Dele Giwa was a well-known Nigerian journalist and the co-founder of Newswatch magazine; a news magazine that introduced an unprecedented bold approach to news reporting and changed the nature of print journalism in Nigeria.
Dele Giwa was born on March 16, 1947 to a poor family in Ile Ife. In 1960, He attended the local Authority Modern School in Lagere, Ile-Ife, and in 1964, when his father took a job as a laundry man at Oduduwa College, he attended, the same institution. Giwa then pursued his higher education in New York, USA, earning his Bachelor’s degree in English from Brooklyn College in 1977 and his Master’s in Public Communication from Fordham University. In 1974, while getting his Master’s Degree, Dele Giwa joined the prestigious New York Times after a meeting with its Metropolitan desk editor during which he pointed out a grammatical error in one of their articles. Impressed by his boldness and bluntness, Giwa was hired on the spot and worked there for four and a half years. During that time he met Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, the managing director of the Nigerian Daily Times, who wanted him to go back to Nigeria to become the editor of the newspaper. In 1978, a year after he met Cole, Dele accepted his offer, and officially began work as the features editor of the Daily Times in April 1979.
In 1984, Giwa and fellow journalists founded a news magazine called Newswatch. As the editor-in-chief, the first edition was distributed on January 28, 1985. Dele became the most celebrated journalist in Nigeria. He was loved by those who idolized him, and equally feared by men of power in the Nigerian government for his ability to expose their foibles and egocentricities.
In the days leading to his death, he was falsely accused of trying to radicalize and destabilize Nigeria by publishing stories to remove certain government officials.
On Sunday October 19, 1986, Giwa was working in his study with fellow journalist and friend, Newswatch’s London bureau Chief Kayode Soyinka, when he received a parcel addressed from the “Commander-in-Chief”, displaying the Nigerian coat-of-arms and stamped as “confidential”. This parcel was a bomb used to assassinate Dele Giwa. The incident is still shrouded with mystery as there aren’t any clear conclusions on the matter.
To the Nigerian populace, Mr. Giwa was never, in any way a security threat. His death instilled fears in the hearts of all Nigerians and shocked all lovers of journalistic freedom and expression worldwide.
The publication of Newswatch opened doors to journalistic freedom and artistic expression in Nigeria, inciting a movement of Nigerian journalists in both print and media to push the envelope for open truth journalism.
Long live Dele Giwa!