Saturday, 30 January 2010

Cover, Edition 222, Jan 31 - Feb 6, 2010

TEETH 4 TEETH

Yemi Blaq’s ‘Feting’ Binge
BARELY three days after winning the second edition of Celebrity Takes 2 dance show, Nollywood actor, Yemi Blaq, was sighted at O’jez on Tuesday at 6pm, staging what could pass as a mini party. T4T was minding his business as usual when the actor who is looking lean (weeks of hard dancing had taken its toll). He paid homage to former president of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Ejike Asiegbu, and took a seat near the stage. For many minutes, one began to think he intended to dine alone that evening until one after another, over seven people arrived and the mini party began. A mental calculation of what went down at the table before T4T left at about 9pm would be roughly 50 grand and they looked like they were just starting off. Bros, rememba your left o, na the warning Thunder Balogun wife give am for stadium dat time o. If you finis the small money wey follow the new Jeep you win, my hand no dey o.

OPJ ‘Marginalises’ Expensive On Wazobia
Are you also an addict of Wazobia FM radio like most of us? Then you must have noticed the obvious marginalisation of one of its presenters, Expensive, the Olotepu of Otepu (whatever that means anyway). Expensive co presents with baritone voice OPJ every week day from 6pm. Agreed, OPJ was the original presenter before Expensive came on board, but his larger than life image seems to have drowned Expensive’s. All the promos being played on the programme from 6pm till midnight sing the praises of OPJ. Not one of them talks about Expensive. It is so bad now that even when OPJ is not on, callers still ask of him and you could feel the disappointment when Expensive tells them OPJ is not around. Expensive did not help matters right from the day he joined. He noticed the awe inspiring image of OPJ and since then began to copy him from the way he talks to how he answers people who call in to make request or talk about traffic. That finished him because in the minds of the people, if it is not OPJ, it cannot be like OPJ.
Management of Wazobia should please look into the situation because there are two OPJs on air every evening now. Advise to Expensive: just be yourself.

Dadi Monso Again, Confesses This Time
NOLLYWOOD actor, Dadi Monso, was reported on this column to have discovered somewhere he now drinks cheap beer and eat Cow tail peppersoup. That was months ago. At the birthday of another star, Victor Osuagwu recently, Monso confessed to T4T that indeed he has a hideout where he indulges himself anytime his money was running low. Expectedly, Monso has disappeared from Nollywood circles this period (he is running dry again). You looking for Monso? Drive around the National stadium, you will sure see the tall frame of the actor and his journalist accomplice friend at a joint eating cow tail and drinking beer at a cheap price.

Francis Onwochei’s massive size
T4T was privileged to walk behind Nollywood actor/director, Francis Onwochei, and his soul mate, Zik Zulu Okafor, on a staircase in an office in GRA, Ikeja, last week and geez, I was choking because dear Francis’ size had sucked up all the air around the tight staircase. It was a miracle your dear T4T did not pass out. Trust him, he accosted Francis about his new Samuel Peter size. The actor denied being fat (as if na wetin dey hide), he rather challenged T4T to a game of lawn tennis at the National Stadium that weekend. When told that T4T only plays Ludo, he urged him to come watch his deft moves to disprove the fact that he is fat. He even went ahead to say that Rafael Nadal (the world tennis champ) would be jealous when he sees him play. Great bros, but recall that there was a certain person who challenged his detractors to a game of squash some two years ago o. Please dear Francis, don’t challenge anybody to any game that is related to chasing small balls around, the end story is not always sweet. I no wan write bad story. Na small talk I talk o, I no call peson name o.

Help, Ejike Asiegbu’s voluminous
T4T met Ejike Asiegbu and a renowned TV journalist at a popular hangout in Surulere on Tuesday checking out some designer shirts that evening. The journalist took one and in disappointment, Asiegbu sighed and said he knew his size would never be among the fine shirts. His face was really sad. Well, you all know why Ejike cannot afford to buy normal size shirts like any other person; Presido is voluminous. He should go shopping where the likes of Howie T, Ayim Pius Ayim, Iyabo Lawani etc go. Na advice I give o.

Haiti Earthquake And Nollywood/Music Stars
I HAVE been reading and following on satellite TV, the news of how American Hollywood film and music stars have been mobilising support for Haiti quake victims. Money running into millions of dollars have come from the stars to the distressed people of the Caribbean island. In fact, the stars did a Telethon that was used to raise more money. My mind came back to our dear Nollywood stars and my heart broke. How many of these stars can send a million naira check to Haiti? Please answer this question to my email. What about our music stars? Can any of the associations organise a charity concert with all the proceeds not ending in one’s pocket instead of Haiti’s? Well, let all today know that there are stars and there are stars. In the case of Nigeria, we have stars without the R. Whatever that means.

Tricia Esiegbe showcases hubby
I AM not comfortable as I write this particular piece, and the reason is not far-fetched. When Nollywood actress, Tricia Esiegbe, got married recently, she and her husband warned the media to stay off their marriage. I heeded the warning until last week when the duo arrived O’jez in the evening and I threw caution to the wind. Tricia was so full of life, introducing the handsome guy to other Nollywood stars (including waka pass) present at the celebrity hangout. Her happy mood was contagious (e no easy to marry at that age. No be me talk am o, na somebody wey sidon nia me o). The hubby looks like a weight lifter, the more reason why I am scared and recalling the earlier warning by the couple. Anyway, the day you guys will see T4T with POP in one arm and a battered face to match, you don’t need to look far for whodunit.
Tricia’s weight lifter looking-hubby of course.

ogbuus@yahoo.com

The Figurine in Rotterdam

BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
THE filmmaker Kunle Afolayan left Lagos for the Netherlands on Wednesday to attend the yearly Rotterdam International Film Festival. At the fiesta, reputed to be one of the major film festivals in Europe, he will show his wave making The Figurine. Thereafter, he will go to Germany to be part of the Berlin International Film Festival, which opens on February 9. Afolayan, alongside Oliver Hermanus of South Africa and Caroline Kamya of Ugandan will be sitting on a panel to discuss the state of African Cinema. Dorothy Wenner will moderate the session. From Berlin, Afolayan will head to Washington DC in the United States for a command showing of the film at the Smithsonian National Museum of Arts in Washington. He spoke to Moviedom before he left…

So where are you headed to right now?
I am off to The Netherlands for the Rotterdam Film Festival to screen The Figurine. From there, I will head to Germany for the Berlin International Film Festival and then to London. From London, I will go to America, back to London and so on. In short, I will be away until March, if not April.

Tell us about the invitation to the United States?
It is from the Smithsonian National Museum of Arts in Washington, came through the curator of the museum. I think they saw the trailer somewhere and were convinced that it would be a good film to see. So, the film as I am told, would be shown to a select audience. Afterwards, I’m expected to give a talk on African film industry. I will also be at the African Film Festival in New York for a premiere of the film. I am happy that the New York premiere is a reality because after the London premiere, which witnessed a huge turnout of people, I got a deluge of mails and phone calls from America, that I must bring the movie there. As far as I’m concerned, The Figurine has made it purely on its merit. I mean take Rotterdam for example; the entries had even closed before they called me. They want the film at all costs and they are excited to see it.

How much support is coming from government?
Government? Abeg make we talk another matter. I have written letters and I all I get is ‘you have produced a quality film…keep the flag flying’. Is that what will take me around? Don’t you know how much it costs going round to promote works? Look, all efforts to get the government to see what I’m doing as part of its rebranding campaign has not succeeded. For many years, Nigerian films were not invited to foreign film festivals, but today everything has changed. I can name one or two films that have been so invited. Here is a product that is in high demand here and there and someone wants me to write loads of letters before he accedes to my request for support. When I go abroad, they introduce me as Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan and not just a filmmaker. All I get arepromises and no fulfillment of the promises. At the Abuja premiere of the film, the Minister for Information and Communication, Prof Dora Akunyili, pledged government’s support for the film’s international screenings. But I still dey wait for the actualisation of madam’s promises.

So when are you expected back?
I will be back in March, all things being equal. And when I return, I will hit location to direct a romantic comedy for a telecommunication company. We are still going to take The Figurine around. I found out that quite a number of people have not seen the film. So we are going to do the Easter run at the National Theatre and at major cinemas across the country. I took the film around during the Yuletide and it was well received. In fact, at the Silverbird Cinemas, it had a turnover of N15 million, an unprecedented sum for any Nigerian film at the cinema. So, we will return to the cinemas during the Valentine commemoration and during Easter. I think, as I have often said, the challenge is to stay creative and make good films. It is not getting into my head yet. With all the success Irapada achieved, it didn’t get into my head.

So, when will The Figurine be on VCD?
Ah, not now o. We need to recoup our investments. But seriously, we will do that soon. There is a collection of academic essays on The Figurine being written by some professors in Nigeria and abroad. Maybe when it is done, we will release the DVD along with the collection.







Around and about Nollywood...


NFC gets Babylon officials nod

THE Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) has been commended for its readiness to host the second and final stages of the 2010 Babylon International Workshop Initiative on Film. The project is organised by the NFC in collaboration with Scripthouse, Scenario films, Playfilm, Media International and the British Council. It is scheduled to hold from April 27 to May 2 in Jos and Abuja. Representatives of the international partners, Jurgen Seidler (Scripthouse) and Nathalie Valentin (Playfilm), made the commendation after a two-day (January 17 and 18) facility tour of the NFC, and the National Film Institute (NFI). The two officials, in a post facility tour, said they were impressed with the state of art equipments; 16mm and 35mm cine cameras, lights, the Sound stage complex, the editing suites, the processing laboratory, the new digital celluloid printer, the 350seat terrace auditorium, the facade, and other facilities at the NFC and NFI, which they judged met the requirements for the workshop initiative. According to the officials, foreign participants are eager to work with filmmakers from Nigeria. Managing Director of NFC, Afolabi Adesanya, informed the international partners that Nigeria filmmakers would continue to leverage on platforms that would promote cross-continental exchange of experiences in motion picture production through strategic partnerships and collaborations. He added, NFC would continue to provide opportunities and offer assistance to Nigerian filmmakers in its quest to sustainably develop the motion picture industry. The first leg of the script workshop, which has the British Council Berlin office, as the venue holds from February 16 to 20.


... As four Nigerian filmmakers make the shortlist
FOUR Nigerians are among the 60 filmmakers participating in the workshop. They are Didi Cheeka (Red Light District), Chike Ibekwe (Letter to the Prof), Siberia Diete-Spiff (The Land) and Jide Bello (My Brothers Sin). The Berlin workshop will feature plenary sessions and informal film screenings of past productions of participants for the purpose of familiarisation. However, participants will be required to provide a synopsis/treatment for their entries under the general principle of the workshop, which also includes screenplay analysis in groups and individual sessions for each project with consultants of the workshop. The five-day production lab will consolidate script development of each project and provide filmmaking teams opportunity to watch scenes from their films, or produce promotional short films based on their feature film materials. Highpoint of the 2010 programme will be the presentation of projects and review of promotional materials at Zuma Film Festival holding in Abuja, from May 2 to 6 to be followed by onward mentoring and promoting all Babylon projects. Nigerian and other African filmmakers, during the various stages of the workshop, will have opportunity to work with European colleagues on script and story development, production techniques and broadened access to international materials placed through Babylon’s network of industry consultants, funder, international sales agents and distributors.


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

Emeka Ossai’s slimming style
HONESTLY, we don’t need any waka pass to tell us anything about the actor Emeka Ossai. At least we now know the magic behind his weight reduction formula. We were almost on the verge of combing everywhere to know, which gym he frequented, before we got a tip off from one waka pass on the formula the actor has been using to shed weight. The waka pass told us not to bother searching for the actor in any gym, but simply go to the University of Lagos where would find the well-built actor, sweating himself out. We heeded the waka pass gossip-induced advice and lo and lo, we ran into a truly sweating Emeka negotiating the bend around education area with two men struggling to catch up. Ossai didn’t see us, but incase he denies, remind him that on this Saturday, he was trying to convince his jogging mates that there was an ‘issue’ in President Umaru Yar’ Adua continued stay in Saudi Arabia.

Andy Best likes French fries and chicken
POPULAR movie marketer and producer, Chief Andy Nnadi aka Andy Best, likes to enjoy life at full crush. Although the busy marketer, whose other alias is Akudinawa, once confided in a waka pass that he doesn’t like eating in between meals, especially after ‘guzzling’ a meal of Akpu and Nsala soup prepared by his wife, Akudinanwa stormed a popular eatery in Surulere and ordered for something that an interloping waka pass considered more than an ‘in-between meals’. We were not sure now, what was packaged for him, but if he waited for 20 minutes before the order came, then it should be French fries and chicken. Anyway, Akudinawa drove off in his American spec Mercedes coupe with the plate number — Akudinawa. See what a waka pass said as his car taxied off: ‘so dis marketers like good things like actors. Me I think say na Akpu or fried rice bros Andy go order. True the man surprise me?’

Talking about Andy
I HOPE Andy Chukwu (aka Five in one) is not planning to relocate to the east by road. The way the actor, producer, director, scriptwriter and singer (a reason they call him five in one) has been frequenting the Maza Maza/Festac First Gate bus terminal in Lagos has been giving some of his fans serious cause for concern. Someone said he ran into the hardworking director one ‘early mo, mo’ (early in the morning) and it was certain the singer didn’t get a good deal considering the looks on his face. Anyway bros Andy, here is what a waka pass adviced: that you should travel by rail to Kaduna and then from Kaduna you can connect to Enugu direct! And then we asked, which is a better deal: Enugu by road or Enugu by rail? To God be the Glory!


POSTSCRIPT
And we lost Matt Imerion
AS we were going to press, the death of one of Nigeria’s finest actors, Matt Imerion, was announced. Imerion, a contemporary of Jimi Solanke, played Dr. Bero in the command performance of Wole Soyinka’s Madmen and Specialist. In one of the early messages received after his death was announced, the poet Kole Ade-Odutola said he saw ‘Brother Matt Imerion in action’ as a freelance actor at the old Bendel Television in the 80s. ‘He worked with Churchil Ifode, Bankole Olayebi and Margeret Natufe.’ Odutola asked God to grant his creative spirit, rest.

With Asa, the big band rules the stage

Recently, news went round that the singer, and easily Nigeria’s currently most globally accepted young artiste, Asa, had been arrested abroad. The gist was everywhere, even on some gossip websites run by unknown reporters, that the Bibanke crooner had been nabbed by the London police in Heathrow Airport for allegedly being in possession of substance suspected to be marijuana. But in a swift reaction, Asa cleared the air from her Lagos home in a telephone conversation with a reporter with one of the growing online magazines. In case you are still nursing some kind of doubts, Asa was live on stage in Lagos just a few days after the rumour. As usual, she was at her best… as reported by ANOTE AJELUOROU


When Chams.net last Friday put Asa, Nigeria’s music export to the world, on stage at Cora Reef in Ikoyi, Lagos, as part of stepping up its campaign for Naira.com, an online business outfit, it thrilled the guests to an exciting time on a rare live musical performance.
Although miming to hooks and recorded beats has become standard practice of hiphop music live prersentation globally, the Nigerian variant is usually suspect. First, sound engineers are yet to master how to fine-tune the complex of musical instruments to give the desired sound output. So, what comes across is usually flat, distorted sound that generally undermines the prowess of an artist and the quality of his music.
Even at the Chams.net show, such poor technical depth in sound engineering showed glaringly in the performance versions the audience was treated to. Dipo and Bez had opened the show with what appeared good showmanship and skills. But sound treatment or engineering, which should have heightened the musicality of their efforts fell short.
It was however rescued for Asa by her French crew that took over the stage management. No doubt, the audience was somewhat peeved that over a whooping hour was spent trying to piece together instruments that had just been used by fellow artistes. Indeed, Asa perhaps, ought to have advised her French crew to set up the instruments before the show started proper rather than having to break the proceeding, and subject the audience to such tedious wait. She would also have greatly enriched the performance of Dipo and Bez, who were to herald her.
Musical instruments (the sort used in modern shows) are foreign contraptions; it would take those who made them that extra input to set right.
By the time the French were through with their weird sound-testing mechanics -- the wide difference in mastery of technicality of sound production between local and imported professionals, was glaring.

Before Asa took the stage, two promising talents had thrilled the audience. Specialising in the R&B and soul genres of music, Dipo and Bez brought a certain spice of their own that was altogether compelling. When first act Dipo stepped up to the microphone spotting a black jacket, he came across as some sort of uninspiring preacher or comedian who would grope around for his jokes.
But when he started with ‘Waka waka’, then followed by ‘Love divine’, and having to explain the reasons behind his lyrics, it was clear Asa already has a musical clone. Dipo’s lyrical delivery was superb but it was also an extension of the Asa mould of soul music, which he was trying to give his own interpretation. This is not to deny him a measure of originality or good measure of talent.
‘Malo’, which is a fusion of local dialect with English is quintessentially Dipo’s. If he were to make it his signature song, Dipo would just have announced himself as a soul singer worth listening to. Of credit to him also just like Asa is the big band essemble, which he jointly shares with Bez, who was to later introduce the band members to the audience. So, Dipo also rocked on the Green Carpet at the Cora Reef.
Bez, too, showed his stuff, which was not unlike America’s soul singer John Legend. While Legend is a dexterous pianist, Bez seems an immensely gifted guitarist. And, he’s got lots of stage theatrics too, which are enhanced by his hat and rimmed glasses, which he intermittently adjusts as he strums away at his guitar. ‘More you’, ‘Jazz for Mary’, ‘Stop pretending’ and ‘Crazy’ are a few of his lyrics he soulfully vocal delivery for the audience’s enjoyment that night.

When Asa started her performance well into the night, the irritation of having to wait for over an hour for mere instruments to be reset for thinned out. The sound quality was so great there was no difference between it and having to listen to Asa’s CD on a home theatre music system.
Asa’s stagecraft showed the depth of an artiste’s commitment to her art and reverence to her its audience -- not just in her singing but also the quality of instrumentation. And, art is art only when meticulousness and thoroughness meet. In Asa, these virtues were not wanting as she rocked in the Green Carpet at the open garden. The small stage, however, restricted the artistes’ movement. Diasppointingly, though the ‘big men and women’ that was the audience did not feel moved enough by Asa’s superb delivery to stand to their feet and dance!
It was clear from her show, that Asa had also missed the Lagos audience for whom she duly apologised and promised frequent appearances in future. She also alluded to a drug-related rumour about her; assuring that it was all false. In fact, her presence at the show, was a confirmation of the fallacy of the report possibly designed to tarnish her image.
Asa did all the usual stuffs and more. She performed ‘Iya, a song she said she first tried on her guitar when she first got one to work with. It talks about pain and suffering stressing that the two are part of human experiences. Already a soulful singer, the vocal timbre she gave to the song emotionally taxed her audience.
In spite of her huge talent and success as a solo artiste, Asa is also a believer in other talents or acts. She was to invite two female soul singers -- Omolara and Ibiyemi -- to share stage with her on the ‘Iya’ song; their drawn out adlibbing roused interest of the audience powerfully. In the duo resides a prodigious vocal power, which would yet find anchor as they mature in their performances.
Jeremiah Gyang, in spite of the sectarian crisis in his Jos home state, still found inner strength to perform along Asa, perhaps as a form of defiance to those who seek to destroy the human spirit consumed as they are in beastly rage!

Terence Blanchard... A Tale of God’s Will (A requiem for Katrina

BY BENSON IDONIJE
TERENCE Blanchard is not one of those ostentatious hornmen who would design their sessions for the sole aim of attracting attention from jazz devotees. He is not the type that would play his trumpet, choosing specific notes that would appeal to, and excite screaming audiences. Blanchard is a genuine artist who believes in expressing himself naturally.
For him, jazz is a serious matter, as serious as your life. And that is exactly why his recent recording has captured the implications of Hurricane Katrina, a natural disaster whose catastrophic effects are still being felt in America till today, for compositional idea and performance.
What immediately strikes one upon listening to a few bars of Blanchard’s improvisational progression is his thorough grounding – evidence that he has listened extensively to the masters of the instrument.
Truly evident in those flowing lines of soaring melodies and intellectually crafted compositions is great talent — regardless of the fact that the influences of Clifford Brown and Miles Davies are copiously in attendance. Without doubt, these are some of the qualities he has invested in his recent recorded release, which views Katrina as “a tale of God’s will”; a natural, but unfortunate disaster.
With recording on the BlueNote stable, Blanchard is heading a formidable sextet of Brice Winton, soprano and tenor saxophones; Aaron Parks, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, piano; Zach Hermon, percussion. He is however at his best on trumpet.
The album, Tale of God’s Will contains such well crafted compositions as Ghost of Congo Square Square; Levees; Wading Through, Ashe; In time of need; Ghost of Betsy; The water; Mantra Intro; Mantra; Over There; Ghost of 1927; Funeral dirge; Dear mom.

BLANCHARD is deeply touched apparently because he is a New Orleans native; and has captured the many dimensions of Katrina with solos, riffs and several other dynamics. A great composer and arranger with imagination, the various titles have been interpreted with moods and settings that are fittingly appropriate.
Listening to the entire ensemble generally, and in particular, Blanchard’s solo design, it is as if he was watching Katrina happen, and he was playing his music as the disaster took place. The high level to which he has taken this documentary in terms of commitment and creativity all show that he is proud of the city and its heritage.
Terence Blanchard used to show his friends the most beautiful architecture, the best representations of who New Orleans people were. He was, however, taken up by a friend, after the disaster, who said he did not realise that there were poor people in the city because Blanchard had never shown him the Katrina places.
This requiem makes up for whatever inadequacies. It describes New Orleans with the vividness of first hand knowledge and depicts all the highs and lows – with solos and elevated arrangements that are executed with the deepest of emotions.
Blanchard wrote the score for Spike Lees’ acclaimed 2006 documentary, When the Levees Broke, in which Blanchard appears with his mother and grandmother as they return to their flooded home. There is no connection with that piece of music and A Tale of God’s Will, but this is to show Blanchard’s concern for his fatherland and the many contributions he has made to Katrina’s memory with music.
A Tale of God’s Will, even though executed by a sextet — which in fact is a small group — is full of arrangements which portray it as a big band. And, rather than interpret this documentary with the typical New Orleans roots and heritage mix — which is likely to enhance it in terms of easy recognition and its relation to the seat of early jazz that the city is, it takes the form of an orchestrated, concert requiem.
The orchestration may sound like an all-purpose film score, all sweeping strings and long distance views, one stage removed from the human tragedy and ineptitude in the city it is meant to be commemorating. But the real feeling, the actual New Orleans heritage in relation to Katrina can be well appreciated by jazz devotees, not everybody.
The music will be well taken in by jazz musicians and ardent followers of jazz, who appreciate the essence of the music in terms of melodic exploration and inventiveness; the creativity engendered by a solo design; the beauty of tonal conception; compositional framework and phraseology.

Blanchard’s approach is in line with the best of jazz, and there is no doubt that he is one of the foremost jazz musicians on the scene today. The reference to New Orleans, its roots and heritage would be beautifully captured by the likes of Louis Armstrong who has since gone to meet his ancestors. His New Orleans Stars would have done justice to a Katrina memorial because he was the key player of New Orleans jazz.
Born in New Orleans in 1901, Armstrong died in 1971. Modernists may have taken over with the advent of ‘bop’ in the ’40s, but Louis Armstrong was the most important and influential musician in jazz history. Although he is often thought of by the general public as a lovable, clowning personality, a gravel-voiced singer who played simple but dramatic trumpet in a New Orleans styled Dixieland setting, Armstrong was much, much, more. A great ambassador of the whole of the United States of America, Armstrong helped to put New Orleans on the map. However, this article is not about Louis Armstrong. The reference to him is only an aside. The spotlight is dropping on the trumpeter, Terence Blanchard.
Listening to the ensemble of Blanchard and its interpretation of Katrina as a Tale of God’s Will, at times it overwhelms in its grandeur, smothering the sextet. And at others, it retreats into a seemingly caressing sound. All these dynamics are capturing the nature of the disaster itself and its aftermath.
The various stories which appear, as titles composed and arranged should be appreciated from the musician’s jazz points. The listener must cast his mind back to New Orleans and visualise Katrina as it wreaked all the havoc.
Compositions such as Wading through and Water really drive the point home with arrangements that depict movements and strong winds while The Ghost of Betsy mellows the music down to a brooding situation, a moment of extreme sorrow. In time of need paints the picture of extreme poverty and hopelessness with sounds that are intense in places suddenly becoming subdued.
However, whatever interpretation you give it; from whatever perspective you visualise it in the process of listening, Blanchard’s superlative playing is evident.
The undeniable fact remains that his trumpet is strong and authoritative. Always vocal, but never vociferous, his trumpet speaks as the orchestra rarely does, offering a commentary to tragedy with a soaring and painful beauty.
His open trumpet flying over a walking Ghost of Betsy is quite simply supreme, his burnished tune on Levees subdued and plaintive. Along side him, the sextet is necessarily in shadow although never less than opposite as Derrick Hodges high register electric bass is always ear catching.
Although he originally rose to prominence in the shadow of Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard was one of the first young lions to develop his own sound, mixing in elements of Freddie Hubbard whose sound identity encapsulates those of Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown and Fats Navaro. He studied piano from the age of five and took up the trumpet in 1976. Blanchard was with Lionel Hampton in the 80s, replacing Wynton Marsalis in Blakey’s Jazz Messengers band during 1982–1986.
His stint with Art Blakey prepared him for the challenges of rhythm and composition. And the fact that he was a prolific pianist opened his horizon to arranging and the dynamics of flowing lines and progressions. A Tale of God’s Will: A requiem for Katrina is one of his many serious and intellectually crafted compositions.

Unilorin matriculates 5,393 students

BY TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA
AT a brief, but inspiring ceremony that lasted some 40 minutes last week, the University of Ilorin matriculated 5,393 students into various programmes for the 2009/2010 academic session.
Addressing students at the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede, the first alumnus of the university to occupy the office, drew from his personal experience as an undergraduate and charged the students to be the best they can.
The VC described the admission offered to the students as a trust, which needed to be justified and as an opportunity with an associated responsibility. He said, “though it is good to rejoice at the occasion, but it’s better for them to be sober and reflect on how they would graduate successfully from the university.”
Oloyede noted that the average of four years spent in the university is a short period in the context of a person’s life span; yet, it is a period that either makes or mars a person’s life. He recalled that while a student, people complained about dearth of job opportunities, but he assured himself that if he worked hard, his story would be different. He then urged the students to learn from his experience, be their best in their studies; so, they would find the various opportunities that lie ahead of diligence. “What is worth having at all is worth working for; if you desire a good result, you need to work for it, beginning from now,” he stated.
On the strategy of achieving the best result in the university, Oloyede, who is also the president of Association of African Universities (AAU), identified effective time management as one of the points. He said: “Use your time judiciously and know that procrastination is the greatest assassin of opportunity. Do not assassinate the opportunities lying ahead of you by wasting your time on trivia and trifles.”




Tension mounts in Ibadan Poly, as students resume

BY DANIEL ANAZIA
FOLLOWING alleged increase in tuition fees by the authorities of Ibadan Polytechnic, Ibadan, scores of armed anti-riot policemen and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was drafted to the gate of the institution to forestall students’ protest on Wednesday.
The students were said to have vowed to resist any attempt by the school authorities to introduce high fees on resumption.
A statement from the office of the Registrar, Tosho Ayanwale, however, said the fees have not been increased as alleged by the students.
The Registrar urged parents and guardians to advise their wards against participating in any form of protest.
“In spite of rising cost of all materials attached to teaching and grooming students for their future career, the tuition fee has not been increased by a kobo above what was charged last year,” the statement affirmed. “The returning Ordinary National Diploma and Higher National Diploma students are to pay N38, 729 and N45, 000 respectively.”
The students claimed that the school’s authorities had stated in the admission letter issued during the 2008/2009 session that the fees paid in the HND 1, would also be paid in HND 2. However, they were surprised when the contrary was the case, when they resumed – HND 2 students were asked to pay a higher fee. The students said the many fees they were asked to pay are outrageous, and accused the school’s authorities of peddling lies in their defense.
Ayanwale, however, disclosed that the students have been given the privilege to pay their fees by installments to give some relief in the payment. “They are allowed to pay 60 per cent of the fees for first semester and 40 per cent for the second semester,” he said.
The Registrar said some unscrupulous elements wanted to use the students to achieve their selfish political agenda and advised parents against allowing their children to quote inflated figures as fees payable in the institution.





UNILORIN loses four students on matriculation

BY ALABI MOHAMMED ABDULKAREEM AND OLAJIDE AKINTOLA
LAST Tuesday, what was supposed to be a joyous moment for newly admitted students of the University of Ilorin ended up tragic.
As at press time, about four students were feared dead while others are in critical conditions at the emergency ward of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), as a result of the ghastly motor accident that occurred along the University Road.
The students, numbering six, were believed to be heading for a bash organized by some other students to commemorate their matriculation ceremony. A source close to one of the victims, who escaped the tragedy by the whiskers, having earlier declined invitation to the party, revealed that the driver of the Toyota Camry car the students were in, lost control of the vehicle after its rear tyre busted, making the vehicle to stumble and hit a tree near the university bridge.
The University Dean, Prof. Suleiman Age, swiftly arrived the scene with the schools security patrol van to convey the victims to the school’s clinic, where they were first treated before being transferred them to the intensive care unit of UITH. For now, the fate of the remaining three is unknown.
Earlier that day, in a separate incident, a final year student of Statistics Department, Adebowale Adewoye, had met his untimely death in a fire inferno that engulfed a private residence at Gaa-Akanbi area of Ilorin.
The deceased was said to be reading in his room, when the fire engulfed the building. He could not be rescued from the inferno, which also claimed the life of another student of the Kwara State Polytechnic.
Meanwhile, Prof. Agash Oladosu has called on the students to be sober and give thanks to God rather than embarking on mundane activities in the name of religion.
The Chief Imam on Friday, prayed for the repose of the souls of the departed and for God to grant their parents the fortitude to bear the loss.




UNIJOS students count losses

BY MATTHEW ADEIZA
STUDENTS of the University of Jos were thrown into confusion two weeks ago as the sectarian crisis in Plateau State capital escalated.
The crisis, which began early on Sunday, January 17, took a dramatic turn for the worse on Tuesday, when some students that went to town, believing it was all over, were caught in the carnage.
In a related development, male students prevented some hoodlums, who had infiltrated the Village hostel from carrying out their attack. In Naraguta and Abuja Hostels, male students kept watch before some security operatives were later brought in, in the week.
As at Wednesday, some state governments had already sent buses to evacuate their indigenes from the hostels. First to arrive was Bayelsa State bus followed by Delta. By Friday evening, the hostels were almost empty except for few students who decided to stay behind to read for examinations that are expected to continue in few weeks.
Reacting to the situation, the Student Union Government president, Hitler Joshua Pwajok, decried the lack of sufficient security in the school and called on the Federal government to urgently commence the fencing of all student hostels.
He observed with dismay that fences in the student hostels were either non-existent or badly damaged, making them vulnerable to attacks from different routes.
Pwajok said about four students have been killed with many losing their valuables.
Students who spoke to Campus Life, wondered why they had to suffer for what they have no hand in, saying that the killing of their colleagues is barbaric and inhuman, and called on the Federal government to ensure their security on and off the campus.
It will be recalled that the university was in the midst of examination when the crisis began. Apart from disrupting their exams, many students lived in fear and hunger for the most part of the week, as a result of the crisis.

ohimatt4u@gmail.com

Why businesses fail (2)

(Biz tool Kits)
BY BRIDGET OLOTU
LAST week, we started with reasons for business failures; this week, we are concluding the series. We discovered last week that Asokoro and Maitama in Abuja (preferred locations of our client) did not meet any of these criteria.
This is because Microfinance Bank business as you know is a “mass market” business. It is not to serve the interests of the elite; it is designed to meet the needs of micro fund users and micro-credit needs of the poor, micro and small businesses and low income groups. This is the spirit of the microfinance initiative.
Abuja is a modern city with all the trappings and appellations of elitism, modernity, upper class and highbrow neighbourhoods.
Locating an MFB in this city comes with an expensive capital outlay, is not close to the target market as more than 60 per cent of the workers in the FCT, from our findings, live outside the city in places like Yanyan, Maraba in Karo LGA, Masaka, etc.
Even the residents in the estates within the city are not the target market or right market for microfinance services. They are the elite and do not need microlending and microfinance services.
Furthermore, getting workers that would run the bank would also be a Herculean and an expensive task as most of the professionals drive into the city every morning to work and leave in the evening for their homes.
We concluded that if our client was to site his bank in Abuja, it would have to be based on the following reasons: Establish the head office in Abuja and have cash centres around the markets and suburbs, especially in Masaka and Maraba, and a few other places within the city, etc, where the target market is; Establish the bank as a social or political project.
On the other hand, our research in Lagos favoured some areas in the city as meeting the criteria we had set for choosing the right location.
At the end of the research, our client was saved the pain, stress and economic losses this kind of investment in the wrong location could have brought on him. He then began to look at how to start an MFB in Lagos.
If not for this market survey/feasibility study, our client could have probably lost the N50 million he had wanted to invest in the project.
By spending about 1 per cent of that amount on the market survey and business plan we later prepared for him, we saved him from losing his capital to bad business decision and furnished him with adequate information on how to successfully and profitably operate his microfinance business.

What does this teach SMEs? Don’t start a new business, launch a new product/service, change into a new line of business without carrying out a market survey or doing your due diligence regarding the said business or product.
This is because whatever product you are going into will not be consumed by you or by the members of your family.
So, it is important you look at what the market needs, how the market sees or will see this product/service, examine the capital outlay for the product and the expected income, examine how long it would take for you to recoup your investment or break even, examine the challenges and threats your new product will face in its desired location, look at what the competition is doing, and what the reaction of your competitors will be and the impact of this reaction on the success or otherwise of your product, etc.
This is why we encourage start-ups to get a business plan before launching their businesses.
No matter how little the effort is, getting adequate information regarding your business, your target market, your marketing strategy, business structure, investment dynamics and other imperatives will make your foray into business a success while helping you escape failure in the marketplace.
Business is both an art and a science. The art aspect deals with how the human elements are successfully fused in a marriage of common goal and destiny, while the science aspect means that you can actually research, observe, gather facts and analyse same to arrive at an objective conclusion regarding the business or develop some predictability in your results or outcomes. Businesses therefore fail because of the lack of or inadequate information and due diligence carried out before the launch and during the life of such enterprises.

Olotu is the CEO/Lead Consultant, DEAIM Innovative Resources Ltd., bridgetolotu@gmail.com






Free advice

(Strictly for the young)
SO once again, here I am being totally random! And in my randomness, here I am with free advice.
How much of my own advice do I take? The answer friends, is blowing in the winds!
• Never take coffee in the morning and Power Horse at night. You will just bounce off the walls and miss school the next day.
Think about it! What is it we are constantly trying to stay awake for? Sometimes I wonder if we enjoy any of the things we indulge in.
You go for a random party where everyone has this smile on their faces, and you know, you just know they would all rather be home, but somehow, it would be un-cool to not be here! Okay o!
• Everything good for you is bad for you, and everything bad for you is good for you.
This is one of my most loved theories! People are always telling us what to eat, and what not to eat.
Do and not do. But no one has ever told me why agbo is bitter and coke is sweeter. Why it is easier to give in to temptation than to resist it, and why watching television is so much fun but apparently burns no calories. Leave me jo!
• The secret to losing weight is wearing bigger sized clothes.
This is self-explanatory.
• Never have friends that are prettier than you.
Nor smarter. Your friends should be shorter, so you always look tall, bigger, so you always look small, and pretty dumb, so you are easily, the sharpest tool in that friendship shed!
• Love is like walking under a bus, getting hit by a train, sinking at sea, crashing your car and going insane (Culled from Hey Mum by Bachelor Girls)
The real tragedy is... it feels so good that we get right up and do it all over again. And again.
• Love is pleasure, love is pain, love will simply drive you insane!
• The Road less travelled is less travelled for a reason
• There are no Wrong or Right decisions; just decisions that work in the moment. I once tried to make a decision and spent so much time trying to make the decision that I ended up worrying about making the decision that I never did make the decision. Look at me now?
There are times when the only way to solve an equation, is via the very simple, very apt, mini-mini-mani-mo!
• Maybe we reincarnate. Or maybe we live once. But if we live well and hard, then once is enough Abi?
So, stop waiting for that afterlife or other life before you fully live! If you can jump, jump! If you can swim, swim! If you can sing, sing! There is more to life than simply being alive!
• Whatever you are feeling right now has been felt before, is being felt somewhere else, and will be felt again.
You are truly not alone. Sometimes when you s.h.a.r.e with someone, you see that it really is not as bad as you think it is. Unless it is the stain on your wedding dress. But then again, who wants to focus on the wedding when the big picture is the marriage itself?
•. Meaningless. All is meaningless. And this is not meant to be gloomy. It’s just, after all is said and done, it is all hype. And you should not believe the hype!

tosinornottosin@yahoo.com

Warebi thinks home

BY CHUKS NWANNE
In an effort to empower young girls living in Navy Town, Lagos where she spent most of her formative life as a young ‘tom boy’, before hitting the limelight, Bayelsa-born super model, Warebi Martha has concluded plans to stage a beauty pageant tagged Face of Navy Town.
Though planned as a Navy Town project, other ladies living in other parts of Lagos, who are interested, can also take part in the competition, as no special treatment will be given to residents. The pageant is open to all secondary school certificate holders, as well as undergraduates of tertiary institutions, who must be within the age bracket of 17 to 26 years.
Warebi, who runs Catwalk Productions in South Africa, alongside her partner, Bisi Sowemimo informed that the outfit would be actively involved in the project, through which she intends to give back to the society.
“We will be working alongside the winner of the contest in our efforts to take young ladies off the street and putting them through programmes that will empower and teach them the values inherent in education. Projects lines up for the winner will not be just a tea party or a walk in the park,” the super model said.
As a way of giving back to her community, Warebi also plans to reward best 10 graduating female students in WAEC this year from schools within Navy Town and its environments.
“Talks are on to ensure that we get the best possible collaboration from the Naval authorities in this project. This project is very important to me because I was once a young lady in that area; you never can tell how many talents we will discover through this initiative.”
According to the project director, Kelvin Kelly, April has been fixed for the event, while necessary groundwork is being put in place to ensure that the pageant, which will be taking place in a military formation for the first time, sees the light of the day.
“This is Warebi’s contribution to the empowerment of young ladies in her area and we are doing everything possible to ensure a hitch free event. However, necessary preparations have been put in place and we will be briefing the media soon on the exact date for the pageant.”
Meanwhile, Kelly is presently holding brief for Warebi, who is presently working in Milan, from where she will be heading for New York for yet another fashion show. The pretty model is expected to be back in the country soon when all aspect of the project would be made public.

Guys’ first love

BY CHUKS NWANNE
What manner of a guy are you if you’ve never worn a pair of jeans no matter the style or colour? Well, while you task your mind on that, the truth remains that there will hardly be any guy in this world, whose wardrobe does not have at least one pair of jeans; even a pastor! In fact, it has become one of the most comfortable and most stylish attire of today; liked by one and all, irrespective of the age, size, sex, economic background, and so on.
One major advantage this outfit is the fact that it can go with virtually any top –– T-shirt, shirt (long or short sleeve), polo shirt and even blazer suit, which has become more popular among fashionable men. Just watch out at every celebrity event and see how guys turn out in, with designer blazer suit to match.
Oh yea, days are gone when jeans was seen as a thing for the young and middle class; the case is different today. Hey, don’t be surprise to see even your CEO stroll into the office in a pair of fitted-dirty jeans, especially on a Friday.

History shows that the material called ‘jeans’ was named after sailors from Genoa, Italy, who wore clothes from a material quite similar to the one used today for making jeans. At first, the cloth was made from a mixture of things. However, in the 18th century as trade, slave labour and cotton plantations increased, jean cloth was made completely from cotton.
The working class started favoring the material as it was very strong and did not wear out easily. The material was dyed with indigo, taken from American plants, thus giving the trademark color of ‘blue’ to jeans.
Around mid-19th century, gold was found in California (near San Francisco) and with it, started the famous Gold Rush. Around this time, a German immigrant known as Levi Strauss came to San Francisco, with the purpose of selling dry goods, but discovered that there was much more need for pants, as compared to dry goods. He converted the canvas, which he had brought along, into waist overalls. Though the miners liked the overalls, their single complaint was that it tended to chafe.
To solve the problem of chafing, Levi substituted the canvas for a twilled cotton cloth from France, known as ‘serge de Nimes’, which later came to be known as denim. He later formed the Levi Strauss & Company and started using the pocket stitch design. Later, he and Nevada tailor David Jacobs co-patented the process of putting rivets in pants, for the purpose of making them much more durable. Levi Strauss & Company first used the two-horse brand design, in the year 1886. Later, in 1936, the red tab attached to the left rear pocket came into being.

The popularity of jeans increased with the release of the western movies made in Hollywood, in the 1930s. With the cowboys, the ‘jeans’ worn by them also became popular. However, it was the American soldiers who introduced jeans to the rest of the world, during World War II. After the war, Levi jeans started selling outside American West too. Jeans started becoming popular amongst the teenagers in the 1950s, while the 1960s brought the different styles in jeans - embroidered, painted, psychedelic, and so on. Today, jean has become not only popular, but also a common clothing item, throughout the world.

Simple is elegant

DRESSING for any occasion simply cannot be left until the last minute. Some of us put it off simply because we don’t know how to dress. We ask ourselves: What’s trendy? Should I even be trendy? What will look good on me? What jewelry do I wear? Should my shoes and bag match? To take some unnecessary stress off your shoulders, here are five tips to make your dressing-up decisions quick and easy. Dress for your body type. This is hands down the most crucial component in creating your look for a formal, or any event for that matter. Here are the basic body types:
• Athletic: If you have this body type you can go short or long. An empire style, which provides for more room around the waist, will be the most flattering.
• Full Figured: Again, short or long will work for your body. Showing off your best assets, which for your body type might be your chest and shoulders. How can you do this? Buy an off the shoulder or low-cut dress.
• Petite: If you’re petite, then short dresses are the way to go.
• Flat Chested: The most flattering neckline for your body type, and for many body types, is a halter. Definitely stay away from strapless dresses.
• Hour Glass: Like the athletic and fill figured body types, you can go short or long.
• Pear Shaped: Highlight your narrow shoulders with a strapless silhouette or one shoulder dress. Also try to wear an a-line skirt to emphasize the smaller waist area and cover up your problem areas. Finally, try to avoid wearing light colors on the bottom half of your body.
• Tall and Thin: Let’s be honest, you can wear whatever you want.

LESS is more. Keeping it simple is always a smart decision, especially with jewelry.
Looking for a way to make your accessories especially unique? Try strands of pearls, headbands, and flower pins. But shy away from big statement jewelry if the dress already has beading or jewelry of its own.
Take a risk. This tip is encouraged, but of course is not necessary. Metallic shoes in particular look great with any dress. If you really aren’t scared to take a risk though, try pairing a chiffon ruffle dress with a boyfriend jacket.
Leather bomber. It is another interesting great piece over a dress as well. Sometimes being risky means being willing to follow the trends on the runway right now, which means short, flirty party dresses in bright colours.
The little black dress is always in style. This is a great piece to always have in your closet to fall back on. In fact, it is the piece to keep in your closet at all times.

Living the magic of tube

BY TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA
“Like they say, if you do something you love, you will never work again. I feel that way now.”
Working where magic lives does not make Biola Alabi’s story a fairytale; but it is something close. After seeing the best of two worlds in Nigeria and the United States of America, she now comfortably sits in Lagos as the managing director of MNet Africa and sets her eyes on beginning the year with a bang, the grand finale of Face of Africa, which will be broadcast live from Lagos.

Listening to Alabi tell her story and sitting down to watch a soap opera, both provoke the same sensation of excitement, intrigues and suspense. For the moment the narration lasted, you are forced to stay glued to your seat and hear all of it reel out in interwoven lock of adventures. Yet, the hardworker insists she is not there yet. “I am still at the beginning of my journey and I am looking forward to learning more.”
Growing up in a small family of three siblings in different parts of the world, she relishes the times she spent in Akure, Ondo State. “When my dad was here, he was a lecturer. So, during holidays, we always went to the family house in Akure. My education was in the US, so I enjoyed the best of both worlds and I have very fond memories of those places. There are sometimes when you miss both places for different reasons. My parents were very committed to us as children, making sure we had the right mix of exposure and experience.
“I grew up reading a lot. My parents limited our TV watching and; of course, NEPA also limited our TV watching, as there weren’t so much generators then. But the beautiful thing about reading is that you can read from anywhere. When you read, it exposes you to a lot and you don’t have the time to engage in chatter. It actually sprouts my love for travel. I had a list of places I wanted to see before I was even 10.” Then she retorted, “I hope people still read the way I used to. I hope young children still read?”

LOOKING back now, Biola never really thought she would be in the media. “My parents were typical Nigerians, you have to do things that made sense, and you had to be a doctor, lawyer or an engineer. They were very clear about what you wanted to do and I decided on medicine or pharmacy, which is why my degree is a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. But after an internship in a pharmacist company, I discovered it didn’t suit my personality.
“One of the courses you have to do is a marketing class. When I took my first marketing class, I was hooked and I knew this is the major for me. So, I decided to minor in Marketing. I didn’t even break the news to my parents that I wasn’t going to apply to medical school. I just decided to take a break, work for a while and see how things go. I was already exposed to different marketing opportunities in school and one of the jobs I had at the time was with CBS College Tour. CBS is a broadcasting firm in the US and they raise awareness in universities with the tour. So, when they came to my campus, I was already worked up. There were so many exposures and it made me realize marketing had so many facets.”
Eventually, she got hooked with marketing and left the US to live in Korea for two years, taking a job with Daewoo. “I traveled and saw different parts in Asia, before coming to work for them in the US. Their entry into the US market was a massive campaign, because they were bringing something new and I enjoyed talking about that.”
From there, she ventured into the internet world and met exciting opportunities. Internet was the revolution at that point in the US. She joined Big World, an internet service company. “It was an experience for me, everyone wanted to work in an internet company. Everyone was so young at Big World. The person who started the company was 25 years old and everybody was under 30.
“After a while, there was a crash in the market, some companies survived, some didn’t. Amazons is one of the companies that survived and it was able to buy up a lot of the little companies in that space and my company was one of them. At the end, all the internet business withered down. I think that is what happens in every revolution, when you have a lot of things happening at the same time, the market would correct itself. And I think that is what happened even with the stock market here.”
But did she go down with the firm? The answer was in the negative. “That was the best learning process for me, I always say that experience was my MBA. I learned a lot from the failure of it. It was fun working with your friends who were your age. You made mistakes together and grow together. The lessons you learn outside of the classroom really shape you and make you the person you are.”

THAT working her way back home marked the turning point in her career and her eventual journey into media business. Before coming back home to join MNet in November 2008, she was at a company in New York that produces different children programmes. One of the most popular ones is Sexmistry. “It was an organization that showed commitment towards educating children, not just in America, but all over the world. There were over 120 local versions of the programme. In South Africa, for example, the programme I worked on is in five different languages. I loved every minute of it and I loved New York, it was a city that I had always wanted to live in.
“So, when MNet came calling, I was ready to come back home and I had been looking for opportunities throughout Africa, though I had done some work in South Africa with Sexmistry, and I had began working in Nigeria, trying to do Nigerian version, which is really how I came in contact with a lot of people in African media. When MNet was looking for someone to manage the African business, I put myself forward and had the interview process started. It was the perfect match; they were looking for someone to be based in Nigeria. I didn’t have to think hard about it, once they made the offer, I said yes, packed my bags, left New York and came to Nigeria.
Now, she loves every minute of it. She got married last year and looking for the right word to describe her present status, she says, “it is very exciting. I spend my time watching TV. I truly love and enjoy TV. I still read and spend time with my husband and family.”

BUT what is her typical Monday like? “The beautiful thing about this job is that each day is different. However, we do have some things that are consistent. Monday mornings are big mornings for us. We usually start our day here by eight. We have staff based in Nairobi and Johannesburg. And we always get on the call first thing on Monday. We talk about where we are, what we are doing and I give strategic direction of where the company is going and what is happening. The next part of the day is getting into the nitty-gritty of what is going on in each production across Africa and responding to emails.
“We are constantly on the ball, understanding what is going on, what shows are doing very well and if the show would be appealing to African audience. When Oprah, which is a stable on our channel, announced that she would no longer be doing her show, although that is for another year, we still had to think of what is going to happen when the Oprah show goes out of syndication. There is going to be an Oprah replacement. We always have to be thinking a year or two ahead of what’s coming down.”
Alabi is passionately committed to telling the African story and she is not stopping at that, she is drawing from her last vestige of strength to project better images of Nigerians after the December 25 Christmas day terrorist attempt by a Nigerian, Abdul Farouk Mutallab.

From Growing Pains, Ebi springs ‘humour

BY GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR
IT’s impossible to turn your eyes away from Ebimoboere Omoaruke Akpeti’s Growing Pains. Published in 2006, it tells the story of a man called Oyinkro, who went abroad to study, but came back home deranged.
To some, he had gone abroad and had spent too much time studying the whiteman’s letters and books (a feat, which surely, to their way of thinking, a black man’s brain wasn’t designed to handle) and had lost his mind while to others, he was a recluse; a learned man, who had rejected the white man’s way but on his return found it hard to fit in with his own people, who could no longer relate with him.
But one thing the villagers agreed on, was that his life was over. He was just waiting to die.
But was he? “No because at the end of the story, you will see that he was not just able to get up, he was also able to get back in line! So that’s what my stories are all about.
“To encourage people, that no matter how far you have fallen, you can still get back on your feet”.
The book opens the eyes of the readers to the ‘double’ life of Akpeti. But you can’t blame her for this. She’s a writer and banker.

This afternoon, Ebi is in her office, poring over files. There’s a gentle knock on the door.
“Come in,” she answers.
“The journalist, “ she asks her guest.
“Yes,” he answers.
Pregnant silence follows.
“I was once in the media,” she says in a voice that leaks out high pitch. Handshake follows. Suddenly, the thought of life outside newsroom flickers.
The lady, who bagged her first degree in Business Management from the University of Calabar, also holds a Master of Science degree in Finance from same school.
She recently added another Master’s degree in Media and Communication to her string of certificates.
In 2006, she was one of the nominees for the Nigerian Media Merit Awards in Capital Market category. However, Ebi, now in the media relations of a bank, says, she got into writing by mistake.
“After my first Masters’ degree, for some reason, which I now understand, I just could not get a job. I was jobless for almost six years and out of frustration, I wrote a story titled Growing Pains. I took the story to a media house for it to be published and when the editor saw it, he was impressed and employed me right on the spot and since then, I have written three other books. Stories are all around us each and everyday. In fact, it is stories that make sense of the world for me. I was just faithful with the gift God gave me and that was how it all began. I did not want to be perfect, I did not want to be rich, I just wanted to write,” Ebi says in a gripping voice. The sound moves like wave in the ears, but not enough to drown.
Do you wonder how she writes, considering the time she spends in the office?
Not to worry. “I write when I get the urge, which is virtually all the time.”
She talks animatedly, waving her hands as if offering them as a gift to her guest. “People always ask me that question because they wonder how I am able to write in spite of my daily responsibilities as a full time banker but it’s never been a problem. Writing is how I relieve myself from stress. Every blessed day, before I sleep, I write something about that day. I just jot it down.”

AS a media relations’ officer/banker, how does her job impact on her literary calling?
From Ebi’s seated position, passion lifts her voice and raises her out of the chair. “Balancing time between different types of writing projects is definitely something that I struggle with but the good thing is that my job complements my writing. As a media relations’ officer in a bank, I do a lot of writing and that has greatly improved my writing. When I began to write, I did not aim at perfection, I just wanted to give my all to something I knew I could do and since then, I have become better at writing stories because of the constant use of words on the job. My job is the greatest motivation for my stories and I thank God for it. I would not have it any other way.”
Does she write other genres such as drama and poetry?
She sits again, dabs her face with a white handkerchief. She relaxes and a broad smile fills her face. She snorts: “No. I don’t think I will ever write poetry because it is something I have never really identified with but I think I will do drama… sometime in the future.”
What’s her goal as a writer? Nobel? Caine? Booker? What really?
She laughs and flicks her eyes; a shadow of hope rushes in. Talking slowly, she says, “the truth is, I don’t really have a goal. I don’t aspire to get rich, famous or win any prize, but if I do, it will be good. Writing is something I’m passionate about and something I would do whether I get paid for it or not.”
Who are her favourite writers and why?
“There is this young man called Sanchez Aghahowa. One of his stories, which became a home video, is titled Letter to a Stranger. He, in my opinion, is one of Nigeria’s gifted writers; he has a good grasp of words and the ability to hold you in complete suspense,” she muses.
Is she working on anything now?
She heaves, “Yes! I am working on a book titled God has a Sense of Humour.”
How many books has Ebi written so far and what are their names?
Gradually, she begins to count them in her left hand.“So far, I have published three books. Growing Pains, Castrated and The Perfect Church. I am working on my fourth and fifth titled The Vicious Circle and God has a Sense of Humour.”
She looks at her guest intensely and asks did I make sense?
“Yes, I think,” she gets as response.

FOR Ebi, God has a sense of humour, really. For about six years, she was out of job, passion led her into the newsroom and now, the tempo and volume of literary creativity has increased into a certain chant in the banking hall.

Passion for the screen

BY CHUKS NWANNE
SHE was in the company of friends in one of the Ikeja hangouts when I arrived. I had concluded she was into modeling, until a friend, who knew her better, introduced Ada Aronu as a producer, with three films to her credit.
However, our discussion that afternoon had nothing to do with her movie career, rather Adaslim, as she’s fondly called in the entertainment industry, is on the verge of airing her TV show, Celebrities With Adaslim, which has already been assured space on DSTV channel.
Truly, the Anambra State native is really on the slim side and you wonder how that name came to be.
“It started way back in school. We had two students bearing Ada in my room in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; one was really fat while I, being the second, is slim; you can imagine how slim I was about four years ago. Those days, people would come to our room and say, ‘I’m looking for Ada.’ And they will ask, ‘which of the Adas — Ada slim or Ada fat? So, over time, the name stuck and I decided to keep it, so, I don’t lose my friends.”
That means you like it?
“Oh, it’s cool; even when I wanted to take up a stage name, I adopt Adaslim because I wanted a name that will reflect my heritage. Personally, I’m not a fan of ‘re-branding’ to the extent of my name sounding foreign.”

LIKE most young people, Ada’s early dream was to be a lawyer. But not long after, that dream was overtaken by her passion.
“Along the line, I developed interest in TV to the extent that I wanted to be a presenter.
You must have watched TV a lot?
“Yea, a lot; there was no Nollywood then, so, it was all about TV. My mother is a born-again, so, we were not into Michael Jackson and stuff like that; we watched more of normal TV programmes. I remember those days, I was admiring Oprah a lot; she was my role model,” she enthuses. “Funny enough, when Internet came to Nigeria, one of the first people I checked out on the net was Oprah; I just needed to read about her.”
Ada opted for Mass Communication after her secondary education, though she was offered Mathematics and Economic at the University of Nigeria.
“I took up the course because it has something to do with the Arts, but I later switched to Mass Communication through the help of my dad.”

WHILE her mates were dreaming of securing lucrative jobs in the corporate world after school, the low-cut wearing lady was more concerned with trying her hands in movie production.
“I’ve never tried taking up an office job because that’s not what I was cut out for. When I left school in 2005, I was more interested in making my own
movie, so, I shot my first movie, Irreplaceable, in 2006.”
How come you shifted to movie production?
“While I was in secondary school, I was actually active in the movie industry, but as a minor, nobody knew me. Then, we just wanted somewhere to hangout, doing stuffs, pending when our JAMB result would come. It was Chief Pete Edochie that introduced me to the industry; I used to disturb him about my interest in Nollywood and he would say to me, ‘that would be after your O-levels.’ So, immedi
ately I was done with my WAEC and JAMB, I went back to him, that’s how I started

before I went to the university.”
From her calculation, working with the production crew is a lifeline to her dream of producing a TV show. “I was more interested in learning the skills involved in production, which I believed would help me in future. As at then, I never knew I could raise money to shoot my own film,” she says.
So, how did you raise money to shoot Irreplaceable when you had never worked before?
“Well, I can’t really say it was through friends because, even in the university as a student, I had enough money. With all modesty, I was a big girl in school; I had a brand new Honda Civic car in school; I used to travel abroad to buy stuffs and sell while in school, I was making money. I was more of an entrepreneur then; just wanted to be doing my own stuff.”

HOW did you raise money to start up the business? “Actually, my dad lent me the first capital for the business, which I later paid back. My dad is a businessman, so, you don’t joke with his money,” she quips. “As for my first trip, I didn’t really make enough money, but I struggled not to lose the capital, so, I used it over again. I didn’t pay him all the money at once; I paid him from the profit I made from the business. But the fact remains that I paid back the money I borrowed.”
So, it was more like a business relationship between both of you?
“Ah, my dad won’t leave a dime for you; except your school fees and pocket money,” she screams. “But I’m happy he built that discipline in me; I’ve learnt that when you have millions in your pocket, it’s not about spending it just because you have it. I was careful with the money because I didn’t want to disappoint him.”

UNFORTUNATELY, Ada’s first production was a big flop; she lost a lot of money.
“The problem was in the production itself; I trusted a lot of people. Everything was about sentiment; I wanted my friends and my cousins to work with me. I wasn’t professional; it was more of friends, friends thing, so, we shot longer than we should. I was actually paid enough for the movie, but because we spent a lot in production, I lost millions.”
Did you ever think of pulling out from the business?
“I pulled out for a year; it’s not about thinking of pulling out,” she says amidst laughs. “But I came back later and did another movie for Dosac entitled Evil Agenda. So, between 2006 and now, I’ve done three movies in all.”

FOR now, Ada has suspended her movie career to pursue her passion. By next month, her TV show, Celebrities With Adaslim, will hit TV screens across the country and beyond via Dstv platform. The show is centred on celebrating Nigeria and it’s artistes on television.
“Movie producing is okay, but TV is what I wanted to do; even if I have billions to do movies, I would prefer doing a TV show. It’s good; I go all the experience in making TV show because it is my target now.
“I noticed that a lot of Nigerians don’t really appreciate Nigerian artistes. I’ve heard people tell me that they saw Osuofia (Nkem Owoh) in the plane and they snubbed him and I was like, ‘why do you have to do that?’ I haven’t heard anyone who saw Michael Jackson and snubbed him. Some of these things really got me thinking.”
The show will debut with four segments for a start, with plans to spice it up in the near future.
“The core show is One-On-One, which is an interview, but because we don’t want it to be boring, we spiced it up with other segments such as My Blog (vox pop), Take One, which is about making a movie and My Idol, which gives the young people an opportunity of meeting with their favourite artistes. Other bits and pieces will come in later.”

SO, are you afraid of losing money again? She beams with smiles, saying, “each time you are spending money, you are thinking about losing money. But when you lose money in something you love to do, it wouldn’t pain you as much as when you are doing something just to make money. But I know I will not lose money this time.”
You are very confident this time?
“Yes, because I’ve got enough experience; I learnt from my past mistakes.

This time, it’s not about who I like to work with; it’s about who can do the

job.”
As for getting sponsors for the programme, the young producer is not worried for now.
“I’ve come to realise that people seem not to be interested in sponsoring a show if there’s nothing on ground. So, what I’m doing right now is to prove the point that I have something to offer. If the sponsorship comes, then we thank God. It’s a bit challenging, but this is something I love doing.”
On who comes to the show, Ada explains, “through the vox-pop segment, we get to find out who people want to see; so, it’s not about whom I like; even if I’m not your fan, once people want you, you will definitely come on the show. It has not been easy, but the truth is, I’ve paid my dues; I’ve been in the industry for 10 years now, though I came in as a teenager. Even some of the artistes I used to carry their bags those days, would see me today and say, ‘eh, look at my small Ada, she’s such a big girl now.’ So, I have my connections and sometimes, I go through people to get my guests.”
AS far as Ada is concerned, Nigerians shouldn’t lose sleep over the decision of the United States of America to put the country on her terrorist watch list, rather she wants them to see the situation as an opportunity for Nigeria to tell her own story.
“Well, that’s why we have to do our best to present ourselves as good Nigerians. Wherever you are, even if people think Nigerians are bad people, you have to use yourself as an example to the world. But at the same time, I believe we can re-brand through entertainment; that’s one tool we have now that can sell us in positive way. As for the terrorist list, it shouldn’t disturb us as a people; we should work hard and be the best we can. We just have to be good Nigerians.”

kokide… moulding the adolescent

OKIEMUTE Juliet Ikokide is the founder, Talk Sense Consult (TSC), a counseling outfit in Lagos with an outreach in Benin, Edo State. Over the years, she has nurtured a dream of ensuring that ‘lost and wayward’ children are given new direction. The Delta State indigene bagged a first class honours degree in Biology Education from the University of Benin (UNIBEN). She also holds a Master’s degree in Environment and Safety Health Education from the same institution. A member of the Nigerian Institute of Safety professionals, she tells CHIEMEREM-NNEKA UMENNE her vision for the young ones, why a child would behave differently and other young-at -heart issues.



Background
I attended St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, Idimu, Lagos. I’m the first child of my parents’ six children. I am a conflict/ relationship manager, teacher and consultant on teenage and parental issues.

Growing up

Growing up was fun, but not exactly complete because I had ideas, dreams and aspirations but there was no one to share them with. Neither was there anyone to help achieve them. I also had complaints but no one to relate them to. I was confused most of the times. Peer pressures, among other factors, contributed and I really wished I had someone to talk to. As I grew older, I decided to create a forum that would help young people meet their needs academically, socially and emotionally. I also realised that a lot of young people could choose the path of violence in expressing themselves, which some people attribute to demonic influence. Such violent act could also divert potentials. During my undergraduate days, I had the concept — Talk Sense Consults — to build self-confidence, cordial relationships between and among young people and equip them for future roles as nation builders.

Vision/ driving force

I realised through research and experience that our society could be healthier, safer and more productive if we all related with one another. When such norms are primarily imbibed in young ones as leaders of tomorrow, the society would be better. I long to build positive morals and boost confidence in the youths by ensuring that a cordial productive relationship exists among them. This, in turn, will build a better society and also a better Nigeria at large. I counsel my clients on ensuring that purposeful relations are sustained in the best possible ways and with available resources within their power. It was founded in 2004, but was registered in 2008. It specialises in moulding young people of impressionable age into moral exemplary characters in the society. It organises educative seminars for young people in schools, religious complexes and other exhaustible platforms where young people shares their ideas, social problems, learn from each other and proffer solutions. There is an over indulgence of immorality in present day Nigeria. Young people now leave school for Internet fraud (yahoo yahoo) among other bad activities. They have suddenly left good principles behind. We can’t continue to blame one another for this ugly trend other than look for a solution. Such bad morals are caused by bad influence from either internal or external peer movement.
TSC is out to curtail these downward trends. I am also concerned about individuals who find it difficult to express their dreams as a result of either not growing up in the right environment, unaware about life challenges and how to cope with them, non guidance or wrong choices made in the past. I help the individuals interpret and understand themselves. I believe in change a person, change the world. Yes we can do it.

Achieving positive trends among youths
I work with psychologists, counsellors, educators and researchers of like minds who specialises in exposing young people to life forms and practices beyond their immediate environment. I ensure that interactive sessions are observed to ascertain the child’s level of reasoning, understanding of life with a follow up activities. I ensure equal opportunity that promotes diversity and value differences with an interest to bridging the gap between information gained and information disseminated. To further strengthen this, I encourage that families keep a steady relationship with their children.

Target audience
Adolescents because they are the future presidents, lawmakers, governors, professors and generally our nation’s future. We groom them today; and for the future. We implore effective communication. Children have very formative minds. It is the values they are exposed to at home they bring to the society. If not well informed, they are likely to deviate. Young people that already have problems at home and are looking for someone who would just see reason with them are ready to talk to a listening ear. I give that listening ear. I locate the problem and work with the individual to solve it.

Focus for 2010

The launch of TSC’s leadership training programme. This we hope to achieve by bringing school principals and other stakeholders in the education sector on board. We have been constantly involved in the yearly AIDS walk. We also intend to have other forums and seminars this year.

Authoring motivational books
There is need to constantly remind these lost children about life challenges and expectancy. I sorted to spice it by having a reminder book for parents as well as the kids to read. The first, Understanding your Adolescent Child, published in 2004, was written for parents to help them understand their teenage wards, have a healthy relationship with them and the winning child, published in 2006 for children between the age of seven and 12, to help them understand the importance of living right. We also publish PEARLS, a bi-monthly newsletter for the young at heart.

Challenges

Convincing some parent and learning institutions that we can help them with the problems they are having with their teenager. They often wonder the magic I would perform but in the end, they see changes in the child. Another is perception of motivational speakers in the society. Finance is a major challenge because all pearls’ copies are given out free to secondary school students.

Future projection

To be a foremost advocate for peoples’ relationships. To set up an international standard center for human health and social development for young people.

Rating Nigeria’s youth

Today’s Nigerian youths are intelligent as any other first class youth around the world, hardworking but sometimes, are externally influenced. We just need to be more focused and keep our eyes on the harvest.

Source of inspiration

God. My father, Dr. Zeb Olusanmi Ikokide is my role model. Dr. Myles Monroe’s books mentor me. I love reading his books. He is a great teacher and genuine motivational speaker.

Fashion sense

I like uncommon but smart and descent looking wears. I dislike uniform dresses because they are in vogue and that is not fashion for me. Originality, I like to highlight in my outfits.

Cosmetic brand

I use affordable but good pink- shade lipsticks preferably Dior. I like Marc, Iman and Mary Kay brands. I am making a trial on Orekelewa.

Never worn kit

At any point in time, I will never be seen wearing a skimpy, spaghetti or mini-skirt dress. I love native attire and casual- Jean fit but not tight.