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60 Gbosa for art and culture orisa

By Omiko Awa and Sunday Aikulola
22 January 2023   |   4:10 am
She said: “My induction was largely due to him. When I came to Nigeria in 2003, he believed in me. He made me believe I can do it. Jahman is about community; he builds community with like minds for themselves and society.

Ben Tomoloju (left), Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and Jahman Anikulapo during the forum. PHOTO: SUNDAY AKINOLA

Activities at the Freedom Park, Lagos, were given a pop last Monday, when the art community, town and gown converged on the facility to celebrate the former Editor, The Guardian on Sunday, Jahman Oladejo Eniolorunda Anikulapo, who recently joined the sexagenarian club.

Described as an aesthete, mentor, preceptor, content creator and culture-activist, the event started with a forum moderated by Deji Toye.

Titled, The Artman As Interventionist: Celebrating Jahman At 60, the discourse, which was also on Zoom, had Molara Wood, Lookman Sanusi, Kole Odutola, Norbert Young, Ayo Arigbabu, Laolu Akande and Segun Adefila, as panelists.

The keynoter, Professor Duro Oni described Anikulapo as a consistent, diligent, focused, confident, prudent and loyal creative with a very high integrity.

Oni, who recently retired from the ivory tower, noted that the fear of the critic is the beginning of wisdom, saying Jahman’s criticism and advocacy have influenced many people and their works and as well kept chief executives of parastatals on their toes.

He observed that the newsman could be very hard on anybody or institution whenever he discovered that things are not being done properly, noting that he has played a vital role in giving those in the academics, corporate organisations among others visibility.

According to the don, arts used to be tucked in one corner of newspapers, but from nowhere, it started getting attention through Jahman and others. He added that the birthday ‘boy’ has expressed himself at festivals all over the world and also mentored quite a number of journalists, artists and youths.

He disclosed that the celebrant and his ‘gang’ are the brain behind the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), i-Rep Documentary Festival and others. He has also supported efforts of Yinka Davies and Terra Kulture.

The varsity teacher disclosed that the role journalists play towards the development of arts cannot be ignored, saying through constructive criticisms, journalists have helped the development of diverse arts and art forms.

He revealed that at 60, Jahman has given so much to the growth and development of arts as an interventionist and “it is time for the world to tap into his mental capacity.”

He continued: “This is the time we have to tap more from Jahman. We must get him into some theatre or journalism schools to share his experience with upcoming journalist, young people and even professionals that want to improve on their career.”

Speaking on the humanity of Jahman, art critic, Omolara Wood said Jahman gave her the visibility and courage to write.

Managing Director of Guardian Newspapers Limited, Martins Oloja (right), a guest, Executive Editor/Director · Independent Communications Network Limited, publishers of TheNEWS, PM NEWS and TEMPO, Kunle Ajibade and others. PHOTO: SUNDAY AKINOLA

She said: “My induction was largely due to him. When I came to Nigeria in 2003, he believed in me. He made me believe I can do it. Jahman is about community; he builds community with like minds for themselves and society. He holds space for people. There is an ‘I can do it spirit in him,’ which he passes to others. All of us should exhibit that spirit too.”

Wood observed that arts criticism is no longer as flourishing as it used to be and called on arts journalists, writers and editors to help rekindle the vigour.

She noted that as far as there are the ‘Jahman Boys’ in different newsrooms across the country, there are also the ‘Jahman Girls’ of which she is one. The art writer disclosed that Jahman is an ‘Art Orisa.’ He is never short of content.

“He gave me contents, while I was in the United States and made me believe that I could deliver them. Aside from being a critic, he is conscious of the arts and culture sector.”

Recalling how their paths crossed, Norbert Young said: “I met Jahman for the first time at the University of Ibadan, while we were students. He is an actor, dancer and director. Jahman is the only journalist in Nigeria that can write about me without an interview. He will never deceive you or lead you astray.”

While lamenting that the entertainment sector is lacking constructive criticism, the actor called fora conscious effort to bridge the gap.

Commenting on culture promotion, the founder and CEO of Crown Troupe of Africa, Segun Adefila, noted that Jahman does not only motivate his protégées to work, but sets a very high standard for them to meet, saying such situations have helped him and his troupe to a have direction.

“If you have a meeting with Jahman, you have to do your background reading because of the standard he expects from you,” he said.

Highlighting some of the attributes of the celebrator, Prof. Kole Odutola disclosed that he first met Jahman at NTA 7, saying he is extremely brilliant and makes his writing so easyfor people to read.

He said: “I think in Jahman’s other life, he was a king and kings don’t speak too much. He has so much in him that he doesn’t speak in the public sphere. He is a long distance runner; he has not reached his destination.”

Joke Silva observed that Jahman’s mind has since the late 1980s been wrapped in the cultural space, saying the 60-year-old virtuoso has amazing understanding of young people.

“I just ask the Almighty God to continue to bless him. We still need his incredible energy and generations to come will know there is a man called Jahman that walked on this earth. He is amazing and understands young people. He mentors them to navigate the difficult terrains adults are finding difficult to navigate,” she said.

Expressing her wish to make the celebration national, media entrepreneur, Kadaria Ahmed said: “Jahman met my mother before he met me. They were together as members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). My mother said you were kind to her. She said the birthday should have been extended beyond Lagos; make it national.”

The forum’s moderator, Deji Toye (left); Professor Duro Oni, Segun Adefila and Ayodele Arigbabu. PHOTO: SUNDAY AKINOLA

Pouring out her love for the man of the day, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett noted: “Jahman is my son, husband and blanket. He belongs to me and occasionally, I lend him out. He has integrity, principle and dedicated to what he does. He doesn’t ask for anything in return for what he does. He is respectful and civil. These virtues are currently lacking in our society. He is also focused.

“Our moral values have gone down . So, we want to remind ourselves on occasions like this of what we expect from one another.

Jahman is love, so, we need to think more about one another. We need to collaborate and be in love with one another. He doesn’t care about himself and when you get to that stage of life, you’ve attained true freedom. Before something goes wrong, Jahman would have started to apologise, even when it is not his fault. He is an epitome of the true and strong society that I want.

“We must also jettison the entitlement mentality that government owes us anything, but we should know that we owe ourselves something. He is an epitome of the true society we all want ad love,” she noted.

For Ayo Arigbabu, the culture-activist made him to pick interest in journalism and began to write. He is a strongman that has turned himself into a strong institution.

Speaking via zoom, Lookman Sanusi noted Jahman, as an interventionist should be allowed a place in the tertiary institution for him to groom young people and develop art curriculums.

He said: “Jahman is a good man and if my grandmother had been alive, I would have asked her to marry him. He is also a prophet.

As if this was not enough for the man who has touched many lives, the dinner saw potpourri of events. His mentor and former teacher, Ben Tomoloju, was highly elated that he mounted the stage to thrill guests with some doses of his songs.