“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen.
So Abdulmumin Balogun writing on Danladi who was also Christopher said…Many of my friends outside journalism in Abuja may not know this man. Before I tell you who he is let me tell you what happened today.
I was trying to read an old newspaper when a call came through from James Gala the former Information officer of TY Danjuma Foundation. We bantered a bit – I think he wanted to access my state of mind before dropping the bombshell.
He now asked me if I knew Chris Danladi. Which former editor in Leadership newspaper did not know the man who covered the activities related to Gen T Y Danjuma for the newspaper? I affirmed that I know him.
“There was an accident in Gboko when they were returning from an assignment in Takum. Many of the people in the vehicle are lying with injuries in a hospital there.” James said. “How is Chris; hope he is not badly injured? I asked. James code switched. ‘Ai na Chris ma is very serious” ” You mean he is dead? I asked. “Wallahi!” was his answer.
I felt an instant hollowness and shouted ‘Oh my God’.
James didn’t know a combination of thoughts was flying through my mind.
James quickly told me there was a need for Leadership to be informed especially since all the foundation’s efforts to reach his people were not yielding any fruit. They wanted me to reach the management. I called the MD of the newspaper and told him what happened.
Officially his name was Danladi Christopher. During my Editorship of LEADERSHIP Weekend Christmas day fell on my title. Tired of the many drab photos I usually saw yearly on the covers of newspapers I assigned Chris to get me a photograph that would capture the mood of the nation and arrest a second look.
After almost two days Chris brought his photographs. I chose one of them for page 1. It had the back view of a man who had slung a bearded goat over his head.
The man’s pâté and the expression on the face of the goat spoke volumes. The paper of that day sold, I believe partly due to Chris’ professionalism. He was that resourceful.
At a previous engagement in the same newspaper as the Special Projects Editor I needed some unique semi-aerial photos of some of the projects executed by the Kuje Area Council chairman. I was tempted to go to the field to take the photographs myself but Chris, in his characteristic self walked up to me and said ‘Oga ka bari in tafi mana so that aikin ka ba zai samu delay ba. I was worried that he would not give me exactly what I wanted but he insisted that I teach him what I wanted.
Long story short, he delivered. Such was his teach-ability.
We often closed late from work. Commuting back home together brought us close. He told me he had an NCE and from hustling had been able to build a ‘small house in a local place’. He encouraged me, his boss, to build a house for my family. He warned that ‘nobody knows tomorrow’.
Chris was my subordinate but was older. He respected my position and ‘too much attention to detail even when time was against us’. I respected his perspective to issues. He knew how to humbly advise a younger boss.
The hollowness I felt when I learnt he died was caused by the implication of his death. He still has children in school I understand. And many of his debtors may simply visit his family to be sure he is gone.
They may never pay what they owe him for the time he worked for them as a professional or lent a helping hand as a friend by charging them less for arduous work done. Sad end!
And then Nnamdi Samuel wrote; Words alone cannot express how I felt when I learnt of his demise and how I am feeling now. He was such a nice guy. I also had the opportunity of working closely with him.
When I was the Chief Operating Officer of Leadership Newspapers, he, together with the editor were the last persons I usually see before leaving the office at such ‘ungodly hours’.
He was meticulous with his assigned duties. His acumen to the demands of his duties is second to none. He was so detailed in his field that anything one wanted, he was ready to provide it even within a short period.
He was also resourceful. There’s nothing now that would describe how diligent he was. My thoughts and prayers are with his family members.
And my dear Ruth Tene had this to say, “So many accolades have been written about Chris Danladi, a resourceful, dedicated and a very enthusiastic photojournalist, so much that I wonder what else, little me can write.
When I began working as a greenhorn reporter, he was the head of photo desk in the Leadership Newspaper.
Interestingly, hearing I was from Kaduna state, he immediately adopted me and started calling me ‘Sis’ which he continued till his demise.
I had been privileged to work with him, interviewing two ministers a serving minister and another former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, belief me, I never had to worry about the outcome, all I needed to do was to tell him the kind of photos I needed.
When I was recently appointed the Editor, Leadership style, I was worried about getting a Photojournalist that would be committed to help me do the work, for which I had little or no knowledge of…his words to me were “haba sis, kada ki damu, if there is any photo you need, just tell me ahead of time and I will be there. Indeed, this is the kind of person Danladi ‘was’.
It breaks my heart to refer to him in the past tense, but again, who are we to question fate, for without doubt, death is the way of every man, woman and living being.
I never celebrated you while you lived, but in this very short tribute…I say Rest In Peace Danwa…And may God in His infinite mercy console the loved ones you left behind…Amen
Godwin Idagu finally simply put it to bed, Chris Danladi, you were a special friend, colleague and a photojournalist per excellence, kind hearted and generous. You will greatly be missed. Good-bye Danladi
And the trio of Emma Bello, Danladi Ndayebo and Timothy Golu all echoed let’s sees what Leadership Newspapers would do. And yes what would Leadership Newspapers do? Bring Danladi back to life, or console his loved ones? We are mourning the loss?
Ruth summed it up, we never celebrated the man, we never really cared, and we took from him, took and took; but rarely gave him much. I am equally guilty, as I never wrote anything about him. Was I waiting for him to go the way of all men?
I worked with him as an Editor at Leadership, and even more closely when we were to embark on the failed Leadership Photo Library we exchanged ideas and shared thoughts on the way forward. Balogun was right, he was teachable…he was very very teachable and had a gift of soft garb to pass his message to superiors.
He’s gone, and at the last count I am at loss how many journalists have died via car crashes and other preventable deaths. They are almost poorly paid; infact hardly paid…the story of the Nigerian Media, and one for another day.
I cannot say he had collected his last salary yet he toiled and toiled for bread, which rarely came daily. Today it’s Danladi, tomorrow it may be me, don’t do tributes when I am gone, let me sail the heavenly quietly devoid of hypocritical noise that wasn’t rendered while I sojourned Mother Earth. Scholarships would be given his kids, scholarships that are rarely fulfilled after a year or two.
And really I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens. Sadly it’s bound to happen; when—Only time will tell.
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