By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
He breathed his last at about 2pm on Sunday, June 16, in this year of Our Lord 2019. He fought cancer with uncommon doggedness until the last breath. He scored distinction in courage. Kenneth Tadaferua, Ken T, Gbenudu, Gbenudu.com, in short, Ken Tadaferua gave life his all before quitting the scene and the stage with ovation at its loudest.
We took to each other from the very moment our minds met. The date is not important. It suffices to stress that Ken Tadaferua was not given to cant. He saw things and said matters as they were. In journalism, he stood very tall. He equally towered in banking. He was a quintessential strategic thinker and communicator. His mastery of analysis was nonpareil.
A man of all seasons, he mixed freely with the rich and mighty alongside the poor and lowly. His clarity of vision always manifested in all his endeavours in life. He was much sought after to unbundle tight knots of policy.
Back in time, when he was the editor of the high-brow Business magazine, he could open all the ornate doors on Broad Street only to return to Surulere to our proletarian amala joints to share vistas of knowledge and entertainment with diverse fellows of the society. He soared as an all-rounder who could discuss all facets of society from economics to sports, and ideologies plus fashion and the rest.
He surprised me greatly when he told me of his determination to undertake Catholic catechism classes. He stood apart from the aloofness that the elite put on matters of faith and religion. He stood rock solid on the worship of God without the showiness of the modern day types. He had a total disdain for pharisaical worship, and asked vey relevant questions on recondite aspects of theology.
In reportage he could out-scoop the touted investigative journalists. His sense of craft is a treasured aspect of his mastery. He turned out classic cover stories for the defunct THISWEEK magazine and did an onerous job of giving Thisday newspaper its leading charge in the turf of Nigerian journalism.
When he ventured into banking he was cherished as a class act. Integrity was his watchword and he never aspired to do the dodgy ways of the wannabe wonder bankers. He was straight as a pin in all his assignments. Anybody who wanted to cut corners always met a very dogged stumbling block in Ken Tadaferua.
A lover of nature, Ken had an almost divine love for greenery and flowers. He was indeed a poet at heart even as he would always defer such matters to characters like me.
His appreciation of music was quite deep. Every time I was with him over time in his cars, we enjoyed jolly time with all makes of music. Ken knew all the lyrics, and would readily tell you that many people paid so much attention to the political songs of Bob Marley without giving necessary diligence to the fact that the legendary Jamaican was at bottom a grandmaster of love songs.
It was in the company of Ken Tadaferua that I got into the groove of younger Nigerian musicians such as African China. Lyrics that I had not earlier paid much attention to were highlighted for my benefit by Ken. It was in that light that I got to know that only poor criminals were paraded in the police television programme called “Crime Fighters”.
Ken was not one to hide his views. Political correctness was not his forte in this new world of always trying to belong to newfangled doxies. His opinion was always well-thought-out, as his Facebook posts attested to.
In one of his Facebook posts entitled “America: A Nation Always at War”, Ken wrote: “Former US President Jimmy Carter says the US has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation. Counting wars, military attacks and military occupations, there have actually only been five years of peace in US history – 1976, the last year of the Gerald Ford administration and 1977-80, the entirety of Carter’s presidency. Carter referred to the US as ‘the most warlike nation in the history of the world.’ According to a November 2018 study by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, the US has spent $5.9 trillion waging war in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations since 2001.”
Informed commentary was his forte. In one of our last beats together, working on the editorial board of the defunct Union newspaper, Ken brought to bear on his work his trademark rigour of analysis, vision and profound expression. He sent in his editorials on time, ready in every material particular, as the gurus of the law would say.
It is so saddening that I now have to write about my friend and brother, Ken Tadaferua, in the past tense. Even so, I am much relieved that the gentle giant I called Gbenudu.com did enough work in his lifetime to ensure that he would never truly die.