Veteran journalists set for Iwe Irohin’s 160 years anniversary celebrations
The birth of Nigeria’s first newspaper, no doubts, has been of immense assistance to the cultivation and engendering of literacy. Iwe Iroyin, started by the missionary Henry Townsend, ushered in the long and enduring practice of journalism in Nigeria.
Conceived in 1859, in Abeokuta, in order to cultivate ‘the habit of seeking information by reading’, according to Townsend, Iwe Iroyin midwifed the birth of newspapers such as, Daily Times, West African Pilot, Tribune and others.
The profession that emerged from the coming of Iwe Iroyin would go on to have indelible significance in the country’s historical narrative. You cannot but imagine how the independence struggles of the country’s great nationalists would have panned out without their use of newspapers, which were the channels for propagating their ideals and confronting colonialism. Dr. Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, Ernest Ikoli, Chief Anthony Enahoro were frontline nationalists as well as journalists who championed the independence struggle with journalism tools.
The contribution of journalism to national development has spurred the Nigerian League of Veteran Journalists (NLVG) to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the fourth estate of the realm in Nigeria.
The celebratory event, which has been billed for Abeokuta, Ogun State, where “it all began”, would also be an avenue for reflections on the past 160 years of journalistic practice in country as well as serve as means for instituting a legacy by the veterans.
The president of the league, Mr. Edward Aderinokun, in a press statement, noted, “it is very important to note that the power to read and write was given to Nigerians through journalism. How so? Before the first newspaper, Iwe Irohin was printed in Abeokuta on November 23, 1859, by Townsend, whom I refer to as the father of education and of all journalists and publishers in Nigeria, there was no formal way to teach Nigerians how to read and write.”
The project coordinator, Mr. Muyiwa Osinaike, revealed that the activities commencing the celebration would begin in November with a grand unveiling in Abeokuta at the site where Townsend began the paper.
A member of the planning committee, who is also a veteran sport journalist, Mr. Segun Adenuga, said the event would not only celebrate journalism in the country but also celebrate past and present practitioners who have made the profession what it is today.
“We want to celebrate not only journalism but also the men who began it. And in doing so we want to lay a foundation of an institute, a landmark in Abeokuta, which will serve as a media and research centre for journalists.”
He also revealed that plans are underway to have the progenies of Henry Townsend around for the event.