The Arts

January 23, 2023

Celebrating Jahman Anikulapo @ 60

By Onyeka Ezike

Arts and Culture journalist and ambassador, Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo, recently marked his 60th birthday at the Freedom Park, Lagos Island.

Jahman is an actor, art connoisseur, Journalist, and a man-of-the-people. He grew up under the mentorship of the late Professor Dapo Adelugba, a theatre critic, playwright and director of the of Ibadan theatre troupe. Prof. Adelugba encouraged Jahman to write reviews of plays and films regularly which had great influence on his career as a journalist.

He was born January 16, 1963, into an upwardly mobile middle-class family at Agege area of Lagos. As an undergraduate of Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, Jahman acted in Professor Femi Osofisan’s play, A Restless run of a Locust.

Among the activities that marked Jahman’s birthday was a forum discussion on the topic, “The Artman as Intervention: Celebrating Jahman @ 60.”

The keynote address was delivered by Professor Duro Oni. In his speech, Prof. Oni described Jahman as being more than an octopus: “Jahman is a man who does not suffer fools. He can be very hard on you on anything that does not go well. The fear of criticism is the beginning of wisdom. Just like we have social media influencers today, Jahman has influenced more people in Nigeria’s arts and culture through his Journalism and advocacy.”

“He is the person who keeps the chief executives of information and government parastatals up and doing. Because, he will ask you for your activities for the year to enable him send his reporters to cover stories on them. Jahman is creative, hardworking, prudent, consistent, and with very high level of integrity.”

Jahman and Toyin Akinosho, over the past two decades, devoted their lives and financial resources to the celebration of arts and culture through the Committee for Relevant Arts, CORA.

At the event, friends, associates and colleagues described Jahman as a man who leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of his passion for the elevation of humanity through arts and culture. Though he appears soft-spoken, he is erudite and fearless in expressing his conviction.

Nollywood veteran, Joke Sliver, described Jahman as a man who has arts wrapped around his space: “Your Incredible facility, your incredible mind in the cultural space, from the mid-80s till now, that aspect of the cultural space has made your mind wrapped around all that you do in the cultural space.

“But what I want to mention is your amazing work and understanding of the young people wanting to navigate this space which can be so difficult for adults, not to talk of young people, and how you take these young people and expand their minds, which is what the Lagos Book and Arts Festival, LABAF, has always been about; it is about getting the young people to read, understand what has come before, what is happening in the present, and project them into the future, which I’ve seen very closer in what you did with my son, Soji.”

In speaking truth to power, Jahman is always fearless in much the same way as his mentor, Professor Wole Soyinka. Jahman shared an enduring relationship with the Nobel Laureate over many seasons. Having bagged a degree in theatre arts, he has performed in several plays and acted in Tade Ogidan’s film, Hostage.

He could easily have continued on that path as an actor, but he opted to be a journalist after his encounter with another mentor, Ben Tomoloju.

Jahman joined The Guardian in 1993 as a reporter, before rising through the ranks to become Arts Editor, Deputy Editor, and Editor of The Guardian on Sunday at Rutam House.

Having spent close to 29 years at The Guardian before retiring in January 2013, Jahman remains unyielding to promoting arts and culture.