Sumonu Oladele “Baines” Giwa was born on 16 March 1947 to a poor family working in the palace of Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife. He attended local Authority Modern School in Lagere, Ile-lfe. When his father moved to Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife as a laundry man, he gained admission to that school. Dele Giwa travelled to the USA for his higher education, earning a BA in English from Brooklyn College in 1977 and enrolled for a Graduate program at Fordham University. He worked with the New York Times as a news assistant for four years after which he relocated to Nigeria to work with Daily Times.
Dele Giwa and fellow journalists Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed founded Newswatch in 1984, and the first edition was distributed on 28 January 1985. A 1989 description of the magazine said it “changed the format of print journalism in Nigeria [and] introduced bold, investigative formats to news reporting in Nigeria”.
In the days leading to his death, Giwa was falsely accused of trying to radicalise Nigeria and looking for ways to destabilise it, as well as of possibly publishing stories on the removal of government officials. At this point, he started to fear for his life and that of his family.
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. The parcel was a bomb and exploded as Giwa opened it. Soyinka lost consciousness, and Giwa’s wife – who had just put their daughter Aisha to sleep upstairs – had to get Giwa out of the smoke. His legs had been crushed and cut off in the explosion. He was rushed to hospital where, after many attempts to save his life, he died. Years later, his death is still remembered by many.
Giwa married an American nurse in 1974. His second marriage, to Florence Ita Giwa, lasted 10 months. He later married Olufunmilayo Olaniyan on 10 July 1984, and they were married until his death in 1986. He was survived by his mother, wives and children.