Twists, turns of Seth Akintoye’s life… A reflection
Title: Twists and Turns of Life
Author: Seth Akintoye
Publisher: Self published
Year of publication: 2020
Genre: Non Fiction, memoir
Reviewer: Bayo Ogunmupe
The rider to veteran journalist Seth Akintoye’s memoir is ‘The Twists And Turns of Life’, while its kicker is ‘My Birth, Career and Faith’; too many titles for a perennial struggle for human existence. It is a small, paperback self-published autobiographical volume of prose.
The book has been deservedly eulogised in a foreword by his colleague at The Punch, Akeem Lasisi. It is a review of Akintoye’s career in Nigeria’s two notable newspapers, The Guardian and The Punch, and the government owned Radio Lagos, where he met the Presidential Adviser on Media and Publicity, Pastor Femi Adesina.
And it is praiseworthy he survived without blemish at the Punch for 20 years. It is also salutary for Seth for keeping himself alive in the onerous world of newsgathering with an ectopic kidney and its attendant treatment expenses. I am sure it is his compassionate ancestors watching over his safety.
In the 12 chapters of Twists and Turns, Seth has been able to depose many interesting things about his birthplace, Ikare and his profession of journalism. Early in the memoir, Akintoye shows the picture of the circumstances of his birth at Ikare Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria. The picture of the agrarian town defines his days at thetwo primary schools he attended and his Victory College, Ikare. Indeed, the book is a guide to becoming a distinguished journalist.
Akintoye helps his alma mater Federal Polytechnic Bida and Ogun State Polytechnic Ojere tell their stories as citadels of journalism education, unfolding the profiles of many of his alumni friends and the great teachers that have shaped the institutions.
The author’s sojourn in print media makes his memoir a must read for people who want to establish their media industry in Nigeria. In fact, I find his frankness embarrassing in the way he portrayed how young women were promiscuous in his day. Even in the boardroom politics at The Punch, he has been very educative and enlightening; he held nothing back.
His candour has been a major source of strength of this piece. I consider him too frank about his health condition. Perhaps, for his health condition I don’t see any justification why he wasn’t made Editor of Punch, for I consider him better informed, and professionally equipped than his contemporaries in the newspaper. This volume brings into focus the inauspicious practice of promoting the incompetent above able and upright professionals. This is perhaps owing to company owners not knowing the articles of their trade and the difference between leadership and management.
For his eulogy on his brand of Christian religion, I found the miracles and healing episodes attributed to Joseph Ayo Babalola unbelievable. It is reminiscent of my Ife Road community in Ibadan during the Awolowo versus Shagari Presidential election of 1979. On a rainy day, the community saw Awolowo and his wife on the moon that night. It was a figment of their imagination. However, it is very entertaining where Akintoye narrates how patients used to abscond from their hospital beds to receive miracles from Babalola; on the other hand, he recalls how William Kumuyi used to end his sermons in tears.
Akintoye’s deployment of language in his memoirs makes interesting reading. Not surprisingly, the creativity in the author at times overturns his quasi-religious disposition, which is why he punctuates narrative with humour.
Another strong point of the book is the smartness with which he incorporates Yoruba epigrams to enlighten the reader and the way he reconciles his accounts with Biblical principles. In enunciating his ideology and political beliefs, Akintoye reveals his biases through some of his articles reproduced. His political views are in tune with the lamentations of the people just as this memoir is being reviewed on the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. Nigeria has truly not done well. It is all the more disconcerting leaders moaning over agitations for Nigerian renewal instead of appointing a task force for the immediate eradication of banditry, kidnapping and insurgency in the land. Truly, there is hope as he demonstrates. This hope is shown by how the Peoples Democratic Party is going about repositioning itself for the 2023 elections.
For some of us who prefer memoirs as being more enjoyable than fiction Twists and Turns is a must read. In it, Seth celebrates the newsroom, the clamour for excellence and the unconscious practice of logic as an epistemological system of analytical reasoning and cognition. Seth Akanniola Akintoye is a distinguished journalist starting from Radio Lagos 30 years earlier. He was at the flagship of the Nigerian media, The Guardian Newspaper, where he became an authority on health reporting. He served Punch newspapers for more than 20 years as News Editor, Deputy Editor Online; Investigations Editor, retiring as Editorial Training Manager. Twists and Turns is a documentation of his experiences as a journalist, writer and literary critic.