I was driving back to my base on the 6th of September after the traditional wedding ceremony of my brother’s daughter when my phone rang. The caller asked me: ‘have you heard the news? I asked: ‘which news?’ The death of Dimgba Igwe, former Deputy Managing Director of Sun Newspapers and a Fellow of the Nigeria Guild of Editors, he replied. For some minutes I was nonplused, t0rn between believing what he said or rejecting it. But no one jokes with death, especially in African custom and tradition. It took me time to come to terms with the reality of Dimgba’s coming and going!
I was with Dimgba Igwe at Katsina where we attended the Nigerian Guild of Editors Conference. As usual, I shook hands with him and exchanged banters and pleasantries, not knowing that death was just some inches away. No one can determine the length of his life, but I never anticipated that Dimgba’s would be so short, at 58. At Katsina he radiated warmth and made useful contributions at the conference. But no one knew, not the least himself that he was just there to bid us farewell.
Dimgba was a wordsmith who knew literally all the words in the English dictionary and how to use them to create suspense and pathos. He was a journalist par excellence. His prose was as delightful to read as it was incisive. I read his Tuesday Column in The Sun every week because, apart from the psychological therapy I derive after reading it, I always learnt a word or two from it.
The journalism profession has been bruised by Dimgba’s passage. The Nigerian Guild of Editors has been diminished by the death of this consummate reporter, columnist, author and pastor. His sun set at a time he set to walk with God. Life is a gift. We cannot question the giver when he comes to take his gift away. Only God, the all-knowing God, knows why He did not restrain the fiery darts of death from Dimgba.