The symphony of a life
Richard Mofe Damijo’s life is an inspiration. RMD, as he is popularly called, has earned the respect and love from both men and women. It would be obvious to state that he has lived well. As an actor, a lawyer, a journalist, or a public servant, whatever solo part fate has written for him, RMD’s great performance in the symphony of life has been incontestable.
Success, respect, and adulation did not come overnight. The formula for making any dream come true is a mixture of determination, considerable ingenuity, knowledge, competence, and love.
RMD loves the arts: be it painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, performing, and film. He is a man created, shaped and fashioned for the arts. That was my first impression when I met him in 2003 as a young reporter with the Vanguard newspapers in Lagos, Nigeria.
I had gone to his office for an interview. I didn’t get the interview that day. Instead, we spent time talking about literature, film, and music. However, my mission was still accomplished because I got more material for a profile.
“Frank Sinatra Has Cold”, the seminal profile by Gay Talese for the April 1966 issue of Esquire, occupied my mind. Unlike Sinatra, RMD did not refuse to be interviewed. However, he suggested that I go with him to a movie location the next day and observe him.
I showed up as scheduled and was surprised to find him there; this is one star that nothing can turn away from the punctual and arduous discharge of his duties. Before he got on set, RMD gave me his phone for safekeeping. A mischievous thought flashed through my mind: ‘what if his phone rings and I pretend to him just to hear what people say to him?’ That would be unethical and a betrayal of trust. The thought dissolved quickly like a cube of sugar in hot tea.
Moments later, his phone rang. I ignored the caller; it was a number not saved in his contact. But whoever the caller was, the person was determined to reach him with the incessant calls. Luckily, there was a break on set, and I told him about the call.
“Please answer the call and find out what the caller wants, you are also my PA today,” he said jocularly as he went back on set.
So, when his phone rang again, it was a call from the same number. I answered and before I could say this is not RMD, the female voice at the other end said in a desperate voice: “Please don’t hang up, I paid a lot of money to get your number.”
Is this a fan or a stalker? Well, I didn’t wait to find out, I quickly cut in and told her she wasn’t speaking to RMD but a friend who had his phone while he worked. She heaved a big sigh of disappointment and hung up without leaving a message.
That day was the beginning of many encounters with RMD that brought me close to the truth about him. A relationship blossomed – from a journalist, I became a friend, and then younger brother and mentee.
RMD is the complete antithesis to what you might imagine. He is a great teacher, remarkably honest, deeply spiritual, voracious reader, foodie, whisky connoisseur, and always generous…
What you just read is an excerpt from the book RMD: Portrait Of A Warri Boy. It was honour to contribute to the book.
RMD who just clocked 60 is still the very model of a dashing leading man and I am sure if ever there was a campaign to make him a national treasure, we are guaranteed the votes of many women.
A true icon, his immense contribution to arts and entertainment cannot be overemphasized, RMD truly deserves to be celebrated not only on his birthday but every day.
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