Wednesday, May 27, 2020 7:58 am
Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
A wife locks down a man more than Corona. That is one lesson I learnt from the COVID-19 lockdown. You can quote me on that.
There is this crazy character in the culture circuit whose real name is Alfred Akinosho but who goes by the alias of Toyin Akinosho. He is in sharp need of being locked down by a wife.
Toyin turned 60 the other day but he is yet to be hooked up or locked down by a missus.
This Toyin had art oozing from his every pore but went to Baptist Academy (Baptacad), Lagos to study the sciences, that is, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
His plan was to study Engineering in the university but he ended up as a Geology undergraduate at Great Ife after being given a sucker-punch by Mathematics!
Confusion does not come any greater than graduating from the money-spinning course of Geology at Great Ife only to end up embracing the poverty-enhancing drag of reporting ragged fine artists, starving dramatists, shabby musicians and jobless poets!
Remember that there was no Nollywood then to pay actors and actresses in millions of Naira. All these so-called celebrities of nowadays used to hang around the NTA premises prostrating to be paid ordinary N5! I can name them without using Google!
Toyin started out at the defunct Democrat before moving to The Guardian which was really the place to be for any journalistworth his byline on newsprint back then.
Aside from covering the arts for The Guardian newspaper, Toyin wrote a popular column for the evening paper of the stable, Guardian Express, dealing with the lady-killing exploits of a man-about-town journalist with the pen-name of Moses Akin Aremu.
When I told a lady colleague of ours, Ms Ada Momah, that Toyin was the guy behind the column, she almost had a fainting fit. She could not reconcile Toyin whom she saw as being ascetic with the playboy journalist running rings around the babes.
I have in vain been begging Toyin for years to publish as a book his Moses Akin Aremu columns which would be a bestseller in the league of Naiwu Osahon’s Lagos Na Waa I Swear.
Toyin and I were on the founding staff of THISWEEK magazine back in 1986, and we both served on the colourful “Spectrum” section, with the erudite Tunji Lardner as the head of our desk,and the inimitable Sonala Olumhense as the editor of the magazine.
Toyin as the cliché goes was “a one-man riot squad” hitting at the writers and artists with “spectacular disharmony.” He upped the ante when his school “father” at Baptacad, Lanre Idowu took over as editor.
You could see Toyin on any given day jump onto the office table, screaming: “Editor, I deserve a query! I missed this very important story!”
The story Toyin claimed to have missed may have been one obscure art exhibition in Ijede, off Ikorodu!
When salaries became hardly ever paid, Toyin’s doting mother who would not want her only child starve to death, pushed Toyin into employment at Chevron as a petroleum exploration officer.
Even so, Toyin’s remained committed to the arts as he used his earned income to employ editors and reporters to publish Festac News out of his abode then in Festac Town, Lagos.
He sponsored the publication of poet Uche Nduka’s second collection of poems titled Second Act. Uche Nduka got me involved in that publishing act, and some of the printers in Ikate, Surulere fleeced me of my scarce money which Toyin has not reimbursed me ever since! Business and I have never been the best of friends!
In June 1991, Toyin founded the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) in the company of four of his friends, namely Jossey Ogbuanoh, Yomi Layinka, Chika Okeke and Tunde Lanipekun. Some of us scoffed at the effort only to bite the dust when Toyinled CORA to win the coveted 25,000-Euro Prince Claus Award in 2006.
The stampedes and interventions of CORA on the arts circuit in Nigeria have been phenomenal.
Toyin once published the fattest magazine I had ever written for, to wit, FESTAC Magazine. At the launch of the magazine in Chike Nwagbogu’s Nimbus Art Gallery in Ikoyi, Babafemi Ojudu, before he became Senator, warned Toyin not to let the magazine die as a one-off venture as was always Toyin’s way. Yes, the magazine did not get past that one edition!
Toyin has surprised many by showing that he can equally go the long distance as the publisher of African Oil+Gas Report.
Under the auspices of CORA, he has sustained the esteemed Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), with the irrepressible support of his dogged buddy Jahman Anikulapo.
Toyin won the 2007 CNN African Journalist of the Year Award in the Economics and Business category.
Toyin survived an assassination attempt in the wee hours of March 20, 2015 when some hired killers stormed his car but found only his driver inside the vehicle. The goons queried the driver: “Where is Toyin Akinosho?”
The brave driver told them he had never heard of that name since he was born! The red-eyed killers rammed into the car and seized the driver’s phones, and then checked the saved numbers. They could not see “Toyin Akinosho” among the saved names. They only saw a suspicious name saved as “MAE” and asked who that could be.
It was because the driver could not spell the name of “Alfred Toyin Akinosho” that he saved it as “MAE”!
That’s how Toyin’s life was saved from dastardly assassins!
The importance of being Alfred ought to be as important to the self-styled Toyin as The Importance of Being Earnest was to Oscar Wilde!
Toyin combs night clubs with classy beauty queens, but the greatest wonder of the modern age is why Alfred, sorry, Toyin, has not found one of these beauties as a wife to lock him down for keeps!