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All Hail, The Aare of Iwo Kingdom, Chief (Dr) Dele Momodu



By Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D

In Yoruba Dictionary, “Aare” simply means “President”. The title of “Aare” (some write it as Are) is a unique and historic one. In Yorubaland, it means Field Marshal or Generalisimo. The equivalent in Igboland is Ochiagha Gurugburu; and in Hausaland, Sarkin Yaki. By the grace of God, I am the Akpakpa Vighi Vighi of Edoland (Generalisimo and Field Marshal), a title conferred on me by an assemble of traditional rulers in Edoland on 2nd March, 2002.

Chief (Dr) Otunba Dele Momodu was, on 2nd October, 2021, crowned with the revered title of Aare of Iwoland, by HRH, Oba (Dr) Adbulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu 1, the paramount Ruler and Oluwo of Iwoland. His heartthrob, adorable Chief (Mrs) Mobolaji Momodu, became the Yeye Aare of Iwoland. What a befitting title for an uncommon and unusual man of many parts! Dele Momodu is at once a Journalist; Writer; Author; Publisher; Thinker; Scholar; Politician; Progressive, Social Critic; Entrepreneur; Mentor; Philanthropist; Humanist; Traditionalist; Folklorist; Poet; Yoruba global Citizen of tradition and culture; etc. So, the cap of Aare of Iwoland perfectly fits Dele’s cerebral head.

The title of Aare has historic origin. It was the idea of a former ruler of the powerful old Oyo Empire, Alaafin Ajagbo, who ruled over 700 years ago. It was created specifically to defend the Oyo Empire from incessant attacks by neighbouring Empires and states. These attacks had bedevilled the reign of Alaafin Ajagbon’s predecessors, such as Ajaka (who succeeded Sango, the god of thunder); Aganju Kori; Oluaso; Onigboji; Eguguojo; Orompoto; Abipa; and Obalukun. Ajagbo, whilst a Prince, had grown up a fierce warrior, forming part of a tough military group that executed several military expeditions, to fend off invaders. When he became the Alaafin (fables say he ruled for over 140 years!), he created the title “Aare Onakanfo” and entrusted one of his closest friends, Kokoro Gangan, a skilled military tactician from Iwo, as the first Aare Onakakanfo.

I had written an article in May, 2020, to celebrate Dele Momodu on his 60th birthday. I had titled it, “Unveiling Dele Momodu: Parable of the Elephant and the Blind Men” ( Kindly permit me to use excerpts from that allegory of the blind men write-up, which x-rayed the real Dele Momodu; positive things you never, ever knew about him. Each blind man felt the elephant from his own limited prism. Some beheld it as a pillar; others, as a speer; fan; tree trunk; thick snake; rope; or wall. They were all right; yet, oxymorically, all wrong.

That sums up the story of this enigma; this myth. You can never exhaustively or comprehensively define Dele. He is positively amoebic. Hear me in May, 2020:

“How does a writer capture the essence of Dele Momodu? Just how? When I got confused, it occurred to me I could use the allegory of the blind men and their encounter with the elephant. The story first originated from India. A group of blind men who had never seen an elephant were said to have argued fiercely as to what it looks like. Each of the blind men touched and felt a different part of the body. Just one part of the elephant is quite big. Each described what he felt with his hands. Each version of the experience was limited, even though true. Each suspected the other of profanity and dishonesty. They were even said to have come to blows. But they were all right; yet all wrong.

“The reason is that Momodu wears many caps, so many that he means a different person to different observers and analysts. I will show this anon. Dele Momodu stirs controversy, wittingly and unwittingly. One of these is that people across the globe erroneously believe Dele is a Yoruba man. You cannot blame such people. He appears so. What with Dele’s one sentence-long Yoruba name, Ayobamidele Abayomi Ojutelegan Ajani Momodu (AAOAM)? What of the fact that he was born and bred in the cradle of Yoruba civilization, Ile-Ife? How do you blame anyone for thinking Dele is Yoruba when he is also married to a Yoruba woman and his first degree was actually Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Yoruba language in 1982; before Masters in Literature in 1988? During this period, he wrote features for The Guardian and Sunday Tribune newspapers.

“He had all these degrees at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife. Then guess what? His first job was to lecture at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science, also at Ile-Ife (1982-1983).Still enjoying his apparent Yoruba lineage, Dele worked as Private Secretary to late Deputy Governor of Ondo state, Chief Akin Omoboriowo (1983-1985). He also managed Motel Royal Ltd, Ile-Ife, owned by late Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse II (1986). Then, Dele Momodu later worked with African Concord magazine, owned by late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, and was transferred to Weekend Concord, as a pioneer staff, becoming Literary Editor.

“In just six months, he was elevated to the position of News Editor. Dele was later to edit May Ellen Ezekiel’s Classique Magazine between 1990 and 1991, also in Lagos. All his birth, education and first working life were effected in Yoruba-land.So, if you mistake Momodu for a Yoruba man, you could be well forgiven. The truth however, is that Momodu has his pedigree and ancestry in Edo state. Dele is an Edo man of Edoid origin. Pure and simple. He hails from Ihievbe, in Owan East Local Government Area of Edo state. He is therefore of Afenmai extraction like me (I am from Iviukwe, near Agenebode, Etsako East LGA, Edo state). Edo blood runs through the whole veins of Bashorun Dele Momodu.

“As a Human Rights Activist, who strongly believes that “Nigeria died the day we killed June 12, because on June 12, there was no discrimination”, Dele later joined M.K.O Abiola’s campaign team of “Farewell to poverty”. This was after a brief stint with Thisday Newspapers. He loved Abiola with a passion. They both bonded and enjoyed a father-and-son relationship.When in 1993 General Ibrahim Babaginda annulled the freest, fairest and most credible elections in Nigeria, Dele was caught in the crossfire of the annulment, being intensely involved in the presidential campaign of Chief M.K.O Abiola, the undoubted winner and martyr of democracy who was later illegally detained and killed in hazy circumstances undisclosed till date.

“He was charged with sedition (a non-existent offence); and detained in a dungeon at Alagbon Close, Lagos. Undeterred, Dele used his caustic pen to puncture the heart of dark-googled dictator, Sani Abacha. Though innocent, he was later falsely accused of being one of the brains behind an emergent pirate radio station, Radio Freedom. Later this was renamed Radio Kudirat, in honour of fearless amazon, Kudirat Abiola, who was savagely murdered by Abacha’s faceless goons. Dele was later forewarned by his wife who had hosted strange and faceless elements who came looking for him in the morning, to skip town. Dele therefore disguised like a farmer and escaped from Nigeria (with some “co-conspirators”) through Seme border, into Cotonou. From Cotonou, he journeyed to Lomé, Togo, Aflao Ghana, and finally landed in London. Dele wept. He was sad because he was leaving behind a barely 2-year old matrimony and a ten months old baby, to escape into the unknown. Esmeralda Santiago once asked, “how can you know what you are capable of if you don’t embrace the unknown?”. Dele probably followed the advice of Deepak Chopra, who once counseled, “relinquish your attachment to the known, step into the field of all possibilities”.

“Thus, an unknown London opened up new vistas for precocious Dele, who seized the bull by the horn in exile, to establish Ovation International in 1996. In founding Ovation, Dele probably remembered clearly the immortal words of Williams Shakespeare, “there is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”. Dele took the current, nurtured the Ovation brand and turned it into a bilingual celebrity magazine, printed in English and French. Ovation has since covered events in over 60 countries and is read globally. Ovation aims at showcasing African culture, promoting it as a tourist attraction, and correcting primordial negative views about Africa as the “dark continent”.

“Dele has since grown Ovation stable to include Ovation TV which airs to a global audience; and The Boss Newspapers, an online publication. And he is an Author of several books too. Ovation also now boasts of Ovation Carol and Awards, one of Africa’s most popular annual events that showcases music, celebrities, drama, fashion, awards and charitable causes. And he once owned the biggest restaurant in Accra, Ghana called “The House Of Ovation”, where he once hosted me to a sumptuous three-course meal with local brew, in 2012.One of the many caps that Momodu wears is that of a politician. At 22, he ventured into the murky waters of politics. At different times, he was Media Campaigner to Chief M.K.O Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Chief Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and All Peoples Party (APP). He actually took a shot, albeit unsuccessfully, at the presidency, in 2011.

“Is Dele Momodu wealthy? It depends on what you understand by wealth. Dele is quite wealthy on the matrimonial front, in having a stable, blissful family life, blessed with a beautiful wife of 28 years, Mobolaji Abiodun Momodu, and four lovely children, Pekan, Yole, Eniafe and Korewa. Wealth could also be affluence in sheer cash. But the real measure of wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money. As Ayn Rand once put it “money is only a tool…It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver”. The wealth of Dele therefore cannot be measured in naira and kobo, Dollars or pounds, yen or Euro and Rouble. It lies in his intellect and his many contributions towards having a better society. Even then, he has solid physical wealth with which he executes his numerous philanthropic endeavours. Palatial mansions? He has them in the form of his human capital investment in young Africans!

“You can also not measure Dele’s wealth in the number of presidents, royals, international figures and celebrities that he has interacted with. Over the years, he has met, interacted, dined and wined with the high and mighty across the globe. His writing, especially his “Pendulum” column, has become a piercing thorn in the flesh of successive bad governments. Hate or love Dele, you must admire his writing skills, well-organised thoughts, courage and daring bravado, in exhuming and discussing issues that matter. He does it without apologies; with the typical Edoid stance or frankness, candour, honesty, openness and truth; with history in mind. And Dele has cut his wisdom tooth in history.

“In his writes-up, Dele rakes up the issues; mocks impunity; speaks truth to authority; and challenges governmental excesses. He asks the right questions. Then, he answers the questions. Occasionally, he questions the answers. That is Momodu for you.Dele, the typical story of “grass-to-grace” (like me), can be summarised in the Latinic 47 BC Julius Caesar’s phrase in a letter written to the Roman Senate after defeating Pharnaces II of Pontus in the Battle of Zela: “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (‘I came, I saw, I conquered)”.

Congratulations, Otunba (Dr) Ayobamidele Abayomi Ojutelegan Ajani Momodu, on your new well-deserved high-profile title of “AARE OF IWOLAND”. I can only wish you Exodus 6:3 and Philippians 4:7.

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My Elegy on the Sad Passage of High Chief Raymond Aleogho Ayaoghena Dokpesi, Ph.D, OFR




By Mike Ozekhome

I am a very sad man as I write this. I am completely devastated by the ugly news of the rather sudden death of my elder brother, friend, kinsman, soulmate and confidant, HIGH CHIEF RAYMOND ALEOGHO AYAOGHENA DOKPESI.

Dokpesi had called me on WHATSAPP at about 1.30am THIS MORNING (29th May, 2023). He called me to discuss friendship, brotherhood and take advice on sundry legal matters. He exuded his usual happiness, vibrancy, and gusto, notwithstanding that he has had some health challenges for some time. His voice was quite rich, steady and filled with laughter, as we taunted and bantered with each other, as we were wont to do whenever we encountered
each other. We exchanged chats and spoke up to about 1.50am this morning. So when Chief Tony Akiotu (GMD, DAAR Communication) and Senator Francis Alimhikhena called me to break the sad news of his death from the very hospital where he was said to have been rushed to, I could not believe my ears. It took another communication from his first son, Raymond Dokpesi Jnr to melt my lethargic world of disbelief. Was the Ezomo of Weppa Wanno Kingdom’s call to me a FAREWELL from him? Did he have the premonition of his imminent death? I do not know. Gosh!!! One thing is clear to me as I grieve: Weppa – Wanno, Etsako, Afenmailand, Edo State, Nigeria, Africa, the black race, and indeed the whole world, has lost an unforgettable and uncommon shining star and gem. At a mere 71, Dokpesi lived a life of nobility; a life wholly dedicated to the service of God and humanity. He impacted the most vulnerable through his many philanthropic works. In the maritime world, he stood tall and resplendent, earning a Ph.D in Maritime Engineering. He was to become the nullus secondus of the media world where he became a Czar, the Ted Turner of African broadcasting.

Dokpesi indeed pioneered and blazed private independent broadcasting of television and radio in Nigeria and Africa, establishing Raypower and the African Independent Television (AIT). It was unheard of that a single individual could challenge and break decades of government’s dominance and monopoly of information through radio and television. But, the Araba of Oshoroland and Oghierumhoa of Weppa Wanno Kingdom did just that. In politics, Dokpesi was a master strategist and iconic tactician. His name vibrated and revibrated across Nigeria for decades in Nigeria’s political firmament. He epitomized the soul and spirit of DAAR. Not many Nigerians know that DAAR is actually a reversed acronym of his name – RAYMOND ALEOGHO AYAOGHENA DOKPESI (RAAD).

The Ezomo came. He saw. He conquered. He ran a good race. He finished well. May God grant this legend and collosus eternal repose of his great soul until we meet to part no more.

tseee, Itseee lagi Itseee

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Police Arrest Four Yoruba Nation Agitators for Seizing Radio Station




Some Yoruba Nation agitators, on Sunday morning, seized Radio Nigeria, Amuludun FM 99.1 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, taking over broadcast for more than one hour.

A source told The PUNCH Metro that the agitators, who besieged the station around 5:40 am in an 18-seater bus, were armed with dangerous weapons and charms, threatening to deal decisively with any staff member who refused to cooperate with them.

However, four out of the agitators, among whom was a woman, were arrested by the police with the assistance of the Nigerian army, while others ran into different directions to evade arrest.

One of the arrested agitators, who sustained gunshot wounds, had rushed into the studio to tell others that security operatives had taken over the nooks and crannies of the station. The blood stain was seen in the studio.

An investigation by our correspondent revealed that after holding some night duty staff and security guards hostage, the agitators hijacked the studio and announced live on radio “Welcome to Yoruba Nation.”

An impeccable source further said they continued threatening staff members to remove all Nigeria flags in the station and replace them with Yoruba Nation flags as they have already taken over the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.

It was further learnt that they initially hijacked some commercial vehicles (Micra) to block the main road.

When our correspondent visited the station at J&P Bus-stop, Moniya in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state, more than 20 operational vehicles of security agents, including Department of State Services were sighted at strategic locations to forestall any eventuality.

Confirming the invasion, the most senior staff on duty, Ajayi Omotola, stated that, “They told us that they are Yoruba Nation agitators. And in their T-shirt, there was that inscription there. They wrote Yoruba Nation. Only six persons came inside the studio with different charms threatening to kill us if we failed to cooperate. Others were outside manning security at different areas within the premises.

“They collected all our phones and threatened to kill us if we made any noise or phone calls. They said they wanted to broadcast live that Yoruba Nation has taken over. We should remove all Nigeria flags in our studio and replace it with their own. They didn’t allow anybody to go outside. The Area Commander came, addressed and even pleaded with them but they ignored him. We later heard sporadic shooting outside. So, one of our staff members then came inside to inform us that police and soldiers had arrived,” Omotola stressed.

As of press time, normalcy had returned while stern-looking security operatives were still manning the station.

The Punch

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76th Cannes Film Festival Ends with Bang




The stars on parade at 76th Festival de Cannes


By Michael Effiong

The colour, the glamour, the style and class of the 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival ends today with a big bang.

Festival de Cannes, the film industry’s most prestigious festival will take place at 8:30 pm and will be broadcast live on France 2 and internationally on Brut.

The Jury, presided over by director Ruben Östlund and including director Maryam Touzani, actor Denis Ménochet, writer/director Rungano Nyoni, actress/director Brie Larson, actor/director Paul Dano, writer Atiq Rahimi, director Damián Szifron and director Julia Ducournau, will select the winners from the 21 films in Competition this year.

Actress Anaïs Demoustier, President of the Jury, will hand out the Caméra d’or award to the best first film. Actress Stacy Martin and director Ildikó Enyedi, President of the Short Film and La Cinef Jury, will award the Palme d’or for short films.

Actor Orlando Bloom will hand out the Jury Prize. Actor Song Kang-ho, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actor for Broker and actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actress for Holy Spider, will award the Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor Prizes respectively.


Actor John C. Reilly, President of the Un Certain Regard Jury, will award the Best Screenplay Prize, while Pete Docter, Creative Director of Pixar Studios, will present the Best Director Prize.


The Festival de Cannes will also be honored by the exceptional presence tonight of legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, who will present the Grand Prix alongside virtuoso Quentin Tarantino.


Finally, the prestigious Palme d’or will be presented by the formidable and inspiring Jane Fonda.


The Closing Ceremony will mark the end of the 76th Festival de Cannes, and will be followed by the screening of Peter Sohn‘s film Elementary in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.


The 21 films competing for the Palme d’or this year are : Firebrand by Karim Aïnouz, Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, Rapito (Kidnapped)(Kidnapped) by Marco Bellocchio, Les Filles d’Olfa (Four Daughters)(Four Daughters) by Kaouther Ben Hania, L’Été dernier (Last Summer) (Last Summer) by Catherine Breillat, Kuru Otlar Ustune (About Dry Grasses)(About Dry Grasses) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Le Retour (Homecoming) by Catherine Corsini, The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer, Club Zero by Jessica Hausner, May December by Todd Haynes, Monster by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Kuolleet Lehdet (Fallen Leaves)(Fallen Leaves) by Aki Kaurismäki, The Old Oak by Ken Loach, Il Sol dell’ avvenire (A Brighter Tomorrow)(A Brighter Tomorrow) by Nanni Moretti, La Chimera by Alice Rohrwacher, Black Flies by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, Banel e Adama by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Pot-au-Feu) (The Pot-au-Feuby Tran Anh Hùng, Anatomie d’une chute (Anatomy of a Fall) (Anatomy of a Fallby Justine Triet, Jeunesse (Le Printemps) (Youth (Spring))(Youth (Spring)) by Wang Bing, Perfect Days by Wim Wenders.

The Closing ceremony, usually a wonderful evening to behold will be broadcast in English and French by Brut.

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