Over the weekend I listened to Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett on Sony Irabor life on radio. It was one of the most beautiful interviews I ever listened to. I had just come from church and was glued to my car for an hour listening to the gracious voice of Taiwo Ajai. That is what we called her, who did not notice that lady with the gap teeth that speaks impeccable English. If I was told to put my feelings of that particular 1hours or so interview in a single word, the word would be "Magnificent".
Have you ever listened to someone or being around someone and the person just oozes Class? I was simply enthralled. Every sentence she made was as though it was embellished with gems, apples of gold in settings of silver, words aptly spoken. I have had this type of feeling before, when I read Wole Soyinka's eulogy for Chinua Achebe when Chinua passed, sheer literary class, again the first time I watched Man in The Iron Mask by Leonardo Dicaprio and Jeremy Irons, that scene where the three musketeers and Dicaprio charged at the army of the king, there all famous speech and eclectic manoeuver -"All for one, one for all" which the shooting officer could not help but call "Magnificent Valiance". I had the feeling when I watched the movie "After Earth", when The little Smith killed the big beast at the edge of the cliff. She had such a beautiful voice and was very gracious. At the young age of 73 she is still so optimistic about life.
We grew up watching Taiwo Ajai on my family's black and white VHF television that only picked signals from NTA Ibadan. I recall how we would all gather in the evening, particularly sunday evenings, to watch those tv dramas on NTA network services 8pm. That was the hottest time on television in those days, days before Frank Olize started the sunday-sunday "Newsline" tonic that also got all of us engrossed, with Frank as the presenter and Abike Dabiri as reporter. Does anyone remember that? Abike was a reporter those days for Frank Olize on NTA, and when Frank left, she took over the program, and became extremely popular and endeared to all of us ( I guess we are all still endeared to her as she metamophorsed into a honourable member of the House).
I cannot forget those 8pm soap operas, that was what they later came to be called, but at that time, they were not called any names, and by the way, I have often wondered why we started calling them "soap opera", I guess maybe because a lot of soap commercials ran on that time schedule e.g. that legendary Lux advert with Patti Boulaye. . . If you say "yeah, yeah", my friend you are getting old. Thanks to google for the spelling of her surname, I used to wonder how that was spelt, but I know it is pronounced "Bulay" that was what my aunty used to call her (And by the way, she is Igbo -Patricia Ngozi Ebigwe, you may google her). Again I remember Village Headmaster, and how it took a new form when Justice Esiri (late now) became the Headmaster. He wasn't always the headmaster, there used to be a previous guy. Then Cock Crow At Dawn, with the signature tune by Bongos Ikwue, I loved that song and the casts, particularly Bitrus. He was also a presenter on NTA for a long long time. How many people remember that soap that had the character Nosa on it, that guy that later had cerebrospinal meningities, I can never forget, infact the name of the disease stuck because of the guy, the whole nation was agog about the young man's sickness, and guess what, there was no Twitter or Google or facebook, yet we were very aware. And come to think of it, I was not even a teenager at that time. You know sometimes, I think that all these twitter and facebook thing is even over hyped. Then without facebook and twitter or BB, just the old faithful radio and NTA, we knew everything, there was almost no child who did not know "We Are The World" when it came out in 1985 or so, we knew Arnold Schwazeneger, and all his titles as the world's strongest man, knew the names of all the governors and ministers in Nigerian, knew all sorts of acronyms for whatever government project or world program was going on, it was called current affairs. But these days, children, even adults have so much information, but so little awareness. I can safely say that most 10year olds can't say the names of 5 state governors in Nigeria etc. For me, this is the flip side of information overload - lots of information, but very little awareness.
Back to Taiwo Ajai, she acted in "Winds Against My Soul", several people clearly remember the drama, I do too, but somehow, I recall, though darkly, that the TV programme did not last for very long, but it lasted long enough for people like my wife to clearly remember her role in the drama. She casted in "Some Mothers Do Have Them", and among other things, she is also a cast on Tinsels. My most noticeable feature in the interview was the way she so graciously talked about other people that she worked with, the respect she accorded and still accords them, and her appreciation of their art and contributions, especially when she talked about Fatai Rolling Dollars. Her view points were so refreshing given the fact that we are in a world where people are increasingly self engrossed - "everybody is bad, only me is good" mindset. As she spoke of her contemporaries and the younger colleagues, one almost felt they were some sort of geniuses in their own right.
I took that away from the discussion and the truth is that a person's estimate of himself can be easily seen in the way he talks about other people who labour with him.
In conclusion, it is a privilege to celebrate Mrs Taiwo Ajai Lycett, and we pray that she lives many more years in joy and happiness.