Saturday, November 28, 2020 8:49 am
By Tunde Ipinmisho
Every time I sat on my desk as Editor of the Sunday Times between 1998-2004, I knew I had an army of silent witnesses to all I did.
Behind me was a panel that housed the photo portraits of all the men who had edited the paper before me. Among such illustrious predecessors were the all time journalism giant, Peter Enahoro (Peter Pan); publisher of Vanguard newspaper, the affable Sam Amuka-Pemu; the prose master par excellence, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo; newspaper production guru, Kunle Elegbede and Dapo Aderinola, easily one of the nation’s greatest news writers.
Knowing that those giants came before me often moderated some of the editorial decisions I took.
It was later Peter Pan who appointed me Editor even when I did not think I was ready for that role. Editing a newspaper, especially one in which the government had controlling shares as I did, in the Abacha years was a daily walk on the mine field but Enahoro, when he was leaving us at the end of his tenure in 1999, told me in a private session at his Ikoyi, Lagos residence that he was happy I did not let him down.
In my years as Editor, one name that kept turning up in my consciousness was Gbolabo Ogunsanwo who edited the Sunday Times when its circulation was close to a million copies per week. I first became aware of him when I got to higher school in 1975/76, preparing for my Advanced Level examinations.
Getting a copy of the Sunday Times to read Gbolabo Ogunsanwo and enjoy the cartoon of the legendary artist, Josy Ajiboye was a routine I never missed on Sundays.
Ogunsanwo had a firm control of his trade. He wrote simple prose but meandered with his words in a way that excited his readers. Within a short time, he became the darling of newspaper readers and towered well above other columnists of his generation.
After leaving the Sunday Times, Ogunsanwo retired to a quite life until he reappeared behind the pulpit as a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
On Friday, 27 Movember, 2020, I got a mail from my friend and former Daily Times colleague, Mr. Lawal Ogienagbon, now the Managing Editor of The Nation newspaper. In the mail, Lawal practically dropped the bomb: Gbolabo Ogunsanwo had died at sunrise today.
That report hit me like thunderbolt. Yes, we are all mortal but there are some people you never agree to view in the context of death and dying. Gbolabo Ogunsanwo was to me one such person.
His death has diminished us in the tribe of pen pushers. We can only pray that the Lord would comfort us and all his loved ones.
-Tunde Ipinmisho is a former Editor of Sunday Times