I Still Hate Awards. But I Love Toni Kan

Toni Kan, Peju Akande, Ayeni Adekunle & Azu Arinze

I’ve been turning down awards for as long as I can remember.

I have nothing against celebrations and decorations. But I am of the opinion that Nigerians celebrate a lot of what would ordinarily pass as mediocrity.

I hold a belief: Too many awards and medals have ruined several brands and careers that otherwise may still have been around today. Think of the 90s and 2000s super banks. Think of the stars of yesteryears. Think of all the big brands and their MDs and all the accolades – then think of the crumbling that followed.

So while one is still dreaming and building, it has been my way to avoid any event that suggests ‘washing’. I’ve not come all the way from Okokomaiko, working since 1995, only to get here and be distracted by some plaques and praises suggesting I’m close to being the best in my field – when I’ve not even started!

But, Just as my friends, Abisoye Fagade, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi and co embarrassed me with a surprise birthday gig three years ago, Toni Kan and his team set a trap for me last week and I walked into it.

Managing Partner, SabiNews, Toni Kan & CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle

Managing Partner, SabiNews, Toni Kan & CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle

I became a writer by reading. And Toni Kan was one of those who shaped my early writing. It’s possible I’ve read everything he’s ever written, but we didn’t become friends until recently. I can’t even remember how it happened.

But I remember clearly now, how he offered to postpone the anniversary celebration for SabiNews because I was away in London. I remember how he called to request I attend the event with my wife. I remember how he asked – almost frantically – if I was cancelling, when I called hours to the dinner on Friday May 22.

How come it didn’t occur to me that maybe this man was up to no good?

You can’t imagine how much I wanted to disappear from that room when he and his partner Peju Akande sandwiched me and opened a plaque with my name on it. ‘SabiNews Man of the year‘.

Of course I don’t think it’s a honour well deserved. And I am, of course, still embarrassed!

(L-R) Chairman of SabiNews, Niran Adedokun; Managing Partner SabiNews, Toni Kan; Managing Editor SabiNews, Peju Akande & Publisher Yes! magazine Azu Arinze at the presentation of Sabinews 'Man of the year' plaque to Ayeni Adekunle.

(L-R) Chairman of SabiNews, Niran Adedokun; Managing Partner SabiNews, Toni Kan; Managing Editor SabiNews, Peju Akande & Publisher YES! Magazine Azu Arinze at the presentation of Sabinews ‘Man of the year’ plaque to Ayeni Adekunle.

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