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'Sav' - a whole parcel of euphemisms

John Chiahemen was a whole parcel of euphemisms for someone who cared little for authority (free spirit, life and soul of the party, etc) and proudly Nigerian. He dreamed big and talked bigger. From the Africa Desk in Nairobi he ended up in Joburg as the online honcho when that platform was the rage, I think. He took early retirement and when our paths did cross (we occasionally did training work together, but not for the Foundation) he talked about setting up a major new 24-hour TV station in his home state of Jos and was looking for backers. He said he had the Governor's support.


He was fun to work with in the days of the Africa desk, witty, warm and good natured. He got the nickname of “sav”, short for savage. There was no racial slur in this. It stemmed from an incident in the 1980s when Ethiopia played Nigeria in an African soccer cup match, and the Nigerian crowd threw bread at the Ethiopian players and rubbed their stomachs and made mock groans of hunger. "Bloody savages," I said to JNC, with my tongue firmly in cheek. Two weeks later, on the return leg in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian crowd threw stones at the Nigerian players and I think the game was abandoned. JNC was on duty to read the report. "Bloody savages," he said.


I shall miss him. ■