Saturday, 3 October 2009
BYGREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR
PRISON is one place many people don’t talk about or wish to go. Its experience is often horrible. Painful. From the day a child is born, his or her life is tailored in such a way that he or she doesn’t go to prison. And apparently, that’s the reason Yemi Lawanson wants to show some love to prisoners. This afternoon, it’s not business, as usual. His office seems at a first glance like laid-back holiday camp. With many items placed at odd positions. Lawanson, popularly called Lamboginny, sits in a chair, listening to the voices echoing behind, gazing into the television set in his front. He wears a glassy-eyed look of a worried youngman. Shocked. He watches as a young man is being led to prison. He picks up a bottle of mineral water and says, “it’s difficult to explain.” He turns to this reporter and heaves!... “perhaps, I’m the only person, who can save prisoners from prison.” No answers there. Lawanson presses on: “Re-engineering the mind and taking people away from crime.” An affable, though slightly edgy character, he says, “inmates are already victims of crime. Some after jail become more terrible; in fact, they go back to their crimes. I choose prison so that when they are serving their jail terms, their minds will be re-engineered. They are still citizens and can be better. They need to be educated so that they can influence new inmates, positively.” Lawanson recalls, “I didn’t want it to be ordinary, so, I thought of the prisons. Fortunately, the controller general is somebody close to me, so, I had a discussion with him about a concert for prisoners and he was interested.” He adds, “I needed the Nigeria Prisons Service to endorse the Lamboginny Say no to crime musical concert. After I got approval letter, I came back to Lagos. I called some musicians and friends in the entertainment industry and talked to them about the project so that they could support me.” And you know what? Blunt crispness smacked in the middle of his words. It sounded more like the cracking of a coconut. “Mike Aremu; Tee A; Akii and Paw Paw; Yaw; Sammie Okposo; Alhaji Kamal Aiyeloyun; Lord of Ajasa; Ini Edo; Mona Lisa; Uche Jombo; No Moreloss; Denrele and many others, have endorsed the concert.” How did he find himself in the battle to re-engineer the minds of prisoners? Lawanson shuffles and gazes with rheumy eyes the challenges ahead of him. He snorts: “I was at a programme at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, organised by a security concern in Nigeria, the Institute of Security Watch Africa. The discussion centred on how to have a crime free society and how to improve security in the country. I saw myself as a tool to fight corruption and crime through music. I thought I could use the therapeutic power of music to take away people’s minds from crime.” DJ Jimmy Jatt has already accepted to play at the concert for free. He has also promised that when the TVC is ready, he would run it on his programme. His birthday falls around that time and so, he wants to celebrate it with the inmates,” Lawanson says simply. He chuckles, “the concert’s first leg holdsat the Medium Prison, Kirikiri, Apapa, on October 15. There are about 1,500 inmates in the prison. After the first leg of the tour, we will proceed to other prisons in the country. It is going to be a long tour, as I have permission to hold the concert in all prisons.” He demurs, “with the massive awareness and campaign against crime, I know when we begin to do this, definitely Nigeria will be a better place for it.” NOW to his music. Does he mind not releasing an album after a decade in the industry” He smiles: “I’m not in a hurry to join the fray.” So what kind of music does he play? “Dancehall music. My style is goodness, closely related to the gospel, I preach against negative virtues. I don’t want to be labelled, so, I don’t want to call my kind of music gospel.” The memories of washed up album filled his heart, as he recalls many artistes who were one-album wonders. He points out that there are people who have not been able to manage success and those who have come and gone like that in the industry. He sings, “I don’t want to be a flash in the pan. For you to have an everlasting followership, you have to spend time cultivating your audience, now that I have project many people are queuing behind me in support. My strategy has paid off. I just want to affect people’s lives.” He smiles, “I have a single on radio; it is titled Mawomi. I also featured in Sammie Okoposo’s Your Love is too much. Osuofia, OJB, Pastor Goody Goody, Mr Solek are people I have done collaboration with; and over time, I have organised shows, which some major artistes in the country have featured.” Born in Ajegunle, the Jungle City, Lawanson grew up in Ikotun, Lagos. He fell in love with music when he was living in Togo. He had gone to the country at age 11. Then he started with miming and before long, he had begun to write songs and thereafter, he did a demo. In fact, he has been industry for upwards of 10 years now. The last born of his parents, he says, “my dad, Ayodele Koffie Lawanson, a marine engineer, supported me and was a strong backer until he passed on June 1, 2009. I lost my mum in 1998, but she had always encouraged me to excel and do what I want to.”
15 Years on Stage, I Go Dye pays tribute in Benin City
FUN lovers in Benin, Edo State capital, recently got a groove from mthe arsenals of comedian, I Go Dye, as he performed in the city in company of other notable artistes.
Held at the Hexagon Hote, the show was tagged I Go Dye Standing: Sentence The Judge, and it was organised to mark the comedian’s 15th anniversary on stage.
There was much music, comedy and general showbiz fun in the show. Among the artistes who lit the Hexagon stage were the Mo’ Hit Crew (D’banj, Wande Coal, Dr Sid and Ikechukwu), MI, Basketmouth, Gordons, Gandoki and Terry G.
The first sign that something big, something usual was about to happen in the city was the presence of exotic cars ranging from limousine, Hummer Jeep, Bentley and Chrysler with which the artistes that featured in the show were chauffeur driven from their hotel rooms to the venue of the show.
Da Koko Master, D’Banj, got a lavish reception; declaring: “I was received like a king in Benin.”
STARTING at 7pm, the show dragged on till 10pm, as a result of technical hitches. The management of the hotel also failed to provide the needed power for the gig.
However, the frustration and delay wore off when Gordons, who thrilled the crowd ceaselessly with jokes, came on. He set the mood of the show such that when the rap artiste, MI, came in, the crowd had begun to yearn for more. The petit rapper got the crowd dancing with his tracks, especially Anoti.
It was discovered that the N50,000 VIP tickets were all sold, leaving the silver and bronze tickets which were sold for N10, 000 and N3, 000.
Immediately, Gandoki left the stage, I Go Dye took charge, amidst spontaneous screams from the audience. The comedian was on top of his act that night, with the crowd yelling for more. He used the platform to introduce one of the pioneers of the stand up comedy in Nigeria, Yibo Koko.
Basketmounth did not perform below expectation as he took centre stage to thrill the audience. He later unveiled a surprise package in the person of John Okafor (Mr Ibu) who kept the people laughing all the way. The most anticipated performance after I Go Dye was by the Mo Hits Crew, led by Koko Master, D’Banj also had their share of the stage.
They kick-started their performance with Wande Coal followed by D’Banj who waltzed into the crowd and this lead to an endless naira rain as the crowd sprayed him. The Mo Hits crew entertained the people to the fullest and later introduces Ikechukwu to do the classic, Wine am well.
The high point of the event was the introduction of Freemadness singer, Terry G, who appeared without his shirt on.
Organised by Yinka Akinlawon and Angela of Event Empire, UK, the show was attended by people from all walks of life ranging from members of House of Assembly, government functionaries, multinational company executives, among others.