My heart is heavy. My brain is foggy, all I ever knew to write ceased to be within me.

Everyday I try, everyday I postpone and everyday I wonder, how many pages will I write? Will I write a book in one short tribute?

How does one write, when the heart cries? This is almost an impossible task, yet, I must. I must pay my tribute to the man who changed the course of my career, the one who picked me up when others spat me out. In these haze of tears, I will try.

I first met the Legend, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi when I was at my lowest in life. I had lost my only child and I had been pushed out of the labour market by those who felt I stepped on toes too powerful. I was ready to flee Nigeria, run away from a country where I felt empty and lonely. I was lost. He looked at me and said No, stay. You will work, and he told me about AIT.

Years later, Chairman would say, “She was given a job and she did it brilliantly”. I found a support system.

In the beginning, it was everyone struggling to give this new baby life but I will never forget the great leader himself, a man who never slept, a man to whom impossible was not in his dictionary.

Chairman, professionally, you gave me so many platforms to shine. I am forever grateful. Yes, there were many times I faltered, there were many times I disappointed you, yet you picked me up, again and again and again.

I was fierce loyalty to you and to DAAR because you loved us so much. You gave us room to grow, you made everyone of us feel special.

I always was so confident, even in my boldness to take on injustice because I always knew, I had someone to run to…each time.

My two children were born in DAAR communications, everytime, your support was immense, as if I was family. You always called and you would always say, “Congratulations, Ray Power and AIT will blast it!” How more special can a boss make a staff feel.

Jokingly, I call myself “come and go” for I battled with myself in those days but everytime I came back, you welcomed me home, great Ezomo.

I said I will have to write a book because I cannot summarize your unequalled generousity and greatness. Was it the day you told me at the airport: “Moji, even if you do not get to bring the Grammy broadcast, go and see America”. This was when the company was going through turmoil. We brought the Grammy Awards but not many people know how many times you called me just to find out how I am and give me directions on what to do.

What can I write in so short a tribute? Is it how you championed the first afrocentric Television stations in Africa? A station which was not just African but promoted Africa?

How can I capture how you projected African entertainment and ensured Entertainment was included in the national news bulletin, given equal time as Business and Sports?

How can I tell Nigerians how all presenters were asked to bear only their African first names and we all got bales of Ankara to sew those beautiful African designs?

Can I tell them the day Zeb Ejiro walked into your office and how you adopted Domittila and made it Nigeria’s N0 1 Box office hit?

Can we ever be able to really express about your love for arts which began from your youth and how AIT became the hub for Nigerian musicians and film makers et al?

Was it not your instruction that only Nigerian artistes be played on AIT that revolutionized what has today become an international export called afro hip hop?

How can I capture all these things and more in one short tribute? It is impossible.

I always view my relationship with you as distant yet close. You never ever fail to build my confidence anytime you see me, even after I had left DAAR. You would always ask after me. I always felt so happy and proud.

Your aura was powerful. There was so much strength in your presence that many of us viewed you as a rock that can never be broken. You were the Iroko that could never fall, the Baobab under which we gathered and ate fruits. If only we remembered that all men are vulnerable, perhaps we would have paid a little more heed.

Chairman, the news of your death (death? Truly?) hit me so hard, my heart thumped and then began to ache. It was the most unexpected news. I am broken. We are broken…but I know that you have found rest on the day God chose you, to go to rest. No one can question God. He made you differently. You were a Lion among men. You were a man born with a large heart that could accommodate everyone. No one, not one person encountered you and left unchanged.

You left enduring legacies, a huge throve of human capacity, children worthy of your name, a family that will pass on your values from generation unto generation.

The Iroko did not fall. The Iroko lives on. Everywhere you look, it’s roots have firmly established to grow again and impact the world in even bigger capacities and proportions.

High Chief Raymond Aleogho Raymond Dokpesi, the kindest man I ever met, you live on. Your story will be told from generation unto generation.

Ezomo, we love you. – By Moji Danisa

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