Toast to our Mama Watchnight By Taiwo Obe



I am giggling….
I had just wondered how on earth we, in my generation, bastardised “night-watchman” – the old term for the guy who guarded our homes at nights – to “watchnight.” We simply called the guy – now known in modern times as “security guard” – watchnight. And, no one cared whether it was good English or not. Seems that whoever coined it must have been a Methodist, as I now know that Rt Rev John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, originated what is today called “watch night service,” to herald Christians into a new year.
Well, I cannot but call this woman Watchnight. Or, in deference to her age, Mama Watchnight, and you’d see why presently.

Do you remember what The Sage, Pa Obafemi Awolowo wrote about himself? “I have never regarded myself as having a monopoly of wisdom. The trouble is that, when most people in public life and in the position of leadership and rulership are spending whole days and nights carousing in clubs or in the company of men of shady character and women of easy virtue, I, like a few others, am always at my post working hard at the country’s problems and trying to find solutions for them.”

Pa Awo would certainly count Mrs Tola Adenle (simply Tola Adenle) as one of the “few others.”

I cannot now say that I remember much about what she wrote then in the Daily Sketch which had its operational base in Ibadan, the capital of present-day Oyo State, where I was born and spent the first 16 years of my life. Or even what her magazine, Emotan – A Woman’s Magazine, looked like or contained, but she definitely must have impressed me so much so that her name has for so long been etched in my memory. And, I longed to associate with her….

Knowing that she wrote for The Comet and later The Nation, I decided, on 27 February 2011, to send an email to Gbenga Omotosho, the editor, first of The Comet – now rested – and later The Nation, seeking for her contact details. To cut the story short, Mr Omotosho sent me her email address – after a long while; I suspect only after getting her permission to do so.

It was about the same time that she started her blog, Emotan, essentially to share with the younger cyber-generation the stuff that were published in Emotan – A Woman’s Magazine, the women’s lifestyle magazine which she published and edited between 1977 and 1984. So, I quickly subscribed.
Nigerians should thank Mrs Adenle’s youngest child who encouraged her to take Emotan online, as emotanafricana.com has now become the portal, not just hosting the archives of Emotan – A Woman’s Magazine, but also, in the words of late Ken Saro-Wiwa, “stir(ring) debate and thought, possibly (giving) some people sleepless nights or nightmares when they manage to sleep.”

Speaking of sleep, I know that, more often than not, while others are sleeping or carousing….(apologies to Pa Awo), Tola Adenle is busy on her blog. Most mornings I wake to find my “copy” of the day’s edition- sometimes more than one topic – in my inbox. When I check when it was posted, it is either 3 00 a.m. or earlier or a little later. And, I keep wondering, where this old woman gets her energy from? Quite often, I know too, she has to struggle with poor Internet connections, particularly when she is either in her favourite city, Ibadan, or Akure, where she and her spouse of fort-two years, Depo, a world-class hydrogeologist seem to frequent. But, poor Internet connection or whatever can’t stop this woman who, like another great Nigerian crusading journalist, Peter Enahoro, believes that “the Nigerian press should identify with the so-called common men and try to right the wrong in the society.” As she noted in her first posting on the blog, on 31 March, one year ago, her simple desire is for Nigeria to be a “just and orderly society.”

Now, let us pray: that the good Lord keep her and continue to fuel her enthusiasm and energy to keep the blog going – and ultimately, that she would live to see Nigeria have “a leader who can bring hope to the youth of this country; a leader who can harness the incredible human resources of an energetic people into purposeful direction; a leader who will see to the building of new societal institutions and strengthening existing ones, a leader who will ensure that the enormous petroleum wealth that the country generates would be used for her development and not just for top civil servants and politicians, and a leader that would ensure that those who break the law: looting, rigging and corruption of any kind, would have to face justice.” Amen, somebody.

 

Obe is the group editorial director, Harpostrophe Limited, a Content Agency.

Culled from EMOTAN

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