Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and ace comedian, Atunyota Alleluya Akporobomerere popularly known as Ali Baba could be described as accomplished men in their respective fields. There is no gain saying the fact that the pair have left their footprints in the sands of time.
But what could someone like Anyaoku have done to Ali Baba that would make the latter describe the aftermath of his encounter with him as “embarrassing”? Here, the rib cracker opens up on his experience with the renowned diplomat during an event organised by Ignite Africa Leadership Foundation recently in Lagos.
Recounting his encounter with Anyaoku, Ali Baba says: “Chief Emeka Anyaoku once asked me to anchor an event that would be well attended by his international friends, but he said that he didn’t have money to pay for my services. I told him there was no problem. However, after the event, he gave me a book on international politics as a gift.
“I read the preface, flipped through a few pages and dropped the book with plans to read it much later. Three months later, I discovered to my shock that there was a cheque of N1 million inside the book, it was concealed in one of the last pages!”
According to Ali Baba, he felt embarrassed because he had seen Chief Anyaoku a couple of times after the event, but had not expressed appreciation for his kind gesture. “Anytime I saw him at events, I didn’t bother to say ‘thank you for the money’ and the implication was that I had not read the book, if I had read the book, I would have seen the cheque concealed inside it. Now, he would think I wasn’t the avid reader I claimed to be. However, there was no way I could cash the cheque without him knowing because his account will be debited,” Ali Baba explained.
However, the comedian said he later used ‘Ogboju’ (bold face) to cash the cheque. “After three months, I used ‘ogboju’ to cash the cheque. When I eventually met Chief Anyaoku, I thanked him for the money,” he confessed.
Reading for empowerment
While encouraging youngsters to read and empower themselves, Ali Baba revealed that he has one of the most enviable libraries even as an entertainer, and called on youths to develop a strong reading culture.
“A book will take you to places that you will never go,” Ali Baba emphasised, “When I started many years ago, a lot of people thought I’d travelled wide and far because I could talk about places like Hungary and Brazil among others. And that was because I read about them in magazines like Readers Digest and National Geographic. There is nothing that empowers you more than educating your mind.”
Ignite Africa Leadership Foundation was founded by Kola Oyeyemi with the objective to revive the love for books and education among the younger generation. Entertainers that were present at the event included Joke Silva, Sir Shina Peters, Orits Wiliki, Benjamin Joseph, Sound Sultan, Seyi Law and Tee A. -The Sun