Today, I remember and pay tribute to Kola Olawuyi, one of the best investigative journalists that lived in this country and a figure that loomed large when I was growing up.
When Kola Olawuyi died in 2007 at the age of 44, I knew quite a few people that shed tears. My mother was one of them. The man once ruled the airwaves with his Iriri Aye radio program that I grew up to.
When it’s 8pm on Fridays in the South West, it’s normal to see a lot of people huddled up around radio sets in street corners, homes and electricians’ workshops as they listened to Kola Olawuyi’s program. It was a weekly ritual we grew up to.
Kola Olawuyi was larger than life. The number of cases he tracked down and brought to life have not been done by anyone else around here since his death.
No one has had that kind of confidence since. Reverend King’s case was brought to light by him. Churches whose owners buried people alive in their buildings as rituals to draw crowd.
A lot of cases of abused children and people claiming to be witches to hurt others. Aja ile (underground killing houses) stories where kidnappers’ dens were raided by him and brought to light.
Blood ritual killings and ritualists in the south west. Heck, there was a woman called Malaika that said she was God and created everyone and could do what she liked with anyone until Kola Olawuyi dragged her to light, and more.
The man was fearless and appeared unstoppable. Listening to him was scary and exciting.
On one hand you admired his courage. On the other, you feared for his life. It wasn’t surprising then that when he died, a lot of people’s default setting was “Oh, they got him finally.”
Perhaps even he had that thought at the back of his mind, hence, at the end of every show, he’d always say: “Aa ma be obe nii besu, atelese a bena wo. Eni ba ni a ma bo nikan lawa o ni de ba nle” (loosely translated: we’ll always go out to work. It’s those that don’t want us to return that we won’t meet when we return).
His life was a mystery too. Even though he was a member of the Redeemed Church, the number of occultic cases and ritual killers he took on and exposed made people believe he was occultic himself.
When news of his death broke, the default reaction from most people was that the witches and ritualists he exposed finally got him and killed him. Some said he cut a tree around his house after he was warned not to, hence his death.
Others said some occultic groups that he belonged to even cut off his head after his death because he belonged to them. In the end, to lay all of that to rest, his family had to have an open burial and open casket for the 44-year old so everyone could see that he died of natural causes and wasn’t mutilated or anything.
But again, he rode the mystery angle really hard too while he was alive. Maybe he even stoked it.
Whenever it was 8pm on Fridays and you heard Hubert Ogunde’s “Sigba Awo” (open the occultic calabash) start playing on Kola Olawuyi’s Iriri Aye program, you knew it was going to be a tough night.
It’s been 13 years since Kola Olawuyi joined the pantheon of the greats. I remember him today and everything he stood for.
If you’re not willing to go all the way to unravel the truth, perhaps you should never call yourself an investigative journalist.
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