Don’t Ever Look Down On Anyone
DON JAZZY: THE MAN BEHIND THE RISE OF MEGA SUPERSTARS
“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”-James 4:6
“You have to be little to belittle” -John C.Maxwell
Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The greatest good you can do to others is not just to show your riches but to reveal to them their own”. It is savage madness to think you can increase your stature by making others feel smaller. As you read this last piece on my topic of having a right self-esteem, I should be on my way back to Nigeria from Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirate (UAE) as a speaker at an International Conference organized by the British Council. And as I chronicled my journey to becoming an international speaker, I remembered an encounter that has contributed significantly to my writing ministry. One of the life transforming experiences that has lingered in my memory was with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of The Guardian Newspaper, Dr. Alexander A. Thomopulos, a man with deep and unusual kind of humility.
I wrote a powerful piece almost a year ago in the youthspeak section of The Guardian Newspaper captioned: Muhammadu Buhari, Beware of Ides of May! The COO read it and was highly impressed.
It beat my imagination that someone like him could send a message to somebody like me. I was subsequently invited to the RUTAM HOUSE, Lagos, the Head Office of The Guardian Newspaper, to have a meeting with the editors of the Saturday and Sunday Guardian. As I was ushered into the office of the COO, I was told by his secretary to wait for him as he was having a meeting in one of the board rooms.
I sat quietly in the office of the man that rules the operations of the Guardian Newspaper and took my time to admire his gigantic office: the pictures on the walls, a neatly array of some old newspapers in a shelved tray, the plethora of local and international plaques of awards that laced and dotted some corners of his office, all testifying to his giant strides as a worthy and veteran leader in the media and beyond. One of the pictures that so much caught my attention was the one he took with the former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton.
I was jolted back to the object of my visitation when Dr. Alexander walked in, in a manner that was so amiable and friendly. I had a lengthy talk with him and subsequently with the Editors of the Saturday and Sunday Guardian. After our meeting that day, as I walked out of the office of the COO, I knew deep within me that I had met a ‘giant’, not because of his towering stature or the plethora of awards that neatly ‘litters’ his office but because of his ‘large’ heart and epic simplicity. Traditionally, to be a king, it is required that you have a royal ‘blood’. What a fallacy that the world has endured, because on that fateful day, I met a man that is a king though not by blood but a king in spirit!
I wonder how many of my kind would have sunk into oblivion just because nobody gave them a chance. I wonder how many ‘Alexanders’ that are still out there that will give a platform to upcoming talents. I wonder how a man of his calibre that has every reason to be proud still chose to be humble. I learnt a big lesson from the COO that day; that humility is actually a choice. Don’t ever write-off any man; never look down on anyone unless you are admiring their shoes!
A distinguished member of the British parliament travelled to Scotland to give a speech in 1890. In Scotland, his carriage was hopelessly mired in the thick mud of a rural road. A young Scottish farm boy helped the man to move his carriage out of the mud with large draft horses and was ready to resume his journey. The law maker insisted on paying the young man but the lad refused. “Are you sure I can’t pay you for your time and effort?” the gentleman asked. “Thank you sir” said the young lad, “it is a privilege to help such an important person as you”.
“What do you want to become in life?” asked the law maker. “I want to become a doctor but I doubt that will happen since my family does not have the money for such education” replied the young lad. The young politician promised to help the young man become a doctor and he held onto his promise. Fifty years later, a man called Winston Churchill was the prime minister of Britain during Hitler’s insurgence and he was seriously down and close to death due to pneumonia. The whole of Britain was threatened by the health of their leader. Churchill miraculously recovered because his physician gave him an injection of a new wonder drug called penicillin. Penicillin had recently been discovered by the brilliant medical doctor, Alexander Fleming.
Alexander Fleming was the young boy that had pulled the stalled carriage from the mud. And the man who promised to return the favour by sending him to a medical school was Winston Churchill’s father, Sir Randolph Churchill. By saving the life of Churchill, he might have saved the whole of England and probably the whole then world from Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror. What a monumental blessing that would have eluded the world, if Randolph Churchill was unable to see a medical doctor in the young farm boy!
Robert Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others”, the emergence and trailblazing story of the music entertainment maestro, Don Jazzy, is both inspirational and impactful. In this last edition of my exhaustive write-ups on having the right self-esteem, I am ending the series with the story of a man that has decided to rise solely by raising others. Michael Collins Ajereh, famously called Don Jazzy, is a Nigerian multiaward-winning record producer, songwriter, musician and ‘Don’ of musical evolution in the Nigerian entertainment industry. From his little beginning as a ‘drummer boy’ in a local church to the CEO of Mo’Hits Records and current CEO of Mavin Records, he has made significant contributions to the emergence of ‘stars’ and megastars in the entertainment industry, which include D’Banj, Wande Coal, Dr SID, D’Prince, Tiwa Savage, Di’ja, Korede Bello, Reekado Banks et al.
He has been listed many times by Forbes as one of the most powerful celebrity in Africa and more recently, beyond. Born on 26 November, 1982 in Umuahia, Abia State, but hails from Delta State, he was raised up in the lowly slum of Ajegunle in Lagos. Don Jazzy’s ‘destiny’ with music was sealed even from the cradle, with a deep flair for singing and playing drums at the age of four. He metamorphosed to developing a passion for the bass guitar at the age of 12 and later navigated the academic world with a degree in Business Management from the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in Edo State.
His passion for music and the percussion instruments (especially drums) could not be ‘contained’ as he later, in the year 2000, made his way to London, UK after his uncle invited him to come and play the drums for a local church. Though, his meteoric rise to limelight received major setbacks and frustrations but the ‘Don’ will not ‘bat an eyelid’ as he took up menial and degrading jobs in order to hold on tenaciously to his passion.
He took up various odd jobs, including working at McDonalds as a security guard. In the course of following his passion, he met some ‘covenant’ friends on the way, and the idea of Mo’Hits Record was born in the year 2004 with D’banj playing a significant role. His first full credit production came up in 2004 with ‘Tongolo’ for the Nigerian singer D’banj. The precision of Don Jazzi’s expertise was repeated in 2005 with D’banj’s first studio album titled ‘No Long Thing’. It was not just a stroke of luck as Don Jazzi went on to repeat the same trick with Wande Coal’s “Mushin 2 MoHits”, an album that was described as one of the best albums to ever come out of Nigeria! Even when the fears of anticipatory break-up were rife between the ‘covenant’ friends (Don Jazzy and D’banj), a new dawn rather than doom came for Don Jazzi with the emergence of Mavin Records in 2012.
It is not his rise to superstardom that really amazes his fans but his ability to bring out latent talents where ordinarily, people see no prospects. Though, the Dorobucci master has so many awards to testify to his awesomeness (2007 Nigerian Entertainment Awards-Music producer of the year; The Headies 2011- producer of the year for the songs: ‘Over The Moon’, Mr Endowed, and ‘Pop Something’; The Headies 2014- producer of the year for the song ‘Dorobucci’; 2015 City People Entertainment Award- Special recognition Award).
Despite the rise and rise of the Marvin stars (Tiwa Savage, Dr SID, D’Prince, Korede Bello, Di’ja and Reekado Banks), Don Jazzi’s humility and diligent search for ‘hidden’ stars is still incomparable. And to Don Jazzi; keep up your diligent search and great investment in bringing up young talents and I seriously look forward to you signing-in a gospel singer this year!
Finally, to all the youths out there, I want to leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Tim Fargo, “If you want to improve your self-worth, stop giving other people the calculator.”
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