Tuesday, 22 December 2009

BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
LEMI GHARIOKWU is presently busy showcasing his new work titled Afro Beat Goes On round Africa and other domains of the black race. Outside this, he recently unveiled another work pop art at the just concluded exhibition held at Artistic Licence art gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Mounted at a position overlooking the entrance of the gallery was Redemption, a piece about the obnoxious Trans Atlantic slave trade. Interestingly, Ghariokwu tells his story of redemption using the ironic result of the trade by placing a slave against that of the United States President, Barack Obama, at the opposite ends of a slave ship.
Redemption is perhaps one of the common expressions for most artists, irrespective of genres. And so, one may ask: is the Black race really there? Ghariokwu, who is known for his consistent Afro-centric ideology states that “for those of us who hold strongly to the struggle of emancipation of the race, redemption is here – we are there.” But there is the other side of the people who “still believe that redemption is a mirage; to such people, we are not there yet.”

AND to get out of this mental slavery, his new work emphasises celebration of the people’ heroes. In addition to the Obama image, pop art on late legends, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Michael Jackson stress that argument. Electrified depictions of a concert lighted-image of Jackson in Electric-I and a brownish-toned image of Fela, smoking with the title Ah-Free-Can are his thoughts on the subject. Electrifying, he declares, “is the most appropriate to describe Jackson’s stage image.” Ghariokwu has an adapted literary explanation for the Fela image as: Ah is a common exclamation; Free, unchaining from mental slavery; Can, ability to attain redemption. These, he says, add up to represent “African.”

Proclaiming this Africaness rests hugely on how heroes are presented for posterity. He cautions that exposing the psyche of children, for example, to characters such as Superman, Batman and other Western heroes without African alternatives is wrong. He asks: “What is wrong in promoting Sango as a comic hero?” Superman, he notes does all sorts of spectacles that we admire, “but when a-Sango character spits fire, some people would say, ‘it’s fetish’ or juju. But the truth is that it’s similar to the heroic act we see of Western heroes being promoted through the mass media.”
From the boring security routines at entry points of countries in Europe and America re-enacted on canvas in Biometrics, to the global economic crisis in Meltdown, the artist smells some hypocrisy of the West.
Beyond racial divides and class, come in Square Circles, a reclining figure that engages in the natural aging process and Life is a Weaver, a woven piece of craft, which takes you through shades and colours of life.
In August through September, he had a similar show titled, Afro Pop Art: Politics, Life and Lyrics, at Arc Gallery, Tottenham, United Kingdom.

Coltrane: The Reality of Sheets of Sounds

BY BENSON IDONIJE
FORTY two years after his death in 1967, John Coltrane’s popularity has continued to grow and assume legendary proportions, while his saxophone technique remains a relevant source of inspiration to emerging generations of musicians.
Even though he lived for only 41 years, his popularity should have been more widespread and deeply rooted if he had gone his separate way early enough in his career like Miles Davis and Chalie Parker. Instead, he spent years as a sideman because he was in great demand. And it was not until the remarkable experience with Miles Davis in Kind of Blue that he began to come into his own. And, left to shift for himself, the facets of his style that made him a candidate for greatness were immediately recognisable.
As a matter of fact, Coltrane has many sides to his art; and is so controversial that critics like me will continue to write about him as long as they have something interesting and fresh to say.
The tenor saxophonist first came to prominence in the middle fifties, reflecting compulsion, anxiety, anger, and fear, what pianist Cecil Taylor called “the realities of the day.” For all its chaos, the music had deep and direct emotional meaning for many listeners; and some insiders began to mark Coltrane as “the man.”
But it did not become Coltrane’s year until 1961, when he won three divisions in Down Beats International Critic’s Poll as best tenor saxophonist of the year; and, in the ‘New Star’ division, “Miscellaneous Instrument” (for soprano saxophone); and New Combo. He had come up with the quartet of outstanding musicians featuring Elvin Jones, drums; Jimmy Garrison, bass; McCoy Tyner, piano; himself on saxophones (tenor and soprano).

It behoves a musician to take such honours with a grain or two of realism, considering the situation in which he found himself at the time. For, as often as not, some of the same writers who made a current victory possible were those who once maintained that their favourite did not know how to play his instrument.
The experience of Sonny Rollins at the time indicated that it could be detrimental to read one’s own press notices, or so it seemed. It would have been disastrous for Coltrane too, had he taken his to heart, for his early notices were frequently negative, and he had been under fire several times since. That he continued to progress in the inexorable glare of a scrutiny that invested his most casual acts with significance was evidence of unusual conviction. Coltrane was probably the first major soloist of that contemporary era whose development largely took place under such scrutiny, and it should be of some value to examine that development.
On the back liners of one of Coltrane’s Blue Note albums, Robert Levine speaks of Coltrane’s “spearing, sharp and resonant sound that creates an ominous atmosphere,” and of his “veering, inconsistent lines.”
Those phrases, to my mind, characterise Coltrane about as well as it could be done, and highlight the qualities of original thinking that have made him the first major new saxophone innovator since Sonny Rollins, who in turn was the first since Charlie Parker.
But change is not always progress, and to a large degree, Coltrane contained within himself the elements that made his kind of jazz the most exciting that was played; and the elements that often seemed to be leading it (and him) down a blind alley.
Excitement is there, certainly, of an incomparable nature, and surprise. Most often, at the beginning of a solo, Coltrane enters from the unexpected place, creating a shock effect in the first phrase that leaves the listener limp for two or three choruses. Listen to him on Blues by Five on the Miles Davis Cookin album on Prestige. Coltrane is also possessed of an unmatched energy by which, in two choruses, he can lift an average flaccid bop record out of its rut and into the realm of major jazz. Hear his solo on Light Blue in the album, Interplay for two trumpets and two tenors.
Of his role as everybody’s recording sideman, Coltrane later said, “I wouldn’t do it now.” At the time, he needed the money. The result was that he appeared on a few records on which his was the only music likely to last. He also played on many others on which he merely juggled his own stock of pet phrases from one tune to the next, justifying his own assessment of himself as not “playing anything new or different.” On two of Gene Ammons’ records, he even reverted to the alto saxophone, his initial instrument.
Aside from his regular work with Davis, his best musical opportunity at that time was the chance he got to record an album of Tadd Dameron compositions with the composer on piano.

The major turning point in Coltrane’s career seemed to have come in the summer of 1957, when he left Davis, who was temporarily dissatisfied with his group, to join Thelonius Monk. “Working with Monk,” Coltrane once told Down Beat, “brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I felt I learned from him in every way through the senses, theoretically, technically. I would talk to Monk about musical problems, and he would sit at the piano and show me the answers just by playing them. I could watch him play and find out the things I wanted to know. Also, I could see a lot of things that I didn’t know about at all.
“Monk was one of the first to show me how to make two or three notes at a time on tenor… It’s done by false fingering and adjusting your lip. If everything goes right, you can get triads. Monk just looked at my horn and felt the mechanics of what had to be done to get this effect.”

However, in the fall of 1957, Coltrane, a greatly improved musician, returned to Miles Davis, who was now beginning the modal experiments which were, in their use of fewer and fewer chords, to affect Coltrane greatly. The saxophonist had also changed. He had previously fallen prey to self destructive practices that lurk in the jazz world but had, by now, suddenly and definitely stopped. An interview he granted the press at the time reflected his new attitude. “Live cleanly… do right… you can improve as a player by improving as a person. It’s a duty we owe to ourselves.”
Not surprisingly, it was at this time that Coltrane began to be an influence on other players. He had also become a careful student of his own work, analysing it to a point that once caused him to remark, “I’m worried that sometimes what I’m doing sounds just like academic exercise, and I’m trying more and more to make it sound prettier.”
In Down Beat, Coltrane was able to dissect his style in a way that he had never done before. About this time, he wrote, referring to his second stint with Davis, the one that culminated in Kind of Blue, “I was trying for a sweeping sound. I started experimenting because I was striving for more individual development. I even tried long, rapid lines that critic Ira Gitler termed “sheets of sounds” at the time. But actually, I was beginning to apply the three-on-one chord approach, and at that time, the tendency was to play the entire scale of each chord. Therefore, they were usually played fast and sometimes sounded like glisses.
“I found there was a number of chord progressions to play in a given time, and sometimes what I played didn’t work out in eighth notes, sixteenth notes, or triplets. I had to put the notes in uneven groups like fives and sevens in order to get them all in.
“I thought in groups of notes, not of one note at a time. I tried to place these groups on the accents and emphasise the strong beats — maybe on 2 here and on 4 over at the end. I could set up the line and drop groups of notes — a long line with accents dropped as I moved along. Sometimes what I was doing clashed harmonically with the piano —especially if the pianist wasn’t familiar with what I was doing- so a lot of time I just strolled with bass and drums.
“I haven’t completely abandoned this approach, but it wasn’t broad enough. I’m trying to play these progressions in a more flexible manner now.”

In the summer of 1959, the growing critical and public dispute over whether Coltrane or Sonny Rollins was the most influential modern tenorman was settled, at least temporarily, by Rollin’s retirement.
Coltrane, once maligned, was now indisputably on top. Early in 1960, he made the obvious move, he left Miles Davis to form his own group, a situation that gave him the freedom to create those ‘Sheets Of Sounds.’
benidoni@yahoo.com

Koffi in Workerman Movement

Comedian Idowu Nuel, otherwise known as Koffi in the entertainment circle is taking his career to a higher level. Aside from being a comedian, the humour merchant has instituted an entertainment outfit — Workerman Movement.
Already, Koffi’s effort has started yielding fruit with the production of an album, All Eyes Open-12 Sessions, 5 Mics. A musical assemblage of five different artistes namely: Koffi, Yeankeyz, Outshine, Affroholik and Boomerang, is said to have been borne out of the need to foster serene and good music, which would be devoid of lewd lyrics and obscene contents.
Known as Workerholics, Koffi, who leads the group, is of the opinion that lovers of urban hippy music can easily identify with the production, while not disregarding the need for socially responsible thoughts. The 12-track album featured songs such as Jammin, S.E.X.Y, No Be Ashy, Adrenaline, Money, No Shigbin Shigbin, Take Over, Swagga Dis Swaga Dat, Going Nowhere, Workerholik and others.
“I’m into so many things, but right now, we would be releasing the album this December. We just wanted to show people that we can still do serious music,” he said.
On why he delved into music, Koffi explained that, “What we are doing is a full time job and should be treated as such. The same doctor that treats malaria treats cancer and also assists in giving birth to a baby. Those are different areas a doctor performs his duties. In the same vein, as a comedian, why can’t I do every other thing that I can do; as long as I don’t try to take another person’s piece of cake. I just try to express myself the best way I could.”

Unmasking Ajebo..

Many of his colleagues probably don’t know his given name -- Steve Eboh. Many people are used to calling him Ajebo — the popular tag for spoilt brats. Indeed, that is the name the Enugu State-born screen personality has been known with since he joined the industry close to two decades ago. A native of Oji River, Eboh is a gifted and self-motivated practitioner. Moviedom caught up with the gangling actor of vast credit and a one-time member of the Ministerial Committee on the review of the nation’s film policy.

Why they call me Ajebo
It was actually in 1994 that they started calling me by that name Ajebo. And it was on the set of an Igbo movie, Frame Up, which we shot in Imo State. I recall that it was the first time that such a large crowd of artistes would be travelling out for a movie shoot anywhere in the East. I think it started with Ngozi Ezeonu and Bob Manuel. They walked into my room on location and discovered that I had everything that would make my stay on location comfortable. My fridge was well stocked with assorted beverages. That was how they named me the original Ajebo — what they called kids who are pampered; and that was because I had everything I wanted to eat in my room. Since then, the name has stuck.

Before Nollywood
Before 1992, I was working on television — NTA like occasional appearance in the popular Tales by Moonlight and then Telemovies. I was working in a private firm and so I would always return to my job after shoot. I was also involved in some politics. I was part of the group that was campaigning for Bashir Tofa to be president. But along the line, I went into movies and dumped politics. That was when I took part in Dirty Deal by NEK Video Links. After that, I stayed on and even gave up acting on television since home video was the in-thing then.

Growing up

I am from Oji River Local Council of Enugu State. I was born down there but I was brought up in the North, Zaria, to be precise. I had my early school in the north, in Funtua and back to Zaria. My brother, who was based in Zaria then, nurtured me. They never wanted me to stay with my mum. They felt she was going to spoil me. So, I grew up with a brother who taught me how to be self-confident and how to think through a decision. That is why I don’t regret any of my actions and I don’t blame people for my fault. But it was from my brother that I took the lead, I mean as an entertainer. He was involved in a lot of extra curricula activities such as serving as master of ceremonies in events and all that. So, I took a lead from him. I came to Lagos, moved to NTA and then the movie industry.

Parental objection

No. I come from a very humble family and a family that would not interfere in whatever you are doing. All they demand is that you must ensure that you don’t tarnish the image of the family. But some people frown at my involvement. I recall that one of my intimate friends asked me to name anyone that has made it as an actor. I am sure that they would not ask me that question now because I would count myself as those that have benefitted from acting. Today they are all happy for me and want to see me in every movie.

Movie credits

I would have done between 60 and 80 films. The first one was Dirty Deal, and then Taboo another Igbo movie followed and then Evil Passion. I was also a major part of Frame Up, August Meeting, Last Burial and a whole lot of other titles.

Regrets

I have never regretted being in this industry. It has given me so much. I am comfortable by the special grace of God. At least, I am not begging. The fact that I can take myself from point A to point B without asking for a loan gives me joy. The other thing I like is the fact that I have peace of mind. The only pain is the impression people have about you. You see, people think that you are the same character you play on television in real life. They see you and what you hear is ‘chief bring the money for us to share’ as if you own the film. If you go to the village and they have to task everybody, yours will be higher because for some of them a millionaire in a movie is a millionaire outside the movie. You can’t walk the street freely.

Happiest moment

My happiest moment was when I stayed in the same hotel with Nigerian international Kanu Nwankwo aka Papilo. He is one person I admire a lot. But on sighting me at the reception area, he asked someone to stop me so that he could have the privilege of shaking hands with me. So in my mind I was saying, I thought I should be the one running after Papilo. I was too happy to see him and he was also happy to see me too.
If I were not an actor
I would have been a journalist. My brother was a freelance journalist back then. I admired the way he wrote. I would have also loved to drive. I admired drivers particularly those that drive big lorries and buses. I am sure I would have made a good transporter if I had gone into that profession.

Challenging work

My most challenging work will be Narrow Escape. Because that was the first time I came face to face with anything that had to do with cultism. I have never been so scared in my life like when we started shoot for the movie. It was a set we created but I tell you that we had to pray so that we don’t get attacked. We almost didn’t enter the hall because everything appeared scary. We had to pray and bind whatever that was putting fear into us. But the movie came out well and was considered very successful.

Hobbies

I love football a lot. I love to play table tennis to. I like hanging out with friends. And I can stay on a football match for a whole day. I also love discussing politics. I am not married yet even though I have completed all the rites. My wife should be joining me soon. She is not an actress. And you see I don’t rush things in life. I take my time. I have always prayed to God to give me my wife and at the right time too. I have been under tremendous pressure from my family, age grade and even the press but it can only happen at God’s time and I have been assured that the time is not too far from now. I have found the person and to God be the Glory. No regret. Acting is life. It has given me so much joy and peace of mind. For food, I like yam and maize. I am on the quiet side, so I don’t like noisy music. But I am impressed with what our boys are doing with hip-hop.





Around and about Nollywood...


NOPA 2009 Honours Henshaw, Williams, Isong
DESERVING practitioners and stakeholders in the Nigerian motion picture industry were honoured at the 2009 edition of the Nollywood Outstanding Personality Award (NOPA) organised by the Association of Movie Journalist s(AMJ) and Stanword Media Group. The award, which is in its third edition, was held on Sunday December 6, at White House, Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos. It was chaired by ex-Executive Director of Programmes of the Nigerian Television Authority and current Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr. Peter Igho, MFR. On the NOPA honour list were Adim Williams, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Dagogo Diminas, Emem Isong, Stephanie Okereke, Jonathan Gbemutor and the duo of Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme. Two journalists — ex- deputy editor of Thisday Newspaper, Oji Onoko and Shaibu Husseni of The Guardian were honoured given the Diamond Pen Merit Award for their outstanding contributions to movie journalism. Also, life time achievement awards were conferred on Sir Mike Adenuga for his passionate interest in the entertainment industry and Sir Dr. Walter Ofonagoro for his contributions to Nollywood and arts in general as former DG of NTA and Minister of Information and Culture. The Vanguard was honoured for its incisive coverage and reportage of Nollywood at the event that was spiced up with musical performances and stand-up comic act. The award with the theme ‘the seal of excellence in professionalism’ is an initiative of Stanword Media Group and hosted in partnership with the Association of Movie Journalists (AMJ), NOPA was actively supported by Nollywood, and Nigeria Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), National Film Corporation (NFC), corporate bodies and the media. It has also enjoyed sponsorship from LIFF, Gold Angel, Orbit Audiovisual Studio, CLOUT Media and Super Max (Fuel Savers) and the management of White House.

Entries for AMAA 2010 still open
THE Africa Film invites filmmakers to submit their Feature, Short, and Documentary works for consideration by the 6th AMAA, the premier Africa film awards. Each completed entry form must be accompanied by all the supporting materials listed on the submission forms, including the synopsis of the film, the list of credits, marketing stills of the film, filmography of the directors and producers, 10 DVD copies of the film and proof of the right to submit. Only films produced and released between December 2008 and December 2009 would be entered for the 2009 celebration of African Cinema to be held in 2010. It will be announced in Ghana in February 2010. AMAA will hold on April 10, 2010 and will be televised across the world. Submission forms are downloadable from the AMAA Awards website. For further information, please contact AMAA at info@ama-awards.com.

Entries for Zuma Film Festival open
ALL is now set for the 5th edition of ZUMA Film Festival organised by the NFC. Scheduled to hold in Abuja from May 2 to 6, 2010. Call for entries opens on Tuesday, December 1 and closes February 28, 2010. The theme is Global Images, Global Voices, which according to the organisers, seek to consolidate on the gains of previous editions. Emphasis will be on bridging existing gaps between developed and developing film cultures as universal themes and global best practices will be adopted. The focus on the global nature and impact of the film medium will be encouraged during the film fiesta and at the same time platforms for filmmakers and filmmaking nations to globalise their films without losing the rhythms and practices that make their artistic cultures distinctively different will be provided. A statement from NFC said that entries should be accompanied with a two minute trailer must be submitted in three copies and must be on the DVD format with the typed synopsis on A4 paper-size. Submissions, the festival organizers said, would be accepted in the Competitive and Non Competitive categories. The Competitive category includes Feature film, Documentary, Children film, Student film, Animation/cartoon, Short film and Emerging talents while the Non Competitive category includes; films on Nigerian Panorama, Universal films, Diaspora & African films, Retrospectives /Tributes. Interested participants can make enquiries by e-mail to md_nfc@hotmail.com and md@nigfilmcorp.com. Similarly, entry forms can be obtained and returned to any of the Corporations offices in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Jos. ZUMA Film Festival, a major activity of the Nigerian Film Corporation is designed to provide a platform for the recognition and reward of excellence and creativity in the Nigerian motion picture industry and other film cultures around the globe.

24th Fribourg Film Festival holds March
THE 24th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) will hold from March 13 to 20, 2010. Since it began, the festival has committed itself to the promotion of cultural diversity. Its programme features essentially work from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Each year, the event plays host to a hundred or so national and international premieres. Today, the FIFF carries the reputation of an unparalleled platform for creative and cultural exchanges; furthermore, the event distinguishes itself as a Mecca of cinematographic discoveries. The festival enjoys a good international reputation, and is also recognised as a national reference. The artistic director of the FIFF is Edouard Waintrop, a former film critic for Libération. In 2010, Waintrop presents his third edition of the Festival. The competition section introduces around 12 feature films and documentaries completed during the year preceding the current edition, and which have not been screened in Switzerland or in Europe. The Grand Prize carries a CHF 30,000 reward. There is also the Panoramas, Retrospectives and Short Films. In that section, the thematic programmes featuring 5-18 films are compiled by the artistic director or film specialists. These films approach and discuss current trends, question established genres, reveal uncharted episodes of film history and pay tribute to personalities of outstanding merit. The short film programmes present the work of young contemporary filmmakers. The Forum@FIFF platform is dedicated to film professionals and hosts conferences, debates and encounters that promote the exchange of experiences, deepening of knowledge and networking in general. Filmmakers can get additional information on the festival at www.fiff.ch.


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

Nollywood absent at ION closing event
HOW come, one waka pass asked, as he looked around during the closing gala of the ION film festival in Port Harcourt. The waka pass said he could count the number of top Nollywood actors who were there. The waka pass, who said it was unbecoming for these celebrities to stay away from events that concerned them, was very furious when he said only three of Nollywood natural beauties — Genevieve Nnaji, Stephanie Okereke and Rita Dominic at the event and wondered what happened to Funke Akindele, Chioma Akpotha, Nkiru Sylvanus, and even Hilda Dokubo, who needed to take just a drop from her house to be at the event. Though a few actors made it to the event; the waka pass gushed that their presence didn’t equal Nollywood at all. I think he said he saw the deep actor and university teacher Sam Dede… then Alaso Woriboko, then Yibo Koko and then Julius Agwu. The waka pass was going to continue reeling out names but we stopped him because having mentioned Agwu, he was likely to add Ali Baba (who was compere) to the list of actors he saw at the closing gala just so as to make the list appear equal to Nollywood.

Emeka Ike is President?
WONDERS shall never end in Nollywood’ that was how one waka pass reacted when another of his kind hinted that star actor and school proprietor, Emeka Ike, has emerged President of the AGN from the back door. In fact, but for a published picture of his swearing-in- ceremony conducted by a fellow; a lawyer the waka pass described as ‘any weather’, he almost dismissed Ike’s emergence as one of those huge jokes told in some ludicrous movies. Anyway, this is how we were told Ike emerged: ‘In a bid not to appear used and dumped by the Ifeanyi Dike-led Board of Trustees (BOT), Kanayo O. Kanayo (KOK) insisted he must serve out his six months tenure as Interim President of the Caretaker Committee and to do that, he must conduct the election he had planned. Before the election, the BOT had unceremoniously dissolved the interim structure and in its place formed a contraption it called ‘Government of National Unity’ headed by embattled AGN president Segun Arinze. It was because of the manner in which he was sacked that KOK insisted on holding the election that saw the emergence of Ike as President. Meanwhile, KOK was there; body, soul and spirit when the BOT sacked the Ejike Asiegbu-led administration in like manner’. What this means is that there are two AGN presidents — Arinze and Ike — both of them illegally and unconstitutionally elected. Maybe it’s time to declare a ‘state of emergency’ in the actors’ folds... or what do you all think?

For Tricia, it shall be permanent
BY the time you are reading this, celebrated actress and television show host,Tricia Esiegbe, would have been married. For many who are familiar with the actress of many credits, yesterday was indeed the day the Lord made for Tricia, who has been linked with a number of people including football stars. A number of celebrities both in the field of sports and entertainment, we were told, showed up at her very colourful wedding, which held in Lagos. Waka pass couldn’t make it to the ceremony because we were busy with the rehearsals of the special number we intend to perform at the couples outing service in church today. The title of the special number? No, let’s just give you the first stanza and then you can join in the chorus…one …two… three… go: ‘It shall be permanent… It shall be permanent. What the lord has done for Tricia… must be permanent! To God be the Glory!

Season’s breaks

BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
THE tide of entertainment is rising to its crescendo with various leisure spots and entertainment merchants across the country beckoning on families and fun seekers to savour the best of the Yuletide.
In Calabar, Cross River State, the heat is already on with 32 days dedicated to entertainment in the yearly Calabar Festival, which is gradually running its course. Take a trip to the ‘Canaan City’ to feel the entertainment.
About 18 different local and international artistes such as Ron Kenoly, Sammie Okposo, D’banj, P- Square and Blakky, among others, are featuring.
The festival climaxes on December 27, with the staging of Carnival Calabar. This year’s carnival has been enriched in scope and format with the inclusion of traditional five bands – Passion 4, Bayside, Seagull, freedom and Master blaster — to complement over 16 non - competing bands that will take the carnival route of about 24 kilometres.
Also parts of the package are the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities as well as the children’s carnival, which is fixed for December 26. Also, fun is visiting the carnival village for different treats ranging from eating out to shopping and being entertained by theatrical performances of different troupes and artistes from across the country.
Besides the festival blues, a tour of the city itself provides an exciting experience for visitors as well. Some of the places to see include the Old Residency for a view of various artifacts and relics that are play back of the historical, political, cultural and socio –economic appeal of the city, which once served as the capital city of Southern Protectorate.
Duke Town and the Old Town also come with their different allures. With avid tour guide, the mystery and history of these towns are made to come alive to enlivened any visitor. Qua Vista Farm and Resort located in Southern end of the city is another appealing site with its natural ambience. It comes with a refreshing and serenading allure missing in the cities.
Enjoy spot fishing, storytelling, traditional games, and a cruise on the Calabar creek through the Calabar, Marina resort, Tinapa and even as far as Nwaniba – the home of Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort.
Of course, you can’t miss out on the specialty of the resort – fish, which can be grilled and seasoned with all sorts of spices to your taste. Here, seafood takes on a different meaning as majority of people in the city come here for ‘fish party,’ because of the special way it is prepared.
Conservationists and those seeking communion with nature should take a trip to Cross Rivers National Park in either the Oban or Okwange sector and be treated to different species of flora and fauna such as the elephant and monkey among others.
Afi Wildlife Sanctuary at the heart of Afi Mountain, one of the remaining crusts of primary forest that the state boasts of, is one enclave to enjoy a wilderness safari and interact with primates such as chimpanzees and drill monkeys, which are one of the world’s most endangered species and.
Kwa and Agbokin falls are compelling view and sites for family picnic as well as communing with nature while Ikom monoliths among others in Ikom, some distance from Calabar opens door to the creative impulse of the forebears of the people.
Obudu Mountain Resort, the rolling plateaus of Obudu also beckons those seeking a resting place to enjoy temperate weather and be serenaded by misty cloud. Every bit of stay in this resort is an experience to cherish with a lot of top range facilities and leisure ambience to play with.
Down the mountain top is Utange Lodge and Safari, which also comes with its own attraction. Children, teenagers and youths in the company of adults can actually roam freely here. African Sun Limited, which runs both the resort and lodge, should be able to treat visitors to their signature leisure offerings.

ENUGU
ENUGU,the city, sure prides itself as an interesting spot to harvest leisure. Some of the traditional spots to visit include the Polo Club, Michael Okpara Square and the Museum. A trip to Abakpe , Nike section of the city is also recommended — where the main attraction is Nike Lake Resort.
The refurbished resort, which now enjoys the eclectic touch of African Sun Limited, offers variety and rich blend of entertainment options to visitors. Cruising and spot fishing on the lake are twosome activities to experience.

DELTA,
Olona Ranch in Onicha Olona, Delta State, is a private resort run by Mr. Joseph Bogwu. It is a natural getaway resort for anyone seeking un-interrupted season’s break. Here, one is left to celebrate and savour nature in its pristine form. The make-up reminds one of the kinds of farm resort found in places like Texas or South Africa, where in the middle of a forest one comes across a resort that is hidden from the preening world. Some of the activities to engage one’s attention include horse riding, safari, smooching in natural pool and swimming pool, roaming in the orchard and a treat to local cuisine and drinks with fresh palm wine as a specialty.
Albert Esiri’s (one of Nigerians finest polo players and developer of the sport) Tuft Club in Oria - Abraka is another enclave to feel the pulse of nature and its creative resources. Explore the array of exotic, plush and enticing amenities of different degrees.
Enjoy nature trail and boat cruise on Ethiope River, horse riding, polo game, card game, table tennis, snooker game. You can also enrich your knowledge with best sellers and other related subjects from the library, best of foods and drinks from the restaurant and bar as well as rollicking moment at the gazebo.
While in Asaba, you would find Sunny Odogwu’s Grand Hotel and Conference Centre a good fun spot. Besides, the good food and drinks, the natural ambience that comes with the refreshing flow of River Niger is a welcome relief to the nerves as well as the live band dishing out different signature tunes that could keep one dancing for a long time.
Asaba recreational park on Osadebe Road is another good spot for family relaxation and picnic while Demas Kitchen and Leisure Garden are other spots that can’t be ignored. Here you have a feel of local delicacies and some drinks along Richard Lander Brothers Anchorage at the river bank.

PLATEAU
Solomon Lar Amusement Park, Jos, is a family ground for relaxation and picnic. Jos Amusement Park and Zoological Garden is a good spot to reconnect with nature and feast on various species in their captive enclosure. Mado Tourist Village provides a natural succour, too, just as Kurra International Tourist Centre with its natural elements.
Rayfield Resort and Rayfield Polo Club both located in the serene area of Rayfield are worth visiting for season’s breaks, especially the resort, which provides ample relaxation facilities ranging from water related leisure to indoor activities.
Healthy Body Clinic (HBC) Resort located in the peaceful axis of Vom road is a fascinating resort to visit with its blend of natural and contemporary beauties. It has on the bill, this season, special offers for the family’s delight.
Some of the things to enjoy at the resort include a 50 per cent discount on the rooms from December 23 to January 5, 2010 alongside breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. Other flavour include musical and cultural performances; barbeque and entertainment at the poolside; lakeside and orchard as well as football and volley competition between daddies and mummies.

IMO
IN the heartland of the East – Imo State, this is about the peak period for the traditional gathering of the kindred in all the communities. So, there is bound to be plenty of cultural fun fair within the villages while within the major cities such as Owerri Imo Concorde Hotel and All Seasons Hotel are some of the few hospitality homes to savour a blend of continental and local feasting.
Oguta, the ancestral home of Nigerian musical maverick and ‘Area Fada,’ Charly Boy comes with its special appeal as it is home to the once famous Oguta Motel and Golf Resort. The resort may not be at its best, however, the natural environment still has a compelling appeal.
This is the likely scenario in most of the eastern states where traditional home coming of loved ones and family members is cherished.


RIVERS
IN Port Harcourt, the harp generated by CARNIRIV ’09 , which has just been concluded is yet to clear, so, expect to see a heightened affairs at most of the leisure centres within the ‘Garden City’ and its environs. The cultural centre at Obiwali remains a veritable fun harvest spot.
Port Harcourt Beach Resort, Buguma, beckons fun seekers to it entrails for musical, cultural and water related entertainment such as boat cruise with a lot of sea foods to the bargain while Port Harcourt Zoological Garden on Trans – Amadi Layout still has some sparkles to attract children and adults.

The Figurine... Afolayan’s new cine-baby warms the world

BY CHUKS NWANNE
I walked in the scorching sun to the Ikeja, Lagos, office of Kunle Afolayan, only to be told he was not on seat; the whole place was hot, no thanks to the notorious power holders... sorry... holding fellows! I quickly put a call across to him and he promised joining me in few seconds; he had series of meetings to attend that day.
Kunle as well grumbled of the hot weather as soon he stepped into the office, with his laptop bag hung on his shoulder. In fact, the filmmaker had to pull off his shirt as a result of the heat; the fans were blowing hot air and the generator couldn’t get the air conditioners to work.
“Bros, I beg, give me sometime, this weather is terrible,” he pleads, putting a call across to someone who must be very intimate. Few minutes later, he was ready.
“Kunle is a jolly fellow, just a common guy like any other person, who is interested in filmmaking. Moreso, I’m very passionate about what I do for a living; whatever I do, my work comes first.” That was exactly the introduction he gave.
For those, who see him as one of those Nigerian filmmakers, he says, “I’m not just a filmmaker, I’m a businessman. I run a production outfit where we do equipment rental and consultancy for people on production, within and outside the country. We’ve collaborated with people; basically, all we do revolves around film and TV production.”
Though, he has been in the entertainment industry for long, it was the movie, Irapada, his outfit’s production, that brought Kunle to the limelight. But just as it looks like the son of the renowned theatre practitioner Ade Afolayan aka Ade Love (late) has arrived, dispute erupted between him and his guy (who remains anonymous), about the ownership of the script of the movie.
“There’s really nothing to say because, when people don’t have knowledge of intellectual property and how to run film business, such things will always happen. But it’s been cleared, in fact, as I speak, Irapada is solely owned by my company. It was a good experience because it has taught me to be more careful when dealing with people; I’ve learnt to be very specific and formal, when dealing with people.”

Just as the Irapada saga was raging on, the filmmaker returned to location and bounced back with Figurine, which is currently generating wide interest from different parts of the world. From all indications, that production is a kind of Kunle’s response to critics, who had accused him of riding on a borrowed horse.
“Well, not really; I had Figurine script before Irapada, but it was not fully scripted. It took me four years to come up with it; at the moment, I have about four different versions of the script from where we selected the final one we shot.”
Notwithstanding, Kunle’s choice of producing and directing the script alone was deliberate. “I wanted to prove a point to people,” he sings. “Some people even said Irapada was successful because I co-directed with somebody else. For me, Irapada was a learning stage because, it was my first film; it was an experiment; I also acted in it. I did the same in Figurine and it still came out well, even better than Irapada. First, I just wanted people to know that things can be done better in this country and secondly, I intend leaving a mark with the production,” he enthuses.
Though the film had been screened in different cinemas within and outside the country, Figurine will return to the big screen this yuletide due to popular demand.
“The film will be in four venues in Lagos — the National Theatre; Aquatic Hall, Ikeja; Abidab Hotel, Ipaja; and Ozone Cinema. It had at a time been shown at Ozone for about six weeks, but they’ve called for it to be screened this Christmas.”
Meanwhile, Figurine is already attracting attention from organisers of international film festivals around the world.
“We premiered the film in London and later screened in like two different cinemas in London after the premiere. Now, it’s being requested for, in Birmingham, Atlanta, Washington DC and African Film Festival in New York. We are also looking at going to Cannes and some other places.”
How come the growing interest?
“I was part of a conference in London with the University of West Minister; some of them were privileged to see the film in London. Also, reviews from newspapers and the trailer on the Internet…people didn’t just believe that such thing could come from Nigeria. First, it’s a fantastic story, well told. Secondly, the technical quality is very high; it’s more like Irapada 20 per cent and Figurine 100 per ecnt. It’s such a bold step; I think that’s why it’s getting all the attention.”
Throughout the better part of next year, Kunle will be touring round the world with the film, if things move as planned.
“Well, those one in Atlanta, I’m not sure. The New York one is supposed to be the US premiere and when you are doing a premiere in such region, you don’t screen before the premiere. So, I’m still trying to consult and see if it’s advisable to do those ones in February.”
So, which ones are certain?
“I’m sure of the Africa Film Festival and the New York in April next year. Meanwhile, Rotterdam Film Festival has also requested for it; I’ve sent them screener and it’s in February.”

At the Abuja premiere, the Minister of Information and Communication, Dora Akunyili commended Kunle for his creativity in Figurine. In fact, Akunyili spent over two hours during the screening.
“She was glad and commended the film,” he notes.
But just recently, Akunyili pointed fingers at Nigerian filmmakers, accusing them of denting the image of the country through their films, even when the government has been paying lips service in supporting them.
“I think, generally, she was talking about most of those films that portray Nigerian in bad light; probably she should have been specific, maybe mention names, but she never did. For me, Figurine is an export for Nigeria; if you go online and search; there are lots of write-ups. It’s a new era in filmmaking in Nigeria; I hope others will toe the same line because you won’t only make a statement, you will also make money; a good product sells itself.”
So, have you made money from the film? “Well, I’ve not recouped my investment, but we are getting there. At the moment, the film is doing well and it’s still going to do well; we’ve not even released the VCD/DVDs. I’m very positive that we will make the money back.”
How does Kunle intend to maintain his current rating? Who knows; the young man may spend years in a bid not to go bellow expectations.
“Irapada was shot in 2006 and released in 2007; I shot Figurine this year. I intend doing another film next year, but believe me, the quality would never be compromised; I will never do a story that’s not strong, a story that doesn’t depict Africa.”

SO what really happened about Irapada; why the controversy? It seems the success story of Irapada, which was screened on different cinemas around the country, brought about the disagreement?
“The guy thought it was his involvement on his original script that brought about the success of the film; but he’s, so far from it.”
Who owns the script?
“He brought the original script, which was adapted and funded by me. So, he doesn’t have any stake, aside from the old script that he brought.”
Was he paid for the script?
“He wasn’t paid for it because he came with a bad debt; he said he’d been shooting the film before and he had bad debt of N800,000, so, I rescued the project. I decided to inherit N500, 000 out of his bad debt. He later came up with another huge amount of over N6m, which I also paid, so, he didn’t have any physical cash.”
He continues: “I did that because I thought, ‘okay, this guy has invested in this project and for him not to lose totally, let me give him a stake.’ The arrangement was that, when we start generating revenue, investment will be recouped and profit shared on 70 – 30 per cent ratio; I just wanted to be fair. But when the film became a success, he thought … he was denied visa to go to London film Festival; I don’t work with the consulate, but I did my best. I got our sponsorship, I got him letter from the organisers of the festival, I got him a letter saying we would sponsor,” he narrates.
Did he accuse you of masterminding the refusal of his visa?
“No, but that was when he started feeling bad that he had a stake in the business, but he was not enjoying as much as I do,” he notes. “But I told him I had been traveling ever before I shot Irapada. I’ve always enjoyed that kind of a thing and I thank God for that.
Where is the guy?”
“I don’t even see him anymore because he’s not a filmmaker; he’s just an average marketer that made some money and wanted to play around; for me, it was a different ball game. He thought we would just do it and three months after, we would release it. But it never happened that way because we did private screening, we did cinema and all that. But it was a good experi

Tyger, Tyger burning bright

BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
TYGER, Tyger, burning bright in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
The first few lines of William Blake’s masterful poem that could have been written for Tiger Woods.
The smoke has cleared now and another great man has hit the dust. This time it is the inimitable Tiger Woods, Lord of all he surveyed in golf and on the advertising circuits.
Like many others before him, he forgot the world always looks for a way to bring success down, whether it be in America or the back streets of Ajegunle.
It is a fundamental truth that people might adore you for your talent but will always look for a chink in your amour.
Ask Mr. Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson what happened to them. In their cases, long jail terms, and O.J. might not be getting out in a hurry.
So, what happened to Tiger Woods? When he was only two, his father playfully placed a golf club in his hands and helped him do a swing. He has not looked back since.
He went on up until a few days ago to become the world’s highest-earning sports personality even though he was a black man playing a white man’s game. Yes, his earnings were even higher than David Beckham’s and all the other sports people that flaunt so much wealth.
What do I mean a ‘white man’s game’? Apparently, there are sports that some races are pre-disposed too, and no one should accuse me of bigotry.
It appears that Formula-one and the Grand Prix are for Caucasians as well as gymnastics and the like. If you point to Lewis Hamilton, I shall have to ask you to point to a second example, the same way Tiger Woods stood alone in his field.
Tiger was Mr. Perfect, with a flawless image and he used it to advance himself. He rarely spoke out of turn, managed his private life perfectly and had corporate endorsements the way adolescents have acne, flourishing richly everywhere.
Photographs of his new baby were splashed across newspapers around the world and then his entire world fell apart.

ONE day, we woke to the news that Tiger had been involved in a car accident at 2am. He drove out of his home, rammed into a water hydrant, up-ended his car, ended up with lacerations to his lips and other minor injuries and when the fire services and the police arrived, his wife was standing by the vehicle with a golf club.
The story was she had used the club to smash the rear windscreen of the car so she could free her husband from the wreckage.
But there is a thing about stories; once they start, you cannot stop them. The police arrived and gave a report that they had ruled out intoxication on Tiger’s part at the time of the accident.
And then Tiger misjudged his corporate endorsers, and admitted certain indiscretions of the marital kind.
All around the world, and over the years, men have been caught with their pants down if you’ll excuse the pun.
If you’re like Henry who was King of England, you would cut yourself away from a church trying to stop you annulling a marriage to your wife so you could take another woman as bride and set up your own church.
If you’re like “Wild” Bill Clinton, you would use your charisma as well as the fact that the nation understood you were a man with imperfections and sail through shark-infested political waters.
And you would make it to the other side of the shore. It would also be helpful as in his case, if you have a strong wife who could grit her teeth, brace herself and stand beside you, the philandering scoundrel so as not to jeopardise her own career.
Kobe Bryant the basketballer was accused of infidelity and made up with his wife by buying her a diamond ring that was the size of a small rock.
Hugh Grant, the affable English actor was caught with a prostitute called Devine Brown (How can I still remember her name?) but survived intact with his career still in tow, David Beckham whose endorsements are massive too, had an affair that came to the world’s attention while he was based in Spain, an affair that caught the attention of the world’s media but which he survived as well.
Woody Allen ran off with his wife’s adopted daughter; Jude Law had his moment of indiscretion... Even the immortal Martin Luther King Junior and the Reverend Jesse Jackson had their “days in the sun” and they survived the aftermath. The list is endless.
How do some people survive this kind of situation and some do not? Would it have to do with a perfect image being super-imposed on an imperfect man?
If you heard P-Diddy was caught in infidelity, you probably wouldn’t blink twice. But the Tiger? And a list of mistresses?
My friend, Wale Akinmusire, one of the city’s leading architects but who is a muse of sorts for me on whispering matters, had a telephone messaging-conversation with me on this situation.
He had sent a story that could only have been the creation of some smart aleck having fun at Tiger’s expense.
In it, the Reverend Al Sharpton blasts Tiger Woods for a lack of diversity in his choice of mistresses.
Apparently, Sharpton was miffed at the fact that in the long list of people who claimed to “have been with the Tiger”, not one was a black woman.

THE fictitious report quoted Sharpton as saying, “Why is it that a man who calls himself black can’t bring himself to cheat on his wife with a black woman?” According to him, the lack of African-American women amongst Woods’ harem would have a negative effect on the community, specifically young black girls”.
So that is what Tiger has become, a subject for comedians and wits. But Wale’s angst was with the corporate organizations that distanced themselves from Tiger.
He termed it corporate dishonesty, a condition he considered worse than serial adultery which the Tiger had been accused of.
According to him, 80 per cent of the men on the boards of these companies that pulled out of endorsing Tiger as a result of his actions would have cheated on their wives at some point or the other.
If you are curious as to which companies these are, please google Tiger Woods. I am not certain how accurate Wale’s statistics are, but Tiger’s actions are not the first of this kind we have heard and in most parts of the world, his actions do not constitute a criminal offence.
Yes, there is a lot of hypocrisy in this matter. The Whisperer does not stand to promote infidelity, but many people have fallen at this point and have been allowed to rise again, not kicked to death where they lay.
There are many men and women who have done these things and the difference between them and the Tiger is that he was better known.
There should be second chances, I reckon, and a chance to rectify mistakes. Kate Moss was allowed to return to being a face for major brands despite being photographed with cocaine up her nostrils.
I would also advice that those who live in glass houses, should not juggle stones either in their own living rooms or outside. If a certain skill has helped advance you, protect it with all you have. You never know who is watching and hoping to see you fall.

laspapi@yahoo.com

Monday, 14 December 2009

Cover, Edition 215, Dec 13 - 19, 2009

Don’t live below your means

(Biz tool Kits)
BY BRIDGET OLOTU
THERE is this bursar of a private school whose life smacks of financial intelligence. When you see him, you’ll think he is a banker.
He always goes to his office well-dressed in corporate wear which is something different from teachers and bursars in his category. He drives around in a very good car that can pass for posh.
He lives in a good environment and every summer when schools go on vacation, he travels abroad with his family for vacation too.
The question is: how does he maintain this kind of high standard of living without being the son of a very wealthy man or without working for a multinational company?
When he spoke with me, I discovered that he was able to keep this higher standard of living because he was able to expand his means. This is all I have been talking about in my last few articles.
This man, apart from his school employment, also runs an auditing firm on the side. He audits the accounts of companies and small businesses.
His auditing side business does not affect his school work which he is devoted to. So when he closes work at 3pm, he goes to his auditing firm to handle pending jobs and tasks. He has a junior accountant working with him.
Besides this, this man is also a committed investor in the stock market where he holds different portfolio of blue-chip stocks.
All these put together help him to augment his income, provide extra cash to increase his standard of living and to further acquire more income-generating assets for himself.
You can also apply this strategy to your own personal work. You can use your present employment as a means to develop your side business(es) to create more income streams for yourself.
Take for instance, an accountant, apart from the work the person does in an establishment can expand his means by offering accounting services to small businesses that need to straighten their accounts, file their tax returns and also do their auditing.
This doesn’t have to affect the person’s work as he/she can offer these accounting services as a side business, with the help of one or two staff to run around for them. Supposing this accountant has 10 clients that pay him N10,000 every month for managing their accounts, he will be making N100,000 a month as passive income, and in a year will be grossing N1.2 million. If the fees he charges are higher than this amount, what he would be grossing monthly and annually would be higher, too.

A MEDICAL doctor can also expand his/her means by offering medical services to nearby communities that lack these services.
For instance, ASUU just called off its. During the period, employees of state- and federal-owned teaching hospitals would have been affected.
Salaries would be delayed and many medical doctors’ income would have been affected, even temporarily.
But a smart doctor located close to communities where there are no doctors can use his free period when they are not on call to offer medical services to members of such communities. Some community clinics do not have resident doctors there.
This is an opportunity for financially intelligent doctors to expand their means. They can become visiting doctors for such hospitals. They can even consult with clients in such communities if their professional ethics and training allows them to do so. Imagine a community where a medical doctor attends to about 100 patients a month, charging just N1,000 or less.
That doctor will be grossing extra N100,000 a month and N1.2 million a year. They will be making some extra cash and saving lives in turn.
What of a situation where such medical doctors partner with owners of private community clinics and become visiting doctors there.
The quality of the community health of our people would increase, while quacks parading as experts won’t have any more jobs to do. The NMA needs to pay me for this free consulting given to its members.
Now, you don’t have to be a medical doctor or an accountant to expand your means. Space will fail me to identify what you can start doing through your own profession and skills to generate extra income for yourself.
What I am driving at is very simple; your earned income should not limit you. It should not define your standard of living. It should not force you to live below your means.
bridgetolotu@gmail.com





Understanding your real self

(LIFE COACH)
BY AGBOLADE OMOWOLE
HAVE you ever felt that there is more to your life than your present job? Have you ever felt that your heart yearns for something which you are yet to discover? Have you ever thought about being fulfilled in life and business?

You are product of your environment. Every geographical region has a prevalent attitude. Nothing may have a greater influence on your life than your environment. Your environment has in one way or the other, shaped your thinking, your behaviour, your taste, and your overall orientation of life.

Your environment can make or mar you. It is not hard to explain why different people who grew up in different parts of a country have a particular attitude. Your environment determines what you see, what you hear, some of the things you believe and some of your values.

You are being influenced by friends. If you want to know the direction you are headed in life, evaluate the lifestyle of your closest friends. Your friends are an integral aspect of your decision making, and may determine your lifestyle.

Your friends increase or decrease you. A friend, who is not increasing you physically, mentally, academically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually, may be decreasing you. It is important to surround yourself with positive people, if you want to be successful in life.

You are a product of your upbringing. At a very tender age, you have answered some of life’s most important questions like what is right and what is wrong. You have answered most questions between the ages of three and six. The boy you were, you still are. Between the ages of three and six, you had stored all the life lessons you learnt in your mind, and as you grew up, you made decisions based on what you learnt when you were a kid.

Look back. Why do you hold on to some memories and have seemingly discarded others? The truth is that we only remember those events from our early childhood that are consistent with our present view of ourselves, and the world around us. Your past holds a key that you can use to maximize your future.

Your memories tell you about you. Your oldest memories may be the major indicators of why you believe what you believe, and do the things that you do.
Psychologists believe that as we get older, our reactions in the present are reactions to gestalts (Collections of memories which are organised in a certain way). Your early childhood memory is between age seven to eight or when you were younger.

I REMEMBER a story my mother told me of a boy. When he was a kid, he liked walking. He started walking at the age of nine month, and was fond of walking around. There was a time he walked around the street and couldn’t trace his steps back home. Someone found him, and took him to a traditional ruler called baale.
As I grew up, I realized that I still like going up and down. I like doing something positive. I like traveling. Truly, the little boy I once were, is still the person I am today.
What are your oldest memories before the age of eight? Can you remember a birthday gift, taking a risk, or playing with toys? Can you remember being angered without reacting? Can you remember being a negotiator or trying to stop some friends from fighting?
It is easy for us to look outside for a solution to our problems.
Often times, I receive e-mail and phone calls from people who want to be fulfilled in life and understand their real purpose.
The solution to any problem you have right now is within you. Search your heart and you will begin to see the real you.

Off The Cold

By Kikelola Oyebola
Once again, the harmattan is here. And as is usual, it has come with its accompanying problems. Much as it is welcome by many people, on account of the soothing coolness and the general breezy feeling in the air, it can be quite a ‘trying’ period if not well-handled especially after the coldness has fully descended.
If one is well-equipped with the necessary things, however, the season can be turned into a more enjoyable one. With proper dressing and the right exercises, it is actually possible to have a swell time during this harmattan.
One of the problems that are likely to be encountered now is getting up from bed early in the morning because this is the time the cold peaks. The best way to tackle this is to get up and rise briskly from the bed as soon as one is awake. To lie still on the bed poses a ‘danger‘ as the tendency is to snuggle down again on the bed and go back to sleep.
Taking a warm bath should follow although it is advised that a cold bath is to be preferred as this ensures that the cold is ‘conquered’ for the day if one is able to muster the courage for it. Not everyone is able to do this, however, so a warm bath should be opted for if cold water is found unbearable.
Warm clothing that is suitable for the weather, which are equally capable of keeping the cold away should be worn.

Of no less importance are appropriate exercises, which have the capacity to shake off the harmattan cold and keep the body warm all day long. These include warm-ups, aerobics and other ‘warming’ exercises such as jogging, brisk walking round the neighbourhood, rope skipping, etc.
Note that it is better if individuals go for convenient exercises suitable for their needs and circumstances. So, a person who is unable to jog or walk briskly round the neighbourhood due to lack of space for instance, has a good option in undertaking aerobics in his/her home. Skipping the rope is another good option. In addition, there are many other warm-up exercises that can be done under one’s roof without having to step out at all.
People with staircases in their homes stand to benefit from them. They can climb the staircases thereby keeping the bones warm and perky at this period.
Apart from the above-mentioned exercises, there are also cycling, biking and other relevant sports that can be undertaken. While some of these can be done in the morning at the start of the day, others are suitable for later in the day or in the evenings.
Whichever is your option, just be on the move to shake off the harmattan cold and keep warm.

As we approach the end

(PANORAMA)
BY REBECCA AKINMOLAYAN
WELL, I would like to apologise for the absence of this column for sometime now… well, as I said… This year began with great elation, especially in the black community over the inauguration of PBO, a man with African descent as the president of America.
Then came the reports of economic recession, the death of the rare gem Michael Jackson, our own hero Gani Fawehinmi, the Boko Haram crisis including our personal brouhaha.
It appears as if these events happened yesterday and now, alongside with the earth, we are gradually revolving to the end of the ninth year in the 21st century.
December is here again; schools are rounding off; workers are going on their yearly vacation; shops are ready for their season’s sales, companies and organizations are planning towards their end of year party; families are preparing for the celebration and a host of other are planning to travel or move to a new location.
This season brings along with it; stress, anxiety and their close counterpart, depression.
Once these creep into one, it robs them of the joy of this once-in-a-year event.
In fact, satisfaction in this season revolves around money and we all know what finances can do to health and relationships.
There are a few DIY tips that will guarantee supreme enjoyment and prevent the month 0of December from dismember-ing you.

Plan: This is not an ordinary period so do not the tide of sales and rushing sweep you off your feet. Plan ahead till the end of the season. Have a budget. Put the extra expenses (traveling, entertaining guests, decorating then house e.t.c) in consideration. 0therwise the debts or budget deficit you will face in the first few months of next year can make you lose your peace of mind.

Cut your coat; Cut your coat according to what you have, not what you want. What you know is not accomplishable, don’t lose sleep over it. I remember drafting a budget of over N40,000 for something very important but all I could gather home and abroad was not up to a quarter of it. Wetin man go do? Nobody will have my head over it. Life goes on. Worrying over it in addition to the tension in the air will make matters worse.

Make up
Mend broken relationships. Who are those you have not spoken to for months? Call them up and wish them season’s greetings.

Have some ‘me’ time
With the stress of the holidays, take time off for yourself. Attend to your body; exercise, rest, sleep. Don’t ration them, otherwise you will pay for them later.
Finally, wrap it up with gratitude. There are a lot of things to be grateful for. One is the fact that you are able to read this piece!
Can I be the first to wish you Merry Xmas and New Year in advance?
rubystar2004@yahoo.com






And so I went for an awards show!

(Strictly for the young)
BY TOSYN BUCKNOR
LET’S get real and honest; this was not the first awards ceremony I had attended! Between the Future Awards and HipHop World Awards, I had pretty much attended a few, and between the Grammies, Emmies and others, seen even more than been!
And I had written a few articles and commentaries about awards in general, asking such wise questions like how short a dress can you get away with at an awards ceremony if you are not performing or nominated?
See?
So what was so new about this one?

IT was not that I had been nominated although that kind of made it really cool! You know when you go for an event where you have been invited but hey, if you didn’t show up, no one would have shed a tear? Well, when you are a nominee, you tend to feel like you are needed...wanted...or at least, not going to be bounced!
So there I was at the Best of Nollywood Awards. I had made myself promise myself to be calm, cool, and elegant. Then I saw Fabian Lojede who plays (played) Bola Abayomi in Jacob’s Cross. Then I screamed and ran across the red carpet to get an autograph. (Nearly got a restraining order instead). And then I realised not even a dress was going to make less stars-truck!
The Best of Nollywood Awards held on Sunday in Ikeja, and contrary to Seun Oloketuyi’s fears that people would be too busy on that Sunday to show up (what will all the other events on the day), it was well-attended and star studded... Nollywood style!
From the stars of Yollywood (the Yoruba movie industry), to the stars of the small screen, to those who have more fans than movies, (in Nigeria, it is sometimes neck and neck), and those who have critical and twitter acclaim (shout out Omoni Oboli!)
Crazy (sorry, read as ‘special’) Denrele was on the red carpet interviewing Yinka Quadri, Mercy Johnson, Funke Akindele, Kehinde Bankole, Gbenga Adeyinka (the 1st, whose cousin Femi Adeyinka has two fabulous singles out at the moment), Freeze and more!
Uti and Gbenro Ajibade (who plays Soji on Tinsel) get a special mention for looking truly dapper!
Congratulations to all the big winners on the night including Akindele for Best Indigenous Actress, Ramsey Nouah for Best English Actor, Kehinde Bankole for Revelation of the Year (female), Mercy Johnson (Supporting Actress of the Year) and Denrele Edun (Television Presenter of the Year).
Speaking of winners! My family keeps getting bigger! My (cough) brother Kevin Pam just won Big Brother Africa Revolution, or as we now call it, the Kevolution!
Okay fine! He is not my brother, but you know what, the way we all felt that night when his name was mentioned was like we were family!
And when I say ‘we’, I mean on twitter, facebook, at viewing centres, and even events!!!
About time a Nigerian won Big Brother Africa, and an interesting personality indeed!
tosinornottosin@yahoo.com

Season’s salad

BY FABIAN ODUM
THE Yuletide season of intense eating and drinking is setting in and so there will be much of salad-consuming events.
Much as it represents a good means of boosting the nutrient level of the body, it is easily a source of health concern when poorly stored, after the preparation with the cream, for significant length of time.
It remains one of the best ways to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
Although salad leaves are very low in calories and are more than 90 per cent water, they still provides the essential and important nutrients like vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, iron and folic acid.

Lettuce, a major ingredient of making salad, not only gives you a healthy dose of antioxidants but also increases the satiety value of the food thus preventing the eater from indulging in unhealthy eating habits.
It forms an important ingredient of weight reducing diet, if taken in the raw form. Although an indulgent heavy eater, who is not mindful of adding more flesh can even prepare a tempting lettuce salad with fatty salad–dressings.

IN buying the lettuce, pick the ones that are fresh and crisp. Avoid the limp and yellow ones as they are of no value.
The golden rule for lettuce is: the darker the leaf, the higher its nutritional value. It would be nutritionally expedient to consume the lettuce as soon as possible.
You can combine various leaves of contrasting colors, textures and flavors for mouth–watering salad preparation. Instead of cutting, tear the leaves, and pour the dressing as and when you are hungry and ready to eat.
The lettuce leaves can be mixed with other fresh produce, meats and cheeses in salads and prepare a healthy, low calorie dish and quadruple its benefits.
Remember that eating a large bowl of fresh leaves in your diet on daily basis helps in calming the nervousness plus offering you a sound restful sleep too.
Salad leaves, which are deeply pigmented, helps in preventing degenerative diseases.
Raw spinach is an excellent source of beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamin C.

Salad Dressing And Food Safety
Food poisoning can be avoided if certain basics about food perishability are known. Salad dressing requires cream or mayonnaise but they are acidic in nature due to the presence of vinegar or lemon juice. These act as preservative.
Food which can be so dressed include potatoes, sandwiches, eggs and chicken. These are low in acid and prone to infection by bacteria (leading to food poisoning). These foods should be taken out of the refrigerator moments before they are consumed and kept in insulated cooler laced with ice cubes or blocks.
With lemon and vinegar dressing in salad dressing, spoilage is not as quick in contrast to low acid foods that spoil more easily.
On a general note, it is better to serve yourself with the cream just before eating or leave it out entirely.

Season’s salad

BY FABIAN ODUM
THE Yuletide season of intense eating and drinking is setting in and so there will be much of salad-consuming events.
Much as it represents a good means of boosting the nutrient level of the body, it is easily a source of health concern when poorly stored, after the preparation with the cream, for significant length of time.
It remains one of the best ways to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
Although salad leaves are very low in calories and are more than 90 per cent water, they still provides the essential and important nutrients like vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, iron and folic acid.

Lettuce, a major ingredient of making salad, not only gives you a healthy dose of antioxidants but also increases the satiety value of the food thus preventing the eater from indulging in unhealthy eating habits.
It forms an important ingredient of weight reducing diet, if taken in the raw form. Although an indulgent heavy eater, who is not mindful of adding more flesh can even prepare a tempting lettuce salad with fatty salad–dressings.

IN buying the lettuce, pick the ones that are fresh and crisp. Avoid the limp and yellow ones as they are of no value.
The golden rule for lettuce is: the darker the leaf, the higher its nutritional value. It would be nutritionally expedient to consume the lettuce as soon as possible.
You can combine various leaves of contrasting colors, textures and flavors for mouth–watering salad preparation. Instead of cutting, tear the leaves, and pour the dressing as and when you are hungry and ready to eat.
The lettuce leaves can be mixed with other fresh produce, meats and cheeses in salads and prepare a healthy, low calorie dish and quadruple its benefits.
Remember that eating a large bowl of fresh leaves in your diet on daily basis helps in calming the nervousness plus offering you a sound restful sleep too.
Salad leaves, which are deeply pigmented, helps in preventing degenerative diseases.
Raw spinach is an excellent source of beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamin C.

Salad Dressing And Food Safety
Food poisoning can be avoided if certain basics about food perishability are known. Salad dressing requires cream or mayonnaise but they are acidic in nature due to the presence of vinegar or lemon juice. These act as preservative.
Food which can be so dressed include potatoes, sandwiches, eggs and chicken. These are low in acid and prone to infection by bacteria (leading to food poisoning). These foods should be taken out of the refrigerator moments before they are consumed and kept in insulated cooler laced with ice cubes or blocks.
With lemon and vinegar dressing in salad dressing, spoilage is not as quick in contrast to low acid foods that spoil more easily.
On a general note, it is better to serve yourself with the cream just before eating or leave it out entirely.
By Tope Templer Olaiya and Florence Utor
Last Sunday was Kevin Chuwang Pam’s time in the sun. At exactly 7pm, with Nigerians and fans from across the continent glued to their TV screen in bated breath, Kevin, who hails from Jos, the Plateau State capital, walked triumphantly out of the Big Brother House to the deafening shouts that heralded his re-entry into the world he left behind 91 days earlier. He had just been named winner of MNet’s Big Brother Revolution.

The 27-year-old entertainer and graduate of English Language from the University of Jos, was chosen by the continent after outlasting 24 other housemates and winning 45 per cent of the total votes cast across the whole of Africa to claim the $200,000 prize. Featuring three knockout performances by United States rap superstar, Bow Wow, a special dance routine from the evicted housemates and a chance to relive the magic of the last 91 days as the housemates loved, sparred and entertained in equal measure, the finale was an unforgettable occasion that climaxed with the crowning of Africa’s newest reality TV star.
After evicting Nigerian Nkenna, Malawian Mzamo and Namibian Edward, Angola’s Emma and Kevin were the final two housemates left in the House. It was however, a tense wait before Big Brother host, Ikponwomsa Osakioduwa, a gangling Nigerian TV personality popularly known as IK announced the name heard round the continent – Kevin!

After Emma left the house, Kevin, the last man standing, had a few moments to let the news sink in. Before joining IK on stage to share his joy with Africa, he hugged the ground and exited in a blaze of blinding fireworks.
Swaggering elatedly on stage in his trademark gait and wrapped in Nigeria’s flag, “I feel like Obama!” was Kevin’s first word to the outside world. Shedding tears and waving the Nigerian flag, he added that Africa had chosen him as the winner because he was born for TV. “I was made for this,” he said.
After a few minutes of ecstatic celebration, Kevin sank to his knees as MNet Africa Managing Director, Biola Alabi, brought out his $200,000 cheque and wrote his name on it, making concrete the fact that he is truly returning home with the whooping prize money. Joined on stage by his family, the visibly moved Nigerian danced and celebrated his success.

The Jos boy was the most popular housemate in the most countries, claiming 11 country votes from Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Rest of Africa) against two for Emma (Angola and South Africa), and one apiece for Edward (Namibia) and Mzamo (Malawi), while Nkenna couldn’t claim a victory in any of the participating countries.
The show had kicked off with IK abseiling into the garden before hip-hop group, Fresh performed in front of a packed studio audience. The 20 evicted housemates then joined him on stage in a stunning parade of colour as they waved their national flags. After a review of the first 30 days in the house, the evicted housemates performed a special dance paying homage to Michael Jackson – as they did so successfully during their “Thriller” task.
Bow Wow then performed his first track of the evening, nearly tearing the roof off the studio! Then it was time to reduce the Big Five to the Big Four. IK took viewers into the house before naming Nkenna as the first housemate to be evicted during the finale. The Nigerian said her goodbyes quickly before joining IK on stage and talked about her time in the house. Nkenna left the house with $2,997 in her money pot, claiming 5th spot in the Revolution.
In a knockout blow, IK then took viewers straight back into the house to immediately evict another housemate. After a tense pause, he announced the next name – Mzamo. The Malawian waved off the attention of her fellow finalists, telling them she would see them “just now” outside the house. Joining IK on stage, she told Africa that she hoped the continent had kept them in the game for so long because she is a genuine person.
Asked about her fight with Itai which saw her smash a pane of glass, she said she had grown frustrated when he wouldn’t listen to her and lashed out because she had gone past the point of crying. With that, she left and met her family on the edge of the stage, taking home $1,383 in her money pot. Bow Wow then took to the stage again, before IK headed into the house to surprise remaining housemates Edward, Emma and Kevin.
After departing the house, IK had more business to conclude – the eviction of the 23rd housemate. After accepting the verified envelope from the Alexander Forbes representative, he announced that Edward would be the next housemate to leave the Revolution.
Joining IK on stage, Edward talked about how much fun it was to be part of the unique Twin Twist. He declared that he had no regrets about any of his ‘save and replace’ decisions as Head of House. “No regrets whatsoever,” he said. “The show wasn’t about the money for me – it was about having fun.” Edward departed the stage – and the game – with $2,757 in his money pot.

The big moment had then arrived. Accepting the envelope from the auditor for the final time, IK turned to camera and announced to the waiting pair – and the continent – that Kevin was the winner of Big Brother Revolution.
“I told you, I told you!” said Emma, hugging the overwhelmed Nigerian. After sharing his joy, she left the house and joined IK on stage. Once outside, she told IK that she had told Kevin during the afternoon that he was going to take the money home. She left the stage with $2,998 in her money pot and joined her family.
After Kevin joined IK on stage and received his cheque, they pulled the plug on the Revolution together – leaving the house in darkness as Kevin, the man with the swagger celebrated his success with the continent.
His good relationship and sterling leadership qualities have earned him a place in the hearts of fellow housemates and viewers across Africa.

Gospel of beauty with Ajidagba

Art and Design are Siamese twins and even the Lagos State government now tows the path of deliberate design to reinvent the aesthetics of Nigeria’s ‘Center of Excellence’.
Design is quickly becoming palatable across board as laws demanding local content inspire the birth of a new body of artists, feeding a market that has nowhere to look but inward.
This new trend brings back a drizzle of Nigerian designers who are trained abroad but are hungry to bring their talents home. One such designer is Ayodeji Ajidagba otherwise known as the Design Extrovert.
As the year ends, Ayodeji emerges from the cocoon of his studio to present the best of his creations to anxious design enthusiasts in Lagos. His preoccupation is designing interior spaces and the details within them.
Ayodeji studied Psychology at the University of Jos before relocating to New York in 1997. It was in New York that he began collecting ideas that formed his genius expression of fashion and interior accessories. He honed his passion further by enrolling for Design at the Centennial College Toronto and then the prestigious Etobicoke College of Art where he studied Interior Design.
Today Ayodeji is one of the leading talents of interior designs in Toronto. From floor planning and interior detailing of colours, lights, textures to product designs, Ayodeji lives for his Art. His work is fresh every season, constantly challenging convention, pushing boundaries to create matter in spaces where void once existed.
The designers’ bold medley of aluminum, wood, leather and crystals are characteristic elements in his designs of lamps, t-shirts and Art installations.
Ayodeji exhibited his latest collectionDecember 5-6 at the Artistic License Gallery on Sandiland Arcade 230 Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island Lagos.
Ahead of his Lagos debut, he gave Ebun Olatoye an exclusive on his journey as a designer and what makes for a good design.

How early in life did you identify your interest in design?
Straight after secondary school. I used to take things apart and put them together. I remember trying to fix a wobbly wooden stool and doing it successful. It wasn’t a great design, but it stood. I also loved clothes. I would look at things, a bottle, a glass and think, how could this look better. I’ve thought, why should a bottle look cylindrical only, what are the other options. I’ve just always wanted to make things look nice.
What inspired you to pick up interior design?
It’s my love for products and solutions. When you look at the interior of a house you have paintings, colours, The details of an interior space interest me. So studying interior design was a natural progression.
Did you have a clear idea what you wanted to do when you set out with interior design?
I studied psychology at UniJos. But when I went to North America the creative part of me got unleashed because I encountered so many things that inspired me daily. I knew I wanted to be in the design business. If I want to categorize myself I would say I design products i.e fashion products and interior accessories. Look at Roberto Cavallier who is known for designing. Let’s use Armani, he does clothes, furniture and he does hotels as well.
What mission do you have when you are creating your pieces?
First of all when I start designing, a lamp, for instance, I have no preconception before I start, I start tabula rasa. Most times, I work from my head through my hands. It’s almost like I am just being guided by something that transcends me. In my head I see colours, shapes, patterns. I remember I had as stool back in Canada in our living room, and I bought it from a regular store and I took it home and I didn’t even know why I bought it. It took me a while to realize that I bought it so I could redesign it. I changed the colour and gave the legs woven leather. On the sides of the stools, I put swarosky crystals and completely changed the colour. It was a horrible natural wood and I changed it to a mocha colour. By the time looked like a $10, 000 stool. But what I want from a finished product is personal satisfaction and fulfilled.
What canvas, or subject works best for you?
I don’t prefer one specific canvas; I’m a multi media designer. I work with leather, fabric, ceramics. The first real design that I started was leather bags just after I graduated from the University of Jos. I started by making one for my Mom and everyone kept asking for them. I made more for her friends, they paid and it just exploded. People would come to our house in Lagos from Abuja and Kano back in 1994. My problem is that I get bored with one medium easily. I am constantly thinking of the next canvas to use for my work. I could be talking to you and I’m thinking of a design or I want to do this fantastic painting and the colours are jumping at me in my head.

If you were given a choice between a formal education in your chosen field of design and an apprenticeship, which would you choose?
You can’t beat real life experience of actually working with a material or medium. Formal education refines you. But if you have a natural talent, whether or not you go to school, it will always be there. Formal education enhances that natural talent. You build on what you have learnt in the real world and it gives you some credibility as well. Why would I pick one when I don’t have to. Don’t forget I studied interior design as well as design.
Which of the two skill acquisition methods have you gained from the more?
I have learnt more from hands on more. A hands on experience has definitely added more value to me as a designer.
What most inspires, your space or the works of others?
Probably other people. I’m an avid reader of design magazines; I attend and participate in design shows and festivals in New York, London and Montreal. I participated in the Montreal Design show- SIDIM in 2005. I showcased interior accessories — pillows, leather lamps, single leather chairs made of buffalo hide. We were very well received. We were in the category of new and emerging designers. We didn’t win but we were short listed for the award.
How do you as a designer draw a line between inspiration from works of other designers and the violation of copyrights?
Everybody feeds off everybody. No one is an island. Even in school you feed off others. A writer is someone who reads a lot. As a designer you cannot be inspired by your own ideas. You have to go out there and experience things and recreate your own take on what has been done. Or someone’s work might trigger a new creation of your own. Innovate don’t imitate that’s my watch phrase but when people start copying you, you know you’re on to a good thing.

What is a good design? I believe that a good design must be beautiful to look at; it must be functional, and it must be different from anything else. I like individuality.
What is your favorite space/building in London, Lagos and Toronto?
In Lagos, it’s my studio in Ikeja, because there I get away from everyone. I can think, I can create. In London I like the train in canary wharf and the beams and bolts of the industrial look. It’s very modern, very imposing and hard. I like the Tate Modern Museum. In Toronto I like the art gallery of Ontario. Its fantastic and was remodeled recently. There’s a place called the Yonge-Dundas square that I absolutely love. It’s an open space recently remodeled where artists come to perform. It’s very funky, very open.
Which space in Nigeria would you like to contribute your design to and how would you reinvent such a space?
In Nigeria, the Murtala Muhammed airport. First off, I would expand the arrival area where passengers meet immigration. It should be expanded and needs better lighting. It’s not at all befitting of Nigeria. It’s the international airport and the first point of call in Nigeria. I would add some nice lights and some installations. Right now it feels cold and unwelcoming. It’s not wide, not friendly. It’s unpleasant. I would change the colour scheme, make it happy, and give it the energy that Nigeria is known for.
Which design landmarks do you think of in Nigeria?
I think the National Arts Theatre is a fantastic piece of art. The design is fantastic but it’s grossly overlooked.

Do you agree that design is moving from being global to being local?
There is a saying: act local, think global. Your products, design, style and materials should be sourced locally but always have an eye to providing for the world. Designs from Mali are on the catwalks. Karim Rashid is from Iran and his work is world class. He brings his Middle Eastern background into products and today he designs for big firms across the world. His influences were shaped by his childhood and the people around him. He did a chair once, a normal plastic chair designed in such a way that it was almost ethnic. But the material was ethnic yet modern with an eye for the international market. Well designed products will always find an international market, whether made in Lagos, Paris or Senegal. I believe in acting local and thinking global.
If you could live in any city in the world, which would it be, and why?
I like so many cities, it’s hard to choose, but my favorites are: New York for its energy and inspiration; Montreal, for its European and North American blend of charm; and Milan for its Fashion and chic. Even the dogs in Milan are trendy.
If you could spend one day with any one designer in the world, who would it be?
Karim Rashid. He is fantastic and remarkably talented. In the design world, he is a living legend and has won countless awards. He has also designed for varied clients such as Audi, Bernini, Alessi etc. the list goes on and on. To spend a day with him to exchange ideas and pick his brain would be absolutely brilliant.
Is Deji Ajidagba here to stay or are you going to be going back to Toronto?
I am in the process of moving back, but you know it takes time, it’s not a one day affair.