To Patrick Dele Cole with love
Sir: I read Dr. Cole’s piece with the title “Awolowo and Niger Delta naked children” in The Guardian of July 29, 2020. And the concluding paragraph made me laugh like I have never done in a long while with teary eyes and I kept saying, “This man. Oh! This man.” His muscle for writing is never taut but flexible with an awe-inspiring sense of history. I wonder if he keeps a journal of places that he visited in his youthful days, I am surprised that at his age he is never lost in mists of childhood memory unlike many people in my generation with love for dancing in the cadaverous roundabout of memory with distorted history to divide, conquer and cause misunderstanding among people.
I stop to read his pieces like I do anytime I have the time with other greats such as Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed, Dare Babarinsa, Ray Ekpu, Edwin Madunagu and his gut-level pieces promote unity, his opinions are never isolated and untrusting of other ethnic groups in Nigeria. If I search very well, I am sure to find the newspaper cutting of his article (series) published in The Guardian years ago, “The Igbo as a unifying factor.” I hope I got the title right.
Truth be told, the older generation of writers know the craft more than the newfangled generations. I guess this is so because the teachers that taught them in their days knew the history of the subject matter they were educated in not like now where the teaching profession is just to make ends meet for many persons. I love his self-effacing style of writing. Poking fun at himself without being a phony and it is a fitting trajectory for me between a good writer and a bad one. An ambassador should be arrogant but he is very humble in his writing. His pieces always are of topical practicality and al dente lingoes of common sense.
I enjoy the cultural values especially of the Riverine people that he espouses in his pieces together with the lesson I learnt on the thoughtlessness of the Nigerian government and the flawed indigenous policy that made foreign companies leave the shores of Nigeria in the 1970s, today our industries bare and dry. He believes in civil liberties, the ideals of a nation, welfare of citizens and international obligations. I know that I will engage in Homeric laughter when I read his future pieces but as always I will learn new things, excellent command of the English Language and will pick different words to enrich my vocabulary.
While I still remember, I look forward to read an essay by him to teach those who must steal funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta at NDDC that the commission has got over $40 billion since 2000 with nothing to show for it in terms of development in the region. He needs to let them know that Western Europe was rebuilt by America with only $18 billion after the Second World War and the much talked about city of Dubai cost just $12 billion. What is wrong with Nigerians?
I hope to write like Patrick Dele Cole and others but I am still a rookie.
Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.
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