Investigative journalists get murdered everywhere and are swiftly forgotten, sadly. One such was Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a Ghanaian investigative journalist who at the age of 31 was shot dead in his car near his family home in Accra on 16 January. Eyewitnesses said he was killed by two men travelling on motorbikes who fired at his car from close range. The first bullet hit Hussein-Suale in the neck and the car accelerated, crashing into a storefront. One of the gunmen approached the driver’s side and fired two shots through the broken window directly into Hussein-Suale’s chest. Then he turned to those watching, smiled, and raised a finger to his lips. Hussein-Suale’s first big story was in 2013 when he travelled to northern Ghana to expose witchdoctors behind the poisoning of children believed to be possessed by evil spirits.
Paweł Bogdan Adamowicz, the popular and independent mayor of the Polish port city of Gdansk, was very publicly assassinated – stabbed through the heart and diaphragm – on 13 January, while he was speaking at a charity event in the centre of Gdansk. He was 53.
The world’s oldest living man, Masazo Nonaka, who was 113 years and 179 days, died on 20 January. He claimed his advanced age was due to relaxing in hot springs and eating sweet things. Now he’s gone, the oldest-living mantle falls on the shoulders of Gustav Gerneth, a German citizen who was born in Szczecin, in Poland, in October 1905. Gerneth thinks he has lived for so long because he’s never been on a diet, always ate butter, never touched a cigarette and always drank booze in moderation.
Other centenarians who faded away in January included Shivakumara Swami (pictured right), the spiritual leader of a Hindu sect, who was 111 years and 295 days; Francis W. Nye, a US Air Force Major-General who was 100; Deng Tietao, the Chinese doctor, who went at 102; Lessie Brown, who was the oldest living US citizen; the Swedish actress Guje Lagerwall (née Sjöström) who reached 100; the Austrian-born British economist Paul Streeten, who left Austria after the 1938 Anschluss and fought as a commando during the 1943 Allied invasion of Italy; Lieutenant General Leo J. Dulacki, a highly decorated US marine officer, who reached 100; Miguel Gallastegui, also known as Hercules de Asoliartza for his considerable physical strength, who was a pelotari, who made it to 100; Geoffrey Langlands, who fought as a commando in the 1942 Dieppe Raid for the British army, and then spent the rest of his life in Pakistan, teaching and leading elite schools, who died aged 101; Guy Charmot, a French doctor and member of the Resistance in the Second World War, who was 104. Perhaps the best-known – certainly in Britain – centenarian to die in January was Diana Athill, who worked at the publishing house of André Deutsch for much of her adulthood, and enjoyed her own late-flowering literary career. She died aged 101.
He wore mad-professor thick glasses and sported a Bobby Charlton comb-over and long sideburns, which added to his eccentric air. Always courteous and generous, he possessed one of the weakest handshakes.
France lost a would-be king in January – Prince Henri Philippe Pierre Marie d’Orléans was the Orléanist pretender to the defunct throne which, had it existed, would have seen him crowned Henry VII. He was 85. A retired military officer, he was also a painter and the author of several books. He and his parents were only allowed to return to France in 1950, when the law which exiled them was abrogated. Prince Edward Taw Phaya, also known as Tun Aung, was the pretender to the Burmese throne and head of the royal house of Konbaung; he died aged 94.
“Beware of our murderous, megalomanic, egocentric, pityless, wrongheaded rulers”
Tired of all the junk mail that comes through the letterbox or drops out of your newspaper? Then you won’t be laying many flowers at the graveside of Lester Wunderman, generally considered to be the inventor of direct marketing. He was responsible for the magazine subscription card, loyalty rewards programmes, and much else designed to sell you stuff you never knew that you needed. He kicked the bucket in the US on 9 January aged 98, no doubt waving his loyalty card in the face of St Peter – or maybe Lucifer’s greeter.
Picture source: Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India, Ministry of Information