Dele Momodu – A Diamond Formed Under Pressure
“You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own ‘acres of diamonds.” – Earl Nightingale
What a privilege to write about Bashorun Dele Momodu. What a privilege to also write about diamonds. There isn’t a difference between both subjects really. I am a student of similitudes. I often say to my staff and mentees alike, when God wants to change your life, He would speak to you in similitudes. He will give you imagery of what your life should be like. To change Abraham’s life for good, God brought him outside of this tent to gaze at the stars. God then gave him one sure promise, “so shall your descendants be.” That imagery changed the life of Abraham for good.
I have always studied the images that mirror the life of the great men and women that cross my path in life. I have known Bashorun Dele Momodu whom we all fondly refer to as Bob Dee up and close for 21 years now. For Bob Dee, his life from childhood until today has been nothing but a fitting comparison with a diamond formed under pressure. It is beyond mere happenstance that I am writing about Bob Dee on the occasion of his diamond jubilee. I am doing so because, if all we do is to celebrate his 60th birthday anniversary with fine words in tribute, thrilling music and exotic drinks on Zoom, then we miss the didactic essence of his life. We would have done a great disservice to Bob Dee and the millions of Nigerian youth who admire him. This is the task I have set for myself in writing this tribute.
Just like the life of this writer himself, everything in life predisposed Bashorun Dele Momodu to fail. Poverty was both the architect and builder of the plan for young Dele Momodu to fail. The Diamond we are celebrating today passed through intense pressure at childhood. The intensity of the pressure was enough for him to fail. But the mercy of God said NO! Bob Dee echoed what his creator was saying. Bob Dee said NO too. He defied the odds to get everything he has achieved in life today. From early education to a university degree, his life was as rough as a diamond in its pristine state. Our young ones must never miss this point. If you admire the Range Rover Autobiography he rides today, and you do not understand the travails of his childhood; the odds that were against him and the harsh vicissitudes of life he faced in exile during the Abacha reign of terror, then you miss the point as to why Bob Dee is being celebrated today.
Let me quickly also celebrate Bob Dee as a journalist. It was Malcolm Forbes who said, “diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs”. Bob Dee could have become one of those briefcase contractors by virtue of the access he has to several political office holders within and outside of Nigeria. But he has stuck to his job as a journalist. Even as a journalist, I can testify to the fact that this Diamond has been under severe pressures too. Many a time, he has been cyberbullied by the hirelings and android mercenaries of some of the political office holders he has criticized in his journalistic writings. He has been called unprintable names. It has cost him vital relationships that many crave within the corridors of power. Bob Dee has edited tons of writings right from his days as an Editor. But never for once has Bob Dee, the journalist edited his conviction to suit the cravings of some political leaders and their ignoble orchestra.
Let me speak about the part most people love about diamonds. The shiny part. Many are unaware that the ornament has been through severe pressures to come out shinning. Bob Dee and I got closer in mid-2003. A top Nigerian political office holder had sought my professional assistance to manage the media and communications needs during some foreign engagements in the United States as his newly appointed Chief Press Secretary did not have a US visa. Bob Dee happened to be in the US. At the invitation of Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Bob Dee flew straight to Atlanta to spend a few days with us. It was my lot to receive Bob Dee by the entrance of the prestigious Westin Hotel, Buckhead, Atlanta where we lodged. As he stepped out of the limo that brought him from the airport, Bob Dee dipped his left hand into his pocket, held me with his right hand, wrapped some dollars into my palm. My reaction was a mix of shock and surprise. Why? The very political client I had travelled miles to work for neither gave me a dime nor said a simple thank you to me till today. Since then, we have met times without number in different parts of the world, and Bob Dee would always display one act of generosity or the other.
From the womb of time, Bob Dee, the pressured Diamond himself has emerged an alluring ornament admired by many, treasured by thousands, sought after by many more. It is doubtful if this Diamond could have come forth into national and global reckoning without pressure. It was Thomas Caryle who said, “No pressure, No Diamonds.” As we celebrate him, we must remind the younger generation who admire him of his mantra, “prayer is hard work in action.” Bob Dee is a mobile caravan of hope. But he knows that hope is not a strategy! He always works out a strategy in every difficult situation.
Bashorun Dele Momodu just doesn’t work. He works hard. I do not know how he copes flying several thousands of miles and meeting the deadlines to submit his weekly articles and produce magazine. This Diamond is a product of grace and hard work. Like the timeless diamond, his eternal words to me have remained, “Jaiyestic” as he fondly calls me, “do not abandon your platform. Your platform is your business. Keep building it. You are nothing without a platform. You will never get a seat at the table without it.” As we celebrate him today, let’s remind the younger ones who want to be like Bob Dee of this mantra. “Prayer is hard work in action.”
Let’s raise a glass in a toast to a Diamond that has survived the furnace of fire, the ferocity of afflictions and the fury of rulers. Let’s raise a glass in a toast to a Diamond that edified celebrity journalism in our time and in our land. Let’s raise a glass in toast to the Diamond who has just reinvented modern day journalism by spotting opportunities in the storm of Covid-19, pivoting media interviews to a new realm of multiplatform possibilities and greater reach to multilocation audiences around the world. Let’s raise our glass in a toast to a Diamond of grace and class, Bashorun Dele Momodu. May his tribe increase in our land!
Israel Jaiye Opayemi is President, Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN)