John Darnton’s Nigerian Stories

On February 12, 1976, John Darnton arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, to take up his post as Nigerian foreign correspondent for the New York Times. The following day, he woke up to martial music on the radio and Lieutenant Colonel Buka Dimka’s announcement that he has seized power and assassinated the Head of State – General Murtala Muhammed.

13 months later, Darnton was arrested, jailed and kicked out of Nigeria with his wife and two young daughters by the Federal Military Government of General Olusegun Obasanjo. No official explanation was provided for his deportation but it was believed that his New York Times’ stories about the country displeased the government.

During his short stay in Nigeria, Darnton wrote some interesting observational pieces for the New York Times about the country and its people. I got the opportunity to read most of these pieces earlier this year and it was fascinating to see some similarities between 1976 Nigeria and 2016 Nigeria. A key difference between past and present Nigeria is that the 1976 Nigeria was in the midst of a prosperous oil boom while 2016 Nigeria is in a recession with stagnating oil prices.

Some of the key issues in Darnton’s articles include foreign-trained Nigerians, housing rents, the 70’s cement scandal and Lagos’ notorious traffic jams. Continue reading

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Black History Month Cartoon Exhibition Write-up

 

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Image source: @olaojo15 (c)

October is Black History Month (BHM) in the UK and I have always wanted to do something to celebrate BHM for years. So on 18 July, I made a phone call to the British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent and that call led to several other phone calls and over 100 emails mostly about acquiring cartoon copyright permissions. About 3 months later after that initial phone call, on Saturday 15 October, I had a Black History Month cartoon exhibition at the University of Huddersfield’s Heritage Quay. I was encouraged by ROTOЯ colleagues to extend the exhibition beyond October 15 for an extra week (October 17-21) at the University of Huddersfield’s Creative Arts Building atrium. This was to enable more university staff and students to see and engage with the cartoons. Continue reading

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The Story of the 1949 Nigerian Football Team’s UK Tour

The Elder Dempster ship, MV Apapa, arrived at the Liverpool docks at 8.30am on Monday, August 29, 1949. On board were eighteen Nigerian football players, Captain Donald.H.Holley {Chairman of the Nigerian Football Association} and his wife. The players were in the United Kingdom to play nine goodwill matches against English amateur clubs. The purpose of this tour was to test the strength of Nigerian talent against good quality opposition. Continue reading

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The 1949 Nigerian Football Team’s UK Tour: The Timeline

I have researched and worked on the 1949 Nigerian football team’s UK tour for just over a year. I have also written a piece about the fascinating story of these bare-footed Nigerian footballers which I plan to publish very soon. But before the publication of that piece, check out the chronological timeline of the tour. Continue reading

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Content Worth Sharing #4

Image source:  Hoffnungsschimmer {CC BY 2.0}

Image source: Hoffnungsschimmer {CC BY 2.0}

Five interesting things worth sharing this week:

(1) Why bad ideas refuse to die   by Steven Poole

We know that it’s a good habit to question received wisdom. Sometimes, though, healthy scepticism can run over into paranoid cynicism, and giant conspiracies seem oddly consoling. One reason why myths and urban legends hang around so long seems to be that we like simple explanations – such as that immigrants are to blame for crumbling public services – and are inclined to believe them.

(2) A poem by William Butler Yeats titled Adam’s Curse

And you and I, and talked of poetry.

I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;

Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,

Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.

(3) Fences: A Brexit Diary by Zadie Smith  

A referendum magnifies the worst aspects of an already imperfect system—democracy—channeling a dazzlingly wide variety of issues through a very narrow gate. It has the appearance of intensification—Ultimate democracy! Thumbs up or thumbs down!—but in practice delivers a dangerously misleading reduction. Even many who voted Leave ended up feeling that their vote did not accurately express their feelings. They had a wide variety of motives for their vote, and much of the Remain camp was similarly splintered.

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Content Worth Sharing #3

Image source: Hoffnungsschimmer {CC BY 2.0}

Image source: Hoffnungsschimmer {CC BY 2.0}

Five interesting things worth sharing this week:

(1) How to use Instagram to advance your career

The key, no matter who you are or what role you work in, is to mix and match between leisurely photos, which make you approachable and relatable, with images whose captions demonstrate knowledge of your industry.

(2) Is the art of oral storytelling dead?

Oral storytelling has a flexibility that reading a book does not, because telling a story is not governed by the text but by the relationship between the listener and the teller.

(3)  What happened when I gave up my smartphone for a week

The ability to let the mind wander is a natural freedom we are born with that modern technology seems to intent on stomping out with all the pings and notifications and distractions our smartphones bring us.

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Content Worth Sharing #2

Five interesting things worth sharing this week:

(1) Brexit is a tragedy that reads like a satire

We urgently need to recognise that a huge mistake has been made. Meanwhile, let us remember that David Cameron came into politics to “make a difference”. He succeeded.

(2) The Mind of an architect

An enjoyable 99% invisible podcast story about a research study on creativity in the 1950s using architects as the subjects.

(3) Take it from a viral media star: Stop signing away your ideas

When you’re 22, you’re so excited to be doing adulthood “right” that you go full-steam ahead, regardless of the company’s policy. And some companies take advantage of that.

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Content Worth Sharing #1

I will be posting on this blog 5 pieces of content which I consumed in the last seven days and found interesting. This is the first of the ‘Content Worth Sharing’ series so watch out for more.  Continue reading

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Deporting Colin Fox

On Sunday, February 15, 1976, Colin Fox, Reuters’ chief correspondent, filed a report for the agency about tribal disturbances in Kano, Nigeria. These disturbances were an outcome of the unsuccessful February 13 military coup which resulted in the assassination of the Nigerian Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed. Fox’s report enraged the Nigerian Military Government.

The following day, Nigerian security police went to the Reuters’ Lagos office to find Colin Fox. They arrested him and his two Nigerian assistants {Gabriel Ogunsekan and Godwin Ironkwe} and closed the Reuters’ office. They told Fox that they were ‘inviting’ him for an interview with the Inspector-General of Police about his story. The two assistants were released later that afternoon after two and a half hours which Ogunsekan described as polite interrogation.

The police kept Fox locked up because orders from the Government was to deport him to neighbouring Benin that night. Fox’s deportation was on the basis that the Nigerian Military Government considered his report to be a mischievous account by a foreign news agency designed to create alarm and foment inter-communal hostility within the country. Continue reading

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The Terms of Imprisonment

Chinua Achebe is regarded as one of the best writers that Nigeria has ever produced and I recently read his book titled ‘Home and Exile which is based on a series of lectures he delivered in 1998 at Harvard University. One of the several quotes in the book that resonated with me was about his three reasons for becoming a writer or storyteller.

Achebe said “the first is that you have an overpowering urge to tell a story. The second that you have intimations of a unique story waiting to come out. And the third, which you learn in the process of becoming, is that you consider the whole project worth the considerable trouble – I have sometimes called it terms of imprisonment – you will have to endure to bring it to fruition.”

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