BY JACOB AJOM
There were no money bags nor were there political big wigs. Yet it was a gathering of heavyweights – the core of Nigeria’s best in the business of sports writing, cut across three generations.
Led by the inimitable egbons, Bisi Lawrence (Biz Law), the distinguished assemblage included veteran broadcasters Fabio Lanipekun and Dele Adetiba, Honourable Nduka Irabor, Emeka Eluem Ezeze the Managing director of the Guardian, Mitchel Obi of Master Sports, former national team captain, Segun Odegbami, Tony Nezianya of the News Agency of Nigeria, Effiong Nyong, Tony Ubani, Sports Editor, Vanguard Newspapers and others too numerous to mention.
The occasion was the media presentation of Chuka Momah’s two titles, Sports Spectacular and Mohammed Ali. The large turnout of journalists was, no doubt, a massive show of solidarity to one of theirs who decided to chronicle events that covered vast range of space and time in the sporting life of Nigeria and indeed, the world.
The atmosphere was best captured by the chairman of the occasion, Bisi Lawrence who, looking round the jam packed bar of the Lagos Country Club, Ikeja, venue of the event, said, “sports writing breeds friendship. As I walked into this place, I did not see colleagues but I saw my friends because we are all friends; not colleagues.”
On the two books, Lawrence said, “I commend Chuka Momah’s efforts because it(writing) is one thing I have always wanted to do but have not been able to do it. He has written a double. The books are written by a master story teller. I believe too that sports writing breeds story tellers. I am not only a journalist, I am a sports writer.”
Lawrence who rested his sports column in the Vanguard some years back confessed, “my writing diminished when I gave up my sports column.”
Momah’s Sports Spectacular, a 1,224 page volume contains enchanting chapters on tennis, boxing, athletics, cricket and football written in the best readable language. “He presents us with a world view of sports that is enchanting,” Lawrence said.
On his part, Dele Adetiba said, “while many of us sports journalists enjoyed the artistry and skill displayed in a sporting encounter, Chuka went further – he studied the event.”
Veteran broadcaster, Fabio Lanipekun said, “talk about sports – tennis, boxing, cricket, basketball, athletics, Chuka was always at home, wonderfully endowed with fluency, articulation. Clarity of thought and an uncanny ability to recall the juiciest quotes from the key players.”
The author was particularly pleased that the books were after all, a reality.
“It is to the glory of God that after all the hiccups of contractors running away with my money, people who cut corners and other frustrations that accompany such endeavours, we were able to come up with the two books.”