Thursday, 24 November 2011

At LABAF, it's a culture carnival with high book content

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor, Omiko Awa and Florence Utor

BOOKLOVERS, it is said, are strange people. “They feel more comfortable in bookshops than in bars. They make friends based on whether these people appreciate books or not … and the kind of books they have read. They look down on people who don't read books.”
   But at the just-ended 13th Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), which held from November 17 to 20, this opinion was changed, as book people, at least, did not look down on others and in fact; they were very comfortable with everybody in the bar and everywhere at Freedom Park, where drinks were sold throughout the three-day festival.
  Organised by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), LABAF aims at building knowledge capacity of the people of Africa. A pre-event cocktail held on November 17 at the Goethe Institut, City Hall, Lagos.
  According to the Secretary General of CORA, Toyin Akinosho, two of the key goals of the festival are: "To help improve the African human capacity through encounters with the book and to provide a site for the most informed, robust debates on the literature of the continent."
  The earth scientist, culture activist explained that in pursuit of the second objective, "over the years, the organisation has evolved detailed programme content that will stimulate books in the continent. One of such was the conversation, held in 2008, which focused on Africa in the Eyes of the Other; The Moonlight Tale in Emerging African Fiction; The Growing Popularity of the Child Hero in the New African Novel and The Search For A Reading Market.”
  He continued, “To help improve the intellectual capacity of the people of the African continent — is a work in progress. We continue to work with libraries, educationists, governments, private sector, brand specialists and communication solution experts, to find the formula to build the knowledge capacity of the continent.
  Only last year, the arts body collaborated with the Presidency in the realization of projects arising from the President Jonathan’s Bring Back the Book initiative.
  Every year, since 1999, when it staged the first book event at the New Jazz 38 on Lekki Expressway, Lagos, LABAF has played host to a stream of visiting writers, members of the public and children who come to take part in some of the most insightful conversation on literature, literacy and the book market in Africa.
  Though not a Book Fair, it's a culture carnival with high book content, enthused Akinosho, noting “It is dubbed the biggest culture picnic in the continent”.

THE 2011 festival was a huge market for investors in knowledge industry and those interested in advancing 'the art' to take advantage of the current atmosphere of freedom in a country that had suffered many strands of deprivation and suppression of freedom and hence creative expression for decades.
  The four-day festival, stretching between City Hall to the Freedom Park in the heart of the Lagos Central Business District, witnessed the convergence of scholars, authors, artists, journalists, publishers and booksellers across the globe as well as large turnout of students from different schools within and outside Lagos.

   A highpoint was the participation as observers of Programme and Development officers from the famous Hay Festival in the United Kingdom courtesy of the British Council Lagos – Maggie Robertson and Penny Compton. Also the Goethe Institut, presented a film Adopted produced by a German artiste, Gudrun Widlok, while the same German institute collaborated with the Alliance Francaise to present a contemporary dance project that featured dancers from
Prof. Wole Soyinka
Togo, Benin Republic, France, Germany and Nigeria.  Perhaps, the last time the yearly festival has such a high foreign content was in 2005 when it brought to the national Museum venue award winning South African journalist and author of Country of My Skull (a non-fiction based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of SA) Antjie Kroeg; Literature expert Prof. Chris Dunton from Lesotho; international culture journalist Gerd Meuer from Germany and a top functionary of the Poets, Essayists and Novelists (PEN) from Denmark.

WITH the theme I Vote To Read: The Book As The Voice Of The People, the event featured intense artistic and cultural productions, art shows, seminars for school teachers, colloquium, workshop for kids, mentoring session for secondary and primary school students as well as the spelling bee contest.
  Participants cross-fertilized ideas on different authors’ works as well as expressed themselves on some latent issues.
  Digital technology and its use in enhancing the business of publishing was the focus of the second yearly Publishers Forum, which held at the Goethe Institut — the German culture centre — in Lagos. The Forum, a prelude to the festival, provided a space for key publishers in Nigeria to gain critical insight into their current operations within the context of the challenges facing their industry.
 Though the digital publishing expert invited by the Goethe Institut to facilitate the workshop eventually could not make it due to Visa problem, faculties drawn from local resources did justice to the theme and objective of the Forum as they took the over 50 participants through the various areas of digital publishing under the theme, The Book in the Age of Microchips.

 The Forum was targeted at principals of publishing houses who seek to grow their market and are willing to engage in creative thinking towards identifying strategies that could make this possible for them whether within a collective or through their individual operations. Among the major publishing outfits that sent in participants were Heinemann, Longman, Evans, Sefer Books and others.
  In the evening session shortly before a cocktail that wrapped up the Forum, two publishers discussed their efforts at publishing online literary journals, revealing the mileage the Internet afforded them in their efforts. A digital display of past editions of their journals was also presented.
    Tunde Babawale, professor of Political Economy, who is the executive director of Centre For Black And African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), opened the Festival in the morning of Friday November 18. In keynote address on the theme: The Book In My Life, which is also known as My Encounter with Books, Babawale mentored the gathering of over 100 children on how the Book could help them become enlightened citizens and help shape their future as leaders in different spheres of life. .

The Festival’s opening session at 9am is, as is traditional, largely for the young Nigerians (aged 11 to 18), for whom the organisers usually stage a robust set of programmes – workshops, reading, entertainment as well as gift items. This year, the Bring Back the Book initiative supported the segment with donations of several books which each of the students that showed up every day of the festival went home with.
  Previous speakers in this segment included Prof. Pat Utomi, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Prof. Femi Osofisan, the country’s most distinguished Professor of Drama, who gave a moving speech, in 2006, on how he discovered literature via the Bible and how reading enabled him to escape a childhood life of poverty. For Babawale it was the Yoruba folkloric novels such as works of D. O. Fagunwa that first introduced him to the pleasure of reading. The children loved his presentation as they gave him a standing ovation.
 The Day 2 of the festival, Saturday November 19,  indeed turned out to be the luckiest at the festival. Early in the day, the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka had strolled into the festival and gave a talk to the children on the importance of the Book and Education. And just as he was about to step out, the eminent Dramatist, poet and professor of English, Prof. John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo and his literary critic wife, Prof. Ebun Clark came in and also treated the children to a mentoring session. The children rewarded the Clarks with an unscheduled birthday song for Prof. Ebun Clark, who had recently marked her 70th birthday.
  Remarkable, the last time the two eminent literary scholars and artistes were recorded at a public event was when in company of Prof. Chinua Achebe, they went to appeal to military President Ibrahim Babangida to appeal the death sentence passed on Mamman Jiya Vatsa and others in 1986.
MC reading the citation of Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD)
  In the evening of the second day, eminent artistes and culture producers who had marked their landmark birthday in the course of the year were celebrated, according to the organisers, to “assure them that their contribution to the wealth of our nation will not go unrewarded.”
  Among the celebrated were the kokoma highlife musician, Fatai Rolling Dollar at 85; the novelist Chukwuemeka Ike at 80; the music critic Benson Idonije at 75; the actress Taiwo Ajai-Lycett at 70; the culture scholar Ebun Clark at 70; the journalist, writer, Lindsay Barret at 70; the photographer, Sunmi Smart-Cole at 70; the singer/entertainer Charly Boy at 60; the actor Richard Mofe-Damijo at 50; the dancer/choreographer Yeni Kuti at 50; the actress Joke Silva at 50; the music critic and publisher Femi Akintunde-Johnson at 50; and the culture scholars Tunde Babawale, Sola Olorunyomi and Remi Raji at 50.
   Aside from formally presenting them to the culture community and guests, there were also performances in honour of the birthday people with Adunnin Nefertiti serenading them to folkloric songs while Fatai Rolling Dollar dished out fourb numbers in the two hours tightly packed party.
Professors J.P Clark and Wole Soyinka
 THROUGHOUT the festival, the children segment, otherwise tagged the Green Festival adorned a carnivalesque character. The students were divided into different groups according to age and class, and were allowed to tell their group members’stories from books they had read and the moral lessons learnt. 
   The Green Spelling Bee competition, which capped up the children’s session, had different volunteers participating. Divided into two categories, the primary and secondary, participants were made to spell different words.
   Winners in the primary school category were Toyosi Adesanya, Mary Ajayi and Shade Ramos, all of St. Mary Convent School, Lagos Island, taking first, second and third respectively while the secondary school category saw Ibukun Adeyinka (Mountain Top College, Yaba), Riyyah Aghasili (Teenland School, Ojota) and Yemisi Abiodun (St. Timothy College, Yaba) emerge first, second and third respectively.
MC reading the citation of Edun Clark
  Speaking on the event Sola Alamutu, LABAF Children Segment Coordinator, said the Green Spelling Bee is to encourage participants learn new words, read widely and understand how words are pronounced.
  “As far as we are concerned every child is a winner. Though we gave out prizes as a motivation to those that excelled; our aim is not to make the children compete for prizes rather to encourage them to read, pronounce words properly and learn new words,” she said.
  Teachers present commended the organisers for making them part of the event and promised to put the knowledge they had acquired in the three day event on classroom management, parents-school relations, reading and making the children to read books other than the school’s recommended texts to good use.

THERE was also the Visual art segment, Do Not Resuscitate, which featured the works of six artists including the performance poetry of Iquo Diana Eke, the video screening of Aderemi Adegbite’s Ghetto Games as well as the installation performance of Jelili Atiku on the 1897 unfortunate incident of British Colonial administration’s invasion of the old Benin kingdom during which valuable treasures were looted and carted away by the whitemen from the palace of the then monarch, Oba Ovonranmwen Nogbaisi. The exhibition which also featured the brightly coloured works of Tolu Aliki and the abstract works of Ben Uwagboe was curated by the painter, poet, Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo who also mounted an installation that commented on the state of Nigeria’s nationhood.
Benson Idonijie
THE 2011 festival ended with CORA’s signature event, Art Stampede that examined the theme, The Nigerian Abroad: Fictional Accounts of the Immigrant Experience.
  Books up for panel discussion included The Phoenix by Chika Unigwe; Some Kind of Black by Diran Adebayo; 26A by Dianne Evans; A Squatter’s Tale by Ike Oguine; Her Majesty’s Visit by Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo; Icarius Girl by Helen Opeyemi; Lawless by Sefi Atta; and The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
  Visual artist Victor Ehikhamenor, Aderinsola Ajao of Pulpfaction Book Club, Funsho Ogunsan and stage matriarch, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett formed the panel while Toyin Akinosho moderated the engaging session.
  Ehikhamenor and Ajayi-Lycett, who had previously lived in the US and UK lent their personal experiences to the issue. Ajayi-Lycett recounted how she went abroad with the mindset of gaining knowledge and coming back home to put it to use. Ehikhamenor gave instances of Nigerians abroad, who give the impression that they had it all rosy, but who were barely surviving. He regarded this as duplicity that fooled many unsuspecting Nigerians who queue up at different embassies everyday to look for visas to travel abroad.
RMD, Jahman Anikulapo and Nike
  For the duo, there is no place like home because out there, you are “neither a fish nor the fish.”
  Ajao, who couldn’t contain her laughter while making a brief sketch of the characters in Some Kind of Black and A Squatter’s Tale, reinforced some of the observations that Ajayi-Lycett and Ehikhameno had pointed out.
  Some Kind of Black is about a Nigerian guy born and raised in London and who feels he is a different black man because he can’t relate with the indigenous blacks because he feels he is on a different level since Nigerian immigrants usually discuss who has acquired what degree or which aso ebi is in vogue — things that often dominate their discussions most of the time. At the end of the day, he sees himself as a different kind of black because he does not fit into either group.
  Squatter’s Tale, on the other hand, is about the experience of a Nigerian graduate who desperately wants to travel abroad and is banking on his friend, who keeps assuring him that all is well and that he would take care of him when he arrives. But when it is time, the faithful friend puts his phone on the answering machine until he is sure that his friend had settled and is even doing well.
Cross section of attendants
he shows up again and spins yarns on why he did not show up in the first place. His coming-to-America friend shows his vulnerability by accepting more lies from his America-based friend, who dumps him in a nightclub.
  Ogunsan pointed out Africa’s belief about the mystery of twins in 26A, with one twin believing that once one is dead, it may have a positive or negative effect on the other, he says.
Book stand
  Ajayi-Lycett, who is a twin herself, debunked this as superstitious, saying, “No matter how identical you are as twins, you are still very different.”

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Nimbus @ Bogobiri opens in colours


LAST Sunday, art collectors, friends and family members of Chike Nwagbogu converged at Nimbus @ Bogobiri, Maitama Sule, Ikoyi, Lagos, to witness the re-opening of Nimbus Art Gallery, which was closed for business in 2006.
    Located almost opposite the former gallery, the new Nimbus includes the works of ancient, classical and contemporary artist as well as figurines.
  Speaking on the theme Metanoia, the Agboidi, Obi of Onitsha, Nnameka Alfred Achebe, said, “like the legendary Phoenix bird, the new Nimbus has miraculously risen in an array of brightly coloured plumage, from the rubble and ashes of the old to continue the dream of reclaiming the heart and soul of a nation through art and innovation.”
   The proprietor of the gallery, Chike Nwagbogu, informed that the theme, which means rebirth in Greek, was chosen to tell the art community within and across the globe that the gallery has come back to life with better programmes, entertainment and more works on display.
  Opening for public view were the works of Ben Osawe, Abayomi Barber, Tola Wewe, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Ademola Ogunajo, Ben Enwonwu, Reuben Ugbine and others.
  Guests the event include son of the late Afro beat King, Femi Anikulapo Kuti, who was the special guest of honour; the former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Prof. Victor Uwaifo; Dr. Sam Olagbaju; Dr. Ola Balogun; Fred Okonta; and others.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Secret Anguish… A guide to happy marriage

MARRIAGE, especially with Christianity, is a bond that goes beyond the signing of the dotted lines. It is a union once entered, according the tenets of the religion, does not encourage separation. In fact, it goes with the mantra, ‘it’s a secret parcel, whose content when unveiled becomes the couple’s cross till death do them part.’ Owing to this, those going into it are always admonished to seek the face of the Lord through fasting and prayers as well as counsel from their spiritual fathers and, for those already in it, to pray for the wisdom, grace and fortitude to handle its numerous problems as they arise.
   Kemi Odutayo in her book, Secret Anguish, creatively uses the challenges arising from marriages to chart a way forward for lasting relationship and happy home while latently diffusing Christian values.
    However, in playing out the roles, the author uses drama in a drama with her main characters being Steve and Mary, James and Bisi, Toun, Tina, Ife, Femi and others.
  Steve and Mary were happily married until the children started coming. What that is expected to make them happier, bringing them closer to each other, turns out to be their splinter as Mary shifts attention from the husband to the children; to the extent that the lubricant of marriage — sex — becomes inactive.
   Gradually, Steve withdraws into himself and from church activities. He begins to fraternize with his old friend, Segun, who introduces him to Tina whom he expects to fill in the vacuum created by the wife, Mary. But to Steve’s surprise, Tina is a born again­­­ – believer – and happens to know him during his student days in the university, when he was the president of Scripture Union. This revelation brings Steve back from the path of iniquity to develop platonic relation with Tina.
   Though, Steve introduced Tina to Mary, his wife; Tina soon takes the better part of his time, to the extent of confiding secrets in her; a situation that almost wrecked havoc in his home.
    Another character, James and Bisi before getting married had agreed that no relative of theirs would stay with them beyond their agreed time. Toun, who had lived with the brother before his marriage to Bisi has not only broken the rule, but has become a source of concern to the family, especially Bisi who feels she has encroached into her privacy and has become an embarrassment. Coming into James home, Bisi had expected, her husband to advise the sister to relocate to a different apartment, as she is mature to be on her own and has a good job. But that idea fell on deaf ears. To add salt to injury, Toun usually leaves the house chores for Bisi and always engages the brother in the discussion.  This makes Bisi feel left out and unknown to her husband; the situation has created a gully, which gives her the leverage to nag and making the home unpleasant for him. Unlike Mary, she knows how to use her feminine wiles to make her husband listen to her.
  In one of the nights Toun had unknowingly walked into her brother and the wife, who were deeply involved in foreplay in their sitting room; the intrusion had not only cut-off the fun, but also infuriated Bisi.
   Knowing that her continual stay is causing a rift in the home, Toun moves her belongings to her friend’s place. Ife, a sassy city lady, welcomes her with open arms.
     Published in 2008 by Me4 publication, Lagos, the 223-page book divided into 18 chapters does not leave out the singles and their lust. It pictures how the randy Femi in the name of marriage had sexual escapade with ladies, breaking their hearts and making them to live in regret.
   Using Tina, Kemi, admonishes the youth to be futuristic, build their career, imbibe in godly virtues and wait upon the Lord for their life-partners.
   With Secret Anguish, Kemi has achieved one of her main objectives of inspiring married couples to make their homes a happy place and to counsel intending couples on how to solve marital problems and live a fulfilled married life.
    Though, a pastor’s wife, Kemi like the husband has written a sermon to be read by people, irrespective of religion and gender, who desire happy family life. And, it’s in fulfilling this aspect that the book could be seen as a mirror for the readers to re-examine themselves, as each character out plays the two extremes of human relationship and setting out solutions. This allows readers whose marriages are nose-diving to make amends and those with flourishing relationship to keep it up while admonishing the youths to hold on to their chastity till they are married.
  Generally, Secret Anguish could be described as elixir of marriage, as it provides succour to secret pains of marriage, gives guidance to troubled relations, guides against the anxiety of singles to be married and proffers likely solutions to the fears of the youth in courtship.

Mimi stories, AIDS lessons to the hearing-impaired

By Omiko Awa
IT’S no longer news to say that the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has gained a pandemic status across the globe, especially, among the less developed and developing countries, where people still depend on superstition and access to information as well as Medicare is low.
   It is in making sure that adequate information and awareness on the dreaded disease are passed to the hearing impaired, which many a time, policy makers are often not remembered when packaging and disseminating health care messages such as HIV/AIDS and others, that made Leadership With New Dimensions (LeND) to prepare Mimi Stories, to pass on the information about the disease.     
   The book is a short account of a girl, Mimi, who learns about the killer Human Immune Deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome HIV/AIDS from her uncle and father, and decides to pass on the information to her peers and others, so that, they would not contact it.
   Published this year by LeND with the support of Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF), the activities filled book is specifically designed for children and adolescents, particularly those who are hearing impaired, to learn about the dreaded disease, its transmission, prevention and the importance of care and support for those already living with it.
   HIV/AIDS remains a huge burden in our society and it’s imperative that children and adolescents have an idea of its spread, ways of prevention and importantly how they can help reduce the discrimination and stigma associated with it.
  Mimi Stories with its illustrations and follow up assignments of the story lines would enable any reader, especially those who are hearing impaired, to easily grasp the subject aside from offering basic simple sign language lessons for every normal bodied person to learn, appreciate and be able to communicate with the hearing impaired.
   Speaking on behalf of LeND, Eunice Eso, said, the book was developed because her organisation found that young adults don’t understand the complexity of HIV/AIDS and to bring that to them, they decided to put it in simple form for them to comprehend and relate with. “The book is very interactive and comes with colorful illustrations that the kids could relate with. It’s written from the perspective of an eight-year old relating a story of things learnt, which also encourages peers education. The presence of the parents and adults in it also allows for parent-child communication.”
   She informed that Wesley School for the Hearing Impaired, has been chosen for the pre-launch because the inspiration to write the book started from the school through a seminar that was held here.
 “The concept was got from the school. We found out that these group of people because of their disability, get easily distracted than the able-bodied children, but one thing that keeps them on focus are images, so we tried to play on that by giving them something colorful that they could draw and share with their friends.”
  “Apart from that, we have sign language in it. We want people to learn simple communicating signs that would enable able-bodied people to chat with these children with ease. Communication is a very difficult thing and people believe that the hearing-impaired children are very aggressive, but the truth is; if you can come to their level and learn their language, it would make them excited and relate freely with you,” she added.
   Eunice informed that the volume II of the book would talk about contemporary issues that affect the youth.
“We want this book to be the first thing on AIDS and later, we will look at issues such as productive health, climate change and others that affect the youths.”

Horrible Secret, a payback time

By Omiko Awa

TRUTH, no matter the length of time concealed, will eventually be unveiled. Time may delay it, circumstances may hinder it, truth will surely come to pass.
   The Horrible Secret written by the duo of Kemi Odutayo and Taiwo T. Aroyehun, and published by ME4 Communications clearly demonstrate this universal truism.
    Set in Nigeria, the authors tell of how a highly placed police officer, AIG Clement Udoku, uses his position to sabotage the government by working with some politicians and notable Igbo personalities to dismember the country. 
  Being magnanimous to his nephew, Chidi, whose parents he killed in disguise, Udoku sponsored Chidi’s education from secondary school to the Master’s degree aside getting him a police job. Though, Chidi’s mother was not a target of the real plot, her closeness to her husband at the time of carrying out the plan caused her death.  
  However, unknown to Chidi, a senior Police Investigative Officer, that he was revolting against the cabal that set him up, he arrested Sergeant Rogers, who was involved in gun-running business and as well an inner circle member of Ekigbo; a group set up to oust the government in power. Later released on the orders of Udoku, Chidi on closer investigation found out that he was working for a cabal of dissidents, which included his uncle.
   While undertaking police course in London, Chidi ran into Bimbo, a Nigerian, whose lack of care by the heartthrob, Kelvin, turned her to a pickpocket. She picked Chidi’s purse, but had to return it when the latter gave her a chase, and on apprehending her, he showed mercy to the extent of giving her money for her studies, the major reason she took to picking pockets. This act of kindness surprised Bimbo that had expected the worst from a man she neither knew and whom she thought would take advantage of her.
   Aside from setting Bimbo free from the grips of her fiancé, Kelvin, who unknown to her was a criminal, Chidi began to care for her.
  On return to the country upon graduation, Chidi was set before two masters­­­ — the state and the underground ethnic group, Ekigbo —  headed by his uncle. Being loyal to him, he obliged to work for the two groups, only to discover he had been co-opted to fulfill a mission masterminded by selfish and greedy individuals led by Senator Obiora.
   Coming in contact with Vivian, a goal getter, whose desire for sex and power is endless, Chidi knew that there was more to it than meets the eyes. Desperate to get to the root of the set-up, as the lady in question wants to impose herself on him in marriage even to the point of arranging with Kelvin, who has returned to Nigeria at a prize to kill Bimbo, Chidi strived to protect Bimbo.
   Knowing that Kelvin had ulterior motives for wanting to kill Bimbo, Vivian attempted to withdraw from the plot, but behold, it was too late, as the news of Bimbo’s kidnap had got to Chidi, her new fiancé.
   As Chidi was making efforts to bring the criminals to justice, he was under the watchful eyes of the state for fraternising with Ekigbo and the cabal that wants to cede from the country with Project New Dawn on November 29. Trailing the kidnappers of his love, the lovebird was himself trailed by Sergeant Rogers whom he had at a point arrested, but as fate may have it; the state was also on the heels of the two, unknown to them.
  Chidi found his way to the captors of his love; Rogers followed him there and in a shoot out that claimed the lives of Kelvin and Vivian; he fell into the hands of Rogers who while boasting of having killed Chidi’s parents and now wants to kill Chidi too, exposed AIG Udoku’s collaboration in the matter that has been hidden from him.
  Roger’s revelation, though a surprise to him, confirmed what the Commissioner of Police had earlier told him. This revelation was said to the hearing of Ambrose, who later saved Chidi and arrested Rogers and his cahoots, which included Senator Obiora, Vivian’s father.
   The book reflectss how Chidi shuns the juicy promises of his position to stand for the right values, uphold his religious belief and make a difference in the society.
The authors show how government works and the intrigues of highly placed officials that work as agents to underground organisations in the name of official duties. In simple terms, the duo of Kemi and Taiwo have once more shown that lies no matter how beautifully painted would one day succumb to the truth.
  However, irrespective of the gripping story line and suspense, the book has some grammatical errors and clumsy expressions that hinder comprehension; for example in page 27, it states: His uncle was presently an Assistant Inspector General of Police. Furthermore words such as cloths/clothes, check/cheque and others were wrongly used. These and others should be looked into.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Wine moment

RECENTLY Nigel Rapp, the agent for Laurent-Perrier in Nigeria and his partner, Chief Tunde Onakoya, backed by his manager, Emeka Nwankwo, held a cocktail party at the Petroleum Club, Ikoyi , Lagos, to thank the company’s existing patrons and to introduce more guests to the elegance of Grande Sceicle, the premier brand of Laurent Perrier as well as Cuvee Rose preferred by ladies.
Laurent Perrier being the first champagne house to produce ‘Pink Champagne’ showcased their lead in the market through their products, which came in various unique and sophisticated colours.
The event was also used to unveil grande Siecle Aiguiere, which could be likened to the modern day ice cubs or blocks as it keeps drink cool for as long as the bottle is on it.
Speaking at the event, elated Chief Onakoya thanked members of the club for allowing the club hall to be used as a venue and its numerous patrons for their patronage.
Chairman of the company, Baron Bernard de Nonancourt, who was in Nigeria for the event, expressed delight that more Nigerians are enjoying their company’s products.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Desert flower … A saga of resilience

AS part of activities to mark the centenary anniversary of the International Women’s Day (IWD) and honour African women for their resilience and contributions to the development of the continent, Okhma Global presents Desert Flower.
The film is the adapted autobiography of Waris Dire (Liya Kebede); an African, who overcame the trauma of female circumcision at five and early marriage at 13 to become a famous New York City supermodel and United Nations Special Ambassador of Peace and Security.
     Desert Flower tells the story of how the young lady at 13 finds out that her father has decided to marry her off as fourth wife to a 60-year-old man. She did not only rejects the marriage, but runs away from the desert camp of her nomadic family.
  Throwing caution to the winds and in desperation to run to a haven, she makes her way through the rocky Somali desert to the capital city Mogadishu, where her mother’s family lives.
  Completely exhausted with ragged clothes, sore feet, the young girl overcomes the dangers of the desert, including rape by benefactors who drives her in a lorry to the chaotic Somali capital.
  To protect the fleeing young woman, her aunty and grandmother sent her to London to live with a distant relative, who works for the Somali Embassy, as a maid; where she spent her adolescent years in illiteracy.
   With the breakout of civil war in Somali and the Embassy shut down, Waris, now older, is faced with the threat of deportation and so decides to run into the city, where she meets Marilyn, a sales assistant, who becomes her most trusted friend. As the friendship deepens Waris reveals to Marilyn, she was circumcised at five years and then sown up.
     She explains, it’s a common tradition in her country, which according to belief, is meant to guarantee the purity of a woman, as the husband must be the first to open (cohabit) with her. With Marilyn’s help, Waris decides to have an operation to correct the wrong done on her genital.
  While working as a cleaner in a restaurant, the indigent and naïve Waris attracts the attention of the famous fashion photographer, Terry Donaldson and after some initial hesitation agrees to let him take her pictures  — including semi-nude postures. From the on, her life changed for good, as Donaldson introduces her to the fashion world and Lucinda, a fashion agent, who smells a lucrative model potential in her.
   But then, it quickly comes out that Waris is living illegally in England, because she didn’t apply for a residence permit after the Embassy was closed. To keep working as a model and be able to travel, she gets a false identity papers with the help of Pushpa. The plan however fails with her first flight to Paris.
    At the airport, she was arrested and taken into custody pending deportation. Lucinda pays the bail for her release, but demands, she ‘works back’ her debt.
  Desperate because of her illegal status, Waris accepts the offer of the boarding house caretaker Neil to marry her. Neil’s motives were in no way as altruistic as he had led Waris to believe. He had fallen in love with her from the moment he first laid eyes on her — a love that Waris could not return despite all her gratitude. She is dreaming of another man, the New Yorker Harold, whom she had met at a disco with Marilyn. Since meeting him, she can’t get him out of her head.
   Neil’s constant threatens to cohabite with Waris becomes worsened by the early morning control visits of the immigration office. Finally, Waris gets the residency permit she had been longing for.
   Armed with this document, she starts work as a model abroad and begins to pay back her debts to Lucinda. From then on, things begin to turn around at a fast pace:  she becomes an international sought-after model.
  Going to New York for work, Waris decides to look up Harold, whose address she has been carrying like a treasure since the day they met in London. But when she finds him, he is not alone. He’s living with a woman. Sad and deeply disappointed, Waris wanders aimlessly through the streets of New York reproaching herself for her silly ideas.
   Realising, she can’t escape the wounds of her past or ignore her fate, despite her success; Waris remains burdened by a violent childhood secret. At the height of her career, she reveals to the world through an interview with Marie Claire magazine that she was a victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
  Her story unleashes a wave of sympathy and controversy that made the United Nations (UN) to invite her to speak against this archaic and barbaric practiced in many countries across the globe.
  The film exposes the struggle of a naïve rural girl, who escaping from brutish cultural practice, rose from obscurity to stardom and being in the forefront of the fight against such cultural practices across the globe.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The night of Victors

Victor Olaiya


 AS part of activities marking this year’s Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Festival, the best of highlife music was on show last Saturday.
 Tagged Hi-Life Nite, it featured two of Africa’s highlife maestros, Prof. Victor Uwaifo, former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism and the legendry ‘evil genius’ of highlife, Dr. Victor Abimbola Olaiya.
  With their electrifying performances, the two Victors recreated the golden era of highlife in West Africa (1950s to1970s), when the genre dominated the scene; they brought nostalgia to the house; especially among those who were part of that era.
  Preparing the stage for the maestros to come on board was the Girl Rule Band led by the saxophonist Perpetual Atife. Marion Akpata initiated the

Pro. Victor Uwaifo
all-girl band.
   The group recreated old highlife tunes other than that of the two maestros on parade. They gave a good opening glee.
TAKING the lead was Victor Olaiya, who performed during the visit of the Queen Elizabeth 11 to the country in 1956. Aside from his band being the official musical group for Nigeria’s Independence Day celebrations in 1960 and in 1963 when it became a Republic, Olaiya has been ever present on the scene. In his 80s, the man still does regular gig at Stadium Hotel, Surulere. He dished out some of his sizzling evergreens such as Omo pupa, Sisi jowo and many others.
  Immediately after him, the Guitar Boy, Victor Uwaifo, a multi-talented artist, who outside music has held three visual art shows, took the stage.
   Electrifying the hall with his call and response technique, the University of Benin Fine Art teacher and his dancers wowed the audience with their enchanting performance.
  Olaiya said, “highlife is the lingua franca of all genres of music. It is the music itself, as all forms of music jazz, R’n’B, the contemporary hip hop and others, borrowed from it.”
 While disclosing how he got the sobriquet, ‘evil

Uwaifo's sidemen and dancers
genius’, the octogenarian said, “highlife music is 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent perspiration. I am called evil genius because I make my fans sweat through dancing while enjoying my music. To make a difference in the music, you need to sweat.”