In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010). By Chido Nwangwu
In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010).
USAfrica, March 7, 2011: Dr. Stanley Macebuh, one of my mentors, lived a life of positive consequence, public enlightenment and progressive engagement with his environments. He lived life.
Beyond living it, Dr. Macebuh, born on December 28, 1942, held and earned the unique high regard and respect of his peers and mentored thousands of much younger colleagues.
He died on March 7, 2010, after battling ill-health in Abuja.
Dr. Macebuh carried on with a first-rate sense of professionalism. He invested a personal class to his craft as a writer, informed his students as a scholar of English language and African studies, communications and media, from Ibadan to Columbia to Berkeley to Lagos and Abuja and the global canvas. Essentially, I know that Dr. Stanley Macebuh’s name and that voice weighted much in gold, scored very high on professionalism in media, public policy, friendships, taste, style, diction and much more.
He had a very modest physical frame but a towering presence and reputation. In the true meaning of the word, he was an icon; he was also a transformative person and change agent.
With deep appreciation and a measured sense of dignity, may I state that I am one of the beneficiaries of Dr. Macebuh’s focus on potential excellence and actual capacities, reflecting only a part of his outstanding gift, grace and foresight.
As I was completing my national youth service following my graduation from the University of Nigeria (Nsukka) in 1987, upon the singular reference from my cousin, the international business and financial products specialist Kenneth C. Orji, I came to meet Dr. Macebuh in 1988 in Lagos, at his office at The Guardian newspapers.
I was going to work for The Guardian but he had other considerations for me –he expressed, kindly, his thoughts about my “potentials and impressive path”, especially after discussing the several offers I got while serving as a youth corps person.
The meeting with Dr. Macebuh whom I called Dede –Igbo word for an elder in deserving respect and deference — had two immediate and lasting impacts, to this day.
First, he opened the doors for me to network into the alpha group of public policy and media executives in Nigeria, around Lagos. Foremost, he sent me to Nigeria’s former presidential adviser on politics (1979-1983), my mentor and my tutor on the real politik Nigeriana, the late, lucid, substantial, colorful, voluble and brilliant Dr. Chuba Okadigbo (Oyi of Oyi, December 17, 1941 – September 25, 2003). Through Macebuh and Okadigbo, I met the incisively prolific and thought-provoking Dr. Chidi Amuta. At Platform magazine and Africa and The World journal, in 1988-1990 in Lagos, there were three key persons, all Ch; all connected by the scholar Macebuh: Chuba, Chidi and Chido.
Through the same Macebuh, I came to know and be blessed by the senior friendship of the Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi (who was Managing Director of the Daily Times when I was joining its editorial board — as its youngest member in 1989-1990).
Through my association with Macebuh, I have the privilege of friendship with Prof. Ihechukwu Madubuike (Nigeria’s former Minister for education), Prof. Onwuchekwa Jemie and one of Africa’s prolific and versatile writers Dr. Eddie Iroh — all have served as contributing editors of USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com since 1993. Before his death, he wrote and we published on the USAfricaBOOKS his May 29, 2008 review of ‘Literature, Culture and Development: The African Experience’, the new book by Ihechukwu Madubuike, PhD. http://www.usafricaonline.com/2009/10/05/africa-literature-madubuike-reviewed-by-stanleymacebuh/
The second impact of his guidance, expedited my moving, substantially, from my primary career path in broadcasting, as a very young tv staff across the 3 areas of electronic news gathering (ENG) unit, sports news reading and programs production/editing at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to the print media. And, of course, my subsequent decision to bring my multimedia work and insights to the U.S. to establish the USAfrica networks here in Houston. Somehow, it has benefitted me with a valuable balance of skills across the broadcast and print platforms.
The last time I met Dr. Macebuh was in his home in Abuja during my trip to Nigeria to cover U.S. President Clinton’s visit. He was his usual, warm fraternal self, yet concerned at the state of things in the country. And, a somewhat failing health…. Then, I believe he was a senior special assistant and deputy chief of staff to Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo. The next day I visited with Chuba (until a few days earlier was the Senate President of Nigeria) and Eddie (then CEO of Radio Nigeria), at their homes.
I have also been privileged to be asked in the mid-1990s by Dr. Macebuh to serve as a columnist for one of the magazines he established, The Sentinel.
He wrote a commentary on USAfricaonline.com on August 10, 2000, arguing ‘Obasanjo’s ethics offer good value for our democracy.’ http://usafricaonline.com/obasanjo_macebuh.html
In the wake of serial communications tumbles and gaffes of the former army General Obasanjo, Macebuh still found a deft defense in very artful and instructive wording, stating: “I myself have always believed that what so often passes for intolerance and stubbornness in him (Obasanjo) stems from his insistence on staying with the substance, rather than the appearance of things. Madison-Square-type image makers would have a hard time taming his spontaneousness, his refusal to accept that politics is not just about good works, but also about looking nice and sounding nice…. He is learning, just as we all are. He cannot be thought to be infallible, and neither can we.”
Well, Dr. Macebuh knows how to tell the President and his critics his truths. Government did not alter his dignity and truths. Shall we say, politely, that we know that advising Obasanjo (an all-knowing soldier and commander-in-chief) is not as easy as eating fish pepper soup.
Macebuh, an alum of Kings College, Lagos, graduated in English at the University of Ibadan (from 1963-66), and travelled abroad, a year afterwards to the University of Sussex, England, where he achieved the Doctor of Philosophy degree at the very young age of 26. His scholarship drew the competing interest of University of California (at Berkeley), the prestigious Columbia University (in New York) and City College of New York.
He caught the attention of Dr. Dele Cole who encouraged his return to Nigeria to enhance the then nationally predominant Daily Times of Nigeria. From there, Dr. Macebuh moved on to serve as the founding managing director of The Guardian newspaper (with a formidable team funded by the Ibrus and editors such as Femi Kusa, Lade Bonuola, Andy Akporugo, Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Edwin Madunagu, Ted Iwere, Nduka Irabor, Amma Ogan, Ashikiwe Adione-Egom, Greg Obong-Oshotse, etc).
He also established The Post Express newspaper (with funds from Ide Ahaba Sonny Odogwu, in Lagos), The Sentinel magazine, Abuja and other projects. He also engaged in some trading on sugar and other items after The Guardian years. Prior to his moving to Lagos, he grew up and attended schools in Port Harcourt and Ngwa High School, Aba (before I was born in Aba).
Dr. Macebuh’s legacy will remain the fact that he, fundamentally, heightened the scale for professional and worthy
journalism, altered the media landscape of Nigeria, empowered and trained a new crop of journalists and writers with diverse trainings outside the tired templates of some j-schools where ancient media execs usually hired folks who are taught, mainly: who, what when and where? Evidently, the man saw the future of media in Nigeria, and cast aside the ancient order as he shared his stellar intelligence and genius.
I’ll close with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), the esteemed U.S. poet, who wrote in the 19th century that “When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men.” I bear witness to the fact that Dr. Stanley Macebuh’s light lies on the paths of men, women and children.
Thank you, Dede Stanley! • Chido Nwangwu is the Founder and Publisher of USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, AchebeBooks.com, Nigeria360, USAfricaTV and several blogs, assessed by The New York TImes as the largest and arguably most influential multimedia networks for Africans and Americans. He served on the editorial board of the Daily Times of Nigeria in Lagos and worked for the Nigerian Television Authority (news) in the 1980s; served on a publicity committee of the Holocaust Museum, Houston; recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in May 2009; adviser on Africa to Houston’s former Mayor Dr. Lee Brown. Chido appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, SABC, CBSNews, ABCNews, FOXNews, NBCNews, etc. Chido@USAfricaonline.com. wireless: 1-832-45-CHIDO (24436). Office: 713-270-5500. http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/03/07/stanley-macebuh-tribute-by-chido-nwangwu
USAfrica: Ribadu draws first contrast with President Jonathan and PDP ahead of April 2011 presidential elections in Nigeria. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica. http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/01/15/ribadu-draws-first-contrast-with-president-jonathan-and-pdp-ahead-of-april-2011-elections-by-chido-nwangwu