories of the old days of afro juju and Shinamania.  I enjoyed Sammie Okposo.  I enjoyed 2face.  For me, the queen of the night was Sinach, a gospel artist I feel so blessed to have watched live for the first time.  Ever since I listened to her song ‘Way maker’, I have not stopped listening to her.  I have watched all her videos on YouTube.  I hope to interview her one day, if the opportunity comes my way.  After watching Sinach perform, I left the venue because the people I came with were not used to staying out late.  Left for me, I would have stayed there all night.

On my way out, I met Chief Ebenezer Obey, coming to the venue where he was billed to perform.  I had to whisper in his ears, “Chief, this is Mike Awoyinfa.”  He was so excited to hear from me again.  Many years ago, I wrote the “Biography of Chief Ebenezer Obey, The Legend’s Own Story”.  It was my first attempt at writing a biography.  And boy, I really enjoyed myself hearing the storyteller-singer telling me the story of his musical journey.  I think I need to update that book.  I need to go back to Obey.  May God let me find the time. 

Just after meeting Chief Ebenezer Obey, I also met Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a man who is the pride of Africa, whose story I am also working on.  I introduced my wife and son to him.  And we took some photographs along with his friend Femi Otedola whose daughter DJ Cuppy was billed to perform that night.

I had to hurry home to catch the rest of the Ovation Carol night live on television.  Luckily for me, I was able to watch Ebenezer Obey as he rewound the clock to play some of his old hits.  Then I watched the diva Tiwa Savage strut her stuff on stage. 

For me, the biggest surprise of the night was when Dele Momodu came to introduce the next act, a young man whose music is sweeping across the African continent and the world at large.  Lo and behold, it was Davido who was being ushered in like a whirlwind.  The same Davido who released a song called Osinachi where he was “yabbing” Dele Momodu with accusatory lyrics like “they want to spoil my career.”  Ironically, the song even made Dele Momodu more popular. I don’t remember the cause of their rift.  I learnt it was a fight over a little girl, the fruit of a love affair between Davido and Dele Momodu’s niece Sophia.  I learnt Davido wanted to forcibly sneak the baby girl away against her mother’s wish to Dubai but Dele Momodu obstructed it.  There was a lot of bad blood.  There was a lot of sabre-rattling.  There was a lot of loud noise.  I won’t call it ovation.  Dele Momodu and Davido were not in talking terms.  The two families were at war.  Cold war.  Hot war.  Musical war.  Media war.  Family feud.  But in the end, the war has come to an end and the breeze of peace has blown in.  And there is a standing ovation from the audience. 

The prodigal son has embraced on stage and asked for forgiveness from the father figure he once satirized in his music.  Dele Momodu has forgiven Davido.  But the music will continue to play on.  Nobody can erase that.  All’s well that ends well, says William Shakespeare.  We thank God. There is no better time for peace than this season of peace and goodwill to all mankind.  Let us make peace, not war.  Bravo Davido.  Bravo Dele Momodu.  Bravo to all the peacemakers who made this possible.      

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