I SPENT last weekend in Lagos, attending Uncle Sam Amuka’s son’s wedding ceremony. The ceremony drew the cream of Nigerian society, from all walks of life. Uncle Sam is one of the most decent human beings I have ever met and everybody else that I have spoken with about this unusually humane gentleman has confirmed my feeling.
I do not want to over-eulogize the man, but you cannot come away from the man, not feeling delighted about his personality; his incredible modesty and his ability to appreciate the good in other people. He just has that charm and magnetism that inspire.
My becoming a columnist for VANGUARD newspapers from May 2011 was largely as a result of his ability to draw people from all kinds of backgrounds to work with him in his newspapers. He is the quintessential Nigerian patriot at a time when many intelligent people have withdrawn into ethno-religious laagers, preaching all kinds of divisiveness and hatred.
It was no surprise that these qualities of the man drew so many of us to the wedding ceremony last weekend. And I learnt an extra lesson about the Nigerian condition, from the array of people who turned out, but especially how the vibrant Lagos social scene can be such a magnet for revelry and so much enjoyment. I saw the way that Nigerians of all backgrounds, who have made Lagos their home, danced with so much gusto to the music of the band at the reception ceremony.
In my mind, it became a bit clearer that there was so much that tied our people together from all over Nigeria. The Lagos social scene has always been one of the greatest inventions and expressions of modernity and the evolution of the urban space in the late colonial period in Nigeria.
By the 1940s, Lagos had become the pre-eminent urban setting that drew everybody into a colonial and later, a post-colonial economic and social existence. It was instructive that leading newspapermen have always helped to define and enrich the Lagos social scene, and the roots of that must be located in the work of the cosmopolitan Jackson family of journalists, with the LAGOS WEEKLY RECORD, in Nineteenth Century Lagos.
But from the 1940s, journalists became central in the nationalist movement: The Great Zik, Ernest Ikoli, Obafemi Awolowo, Ladoke Akintola and even Anthony Enahoro, were not only journalists but trend setters in a most socially significant manner.
People like Uncle Sam Amuka, who as SAD SAM, was one of the most engaging columnists of all time, with his arched bowler hat, drank in the same fount and also burnt his own unique imprimatur on that remarkably vibrant Lagos social scene.
Last week’s wedding ceremony conveyed the very best of that Lagos social scene and I was so happy that I could be there to see Uncle Sam Amuka at one of the happiest moments of his life as a parent: the wedding of his son. Thank you, sir, for inspiring so many people to be the best of themselves. I belong in that sensibility!