Renowned Broadcaster and Music Critic, Benson Idonije, has been honoured with a fellowship of the Adam Fiberesima School of Music and Conservatory (AFSM) of the University of Port Harcourt. The award for the septuagenarian broadcaster, media trainer and avid commentator on Music, was contained in a February 19 letter signed by Joseph Ajienka of the School.
The letter stated that the recognition was based on Idonije’s “commitment to the development of classical and indigenous music not only in Nigeria but throughout the West African region”. The honour, according to the letter, entitles Idonije to “use the insignia FAFSM (or Fellow, AFSM).
Born in 1936 in Otuo near Auchi in Edo State, where he also started elementary school, Benson Idonije studied communication engineering at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. He joined the service of the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (later Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN) in 1957 as Engineering Assistant but moved to mainstream broadcasting in 1960, when he became a producer and presenter of such famous programmes as the The Big Beat and Stereo Jazz Club.
After retirement from the FRCN in 1992, Benjay as he is fondly called,began contributing critiques, opinions and commentaries to many major Arts-related journals in Nigeria and abroad. In1996 he was formally invited by The Guardian (Nigeria) to write for the newspaper; and he maintained three columns every week – “Evergreen” (Wednesdays), “Sound and Screen” (Fridays), and “All that Jazz” (Sundays). He is perhaps the only columnist in any Nigerian newspaper with such frequency and resourcefulness.
The well-researched columns are individually widely acclaimed, attracting feedbacks — mostly commendations — from all over the world. The thousands of articles are currently being collated into volumes that will be published soon. In past two years, Benjay has however concentrated his weekly writing only on his most-favoured subject “Jazz”, still under the title “All That Jazz” every Sunday for The Guardian.
Late last year, Idonije, who was Fela Ransome-Kuti’s colleague at the then Nigeria Broadcasting Service, and subsequently his (Fela’s) first manager, released the pre-edition of his monumental memoir, DIS FELA SEF: The Untold Legends of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. The book, which he started writing six years ago as a recollection of his exclusive moments with the Afrobeat legend, is expected to be released later this year.
Aside writing so frequently in the newspapers and other international music journals, Idonije also maintains a busy schedule as a Trainer of broadcasters and serving as a resource persons to many broadcast organisations and some music institutions in the country.
Idonije is also the grandfather of the popular hiphop act, BURNA BOY.
The University of Port Harcourt honours-letter, enjoined Idonije to do his “best in propagating and immortalizing the musical legacies of our heroes past, whose ideals, talents, philosophies and structural standardization of African music have remained a pilgrimage to many enthusiasts”.
NB: Please see attached the copy of the Letter from University of Port Harcourt
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