Title: Jailed For Life (A Reporter’s Prison Notes)
Author: Kunle Ajibade
Year of Publication: 2002
Reviewer: Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
At a recent function where participants were asked to identify a person they found interesting, I caused an upset. While others fell over each other in naming the bests of society, persons whose names invoked cheers and respect, I had come up with the name: Abacha.
It generated a lot of murmur, my colleagues wondering how I could have mentioned such a name, such a person deserving no admiration. But I stood my ground. General Sani Abacha is an interesting person and it’s sad that the moment he died mysteriously, his chapter became “closed” to historical evaluation. There is a dearth of documented information about the man and his years, what he did, how much of the crimes now attributed to him he committed, what pushed him to do what he did and quite importantly, what he really did.
I was particularly thrilled, therefore, to get hold of a copy of Kunle Ajibade’s “Jailed for Life; A Reporters Prison Notes” published by Heinemann Frontline Series in 2002. As a student of journalism, though on a modest non-formal basis, Kunle Ajibade was a Name I already knew. He was synonymous with The News magazine. He was one of the many journalists who crossed Abacha’s path during those dark days of military rule in Nigeria, years that came to be symbolized with the dark goggles the then maximum ruler always had on. In the book, essentially an autobiography, Ajibade shares with us a not so happy part of his life, chronicling his experiences after being arrested, framed up and jailed in the phantom coup of 1995 and how he survived the harsh realities of the Nigerian prison system until 1998 when Abacha died.
Wole Soyinka provides an apt foreword to this visceral account. Soyinka himself had suffered a similar ordeal under a different dictator and had captured his experience beautifully in the famous “The Man Died” which is generally believed to have won him the Nobel Prize in Literature. In many ways too, Soyinka, who has over the years become the face of activism and a strong voice against oppression of all kinds is connected with Ajibade’s story as he had aided and abetted the courageous nocturnal journalism which the brae had to adopt in squaring up against the machinery of state set to liquidate them.
In the 190 page book, Ajibade traced the circumstances that led to the……Read Full Review in Sentinel Nigeria Magazine