New African magazine regrets to announce the passing of its former editor, Peter Enahoro (1935-2023). Our thoughts are with his family. Our founder, Afif Ben Yedder, and former journalist Ben Asante share fond memories of Peter’s time at the magazine and commemorate some of his many achievements.
Peter Enahoro was a living legend in pan-African journalism. We were quite fortunate to have him as Editor of New African magazine in the early days of the magazine circa 1978. His writing talent was universally admired.
Peter was part of a wonderfully talented, highly ambitious, very knowledgeable team totally committed to the concept of pan-Africanism and telling it like it was. The team included the likes of the late Raph Uwechue who was to go on to found the African Research Foundation, which published a series of seminal books under the Know Africa banner and the world-class African Journal and other titles.
Another member of the team was Nana Akufo-Addo, who readers will recognise as the current President of Ghana.
Peter travelled widely in Africa and defended without fear the interests of the continent. Under his leadership, the magazine gained the reputation of being the ‘Voice of Africa’. We were printing almost 100,000 copies a month and selling 20,000 copies in Nigeria alone.
Before coming to us, Peter had already established himself as a fearless heavyweight journalist in Nigeria. He moved up the ranks to become the Editor of Nigeria’s Sunday Times in 1958 at the age of 23, then the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Times in the 1960s.
His ‘Peter Pan’ column was hard-hitting and earned him the enmity of many powerful people but also established him as a champion of the ordinary Nigerian. He went into a self-imposed exile for 13 years. He was Contributing Editor of Radio Deutsche Welle in Germany before joining us as Editorial Director. His book How to be a Nigerian was widely read in Africa and abroad.
He married a beautiful young German lady, Susanne Haupt, whose brother was working for my family in Tunisia. His son Alex was an intern at IC Publications.
In 1981, he launched what was to become a hugely popular pan-African title, Africa Now, thus consolidating the vital role that pan-African media independently based abroad were playing in Africa’s political and economic development.
Peter later returned to Nigeria to serve his country in multiple capacities. He ultimately retired to the suburbs of London to write a massive autobiography, Then Spoke the Thunder.
Peter had a wonderful full life. He could not resist extravagance. That sums up his great personality. He had many friends but was always making his feelings known. He was irreplaceable at New African.
We will miss our dear friend and brother. God bless him.
Afif Ben Yedder is the founder of IC Publications.
The Peter Pan I knew
There was never a dull moment with Peter Enahoro. I started working with Peter in 1978, when he asked me to join him in London to serve as political editor of New African.
On a visit to Nairobi where I was then based, Peter and his wife Susanne came to see my new-born daughter, Janet. Peter surprised me with the job offer, which required my relocating to London. But first he wanted me to pack my bags and join him to cover the OAU Summit, which was taking place at that time in Khartoum.
My previous attendance of OAU Summits had been as an observer but Peter changed all of that. Interviewing and talking with African leaders was a new experience for me but this was something Peter was used to. Meeting the leaders and officials of liberation movements with Peter as facilitator was a thrill, and gave me some of my most cherished professional moments.
We were working in an interesting period for Africa – the heady days of military coups and counter-coups. My own home country, Ghana, was not spared. Peter asked us to be on standby and go to any country if events erupted unexpectedly.
He instructed all writers and journalists at New African to ensure balanced reporting in their coverage. I thus began my coverage of Nigerian politics at New African in the years of Obasanjo’s military government, continuing through to Shagari’s administration.
But there was much more to working under the doyen of journalism then. Peter opened doors. With the mere mention of Peter’s name, even at the time of military governments I gained entry to leading political and business circles.
I cannot say with simple words how much I learnt and took away from working with Peter at New African. Apart from being hard-working, polite and having an infectious sense of humour, Peter was also stubborn in his beliefs and principles. But he was also humble.
His years as Editor at New African were remarkable and so was our excellent working relationship, which was further enhanced by the affable spirit of Afif Ben Yedder, the veteran founder and publisher of New African.
Ben Asante worked with IC Publications for many years.