RENOWNED Kenyan historian and scholar, Prof. Ali Mazrui, yesterday described the late publisher of The Guardian, Chief Alex Uruemu Ibru, as an enviable institution builder, who stood for the truth and created an opportunity for professionals to tow the path of honour by “speaking truths to power.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview in Lagos, Mazrui, who recalled his several personal encounters with the late Ibru, said “building an influential publishing newspaper system,” was a major achievement for the deceased.
Describing Alex Ibru as a risk taker, Mazrui said The Guardian became one of the voices speaking truth to power. “He allowed the editors to take their truthful paths although the risk, which were taken could affect him as well as the editors. He is, indeed, an institution builder that set an example for others to pursue it; and then, he took a risk because The Guardian became one of the voices of speaking truths to power.
Mazrui relived his experience, 20 years ago, when, according to him, he was invited, as guest speaker, to The Guardian’s Annual Lecture, saying that, although the topic chosen by the newspaper was controversial, the issues he raised in his speech was widely publicised and debated.
“I still remember the occasion because it was very well publicised at the time by, not just The Guardian alone, but by other newspapers at the time.
“The topic, which was chosen by The Guardian, was quite controversial. It was “The Black Woman and the Problem of Gender. I tried as hard to accept it, but I said the chair of the occasion must be a woman, and the guest of honour, other than the speaker, should also be a woman.
“ And, in my opening speech, I said: “Now, the world awaits The Guardian to nominate a woman to speak on the black man. The content of my speech was also controversial but and was widely publicised elsewhere and debated on the authorization of The Guardian.”
Prof. Mazrui, had, on Friday, visited the Ikoyi residence of the late Alex-Ibru to commiserate with his widow, Maiden Alex-Ibru and family.
He Was A Great Patriot — Akinyemi
Former External Affairs Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has decribed the late Publisher of The Guardian as a “patriot, and a visionary who was ennobled by great courage and piety”.
In a letter of condolence to Maiden, the widow of the late Alex-Ibru, Akinyemi, who said he was away in the Gambia when the news broke, urged Mrs Alex-Ibru to take solace in the fact that her “dear husband, Mr. Alex Uruemu Ibru”, led a purposeful life.
“Alex was a patriot, and a visionary, ennobled by great courage and piety. These words are really inadequate to describe the totality of who Alex was. His God however knows his true value”.
Prof. Akinyemi continues: “The worth of our lives lies not in the absence of challenges but in the courage with which we confront those challenges. Alex confronted such challenges, the magnitude of which would have broken many a stout heart with courage and grace. His life was one of grace under agony and pain.
“Now the pain is over and he is gone to rest free from all the vicissitudes of this life. This nation and in fact, this world is poorer by his death”.
Concluding, Prof. Akinyemi prayed: “May God grant him eternal peace and rest. May God grant you and the children comfort and love”.