Monday, 10 May 2010

Cover Edition 230, March 28 - April 3

The colours of ‘Mr. President’

HOW did Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, affect our affections that we have secretly adopted his style and colour? Open any paper and there he is, welcoming everybody to his style.
Mr. ‘President’ has managed to entice everybody into his corner with his rich Ijaw regalia, without any crinkled look of a worried man, even though the load on his head is very heavy — economy, dilapidated infrastructure, lack of social amenities, crisis upon crisis, crises, so to say.
There’s a popular saying that he has patience, no pun intended, Patience is his wife’s name, and so he has been able to mark himself out as a man of style and colour.
Accessories and ornament complete an outfit and help to personalize a person’s look. For the acting president, it’s the jewel-encrusted buttons on his long robes, which have made dramatic statements for him.
Writing in Smashin’ fashion,, the acting president’s style was described as vertical. The fine striped shirt (by Rocawear) reveals his sense of style. “Everyone knows stripes are the way to go, but how often do you see them rocked in such vertical proportions! Yes, the black sewed-down shirt with white vertical stripes might be a fashion sin for most, but not for Goodluck Jonathan. In fact it only complements his gold string…thing…with…circular things on it…”
The hat is an essential part of his fashion ensemble! The solid black Fedora, a low, soft felt hat with a curled brim and the crown creased lengthwise, never leaves his head is a statement all on its own.
So the fedora, like his striped shirt, has helped him appear hip, hot, and intimidating, no matter what anybody says.

I am non-conformist’

HIS love and passion for music made him set up the — Toyin and Friends, a musical group , when he came back from the United States in 2005. Born on January 11, some decades ago, Toyin Adebola, who is from Ogun State, had his secondary education at Government Secondary School, Gwammaja, and ended up at the Government Technical College, Wudil, Kano. His tertiary education was at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he read technical education. The Chief Executive Officer of Lakeside Energy Limited, who started his musical career as a drummer in 1990, recently organised the Toyin and Friends concert. Themed Worship Unscripted, it featured a lot of gospel artists, including Cohbhams. He tells DAMILOLA ADEKOYA what fashion means to him.

Family background: I’m from a polygamous home. I’m the first born of my father. My father worked and retired as a staff of the Ministry of Education, Kano and my mother worked with The Nigerian Aviation Company (NACO), also in Kano until she retired about two years ago.

Fashion: It has different interpretations depending on who is creating it, but for me, I think fashion is an expression of who you are, well expressed in what you are wearing. I don’t go with what’s in vogue, for what is in vogue for me is what I am comfortable with!

Style of dressing: English; a shirt and a tie, that’s me! But occasionally, I do some native stuff.

Uniqueness of style: Everything about me is basically different. My carriage stands me out. I also hate conforming to what’s in vogue.

Favourite colour: I love brilliant colours, to be precise. I like black and red. I also like white and purple because they are sweet and strong. I love them combined not specific.

Favourite piece of clothing: A nice shirt and trouser.

Stylish icon(s): Maxwell, he dresses so beautifully. Most times, he’s always on a nice shirt on trousers with jacket. When you see him, one has no choice but to love and respect him.

Role model(s): Rev. Sam Adeyemi, he is my ultimate role model and then musically, it’s Fred Hammond.

Favourite food: Vegetable Salad.

Favourite designer(s): Base London, because they are not the regular designers. They have very unique designs of Wristwatches and Shoes and I love them because they are not very popular.

Most expensive item: My house!

Most cherished possession: God.

Describe yourself in three words: Passionate, powerful and simple.

Turn on: When everything is just in order

Turn off: Disorderliness.

Happiest moment(s): When I got a job in Conoil because I waited almost 15 years for that.

Embarrassing moment(s): When my visa to United States was turned down the second time.

Favourite food: Vegetable Salad.

Favourite designer(s): Base London, because they are not the regular designers. They have very unique designs of Wristwatches and Shoes and I love them because they are not very popular.

Philosophy of life: Life is like one’s best currency. It’s ones most valuable asset, so spend it wisely, do not waste time and be as productive as you can.

If you were given an opportunity to change something in Nigeria, what would it be? Our mindset, it is terrible!
GROWING plants indoors is one way to make a space feel inviting and warm. This is normally done in containers. This type of gardening offers flexibility for people with limited garden space or lack of time for elaborate gardening outdoors. Plants can be attractive decoration that add a softness of line and provide a bit of nature indoors.
Bringing the plant indoors may mean that the ideal location of a plant for decoration may not be the ideal spot for plant growth. This therefore means that inadequate lighting may be a problem that the gardener may be confronted with. With more and more number of people working outside the home for long hours, there may be little sunlight penetrating through the window or exposure of the plants to sunlight if not taken outside.
At some periods like the rainy season, there may be a stretch of humid days during which time there is absence of sunlight. Supplementary lighting through electricity can go a long way for the plants. Electricity is a way to provide light for plants that do not receive adequate natural light.
Flourescent tubes are good sources of artificial light available for plants in the home. Cool-white fluorescent tubes are more desirable. Fluorescent tubes come in different shapes and sizes such as u-shape, circular, square or straight.
Avoid incandescent light bulbs because they are not particularly good for this purpose. They are a good source of red rays but a poor source of blue. The heat they give out is too much for most plants. But if they must be used, they should be located away from the plants, thereby reducing the intensity of the heat the pants receive.
For indoor plants, a large variety of containers are available. Plant should be done in tubs, pots, crocks, sacks, bowls and wooden boxes that have good drainage.

Charly Boy... Oh Gawd!!!! I Am Pissed Off...

Recently, maverick Charly Boy embarked on his six-year old dream of publishing. His magazine Charly Boy is in its third edition come April 2010; and the multi-skilled artiste told Anote Ajeluorou recntly in Lagos that th new project is all in the process of consolidating the Charly Boy Brand. Lagos. Excerpts:

How has the experience as a publisher been?
It’s been most profound. Like I always say, we will continue to be students in the school in life as we indulge in different experiences, and because of the people who have come before, people like Kunle Bakare, Mayor Akinpelu, Seye (Kehinde); because of their tenacity, I’m inspired. And, I have always known one thing: no matter how a thing might appear, no matter the stumbling blocks, the obstacles you encounter, that if you are consistent, you will definitely come out tops.
So it’s been challenging; the magazine or publishing business is not a child’s play but like you know, I have always been somebody that will never run away from challenges. I’m facing it squarely; in fact, a lot of people who have seen the magazine get back to me to say it’s a good start. And if it’s a good start, it can also get better. They like the quality, and they like the direction. What is left is by my staying power and how I approach matters.

What exactly is the direction?
Well, it’s geared towards the upwardly mobile, young Nigerians; for the first time, it’s not a masses thing I’m doing. It’s for those between the age range of 18 and 40. The magazine represents all the values that the brand Charly Boy stands for —doggedness, consistency, humble beginning.
It doesn’t matter what background you are coming from, whether it’s the most wretched background, as long as you believe in your dreams and follow your dreams with doggedness and consistency and you remain focused, then whatever your dreams may be, you’re likely to succeed. So failure should never be an excuse.
The magazine seeks to find young, enterprising people who, from nowhere, through hardwork and initiative, are carving a niche for themselves.
We want something to inspire, we want something to motivate; and you know that the reading culture in Nigeria has dwindled so badly. So our style, our approach is a little laid-back; it doesn’t look too serious. It looks playful, which is my forte. I don’t take myself seriously even with deep and profound things. I like to do them from a very playful perspective; so that is what you have in the magazine.
The approach is very visual from one page to another; it has pictures and an outlay that will hold your attention and we don’t want to make it too wordy; very few words but very deep content because Nigerians don’t have that discipline. So this is what the magazine represents.
Those are the people we are targeting and, so far so good.

There is a column titled ‘Pissed’ and there is another ‘Street University’. What are they about?
Ok ‘Pissed’; the column is run by me. It’s about all the stuff that upset me about Nigeria and being Nigerian. They are the things that piss me off about living in this country, about being part of a system that is not working. I’ve given so much to the development of this country; I’ve done so much yet I don’t understand why I feel I am useless.
I have said so much but I don’t understand why nobody is listening to me. I have been behind so many campaigns, and I have fought so many wars yet I don’t understand why I feel I have done nothing. So I’m pissed. It’s my anger about being a Nigerian living in Nigeria that is on that page and, I think to a great extent, it expresses a lot of people’s anger because we are angry at the same things.
We are angry that you and me should be better off than what we are today if we have an enabling environment. But the point is that we don’t have an enabling environment, and why don’t we have an enabling environment? Is it your fault or my fault? No; it’s the leadership fault. But then again, does that exonerate us? We are all guilty of inaction and the little action that I have done, I don’t know whether it is worth anything and so it keeps me wanting to do more.
Some of the people you have addressed with the project are alsocurrently local government chairmen, members in Houses of Assembly, and even governors. And they have also failed.

So where does that leave this bracket of vibrant Nigerians for whom you collaborate?
You see that is what I’m saying. Sometimes I feel I haven’t done anything. I don’t know why I keep feeling there is nobody listening. I don’t know why each time I turn around, the few people that I think I can trust, who I think can hold the candle, and do the right thing, suddenly go bad just because they got into the system and they have been corrupted by the system, they have been polluted by the system.
And I’m thinking, Is it going to happen to all of us? I’m trying to hold my own but I do know that I have met a few exceptional Nigerians, who have held their own and have insisted that unless you come and kill them, they will not change from their position from what they know is right.
Now, I don’t know how this is going to happen but I know that one thing they are building is to keep reinforcing the call for followership because Charlie Boy has moved from just being a celebrity or a very popular person to some kind of iconic image. Now what to do with that is to keep building that followership not because I want to run for anything but because as an agent of change, I’m also involved in the politics of change. I know and I pray that at one point or the other, we will get our own Obama.
How, I don’t know but when he does come we will be ready and I have an army of youths to fall behind him. Or we will get our own Jerry Rawlings. How, I don’t know but I think a Jerry Rawlings will be better now because a lot of people need to be lined up and shot for the atrocities they have committed against the youth of my generation, the youth of this country. They have stolen their future; so imagine the kind of youth we will be breeding in the next 15 years. They will have been affected and polluted by the system. Our values have derailed; everybody now is in the mad quest for money. We are all acting like we are all bewitched.

Back to your magazine, was there a shock in transiting from music to magazine, and have you abandoned music as well?
I have never really been a musician!

What? So what have you been doing in music?
I have never really been a musician. I believe a musician is someone who plays, reads and interprets music. I cannot do any of that; so, I’m not qualified to be called a musician. I’m an entertainer! I just use different media, different fora to express myself. I’m a communicator, and a good one at that. So I use different media. I use the medium of music but that doesn’t qualify me to be a musician. I don’t believe I’m a singer. I can open my mouth and hold some notes. I can’t play any instrument so I can’t claim to be a musician because I’m not.
But then again, it’s all about communicating. And who is my audience; my audience is the youth and music is part of what we do to keep that brand on top because that was how the brand started and that was how people identified that brand as a musician. So that doesn’t qualify me as a musician; that is a great injustice. It’s more than that; it’s gone way beyond that.
You published your book biography a few years ago. How was it received?
I don’t do things to judge how people will receive it and I don’t do things because of patronage I’m going to receive for it. I do things because my spirit tells me that it is the appropriate time to do something. Just like some people asking me, how is your new album with Dr. Alban?
For some people, there is a cost factor for them. But I’m not a business person; maybe that’s probable why I can never be rich. And, I don’t want to be rich; I just want to comfortable enough in life to pay my bills, and finish training my children and that is it; and have a small cubicle to retire to.
I’m not driven by money. So when I say, which one is my own, it’s not because I’m stupid. It’s just that I’m not wired as a business person, and I don’t think business. I’m a creative soul and I want to remain like that but I thank God that He has managed to put in my path things to sustain the things I do.

Between magazine and Charly Boy brand
You tell me! Of course, it’s the most misunderstood brand but who gives a damn really about what people think. It’s about what you believe; and what I believe is pure and wholesome. What I believe is very positive.
So if the brand was set up to shock timid, myopic, backward Nigerian out of their ways, and those Nigerians are still myopic, timid and backward why should I reduce the value of the brand? Sometimes you see me running around with okada people, with area boys, how does he understand their language?
So the beauty of that brand is the fact that it can blend with anything, any situation and with anybody. And, there has never been a brand like that in the history of this country. We know people to stick to one thing and only one thing. But that brand can be used for different things; so I don’t blame people who misunderstand its intention.

The invention of lying

YOU’RE probably wondering what kind of subject title this is, so, I’ll explain. It’s lifted wholesale from a Ricky Gervais acted and co-directed movie I watched on the plane as I left the country on Wednesday morning (By the time you’re reading this, I would have been back in Nigeria a few hours. I have a show to run)
So in the movie, Mr. Gervais lives in a country where nobody lies, they do not have the ability to. Waiters tell you they took a sip of your drink as they brought it down to you, your secretary tells you you’re a loser, women tell you they do not find you attractive the moment they meet you, or one woman tells another on sight, “I find you threatening”.
It’s a strange movie, one that stretches the mind that makes you think “What if?” What if we all were unable to lie? What if we were compelled to tell the truth to all we met, to all those who asked us to have relationships with them, to all those we were engaged or married to, what would we really say?
There are relationships based on pity, on fear, or on mutual convenience; there are people of indeterminate sexual preferences in relationships designed to please the judgmental eye of the world. But on a planet where we had to tell the truth, what would we really say if lying had not yet been discovered?
Man says to woman: “I really would like to have a relationship with you. I think you and I are a perfect match.”
The woman replies like Jennifer Garner did to Ricky Gervais in the movie, “I do not find you sexually attractive and do not think we are genetically compatible. You are fat and will give me chubby children with snub noses.”
In some ways, in all our minds, we all have these conditions, which we never really spell out. “We do not come from the same social background”, “Your father is a rustic farmer and would be a terrible in-law”, “your family would embarrass mine in public.”
Some of these excuses might appear shallow to a few people but we all have ours in varying degrees. One that The Whisperer was affected by in the past? If you shared genes with a strange person, that is you had a sibling who was garrulous, too loud, too offensive, too in-your-face, I would feel you were tainted in some way and would be unable to have a relationship with you.
Odd, but it affected many situations I was in then. In some way, I would feel you were tying me to someone I would rather not have wished to make personal acquaintance with.

IT has been three years since I began to write this column. Three years since I stood with Jumoke Verissimo and Ayo Arigbabu on a quiet Festac Town road at dusk and spoke with them of my desire to write a column on relationships with a different style, three years since the editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Jahman Anikulapo, joined that conversation being the man who had the final say and whose only fear then was that I would not be consistent in meeting deadlines because I was a busy man. I am glad for the opportunity I have had to reach many people, for the people who have written in to say the columns have been of help, have added perspective. I do not claim to be a Dr. Phil and have no desire to become one. The idea is to tell it like it is.
What would you tell your partner today (or a prospective partner) if you lacked the capacity to lie? Some of us should be called “ever-ready”. I have met people, both male and female, who could reel off lies the same way others switch channels on a television with a remote control. But what would you really say to your partner of two years if you lacked the capacity to tell a fib? Would you say “this has been the most beautiful experience of my life and I hope we have another fifty years of it” or would it be “Let me out of here this instant! I’m catching the midnight train to Georgia”
Ricky Gervais, in that movie, became the first man in the world who could tell a lie. I have told myself I am going to tell my truth as much as I can. Where it might cause unwarranted pain, I might hold my tongue but generally now, I won’t be restricting the “flaming sword”.
If I do not want your company, I shall tell you so (I lie in this matter. I have always told anyone whose company I did not want, of the exact nature of my thoughts. It appears cruel but it pays all the parties concerned in the long run)
The Whisperer has directed ‘The Ultimate Face-Off’ — The V Monologues versus The Tarzan Monologues” every Sunday for three weeks now and it has sold out show after show. Now I understand the true meaning of rave reviews. A columnist I hold in esteem wrote to say I had “arrived” as a director and a scriptwriter. That made me smile.
I ‘arrived’ a long while back; but he’s only just taking notice. Remember it’s my inability to lie since I saw the movie that makes me say this and not my legendary arrogance. I have learnt the truth of the lines in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘If’. “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat both impostors just the same, then you will be a man, my son.”
In the monologues, which close at Terra Kulture this Sunday, at least for a while, I have triumphed mightily but I look at success now with the eye of a sceptic. The success of the Monologues is not what makes me who I am. I have always been this way; it just took some people a while to find out.

NEXT time you are having a heart to heart talk with your partner, remember to tell it like it is. Life is too short to be saddled with a situation you are in just for the convenience or because the world might look at you funny if you are alone for any length of time. It’s your life, live it like you know the true meaning of that phrase.

Who gets Terra Kulture’s nod for phase 2?

I SPIED him out there on the lawn through the glass fa├žade he must have once sketched while designing the building, Goke Osibodu of design / identity assets company MOE with his children, chatting away with Bolanle Austen-Peters of Terra Kulture.
It is on rare occasions that you meet the prime accomplices to a crime on the very scene where it was perpetuated.
I walked out of the restaurant to say hello and then asked the most mundane question I could think of just to stir up something. If you had a chance to change something in this building you did here, what would it be?
Trying to sound all smart and spontaneous without revealing that I’d just paraphrased a similar question asked of a totally different subject by a totally different person just moments ago. He thought for a moment and confessed that he wouldn’t change a thing, granted that the client — Mrs. Austen-Peters had added a few thing after he’s handed the building over to her, but he was happy all the same.
Austen-Peters was just as happy, particularly with the African themed furniture in the restaurant, which she confessed would be carried over into their new project, an extension to the present facility, being planned for the adjoining plot which had been recently acquired and cleared for temporary parking space.
Nosy-so-and-so that he tends to be when it comes to design matters, the design sleuth seized the opportunity to ask who would be designing Terra Kulture Phase 2.
While Mr. Osibodu glossed over the question, Mrs. Austin-Peters was straight and direct. The South African firm @126 Group, an integrated design firm led by the dup of Nick Ristic and Jack Neeves, which had made a few incursions into the Lagos design scape were doing the honours while MOE Identity Assets would be handling the interiors… Mr. Osibodu didn’t seem to have her time when she needed his architectural expertise she sort of intoned, while the architect looked away sheepishly.

GEEZ, in a recession bitten third world economy, some architects still have the luxury of being too busy for certain clients, especially clients like Terra Kulture - a prime culture venue in the country’s hippest city that could and did allow some leeway in terms of quirky notions like African themed furniture and ramps that curve to the first floor like primeval suspension bridges… is MOE still that busy building all those Guaranty Trust Bank branches they chew their way through like school kids chewing through their favourite wafers?
When I grow up, I want to be like Mr. Osibodu and be too busy to answer briefs from clients like Terra Kulture, busy enough to let a South African firm do it while I concede to squeeze in the time to just do the interiors… for old times’ sake.
But it wasn’t only Goke Osibodu that was in the building on that night, there was also Alan Davies of James Cubitt Architects who the design sleuth was too happy to say hello to though I can bet my spectacles he was struggling to remember where we’d met before (he can be forgiven, he’s come a long way) and Theo Lawson of The Lawson + Odeinde Partnership, who graciously took the design sleuth down memory lane on an old pet project that had found a life of its own.
Meeting one’s former bosses at a book launch is not something that happens to you every day especially when you are a layabout like the design sleuth, but if there’s vodka and campari and red wine and small chops and Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80 band and good company peppered with delectable ladies to go with it, then it gets all that more significant. It was the book presentation for Outsider Inside — longtime serving expatriate, Keith Richard’s book on his experiences in and out of different board rooms in Nigeria and…the Design Sleuth was nicely snuzzled…you must have figured that out already.,