Early March, death in a rather speedy riddance took Dr. Stanley Nkwachukwu Macebuh to his final home. A painful final exit that prised open the memory of his years at The Guardian. Again, a painful final exit that flung open the intellectual door to his inimitable liberal pieces which gave The Guardian the oomph and killing punch among other newspapers during his magisterial and magical years as the revered shaman of its editorial realm. His ineluctable words pounded like distance drums in the mind as you read those hot flushes of his wisdom clothed in pretty intellectual fineries of the most delicate kind.
Allow me to make a fess of youthful obsession. During Macebuh”s pen crafting years, I was an avid reader of The Guardian and its contributor. A disciple of its New Journalism genre which then brought together under Rutam House the greatest collection of liberals who churned out rigorous, velvety prose of robust intellection and libertarian nirvana. When you take out the New York’s Op-Ed pieces, the next best journalism writing was Macebuh’s old The Guardian. The Guardian’s Op-Ed pages was the market place of contemporary ideas where intellectuals like Edwin Madunagu, Patrick Dele-Cole, Biodun Jeyifo, Femi Osofisan, Mokwugo Okoye, Olatunji Dare, GG Dara, Niyi Osundare, Adebayo Williams and Yemi Ogunbiyi showcased the profundity of their closet intellection.
Then again, we had a wonderful constellation of writing’s brightest jewels like Kingsley Osadolor, Femi Kusa, Eddie Iroh, Ben Tomoloju, Toyin Akinoso, Pini Jason, Sully Abu, Amma Ogan, Fred Ohwahwa, Greg Obong-Osotse and few others who were nothing but prose provocateurs. Stanley Macebuh stood out like an ace because the bloke tapped relentlessly and effortlessly on his creative repertoire to avoid ‘junkola journalism’ that was crawling like poison ivy onto most newspapers and ravaging and sending into extinction any sentimental pretension to scholarly and public intellection.
He was a one-man study in intellectual integrity, pleasing balance, thought dynamism, wordsmithery, libertarian sentiments and excellent journalism. For the first time in the history of Nigerian journalism, Macebuh changed our old sated and dated appetite to offer an alternative diet of colliding and competing paradigms between the forces of liberalism and its arch enemy, illiberal tradition. He energized and enriched the character of public discourse and his masterpiece of masterpieces, “The Liberal Tradition and its Enemies” became the defining paradigm of the inherent contradictions and deadpan unintended ironies of midwifing an important newspaper like The Guardian at the crossroad of our political history. Shehu Shagari electoral victory of 1983 was a febrile and dirty political lie that heralded negative new behaviours that would lay the foundation for the utter destruction of Nigeria’s voting etiquette that still persists till date. The illiberal liberalism of The Guardian’s long silence at the onset of Shagari political robbery brought a whole universe of devastating polemical discourse. Liberalism, Macebuh’s ideological battle cry was caught in a web. Professor Adebayo Williams was the then standard bearer for intellectual reproach who questioned The Guardian’s liberal somersault. The rest is now history.
The deep ideological hiccup did not prevent me from lighting on any printed word of Stanley Macebuh with a glad cry. The man wrote like an angel, no a devil, like one whose connection between thought and wordplay was absolute. He was a pundit, provocateur, penman and a prosodist with a sustaining power to weave discursive parable that could anger, amuse, enlighten, challenge and entertain. He was the enemy of ‘junkola’ journalism and mocked its clumsiness, graceless wordplay, sloppy prose, intellectual timidity, clodden metaphors, lifeless wonkery that are the bane of today’s newspaper journalism.
Yes, Stanley Macebuh may have projected his liberal fantasies in most of his journalism, but there was no obfuscatory logorrhea and gobbedy-gook weasel verbiage that may dethrone reason. He was the apostle of lucidity and a purifier of public intellection. Indeed, Macebuh was both the English Language and New Journalism moralist who bequeathed new parameters to the practice of public and intellectual discourse. Stanley Macebuh’s tongue was the pen of a born writer.
However, Macebuh built around himself, especially toward the end of his life, fundamentally unsound and illusory standard through his abhorrent of material accumulation which translated into bizarre delusion. In Nigeria, intellectual gifting without material accumulation is always an irritating madness that leads to penury. That, rather tragically or charmingly exemplified the fading character of Macebuh’s intellectual integrity. Write in heaven and delight the angels. Rest in peace.