Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Showers of praise: Dikko buys Talking Drum?


Wednesday, August 22, 1984

from Gordon Tialobi, London

Talking Drum is a news magazine which has been on the stands now for almost a year. For the 13 August issue, it brought out a poem dedicated to Umaru Dikko.
"God give us men!
A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and steady hands,
Men who have honour-men who will not lie.
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking,
Tall men, sun crowned, who live above the fog
In public thinking and in private thinking"
To end this dedication to Umaru Dikko, the magazine ended by saying: "That, to me is the real Umaru Dikko, not a myth that has been created out of poverty and desperation and frustration. That is why he lives to fight again and again".

Why is this magazine called Talking Drum, you may as well ask. If you have never seen a copy, it is not surprising. If you have never read it, you haven't missed much. Unless, of course, you go for articles entitled Dikko: They myth and the reality', that inevitably ends with a praise poem, the like of which is quoted above.

It is just as well that Talking Drum has never provoked enough interest among investigative journalists to persuade them to inquire into the funding of the magazine.

A year after the launching this particular issue still carries not one invisible. single advertisement. Yet the magazine is still being funded? And if so, by whom?

Miss Elizabeth Ohene, the Ghanaian editor who thinks she knows what is best for us Nigerians, is most unlikely to divulge or publicise her accounts. Which is understandable.

In spite of the guesses which people are now expressing, the article is hilarious in many ways. Whereas every Nigerian has always believed that Dikko bribed his way out of the country, this magazine introduces a new myth, "a popular belief among many people that Umaru Dikko used juju... one of the most potent... called 'layan zana' . . ." to make him

Again, not that he was invented, but a "dumb-founded Ibo trader" was produced in this same article, conveying the message: "If Idiagbon and members of the SMC want to stay in power, they should leave Umaru Dikko alone. His juju is too powerful for them. They can never get him... Talk about rubbish!

Punchless story

Yes indeed, a load of rubbish undoubtedly. Talking Drums has published its fair share of 'rubbish' in the almost one year of its existence. In much the same way as The Punch of Nigeria has also published quite a considerable amount of rubbish. And it must be said, in much the same way as most other papers publish 'rubbish' in varying degrees.

Rubbishy articles deserve to be treated with garbage can wit or to be thrown into the incinerator, where they belong.

Seeing that according to Mr Gordon Tialobi of The Punch, those who have never seen nor read Talking Drums have missed nothing, we are bemused or maybe flattered that The Punch considered us worthy of their front page in banner headlines.

There very well might be a point to informing Punch readers of what rubbishy articles are published in a magazine they have never heard of nor even read (and missed nothing by not having read) after all nobody can tell what motivates an editorial decision about what constitutes front page news.

But here is Mr Gordon Tialobi writing from London who has never been to the offices of Talking Drums nor telephoned us, possibly because according to him, Talking Drums has never provoked enough interest among investigative journalists to persuade them to inquire into the funding of the magazine.

Since we seem to have provoked Mr Tialobi's ire, one would have thought that he would at least have done the most fundamental enquiries.

How did Mr Tialobi know that "Miss Elizabeth Ohene the Ghanaian editor thinks she knows what is best for us Nigerian" or "that she is most unlikely to divulge her accounts" when Mr Tialobi has never spoken to her or asked her any questions about Talking Drums? How can he know anything when he has not asked?

The temptation is very great to tell "the Talking Drums' story," but we will tell it at our own time and not when The Punch or any other paper or persons think they can provoke us to. We will tell the story of three people who believe and are ready to sacrifice everything for that belief.

It is not clear if Mr Tialobi has seen any other copy of Talking Drums apart from the 13 August issue or if he had considered that issue alone worthy of mention because the rubbish in that issue was more than he could take.

For, we would like to think that since 13 September, 1983 we have written a lot on Nigeria and since the coup of 31 December 1983 we have written very much on Nigeria. We have not hidden the fact that we believe the military takeovers/regimes are an aberration and detrimental to Africa.

We have not hidden and will shout our distaste for military rules until we are hoarse and tired. We have mourned the taming of the virile Nigerian press under military rule and have been dismayed by the sycophancy that seems to be the order every time a new government over- throws an elected one in Africa. We have not suggested that Nigerian journalists might be singing Maj-Gen. Buhari's praises because they want to keep their jobs nor that those on the privately owned Nigerian papers have been showering praises on the soldiers because they want import licences for their companies.

We note that inspite of the banner headline "Dikko Buys Talking Drum?" (we are called TALKING DRUMS) there is nothing in the article itself about that subject unless of course the readers are supposed to conclude as such because "Miss Elizabeth Ohene is most unlikely to divulge or publicise her accounts" but in case The Punch knows something that we at Talking Drums do not know we shall be very grateful for that knowledge.

As Mr Tialobi rightly observed in his article, Talking Drums still has no adverts, and we are desperate, everybody who has taken any interest in us this past almost one year knows that, including the gentleman who distributes The Punch in London to whom we have even bared our desperation and fears.

It looks as if any story at all that has 'Dikko' in it, is guaranteed to sell newspapers in Nigeria and we are cynical enough to know that journal- ists will always squeeze as much as they can out of any story, hut the normal thing is to get a stor, ft. did The Punch not try to get a least a story first before blowing it. We at Talking Drums are grateful for any publicity we can get and would hope that The Punch has given us the needed boost we have been waiting for to launch us into the Nigerian market when we would hope that the readers will find a line or two worth reading in the midst of the rubbish that we publish.

As part of this hope, we have since the inception of Talking Drums been sending weekly copies to a number of people and organisations in Nigeria including newspapers (The Punch included) personal friends, known personalities and opinion formulators. We have been getting some reactions and would appreciate more even if it is to tell us what rubbish we write.

And talking about rubbish, it might be a good idea to publish the full article which The Punch excerpts were taken, which appeared under 'Whispering Drums'.

Obviously on matters that deal with Dikko, nobody is allowed to have a sense of humour.

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