O.J. Simpson: Fame & Infamy, By Michael Ovienmhada



O.J. The Juice. Superstar. Icon. Heisman Trophy winner. NFL Running Back. Movie Star. Double murder suspect. Acquitted. Freed man.

He takes laws into his own hands, forcibly tries to retrieve items he said belonged to him from a former friend. The matter gets out of hand. He is accused of armed robbery. He receives a jail time of 9-33 years. He is paroled after 9 years. Free again. And then, Mother time, and that dreadful cancer. Bye-bye.

How do you begin to write about a young man who was born into poverty, is super talented, gains fame, and is beloved by America. A man who set a record running over 2,000 yards in the NFL, (first to do so in a single season), and then, bang, he is caught in a web of his own creation.

His story begins in 1947 in San Francisco, California, where he was born. His father left home when he was still quite young. He was a drag queen, (gay). Orenthal James Simpson never had much of a relationship with his father, a relationship which he craved and tried to fix in latter years. For those of my readers who do not understand the fuss about a Black man who died at age 76, last week, let me help you out. America, unlike most countries do not have Royals like many European countries, and so, for them, their version of an American Royal is a super successful sports personality. O.J. fit that bill and he was crowned with great success. In what many would call a natural progression, many successful Black athletes tend to marry either very light skinned Black women or just go straight for the “ultimate price,” a blonde White girl. In their minds, even though the blonde be dumb as a rock, she occupies a higher position on the totem pole as women go. That is the reality of the American social dating space.

O.J. was American royalty, a man who was beloved as much by White America as he was by Black America. Here was a man who could have run for President at the height of his fame and he could have won, long before Barack Obama. As the story goes, he married a White girl. They had children. She decided to leave due to allegations of abuse. She began to date a younger White boy. In an alleged crime of passion, he was accused of killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend. The case went to trial in 1994. There was no Social Media. There was no internet as we know it today. CNN was in its infancy. They gave us the news in real time around the world. I watched the infamous Bronco chase live on CNN in a friend’s office in Victoria Island, Lagos. That was how the rest of the world came to know who O.J. was and how big he was in American society. The case went to trial. He had a lot of money to hire the best brains the American legal system had to offer. They were called the Dream Team. The case dragged for 9 months, ending in those famous lines, “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” The bloody glove which was a strong piece of evidence upon which the prosecution built its case did not fit. Orenthal James Simpson was acquitted to the consternation of American White society who thought Justice had not been served, and to the wild applause of American Black society who had been victims of an unjust American police overreach through over 300 years of slavery, another 100 years of Jim Crow and a much more recent history of the brutalization of Rodney King, a Black man, for a mere traffic violation. It was in that heated and polluted atmosphere that O.J. was tried and eventually set free. Mother time did its job. He had been ravaged by prostate cancer. Earth to earth. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. Did O.J. do it? The world is still as divided in his death as it was in his lifetime. Anyhow, we must say goodbye to a quintessential American icon, loved, and reviled, Angel or Devil as the case may have been.

Overnight on April 14th, the skies over Jerusalem were illuminated by cruise missiles flying into the Jewish State from Iran in retaliation for the bombing of an Iranian Consulate in Syria and the killing of a General by Israeli jets. The world had been waiting for the retaliation to come. Only time will tell if the events that began in 1948 when the Jewish State declared its independence in a tiny piece of land surrounded by enemies, having survived many wars aimed at her destruction and a more recent one launched by Hamas on October 7th, 2023, will escalate into a wider regional conflict or even another senseless World War which may lead to the extermination of humanity. Let me explain. In 1945, upon Harry Truman assuming office as President of the United States when FDR died suddenly, he was briefed that America had developed two nuclear bombs. He dropped one on Hiroshima. He dropped another in Nagasaki.

Since America dropped those two bombs each of which packed a power of 15 tons of TNT, the world has developed bombs that carry over 3,800 times the power of those initial bombs. So, if wiser counsel does not prevail to stop further foolishness in the Middle East, the world may slide into a Third World War, which has the power to turn the entire earth into dust, and push humanity into extinction. Mankind has never been known to allow our better angels to prevail. We continue to watch. And, we pray.

In other news, Donald J. Trump goes to trial this week. He was said to have slept with a prostitute. That’s not the crime. The crime is that after paying hush money to keep her quiet, he proceeded to falsify business records for the payment. If he is convicted of a crime, he may go to jail. Now, nothing in the law says a man cannot stand for election while he is in Jail. Let’s just say the legal system did not stretch its imagination far enough to anticipate a scenario as such as Trump’s matter is about to throw up.

Two weeks ago, Taiwan experienced an earthquake that registered over 8.4 magnitude on the Richter scale. Several buildings tumbled. Many people have been declared dead or missing. The country reels in pain. Where will the earth rumble next? In the New York, New Jersey area, a quake registering at about 4 on the Richter scale sent warning signals that no place is safe.

In my beloved hometown, Benin City, it appears the corn season is here. Benin is home to, I believe, the most amazing corn variety on earth. I wonder if we should not build a whole tourism industry out of it. For us here, it is corn and coconut or corn and “Orumun,” a local pear variety that comes in nature’s purple, blue, and black. I have a friend who swears and breathes by Benin corn. As we enter the corn season, on the backdrop is the rumble of politics. It is an election year. Who will be our next governor, come September, 2024?

May the best man win. God bless Edo State, and may God bless Nigeria.

Michael Ovienmhada.
Author, Poet, Playwright &
Public Affairs Commentator.

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