Monday, 23 April 2012

Foluke … There is more to Madam ‘Heritage Festival’


SHE was everywhere at the Freedom Park on Broad Street, Lagos, to make sure the children’s art competition of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival (LBHF), with the theme, The Vision Of The Child, went on well. In the final days of the heritage festival you would also see Foluke Michael, the Festival secretary at the Civic Centre, Lekki, venue of the awards and dinner organised to honour those whose paintings depicted the inner longing of children in the streets, putting final touches to details.
   The Principal Partner of Caterina De’ Medici Africa has since 2010 been coordinating the painting competitions — after the government of Raji Fashola restructured the components of the festival since it was last staged in 2002 — but the 2012 edition saw the introduction of Child Art.
  Foluke before now had organised painting competitions for adults where winners were taken to Italy to compete with others and win prizes. “We have held competition for adult artists in the past editions where we gave out cash prizes amounting to $57,500 and as well promote winners aside from Nigeria, taking them to festivals in Italy.  One of them, Sam Ebohon from Edo State, even emerged the overall best in the Caterina De’ Medici painting competition in 2009.”
    Ebohon emerging overall best, according to Foluke, did not only earn him a laurel, but made Caterina De Medici, Italy, to develop interest in the Nigeria’s art and economy. “It made the management to want to know more of the people and the country that produced such a great artist; and that later translated to the company investing in our economy,” Foluke says.
    Following the desire of Lagos State government to up the ante of LBHF with new offerings, Foluke working under the supervision of Prof. Wole Soyinka, introduced the Child Art segment to the festival.
   “Since we had organised painting competition for adults in the past, we decided to add Child Art as we are always looking for other areas to explore — aside music, culture. Professor Soyinka then decided we carry the children along, make them tell us what they know about their environment, their vision of it. He actual gave the topic: The Vision Of The Child. It was meant to see how the children could relate or interpret happenings in their environment through painting.  So, we went ahead to choose the very young ones from nine to 12 years old,” states Foluke.
   Were the children selected from schools in highbrow areas of Lagos?
  “No,” she retorts. “We sent letters to all the 57 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs). We were much more interested in children who reside in the rural areas, but not many of them responded; the schools, especially public schools were skeptical about it, but now they have seen the results, I believe they will be part of it next year.”
DURING her interaction with the schools, Foluke, a facilitator at the British Council Creative Enterprises Programme (CEP), organised for youths and women in Africa, discovered that all is not well with the country’s public schools.
   She notes, “teachers from public schools were lackadaisical and showed no commitment to the programme. They may be thinking of the poor working environment or the economic situation of the country, but I must tell you they have the stuff; people like us passed through them. I attended rural public schools both for my primary and secondary schools, I studied with candle and lantern lights. If with such schools I am what I am today, think of the result when teachers in the public schools in the cities are motivated.”
    With this assessment, is there any hope for the Nigerian child?
  “Yes, with what those children did, I am convinced that there is a future for this country. If children within the age range of nine to 12 could interpret peace as saying if persons A, B and C put in this or that, there will be peace; this tells me the children know what to do; one even drew old and new Lagos, and another, the map of the country with people surrounding it. This shows the children are conscious of their environment and even the politics. The interpretations they gave their drawings were beyond their ages; they reasoned like people of 18,19 or even 20 years old, which means we must sit up in this country, because these children are conscious of the goings-on. We must encourage them, give them the right environment to grow, so that we may get the best of them.”

    According to Foluke, “if we must have a better tomorrow, we must invest in the today of the children; imagine what these nine to 12 year-old children will be in 10 years time with their wonderful ideas. They would end up being inventors; the inventors in America were not those that made A’ Grades in schools, rather they were the ones that studied their environment and realised the need to create something to improve on it, and their creations to date are still in use.”
   What are the gains so far?
   “They are numerous and can’t be immediately measured”, the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro-trained civil engineer notes.
   “My company came to Nigeria through art and culture, and now we are moving into agriculture, wooing others in Europe and across the globe to come here and invest on the various potentials in the country. In Italy, platforms such as these are used to let investors watch competition, see art and culture of the people. You can only bring captains of industry together under a relaxed atmosphere with the help of art, music, entertainment and others; so, we entered into investment opportunity in Nigeria through art and culture,” she informs.
ASIDE from arts, Foluke is also involved in a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation that stages seminars in rural areas, empowering youths and others.
   Formed in 2000, the NGO, Women Empowerment and Youth Organisation (WEYO), is currently coordinating youths, women and farmers in Ekiti, Ondo and Ogun states to promote agriculture.
   “WEYO was formed to look into the various communities to bring out what can be turned into money that will enhance the life of the people living there. We ran a lot of seminars within the southwestern states and looked into garri (cassava flakes) processing and adire making. We went into the nooks and crannies of the states seeing how we could be of help to young people, especially women. It was even in cause of the project that the Italian-based Caterina De Medici invited me to develop young people for a competition; and the outcome of that relationship is Caterina De Medici Africa, and the child art competition,” she says.
   According to Foluke, “once the tourism potentials are put in place foreign investors will come, in fact, they are looking for where to invest their money, they are travelling across the globe looking for something new. We read on the pages of newspapers that government is bringing investors to the country, but in the real sense of it, how many of them have you seen come to look at the oil palms or other resources?”

BORN April 8, the daughter of a school head, Foluke a civil engineer, a motivator and lady of many parts recently allowed her birthday go unnoticed.
   But why?
  “ I am going to celebrate a fulfilled birthday only when I wake up to see 1000 Nigerians happily working in a farm, I want to wake up to see Nigerian kids compete favourably with their peers anywhere in the world, see them invent machines. I want to see the Nigerian youths attain great heights and celebrated within and outside the country; that is my dream, a dream of having Nigerian art and culture celebrated across the globe, a dream of attracting investors to the country, a dream where the agriculture sector flourishes. When all of these are achieved I would climb to the rooftop and have a grandiose celebration, but until then, my birthday is just a level.”
   She philosophises, “so, for me, everyday is plus one. I have a goal and each day I look at my project plan, I ask myself what have I achieved, how many people have I positively impacted on and how many things have I been able to do. And with each passing day, I realise I still have a long way to go.”
   Foluke says, “I am unique in my being and spiritual in the interpretation of life. If I am born to bless my generation and I am not a blessing to at least two people, then I am not fulfilled. For me, you need to discover who you are, make yourself a blessing to others, think less of yourself and impact on the lives of people you daily come across.”  

   The head of the LBHF secretariat, retorts, “I see people living abroad as being comfort driven, I am not comfort-driven, but value-driven. I have been to many places across the globe with the social amenities working, yet I have to leave those sweet comforts for my home in Nigeria, where one has to stay without electric power for days, drive in death-trap roads and others, but I refuse to stay in those countries with their amenities because I am not comfort-driven. “ I am going to celebrate a fulfilled birthday only when I wake up to see 1000 Nigerians happily working in a farm, I want to wake up to see Nigerian kids compete favourably with their peers anywhere in the world, see them invent machines. I want to see the Nigerian youths attain great heights and celebrated within and outside the country; that is my dream, a dream of having Nigerian art and culture celebrated across the globe, a dream of attracting investors to the country, a dream where the agriculture sector flourishes. When all of these are achieved I would climb to the rooftop and have a grandiose celebration, but until then, my birthday is just a level.”
 “Comfort-driven people run from the realities on ground, and in attempt to run away from the realties, they end up enslaving themselves in the foreign countries they have run to. I don’t want to be a slave, I want to be value-driven; a value driven person has no comfort, may not even have money for those little comforts, but is always focused because he has a goal to achieve. So, I want to be a blessing to my generation, I want to function effectively in my place of primary assignments. You can only be fulfilled when you are in the place of your primary assignment; it is the lack of this knowledge that make so many people trapped in a job they do not like, doing one thing day after day, when they ought to be out there as an employer of labour.”
    Any regrets so far? “Regrets! No, I have none. I see every challenge in life as a steppingstone to greater heights. Each time I fail, I do sit down to find out why I have failed and the lessons I learn from it move me on. So, for me; there is no regret!”

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mercy Chinwo… Petite Dynamo


ELEGANT, soulful and confident are apt words to describe petite Mercy Chinwo. She has Joe Blue to beat for the Nigerian Idol crown; and possibly, become a hot target for the paparazzi pack, who’ll obviously mass around her performance venues, outings, clothing, eating habits and, sure, turn her love life to a national soap opera. She’ll also be the bout of bloggers and online journalists.
After her performance this evening, Mercy walked towards the judges for interview. Her heart beat in a rather funny way. Before she reached where they sat, there was a prolonged clapping of hands, and she saw people on the middle row rise to applaud her.
  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw an expensively dressed lady, in a one-shoulder gown, which seemed to have been specially split at the side to reveal her long legs shout ‘Fabulous Mercy!’
  Jeffrey Daniel, one of the judges of Nigerian Idol, had christened her Fabulous after she wonderfully delivered Beyonce’s Halo.
  “Oh, Mercy! Mercy!!” She yelled.
  That evening, there was a certain assured, possessive air in her performance of emotionally charged version of Whitney Houston’s I look to you. Mercy also superbly choreographed and flawlessly rendered Amerie’s One Thing.
  To cap up what was already an extraordinary show, the fearless diva zoomed in on a power-bike for an unforgettable remixed version of P’ Square’s Chop my money.
  She was commended for a job well done by the guest judge, Audu Maikori, who said Mercy gave the regular song a big performance.
  Though energetic, the lady creatively added her own twist to the performance. She left the judges speechless, which made Charly Boy to describe her as the ‘entire show’.
  Her performances on Nigerian Idol have been unforgettable, and in fact, suggested why Femi Kuti, called her the future of music after she performed Fela’s Zombie. Rapper and record label owner, MI, also famously offered her a record deal after watching an amazing performance on the show.
  There’s no mistaking her smile when she is with the hosts, Ill Rhymz and Tiwa Savage. She blew a kiss of victory, as she’s done since she entered the contest.
  Oh! My God!” she exclaimed, as bold excitement awash her face. Pure joy filled the cool, soft air whispering its way across her final journey to becoming the new Nigerian Idol.

BASED on performances, personality and showmanship, it will be very tough to answer the question of who will win this battle of sexes, which has been on for centuries that also led to the film by Silent Film great, D.W. Griffith; album by the rapper Ludacris and tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. 
  The two contestants have been amazing in their individual ways. Mercy, who is considered the sweetheart of the audience, is not even afraid what the outcome of the battle of sexes will be. She believes she is a born winner.
  The 20 years old Ikwerre, Rivers State native brushes her hand very gently, and says, “we are six children from my mother. I’m the first daughter of my mother and fourth child of my father. I have two younger ones.”
   She describes her childhood as adventurous and memorable and refers to her father’s death as the turning point in her life, as she speaks, beads of sweat form in her forehead.
  “I was the apple of my father’s eyes; he gave me the name, Nnenda, which means ‘father’s mother’ because I reminded him of his mother,” she darts a look back over her shoulders, and whispers: “Daddy supported my singing when he was alive. I lost him at 15 in 2007 and that was when I took music to be my career in order to take care of my younger ones, pay their fees.”
  Though it took quite a while of getting used to it, since 2007, when she lost her father to now, she’s racked up a credible profile. This, perhaps, suggests why she joined her local church’s choir, eventually rising to the position of music director for the youth choir of The Apostle Church Student Fellowship of Nigeria (TACSFON).
  The palpable cheer was late last year when the Nigerian Idol came calling in Port Harcourt and she knew it was time to let her dreams fly. “I knew it was time to reveal myself to the world,” she says, beaming with smile.
  Mercy retorts, her emotions bottled by the last gap qualification, “I was ready for Nigerian Idol and it has been an unbelievable experience for me. I have learnt an amazing lot of things; from stage management to time consciousness to voice training, it has been a wonderful school for me.”

BETWEEN her father’s death and now, Mercy has walked the corridor of dream and reality. She is not afraid to say this: “I see myself on stage with Asa, I also want to be at the Grammy Awards one day. It is possible o!”
  Mercy gives a shy smile when she is asked about a boyfriend. “Ah! I don’t know how to answer that question,” she laughs in a high-pitched voice. “I will tell you later.”
  Her guiding philosophy in life is to work hard at this stage of her life. “I believe that now is the time to work very hard,” she says, her voice filling out the small space with hope. “There will be a lot of time to play later. I believe I still have a lot to learn and that is what I will do, learn, learn and learn until I become perfect at what I do. I will continue to challenge myself creatively so that I can become better at what I do.”

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

August 31, 2011

The Largest Black Church Group in the World, The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), doubles as the largest African-led church organisation with over 6 million members and was founded by Josiah Akindayomi in Nigeria in 1952, with just nine members.
RCCG is now headed by Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, who was born in Nigeria in 1942 and was a mathematics lecturer before joining RCCG in 1973. He worked in the church translating sermons from the Pastor’s native Yoruba into English until Akindayomi’s death in 1981 when he took over leadership (Akindayomi had earlier identified Adeboye as his successor).
The Pentecostal church now boasts 14,000 parishes and 5 million members in Nigeria alone, where its monthly Holy Ghost Night meeting draws crowds of over a million worshippers. RCCG branches can also be found in 140 countries worldwide from Haiti to Germany with over 300 branches in America and 360 in the UK. Its bi-annual all night prayer service Festival of Life in London attracts 30,000 people – the largest Christian gathering in Europe.
Known as “Daddy GO” to members, Adeboye travels between RCCG global parishes preaching his signature’ laid-back’ sermons and was listed in Newsweek magazine’s “50 Global Elite.”

A pilgrimage to hear one man; to outsiders it might look like an enormous warehouse but more than a million people are expected here tonight at Nigeria’s Redeemed Christian Church of God.…and the man they have all come to see is dressed in simple green trousers, a white shirt and green bow tie; Nigeria’s national colours. His congregation call him ‘Daddy’, and with branches across the world, he was voted by Newsweek as one of the world’s 50 most influential people in 2008. This week on African Voices, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of one of Nigeria’s biggest evangelical churches. Pastor Enoch Adeboye is not the only evangelical preacher in Nigeria, but for many, he is the only one that matters; his influence over his and other preacher’s
congregations is enormous. His modest appearance belies the enormous influence and power he wields; but while his congregation put their faith in his hand, he puts his faith in (his) God.


 How did you find God?
   I was born into a “Christian Home”, I have always gone to church…because our parents said we have to go…..but then after I grew up, I left home then I drifted away from church until I had a little problem that defied all solutions; then somebody invited me to the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I came expecting that the pastor will just
pray and my problems will go; but instead, he said I have to give my life to Jesus Christ first; that if my sins are gone, my problems will disappear; so….of course, I resisted for a while, but then, finally I surrendered..just like he said, I gave my life to Jesus Christ and my problems disappeared.

 How old were you at the time?
  …That was 1973, I was just a little over 31.
 You were originally a student of mathematics?

 How was that change to become a pastor?
  Well, It didn’t quite change (laughs); once a mathematician, forever a mathematician….but, at that time I was a lecturer at the University of Lagos. That’s when I met the Lord; and….after some time when the founder of the church saw my zeal, he ordained me as a pastor and when I became a pastor, I began to travel within the country, going to universities and colleges and other institutions to share with them my testimony, my experience and then when the founder died, we read in his will that I was to succeed him; to take over the leadership of the church. Now, there was no way I could combine the two. I could not continue as a lecturer in the University and still do my duties as the General Overseer; that’s why mathematics had to stand aside for Christ to take full control.

 That must have been quite heady days; it was the beginning of the Evangelical Movement in Nigeria… I mean, how did you feel at the time, travelling the country, seeing these churches begin to blossom?
   Well, I mean…..the Evangelical moves in Nigeria had been on before I became born again, but ….. yes it was quite exciting in those days, travelling across the country  meeting young people, lecturers et cetera, sharing with them, realizing that many of us have been living in ignorance and then seeing the joy.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God was founded in 1952 by Josiah Akindayomi but when he died, he left only 40 churches to his chosen successor, Enoch Adeboye. It is a choice that is proving extremely successful. The Redeemed Church now claims to have over 5 million members across 20,000 branches in 140 countries worldwide and there are at least 540 branches in the United Kingdom and Ireland alone. Pentecostalism has swept through Nigeria and Africa in the last two decades; offering the promise, not just of entering into heaven in the afterlife but of jobs, marriage, children, health and money in this life.

 How do you feel when you are on….at the altar preaching?
   Of course, you feel excited, you feel fulfilled that you are being used of God to meet the needs of so many people at a time which probably (is) one of the greatest joys of being a pastor…….. the freedom of worship the way we dance, the way we shout, the way we enjoy the almighty God. He (God) said He will love to see that one…..… so I think that beat of us…… that bubbling enthusiasm………. is a good influence.

 Your style, if you like is not as loud or as flamboyant…… (I think I am right in saying)…. as many of the preachers in Nigeria; people describe you as being very humble, you certainly don’t wear expensive suites like some other preachers and things, why is that?
  I believe that the Gospel is for all people, but I believe that it is even more for the masses and ….. majority of the masses if you are going to reach to them, you have to be more or less at their level…… if they see in you somebody that they can relate to, it might be easier for them to listen to you and to hear from you,……. one thing I have
discovered about the masses is that even though they might be poor, they might not be high up there, there is still something in them that does not like being looked down upon.
 Why do you think we have seen this explosion of evangelical churches in the last two or three decades in Nigeria?
   Maybe we would say the economic situation, the social problems that we face…………..ultimately, some people exploited that, setting up what they call churches knowing that these people would have to come to wherever they hear that God is healing ……but like I keep telling people, anytime you see a counterfeit, it means the original must be somewhere… you won’t see a counterfeit N2,000 (Two Thousand naira) note because there is no original one.
Nigeria is a country of 150 million people divided roughly between a Christian south and a Muslim north;  it’s a fault line along which there are often deadly clashes. Both sides stand accused of encouraging such violence.

 Do you believe Nigeria is on this religious frontline?
   There is no doubt about that.

 That (of) course sometimes has violent episodes of … for example in Jos. How do you feel when that happens, when this frontline turns violent. Is that possibly because of saving souls?
   I believe that any time light begins to shine, there’s bound to be a little resistance from darkness; so that one is a settled matter. Unfortunate though it may be … some politicians go in the guise of religion to perpetrate evil; I do not think that genuine Christians and genuine Muslims will fight….. but I think that most of the crises we see is not really religion, it is politics; some politicians choose to use religion as a tool for their own ulterior motives.

Do you think the church should play a role in politics?
  Of course …who was it that said that man is a political animal… they should… everybody should decide who is going to rule over him… and then somebody said that you shouldn’t complain about anything you permit. If you fail to vote, if you fail to participate in the political situations and then somebody gets to become your ruler and you say you don’t like the way he is ruling you, who’s fault, where were you when he was been voted into power?…. and then of course if somebody gets to power and he is not doing what you expect him to do then vote him out.

Do you think the Redeemed churches in Nigeria play enough roles in politics or they should do more?
  Maybe they should do more because I believe that in the past the people have been so focussed (in the Redeemed Christian Church of God)..… so focused on making it to heaven that they don’t want to have anything to do with politics… is it Socrates that said that politics has gizzards?… which is another way of saying that politics can be dirty. But then Christians are supposed to be the light of the world so let them go ahead and show the way, shine the light, they are supposed to be the salt of the earth… the salt is of no use unless it is applied into the food, so I think we can do more than we’ve been doing up till now. But no one is quite sure how much Pastor Adeboye is doing; tonight’s service is attended by Nigeria’s president: Goodluck Jonathan as well as various other state governors and politicians; all seeking guidance….but particularly with controversial national elections in April (2011), the degree to which his support and advice is listened to is unclear…

You are a man who has the ear of presidents….. you could say ……the current president was here last night, do you talk to them, do you try and influence, do you support some candidates?
   When I am consulted, I do talk but then, all you can do is advice, you can’t command. You can say this is the way I think maybe this thing should be done, then they are free to decide whether they will take your advice or ignore it; since we live with the people on day to day basis, we can feel their pulses better so occasionally when things become a little too uncomfortable for the masses, we take some actions.

You have a big congregation,  you have considerable influence over that congregation, do you ever feel swayed to influence them to vote for a particular candidate?
  Oh no. no… no (laughs)…I mean when you have this kind of congregation you will have members of every party, every party in that congregation and if you want to… retain their respect for you, you must be neutral; my suggestion to them has always been, make sure you vote for the person of your choice, if your choice turns out to be right, glory be to God, if it turns out to wrong, then there will be another time.

Services last throughout the night with numerous prayer sessions and each sermon is simultaneously read aloud in English and the local language ‘yoruba’; there are choirs, music  as well as donations and ‘more controversially’ healing. Despite the Redeemed church’s promise of an improved standard of living for the average Nigerian, the United Nations (UN) estimates 80% of the people in the country still live on less than two dollars ($2) a day.

 Many of the people come in here particularly last night … they want the better life not just in the afterlife but today, now do you feel that, that might be better achieved by going out and protesting outside the government house order than praying here?
   Prayers can move mountains! Protesting outside the government house how much has it achieved? You go there you carry placards… if you are fortunate you will return home alive…if you are not fortunate… some overzealous police officer might … accidentally discharge some bullets on you… and you can protest day after day after day……after sometime you get tired.

  Do you think the church has helped bring people out of poverty?
  We are doing our best; we have programs that are talking about how to start little businesses, we have seminars on small scale farming, we have seminars on almost everything, in other words we are saying look, don’t look unto government for everything; be creative!
In 2008 Pastor Adeboye was featured in NEWSWEEK magazine as one of the world’s top fifty most influential people.

How did you feel when you were given that title?
   I felt humbled because…how could they possibly leave all the archbishops, all the big big names and come and pick a small pastor in one little jungle…I was surprised, I was humbled…it drew me closer to God.

 Is it a big responsibility, the influence you have over people?
   Of course it is… if I have my way, I will not want to have influence over anyone other than my own little family particularly because the Bible says something on the day of judgment, your judgment is going to be based on this kind of things, this influence…how have you used the influence… for good or for evil….… one man was complaining to a great preacher, he said ‘I have a problem’, the preacher said ‘what is your problem’? he said ‘my congregation is only fifty people in number’; the preacher said… you have a lot of people to answer for when you get to heaven you should thank God there are only fifty.

The Redeemed church dominates (Pastor) Adeboye’s public life and what little of a private life remains, he keeps mostly to himself.

What else do like doing apart from the Redeemed church…?
    I love fishing, I use to be a boxer, fortunately I can’t box anymore… except box the devil maybe… and then I go for walks, long walks; unfortunately I don’t have time for any other thing… I use to be a sports man but… it’s difficult for me now to even walk in the streets. Everybody wants to come and ask me to pray for them so occasionally I want to go to the market just to buy things for myself…just whatever… (I) remember the last time I went to a supermarket, I had to run back into the car because the people… who are around the shop left their shop and they wanted to turn the place to a crusade ground…so all I can do now is walk in the night when nobody… when they are supposed to be sleeping, they can’t disturb …..and then once in a while I go to fish in a place that is secluded, just for the fun of it.

 Would you like to retire, do feel you will retire or would you continue as the General Overseer until the end?
   I would have loved to retire, I have plans of what I could do in retirement… you see when you are retired you are again more or less your own master…… can wake up when you like, you can sleep when you like, you can go wherever you want when you want. If I’m retired, I don’t have to be the one in charge of the congress; I can just come and enjoy.

 Where do you see your role, your life in Redeemed going in the next five, ten years?
  We are still a long way from our goal. We want to reach the whole world, we want to have churches in every nation, we want to have members in every family of the whole world. That’s where we are going and that’s where we believe God will take us before I leave this world.

I am Brother Enoch Adeboye, made in heaven, assembled in Nigeria and exported to the world'

Daddy and Mummy Adeboye
Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, is seventy but satisfied. The man who is behind the phenomenal growth of the largest church in Africa is today viewed as God's rarity. Pastor Adeboye, in this piece by KEHINDE OYETIMI with additional information from Rebecca Bible-Davids’ Enoch Adeboye: Father of Nations,  reminisces on rib-tickling aspects of his life, among other issues.

•Adeboye and his mother's breasts
It is no longer news that Papa Adeboye was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. While others were born into comfortable families, he went the disadvantaged route. Being his parents' last child and the only son born in their old age, he was seriously loved.
According to Adeboye, “All I could take was breast milk but it was to the extreme. Even when I began to walk, my mother still continued to breast feed me. As a toddler, I would go and play in the rains with other children but would come back home only to tell my mum that I needed to be breastfed. I was so close to my mother's heart that she protected me from any suspecting dangers.”

•Adeboye and the witchdoctors
“I was a young man way back in 1972, though I am still young. I bought a car. I had been driving my car without any problem in Lagos. I went home to show the car to my people and somebody asked whether the car was fortified. I asked him what he meant by being fortified. I told him that the car was insured. He said I did not know anything.
  “He then took me to a man who said he would fortify the car. The man gave me three charms. One was to be tied at the bottom of the steering column. He said this was to prevent me from colliding with anything in the front. He gave me another one to tie in the boot to prevent  anything from hitting me from the back.
  “He gave me a third one that he said I should tie under my seat so that if anything happened, 'the son (referring to himself Adeboye) would just disappear.' I did all he asked me to do. However, in two weeks I had three accidents. Nobody taught me before I threw the charms away.

“I did not learn my lessons then. Things became better still. I built a house at a very tender age. I got my PhD. Some people approached me that they needed to fortify me… I obliged and they took me to one herbalist. He told me to go and bring a goat and some other things. He insisted that the goat must not be brought in a car. I must lead the goat from the market to his house. Can you imagine? A lecturer in the university, struggling with a goat on the streets! The goat gave me tough time. After struggling to get the goat to him, I looked at the man who was going to fortify me and I saw his leg heavily bandaged.
  “He saw me looking at the leg and he explained what happened. He said he was involved in a car accident in which everybody died while he only broke his leg. If the protector broke his leg, what should the one protected break?”

•Day anger made me trek for a mile
  “When I became married, I agreed with my wife that we must not get angry at the same time. Then the devil tried to trap us one day. We were travelling from Ilesha to Lagos. Something made her angry and I knew she was right. She really had an opportunity to hit me. She was talking and I was driving. I was angry but I could not talk and there was nowhere to run. When I could not control it anymore, in order not to break our rule, I parked the car. I got down and began to walk back towards Ilesha.
“I left her with the baby in the car. After walking for about a mile, I got to a village where they were selling fruits and bought some. I ate some and I took the remaining to her in the car. By now she was frightened because she did not know what had happened. When she saw me coming, she became relieved and as I got into the car, I gave her the peace offering.”
•Adeboye, the ladies man
  “Before I met the Lord Jesus Christ, I had some problems. The first one was that I was a sportsman. The second one was that I was a good photographer. Combine those two in the life of any young man and you know he can have problems with girls. I am yet to meet a woman you tell that you want to take her picture and she would refuse.

“Before you know it, they (the women) are already adjusting their dresses, and from picture taking, you to move to something else. I had so many girlfriends that I did not even know the number at a stage.”

•Love birds say I do
One of the major challenges he had was proposing to Foluke. Despite the fact that he was capable of wooing any lady with both his looks and charisma, she was known to be very blunt, plain and descent. Foluke could not entertain liars and deceivers and was ready to reprimand anyone with such tendencies.
  Bearing this in mind, Adeboye was careful not to receive a negative answer from her, since he was yet to be turned down by any lady. He put himself together full of charm and confidence, he followed his heart and went ahead to propose to her.

While the other suitors were busy promising her heaven on earth, Adeboye never promised what he could not do and he proved to be a man of his words. After agreeing to marry him, she sought for her father's consent which she got.
   On the wedding day, the couple glittered in glamorous traditional outfits. Foluke wore the traditional buba and iro. She combined all these with very gorgeous headtie and beautifully beaded jewelry. She wore a high heel shoe that was about inches tall. The couple beamed with smile as guests and family could literally see the love emanating from Adeboye's eyes towards Foluke.
•The prayer God did not answer 
“Under no circumstance would I have become a pastor, not to talk of a General Overseer if God were not the Almighty. There is no way you can fight against this God and win. That is something everybody should know because left to me, I did not want to have anything t o do with priesthood.
   “When I knew that I was going to be ordained a pastor, my wife and I fasted for 14 days praying that God would change his mind. At that time as a lecturer in the university, I had done a little human management because of the rapid promotion that God gave me. I had to act for my head of department while he was away and I found out that the most difficult creatures are human beings. Even in the university system, you have an element of what I call 'power to enforce whatever you say', but in the church, it is different.
  “I have always said that the power which the pastor has is the power given to him by God principally but also mainly by the congregation.”

•Adeboye and the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission)
“I feel that EFCC is of God. God is behind the reason to establish the EFCC. Corruption has had negative effects on the Nigerian economy. I was shocked by a recent remark that the country would be a paradise if all state governments spent 30 per cent of their budget.
  “My heart bled when I travelled to Malaysia and saw what the country had done with palm kernel. They have no oil, no land, no natural resource of any kind but they have good leaders. The war against corruption and financial crimes will begin to produce results when the leaders begin to demonstrate the fear of God. The wealth you accommodate through illegal means…you might not live to enjoy.

“Many Nigerian leaders steal from the country's resources and hide them in coded accounts in foreign lands. Now the money is abroad, they are not there. The money is benefiting the country into which it has been stashed and here we are suffering. And this money is in coded accounts and many of them (these Nigerian leaders) die suddenly without anybody knowing the code. That money is lost forever.”

•Global impact
Over the years, Pastor Adeboye has made remarkable contributions both with and outside the country. In October, 2000, in Jerusalem Israel, Pastor Adeboye introduced himself saying: “I am Brother Enoch Adeboye, Made in Heaven, Assembled in Nigeria and Exported to the world.”
  J. Grant Swank Jr, a South African writer on contemporary Christian theology has noted “This is the face of 21st Century Christianity: Big, Restless and African. What began as a living room Bible study in 1952 is now a juggernauta university, movie studio, satellite television and Wi-Fi internet  provider. Now add to that millions of followers in more than 90 nations, including footholds in China and even Dallas.”

Monday, 2 April 2012

Ogunbiyi … History And Quest For Freedom

By Omiko Awa

 DRESSED in  a tee shirt on a pair of jeans trouser and a pair of loafer shoes, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, the Nigeria-born US based artist is on the go, putting finishing touches to her installation, which will among others usher in the 3rd edition of Lagos Black Heritage Festival (LBHF), which begins on Monday.
   Working on the sculpture, whose meaning is left for the onlooker to interpret, Ogunbiyi pays attention to the minutest details while we chat. 
   What had you in mind when you conceptualised this project? 
  “It was nothing other than the history of Freedom Park, the movement of people overtime from one place to another and, of course, the history of Africa.” She continues, “the shade of Africa at the background of one of the sculptures goes with the theme of the festival, which is, The Black In The Mediterranean Blue.”
  Stating that the theme of this year’s edition has some connections with Italy, she adds, “the festival has embark on this concept as a way of connecting Africa and its people to other continents, which are represented in fragments and other forms in the project.”
  Using abstract materials such as mirror, chains and block, how then do people understand the message?
  “I want to incite curiosity, make people think up ideas and respond to the work based on their personal experience.”
  “My work is not a kind of work that shouts loud messages, rather it react to history, contemporary circumstances and then leaves the viewer to react to it in his or her own idea. For example different people have giving the project different interpretations, some say it’s an object of worship while another group would want me to tell them every thing about it; and when I do not give them the answers they expect, they feel discouraged and leave,”she informs.
TITLED, The Possibility Of The Past’s Progress, Ogunbiyi says, “this particular piece deals with the immigration of people from African to other continents in the world, it takes a retrospective look on the past and how that past has prepared us for today and the future. It recalls the history of slavery and bondage and as well speaks of contemporary forms of slavery, whether sex slave, child labour, imperialism, mental enslavement, economic or social bondage.”
   And the chain! “Yes, chains do not always connote slavery or bondage; in this case, it could mean intimacy, networking and connecting people of diverse climes and creed together,” Ogunbiyi notes.
   With theme that cuts across borders what exactly would you want the audience to take home from the festival? “Courage, she continues, I want to encourage them to think for themselves and reflect on their personal histories. Encouraging them to look above those things that hindered or limited them from attaining their personal or collective goals. It is also to spur them to think about artworks and its ability to preserve and disseminate information for a better society.”
  Thinking the sculpture will have glittering colours to reflect diverse races across the globe, Ogunbiyi retorts, “I want to integrate the work to the environment, make it have that natural effect, so, painting it is of no use because it would make it lose its natural appeal.
    Speaking on the importance of art show to the festival, Ogunbiyi, a graduate of Princeton University, Yale School of Art, Norfolk Summer Residency Programme and Columbia University, all in the US, notes, “art is an integral part of culture and anytime you have cultural discuss the first that comes to mind is cultural connection and exchange. Art in its entirety — basic, creative, visual, drama, dance — has an interesting way of discussing people and history.”
   As part of the projects to be unveiled for public use on Monday, Ogunbiyi informs that Kemi Akindoju will use the installation as a stage for her monologue.
APART from Broken Weaves and New Paintings, which she showed in Lagos, Ogunbiyi has featured in group shows such as A Kilo of Hope, at the Yusuf Grillo Gallery, School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Lagos; All We Ever Wanted, at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Sabo, Yaba, Lagos; grand finale of African Artists Foundation (AAF)/Nigerian Breweries (NB)-organised national art competition tagged Documenting Changes; and others outside the country.