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Stanley Macebuh: A Conundrum

By John  Amoda
I HAVE found it and still find it difficult to think of Stanley in past tense. There are many angles to the man and his is like that story of several blind men asked to describe an object called elephant.

According to the impression from their touch they named it. So it is with the impact of the public man called Stanley Macebuh. But the man also lived a life as a famed sibling among many siblings, as a lover and husband, as a father, as a neighbour and as a Christian, and to me as a friend.

Uncle Mike was to Stanley as an Aide-de-Camp- not in subservience- but as a manager of Stanley’s emotions. Yet this cerebral and most cerebral of most men, was also a man of emotions and in a deep sense, Uncle Mike was one that saw a warrior weep from his hurts.

Uncle Sam was a friend, older in the trade, a friend of kings and commoners alike. He understood one thing that the parties that be did not; he knew that Stanley was diamond and not glass. And then there is the one that Stanley insisted on calling Amodu who in turn called his Maize-buh.

To Amodu, Stanley is his voice. I still hear Amodu- this is not memory- it is hearing- hence my difficulty of describing Stanley as one of the dead. It is not that I am a stranger to death. I have been orphaned by death and the evidence of death is all around.

Stanley as a conundrum- the dictionary I consult defines conundrum as a riddle, this answer to which involves a pun or play on words-and it gives the example to illustrate its meaning. “What is black and white and read all over? A Newspaper”. The Stanley that we cannot forget we are reading about all over.

The testimonies cover acquaintances and friends from his childhood to his death. And then there is the Stanley whose Waterloo was Nigeria- Nigeria Stanley helps us to see as a conundrum- a mother that murders her goodly seeds.

Stanley was root upwards an offspring of Nigeria. He that passed through Kings College had his beginnings outside of Lagos. He brought the panache and sophistication of Pitakwa to the capital. He that was Sahara, played Nigeria’s favorite sport at the top level at Kings and U.I.

When he took the centre stage on the global level, there this uncommon man was diamond. Stanley as an academic had the credentials to find a fruitful and happy career in Ox-Bridge, and the Ivy Leagues of  America.

If he were a francophone he would fitted very comfortably at the Sarbonne.
I finished the undergraduate course in 1965, Stanley finished his in 1966. By 1968 Stanley was Dr. Stanley and a member of the prestigious Faculty of English Department at the University of California Berkeley where I was completing my PhD in 1969.

Stanley went through the preparation for excellence with the speed and accuracy of light. Why did Stanley not rest in Berkeley, America’s answer to Cambridge and Oxford, and America’s Western answer to the Harvards of the East Atlantic?

Why City College and not Columbia that sought his services? Why was his first book on James Baldwin- of the Fire The Next Time fame? The voice that called him eastward was the voice calling him homewards. Stanley was in New York in the aftermath of the Civil War in which his junior brother served in the opponent forces.

Yet Stanley’s crowd of friends were all cosmopolitan, every tongue and tribe of Nigeria called him friend, confidant and brother. He made quick and enduring friendship from Black America: Jerome Brooke, the seminary student turned teacher of English and Nate Normant of City College’s SEEK program, were his buddies.

He lived without prejudice, presumption or humbug. He lured me to City College from Rutgers and if he had not come home, I would not myself have found the courage to come back. Nigeria did not fail Stanley. Those who confused him for glass which he is not were proprietors, owners of enterprises and of government.

They did not know how to deploy his talents- they sucked the juice of his power and trained imaginations and he allowed himself to be set aside. Stanley could have returned to America and found employment in America’s journalism; Columbia could have absorbed him in its school of journalism.

Why did he remain to the end? He was buried at the weekend and all that Alex could find in his heart to say about Stanley was that he was one of the guys at Guardian. No, No, No! Stanley was Guardian’s source and Alex a lucky financier. OBJ’s silence is not acceptable either.

One who prides himself as an expert on men, was a frank illiterate in reading Stanley-OBJ’s culpability is in not institutionalising the innovateness of Stanley. Stanley could have transformed our bureaucracy of knowledge, information and intelligence- for he saw panoramically and he loved Nigeria.

Nigeria’s leaders are mothers that murder their gifted children.
Now these are some ways that Nigeria’s leaders can remedy its fateful dealings with Stanley Mecebuh:

*Let the Governor of his state establish a trust for the education and provision of Stanley’s children- Ambassador Dele Cole can furnish him with the details.

*Let President Jonathan Goodluck establish a School of Journalistic Entrepreneurship at the University of Abuja in honour of Stanley.

Nothing done at this stage can give us a second half with Stanley; perhaps we can do a third thing, namely, do what Nelson Mandela did with the Heads of Department of Political Science- he met with them regularly.

Jonathan our first PhD President can do likewise with his fellow academics. Let the Nigerian state show that excellence does matter and diamond should never again be mistaken for glass.


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