Monday, 25 May 2009

Cover, Edition 186, May 24-30, 2009

Twins appeal for children

School children in a performance

LATE in the night. The Children’s Arts Development Initiative (CHAIN) office in mainland part of Lagos is quiet. There are three people in the office, and everybody is busy doing one thing or the other. A lady is seated in a swivel chair, peering at a computer screen. She moves a mouse, occasionally; clicking the button of the computer, which sits on the table in her front. She’s been working on the computer for close to two hours.
In another room, there are whistling sounds, noise perhaps, of four young ladies, making frantic sequence to beat the time. They are arranging leaflets and fliers, announcing the forthcoming event of their organisation, CHAIN.
The time is 10pm, and the lady is still working very hard. She calls one of the ladies in the office with her. Patiently, they look at the figures on the screen and are convinced that everything is indeed okay, nothing has actually been altered or changed.
And slowly, for the first time in over two hours that Pamela Udoka leaves her job to discuss the children’s festival holding tomorrow at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
“Children theatre is a passion to me,” she says.
“But I won’t allow it clash with my office work,” she jokes, letting out her customary sandpapered cackle.
Since 2007, CHAIN has been involved in projects that are aimed at changing the face of children theatre in the country. And for 2009, the organisation is celebrating twins.
“The Mamuzee twins are already in on this and have promised to throw the weight of their Twins Association to ensure a higher level of success and make it the event that it should be,” Pamela muses.
The witty lady, whose name, many associates have added dance to because of her dexterity as afleet-footed artiste (Pamela Dance), says , “CHAIN is a duly registered and steadily growing children’s theatre organisation in the arts and entertainment sector. It is engaged in enriching childhood and empowering children through the discovery, development and exhibition of their innate creative abilities.”
She adds, “it is a children’s theatre organisation engaged in enriching childhood and empowering children through the discovery, development and exhibition of their innate creative abilities.”
Why CHAIN, you ask?
She looks up and smiles, “a chain is as strong as its weakest link.” She continues, “economy and technology have eroded skills and core values our children learn. In CHAIN, we apply creative dramatics to build children’s confidence, and also, mould their characters.”
Pamela says, “our organisation also aims at expanding imagination and inculcating self-worth in children. Above all, develop their leadership skills.”
According to Pamela, “we are not a run-off- the-mill, here today, gone tomorrow organisation. We are a growing brand with a steadily growing track record.”
She says, “this event held last year with students of Queen’s College performing. For 2009, the drama will be perfomed by Meadow Hall Schools, Lekki, and lined-up are two shows (11 am and 2pm) at the Shell Hall, Muson Centre.”

WHEN she was a young girl, Pamela would stay up late to read story books. It wasn’t until years later, when she grew up that she knew how those story books had clearly worked in her life. She says, “beyond fables, writing for children has always intrigued me.”
In a white T-shirt and a jeans trouser, Pamela talks on as she drives along the busy Ojuelegba Road. She says, “though I’m focused on life as a dance artiste, helping children grow has interested me.”
According to her, “in The Rejected Blessing, telling the story of the cultural practice of killing twins to children through drama would make it easier for them to understand the circumstances of such practices and, at the same time, contribute to their knowledge.”
She sings, “in this drama, children traverse the Nigerian landscape, engage and learn our diverse cultures and values, historical facts, traditional practices and artistic manifestation.”

Since the not for profit organisation started, it has celebrated children during the yuletide and every event that concerns them. CHAIN Christmas Fiesta 2007 featured six schools, all performing I Dream A Christmas on stage for two days at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
In 2008, there was Children’s Day Celebration, where students of Queen’s College, Lagos performed The Rejected Blessing.
There was a command performance of the play at the CHAIN Independence Day Celebration in October 2008. The perfomance was at the Agip Hall, MUSON Centre.
The CHAIN Christmas Drama Fiesta 2008 featured students of Jeno Grammar School, Surulere, Lagos.

PAMELA, who was Fate Foundation Business Plan Competition winner in 2005 and also, Chair Centre Best Aspiring Female Entrepreneur (Fate Foundation) the same year,
was the Coordinator of the National Troupe of Nigeria’s Children’s Theatre Workshop between 1991and 1997.
But more than that, she had directed and coordinated a lot of drama productions. In 2002, she did Clash of the Ants, which was a collaboration with Pampers Private School, Alaka, Surulere.
In May 2005, she directed The Last Safari to celebrate 50 years of Corona Schools in Nigeria, where she worked with 76 children on stage. “It was quite a challenging experience,” she says.
The lady, who holds a B.A (Hons) in Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan and M Sc. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Lagos and another Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing, was the coordinator, Children’s Carnival Abuja for Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart at 50 and Artistic Director, 2008, Lagos Children’s Carnival.
The turning point in her children theatre career was in 2007, when her play, The Rejected Blessing, made the initial list of 10 in the Nigeria Literature Prize sponsored by Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited.

CHAIN has in its board, distinguished Nigerians who are seasoned professionals in their various fields of endeavor. Gamaliel O. Onosode, OFR, an internationally renowned industrialist and business guru, is chairman. Other members are Pamela Udoka, president/artistic director; Prof. Duro Oni, professor of Creative Arts University of Lagos; Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, executive director, Corona Schools Trust Council; Longley Evru, marketing and PR consultant; Ms. Nkechi Obi, sports marketing consultant; Mike Anyanwu, culture administrator and barrister at law and Dr. Esohe Molokwu.

It’s just Easy Cliq

Banky W performs at the event


FOR close to two hours, loud music blared continuously. There was glitz and glamour. And everything associated with good packaging signified the recent launch of a new product by Etisalat Nigeria.
The event, which held at Planet One Entertainment, Maryland, saw very beautiful performances from Banky W and also rib cracking jokes from AY Makun, who was the compere of the show.
Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer of the outfit, Steve Evans, said Easy Cliq is tailored specifically to meet the needs and desires of the average Nigerian youths that constantly want to stay in touch with peers on happenings in the world.
“This product is a further demonstration of our unflinching commitment to the needs of the Nigeria youths and their demand for innovative, yet cost saving products and services. We have loaded Easy Cliq with these features and services that are sure to excite subscribers in the youth segment,” Evans said.
Explaining details of the new product, Wael Ammar, Chief Marketing Officer of the company, said the product offers Nigerian youths opportunity to express themselves in many exciting ways.
Wael provided detailed information on each of the innovative element that make up each of the features available on the specially designed youth package.
According to him, “customers can take advantage of the 10 free MMS they stand to gain every month as long as they have used with a minimum of N500 during the month.”
“Another innovative feature of the new product is that the receiver of a call can agree to share the cost of the call initiated to them with talk ‘n’ share,” Wael noted.

All hail the Bashorun


LAST Sunday, friends and associates feted the Publisher of Ovation International magazine, Chief Dele Momodu and his wife, Mrs. Bolaji Momodu, on their recent installation as Bashorun and Yeye Bashorun of Ila Orangun.
The event, which held at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Lekki, coincided with Momodu’s birthday; so, it turned into an Oye/ Birthday celebration.
According to organisers of the reception, “Chief Momodu’s kindness and service to humanity is being repaid by the enormous goodwill from friends and associates, who have come together to be part of the event by providing complimentary services in various areas from entertainment to logistics.”
Dress code was African prints with a touch of red and most of the dignitaries complied with the code including representatives from Nollywood, the police force, media, the entertainment industry and host of others.
Citation was by Mr. Femi Segun and the night’s comperes were Segun Arinze and Gbenga Adeyinka. Performances were by Sir Shina Peters, Wale Thomson and Adewale Ayuba, while stage management was by Prince Aseperi.
Dudu Productions, Kingsley Ogoro’s Klink Studios, Brian Munro, Sprint Associates, Oriental Hotel, Tremor Perfect Sound Company, Saheeto supported the event, among others.
The event was hosted by Committee of Friends and was packaged by Heartlink Ventures Limited.

My Baby, Felyne, in Opposite Twist

IF the Kean University Star Search Award winner of ‘Best Hip-Hop/Rap Performance’ Felicia Babalola, whose stage name is Felyne, had not cultivated her singing instinct early in life, she would have been a celebrated case manager as a psychologist.
She actually studied psychology in college because, as she says, “I like to help people, I like to talk and communicate.”
But following her passion devotedly, Felyne, born to Nigerian parents on March 3, 1984, in Providence, Rhode Island, in the United States, had grown up singing in the church choir since the age of 13.
She, thereafter, joined the Nigerian Association of African Gospel Artistes (NAAGA) and began writing poetry.
Taking her stage name from the cat family, Felidae, which is characteristically active, aggressive, vocal and watchful, this special animal’s personality had inspired her to create a unique and dynamic form of Hip Hop, namely NajHip – a fusion of hip hop and Nigerian music.
Currently in Nigeria to launch herself to the Nigerian audience with her single titled My Baby as well as work on her first album Opposite Twist, Felyne informs that the disconnect encountered with hip hop by youths born of foreign parents but raised in America stirred her to come up with her own genre called the NajHip.
In her words, “I am a rap artiste who has practiced music professionally for three years now. The mission of NajHip is to help music lovers cope with personal life struggles through music, which is why I am working on a collaboration with lot of my close friends like Ayuba and Banky W, to come up with an interesting album and the simple message of the album, Opposite Twist, is to tell everyone who listens that you can do anything you want to do.
“The title says it all, something that is uniquely opposite, there are things on my album people would ask how did I pull that off, can I say these, can I do these? All of these would be found out when the album is out, a fusion of highlife, Afro and hip-hop, all in one, containing songs everyone can relate to. I am going to have a little of everything, including Fuji with Ayuba. People ask me how such collaboration would work out, but that is just a part of my creativity,” she enthused.
Heaping high praise on her mother, who hails from Ondo State, Felyne says her mother stands tall as her pillar of support and inspiration.
“Being raised by my mother and not having a father figure around just showed me that you could do anything you want to do. Most Nigerian parents don’t support music, but my mum had always been there for me from the beginning, she is definitely my idol,” she says.
Not bothered by stage fright, she affirms that she has paid her dues in the music terrain. “I have done a lot of shows that gave me the chest to be on stage and know how it is to be a performer. I have had some performances where I was booed out of stage and I have had performances where people cheered, so it all add up as my learning experience,” she sings.
Besides music, she is a licensed cosmetologist on the side, specialising in hair make-up and skin care.
“I freelance for now, that is why I am able to come to Nigeria back home and promote my music. Apart from pursuing what you believe in, it is always good to have something to fall back on,” Felyne says.

DESPITE living all her life in the United States, she boasts of being 100 per cent Naija. “The only thing that is not Nigerian about me is my accent. I am very much Nigerian, I understand Yoruba though I don’t speak it fluently. My mom always taught us the culture, we cook Nigerian dishes and we wear our native outfit.”
Continuing, Felyne, who intends to further her education to obtain a Master’s degree in Social Work said, “I always wanted to come back and I always wanted to do things that have to do with my culture, I was a leader of an African dance group in college, so, I had always stayed intact with everything Naija.” Looking back to the past, she says she is lucky not to have surmounted so many challenges. “The only challenge I came across was money, because a lot of people have this mentality that if you are living in the United States, there is a tree of money behind your house where you grow dollars.”
Buoyed by the successes of her music idols including Lauryn Hill (for her style) and Kanye West (for his originality), and driven by her passion, she is determined to go all the way in her career path.
“I want to receive all the awards my career could offer. I definitely want to be a legend remembered for creativity, ambition, and uncommon success, because I am definitely in this for the long term. Everybody has a story to tell, no achievement comes easy especially when you are starting out and are barely known. And for any established individual in any field of human endeavour, they will say ‘once upon a time,” Felyne muses.

I’m bold and daring

Omolola Shonowo (aka Lolar Shon), is poised to dazzle the fashion scene with her Fashion Fussion show through which the formal presentation of the catalogue would be released to the public. The Theatre Art and Music graduate also had some training in Make-up before venturing into fashion. She speaks with OYINDAMOLA LAWAL on her style and fashion show.

Definition of fashion
Fashion is the right sense of combining colours and materials to make an impression.
Style of fashion
I am a T-shirt and jeans person, but for event I can be very sexy and daring.
Favourite piece of clothing
My fishnet legging.
Signature scent
Scenario by Sebrato Feragamo.
Most cherish possession
My Bible.
Most expensive item
My apartment.
What would you not be caught wearing?
Two pair of shoes.
Favourite body product
Black opal.
Family and education background
I’m the first girl from my mum. I come from a polygamous family. I went to Temitope Nursery and Primary School; Shepherdhill Girls High School, and later studied Theatre Arts and Music from the Lagos State University.
Why did you venture into fashion/make-up?
Make-up is highly creative and demanding while fashion is the expression of your inner self; so I decided take to it for self expression.
What is “Fashion Fusion” all about?
It’s the third edition of my fashion show, which involves hair, make-up, fashion and music. It is the formal presentation of my fashion catalogue— Fashion Fusion. And I am thinking of having the biggest fashion show ever in Africa.
My inspiration comes from nature.

Savouring a new sail

Chief (Mrs) Funmilayo Shyllon and Omoba Yemisi Shyllon at the event


WHEN a group of artists in the visual art sector came up with Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA) early last year, many observers of the industry had said it was just a fad that would soon evaorate.
But one year on, the group has not only continued to wax strong, it has also won the hearts of stakeholders in the art industry. The calibre of guests that graced the group’s maiden induction held at the Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, recently is a pointer.
The inductees include Edosa Ogiugo (President); Abiodun Olaku (Vice President); Alex Nwokolo (Director of Finance); Sam Ovraiti (Social Director). Also listed are Segun, Bunmi Babatunde, Ndidi Dike, Ben Osaghae, Olu Ajayi, Abraham Uyovbisere, Lekan Onabanjo, Duke Asidere, Tola Wewe and Fidelis Odogwu. Others are Kehinde Sanwo, Tayo Quaye, Reuben Ugbine, Sam Ebohon, Hamid Ibraham, Nsikak Essien, Zinno Orara, Gbenga Offo and Ekpeyong Koko Ayi.
Ogiugo noted that artists’ partnership and collaboration with the corporate sector has been problematic making it difficult to appreciate the role of art in social and economic re-engineering of the nation.
And on the mission of the guild to make all the difference, he said: “In spite of the huge possibilities and potentials of this emerging giant sub-sector of the Nigerian economy, the most apparent and vivid threat to its crystallization is the psychological and economic well being of the professional artist, who is the foundation of this structure. Notwithstanding, the visionary spirit and enduring faith to principles of studio practice and commitment to nation building, the Nigerian Visual Art industry would have been grappling with the realities of extinction by now.”
On the drop in quality of art education in the country, Oguigo traced this development to “selection mode of potential art students to our higher institutions.” He, however, assured that the guild would do something about this soonest.
Of the 30 members in the group as at the last quarter of 2008, 23 had their works featured in its maiden exhibition, Threshold, held at the art gallery of Terra Kulture.
From Offo’s acrylic on canvas piece, It’s Time, a work, which thrusts its bold outline on the viewer’s face, to the metal sculptural wonder of Odogwu in Transition, a depiction of fish processing at the smoking stage; and Dike’s multi media, Urban Debris, that event was what the art community needed to be convinced that GFA has all it takes to take visual art to a greater height.

STILL on mixed media, Essien rendered a fantasy: Papa Oyoyo! (Dad’s in, toys Out!), just as Wewe’s Ibeji offered a rich combination of colours with painstaking details in the two figural representation of twins.
On the softer side of this genre came Nwokolo’s acrylic, oil and chalk pastel on canvas titled This is Lagos (II), his thoughts on those human, as well as the notorious spots that make the city a centre of attraction.
In Olaku’s Quietude (Okobaba Series), came a misty dawn realism-finish of the popular riverside settlement in Lagos Mainland. There’s, however, a sharp contrast in Isichei’s impressionistic piece, Scape.
Taking a mid-way position in between the two extreme works of Olaku and Isichei is Orara’s Let’s Talk About Our Differences... another riverside capture.
And whatever Ovraiti’s Fantasies of My Secret Garden meant to explain in the impressions of heads and other images might just be less important as the composite provided some puzzle to agitate one’s thought.
Fast becoming a group not necessarily for every artist, yet exclusive in class, the group stressed, “membership shall be by application and restricted to any fine artist of proven practice with good educational background and must have at least five years postgraduate studio experience alongside a functional studio.”
GFA first came to public glare, officially in January 2008 after the group’s first election of officers.

Meet Curt Elling, the singing sensation

OF the over fifteen CDs that Dorset – based percussionist, Lekan Babalola laid on me recently, I find the one featuring the great singer, Kurt Elling most fascinating and intriguing – for its extraordinariness.
Jazz percussionist Babalola has been coming in and out of Lagos lately to produce some Nigerian artistes for Jazzhole Records. He has taken this assignment rather passionately because he believes that home is where the music is. Among the many CDs he gave to me are One step beyond by alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, and Cassandra Wilson’s Loverly, a recent Grammy Award winning release which will form the subject of a later discussion. Babalola is heard on percussion in Loverly, but for the moment, the focus is the intriguing voice of Kurt Elling who combines Vocalese, Scat singing and the Conventional approach to forge a unique direction in jazz singing.
Since the late King Pleasure who pioneered Vocalese, a trend in which lyrics are set to solos and song by musicians; and John Hendricks, the trend has not surfaced in any new way through any musician. As a matter of fact, many had forgotten all about Vocalese, consigning it to history. But Elling has not only brought it back to the fore, he has also reinvigorated it in a spectacular style, combining it in an amazing way with other vocal elements.
In an era when the number of significant male jazz singers can be counted on one hand, Elling’s arrival is very welcome. Influenced by Mark Murphy, Elling combines poetry with jazz and he is a chance-taking improviser who makes up lyrics as he goes along.
Elling’s status as a jazz singer of today can be fully put in its real perspective when you realise that he is dominating a male turf, which has been long abandoned for reasons that cannot be explained- in favour of the womenfolk.
Popular music singer Frank Sinatra who made occasional forays into jazz can be referred to as one of the early male singers. But the first real jazz singer was Loius Armstrong who combined singing with trumpeting. Then came Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams both of the Count Basie Orchestra to lift jazz singing from its New Orleans level to the mainstream jazz status. But it was Lou Rawls who took it to the modern jazz level in the ’60s with production by H.B. Barnum. Since then, no singer of note has emerged – from the male jazz category.
And yet, the women have continued to excel because of their commitment and involvement. In consequence, you discover that there are better female singers today even in pop and music forms outside of jazz than the men. This is because, as singers, they focus on influences that are traceable to the female jazz greats.
And this is why I have come to endorse female singer, Dee Dee Bridgewater’s view on today’s singing, which must be instructed by jazz. It is absolutely true that most people that we call singers today are not singers. And even musicians today cannot stand up to the mettle of the basic, well trained, young jazz musicians who can play everything. The truth is that young kids today are not getting a real idea of what real music is and what real musicians and real singers are because most of these kids can’t sing. They are fabrication. They go in the studio, if it is not right, if a note is not right, they just push a lever, push a dial, and drown out the note. And its not until you hear them in live performance that you go, oh, my God, they can’t sing. The hiphop groups and all that we hear today cannot sing. The groups can’t harmonise. Most of the stuff today is computer – derived. It’s all hype with marketing as its bottom line. But Kurt Elling can sing as evidenced by his Live in Chicago performance, featuring Lawrence Hobgood on piano; Bob Amster, acoustic bass; Michael Raynor, drums and percussion – with Jon Henaricks, voice, Von Freeman tenor saxophone; Kahil El ’ Zabar, hand drums; Ed Peterson, tenor saxophone as featured guest artists.
Some of the fourteen tracks include such standards as Smoke gets in your eyes, My foolish heart, I love you for sentimental reasons and Going to Chicago where Elling has profusely demonstrated his ability to sing. His singing is co-ordinated, articulate and unimpaired even on the Solo lines to which he has set poetic lyrics. And from the reaction of the highly appreciative audience, his music has gone down very well and he can walk tall as a singer of immense possibilities, a jazz vocalist of note.
The son of a music minister, Kurt Elling began his career by playing the violin and French horn, discovering jazz while in college. He entered graduate school at the university of Chicagos’ Divinity School. Taken with Jazz at this time, he began jigging regularly at the Green Mill, a local Jazz club. Feeling Jazz vocals as a calling, he left his graduate studies just short of graduation in January 1992.
His father was a church musician and choir director and so his earliest musicial experiences were those of the father and church. The first thing that he ever heard was Bach at a pipe organ.
How did his style move about?
Its never been that I’ve said I want to be radically different from everybody else. That isn’t really the goal. The goal with me has just been – I mean, you construct or create in reaction to everything that you’ve seen in your life.
And when I would go to hear local jazz singers and even some of the ones who were on the national scene when I was coming up, I would want to be knocked out, and I wasn’t getting knocked out. And they were doing things that I already knew from Ella Fitzgenald records, and I already knew from such- and-such records. And they were just copying this lyric, or using that arrangement, or just not really saying very much. And that kind of poised me off be cause the people whose music I had fallen in love with were all people who were really exciting and swing really hard.
I have a very strong sense of what I hear based on what I’ve been taught by tradition based on the people whose work I respect and whose opinions I respect. And Betty Carter is one, and Mark Murphy is another, and Jon Hendricks, and Tony Bennett, and Frank Smatra. But each one of those people – those are four or five radically different singers. They each have their own taking. It’s be cause they’ve such strong artists that they couldn’t help themselves. They had to be that which they are.”
Added to the impact these influences had on Elling, he listened to recordings. Over the years, he watched his father conduct different high school choirs and knock people out. He learnt a lot from the showmanship and planning that go into a concert where people are so happy to be there. He learnt a lot of stuff from his father about how to run a show. And the spirit that can take on, the spirit of mobility and the spirit of real connection with people.
Elling also learnt from watching old movies of Frank Smatra doing his thing I just swinging really hard. And Tony Bennett too.
When he was in the sixth grade, hey watched Tony Bennett on Television in a white dinner jacket with the woody Herman Band. He was also influenced by the cats on the Chicago scene who encouraged him and showed him the ropes.
The art of setting lyrics to remarkable solos and improvising vocally is known in jazz as vocalise. It started from King Pleasure while Oscar brown Junior did a bit of it. But perhaps because Elling’s approach is a combination of many other vocal elements, he describes it as ranking.
“Well it’s a little bit of everything” say Elling. “ I certainly ran t at least once a night. There are a couple of tunes in the show where it regularly happens.
It is difficult to come up with new information every night, but the process of ding it has more to do with trying to be open to that experience of what I have in my heard. It isn’t that you step up, and now you start. It’s that you’re acquainted with your interior life. It’s that you understand what you really feel today and what you really are worrying about, or who you love and what that feels like. If you’re not able to articulate it, you don’t feel it. If you can’t articulate it, it doesn’t exist. So, my opinions is if I can be in contact with my feelings about expressing experiences going through a given day, and hat‘s the difficult work of the artist on a spiritual level.”
Elling has participated in numerous recordings, but as a leader, he has This time it‘s love, The messenger close your eyes and Live in Chicago among a few others recorded on Blue Note.

The burden of a Niger Delta boy

Though a science student, Bob-Kelly William’s interest in arts dates back to his days in Emure Grammar School, Delta State, where he was practically involved in social activities in school.
“You know what being a science student is; you don’t associate with people or even socialise. But I was part of the Press Debate and Dramatic Society (PDDS), which was more of art. I was dedicated to the association to the extent that in my JSS 3, I became the coordinator of the club.”
Williams rose to the post of the second Vice President and later the President due to his roles. His tenure saw the club being involved in different social activities within and outside the school.
“I used to write news for the school, which we read during the morning assembly; sometimes I get them from newspapers. We used to organise Christmas Carol, love feast, and other events. We even went further to introduce the club in other schools.
“When Interact Club was introduced in my school, I joined the club and started working with them even as a science student. That was when I knew that I have passion for the art world,” he notes.
Leaving secondary school, the Delta State native tried his hands in script writing, which actually attracted the attention of friends, who promised to push him into the movie industry.
“A friend of mine promised to link me to his uncle in Lagos; he told me the man will buy my scripts. I told him I didn’t want to stay in Lagos more than two days and he agreed.”
On arrival in Lagos for the first time in 2005, the story changed.
“I called the guy and he told me he was in traffic, that he will meet me later. First day, second day, third day, I didn’t see him and I was running out of cash. Later, I met a singer, Prosper. He was a member of Pillers, an acapella group; they used to back Charley Boy and Sammie Okposo then. I told him what I was passing through and he promised to help me.”
As a way of linking him to Nollywood, Prosper handed actor Emeka Ike’s number to Bob-Kelly.
“I called him, but the number wasn’t going. When I got to his office, I was told Emeka had gone to London. They actually asked me to drop the scrip with them, but having heard a lot of stories of script theft I decided to take it home.”
With directive from a friend, Bob-Kelly headed for the Actors Guild of Nigeria’s office, then at the National Theatre, Lagos.
“I met a lot of actors I used to see on screen and I started familiarising myself with them. From there, I started writing scripts for people and Churches, and receiving money for it.”
Having stamped his feet in Lagos, He delved into journalism, writing for Smile Magazine from where he moved to Surulere Watch and with hard work rose to the position of business development officer.
It was during his period with the magazine that Bob-Kelly got a link to Elvina Ibru, who runs an entertainment outfit in Lagos.
“I had four scripts with me, which I was looking for someone to buy and my friend, Prosper, took the scripts to Elvina Ibru; she fell in love with two of them. He gave my friend N5000 to give to me; that was the first time someone gave me that kind of money,” he notes.
When all efforts to meet Elvina failed, Bob-Kelly linked up with Michael, a radio presenter in Lagos.
“It was while working with Michael that I got the contact of Elvina Ibru. When she saw me, she was like, ‘oh, I know him.” That time, she was actually looking for a personal assistant; people had already applied for the job. But she offered me the job and I started working with her.
“I was with her when she did the West African Idol and other projects; we partnered with comedian AY, to produce AY Open Mic Night. I really gained a lot of experience working with Elvina until I decided to be on my own.”
Bob-Kelly started with managing artistes and packaging event until he met his partner at Wake Entertainment.
“He told me he wants to promote his dad, who is a musician. So, he wanted us to partner in the project. That was how we set up Wake Entertainment.”
Williams, now the general manager of the outfit, recalled the first time he met with his partner in Lagos.
“Then, I was working as a cleaner with Big Leaf and was on a monthly salary of N7000; that when I met him for the first time. He was actually monitoring me from the beginning. He saw the determination in me and felt we could work together. Today, we’ve unveiled his father, Opio, a juju artiste and Tiani, who is into hip-hop.
“For me, it’s not all about music; I love events and artiste management a lot. So, Wake Entertainment is not only a record label; it’s a full time entertainment company. We have a lot of project we want to do, but our major work this year will be in the Niger Delta.”
Bob-Kelly is among the long list of concerned Niger Deltans, who are disturbed by the situation of the area.
“I don’t like what I am seeing; I’m from Delta State. I don’t like the sad story of kidnapping. Look at the international scene, whenever they want to talk about Nigeria, it is the Niger Delta crisis. I don’t even know why everybody is dying about the oil. Must we all survive through oil business? There are lots of things one could do to be successful.”
He continues: “A lot of countries don’t have oil, yet their youths are very successful and helping their country to grow! We have youths with lots of energy, but due to lack of understanding, they have channeled their energy towards negative things. Look at the higher institutions in the region, we have high cases of drug, cultism and other social vices. Everyday, you see able bodied men turning themselves into touts, following politicians around and doing dirty jobs for them; this is not good for this country.”
Topmost in Bob-Kelly’s agenda is to take peace message to Niger Delta through a campaign tagged Isoko Independent Groove.
“This project is not for Isoko people alone; it’s for every young person in the region. We are going to talk about HIV/AIDS, cultism, drugs, pipeline vandalisation… there are lots of things involved. We want to talk about education and youth empowerment in our region.”
According to him, top Nigerian artistes will be involved in the project.
“The music is to attract the youths, but our main target is to change the orientation of our people. Before the main concert, there will be several other programmes we intend to run. We are going to involve successful Niger Delta men and women, who will mentor the youths. We plan to bring leaders and successful business people to show the youths that life in the region is not all about oil, crisis and kidnapping and that one can actually become successful through other means.”
On the choice of Isoko for the campaign, which is organised in partnership with Isoko North and South Local Council, Bob-Kelly said,“ charity begins at home; I’m from Isoko, so, it is ideal I start from my immediate environment. Look, I’m happy today because I know where I’m heading to. But when I see what my people are into, I get disturbed. No matter how well I am in Lagos, the truth is that my people are in crisis.”
Scheduled for October, the organisers intend to harness talents discovered during the programme.
“Some of them might end up working with us as artistes. We are also talking to other well meaning Nigerians to help these youths and we are hopeful that it’s going to be a successful initiative. We want to reach out to our leaders because this is a platform for them to contribute to the development of our people. This is an opportunity to right our wrongs and we can’t afford to miss it. I’m not the most brilliant or richest person in Niger Delta, but I believe that if we pull our resources together, we will achieve our dream,” Bob-Kelly said
To Bob-Kelly, secondary school plays a major role in the life of every youth.
“No matter what you are going to be, the secondary school stage plays a vital role. A lot of people get into trouble through friends. The books you read also affect your life as a young person; there are some books you read and you feel like putting the content it into practice.”
He continues: “People look at me today and say, ‘ah, ol boy, you are doing very well.’ But the truth is that, yes, it’s God, but whatever God has for you to, you still have a role to play; your destiny is in your hand.”


Wande (Char) Coal

HIP-hop act and Dbanj’s sideman, Wande Caol, is dark. In fact, dark is an understatement, Wande, the sweet-voiced hip-hopist is a thick fog in terms of colour. He caused near total darkness at Eko Hotel last week when he, alongside Dbanj and other Mo Hits stars, walked in. T4T was forced to tell the young man that the name Coal suits him just fine. For your information, if Wande decides to join the police force in Nigeria later in life, we may have to plead with the Inspector General to excuse him from putting on the normal black uniform, because if he does, nobody will be able to see Wande in the dark, unless when he smiles. But then, no be people say black is beautiful? Wande my broda, if dem no like you like dat, use bleach make dem rest. A word is enough for the wise.

Dadi Monso Again
JUST like Don Jazzy Again slogan, Dadi Monso, Nollywood actor, was at it again. Pray, why is it that anytime Monso is down with malaria, is when he comes around to O’jez with his ‘bag’ of medication. Caught (as if im tief) the actor at his usual corner at the celebrity hangout, unpacking his macabre looking malaria drugs, with rapt attention. The first sign of ‘all is not well’ showed when somebody offered Monso his usual bottle of beer and he declined. Dadi Monso declining a bottle of beer? It must be serious. Then the unpacking of drugs... Advice: Dadi, you sure say na fiva dey do you so? Those kain many melecine you dey unpack dat day so, dem no be like fiva melecine (as if T4T na Doctor). Anyway, go do small check up make we no wetin dey. Na dia I talk reach first.

Monalisa Chinda’s Self Star-Struck
T4Twas sitting a table away from Nollywood star actress, Monalisa Chinda, at O’jez last week Monday. Chinda was deeply engrossed (so I thought initially) in a meeting with producers Zik Zulu Okafor and Francis Onwochei, until the eagle eyes of T4T caught her staring at the big screen directly in front of her with her ‘corner corner’ eye. What must have created a divided attention for our dear star on Hi Nolly? Then her full face appeared on the screen as she played out a role. The nickel dropped. So, Mona is admiring herself abi. We don catch am. So, we watched more closely. Throughout the meeting, her eyes (and I believe her mind was on the screen), so Zik Zulu and Francis, if una tink say Monalisa hear and undastand all wetin una talk dat nite, na lie una dey lie, I swear. Na only watch we watch o o o.

Zik Zulu, Francis Onwochei At It Again
I HAVE told everybody that cares to listen that Nollywood producers, Zik Zulu Okafor and Francis Onwochei, are the proverbial Mary and its little lamb, anywhere you saw Francis, look closely, Zik is some metres away. But the crux of today’s issue is to find out the kind of meeting the duo held with Monalisa at O’jez (that took hours at O’jez). They were so serious, though that cannot be said for Monalisa anyway, that T4T seated not too far, was getting worried. Na only meeting be dis? Highest na film dem wan shoot. Broses, una too serious dat nite, haba!

Kokolettes ‘Mob’ D’banj At UNILAG
KOKOLETTES (girls) were all over hip hop superstar, D’banj, last week when he went to University of Lagos (UNILAG FM) to promote the oncoming reality show tagged Koko Mansion that he is anchoring. So, to avoid the expected mobbing, his appearance was not publicised. But as soon as people started hearing his voice on air, all the pretty kokolettes waited near his state-of-the-art Escalade. He practically ran into the car as different feminine hands tugged at his designer suit. His detractors however said, he deserved what he got. “No be im wan do Koko Mansion wey girls go yapa inside? So, why im dey run wen the kokolettes don begin chase am? As you make your bed...” (fill in the blank spaces)

Figurine is a revolution

BY Shaibu Husseini
KUNLE Afolayan stormed the Nigerian pavilion at the on-going Cannes International Film Festival in France with an international film programmer. “We just held a useful meeting with Keith (Shiri) on my next film project, The Figurine. I am here on his invitation,” he said. Kunle whose debut movie effort, Irapada, has been screened in a number of festivals, said he was in France to explore funding, distribution and screening opportunities. He revealed that, so far, he has received encouraging responses, while still looking forward to an out of the country premiere of the film. He speaks to Moviedom on his mission.
Mission to Cannes
I am here on the invitation of an international film programmer and a resource person to most of the festivals and events around film in Africa. He was in Nigeria during the AMAA Award, where I showed him a bit of my new work, The Figurine. I think when he returned to England, he discussed it with some people, who run festivals and he now requested that I come around to meet some of the festival organisers such as the team from Toronto Film Festival in Cannes. So, that’s why I am here

Is the film ready?
Not yet; production-wise, we have gone 90 per cent and have started post-production. However, but If we could raise enough fund to finish it, it would be ready in the next one or two months.

Cost of the film project
We have spent almost N35 million, so far. The project is big and comes with challenges such as poor distribution network, which has made it difficult to convince people to put in their money, even when it will be paid back with interest. The money we have spent so far was raised personally. I took some bank loans and then sold some of my properties to get along. I also have some companies’ support based on barter. Of course, so many people are aware that the hotel — Micom Golf and Hotel resort — we stayed in, is partnering with us. They gave us free accommodation throughout our stay in Osun, but feeding took about N10 million out of our budget. We are doing product placement for Unilever, Glaxo, and Omatek Computers. Some of them gave us their products instead of money. For me, I am just looking for a way to do a totally Nigerian thing, you know even from the products we used and from the language we speak. I intend to really make it a proudly Nigeria thing or what I call a purely naija-naija thing. Right now we are a bit stuck because we have expended all the money we have and for us to really achieve our mindset, we need more money. That’s why I am here. I hope to get enough support to complete the movie.

Between Irapada and The Figurine
I am very convinced that this will outshine my debut movie, Irapada. For me, the film was an experiment. Fortunately it was well accepted. But this one, I have incurred so much and apart from that, the story is even stronger than the one we told in Irapada. Technically, it is so many steps away from it. So, all we need now is support from the media both at home and abroad so that this will benefit too from the kind of hype that Irapada had. I believe that this will fly. We have put in so much to know that it will fly. It will definitely fly because locally people are tired of the same kind of productions that we do. People want to see something different. They want to see good picture and sound. They want to see something catchy. I am one of those who hold strongly that the whites cannot tell our stories better than us, which is why in this film I try to balance it — from the past, to the present. We played a lot with the entire departments just to make it proudly Nigerian and African. It’s going to be a revolution. I am working on the Nigerian premiere between August and September because I took money from a bank and I need to start paying by then. But I am hoping that the team from Toronto International Film Festival likes it. If that happens, then we should be having the world premiere in Toronto in September. However, before then, I need some money to just complete the film — between N3 and 4 million because there are some things to get right. We have gone far locally, but we can’t handle the colour correction and grading in Nigeria. It has to be done outside our shores and that will cost money. So, we need support from government and corporate organisations to get this project off the ground. They need to come to our aid because, at the end it’s not going to be me alone that will take the credit — it is a Nigerian thing. If the film makes the festival circuit, it’s a Nigerian movie and not Kunle Afolayan’s movie. I am going to enter it as a Nigerian film. That way it represents everybody. So hopefully by September we will start getting a feel of the movie, but help me tell Nigerians that I still need money to work on the last aspect of the movie, which is just about 10 per cent.

Around and about Nollywood...
NANTAP faults UNESCO report on Nollywood
GREG Odutayo, president of National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), has joined the long list of practitioners who have faulted the outcome of a recent survey on filmmaking commissioned by the United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). In the widely circulated reports, Nigeria was declared the second largest film/movie-producing nation. But Odutayo discussed the report, saying it is with ‘too many loopholes and very little reference to the source of information’. The NANTAP president, who is also a television and film director, said he expected UNESCO to have reviewed the report before putting it out, noting that it fell short of mentioning the value and acceptability of the films practitioners in Nigeria produce. ‘Yes it is watched all over the world but can it stand in the committee of nations when film making is being discussed and evaluated?’ Odutayo, who disagreed with the suggestion that returned to celluloid as the first step towards being admitted to the comity of film producing nations, said: ‘We do not need to produce on celluloid to gain worldwide and international acceptability. Totsi that won an Oscar award was shot on video…The world is evolving and we must reinvent ourselves constantly otherwise we become extinct. Our musicians have done it, and are still doing it. We too can do it’. Nollywood, Odutayo agreed, has done tremendously well and has projected Nigeria filmmakers and their style of filmmaking. He agreed too that it has turned a huge employer of labour and has done more for Nigeria than all the money Nigeria spends on public relations on CNN. He, however, thinks that what should be of concern now is how to improve the quality of productions to what is termed ‘international standard’ rather than resort to self- praise over a report, which in the estimation of the NANTAP President, was designed to ridicule Nigeria. ‘Let us stop the praises and apply ourselves to improving the quality of our productions to what is termed international standard… It is not so far away. We have the quality; we just need to apply ourselves to it. But we cannot apply ourselves if we continue to sit around gloating over the UNESCO report that to me has been done to present us as a point of ridicule to the world… Imagine if a mere 10 per cent of our films were of international standards instead of Nigeria standards and making the rounds at international festivals. The buzz will be tremendous,’ Odutayo surmised.

Edo unity festival project on board
BENIN CITY, the capital of Edo State, will come alive between November 10 and 14, with the hosting of a special socio-cultural event tagged Edo Unity Film Project 2009. The theme of this maiden edition, according to a statement from the organisers is ‘Putting Edo State on the International Map of Film Event’. Popular actor Sam Obeakemhe, who is the Project Director, disclosed that the event, which has the blessing of the Edo State government would feature seminars and symposia, workshop and panel discussions, film screening and exhibition, cultural exhibition and performances, among others. The Oba Akenzua II Cultural Centre, Benin City, has been designated as the main venue of the project, which the first socio-cultural and multi-media expo to be held in Edo State. Primarily aimed at promoting the cultural values of Edo State, the event, Obeakemhe disclosed, would begin at 10 every morning and close at 4pm. A special gala and award ceremony to round off the fiesta holds at 7pm on November 14.

NFC extends closing date for yearly essay competition
CLOSING date for the 2009/2010 edition of the Nigerian Film Corporation Essay competition has been extended. Earlier scheduled to close on May 27, the new date is now June 27, 2009. In a statement, the corporation said the reason for the extension is to enable many Nigerians who have indicated interest to participate in the competition, time to send in their entries. In extending the closing date, therefore, the corporation intends to give many more Nigerians the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Nigerian motion picture industry through cerebral discourse. Topic for the edition is building a positive global brand: the place of film. Interested Nigerians who must be 18 years and above can now submit their entries, which must be between 8 – 10 pages in the Times Roman format. All entries according to the statement should be forwarded to the Headquarters of the Nigerian Film Corporation, 218T, Liberty Dam Road, Jos, Plateau State or through email The first, second and third winners of the essay competition will receive their cash prizes of N100, 000, N75, 000 and 50,000 respectively, along with their certificates at the 2010 edition of ZUMA Film Festival, holding in Abuja.

Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities

Fidelis gave us something to cheer about
WE couldn’t explain why film maker and Chief Executive Officer of the yearly Abuja Film Festival, Fidelis Duker, was walking tall and shoulder high through out his stay in Cannes until he got waka pass to flip through an attractive brochure, which he insisted must be seen. It was when he guided us to a particular page on the brochure that we discovered that he was listed in the brochure. The long and short is that Fidelis had his film ‘Senseless’ showing at the short film corner of the Cannes International Film Festival. To be eligible, Fidelis who stormed Cannes with his wife, Tope, had to reduce the near two-hour long movie to 33 minutes. Now, don’t get waka pass wrong. This is not about our film showing at the Cannes as they made us believe last year. It’s about one of us even making an attempt to have his films accepted for a short film corner and getting a mention in the short film corner brochure. And talking about brochure, those coming to pick Oga Fidelis from the airport must come with a truck. He is coming with a bag filled with brochures where he was mentioned. He needs to support the claim of having his short film shown at the Cannes with the brochures since seeing is believing in Nollywood. But bros, one waka pass has been harassing me to ask whether it was because your film showed in the short film corner that you brought madam? The same fellow wonder what the size of your delegation will be if your next movie shows even out of competition? Na send dem send us ooooo!

Visa issues keep Nigerian filmmakers away
IT may no be the economic crunch that kept Nigerian filmmakers away from Cannes 2009 as most of them were refused visa by the French Consulate in Nigeria. But for Mr. Afolabi Adesanya, managing director of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), who promptly improvised, the forum on tax incentives and investment opportunities in Nigeria organised as part of Nigeria’s participation at the Cannes would have been cancelled. All the resource person from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) were denied visas. It was also gathered that two journalists, one of them an editor with a leading Nigerian daily was also denied visas. ‘We were more than this last year. This is a slim delegation compared to the previous years we have come here,’ remarked filmmaker Mahmood Ali-Balogun, who has since returned to Nigeria. By the way, someone asked us to find out from Oga Mahmood and Fidelis Duker whether it was the much-talked about economic crunch that made them leave earlier. The fellow said it was unusual of them to leave before the end of festival and that he didn’t quite feel their impact this time, as they didn’t declare free lunch or dinner for the delegation as they say Oga Mahmood would normally do. Oga na true abi dis na another case of someone who wants salary from NEPA when he is a staff of water board?

Madu Chikwendu and the ATM machine
Not sure if he was able to get his card out, but one of the reasons Madu Chikwendu became so broke that he had to call up his in-laws in the United States to help out was because an ATM machine swallowed his ATM card in Cannes and would not let him have it. The waka pass, who sold this gist, to us, also hinted that the other reason is that an agent the former President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and current regional secretary of FEPACCI engaged to help reserve accommodation went for Madu’s jugular. The agent aware of Madu’s status at the continental level, got Madu something commensurate to his CV but did not care to ask what Madu would prefer in this season of all types of crunches. So, on checking in, Madu according to a source deposited, almost 70 per cent of the funds he came into Cannes with only for accommodation. Madu’s inability to communicate in French may be the reason why he has been finding it difficult to get the ATM card off the machine. Someone who knows someone who knows Madu has advised the director of Sculptorico and other movies to go and enroll for a two weeks French class and insist that all he wants to learn is how to tell someone at the bank that he wants to retrieve his ATM. Kai! To God Be the Glory.

Tarkwa Bay Island… A tale of opposites

EVEN before stepping foot on the soil of Tarkwa Bay Island, a visitor to the place is sure to be captivated by the wondrous work of nature. The cruise, depending on the means — whether it is the speedboat or weather beaten passengers’ local canoe — is sure to elicit interest. The refreshing and welcoming pull of nature is an elixir of sort. There’s always a wish for the natural ambience that swirls round to last forever.
A first time visitor to Tarkwa Bay Island will marvel at the picturesque scenery and the cool breeze. Little wonder picnickers and fun seekers flood there during weekends and festive occasions.
But on the flip side, this island that evokes sweet memories also spurns tales of opposites, especially when a visitor to the island wanders into the inner recess of the enclave.
Away from the beach side and into the heart of the community, where the people reside, there’s a beholding picture of squalour and abandonment.
The first thing that strikes a visitor is the lack of order and discernible pattern of living. Beside the pockets of guesthouses that dot the place, ramshackle huts that pass for living quarters fill the scene. Apart from being a metaphoric place, the Island presents a picture of a ‘lost paradise’.

RELICS of the country’s colonial heritage and other historical treasures of note such as structures built by Europeans, who visited for solace and comfort, could be easily sighted.
The community appears to be far from government despite the presence of Atlas Cove.
It has no electricity, safe transporting system, police post, industry and health facility or safe and drinkable water; even when it is surrounded by water.
The leisure and entertainment industry is the only thriving enterprise here. From the seaside to the innermost part of the Island, everywhere is agog with fun. It is the soul of the people’s economy. The ‘red light district,’ dominate the scene with ladies of easy virtues at your beck.
Lagos State government has acknowledged the Island as one of the country’s most exotic tourism destinations, which however, has been lost to oddities.
In the words of Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-governmental Relations, “Tarkwa Bay has been a tourist haven to scores of foreign and domestic tourists who every weekend and holidays visit the Island to spend some leisure time in the embrace of nature.”
Government has now realised the tourism potentials of the Island and is determined to transform it to a wealthy and luscious tourist haven by collaborating with the people to maintain its rich heritage.
Afikuyomi informed that the government has developed a blueprint for the place. This, according to him, has both short and long term values. The security of the place and the safety of life and property are issues he said the government is seriously looking into.
For the short term goal, he revealed that a series of soft branding activities for the place are being put together with a beach carnival to jumpstart the process of re-claiming the lost paradise. The carnival, which was held during the last Easter celebrations, attracted massive response from the public.
One month after the successful launch of the initiative, a lot of people are eagerly waiting for more actions from the government that would eventually transform the place to ‘an island of fun’.

Love made easy

THE Whisperer has been writing these articles for more than two years now, close to twenty-six months of telling and learning how it is.
Some of the things written have been from experience, the Whisperer’s and others; some from intuition and a number from “worst case scenarios” or what he likes to call, the ‘what ifs?’
The columns have brought new friends into his life (and probably new enemies). Some men have taken umbrage at The Whisperer’s advice to females accusing him of ‘teaching them to be wayward’.
Some women have just been miffed at the very idea of a man thinking he knows so much. For those in the latter category, believe The Whisperer, he does know.
The Whisperer, on this journey, has met females who liked him for a myriad of reasons, the feeling not always being reciprocated, and others in whom the feeling was mutual, friends he wishes to keep for always.
But life being what it is, you have to make do with the cards you’re dealt and play with them as if you held four aces. (In that last statement, might lie the secret to true happiness).
Many good songs have philosophies. It is rare for a song that has no sound reasoning in its lyrics to stay on as a perennial, evergreen tune, playable from generation to generation.
Why do Nat King Cole songs still have meaning after all these decades? Because they are beautiful, well thought out, well arranged songs for posterity.
Your children on a day they are feeling bored, come across your collection, play a song and sit mesmerized, unbelieving that the song was done decades before they were a glint in their parents’ eyes. Nat King Cole did that to me as a child, as did Harry Belafonte. Great songs, great people, that showed another world I had no idea existed.

AS I ponder on life and love in the early hours of this morning, I remember the song by the group known as ‘Native’. The title of their song was simple — Love ain’t no holiday.
They sang, as did half the world with them, “you’re my shadow’s own reflection, you’re what gets me through the day, you’re my source of inspiration, everything I have to say... and if that’s not enough, then there’s nothing left to say, but it’s sure gonna be rough, cos love ain’t no holiday”.
I agree in totality with the words of this song. We fall in love, expecting it will work itself out. It rarely does. You meet someone who plays the tune of your heart, with whom you can be silent and be at peace with the world; who, well, makes you happy. And isn’t that what life is really about, to be as happy as often as you can be?
We will not at this point have a conversation with the crew always ready to pick out and lecture on the differences between happiness and joy. The Whisperer is declaring that the reason we do the things we do, is to be in a state of happiness as often as we can be. The reason you eat chocolates; go out for dinner with friends; go the movies, sit in darkened halls and enter the world of make-believe; always call up certain people you know are always there for you; take long walks across quiet fields with someone special; put certain songs on replay in your car...
All these things are done to continue and to improve our states of happiness. So you meet this wonderful person and you fall in love and for a period in time, everything is perfect. Everything. The sun warms you on the face in the mornings, the cool breezes of the night are perfect for your outings or the times you choose to stay in. And then from nowhere, the resistance comes. Your friends are in opposition; your parents don’t approve, your religion won’t approve, your economic backgrounds are totally different... human beings have a million things that war against them and their happiness.

HOW do you get out of a bind like this? Only children should be surprised when they meet with resistance on life’s journey. Isn’t it a law that ‘for every action, there is an opposite reaction’?
The very fact that you’ve found happiness means that in some way you can expect some situation will try to take it from you. So the group called “Native” sang, ‘love ain’t no holiday’.
Sometimes, we ourselves are the obstructions to our own sunshine. Like many people who have death wishes, we chip away at the beauty we have found, because maybe deep down in our hearts, we think we’re not really meant to be that happy.
There is no situation on the face of the earth that is a new one. People come and they go, they meet someone, fall in love, find happiness. Sometimes they allow it to be taken from them, sometimes, they themselves smash up their happiness for obscure reasons they might never be able to figure.
The Whisperer, like many, many others, has felt what happiness can be like. For those who are worried about the situations they are in, he advises that they hold onto love and to what feels true to them.
It is important though, that when the ship you and your true love sail on is torpedoed, and the lifeboat you are on, has capsized and all you have left as you both swim for survival, are each other’s hands to hold on to... it is important that the person you are with, is someone you trust and someone who believes in you completely.
The person you may enter the water with is one who will not let go off your hand when the waves come to test your resolve.
On a holiday a short while ago, I saw a small marker, which was a monument to that great ship, ‘The Titanic’.
I stood quietly for a short while and remembered that great, great love story and the young man who froze to death in the sea so his true love could remain on the lifeboat. May we all be guided to those, who would give up all they have for us. May they never have cause to do so.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Cover, Edition 185, May 17-23, 2009

The driver on Zion seat

Ibeabuchi Anabana is an artist and also, a style expert. The art director of Insight Communications tells OYINDAMOLA LAWAL the relationship between his art and fashion.


I’m from Obegu, Ugwunagbor Local Council of Abia State. I’m the third child. I was born in Belgium but grew up in Aba, where I also had my primary and secondary education. My tertiary education was at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu.
How was growing up like?
Growing up was great. Nana (my mum) was always there. Despite all odds, it was like I never lacked anything. I found my freedom on plain sheets of paper. She supported my talent whole-heartedly.
Role models
Quite a number and for several reasons. From childhood, my mother and elder brother (Ugo) were my heroes. Then the list grew when I got admission to IMT. I met heavyweights such as Nsikkak Essien, the Late Damian Onyekuru,
Chima Etu, Okechukwu Iwundu, Henry Morkah, Chamberlin Ukenedo, Uche Iroha, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Enyinnaya and Iheanyi Ihediwa. Most of them, I also met at Dolphin Studios, Surulere (my foster home) while doing my industrial training in 1997. Passing through the studio was a blessing in my life and I’ll never forget. Pastor Paul Adefarasin is another person I admire a lot. He’s got it. I equally love Mama Ekundayo for her big heart.
Journey into art and fashion
My journey into art started early. I really didn’t choose art. I just became aware I could draw at the sametime, interpret things on paper in my own way so I can say that art chose me and since then it’s been a wonderful romance. I could go on and on drawing and keep needing more plain sheets of paper. Then, there wasn’t an artist around, who was better than my elder brother, Ugo. I was always drawing hard to match up with him, which I think I still do till date. I love drawing human figure, elegance, style and design. The quest to complement the curves and general human structure with the above mentioned gave birth to my interest in fashion.
Again, after coming in contact with Daniel Iheanyi Ihediwa, my interest in fashion skyrocketed. He has a burning desire to change people’s perception about fashion. We’ll hang out and appreciate things around us, we’ll dream sketch, eat sketch, sleep sketch... talk about how nature has everything we need to work with. We’ll talk about how stuff can come out of nothing. Talk about how a discarded object could be useful. We’ll dream about making it big in art and fashion, we’ll dream about our names/brands on the streets, in world famous galleries and world famous fashion shows and boutiques. Till date, that dream is still very much alive and I thank God for that. The dream has given birth to ZION MMV (a cloth line). This is Daniel’s brainchild; I believe that with time our line will win more converts. Just watch out!
God first, then anyone that does his/her stuff sincerely. My immediate environment, people around me... you know, their attitudes, jokes, words, music, nature in general.
What makes an interesting drawing and painting?
For me, it’s sincerity. The fact that an artist humbles him/herself to really express his/her true feelings. Then one’s ability to manipulate and break the basic rules of art.
What makes an interesting fashion subject?
Something cool or sleek that keeps poking you even when you try to run away from it.
How do you arrive at the elimination of detail?
Well, Less is more. Less could be stylish too. Less helps in being single minded. The elimination thing is just one of my methods/style (doesn’t mean I don’t like detail). First of all, the aim is lost if I’m unable to catch fun while doing it so the elimination method is done on purpose. I get into that mode and have some great adventure. This is just me trying to deconstruct the norm. I do it with the aim of involving the viewer to make up the rest in his mind. Suspense makes some works sexy when it’s well done. As a viewer too, you know, there’s a great feeling when you decipher and complete an incomplete stuff in your mind. It gives that aha feeling. So, the elimination of detail is my way of involving the viewer.
What method do you use to apply colour?
I apply colour manually and digitally but the series of works you are seeing were coloured digitally with photoshop.
What about the pure line drawing?
Again, it’s done on purpose. It’s just me messing around with loose lines bearing spontaneity and fluidity in mind. I did all in ink — ballpoint pen.
What makes a good drawing?
This is a tough one. I always ask myself and intimate friends this same question. I used to think a good drawing is when you draw something as it is proportionally. But then, I later realised it’s way beyond that. The answer is relative but for me one’s ability to be the ‘boss’ to one’s style and creatively break rules to suit what one does because personalities and styles differ.
There are not many fashion illustrators in Nigeria, and the few that we have are not appreciated, how have you been able to survive?
Hope. Then, passion has been keeping me though I work as a senior art director in an advertising agency. It’s tough combining both but it helps my being... at least for now.
How do you view Nigerian art industry?
It’s unfolding and growing. There’s so much hope but the basic structures need to be put in place to help fuel the growth of the sector. Lack of these has destroyed many creative people’s zeal. You’ll be shocked at how many ‘would-have-been’ artists around you if you look around. With technology and access to information at our finger tips, things are gradually looking brighter because the world thrives on information now. How much information you have empowers what you do.
What stands you out?
Wow!... my name, my identity... my style.
How many companies have you worked with?
On a freelance level, quite a number. Officially, after my NYSC, just two. (Blue-Seal and my current place — Insight Communication.)
Challenges in life and career
Dishonesty and unavailability of basic infrastructures. The fact that I’ll have to deal with the unwanted songs of the massive choir of generators that surround me just to get things done or even have a cold drink or preserve food is scary. Then, the pollution. Sometimes, I feel so sorry for our lungs. Whether we like it or not, lack of power supply slows us down and it tells on us. If we call Nigeria the giant of Africa then we should live and act 21st ‘centurish’. Again, having to keep pushing when things seem not right; on the other hand it lets one realise the inner strength.
Unfulfilled dreams
Building my dream home through the proceeds from my art practice. Having a coffee table book of my works in most homes both locally and internationally. Floating a cloth label. Gracing front covers of The Guardian, Thisday, ARISE, NY Times, LA Times, Times, Newsweek, Wallpaper, Icon and so many publications that matter as a force to reckon with. Exhibit in the world’s most respected places and push great figures also both there and auctions.
Projection into the future
You know, art for me on the other hand is therapeutic. It tasks and relaxes the mind. I hope to inspire as many people as possible with my art through as many channels as possible. Seal so much grade ‘A’ book and fashion Illustration deals. Take much of my art beyond indoor to the streets. I want to communicate to wide range of people irrespective of age, race, or social class.

‘My dress? oh!… jeans drive me crazy’

THE young Makinde Arinlade is CEO, Making Faces; an outfit that specialises in beautifying people for events. The Oyo State native, who is also a graduate of History and International Relations from the Awolowo University, Ife, tells DAMILOLA ADEKOYA what fashion means to her.

Definition of fashion
Fashion is style. It is being comfortable with what you are wearing.
Style of dressing
I am a jeans person, but I sometimes try to wear other dresses.
Most cherished possession
It’s God and nobody else.
Most expensive item
It’s a gold set of jewelry given to me by my mum.
Favourite designer
Next, New Look, and Gucci.
Signature scent
I love Unforgivable by Sean John
Favourite colour
I do not have a favourite colour, but as a make-up artist, I play with colours a lot.
Favourite body product
I love Cocoa Butter.
I like amala and ewedu soup.
Role model
My role models are Banke Meshida-Lawal, a professional make-up artist and Bunmi Oyeniyi, who is a beautician.
Stylish icon
I love Sasha and Omowunmi Akinnifesi; they are really good.
Turn on
Make-up, honesty and a good sense of humour.
Turn off
Dishonesty and people with nasty attitude.
Happiest moment
It’s yet to come.
Most embarrassing moment
It was the day my mum came to my school to scold me publicly for not coming home with my result. I was then in secondary school.
Describe yourself in three words
I am cool, friendly and creative.
Philosophy of life
Take life the way it comes.
If you are given an opportunity to change something in Nigeria, what would it be?
It will be enhancing the welfare package of the aged in our society.

Encomium Black & White Ball…

The glitz, The thrills, The drama

The hype for the show was massive, so, it wasn’t a surprise to see top Nigerian celebrities turning out in their numbers for the Encomium Black And White Ball. Held at the KFA Events Place, Lekki, Lagos, the show, which lasted into the night, featured the presentation of a 90-page magazine, three-part, all-gloss, full colour package dubbed, A Decade of Encomiums (1997-2007).
Commenting on the publication, Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, who actually arrived behind scheduled, but fully kited, praised the effort of the publisher, Kule Bakare, over the years.
Unveiling the package, wife of the Lagos State governor, Abimbola Fashola, urged guests and Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity of picking a copy of the compilation, but added, “I won’t call N25,000 only because, N25,000 is a big money to come by these days.”

The glitz
For a young designer, the event had enough to build a comprehensive fashion catalogue. Apart from the strut on the runway by some models, who showcased the designs of some selected designers, celebrities turned out in stylish outfits.
Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Eucharia Anunobi, Oge Okoye, Ebube Nwagbo and Cynthia Okpara, among others, were at their best. The men were not left out, as Chidi Mokeme, Tunde Obe, Ali Baba, Julius Agwu, Victor Osuagwu, Kenny Ogungbe (KK) and Dayo Adeneye (D1) were all clad in suit.

The thrills
Tunde and Wunmi Obe (TWO) were totally in charge of the stage, melting out songs from both old and new recordings. The DJ also thrilled guests with popular Naija tunes such as Good or Bad (J Martin), Yori Yori (Bracket), Sokori Bobo (KC Presh), Dance For Me (Duncan Mighty) and others made noticeable impact.

The Drama
Despite stipulating a dress code — white and black — for guests, manycame for the event incomplete. In fact, a good number of guests were denied entrance; notwithstanding teir status.
For the intervention of Encomium magazine publisher, Bakare, guests such as Dele Momodu; Ganiyu Adams; Victor Osuagwu; would have been shown the way out by the unfriendly bouncers. A popular senator from Lagos was delayed entrance because he did not adhere to the dress code.

Beampeh’s colour invasion

ADEBIMPE Adebambo is not a stranger to fashion shows. The lady, who has participated in a lot of them, was one of the top five contestants at the Vlisco Urban Beat Designers’ Competition recently. The multi-talented artist is collaborating with Goethe Institut to stage Style, Fun and Identity. The show, which holds at the Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island office of Goethe, on May 23, is to celebrate five years of following fashion vision. The show, which celebrates the immense creativity in Africa that is often overlooked, will also feature an exhibition of photographic collections of Beampeh in the past five years. She speaks with OYINDAMOLA LAWAL on her upcoming show.

What is the inspiration behind Style, Fun, and Identity?
SFI has been my fashion philosophy since the inception of the Beampeh brand in 2004.
Why Style, Fun and Identity?
It is a symbol of style, comfort and the pride of being an African though I am also influenced by other cultures.
Are you showcasing your new collections?
I will be displaying “Colours on This Earth” during the show. It is a play on word. Apart from working with colours in the spectrum, I will also show designs influenced by other cultures and from other parts of the world. Some of my new and iconic pieces in the past five years of being a designer will be displayed.
What do we expect to see?
Interesting and inspiring clothes and accessories that were done with a lot of creativity and love. My pieces are from the heart and are for ladies between 14 and 70.
Being the first time Goethe-Institut Nigeria is hosting a fashion show, what is the relationship between Beampeh and fashion?
I guess after seeing my works — artworks, wearable art (fashion) and lights — they found the fashion fresh, different and arty at the same. They may have wanted to do something they have never done before. They have a new Director whom I think may want to inject some freshness into the Institut as well.
What do you hope to achieve with the show?
It is just a fashion exhibition with images of my past and recent works on mannequins and displays, but I suggested the fashion show as a way of adding colours to the event. It is also to showcase more of my works because Goethe aesthetic is minimalist in approach. It’s impossible to show more than 20 outfits in the space without it looking cluttered; and you know people also like shows and some nice entertainment.
You have featured in different fashion shows and exhibition including Vlisco and Nigeria Fashion Shows among others, what is the next step for Beampeh?
I want to keep the flag flying and keep on making women more beautiful and happy. I am also thinking of working on men’s shirts though I have done similar thing, in the past and it was a success before I diverted to ladies wears.
Projection into the future
I think globally while working locally, and I am working towards having my clothes and accessories in other parts of the world.

My name is … I-k-e-e-e-e Chukwu

HE might not be the most loved hip-hop artiste in the country, but he is certainly one of its most popular. For many, Ikechukwu is one of the finest things to happen to the industry. Weeks after the release of his second album, which has left many of his critics dumbfounded, he opened up to the Young & Nigerian crew on his music, style, among other issues.
Your second album took a long time to come out, could it be because of the reception the first album got?
First and foremost, I am the leader of WFA (World Famous Akademy) and since we operate as a unit, it is not in my best interest, but that of the brand to push the album as a whole. Secondly, we needed to do some work from the first album since a lot of people were stuck on “my name is Ikechukwu” single only. I sang in my first album, but like I said, “my name is” was too overwhelming, now, we are pushing the other aspects of Ikechukwu, so, the people can get it. I am not a singer but I can tell a good note from a bad one.
You said part of what people do not understand about your music then was that you were angry – are you still angry now?
I am still angry, though it is now under control. The story must be known before the actions could be understood and judged.
Is My name is Ikechukwu the problem?
I am very proud of the attention the work, My name is Ikechukwu, has created. I produced it, and co-directed the video; it is okay to score oneself good marks because of its acceptability not just across the nation, but the continent. So, I do not regret anything, but to now have a follow up as big as ‘u know my p’ and then the monster of ‘wind am well’ is the main thing. No one can call me a-one hit wonder, so, I would leave it as it is.
The new album is autobiographical – why?
I felt the need to give them a personal piece of my life because of the missing connection. People know me from my singles, but they do not know how I went from being a mad man to happy lucky one. Even (dance song) Wind am well is autobiographical because it dealt on some part of my life, too. People don’t understand that. I felt it was necessary to let them know where I was coming from, so that, they can follow me without hesitation, on the journey I am trying to take them on.
What drives you?
One word, “ emotion” or “passion” to me they literally mean the same thing and I am filled to the brim with both.
And your music?
I have passed the test of whether it is credible or not, I do what I choose. I like dancing, so, it isn’t hard to make dance tracks. But the truth of the matter is, I like serious substances that say something. Even in Wind am well, I was still saying something; though it may not mean something.
Tell us about this album
Life and times of Killz Vol.1, the beginning of the trilogy summarises certain trials and tribulations of Ikechukwu. Don Jazzy, Myx, Xela, Tymix, Ikon, V.C, Perez and I produced this abum in collaboration with Alaye, D’banj, Wande Coal, Thembi (artiste from Zimbabwe), Naeto-C, M.I, and Ekene, a Nollywood actress.
How come we’ve never heard of any relationship gossip or seen you with any girl?
Let’s leave that alone. I have been under the radar and if I am above it; there will be nothing to write about. I have always had a relationship; even when I was single, I still managed to keep it to myself and that’s it. I don’t tell people that or show it.
You are one of the most consistent artistes with Storm Music – what’s the deal?
You have to weigh options in decision making. I have had good rapport with Obi Asika (CEO, Storm Music) since day one, and business concerns come first in our relationship. When you make decisions based on emotion you don’t always get the best. I am happy where I am because of the treatment I get and having said that, I believe WFA and Storm are married to the game.
Speaking about the WFA — that’s something between you and Naeto — both of you are stuck together!
Naeto-C is like my younger brother. My younger brother introduced him to me between 1999/2000. We have come a long way. There was a time it used to be, “Nah do it like this “ or “ you need to make that sound like this, open up a little “, all coming from me since I was the seasoned vet; but now there is a partnership and we both contribute to make things work.
What would you say is the major difference between the two of you, because almost all your works are done together?
Our lifestyles. We have seen different things and have different swag; even our flows are different though some people may think otherwise because there are somewhat similar things in us.
Your album launch was a huge success – how did it happen?
It was incredible and I am elated.
Then you guys are going round town on a tour kind of?
Calabar at this point has been done and it was a great success. We’re making the rounds across the nation because for a person like me, who has been confined to Lagos and outside the country, it will be nice for my fans to see me.
I’m sure you’ve been asked this more than once, where does music start with you?
Well, a long time ago, I realised I love entertaining people doing break-dance, singing and acting. At a point, I was overwhelmed with hip-hop though you may say I make music because hip-hop found me. I live it, breathe it, and grow through it. I explore life through it and now, I feed on it. If I have all from a source, what else is there to life?
Define your music
It is hip-hop, Rap R&B, Shapeshifting, Morphing and others.
You do other stuff apart from music?
Yes. Outside the entertainment industry I do consulting jobs for banks, oil, media, and telecoms companies. I am also involved in agriculture, so, I could be described as jack of all trades and master of many.
The ‘baffs’, the ‘rides’ – it’s all coming together for you man!
Life is getting better. Finally. But the wardrobe has always been on.
Your parents
I like the privacy they are currently enjoying and I don’t want to interrupt it. They were at my first album launch till it about 5am.
Channel O and MTV awards?
Well, I won both. At Channel O, it was for the best male artiste while MTV was for the best video. They made me happy.
So, what’s the future like for you?
Well, the plan was that by this time, I would have been back to the US for my acting career.
What would you want to be remembered for?
I would want to be remembered as the guy that changed the rap music scene in Nigeria and as one of its greatest exports.