Nigeria @55: 55 Nigerians I admire 7. May Ellen Ezekiel

Today’s post is one of several about Nigerians who are no longer with us but whose lives while on earth, and voices from the grave, I admire greatly. I am writing about May Ellen Ezekiel~journalist, author, wife, mother and people-inspirer per excellence. In her later life she was married to famous Nigerian actor, Richard Mofe-Damijo, RMD.

May Ellen Ezekiel was undisputably the queen of soft sell journalism in Nigeria, and she did it with absolute class. MEE, as she was fondly called, worked with several prestigious newspaper organisations like The National Concord, Newswatch magazine, etc. before she stepped out on her own to start her Classique magazine. She was the contemporary of icons like the late Dele Giwa, amongst many others.

May Ellen Ezekiel practised journalism in a way that close to twenty years after her death, no one has been able to totally replicate. MEE drew people into her world. Her big black bed and numerous pillows were shared in a non-aggressive manner with all and sundry. She was so real it was easy to identify with her struggles and we all could see some of our own issues in the stuff she shared. Hers was softsell that focused clearly on the human side of everyone, yet managed to avoid the murk and dirt that does nothing but denigrate. MEE was a star whose feet were planted firmly on the ground. She was unashamed of her humble past, proud of who she was and totally excited at the future she saw ahead of herself. And she ensured that her readers, one and all were a part of that life.

MEE stood for the truth; she believed that Nigeria was worth celebrating. She used the power of the pen to push causes for which she stood. She gave of herself, her time and her material resources. No doubt MEE inspired a lot of young Nigerian girls to go into journalism, and maybe young men too. She was fearless but far from careless in her practice of her craft. She did not believe she needed to condemn in order to redeem. I daresay that since her exit in 1996, no one has been able to bring the kind of balance she showed to soft sell journalism in Nigeria. May Ellen Ezekiel may be dead but she still has my respect and admiration. may-ellen-ezekiel

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