Friday , 27 January 2023

END OF AN ERA: The Glorious Exit Of Ace Photojournalist, FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

..NUJ, GPN Others Mourn, Flurry of Tributes

By Eno-Abasi Sunday and Omiko Awa

Multiple award-winniphotojournalistsist, and one of Nigeria’s finest, Mr. Olufemi Adebesin-Kuti, passed on at 57, in the early hours of yesterday, during a brief illness. His remains were interred in accordance with Islamic injunctions.

Adebesin-Kuti, who died at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, Ogun State, was, until his death, the photo editor of The Guardian. He hailed from Oke-Ijeun, in Abeokuta.

Born on September 29, 1965, Adebesin-Kuti, a bright and bubbly personality was until his demise, a thoroughbred professional whose imprimatur would remain indelible in the annals of photojournalism in the country.

For well over two decades, the seasoned photojournalist passionately practised his trade dutifully, displaying immense mastery of the art of photography, and mentoring a groundswell in the process.

Femi Adebesin-Kuti with Late Don of Nigeria Photojournalist. Pa Peter Obey

His wide chest of awards and accolades notwithstanding, Adebesin-Kuti, day in, and day out took his job seriously and kept on reinventing himself in his chosen craft while travelling the world with it. His coverage of three FIFA World Cup tournaments, and five Africa Cup of Nations championships, lends credence to this.

Furthermore, the dexterity, pride, and confidence that he exuded on the job endeared him to many across age divides, and professional lines, even as it also won the profession more converts.

L-R: Late Femi Kuti and John Thomas at the friendly match between Nigeria and foreign press to mark the end of 2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria

Expectedly, the photojournalist’s departure has elicited a flurry of remarks from all and sundry, many of whom described him as a thoroughbred professional who discharged his duties diligently, and conscientiously, and who would be dearly missed.

The Guardian, Adebesin-Kuti’s last employer, in a message put out on behalf of his colleagues and friends sounded poetic.

It went thus: “All forms of losses must be heartbreaking, but letting go is part of the meaning of loss itself. Comfort will come from the memories of kindness warmth, love, and affection that he showed to all who come in contact with him.”

“May your memories live forever, Eshin!” the firm concluded, as Adebesin-Kuti was fondly called by friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Shell-shocked by their frontline member’s untimely death, the Guild of Photojournalists of Nigeria (GPN), which gave gratitude to “God for a life well spent”, in a statement, described the departed as a sports lover, who during his lifetime was a fan of Arsenal Football Club. “He witnessed and covered the World Cup in South Africa and Russia, among others,” the statement signed by the group’s president, Mr. Abiodun Ajala, stated.

The Lagos State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in a statement signed by the state chairman, Adeleye Ajayi, condoled with the family of the deceased, and the Photojournalists Association of Nigeria (PJAN) for the loss.

The statement read: “We received the sad news of the passing of our dear brother, Femi Adebesin-Kuti, Photo Editor of The Guardian Newspapers … with great shock.

“We pray that God in his infinite mercy will uphold and stand by his immediate family, and friends at this trying time as we sympathise with members of The Guardian Newspapers Chapel and the entire PJAN family.

“May God continue to protect the rest of us and show up for us in our time of need,” the NUJ chairman wrote.

The state NUJ Chairman, Ajayi, who later led a delegation on a condolence visit to Rutam House, the corporate home of The Guardian to commiserate with the management and associates of the newspaper, stressed that Adebesin-Kuti was very hardworking and dedicated to his duties.

He said: “I became close to him because each time we visited The Guardian, the deceased would be seen running around, taking pictures, and making sure that everything went on well. I know he had a good record with the management, going by the little I heard about him. He was very versatile and dedicated. The news of his death woke me up. In fact, it is shocking to me and the entire Lagos NUJ.”

Ajayi noted that Adebesin-Kuti’s death has left a very big vacuum in the organisation and the profession, as a whole.

He said the photojournalist left at the time the nation needed him most, and prayed for God to accept his soul, even as he commiserated with The Guardian on the death of Najeem Raheem, who died at Ibadan, Oyo State, last year.

Ajayi recalled that in 2022, the union lost about 15 of its members in Lagos State alone, saying: “This is not good for the profession. I call on members to pray against untimely deaths.”

He noted that it is owing to this that the headship of the union wants every member to key into the NUJ-Lagos State Health

Management Agency (LASHMA) scheme, saying: “This will help to lessen members’ hospital bills.

“Since we came on board, we have been talking about this scheme to members. But, they are not keying into it as expected. The insurance agency will help to offset part of any members’ health bills. The premium is only N40,000 per year for the entire whole family,” he said.

He noted that the scheme did not stop any member from pursuing the one offered by their employers, saying that the health scheme is paramount and should be handled with all care.

The Editorial Page Editor, Kunle Sanyaolu, who represented the Managing Director, The Guradian, Mr. Martins Oloja, noted that the deceased was officially and unofficially versatile, and the company assigned a lot of duties to him, which he always delivered.

He added that his demise “is going to hurt the organisation for a long time.”

While commiserating with the NUJ, GPN, The Guardian, and the Adebesin-Kuti’s family over the sad development, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya,

described the deceased as a thoroughbred professional who discharged his duties diligently.

“He (Adebesin-Kuti) displayed professionalism in his coverage of the activities of the Ministry of Agriculture. Testimonies also abound that he was a gentleman to the core and a dutiful family man. His professionalism would be sorely missed,” the commissioner wrote, adding, “on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, I extend my heartfelt commiseration to the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Guild of Photojournalists Nigeria (GPN), The Guardian Newspaper, and the family of the deceased.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, colleagues, and friends of Mr. Femi Adebesin-Kuti. His death is painful, but I urge his associates to take solace in the fact that he (Adebesin-Kuti) made a positive mark and led an exemplary life…May his soul rest in peace,” Olusanya wrote.

The management of Black House Media, in a Letter of Condolence, addressed to Mr. Oloja, expressed “deepest condolences” over the incident.

“The news of his death came as a shock to our management and staff, especially those who worked closely with him. We pray God gives you, the staff of Guardian Newspapers Limited, and his colleagues in the media industry solace and the strength to bear this loss,” the letter signed by Founder/CEO of the outfit, Ayeni Adekunleon, read.

Abayomi Omideyi, in confirming Adebesin-Kuti’s sense of duty wrote, “Femi Adebesin-Kuti your sense of duty was extremely top-notch. May you Rest In Peace.”

Further confirmation of the deceased hardworking nature came from Adetutu Audu Adebisi who wrote” Femi Adebesin-Kuti was a man diligent in his work. Jovial, and fun-loving. May God comfort his loved ones. It is well.”

On his part, Ifedayo Adebayo, a journalist wrote: “Baba, Baba Alabi why so soon! You were so jovial, and supportive and never haboured grievances. All our years working together were so full of blissful memories. How can I forget your role during my wedding ceremony? You were so selfless in all. Till we meet to part no more, Sir. Sunre Egbon atata!”

Commenting on his colleague’s demise, the Deputy Editorial Page Editor, Wole Oyebade, wrote: “Once a child is born, s/he is old enough to die.’ We wish you stayed longer but fate knows best. May Allah console the family and grant you eternal rest. Aljana fidaus, Adebesin-Kuti.”

While Muyiwa Adeyemi, the Politics Editor of The Guardian wrote, “Femi, may your precious soul rest in perfect peace. Painful! His deputy, Leo Sobechi, in mourning his colleague said that there were no dull moments with the departed.

“He spread joy within and outside the newsroom. Now Femi is gone, gone to the land of permanent somnolence and reticence. Some reports could be benumbing. The news of Femi’s passing disorganised me to no end. I could not come to terms with it. Tears from the eyes may dry up, but the gorge of pain in our hearts is so deep and the scar is forever.

“However, let us take solace in the nice moments and quiet laughter we shared. Memories of those beautiful times together will help to assuage the sense of loss and serve as a balm on the wound in our hearts,” Sobechi stated, adding “Adisa, adieu till morning dawns on the other side of creation.

May the great artificer allow you a place in Nirvana to engage in joyful activities.

Philip Ojisua, another colleague wrote: “How do I drop this kind of message about Kuti. What a sad day! I believe there is no day we don’t talk at least twice or thrice, discussing what we have for the day, but your creator has recalled you. May your gentle soul rest in peace.”

Head, Guardian TV, Bunmi Amosu, wrote: “Baba Femoooo!! Ever jovial, ever supportive, ever humble. Heartbreaking news. Rest well, Sir,” and Benjamin Alade added: “Oh! Why now? It’s painful you are gone. May God grant you eternity and grant your family the fortitude to bear the loss. What a nice man you were!”

Adebesin-Kuti first joined The Guardian in the early 1990s and later left for the defunct 234Next Newspaper. He rejoined the organisation on March 2, 2015, as a senior photographer, and his appointment was confirmed on March 2, 2016, “as a result of satisfactory performance…”

On June 8, 2018, he was appointed photo editor of the paper, a position that he served meritoriously, diligently, and resourceful.

He had his primary education at Lisabi Primary School, Ijoko, Abeokuta (1971- 1977), from where he proceeded to Rev. Kuti Memorial Grammar School Abeokuta (1977- 1983). He thereafter studied photography as an apprentice at Long John Photo Studio, 20, Old Aba Road, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Between. 1993-1994, the deceased worked with Sunray Publications, Port Harcourt, and was with The Observer Newspaper, Benin, Edo state between September to December 1996.

Some of the awards that he won include the Best Photographer, Nigeria Challenge Cup 2005; Best Outstanding News and Sports Photographer (sponsored by Photo-Journalist Association of Nigeria) 2008-2010, and the Best in Sports Category, Nigeria Photography Award 2011.

He is survived by his wives, children, and siblings.

SOURCE: The Guardian: https://guardian.ng/saturday-magazine/flurry-of-tributes-as-ace-photojournalist-femi-adebesin-kuti-passes-on-at-57/

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