Monday, 30 March 2009

For jazz festival, Cape Town hots up



BY CHUKS NWANNE

ALL is now set for this year’s edition of the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, scheduled for April 3 and 4 at the Cape Town International Convention Center, South Africa. By now, all the artistes billed to gig at the festival will be fine-tuning their songs towards the 10th edition of the show that has grown beyond the imagination of all, the founders inclusive.
Meanwhile, the community concert, part of the build–up to the festival proper, will again be held at Green-Market Square on April 1, with some of the top headliners for the main event billed to mount the stage. Performing at this popular, social and community gathering are 70s Soul group, the Stylistics, along with The Incredibles, Nomfusi, Claire Phillips and Pete Philly & Perquisite.
To complete this year’s lineup, organisers of the Festival revealed that Zaki Ibrahim will join the other 39 bands on stage. While she declined to categorize her music, what Zaki dishes out is a fusion of hip-hop, earthy soul, deep house, broken electro-acoustic beats with jazz-inflected vocal intonations. Still in her 20s, the Toronto-based South African singer has taken up as her mission, the creation of smooth hip-hop.
Born to an exiled South African father and Scottish mother, Zaki spent her early years shuttling between Cape Town and the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in the British Columbia and Canada. She was drawn to hip-hop at early age and started to perform when she moved to British Columbia’s largest city, Vancouver.
Among other bands scheduled to perform include
Hugh Masekela (South Africa): Few local musicians do as Masekela does in taking South African music to the rest of the world. A member of the first jazz band to record an LP, Masekela consciously decided to focus during his exile on familiarising foreign audiences to local sounds. Since his return, this mission has not stopped. The 69-year old trumpeter travels and performs all over the world.
Freshlyground (South Africa): The seven-member outfit has come to represent what the new South Africa is all about. Not only is the band cosmopolitan in composition of its members, Freshlyground fuses various musical styles lacing familiar instruments such as drums, keyboard, guitar and saxophone with sounds of violin and mbira. The group participated at the first edition of the Lagos International Jazz Festival organised by Inspiro Productions.
340ml (Mozambique): The group describes its music as “Southern African contemporary sounds.” The four band members have worked hard to fuse reggae inflections with dub, ska, Latin and Mozambican marrabenta music. Now based in South Africa, the quartet keeps their music rooted Maputo beat.
Abigail Kubeka (South Africa): She has shared the stage with great singers such as Sarah Vaughan and Eartha Kitt. After Skylarks, an all-female vocal group led by Miriam Makeba in 1957at 16; Kubeka has remained one of the most revered vocalists in South Africa. She has worked to set the t stretch from jazz to cabaret. In addition to her singing abilities, the 67-year old artist has appeared in numerous films and theatre productions. Recently, Kubeka received the Order of Ikhamanga – the highest arts award in South Africa.
Cape Town Jazz Orchestra (South Africa): This is the first professional and city-wide jazz orchestra in post-apartheid South Africa. The 16-piece unit is a brainchild of the legendary pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. With the support from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and under the baton of guitarist Alvin Dyers, the orchestra has the best of the Mother City’s young jazz talent.
Others are Carlo Mombelli & Prisoners of Strange (South Africa), Goldfish (South Africa), Jonathan Butler/Dave Koz Collaboration (South Africa/USA), Kyle Shepherd (South Africa), Magic Malik (France) and Mike del Ferro/Sibongile Khumalo/Shannon Mowday Collaboration (Netherlands/South Africa). Mos Def (USA), Napalma (Brazil), Ndumiso Nyovane (South Africa), Pete Philly & Perquisite Live Band (Netherlands), Dr Phillip Tabane (South Africa), Robert Glasper & The RCDC Experiment (USA), Shakatak (UK), Siphokazi (South Africa), Southpaw (South Africa), Stewart Sekuma (Mozambique) are also part of the lineup.
Unfortunately, after Femi Kuti, no other Nigerian band has participated in the festival since the inception.

The Guitar: shouldn’t be all about Benson and Klugh


BY BENSON IDONIJE
THERE is a worrisome trend about the modern jazz guitar that requires proper study for the purpose of advancing the craft, especially with the fact that an increasing number of young people are now playing the instrument all over the world, including Nigeria.
A welcome development this is, considering the fact that the guitar suffered serious setbacks in those initial days of the forties until Charlie Christian came to the rescue. Before this intervention, the instrument was relegated to the background merely as a chord affair, a tool for accompaniment until the innovative effort of Charlie Christian forced it to the frontline as a solo vehicle.
My worry however is that this whole new generation of guitar players are being inspired by George Benson and Earl Klugh–– two smooth players who have, however completely commercialised the artform and are being idolised for so doing. The spiral effect is that today’s young guitar players are sounding the same, note for note, phrase for phrase; whereas the guitar dynasty goes beyond George Benson and Klugh. The Nigerian experience offers a good explanation.

LISTENING to some of the frontline guitarists such as Kunle Ayo, Bright Gain, El Jazz, Ogunkoya and the long list that now fill the scene, it’s like one is listening to George Benson in tonal conception, style, phrasing, dynamics and even the scat-singing along guitar solos. These musicians are brilliant at least for the ability to acquire a technical skill that can help further their progressions and interpret their ideas for self-expression, but they all borrowed from George Benson; and it is quite obvious.
There is no harm in borrowing and even leaning on a mentor as we all know that art is derivative, but when a whole generation begins to sound the same, then, art ceases to exist.
These young guitarists claim to be influenced by Wes Montgomery, perhaps the greatest technician of the guitar, who in fact inspired George Benson, but Benson was only affected by Montgonery’s smooth, commercial side. Benson imbibed the pop-oriented spirit that Montgomery invested in such cross-over efforts as California Dreaming and A Day in the Life recorded in 1966 and 1967 respectively — for commercial success.
Wes Montgomery was one of the great jazz guitarists, a natural extension of Charlie Christian, whose appealing use of octaves became influential and his trademark. He was noted for outstanding feats in jazz, including chorded solos even at the octave. But he died prematurely in 1968.
Talking about Wes Montgomery as an influence, why would George Benson and his followers not listen to Montgomery’s hard bop guitar on such artistic masterpieces as Full House, Moving along, The incredible Jazz guitar, The Montgomery Trio, Movin Wes, The alternative Wes Montgomery and a whole lot of his recorded works within the short span of his life.

THE new generation of guitar players should now look beyond Benson and Montgomery and reach out to such undividualists as Kenny Burrell, a great blues man, and an epitome of good taste and solid swing.
Highly in demand from the beginning of his career, Burrell has appeared on a countless number of records during the past 50 years as a leader and as a sideman. Among his more notable associations have been dates with Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Stanley Tuerentine and Jimmy Smith.
From the early 70s, Burrell began leading seminars and teaching, often focusing on Duke Ellington’s music. He toured with the Phillip Morris Superband during 1985-86 and has led three guitar quintets, even though generally Kenny Burrell plays at the head of trios and quartets. Some of his masterpieces include such Blue Note sessions as Blue Lights, Kenny Burrell and John Coltraine, Bluesing Around, Night at the Vanguard, Moonglow, Ellington is forever, Soul call and a host of others.
Kenny Burrell’s consistency as a bop guitarist who never dabbled in crossovers for commercial success truly recommends his artistic spirit to a generation of serious just musicians.
There are many other guitar players whose artistic approaches can help bring about the variety that is needed today on the guitar jazz scene. Check out great names such as Grant Green, Les Span, Benny Kessell and more.
A severely underrated player during his lifetime, Grant Green, one of the most soulful guitar players jazz ever experienced, had a beautiful sound and excellent guitar skills. He maintained that he listened to horn players rather than other guitarists, and his single-note fingering and style, which avoided chorded playing, was unique.
Green’s extensive foundation in rhythm and blues’ combined with a mastery of bebop and simplicity helped him put expression ahead of technical expertise.
Green was a superb blues interpreter and his later material was predominately bluesy though he was also a wonderful ballad and standards soloist. He was a particular admirer of Charlie Parker and his phrasing often reflected it. He played in the SOS with Jimmy Forrest, Harry Edison and the saxophonist, Lou Donaldson. He also collaborated with many organists, among them Brother Jack McDuff, Sam Lazar, Baby Face Willettee, Gloria Coleman, Big John Patton and Larry Young.
During the early ‘60s both his fluid, tasteful playing in organ-guitar-drum combos and his other dates for Blue Note established Green as a star, though he seldom got the critical respect given other players. Green played with Yousef Lateef, Joe Henderson, Elvin Jones, Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner and all the jazz greats. Sadly, drug problems interrupted his career in the ‘60s and undoubtedly contributed to the illness he suffered in the late ‘70s. He died in 1979.
Green has a whole legacy that will be of use to the young, aspiring jazz guitar players. Among them are such brilliant albums as Green Street, Idle Moments, Grants first stand, Complete Blue Note with Sonny Clark, Feeling the spirit, Green is beautiful, Carrying on, Alive, Green Blues.

HOWEVER, it is advisable for a complete throwback on Charlie Christian who began this whole artistic trend. His time in the spotlight was very brief. Born in 1916, he died in 1942, shortly after unleashing a revolution on the jazz scene.
Some of his reissues which will certainly be of help to a young, ambitious guitar player are Charlie Christian with Benny Goodman, Live Sessions at Minton’s Play House, Solo Flight, The Genius of the electric guitar, Jazz Immortal, Charlie Christian/Leser Young.
It can be said without exaggeration that virtually every jazz guitarist that emerged during 1940-1965 sounded like a relative of Charlie Christian.
He played his instrument with the fluidity, confidence and swing of a saxophonist. Although technically a swing stylist, his musical vocabulary was studied and emulated by almost all the bop players. Charlie Christian had a dominant influence on all the players. He still has.

Exquisitely Madam 9ice


Toni Payne


BY OYINDAMOLA LAWAL
OLUWASEUN Antonia Payne-Akande is the brain behind the Toni Payne brand, a known name in the international fashion and entertainment scene. The wife of the gongo aso crooner, Abolore Akande, popularly known as 9ice, she is also the founder and publisher of Nigeria Entertainment magazine.
The brand, Toni Payne, was coined from her name, Antonia, while Payne is her maiden name.
The fashion designer and cosmetologist built her reputation early in life and in fact, cultivated her passion for fashion when she was a little girl.
She says, “fashion has always been something I enjoy doing as a little girl. Then, I did not have an idea of what fashion is or what it should be and that made it fun for me.”
She continues, as a designer of repute, “I seldom follow trend. I create most of my designs. Currently, I have a T-shirt line called Toni Payne wearable art and positees. The name is self explanatory.”
The lady says she did not just dabble into cosmetics, she started by working for a company that was in that line.
In her words, “the business started while I was working for a cosmetics manufacturing lab. I started out with just eye shadows and after much research expanded from there. All my mineral cosmetics are hand crafted, so, I can tell you wholeheartedly that I put my all into developing a wonderful product and building a brand to reckon with.”
The US-based beautician says, “Toni Payne is pretty much a lifestyle, hip, fresh, trendy, casual and relaxed magazine. With my makeup, I offer two products for different ways of life — natural and the alternative.”
Managing her career and motherhood is very interesting, says the lady, “my motivation is that my boys are proud of me; and having a husband who is always there for me, helps too.”
The only child of her mother and the first of her father, Akande-Payne says her target audience is “anyone that loves quality products regardless of age or sex.”
For the California State University Video Digital Animation graduate-turned designer, every design has its uniqueness, and they are created to impress and to add quality to life.

‘It’s all about my mood’


Immaculate Nnubia (aka The Main Man) is a movie and music producer and director, who before now, directed such TV drama as “The Happiest Family; and A Price to Pay among others. The Theatre Arts graduate and native of Oraifite, Nnewi – South Local Council of Anambra State was involved in Nollywood for a few years before venturing into full time music. He tells CHIOMA PAMELA NDUKA what fashion is to him.

What’s fashion to you?
Fashion is a statement about oneself and how you feel at a particular time. In fact, it’s all about one’s mood for me.
Uniqueness of your style
My style is unique. I am creative and as such, I prefer to tell my designer, what I want and how I want it.
Favourite designer
My tailor is my favourite designer, because he sews to specifics.
Favourite piece of clothing
Casual outfit is the best for me.
Favourite colour
Red is my favourite colour.
Signature scent
I use a lot of scents, but I prefer Erato collections
Most cherished possessions
I love my laptop especially the software in it called “fruitee loops,” which I designed myself.
What would you not be caught wearing?
I can wear any cloth, but G-strings, not for me.
You and chains
I love silver chains, but not the pronounced ones, on my casuals.
How do you relax?
I feel relaxed being in the company of my wife and daughter.
Stylish Icons
I love Lagbaja a lot.
Where is your fun travel spot?
Obudu Cattle Ranch is always where I love to be.
Who’s your role model?
Actually, I have a lot of role models, for instance in the Christian setting, I admire Rev. Chris Okotie; in business, it’s Pat Utomi; in entertainment, it’s Mikky; in marriage – my parents; and generally in life, it’s Jesus Christ.
What do you think about Nollywood?
Nollywood can best be described as a child that has refused to grow up.
What would you like to change in Nigeria, if given the chance?
I would love to change our leadership for better.

‘Everything is fashion for me’


ADEWALE Adepoju (aka W4) is a young and promising artiste. Born on April 20, 1982, the native of Ilesha-Ikoyi, Osun State is set to release an album, Just another day, to the market. He already has hits such as Hala-hala, Magic and No go wan go enjoying commendable airplay. W4, who attended Command Schools for both his primary and secondary education, tells DAMILOLA ADEKOYA, what fashion means to him.

Definition of fashion
I see fashion as an expression of oneself. It is a combination of ones thought and style.
Family background
I am the last of the two children in my family. My father is soldier and my mother is a cosmetologist.
Style of dressing
It’s just my chucks, pencil jean, fitted shirt and my bead. That’s just me.
Favourite piece of clothing
My pencil jean.
Most expensive item
That’s my Mont Blanc wristwatch.
Favourite designer
It’s Mont Blanc
Stylish icon
In Nigeria, it’s Tu Face Idibia, D’banj and Rita Dominic; internationally it’s Usher and Brandy.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I hang out in the basketball court with friends who are good at the game.
What would you not be caught wearing?
I can wear anything depending on my mood.
Turn on
Beautiful things; they really turn me on.
Turn off
I hate crafty people; they are not my kind of people at all.
Most cherished possession
My talent.
Food
I love plantain, amala and ewedu soup without stew.
Describe yourself in a few words
I’m simple and easygoing.
Happiest moment
It was when I came out with my first single, Temperature.
Embarrassing moment
It was my first performance, where I did an entirely different song from what I rehearsed. But I thank God it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
If you were given an opportunity to change something in Nigeria, what would it be?
The power outage in the country is painful; I want to make electricity regular and available.

Diamond... for greatness


Isibor and Talabi... during presentation

BY CHIOMA PAMELA NDUKA

FOLLOWING the successes recorded in 2008, Diamond In the Rough (DITR) had another commendable outing on Tuesday, March 24, at the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH).
Designed to showcase people with ingenuity, values and self worth, DITR was initiated by Saint Media, an organisation that is involved in mentoring youths so that they can learn from the success stories of celebrities.
Last Tuesday show, which had Debo Talabi, the CEO, Telios Development Nigeria, and Mrs Mavi Isibor, the MD, Poise Nigeria as celebrity speakers, attracted a lot of youths mostly students of institutions of higher learning in the state.
Talabi, a University of Lagos Chemistry graduate, while narrating his success story, recalled how he left Lagos for Abuja in search of greener pastures with the sum of N2, 500.
He noted that through hardwork and sincerity, he became a multi-millionaire, running property and development outfit.
Isibor, on the other hand, narrated how she overcame penury through hard work. She said: “Hard work, determination and perservance have been my watchword.”
Isibor also use the forum to call on youths never to lose focus, as challenges are stepping stones to success.
Speaking after the show, the organisers said, “DITR’s aim is to serve as a platform where young people will be influenced positively by people who have become successful by following the principles of diligence.”
They added, “the interactive talk projects role models to enable young people in tertiary institutions realise that success is deposited in them, and that they only have to discover their worth and work at it.”
The maiden edition held in March 2008 at the Afe Babalola Hall of the University of Lagos, Akoka. The role models showcased were Mitchell Elegbe, MD Interswitch and Mrs. Blessing Awosika, MD, Sokoa chair centre.
Lagos State University will host the show on April 28, while it will be the turn of University of Lagos in May.

Naija pop...Comedians blast

• Pls, don’t corrupt our children, comedians chide hip-hop singers
• Timaya’s irresponsible gestures on stage



BY CHUKS NWANNE

THE first story on Naija Pop… published a few weeks ago in The Guardian Life magazine generated mixed reactions from a wide range of readers. While those, who have been nursing some reservation about the recent trend in the music industry pitched tent with the report; like the yellow madam must have done, others were like, “eh, gradually, we will get there.” One obvious thing is that something is actually wrong with the quality of works in the industry.
It’s not as if one is not happy with the crop of music ‘stars’ in the country, who are benefiting from the trend, winning awards, headlining gigs and even gaining international recognition for their work… far from that. But as one of our readers pointed out, “for how long are we going to continue like this.” That was the motivation behind the article in the first place. The truth is that, if we fail to arrest the situation now, then it might just become a standard for the younger generation.
At the AY Live 3, a comedy show held recently at the Expo Hall, Eko Hotel, Lagos, a good number of comedians echoed on the same issue –– poor lyrical content in our music. Coincidentally, that was the same day the first part of this story was published. As if it was planned, the comedianss, one after the other, took on the artistes… not minding whose ox was gored. A good number of them (hip-hop artistes) were actually present. In fact, some even performed that night.
I waited patiently to see if the attacks will hit any of the female artistes, but hands kept pointing towards the guys and they laughed over it; though not all. Yes, I observed some of them closely at the gig, as they received attack upon attack from the comedians; that was where I concluded that these guys know their game plan.
Comedian AY dedicated a better part of his performance to about the poor quality of lyrics in recent times; his point were clear. “I don’t understand what our musicians are singing today. They just sing anything they like and we patronise them,” he observed in a comic manner.
With DJ Jimmy Jatt on the console, AY sampled some evergreen songs produced in this same music industry in the past; songs by artistes such as Ras Kimono, Chris Okotie, Alex O and Felix Leberty others. You need to see the reaction of the audience when the songs came blasting from the woofers, still sounding fresh after years of production. Gongo Aso and Yahooze were hits last year, how many of us still play them on our CD? How many of us today would jump from their seats at the call of the tracks? That’s the point.
As if that was not enough, Comedian Kofi came on stage, still on the same topic and I was smiling inside. Yes, because that was the point I was making in my report. Kofi faulted the lyrics and titles of most songs by Nigerian hip-hop artistes. As usual, the audience totally agreed with him, with some of them nodding their heads in approval.
“But you are the ones buying them,” Kofi fired back.
I don’t know what you make out of Kofi’s music, but you can’t miss the messages anyway.
The highpoint of the night was when comedian Jedi came on stage; instead of telling jokes, the comedian turned musician did a different thing all together.
“I want you to listen to this interesting ring tone I have in my phone; I got it from someone,” Jedi said.
At that point, the hall was calm. The next thing, we heard from the phone was a very tiny voice singing “Orie o 4kasibe, orie o 4kasibe…” the crowd was thrown into a prolonged laughter.
“This girl is about two or three years. What is Orie 4kasibe,” Jedi quizzed amid laughter from the audience, who couldn’t provide any answer to the question.
“Is this what we are teaching our young ones? What message do we have for the kids…,” Jedi went on and on.

I recalled the previous week at The Vault, Victoria Island, Lagos, during the Nigeria-Britain organised concert. Comedian Omo Baba, who anchored the event, express his disappointment over the poor level of compositions from our artiste. This time around, it was reggae artistes.
“One thing about reggae artistes is that they don’t think about their compositions. The only thing they think about is the instrumentation and then sing whatever comes to their minds,” Omo Baba observed. The comedian practically demonstrated his points with the live band backing him.
Trust Djinee. Immediately the Ego crooner was called on stage that night, he started with his usual preaching. “This is a night of live music; enough of ‘DJ track one.’ If you can’t play your songs live, then you are not an artiste.” Truly, Djinee belongs to the group you can actually call musicians.
Meanwhile, if Timaya’s performance on stage at the AY Live3 concert is the best he could come up with, then the Egberipapa 1 of Bayelsa should go back to his drawing board. Aside his uncoordinated show and the fact that his Dem Mama Soldiers are now trying to overshadow him on vocals; Timaya needs to observe some level of decency.
Based on his standing and his ability to break into the main league of Nigerian entertainers, which he has embraced as the major line in all his compositions, Timaya is no doubt a successful artiste. But the act of throwing his underwear to the crowd is irresponsible and grossly indecent. Yes, Dem Mama singer actually attempted pulling his trousers and throwing it to the crowd –– the VIP area for that matter.
Timaya started well that night with a standing ovation from the crowd, but along the line, he went off the hook. He climbed down the stage to pick a lady from the audience, but instead of the normal dancing, both Timaya and the lady ended up on the floor. As if that was not enough, he started pulling off his underwear!
“Whatever Timaya has taken before climbing the stage is not sold in packets,” Ali Baba said as the Port Harcourt-based artiste exited the stage.
Yes, it was obvious that Timaya was under the influence of something I don’t really know.

NO doubt, we’ve succeeded in making our own music; we’ve excelled in making our people love and appreciate our songs; we’ve attracted the attention of the world to Nigerian music; we’ve won several international awards; we’ve created jobs for hundreds of young Nigerians; we’ve produced our own stars; we’ve provided content for the media… but we are not done yet. We must set a standard for our industry and there’s no better time for that than now.

Francophonie Week in Lagos



BY CHIJIOKE IREMEKA

EVERY year, for one week, the world vibrates to the sound of the francophone community.
Tagged the Francophonie Week, dozens of activities such as ball game tournament, films, food fair, quiz, scrabble competition, among others, are organised in order to make it possible for both young and adults to come together in a celebration of the French language.
The event actually began in 1995 at the initiative of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Every year, around March 21, various events are organised simultaneously around the world, to promote cultures of French speaking countries, amongst those who want to learn more about French culture and language.
The Alliance Française, in partnership with the Consulate General of France in Nigeria, the Embassy of Togo, the Consulate General of Republic of Benin, the Embassy of the Republic of Chad, Lycée Français Louis Pasteur and Lagos Accueil Women’s Association, celebrated this year’s event in Lagos.
According to the Deputy Director, Alliance Française, Lagos, Mr. Cazeilles Norbel, this event affords people that are not from Francophone countries, who wish to be part of French culture, to join the cultural reach event by registering with its French training centre in Nigeria.
He said, “Alliance Française are in three major places in Lagos State — Ikoyi, Yaba, Badagary and Ikeja. The French certificate we issue is recognised in 146 countries of the world. We are to promote French culture for companies and business people. This cultural event is done all over the world between 16 and 21 March of every year.”
To him, it has been good and nice since they started. “Nigerians have been of great support to this event. Most of our students are Nigerians, following the fact that French is now second foreign official language in Nigeria. Nigerians are great,” he said.
However, the closing Cocktail — French taste— organised by Lagos Accueil Association and Wine Tasting, offered dance party and live music.

Dance extravaganza


Apama dance company performing

BY FLORENCE UTOR

GONGBEAT Productions recently staged a dance festival to recognise, celebrate and also bring to people’s awareness, the beauty of dance.
Tagged ‘APDC Fest’ 09, the festival, which has as theme, Our Heritage: A Divine to our Destination, ran from March 18 to 20.
Dede Kelvin Alozie, the project manager of Gongbeat, said: “It is a celebration of the efforts of dance companies as promoters of the country’s arts and culture.”
While saying that these companies have contributed immensely to nation building by engaging youths through dance, lamented the poor treatment given to private dancers. He said, “we are not appreciated, but if not for us (dancers), our heritage would have been lost.”
He cited the example of the 8th All Africa Games, where the initial contract signed in Lagos was to pay each performer N80, 000, but by the time the artistes got to Abuja the amount was reduced to N15, 000.
“We rejected the offer and held the organisers to ransom until we arrived at a bargain of N50, 000 per artistes. It was also at this forum that we decided to form the dance guild,” he said.
Segun Bankole, an insurance practitioner, who spoke on how to market dance, urged the companies to create a path for others to follow rather than following the existing trend.
He stressed the need for dance companies to package themselves properly to draw attention and investors.
Dele Shonubi, a publisher, called the companies to networking, he said, “it is easier for me to pick up a proposal of someone that I know, and know what he or she can do, than for me to pick up that of the person I don’t know.”
Awards were presented to long-standing supporters of the arts, which include Jahman Anikulapo and Shonubi among others. The audience was thrilled to colourful traditional dances by the various dance companies that participated in the fiesta.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Cover, Edition 177, March 22-28, 2009

Cover, Edition 173, February 22-28, 2009

The Players Club

BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
IN affairs of the heart, there are many people all over the world, who play and have been played.
For the uninitiated, we shall define the player as a person who speaks of, and does loving things to his or her partner, whether prospective or substantive, without serious intentions.
That last line means ‘whether the player has acquired the target or otherwise’. Pardon me, but the lawyer in me breaks out from time to time.
Players can be of either gender and of any age. The young male player may be a college student or a working professional.
To this one, the world is his oyster. He is awakened to the immense possibilities females have to offer and he takes this opportunity with open arms. Excuse the pun. He may be brash or quiet, gentle or aggressive in his approach to life.
This young male is the least skilled in the cadre of players but this is on account of age. There are some things that can only be learnt through experience.
The female equivalent of this player might be good at ‘multi-tasking’ too. The Whisperer has met young women who have more than one partner and are able to keep the different parts of their lives separate.
The undergraduate who has a boyfriend in school and is also dating a ‘man from town’ is a perfect example of this.
Each partner hears her say ‘I love you’ and in some deep recess of her mind, she might mean it but her aim is to keep juggling for as long as she can, until the house of cards falls, if ever.

I ONCE knew a girl, whose boyfriend used to be a friend of mine. She was the one who first approached him, a fact The Whisperer has no problems with.
There’s no problem with being direct if you want something. He was rather well known then and she picked her target well and they started a relationship, which appeared to be going along well but there was this little problem.
She was a student and he worked. He would say goodbye to her in her hostel at night; the ever-conscientious boyfriend and she would hit the nightclubs a few hours after.
As an aside, the nightclub frequenters get there well after midnight. Even if you laid siege till midnight, you would never catch a partner, who is inclined that way.
He later found she was running other relationships simultaneously with his. He would go home and she would get into the car of another fellow and park in some quiet corner of the school.
If you have a playing partner and you know in your heart (we always do but refuse to face up to it) that the stories you are told, don’t fit together; take a long walk away from the relationship. We make excuses all the time for those we think we love.
My friend found out of how he had been deceived when his girlfriend fell out with a female friend of hers. That female told him things about his girlfriend that made him physically ill. It is important we choose the right partners.

Just in case there are men reading this article who think females are the only ones capable of deceit, the field is an open one in this matter.
A female undergraduate (It’s undergraduate day today) met this nice young man, who was home on holiday from England where he lived. He told her he loved her and all the other things men say to women.
On one of his visits to the country, he told the girl, who loved to boast of their relationship, that he had to go to his hometown.
Loving girl accepted his story and sent him along his way with flowery kisses. The next Saturday, as she and her friends sat in her room listening to the radio, they heard someone call into the radio station to wish a couple getting married that day, congratulations.
It was her boyfriend’s name that was called. He had come into the country to marry and the undergraduate was a plaything for him.
The girl who had been played, fainted, and her friends had to revive her. But they say ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’
The scorned girl and her friends plotted against the day the fellow might return to see her. He must have had some kind of active sixth sense because he never showed up again.
But a close friend of his, who was married, did. And the girls exacted their vengeance on that one.
There are few things more dangerous than a cloud of girls in their hostel. They are in their element and you might lose your dignity if you fall into the wrong hands.
So, they cornered the friend of the player, who swore he knew nothing of the evils his mate had committed. The girls slapped him around a bit, swore they would openly disgrace him and then made him pay a ransom for his release after detaining him for more than four hours.
He staggered out of the female hostel at about midnight, his wallet considerably lighter. And then remembered he had another hurdle to face, his wife waiting at home, wondering where he was.
So, he rubbed his hands on the earth around him to give a dirt, soiled look, deflated his own spare tire and when he got home, told his wife he had lost a tire on a bridge and had not been able to replace it for a long while.
There are times when a player gets played. When a person who feels he has life exactly where he wants it, underestimates a partner.
I had a relative, who felt he’d found a girl he could walk all over. She was about two decades younger and professed her love and her willingness to serve him forever.
So, he invited her to England where she was meant to be his wife and she took off once she landed on those shores.
Apparently she had been biding her time. I felt pain on his behalf too and wondered why he didn’t see it coming.
The Whisperer assures you that if you look closely, you will know if a person truly loves you. The eyes never lie.

laspapi@yahoo.com

Argungu… fishing to glory


BY BRIDGET CHIEDU ONOCHIE
LAST week, Kebbi State hosted the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival. In attendance were dignitaries from all over the country, plus tourists from outside.
Aside from attracting an unprecedented crowd to the town, this year marked the beginning of a fully private sector-driven event. There were new events such as motor rally, power bike rally; raffle draws and others.
The four-day event climaxed with a fishing contest, which dates back to 1934 when it served as a unity forum between the people of Sokoto and Argungu.
It was first organised by the then Emir of Argungu, Muhammadu Sama, to commemorate the friendly visit of the then Sultan of Sokoto, Mallam Hassan Dan Mu’azu to the community.
Seeing that visitors from Sokoto were thrilled by the festival, it was then made a yearly event so it could help foster better relationship between the people of Argungu and their neighbours. Over the years, the festival has developed into a national event, with tourism potentialities.

THE opening ceremony of the just concluded edition drew participants from Argungu and neighbouring countries, especially Chad and Niger Republic; and for the host community; it was an opportunity to showcase their cultural heritage as they usually filed out in large numbers, according to their local government areas, to perform.
The same day witnessed such activities as motor rally from Gusau through Sokoto, Jega, Birnin Kebbi before arriving at the Fishing Village . Aside adding colours to the event, the audience were spellbound when a female driver, Mrs. Elizabeth Akpabio, defeated five other male contestants and a female to emerge winner of the competition.
Other activities for the day included Archery and Catapulting competitions between the people of Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states; as well as Niger and Benin Republics.
Everyday of the festival was performances from cultural troupes across the country as well as the National Troupe of Nigeria led by the Director General, Professor Ahmed Yerima.
Activities resumed early the second day with a fair dedicated to the development of agriculture in the state. It was a forum for farmers to showcase their produce.
There was a colourful procession of floats by farmers from across the local government councils of the state, coming immediately after the tour of the fair by the Kebbi State Governor and his deputy, Sa’Idu Usman N. Dakingari and Alhaji Ibrahim K. Aliyu, respectively, in the company of traditional rulers, political office holders, Emirs and other dignitaries from across the country was one of the most exciting events – Animal Skinning.
Competitors, numbering over 10, filed out, each carrying a slaughtered goat on a mat and at the blow of a whistle, they are expected to skin the goats in less than three minutes. Usman Mujittfa smiled home with a cash prize of N30,000 for emerging winner.
Shortly after Animal Skinning was Tug of War between the community’s fishermen and butchers. For almost 10 minutes, energetic youngmen sweated to draw the opposing camp across the line to their side; and in the end, the butchers lost control and gave in.
The third day witnessed an increase in activities. It could be described as the busiest day of the four-day outing.
Actions began quite early in the morning with the Kabanci display — a series of water thrilling traditional games associated with the Kabawa people of the state. The events took place at the boarder and deeper portion of River Mala.
They included Boat Racing, Bare hand fishing, Swimming on Guards, Wild Dock Catching, Diving, Water Relay, Swimming with a pot balanced on the head, a-two man canoe race as well as Water Skiing among other displays.

BACK at the Fishing Village and shortly before the grand Durbar was an event that changed the lives of many in the community — a raffle draw organised by the Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, where items such as sewing machines, refrigerators, motor cycles and motor bikes, among others were given out as a means of empowering rural dwellers.
The Kabi grand durbar, which held in the evening, involved the procession of about 500 beautifully decorated horses, 120 camels and thousands of horsemen drawn from the entire fishing village.
Also remarkable was the royal procession by the Emir of Argungu, the custodian of the festival sites, Alhaji Samaila Moh’D Mera, joined by many dignitaries including Runsewe, who was turbaned the Danburan Kabi at the last year’s edition.
The grand fishing ceremony usually brings the festival to a close; it is the climax of all events lined up for the yearly outing.

THIS year’s festival witnessed an improvement in terms of coordination; ordinarily, it would have been extremely difficult to manage the kind of crowd that graced the fishing competition, for instance.
As early as 7 am, both sides of Matan Fada River had been occupied, making the security officers to expend much effort to ensure that there was calm. In attendance were President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, his wife, Turai, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’Ad Abubakar 111, the Culture and Tourism Minister, Senator Bello Jibrin Gada, Governors, Ministers and Senators, traditional rulers as well as captains of industries, and others.
As usual, fishing commences after prayers and incantations on the river and in no time, different sizes of fish were rolled out of the river.
To curb a repetition of last year’s event, where a dead fish was smuggled into the river, every fish was confirmed caught alive before it was weighed.
The giant fish came more than 30 minutes into the competition and it was received with cheers by the excited audience, who had waited impatiently for that special moment.
Dragging the 65 kg fish out of the water was Abubakar Dabo with tag No. 180; he was followed by Mohammed Indire, whose fish weighed 45 kg; Hussen Saidu, 20kg was third while fourth place winner, Mohammed Dandije, made a catch of 19 kg.
For Dabo, it was a day of glory as he smiled home with a brand new Honda Civic and N300,000 cash. He was also promised a Hajj Trip by Mrs Yar’ Adua, fishing implements worth N100,000 and one year healthcare facility. Mohammed Indire got N200,000 cash and a motor cycle, Hajj Trip and fishing implements worth N70,000 while Hussen Saidu won N100,000, motor cycle, a Hajj Trip and fishing implement worth N30,000.

Challenges
ONE of the greatest challenges faced by visitors to Argungu was accommodation. Aside few structures in the Fishing Village, there is only one hotel in the town, which is not adequate for the expected visitors.
The absence of alternative transportation means to motor bikes also caused a hitch for visitors, who would have loved to visit other tourist sites in the state.
Most visitors, who do not understand Hausa language.
Coordinators did not consider the presence of tourists as they anchored almost all the programmes in the local language.
There was, however, an improvement in coordination of events as programmes were printed in large quantities. Yet, more is expected in the area of crowd control.

TEETH 4 TEETH

BY JUSTIN AKPOVI-ESADE
Paul Obazele’s Legends Of Nollywood
I AM wondering aloud, just wondering aloud. The set of Paul Obazele’s Legends of Nollywood, a television programme, is that a proper set or a small room in his apartment wey im for dey interview people so? Na question I ask bcos, dat set wey dem just put one small banner for back so, na wa o o o. And we talk about professionalism at every forum on Nollywood abi?

Basket Mouth Performs ‘Beer Chested’
I AM still at a loss if I actually heard comedian Basket Mouth well on Inspiration FM during the promo of the just held Friday Night Laugh. Did Basket Mouth actually mean “I will perform for the first time bare-chested?” What I heard that period was “I will perform beer-chested”. That was what I heard o o o. Well, the person who produced that promo should be flogged, because even if our bro said ‘beer’ instead of bare, it behove on the producer to make him retake that line till he gets it. Even Dan Forster wey be oyinbo fit talk say im no hear the obvious error for dat piece? Na wa for Inspiration FM sef, as for Basket Mouth, wen peson deh too do sometin, na dat tin de enta in mind and mouth all the time. Naim make ‘bare’ turn to ‘beer’! Na dia I talk reach o o o.

Top Radio’s Dr Flavour
LET’S deviate a little and pay tribute to Top Radio’s presenter Dr. Flavour. The guy is good, very good. But some of his detractors say na melecine im dey take make people dey do wetin im want dem to do for radio. For instance, to dey shout I Love Top Radio. Let me come in defence of Flavour, no be melecine im dey use. The boy is just good that is all. The way he handles radio presentation reminds one of the good old days (before everybody begin talk like Dan Forster). Well, let me join others in shouting, I Love Top Radio... Keep it up if not na the same mouth dem take praise president dem dey take curse am.
ogbuus@yahoo.com
Fribourg Film Festival gets underway
FIVE films by Nigerian Filmmakers showed at the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland, which ended yesterday. The festival opened on March 14. The films that were shown at a special session devoted to cinema’s from other cultures are Joseph Ubaka’s Trapped in a Dream, Charles Novia’s directed Covenant Church, Fred Amata’s Letter to a Stranger, Izu Ojukwu’s directed White Waters and Tchidi Chikere directed Stronger than Pain. The film were screened at a section tagged Inside Nollywood, which was curated by the acclaimed film programmer and director of Peace Mission — the documentary on Nollywood — Dorothee Wenner.

Oba Asa is at an outlet near you
The much-talked about movie from the stable of Saheed Balogun Productions, Oba Asa is out. The film parades some of the best hands in the Nigerian motion picture industry such as Antar Laniyan; Alhaji Kareem Adepoju aka Babawande; Eniola Olaniyan; Saheed Balogun; Yinka Quadri; Dekunle Fuji; and Mercy Aigbe, who has described her role in the movie as the most challenging of all she has played in recent time. Oba Asa, directed by Saheed Balogun will be marketed by Highwaves Video Mart headed by Rotimi Aina Kushoro. Before now, the outfit had produced and marketed successful works such as Oyato, KKK, Tim Bataye, ARA, Jigi mi, and Iyawo Ojo Kan among others.

Waka pass…
Producer: Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities

Ejike Asiegbu and them
HOW come people don’t want the actor’s president, Ejike Asiegbu, to drink water and drop cup? Why are they piling up issues after issues for him to tackle? Anyway Presido made a surprise stop at the birthday bash of the daughter of a film journalist last Saturday and he spent the better part of the time threatening to deal with some people who have been assassinating his character just because they wanted favour from a certain state governor in the middle belt. ‘I am going to deal with those interlopers’, the hefty actors’ first citizen charged out. ‘I am going to prove to them that I am even a citizen of that state,’ he offered again. ‘Citizen ke’? We asked Presido? He acknowledged it was said in annoyance and that he meant ‘indigene’. ‘Those miscreants have been going behind me to solicit for funds from my governor (of a state in Middle Belt)’. Here is the problem. Everyone knows that Presido is from Abia and is proud to be an Abian. So, how come he is now claiming Middle Belt ala ‘my governor’. Anyway the discussion that ensued later revealed that Presido had his early education (from primary to HSC) in the state and even though Nigerian constitution does not say so, one can be a ‘citizen’…no sorry an ‘indigene’ by schooling. If that is the case, then people such as Pat Attah and Steph-Nora Okere go claim Lagos. True, na university wey she do for Ife no allow her story be from Primary to university for Lagos State.

Dem say Stella Damasus don marry… yes … Dem say
WE don’t want to be left out of the gist making the rounds, but we think that congratulobia (apologies the screen character Zebrudaya) is still in order for the jewel of the movie turf Stella Damasus. Someone who knows someone who knows the dashing Stella sent words to us to the effect that the widowed actress has finally found love. The waka pass, who gave us the gist mentioned that all roads led to Owerri last week for the quiet ‘I do’ engagement. The fellow gave the name of the ‘lucky husband’ as Nzeribe, but what he didn’t mention was for how long they had been seeing, so, that we would be able to properly put the courtship in context. Anyway, we would move from congratulobia to congratulation until we hear from the sterling Stella herself. We hope she would find time out of her ‘honeymoon’ to return our call. Some waka pass say they need to find out from her why she moved up east for ‘love’, when she earns money singing and sermonizing about love in the south west? Is there anything that this saying about ‘Lagos love, remaining in Lagos’ got to do with her decision? Mgbo, na only Stella fit answer ooooooo!

Where is Clem Ohameze?
HAS anyone seen popular Nollywood actor, Clem Ohameze, lately? No one had anything concrete to tell us since we commissioned a manhunt for the actor, whom we cannot imagine can be off the screen for this long. The last waka pass we asked mentioned that the actor, who once had a shot at politics has relocated. They said he was last seen in Gambia, where he is reportedly working on a project. Well, we have been trying to reach the gangling actor who does some business by the side in Abuja and none of his phone lines is active. We just wanted to know what he is up to since the last time it was rumoured that he had fallen out with his wife. One waka pass specifically commissioned us to find out whether Clem’s seeming absence from the acting skies has anything to do with the rumoured face off between him and the mother of his kids? Unconfirmed reports have it that ‘Madam went from producer to producer at the wake of the brouhaha to get them to stop using Clem in their movies until he assures her that he would quit his ‘funny ways’. One waka pass even made the whole thing sound ridiculous when he suggested that ‘Madam wanted the re-assurance even to hold at the popular eagles square in Abuja’. Shooooooooooeeee! Dis no be only tall order but na fat order. So over to those who know anyone who knows ‘Ogbuefi’ Clem… i no know book oooo… To God Be the Glory

‘With Child Soldier… I’ll get the Oscars’


BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
DICKSON Iroegbu, the 2005 AMAA best director, a notable Nollywood, is working on a new flick titled Child Soldier. Iroegbu who has directed a lot of well acclaimed works such as Mayors (which gave him the AMAA crest in 2005); Women’s Cot (which clinched a number of awards at the 2006 edition of the award), said he is fired by the need to build a future for the African child, who is often conscripted into the army. Iroegbu is shopping for ‘as low’ as $2m to shoot the film on the 35mm. “We have a huge vision and plans for this forthcoming film project,” Iroegbu said, inside the Ladi Kwali Hall of the Sheraton Hotel Abuja venue of the 2009 edition of the BoBTV . He had taken up a stand at the film market held as part of the event to network and find partners for the project, he also thinks will redefine and reposition Nollywood film production. He spoke to SHAIBU HUSSEINI.

Why child soldiers?
Well, it’s not about making just another film. It’s an intervention. I mean our own modest contribution to the development of Africa. I consider the project our bold attempt at discouraging the prevalent trafficking in persons, which includes the recruitment of children through force means to the army; fraudulently maltreating them; using them for forced labour or sex slaves in conflict areas. The statement credited to a 16-year-old girl-child soldier, who was forced to join a rebel group in the Central Africa region in a magazine I read, moved me. The girl recounted of how she still dreams about a boy from her village she was forced to kill; and how the boy still talks to her every day on how she killed him. I mean it’s that bad.
We have for some time now been reflecting on the ugly trend. The statistics provided by UNICEF estimates more than 300,000 children under 18 are currently being exploited in over 30 armed conflicts all over the world. The scary part is that even children between 7 and 8 years are involved. The question I asked, and have not stopped asking is; what kind of future are we building, if we allow this situation to continue? We also asked what kind of mindset would a child soldier possess as an adult, and what legacies are we building for succeeding generations if we permit the use of children in armed conflicts. So, as a powerful tool of social transformation, we are hoping to use the movie to discourage this ugly situation, a reason we seek the involvement of Nigerian and Africans in this regard.

How do you hope to achieve this?
Well, we have a huge plans for this forthcoming project far removed from the normal Nollywood film production concept. The vision is to use Child Soldier to re-define and reposition Nollywood. To achieve this we have decided to shoot on 35mm with other state of the arts equipment. We are also going to use international crew to ensure international standard practice, and the adoption of global exhibition and marketing strategies. The issue is a topic that attracts global concern. The movie would be exhibited worldwide with its attendant media hype. I believe that partnering with us on the project will open up a world of opportunities.

Funds for the project
The film project will cost a little over $2 million. This is not one of those usual Nigerian budgets, but by Hollywood standard; it is a low budgeted film. We need to start somewhere. I just need people to partner with me. I can’t do it alone. It’s not my project. It’s our project. It’s not another film. This is a vision that we must build and prove that power is shifting to the blackman. The blackman needs to position himself for the world to understand that he has for long been maltreated. So, funding will come from people who care about Africa, and the African child. It will come from those who mean well for Africa. For us, it is a progressive fight against recruitment of minors into rebel armies. This action is vital at this time because as I suggested elsewhere, if we neglect to do this, our children’s future would be jeopardized.
There is the need to galvanize our people into taking action to redress this situation now. I think time has come for Africa to unite and fight this dangerous cankerworm.

Plans to get this off
We are at the level of creating awareness. We have gunned for change in Nollywood. We have identified that these talents abound in Nigeria. It’s not a secret anymore. But the next stage will be how we can sit side by side with our colleagues out there. How can a Nigerian film go for international film festival? There is so much talk about rebranding Nigeria…yes, but is it by saying what is not Nigeria? We need to identify quality products that we must put forward as real Nigerian products. So, I am talking to Mr. President, who talks about rule of law all the time. Rule of law without the right of the child is no rule of law. The child is abused everyday in Africa with Nigeria the giant of Africa doing nothing; Nollywood is the only other visible thing that has come out of Africa, so, let us use this medium to inform Africans even the children about the effect of child soldering. I intend to take the film round schools so that we can get the children to understand that the society has to be rebuilt. It’s dangerous to rebuild the society without the child because when you finish building and can’t keep an eye on the structure, they will start destroying it. We can’t have a better environment if we don’t look at this particular issue as the very key.

Dare returns un.Darey.ted


BY JUSTINE APKOVI-ESADE
THOUGH he has been involved in music for years, Dare Art Alade came to limelight with his participation in the Project Fame, a music reality show in 2004, where he emerged the second runner-up.
Leveraging on that achievement, the Escalade singer launched his debut album. Many expected him to come up with a follow up immediately, instead, the presenter of the recently held MTN Project Fame West Africa, was churning out singles, which kept his fans wondering if their dude had suddenly gone dry after just one release.
At last, fans of the father of one can now heave a sigh of relief, as he is set to return with his second work titled un.Darey.ted.
“It’s been a long journey. But now, it’s ready to be served. I feel very happy, very glad. And I’d really love to get feedback, when you listen to the music,” Dare said in a recent media chat in Lagos.
Scheduled for release on Saturday, March 31, the album is a 12-tracker, which sits comfortably in the R&B/Soul genre.

ALREADY, the lead singles off the album have become a favourite with music fans and pundits; and many who followed Dare in his days as a contestant on Project Fame, are already giving him thumbs up; for eventually unleashing the sound that propels his voice and his persona.
Not The Girl, Carry Dey Go, With This Woman and More are some of the early singles from the album. All accompanied with amazing big-budget concept-driven videos, the resultant impact is testimony to the fact that true talent and hardwork have not stopped paying dividends.
Other tracks on the album include Go!, Thinkin, No Stars, Style na Style Ft. 9ice, Keep your head up, Stay Ft. Naeto C and Let you Know Ft. Pheel.
Dare goes deep down into his soul to bring forth remarkable music that almost everyone can relate with. The long awaited, well put together album, is, to say the truth, an extraordinary gift from the heart and soul of a gifted musician.
“In our journey through life, we’ve all experienced life itself; we’ve experienced love; our hearts have been broken; we’ve broken people’s hearts; we’ve been criticized for doing what we’re doing and criticized others; we’ve been with that special one that makes our world go round; and we’ve even been taken by sheer natural beauty…. That’s some of what the album deals with. So when you listen, I believe everyone will find a bit of themselves in there,” said Dare.

PRODUCED over a three-year period, the singer worked with Producers Tee-Y Mix and Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo (who co-wrote Not the Girl). And there are interesting collaborations with Naeto C, 9ice, Pheel and 2face Idibia.
According to Dare, the title of the album is a refection of the many talents around, who have no way to make their voices heard; and the many people who regularly believe they are being underrated. “It’s something I’m passionate about — helping younger talents find their voices.”
Beyond being a play on word, un.DAREY.ted is a mission for the musician. “That’s why we’ve put together our own TV show called The Most un.DAREY.ted Show,” said Solomon Sonaiya, Dare’s manager and a director at his label, Soul Muzik.
Shot in several Lagos neighbourhoods where Dare either grew up or attended school, the show is aimed at inspiring young people with big dreams and give them an opportunity to build a career for themselves in whatever field they desire. According to Sonaiya, prizes may include grooming and recording opportunities with Soul Muzik, a million naira in cash and a chance to even hit the stage with Dare at a major gig in the near future.
The show is expected to begin airing exclusively on Silverbird Television, before the full album drops.

For Acho, KORA is first step to Grammy


BY GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR
THIS Monday afternoon, I drive to a popular street in Surulere to keep a date with Onuoha Iheanacho aka Acho. At 3pm, I am at the door; I press the buzzer at the entrance. A tall, slim artiste with liquid eyes comes to the gate, I speak Acho’s name and I’m ushered in.
The house is warm and attractive. This is where Acho produces his vibes. His music factory, not necessarily his apartment.
Several years ago, the young Acho had walked down the street of Owerri, trying to create a ‘new world’ in the studio. But the time, for him, was not then. However, by the time he became more mature, the ‘new world’ surged like adrenaline.
He tells me winning the Grammy Awards is uppermost in his mind. Definitely not the KORA Awards. Not that he doesn’t have any regard for the KORA, but the fact that he set a ceiling for his achievements in the next few years.
On April 11, Acho says one leg of his dream would have been realised. He muses, “I tell everybody, who cares to listen that I’m going to win KORA Award.”
What the heck gives him such confidence?
He smiles, “the song is beautiful and you won’t know when you begin to listen to it over-and-over because it gets your attention — the highly meaningful lyrics.”
He adds, “I have a 13-track album, which is marketed by Soprime Music, Lagos. One of the tracks, The Only One, is on KORA list for this year.
I think I should have the Award, by the grace of God. I’m so convinced I will do so.”
Acho is in his elements, as he zeroes in on his career rise. My involvement with music started quite early. My dad likes it, and I must say, I got the talent from him. When we were growing up, we had guitar, piano, so, I grew up playing those instruments at home. My sister first started, before I picked it up.”
He adds, “she actually took me to the studio. She used to work with Johnny Cross in the late 80s, probably in 1989. I was 14 then.”

IN his late 20s, Acho first received the Holy Grail from his father, when the old man saw that his son was all music. He drawls, “dad just said, ‘I’m going to let you do what you want to do, but you have to get the education’.”
He pauses and breathes heavily, “the first song I recorded was That Morning. I was trying to think of something, create a story about an incident that morning and things started going wrong until a friend turned things around.”
“There were no computers then; so, we used to record live instrument. There were no CDs. Just tapes.”
The sixth-born of his parents, Acho says, “in those early days, I used to send out my CDs and my songs for reviews. I have the following people, who have reviewed my songs such as David Musial, of One World Artists in New York, and Yoel Kenan former A and R boss of BMG Records, UK.”
He adds dutifully, wearing a smile thatis effectious.“I had several other songs but I slowed down because I had to follow dad’s counsel.”
He says with a resigned shrug, “I didn’t do anything but I was writing songs till 2000. Not on a commercial basis. In 2001, I graduated as a petroleum engineer, and I was still recording. When I came to Lagos from Port Harcourt, I started full time music.”
He recalls, “while I was working, I recorded some songs with Romantic Rolly. A British lyricist, Jim Blake, wrote most of the songs I recorded with him. I recorded another with Paul Runz, who incidentally, produced Faze’s record. The name of the track is One in A million. After that, I got a deal with a record label in the US GotBeats Records in Detroit, Michigan. I was able to release my first record under the ground, Yahoo, MSN, NAPSTER, E-music, CD Baby, High Tunes and a lot of online distributors. While this was going on, I was recording more songs and doing videos.”
In 2007, he recorded the song, The Only one, which was produced by Papa Ken. He also produced a second hit track, Take Away, in that album. And shot the video too. In 2008, he was involved in Kanu Foundation’s project, which had Obiwon, OJB and many other artists.

IN March 2008, KORA called for submission of songs, which he did, while in October 2008; he was nominated for Best African Artiste in the Caribbean. For the April 11, KORA Award, that’s the only Nigerian in the category.
On December 31, he had a show at the Dan Anyiam Stadium for the government, where I performed alongside Naeto C, Ikechukwu, African China, Kelly Handsome, J Martins and Nig.Ga Raw.
So why Caribbean music?
He laughs, “I love Caribbean music. I try to blend pop music with it, to give a new flair. MC Anthony has always been a great influence. I’ve always wanted to do a crossover; nothing restrictive, especially about what we do here. My greatest ambition is to be nominated and winning the Grammy, which I’m on the road to doing.”
For the Otulu Amumara in Ezinihitte, Mbaise Local Council of Imo State-born artiste, who had his education at the University of Port Harcourt, where he read Petroleum Engineering and graduated in 2005 and his secondary education in Boy’s Secondary School, Azaraegbelu, Emekuku, Owerri, Imo State, “the music industry is growing and the quality is good. Now you can make a living as an artiste. I’m so sure very soon, we will be competing with Americans for the Grammy Awards.”

Thinking out Private Sector


BY GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR AND NDUKA CHIOMA PAMELA
LOLLYING on a sofa, her legs tucked beneath, Titilayo Adebayo focused her eyes on the programme on air. She wore a red floral print gown, which made her look like a teenager. If you didn’t look closely, you would hardly notice that the lady is a mother. But sure, she is. She has two kids and she whispers, “looks can be deceptive.”
When Titilayo was growing up, her parents would let her stay up to watch programmes that tell stories. They only controlled her when the quality was not commendable. So, she grew up thinking of writing, directing and producing her stories on air. It has been a childhood dream for her. And she has been very serious and ambitious about it. She ended up studying Performing Arts at the University of Ilorin, with a master’s degree in Creative Arts from the University of Lagos (in view).
She giggles, “all my life, I’ve always wanted to tell a story that will transform the society.”
She’s appalled about the insensitivity of leaders to issue of development, and says, Private Sector lends gravitas to her dream of telling stories that will change the society.

SHE gets up the sofa and switches on the video for some scenes from the TV soap to play before more questions are asked. She goes inside and brings out a kettle. She empties the content in a mug and offers her guests some shortbread biscuits.
With a cackle that seems to lift out of the pages showing the dimple on her face, Titilayo says, “it is very un-African not to play a good host in your house.”
“The drama is to sensitise all citizens, leaders and the led, to the varieties of challenges and forces at play, as well as the role one and all have to play for the progress of our society,” she sings in an upbeat demeanour.
After a moment, she muses, “the series’ explores the struggle for social and human advancement in a third world country against the backdrop of all the contending forces for and against attaining such targets as prescribed in the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs).
Titilayo says, “it seems appropriate that we have to veer from every cliché theme being currently dramatised.”
While admitting that the attention of the viewers will be on the office, boardrooms, homes, clubs and other diverse setting of the drama, she believes that they are all what will grip “an average literate person, as well as a corporate chief executive. However, the average working person, students and undergraduates, entrepreneurs and managers, government and public officers, as well as all religion and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and stakeholders will find it very much exciting and irresistible.”
She says with Private Sector, which explores the theme of human and societal development, you won’t get to see the identifiable narratives about love, rejection and betrayal. It is played out in the activities and management of one company, human and social development consultancy (HUSODEV Consult).

THE TV series is showing currently on Television Continental (TVC) every Sunday at 2.30pm. But from the first week of April, it would be transmitted on MITV at 6.30pm every Wednesday, while every Saturday at 10.30pm; it will be the turn of LTV and Galaxy Television.
The production, she says, is supported by Nubia House Productions Limited, which is a fully incorporated arts production business outfits with the aim of sustaining uniqueness in storylines, cinematography, set design, originality of music, captivating customs and direction.

SO, is this soap opera her first production? She breathes, “no!”
Titilayo says, “for so many years, she has been directing stage plays and supporting other outfits that are interested in the projection of the theatrical forms.” She adds, “I have been the technical director of Antigone, a stage production. I was the NYSC Drama Director when I was serving in Borno.”
So what is Private Sector all about?
“It is a 30-minutes drama, inspiring to the same objectives of service to humanity from seemingly conflicting stand points, two long standing associates — David Olufemi (the M.D) and Muhktar (the Chief Research Officer) — are caught up in an interplay of socio-economic and political forces that test the limit of their liberal humanist and radical philosophies respectively.”
Coming together after their university days and scholastic journeys, and despite their differing views and perspectives, they succeeded well for four years to build a frontline Development Solutions outfits designed to propose solutions to educational, health, environmental and social problems to governmental and private institutions and implement or supervise same.
This consult is now going through a decline and is threatened with sabotage in the face of internal weakness and compelling external forces.

IN the battle of wits and ideas that ensue in trying to salvage the company, Olufemi and Muhktar will eventually reckon with issues beyond wishes and dreams and clarify not only their principles about society and development, but also re- examine their lifestyle and spiritual growth as it connects with the society’s transformation, and in the process realize that for genuine social progress, re-sectorisation (to private or to public) matters little unless man’s material and spiritual well being is made the centre of al endeavours by the managers of society at all levels.
The lady says at least 20 episodes of the possible 52 episodes that have been shot already.
Titilayo is cagey about the non-appearance of popular acts in the soap, but insists, “the concept is to train people on quality arts — looking into ideas of promoting quality acting and interpretation of roles.
Though she admires the huge talents that abound in Nigeria, she says, “I have observed that there are so many unemployed theatre arts graduates looking for jobs. This soap was an opportunity for me to bring some of these graduates to the screen to act — to do what they know best.”
Challenges?
Titilayo draws a grim face and heaves, “God… a lot.” She adds briskly, “it will surprise you to know that the people I thought I could help with immediate jobs displayed a high level of indisclipine.”
But she’s undaunted. “If I had my way I’ll do it over and over again with them because what I set my mind achieving, I did.”
She pauses, then adds what seems a full stop. “I hope that this drama will promote positive role models for the Nigerian youths and the entire society. I believe that it will alert the society of the challenges inherent in the attainment of developmental aspirations and also the mitigating factors to attainment of social developments.”

‘Yes… Give me bright colours in any shape’


ADEKUNLE Oloyede Michael popularly known as Dekunle Fuji because of his fuji rhythm is from a royal family in Ipetumodu, Osun State. The gospel artiste, who is a graduate of Creative Arts from the University of Lagos, was born on February 14, many years ago. Currently working on a script titled Ohun okan mi Fe, his second album, My Logo, is in the market. He tells DAMILOLA ADEKOYA what fashion is to him.

Definition of fashion
Fashion is a person’s choice. It’s all about an individual’s choice.
Family background
My late father was a king, while my mum, who is equally late, was a businesswoman. I really don’t know my position in the family, but I know that my father had seven wives and many children.
Music and you
I can’t do without it; everything about me is just music.
Style of dressing
My mood determines what I wear; however, basically, I go on my jeans either with a T-shirt or a long shirt and my timberland shoes.
Most expensive item
It’s my life.
What would you not be caught wearing?
An Iro and buba.
Most cherished possession
My relationship with God.
Turn on
Good music.
Turn off
Dishonesty.
Favourite designer
A24. Though he is a local designer, his designs are very good, in fact, he designs all my T-shirts.
Favourite colour
I love bright colours such as blue and red because I’m very dark and it tends to bring out my complexion.
Describe yourself in three words
Outgoing, fun-loving and special.
Embarrassing moment(s)
It was on December 5, 2008, when I was expected to perform at Experience, a programme that holds yearly at the Tafawa Balewa Square. As we mounted the stage, the instruments just refused to work perfectly and there was a communication breakdown between the instrumentalists and the singers and we had to stay at the side.
Happiest moment (s)
It was last year when I won the Nigerian Entertainment Award (NEA) in New York as The Best Gospel Artiste of the Year, and the Nigerian Music Awards (NMA) as the Best Fuji Artiste of the Year.
Role model
Dr Taiwo Odukoya, he is my spiritual father. I also love Pastor E. A Adeboye, he is a selfless man of God.
Food
I love rice and egusi soup.
Philosophy of life
With God, all things are possible. Seek his kingdom first and every other thing shall be added unto you.
If you were given an opportunity to change something in Nigeria, what would it be?
It will be the mismanagement of resources. I just don’t like the fact that we have a lot of natural resources but we misuse them. I just believe it’s sabotage. I will also make Governor Fashola, the President of Nigeria.

Musing round R7O World


BY OYINDAMOLA LAWAL
Producer, director, writer and journalist, Ayo Shonaiya, is the brain behind R70 world. The multitalented UK-based artiste has worked with the biggest name in the industry. He speaks on his motivation.
Family and education background
I’m the fifth of six children. I had my primary and secondary education in Lagos before going to film school in America and later Law School in England.
How was growing up like?
I was the mummy’s pet. I’m still my mummy’s pet, though I have children of my own now. Growing up was really cool for me. I was exposed to a lot of the rich Lagos culture and ‘scene’ back in the 70s, especially with the music. I would listen to Elvis Presley and the Temptations, while also rocking Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey; and of course, I used to go to the original Afrikan Shrine to watch Fela live when I was like eight years old.
Journey into the entertainment world
I’ve always loved the entertainment industry, even though my lifelong ambition was to be a lawyer when I was younger. When I was in film school, I got into a whole load of stuff, like once dyeing my hair blonde and playing bass guitar in a rock band, for real. Apart from producing my first two films, I really got into the entertainment industry through KWAM 1 (K1 the Ultimate).  I was his international manager for about three years, then Trybesmen, D’Banj and so on.
Tell us about the “New Urban TV”
Urban TV is a UK-based Nigerian and African business and entertainment station, which is re-launching.  I’m the new COO and Director of Television. Black television has been suffering for years because of lack of funding and unqualified people running around the place.  With Urban TV, you have two professional people (along with the CEO) running the station the way a proper TV station should be run.  It’s going to be on the Sky satellite channel 191 and we aim to be the No.1 black station in six months.  I’ve done it before; I’ll do it again. Urban TV is more of my life for at least the next three years, but I’ll still working with my people at R70 World on other projects like Green Shorts, Stars on the Runway, Intro Summer Jams and so on.  Next on my plate is filming United States of Nigeria, a TV series about Nigerians in America, that you should see on Nigerian television soon and of course Urban TV in the UK.
What R7O World does
R70 World is my production company. We produce film, television, music and others, including fashion projects.  My company will be producing a bunch of original programmes for Urban TV while still doing other projects. One of such projects is Green Shorts. I’ll let you know when the time is right.
Managing his career
I don’t manage, I just do it. I spend pretty much every waking hour of my life creating something or the other; so, I’ve got a lot of stuff to go through before my time is up.  Ultimately I’ll ‘retire’ to concentrate on just making documentaries.
Actors he has worked with
  I have not worked with many actors.  Although I’ll like to do something with Mike Ezuruonye and Yemi Solade in a proper film setting, maybe outside of Nigeria. I’ll love to work with Kate Henshaw and Genevieve Nnaji too some day, maybe put them in a film where they fight over me, abi? I once directed Jim Iyke in a film in London and found him to be the craziest, funniest, get-on-your-nerves, erratic, charming, explosive man you will ever meet. He likes to read romance novels in between scenes. Can you believe… when he should be reading his script!
Which artistes was most challenging?
Working with K1 the Ultimate was an education, with the Trybesmen it was like babysitting (don’t really mean that) and my work with D’Banj wasn’t really rewarding for me as we parted ways just before he became the biggest thing since Bic biro, although I love him and Don Jazzy to bits.
His inspiration
Life and love inspire me. And of course, my children and the music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Role models
Papalolo and Jacob. Those two guys kept me alive when I was growing up. Of course, there’s former Manchester United legend, Eric Cantona; Indian actor Amitabh Bachan and American director, Oliver Stone.
How do you see Nigeria entertainment industry?
You know how people are saying the industry is booming, I’ll tell you there’s another sonic boom coming, and I hope to be in the middle of it. Continued creativity and perseverance are lacking.  We’re at a point where we know what’s good and what’s not, so you can tell what’s lacking.  As long as we just keep pumping out quality material, not quantity, we’ll be fine.
Most memorable moment
Births of my children.  I’ve been advised not to keep saying when Nigeria beat (West) Germany 2-0 to win the first U-17 World Cup in China in 1985.  That was my ‘former’ memorable moment of all time!
How many films have you produced?
Five feature films to date, but I’ve worked on a lot of short films since 1992.
Shooting on 35mm?
I’ll explain all that when my Green Shorts project starts.
Projection into Immediate future?
Manchester United winning the quintuple! Mid-term future?
Paying my daughter’s university fees and socialising expenses. I know what it’s like to be broke in university. 
Long term future? 
Retiring to concentrate on documentaries.
If you are given a chance to change something in Nigeria what will it be?
I don’t know.  As per Lagos, the good, the bad and the ugly gives the city its own character. Eko o ni baje o!

Nite of live beats


BY CHUKS NWANNE
ANYONE, who attended the yearly Nigeria-Britain Music Concert, held recently at The Vault, Victoria Island, Lagos, would surely agree that the show was a classic. Aside the quality of guests at the event including the former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and a host of others, the concert could pass for a standard for staging music shows in the country. Well, with the British Council, MTN, Nigeria Breweries among others as sponsors, the concert could have been less in quality.
With the stage jam-packed with all sorts of musical instruments ranging from guitars, keyboards, saxophone, conga, drum set… and multiple microphones, it was obvious that we were in for a live concert. Just as predicted, the artistes performed all their songs live, with the stand-by band providing instrumental backup; there was no room for ‘DJ please, play me track 1.” It was a night of live music at its best.
Anchored by comedian Omobaba, who spiced up the night with jokes, the stage came alive with HST, a group of three guys with the dream of making good music. The FESTAC brought-ups raised the roof with their energetic performance before giving way to Dekunle Fuji.
Dressed in a branded T-shirt, Dekunle, a gospel fuji artiste, who derived his stage name from his penchance for fuji music, initially struggled to lift the audience with first song; it seemed that didn’t work. At that point, the Theatre arts graduate of the University of Lagos turned to his popular track, which got the audience singing, ‘mo love Jesu gan, mo gbadu Jesu gan,’ as they dig it in juji style.
Singer, Nomoreloss made his presence on stage with Ololufe, a song that actually brought down the already heated atmosphere. For sure, a good number of the guests, especially the ladies, got hooked by the track. The concert took a twist with the introduction of the band by Nomoreloss, with each of the members free styling with on their instrument. He wrapped up his performance with his own version of Olando Owoh’s composition, Iyawo Asiko.
Ego crooner, Djinee mounted the stage in style, but not at his best in terms of vocal. “I’m sorry my voice is going; I’ve been performing for the past weeks,” he said in defense. Well, the former Soundcity presenter managed to do justice to his songs on stage. Truly, the voice was missing, but Djinee’s stagecraft was intact. He opened with My Pillow, before doing I No Dey Shame, a track that nearly took him off key; but Djinee was able to pull it all through.
Gospel singer, Tosin Martins was next after Djinee. The lawyer turned singer started out on a promising note, but his act suffered halfway; there was power failure; Tosin tactically disappeared from the stage. Funny enough, what one expected to be the low point of the night, turned out to be one of the highpoints of the concert.
While the technical men were struggling to restore power, the band kept the stage alive; except for the keyboardists, guitarists and the backup singer, who remained on stage though, providing moral support for the percussionists. Talking drummer was on heat in action. Then the saxophonists took over, blowing popular tunes that saw the audience singing along, while the drummer was busy rolling the drums steadily. In between, power was restored. At that point, Tosin reappeared on stage to wrap up his performance with his popular track, Olomi.
Abuja-based pop music group, Style-plus was the top of the bill for the night. The group of three opened with Runaway, one of the songs from their debut album; the track actually took many down memory lane, when Style-Plus used to be the rave of the moment. These days, you hardly see them gig major concerts, especially in Lagos. Olufunmi was next, followed by Table for Two, a song from their second album.