A thespian, writer and public analyst reacted to something I wrote here the other day. I found his piece articulate, declamatory and emphatic. I confess, however, that, apart from editing the work to fit into the space available to me, I also did that with a tinge of uncanny mischief to conceal the main gist until the very end. Now, even if you can’t, enjoy: God’s burning bush.
When I read it, I didn’t know whether to smile, wink or weep. It was the affidavit of ace broadcaster and phenomenon of the airwaves on his 27th anniversary on radio and television. Of a truth, a prophet has no honour in his hometown. Aware of this, and seeing the numbing, even eerie indifference from us all, who have been blessed, informed, educated and entertained, listening to, watching and following him as he hit the 27-year mark, all the man could relate with and resort to was the forlorn, self-comforting example of the lizard that jumped down from the iroko tree and started praising itself when no one else did.
I was guilty of that abdicate act of not celebrating this mentor. Indeed, we all are, especially his kith and kin in Akwa Ibom State. Were he to be from other climes, he would have long been hoisted as a totem of broadcast journalism for upstarts to look up to and veterans to look back at: he is an Institution, as far as this turf is concerned. I shall shortly return to that.
But, let me talk about the essential make-up of this icon. This son of a fisherman, who by self-attestation first saw a motor car at age 13 and electricity, air-conditioner and colour television at 18 (having grown up in a remote fishing port in the Republic of Cameroon) hates to be described as a self-made man. Apt as that may sound in defining his rise to stardom, he is correct, because, in truth, only God can make a man. For him, God’s grace found him and propped him up against the most formidable odds of life.
Since he emerged on the scene, he has kept a matchless record of living for others. He is a model of what a humanist should be. He gives his all and keeps giving to a fault – time, resources and efforts – all exerted at helping others find their feet or hold out with hope. He does not give because he got into government, having only recently been appointed by His Excellency, Gov. Udom Emmanuel, but because he was born with charity in his heart.
As Nollywood sensation, Aniebiet Francis, noted a fortnight ago on Facebook, ‘if this man posts half of the support he gives to people on social media … !’ If he did, we would be left prattling for ages on the incredible feats his Help Ministry has accomplished. He is God’s burning bush, in this miserable world, that breeds hope after all. As a broadcaster who pioneered independent production on NTA 12, Uyo, as well as Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) Radio/Television, not to mention his historic penetration of Radio Nigeria Network with one hour live magazine that ran for years, our man has set the pace and carved his peculiar, unique niche among the pantheon of the greats in the art.
After a decade of freelancing and later (between 1999 and 2002) working fulltime for the State Radio, he in July 2003 founded Worldwin Media Resources with which he created and ran an all weekday live television breakfast show, AM Express Extra using ‘The House the Lord Himself buildeth’ for the sloganeering. Thence, he has set the airwaves on fire with unprecedented creativity, innovativeness, panache and class manifest in his many aerial servings. With a code name, this same man mounted with devotion and inspired sense of duty an outreach for the sick, with a spirit of responsibility towards God and compassion for man. He made it his struggle to look out for the traumatised, pay their hospital bills, clean up the hospitals and provide medical supplies and equipment as gifts where necessary.
Broadcasting has given him the window to put his humanitarian principles to practice, and by his heroic deeds, a lamp of hope has been lit in countless distressed lives and impoverished homes. To many others, who have gone on to thrive or excel on and off air, he is the mentor who gave them a shoulder to stand on and blossom. His legacy will never wither, even for ages to come. On social media, his page is a living spring of ancient and modern wisdom.
Following him is like having refresher courses at Cambridge or Harvard, or any such lofty institutions, which pride in their offer of composite learning. His every Monday Column, ‘Talking Nonsense,’ in Daily Sun is a reader’s intellectual feast. Among his peers, his style abounds with elegant erudition, ease and sweetness. His creativity and stagecraft set a standard and gave the inspiration a new generation of broadcasters have compulsively followed.
He is an exceptional ‘improvisatore,’ ever springing up with new dimensions. He seems to have risen above his profession. As a describer of events, professional storyteller, writer and presenter, he has fashioned for himself a great tradition and history. He is, perhaps, more than anyone else I can quickly call to mind, the paragon of excellence, epitome of the audience’s delight and the expression of the total gamut of the electronic medium which he has mastered and made his habitat.
His home state is blessed to have produced illustrious citizens who are national firsts in many endeavours. Gen. Wellington Bassey was the first Nigerian to be registered in the Army. Prelate Emeritus, Dr. Sunday Mbang, CON, was the first Nigerian to be elected president of the World Methodist Council. Dominic Ekandem was the first Nigerian Catholic Bishop to attain the rank of Cardinal.
Also qualified for special mention is Inspector Samuel Peter, the first Nigeria flagbearer to become World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Unarguably, the man in focus shares this platform. He is the first and remains the only Nigerian to have piloted and for years sustained a 60-minute live independent production on Radio Nigeria Network. We should roll out the red carpet and celebrate our own.
Akparawa Michael Bush is God’s burning bush in our world. Our generation is blessed to have witnessed this inventor of ideas (Bush House Nigeria, Bush House Schools, Bush House Sport, 20 Questions, Bush House Hospitals, Ask The Boss, Udomcares, Akwa Ibom Calling, Udom Legacy Nigeria, Michael BUSH PLC, House of Help, etc.). Congratulations, The Boss: The Love of our ears. Many more splendid years of keeping the bush burning with flames of revealed knowledge and enlightenment.
God bless Nigeria!
•God’s burning bush was sent in by Rev. Osondu Ahirika, a Ph.D student at Akwa Ibom State University