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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Desert Man

I call him the desert man. I met chief Newton Jibunoh 8 years ago; it was in the age of innocence. 6.30 am and I tore my battered Suzuki sidekick into the huge compound of NTA 10 in a cloud of sand and smoke to start the show. New Dawn at the time was a madcap multi segmented 2-hour daily breakfast show and I was the chief crasewoman in charge. As I crash packed the car and bounded off towards the studio, looking like last nights dinner and clutching my notes and bowl of pineapples, I saw a calm, fit looking older man in denim, sleeves rolled up smiling at me. Questions tore through my sugar-deprived brain rapidly, is this my guest? Why is he here so early, didn't they say he was 62, the man looks 42 and why the hell is he smiling so contently so early in the morning? All these as I welcomed him and ushered him into the guest room whilst I attempted to transform myself into a resemblance of TV worthiness (these were the humble days before Bayo). I had a blast with him and he is one of the screen to life friends I have made in my career so much so that I wrote a couple of chapters of his book Me, My Desert and I.


Chief Jibunoh is an unusual man in our environment. The story of his life, and famed drive from London to Lagos in a VW beetle in the 60s, the repeat journey 8 years ago and now a third journey taking along an eclectic group of young talented people inspires. In an environment where the average 70 year old blocks the street to celebrate the birthday, Jibunoh takes to the desert for a cause complete with a new generation he hopes to pass the baton to. I have interacted with him, his lovely, equally ageless wife and children and I can tell you that his is a fertile, untiring, unaging mind.

I hear that he and his crew are in Rabat now having crossed the Sahara desert and the Atlas Mountain to raise awareness on desertification. You can keep tabs with them on Ebun Olatoye's blog but here is the video of his new dawn appearance as well as images and details of the journey.

10 comments:

wellsbaba said...

in d desert its really cold n lonely n I must say "mr desert man" is really alone in his world amongst his peers in nigeria!he stands out!not many if any(of his 9ja contemporaries) can boast of this man's feat!
when u get to his age in 9ja,its believed u should be wasting your life away on a chair while everyone takes care of u(agba ti'n de) his life is quite an adventure

tankojjetty said...

AM SO HAPPY FOR THE DESERT MAN...
I HOPE HE TURNS THIS ADVENTURE INTO A DOCUMENTARY FOR FELLOW TRAVELLERS LIKE US...
THE BIT THAT "TRIPS" ME SO MUCH IS THAT...HE'S DOING IT FOR A CAUSE...

Charizard said...

I'm impressed that he's still makin his mark on the sands of time...I first heard of him when I was a kid...I didnt even know that he was still doin us all, proud...Kudos to him in every way possible

Whole Truths said...

Funmi what are you doing talking to liberal democrats!!! Her Father, Professor Josef Korbel on the other hand was one of the brightest minds i've ever read about!You should have interviewed him instead! Apart from being Condi's teacher, he was her mentor as well as her greatest influence on politics! He practically set her on her way to where she is right now! Fantastic mind he was!
Trust Nigerians to hail every oyibo they see you with!Does anybody know her or her antecedents! What where her foreign policy achievements during her tenure as the highest ranking American diplomat! Her and her president are the cause of the world's current maelstorm! Although i must add, she did a lot for women empowerment! And please i don't mean in the Nigerian context of giving out sewing, grinding and blending machines!

Whole Truths said...

WTF! All of you should say the truth! The Whole Truth!!How many of you will spend your 70th birhtday in a desert!

Anonymous said...

Funmi,

Love your celebration of Chief Jibunoh's accomplishments, he's indeed an example to all of us.
On another note, it is an accomplishment to get to 70 in our country - coups, road acidents, minor illnesses, disease, hunger, frustrations and endless disapointments kill many before their time. I personally won't hold it against them to 'block the street' to celebrate.
Not all of us have Chief J's opportunities or his sense of adventure or exposure to the world village, scrambling as we are for mere survival.
If I make it to 70, I may or may not cross the Sahara but I sure will party!!

Anonymous said...

You know, at 70, he reminds me of my father and my father's generated: many of them were educated by colonialists (I don't know about the great desert man himself), and have a strange sense of adventure that is (sadly) missing in the younger generations. Why did I mention their education by colonialists? I wonder whether they gave this generation the spirit of chopping legs (je ese aja).

ablackjamesbond said...

One of the things i want to do when i turn fifty is to climb into a truck and travel every state in Nigeria for a about 60days. I believe there is so much about this country that i need to know and see....

...and this decision was inspired by Mr Jibunoh

Olukunle said...

Thank u for d link to an update of IN's journey across the desert...i've been looking all over for where to get updated abt his travelling...did a post on him d other day as well...

uchevelli said...

nice one funmi, this global warming thing should be paramount in any policies we are making in this country, the issue of how we manage the environment is of great importance and we must creat awareness, check out my blog at you spare time, i wrote something similar(are you environmentally concious?): uchevelli.blogspot.com