Sierra Leone | It's Saturday and Always Ten O’Clock Somewhere
It's Saturday and always Ten o'clock somewhere. For Sierra Leoneans on Facebook like Aroun Rashid Deen, Sia Matturi Josiah, Eva O'rielly-Jones (and yours truly) memories of Gipu Felix-George on the old Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) will never fade.
“Saturday Shindig every week at 10:00 am? We set our clocks by him!” Arnold Aubee recalled.
Gipu's fans remember a broadcasting trailblazer— the nation's most accomplished, bar none. I doubt many would disagree. Saturday Shindig, Sierra Leone's popular top of the global music chart's show, was on air for almost two decades. Sewa News is honored to bring you an interview with one of the nation's broadcasting icons on our Independence Day.
Sewa News: You were one of the best-known personalities in Sierra Leone in the 1970-80s. How did you break into broadcasting?
Gipu Felix-George Snr: I had two breaks. Firstly, John Akar, then director of the SLBS [Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service], visited my school, the Sierra Leone Grammar School. He had been invited to address the school on 'responsible citizenship.' As a school prefect, I was requested by my principal, Frank Wood, to give the vote of thanks, which I did. John Akar suddenly turned to the principal and said. 'I want this boy. He is a natural.' I was in the sixth form. I did not take the offer, though I went to see him at his New England (Freetown) office the following day and he took me on a tour of the station.
The second and more meaningful break I had was when I took part in a nation-wide audition for announcers during my university days [Fourah Bay College]. I passed the reading and other tests and started a few months later as a freelance artist. The rest is history
Sewa News: When did John Akar visit SLGS?
Gipu Felix-George Snr: John Akar visited the school in 1959. The audition was held on a sunny Sunday morning in the Schools Broadcast Studio at the SLBS.
Sewa News: You had a great career with Sierra Leone's national radio station, what was it like to work in broadcasting during your day?
Gipu Felix-George Snr: Working in broadcasting in those days was both enjoyable and exciting as well as stressful and challenging. On the whole, I was very comfortable with any assignment given to me, and I was very eager to learn and progress. At that time I saw no other job for me than broadcasting. I really enjoyed most of it. It was like being on 'alert mode.'
Sewa News: How long did Saturday Shindig run for? What were your thoughts on the first and last program?
Gipu Felix-George Snr: Saturday Shindig started in 1969. My first program was live and I felt relaxed before, during and after. Absolutely no nerves, no anxieties...nothing. I think I said to myself something like 'this is it..your first and maybe your last chance.' From that moment, it became a novelty and a big entertainment program. It ran until 1985.
I could never forget my last program. I had decided to dedicate it to a young friend and colleague, Alex French, who died when I was in Germany in 1975. I had trained Alex for the program and he was doing a great job while I was away. When I received news of his death the world seemed to collapse around me...no, it seemed to collapse ON me. Anyway, I kept my cool as usual throughout the program but when I said 'goodbye my friend' I was talking to Alex. I closed the microphone pot and, my God, did I cry like a baby!
|The legendary Gipu Felix-George at his 70th birthday party in Manchester, England|
|In this undated 1970s photo, Gipu Felix-George (seated right) looks on as Edward Akar presents trophies|
|Gipu teaching today|