Nigerian Caesar conquers London -Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Good books are written in Nigeria but you hardly ever see them in the bookshops. It is thanks to Tam Fiofori, the ace filmmaker and photo-journalist that I got this book, the memoirs of Caesar Kagho entitled Aah, It’s The Young Nigerian Boy! It’s indeed a rewarding read that I would have altogether missed.
My instant attraction to the book was the title: Aah, It’s The Young Nigerian Boy! It happened that when the author, Caesar Kagho, was studying at the esteemed College of Journalism, Fleet Street, London, he met in Mount Pleasant Hostel an old Englishman, “Mr. Norris, who suffered from acute arthritis and could barely walk.” The young Caesar took it upon himself to be helping old Norris with his dinner plate and mug of tea. Through his association with Mr. Norris, the young Nigerian began to receive “the copies of three top London serious broadsheet newspapers, The Times of London, The Telegraph and The Guardian, all of which he bought daily.” The reading of these newspapers helped Caesar immensely in his class work such as the congratulations he got from his lecturer W. Nelson for the feature “follow-up” to the Bay City Rollers news story.
After moving out of the Mount Pleasant hostel, Caesar paid a visit several weeks later only to learn that Mr. Norris had taken ill and was moved to a hospital for tropical diseases somewhere in London. When Caesar got to the hospital the London Times reading Mr. Norris said: “Aaah, it’s the young Nigerian boy!” He had told all the nurses the help rendered to him by the good Nigerian boy.
The dedication page of Aah, It’s The Young Nigerian Boy! reads thusly: “In memory of my dear son, Akpor Harley Kagho (1986-2019). Caesar Kagho’s son, Akpor, a fast-rising Nollywood actor, screenwriter and director drowned in a swimming pool in 2019 while on a film set in a popular Asaba hotel in Delta State.
Caesar Onobruduakpor Kagho was born on November 10, 1954 to the wealthy home of Chief Joseph Kagho-Omamadia of Oghara-Iyede in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State. He is the 6th of 26 children. He had his early education at St. Andrew’s CMS Primary School, Warri, from 1961 and the attended the renowned Government College, Ughelli (GCU) from 1968.
By the time he was admitted to GCU many relations had attended the elite school, and he became labelled “Kagho VII”. He was introduced to rock music by Kolawole Alakija who remarkably spoke impeccable English language instead of his native Yoruba.
Due to problems with his school certificate examination, Caesar Kagho had to enroll into the Continuing Education Centre (CEC), Benin City in 1973.
Caesar Kagho’s father had the reputation of sending his children abroad for further education. Before Caesar took his turn to travel to Britain, four of his elder siblings, namely Ima, Okpeki, Esther and Owebor had studied abroad. Another brother, Humphrey, was in London studying Printing Technology at Twickenham, London.
Caesar gained admission to College of Journalism, Fleet Street, London in 1975. The official address of the college was 62 Fleet Street “but it was most interesting to know that the entrance was at No. 1, Bouverie Street, off Fleet Street, which was the headquarters of most of the biggest newspapers in Britain before the computer age of newspaper publication.”
The experiences of Caesar Kagho as a student in London take up the greater percentage of the contents of Aah, It’s The Young Nigerian Boy!
Caesar enjoyed the company of Doris Idudun, the only person from Warri in his class at the College of Journalism. They were more like brother and sister.
He immersed himself in the absorbing study of 21 subjects such as The Media, Media Organisation, Psychology in News Evaluation, Headline Writing, Sub-editing, Reporting, Feature Writing, Introduction to Public Relations etc.
The English language teacher, Miss Susan Turner, was quite impressed with Caesar’s mastery of the grammar. Reverend Femi Olawale, an Information Attache in the Nigerian Embassy, was a most interesting lecturer at the College of Journalism. Other remarkable lecturers were “the tall mustachioed Professor Stephen Landrigan, from Syracuse University, who was the Washington Post European Editor, and the bearded Canadian, Mr. Cass, who taught Radio and TV Journalism in both practical and theory.”
In October 1976, Caesar received a surprise short reply from the legendary Nigerian journalist, Mr. T.O. Borha, aka Tom Bee, who was then serving as the acting Editor of Nigerian Observer. Tom Borha accepted Caesar’s sending in of “Light news from London” to the Nigerian Observer “on the condition that you guarantee the veracity of any item you send and in the knowledge that any payment for them will be based on our standing regulations.”
It was such a joy for Caesar learning from somebody that his story had been published in Sunday Observer, and he had to travel to the Nigerian Embassy in Northumberland Avenue to borrow a copy of the newspaper.
His studies in London ended by July 1977, but when he came back to Nigeria to work as a journalist and public relations practitioner, “several people kept on asking me why did I come back home instead of staying back in England and enjoy the good life there.” He ended his studies with an average grade of B+ (B plus), according to the certification issued on October 14, 1977 and signed by J.B.S Birch.
The crash-landing of a plane in Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos led to the diversion of his return flight to Accra, Ghana on October 31, 1977. The recommendation letter for Caesar Kagho by his lecturer and the European Editor of The Washington Post News Service, Stephen Landrigan, is the last word on Aah, It’s The Young Nigerian Boy!
Caesar Kagho who worked as Senior Reporter/Showbiz Writer with the Nigerian Observer and served as Principal Public Affairs Supervisor of Delta Steel Company and retired as an Assistant Director and Head of Corporate Affairs of the National Film and Video Censors Board, Abuja has written a highly recommended book in Aah, It’s The Young Nigerian Boy!
Aah, It’s The Young Nigerian Boy! Memoirs by Caesar Kagho; CHP and Talkback Publishers, Warri, Delta State; 2019; 206pp