Sunday, June 18, 2006

arts writers salute idonije @ 70

Never mind the date on this photo... I can confirm it was taken at the birthday do for Benson Idonije last week. Here he is being congratulated by his wife; another well-wisher looks on.

On Idonije...

Steve Ayorinde...
I acknowledge all other celebrations this season, but i would like to scream, holler and shout on top of my voice in congratulating uncle Benson Idonije at 70. Without any airs, with an absolute and thorough wealth of knowledge of his vocation, and with the kind of never-say-die spirit to matters of the arts, especially music criticism, Idonije represents a true icon of our time.

It's saddening that we are only able to do but little for this great, yet humble mind. I would have thought that this is the time to write the story of this man who has written the stories of every conceivable jazz/music greats in the land. He represents to me what Fabio Olanipekun is to sports, and it is sooooo refreshing to appreciate the amount of knowledge these men are blessed with and the rare gift to impact same on the public, in bits and pieces every week.

Uncle Ben deserves our utmost, and I celebrate him.

Azuka Jebose Molokwu...
I am privileged to witness this day and to know Uncle BenJay.....Baba Ben Jay, I salute you today, honour your contributionsto music and art everyday and appreciate your immense humility tothis generation.Happy Birthday, Benson Idonije.

Pelu Awofeso...
I know of a broadcast journalist who was writing something of herprofessional autobiography last year; it is still in the drawers,though. I remember reading a section devoted to her encounter withand training under Mr Idonije (on Interviewing techniques, Isuppose).

I read some of Mr Idonije's reviews in the Guardian. They were packedwith facts and figures that could only be the result of painstakingrecord keeping and research. I took a cue from that. I don't knowmany writers that passionate about informing their audiences right.

Olumide Iyanda...
...I join those who have said such great things about Uncle Ben. It'salmost impossible to believe he is 70 with his quiet disposition and unusual show of respect even to toddlers. That is one archive of information about the art bigger than any I have met. One wonders howmany gigabytes you'll need to store all he has in his head.‘Ben Jay’ is a wine of the rarest vintage and one would be hard pressedto find another like him.

Tunde Oladunjoye...
I have not come to talk about Uncle Ben's management prowess that saw him manage Fela who later became the greatest artiste that ever came out of Africa, his commitment to highlife music or the simplicity of his beautiful prose that is a delight to readers of the Guardian. What impacted on me most is the rare humility of this legend, his modesty and his readiness to uplift younger ones. Nigeria is in dire need of people like Benson Idonije.

*Photo: Jahman Anikulapo


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