Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Nice site, in need of more contributors. Go forth!


The health of Nigerian banks..

According to the latest Africa Report, only Diamond Bank, First Bank, GTB and Skye Bank can be classified as "strong" banks in Nigeria. 9 banks are classified as "satisfactory", while 7 are deemed to be "shaken" and four as "stressed".

To download the report, click here. Punch Newspaper ran a story on the Africa Report's report in their daily paper today. This edition was 'sold out' today on the news stands. Make of that side-story what you will...


Monday, June 29, 2009

Identity: An Imagined State

Video Art Exhibition:Call for participation

Following the implementation of two successful video art workshops, the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos will be hosting the first video art exhibition in Lagos, taking the form of a three part project to be held in October/November 2009.

The exhibition Identity: An Imagined State will cover themes that each takes a different perspective on notions of identity exploring issues of race, citizenship and migration using. The exhibition aims to provide a platform in Lagos for emerging and established video artists.

The exhibition, split into sections listed below will form the curatorial framework for the submission of works.

The first section of the exhibition aims to explore issues relating to race or skin tone and the impact it has made on identity amongst African people (living on the continent). Particular areas of interest relate to those whose racial identity is made up of multi-ethnic backgrounds, the problematic of skin toning (skin lightening) and non-Black Africans. By asking questions such as; can we always tell what race is when we see it? What role does race place in society? How do we negotiate between skin tone and identity?

The second section explores the challenges of political, economic and social predicaments, which have engendered voluntary or forced migratory movements into and out of Africa. The impacts of these actions have resulted in changes such as displacement, deprivation, enhanced economic benefits and psychological transformations.

This project will present a body of work by artists that engage with migration and trans-national pattern of movement in our continuously globalizing world. It will explore the effects and impacts of migration within and out of the continent, highlight issues on memory, identity, displacement, alienation as well as the challenges that arise from cultural and physical separation.

Video artists of African descent or artists of any nationality exploring these themes in relation to Africa are invited to make a submission for either one or both areas of interest. We ask for all videos to be sent in either English or with English subtitles. Submissions should be made in the following manner:

  • DVD containing maximum 3 works
  • A Full CV
  • An Artist Statement
  • 2x still images from the video (minimum 75 dpi)
  • Completed application form below
Deadline Friday 10th July 2009
Please note that submitted work cannot be returned and unless indicated otherwise will form part of CCA,Lagos’ visual art library collection used for research and learning purposes only.

For further details and enquiry call: 234 7028367106, 234 705 568 0104, 234 803 439 2413 and ask for Oyinda Fakeye or Jude Anogwih or email: [email protected], [email protected]


Juju and politics

Quite a mild case of juju and politics here. Only animal body parts involved, it seems...


Another brilliant post from Salisu Suleiman

On the dark ages that have settled upon Nigeria's university system. Read it and weep.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Online naija sex shop

For all your dildo/lube/cock ring/butt plug/penis enlargement/bondage needs. Zee online.


Ikare Kamp

Someone just told me about this place, accessible by boat on the Ilashe beach strip. Looks nice, abi?


The good times are over

The Nigerian telecoms sector has finally hit market forces and the mathematic of where supply and demand cross at a competitive pricing point. ARPU (average revenue per user) has brought Zain to its knees (sinking to US7 per month), hence the crisis a few weeks ago and the decision to outsource the meat of its operations to Ericsson earlier this year.

What a contrast with the sector 6 years ago in Nigeria. The MTN story is case in point.

I remember buying my first MTN sim card back then. I think it was N18,000. The good times were rolling - its not as if the price of producing a sim card has reduced significantly since. MTN was staking out London recruitment fairs, bringing plane loads of diasporics home - anyone with the word telecoms on their cv (no matter how fabricated or puffed up) got a ticket and an apartment in VI, their salaries paid for by the first million or so customers paying off the scale prices just to get connected. The A-bar on Adeola Hopewell was the place for the big MTN boys in their polo shirts to hang out.

Aspects of the senior management of the company became bloated with charlatans who were working many levels above their pay grade (no names mentioned). Since that time, MTN in Nigeria has matured, shaken out the diasporic chancers and now has a good senior management cadre which is a mix of Nigerians and international staff. It is easily the best placed operator in Nigeria and is sure to profit well when the big pipes land in Lagos mid-to-late next year and the country finally has genuine Internet Service provision, rather than the fake-broadband floggers of now.

The consolidation taking place currently in the telecoms sector is also going to hit the financial services sector in the next 12 - 18 months. The new Central Bank governor Sanusi Lamido's strong risk analytical approach is sure to shake out the sharp practices the banking sector has relied on for so long and that are an open secret: buying each other's public offering shares (creating a phantom layer of valuations), round tripping currency trading and use of multiple books (to name just a few of the most popular tricks). Combined with the opening up to foreign ownership, another round of consolidation is somewhere between probable and imminent. I doubt many banks will be unaffected by the inroads Barclays, HSBC and the big American and Chinese banks will surely make.

So, the two juicy sectors of the economy that were the main draw for diasporic Nigerians outside of hyrdocarbons are closing up. I suspect we are now moving away from the returnee era, at least in terms of the corporate sector.

At which point, it might be an idea to begin to compare what the recent influx of diasporic Nigerians has done for the country's corporations. Compare and contrast with India.

Ten years ago, Indians with Californian technology experience started to return home during the dot com consolidation that began in late 1999/early 2000.

On the back of this migration, India's IT services sector began to boom from Bangalore to Pune, with the incumbent early-starters such as Infosys the tip of a large iceberg.

What have diasporic Nigerians brought to Nigeria? Which sectors have developed thanks to them? There has been no equivalent boom in IT services, and banking remains antediluvian. The perfect symbol of the level of sophistication of consumer banking in Nigeria is the Interswitch card - all your data stored on one easily replicable magnetic strip. It is strikingly similiar to my first 'cashpoint card' for Lloyds bank, back in 1986. Surprise surprise that Nigeria is currently awash with ATM fraud.

How are we to judge the impact of diasporic Nigerians that have returned back to Nigeria to work in its corporations? Have they 'added any value'? Certainly, in many organisations, they have generated mostly negative value: inadvertently importing a two-tier class system.

Those parading their recently acquired janded or yankee accents are earning multiples more than their stayed-home-didn't-get-the-break colleagues. They are almost completely blind to the hostility and resentment this has generated. Worse, they are in most cases not as effective as their 'local' equivalent.

The snob factor that they maintain meticulously stands in the way of them engaging with the world beyond Ikoyi and Victoria Island. In a complex and evolving society like Nigeria, they therefore forget to do the first thing that must be done in any new enterprise: map the territory. Many of the returnees simply didn't have the wisdom of local experience to do the job that needed doing.

The integration period - when an influx of diasporic Nigerians filled out the hot new sectors of the economy - is now over. Many of the most talented and experienced Nigerians overseas never bothered to come home. Those who made the Big Return in the past year or so are half-full of regrets. Accommodation is a joke in Lagos and Abuja (the only two cities they can return to) - all of it over-priced, jerry-built (sometimes dangerously so) and poorly managed. Quite a few will return with the realisation that home was in fact Maryland or Milton Keynes. Nigeria will return to being 'holiday for the kids'.

Anyone with smarts setting up nowadays in Nigeria in financial services, telecoms, the media etc. would do well to focus on how to develop local talent, rather than decide to bring in over-priced and over-entitled diasporic resource that is often afraid to wade in deep into the ways of the Nigerian market, for fear of getting too much mainland muck on the tyres of their Prado/Lexus. The future of business in Lagos (a city which generates 70-80% of Nigeria's tax base) will be increasingly defined by the thousands trying to get ahead from Isolo or Surulere, rather than those flying back home to stay with Mommy and Daddy in Ikoyi or VI. The more market forces come to play in Nigeria, the more on-the-ground talent and experience will come to the fore.


Friday, June 26, 2009

The FT on the Niger Delta

Great use of graphics/video here.


OBJ goes to Nollywood...

(set to the Thriller soundtrack)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Law inter-alia

Good Nigerian law blog here.


I am Hungry, please re-brand me

Someone just sent me this:

I am Hungry, Please Re-brand me
By: Salisu Suleiman

I am Nigeria. I have millions of acres of arable land and billions of cubic litres of water, but I cannot feed myself. So I spend $1 billion to import rice and another $2 billion to import milk. I produce rice, but don’t eat it. I have 60 million cattle but no milk. I am hungry, please re-brand me.

I drive the latest cars in the world but have no roads. I lose family and friends everyday on roads for which funds have been looted. I lose my young, my old, and my most brainy and productive people to the potholes, craters and crevasses they travel on everyday. I am in permanent mourning, please re-brand me.

My school has no teacher and my classroom has no roof. I take lecture notes through the window and live with 15 others in a single room. All my professors have gone abroad, and the rest are awaiting visas. I am a university graduate, but I am illiterate. I want a future, please re-brand me.

Malaria, typhoid and many other preventable diseases send me to hospitals which have no doctors, no medicines and no power. So my wife gives birth with candle light and surgery is performed by quacks. All the nurses have gone abroad and the rest are waiting to go also. I have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world and future generations are dying before me. I am hopeless, hapless and helpless, please re-brand me.

I wanted change so I stood all day long to cast my vote. But even before I could vote, the results had been announced. When I dared to speak out, silence was enthroned by bullets. My rulers are my oppressors, and my policemen are my terrors. I am ruled by men in mufti, but I am not a democracy. I have no verve, no vote, no voice, please re-brand me.

I have 50 million youths with no jobs, no present and no future. So my sons in the North have become street urchins and his brothers in the South have become militants. My nephews die of thirst in the Sahara and his cousins drown in the waters of the Mediterranean. My daughters walk the streets of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, while her sisters parade the streets of Rome and Amsterdam. I am inconsolable, please re-brand me.

My people cannot sleep at night and cannot relax by day. They cannot use ATM machines, nor use cheques. My children sleep through staccato of AK 47s see through the mist of tear gas. The leaders have looted everything on the ground and below. They walk the land with haughty strides and fly the skies with private jets. They have stolen the future of generations yet unborn and have money they cannot spend in several lifetimes, but their brothers die of hunger. I want justice, please re-brand me.

I can produce anything, but import everything. So my toothpick is made in China; my toothpaste is made in South Africa; my salt is made in Ghana; my butter is made in Ireland; my milk is made in Holland; my shoe is made in Italy; my vegetable oil is made in Malaysia; my biscuit is made in Indonesia; my chocolate is made in Turkey and my table water made in France. My taste is far-flung and foreign, please re-brand me.

My people are cancerous from the greed of their friends who bleach palm oil with chemicals; my children died because they drank ‘My Pikin’ with NAFDAC numbers; my poor die because kerosene explodes in their faces; my land is dead because all the trees have been cut down; flood kills my people yearly because the drainages are clogged; my fishes are dead because the oil companies dump waste in my rivers; my communities are vanishing into the huge yawns of gully erosion, and nothing is being done. My livelihood is in jeopardy, and I am in the uttermost depths of despondence, please re-brand me.

I have genuine leather but choose to eat it. So I spend a billion dollars to import fake leather. I have four refineries, but prefer to import fuel, so I waste more billions to import petrol. I have no security in my country, but would rather send troops to keep the peace in another man’s land. I have 160 dams, but can not get water to drink, so I buy ‘pure’ water that roils my innards. I have a million children waiting to enter universities, but my ivory dungeons can only take a tenth. I have no power, but choose to flare gas, so my people have learnt to see in the dark and stare at the glare of naked flares. I have no direction, please re-brand me.

My people pray to God every morning and every night, but commit every crime known to man because re-branded identities will never alter the tunes of inbred rhythms. Just as the drums of heritage heralds the frenzied jingles, remember - the Nigerian soul can only be Nigerian - fighting free from the cold embrace of a government that has no spring, no sense, no shame. So we watch the possessed, frenzied dance, drenched in silent tears as freedom is locked up in democracy’s empty cellars. I need guidance, please re-brand me.

But then, why can I not simply be me, without being re-branded? Or does my complexion cloud the color of my character? Does my location limit the lengths my liberty? Does the spirit of my conviction shackle my soul? Does my mien maim the mine of my mind? And is this life worth re-branding? I am not yet born, please re-brand me.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Abati - verb.

To find out about a new word in the English language, click here (but be quick because its sure to change soon).

If you haven't seen the eye of the storm, its pasted below. The interesting phenonemon is that Nigeria's commentariat is now a fully fledged force to be reckoned with. I'm not sure any amount of money (US$5m or more) is about to put the genie back in the bottle:

A Nation's Identity Crisis
By Reuben Abati

You may not have noticed it: Nigeria is suffering from an identity crisis imposed on it in part by an emergent generation of irreverent and creative young Nigerians who are revising old norms and patterns. And for me nothing demonstrates this more frontally than the gradual change of the name of the country. When Flora Shaw, Lord Lugard's consort came up with the name, Nigeria in 1914, she meant to define the new country by the strategic importance of the Niger River. And indeed, River Niger used to be as important to this country as the Nile was/is to Egypt. We grew up as school children imagining stories about how Lugard in one special romantic moment, asked his mistress to have the honour of naming a new country in Africa. Something like: "Hello, sweetheart, what name would you rather give the new country that I am creating?"

"Let me give it a thought? ....Awright, how about Ni-ge-ria darling?"

"That would do. That would do. How thoughtful, my fair lady? You are forever so dependable"

And the name stuck and it has become our history and identity. But these days, the name Nigeria is gradually being replaced by so many variants, that I am afraid a new set of Nigerians may in the immediate future not even know the correct spelling of the name of their country. For these Nigerians whose lives revolve mostly around the internet and the blogosphere, the name Nigeria has been thrown out of the window. Our dear country is now "naija" or "nija". What happened to the "-eria" that Ms Shaw must have thoughtfully included? The new referents for Nigeria are now creeping into writings, conversations, and internet discourse. I am beaten flat by the increasing re-writing of the country's name not only as naija or nija, but consider this: "9ja". Or this other name for Nigeria: "gidi". There is even a television programme that is titled "Nigerzie". In addiiton, Etisalat, a telecom company has since adopted a marketing platform that is titled: "0809ja." Such mainstreaming of these new labels is alarming.

This obviously is the age of abbreviations. The emerging young generation lacks the discipline or the patience to write complete sentences or think through a subject to its logical end. It is a generation in a hurry, it feels the constraints of space so much, it has to reduce everything to manageable, cryptic forms. This is what the e-mail and text message culture has done to the popular consciousness. Older generations of Nigerians brought up on a culture of correctness and compeleteness may never get used to the re-writing of Nigeria as "9ja". Language is mutatory, but referring to the motherland or the fatherland in slang terms may point to a certain meaninglessness or alienation. What's in a name? In Africa, names are utilitarian constructs not merely labels. Even among the Ijaw where people bear such unique names as University, Conference, FEDECO, Manager, Heineken, Education, Polo, Boyloaf, Bread, College, Summit, Aeroplane, Bicycle, Internet - there is a much deeper sense to the names. But the name Nigeria means nothing to many young Nigerians. They have no reason to respect the sanctity of the name. They don't know Flora Shaw or Lord Lugard, and even if they do, they are likely to say as Ogaga Ifowodo does in an unforgettable poem: "God Punish you, Lord Lugard." Eedris Abdulakarim summarises the concern of young Nigerians in one of his songs when he declared: "Nigeria jagajaga, everything scata, scata"

The post-modernist, deconstructive temper of emergent youth culture is even more manifest in the cynical stripping to the bones character of today's Nigerian hip-hop. It is marked by a Grunge character that shouts: non-meaning and alienation. On my way to Rutam House the other day, I listened at mid-day to a continuous stream of old musical numbers from 93.7 Radio FM. Soulful, meaningful tunes of Felix Lebarty, Chris Okotie (as he then was), Mandy Ojugbana, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Onyeka Onwenu, Sony Okosun, Alex O, Ras Kimono, Majek Fashek, Evi Edna-Ogoli, Bongos Ikwue, Veno Marioghae, Uche Ibeto, Dora Ifudu, Mike Okri, Dizzy K. Falola, and Tina Onwudiwe. Onyeka Onwenu sang; "One love, keep us together". Veno Marioghae sang: "Nigeria Go Survive". Even in the romantic offerings like Chris Okotie's "I need someone, give me your love", or Felix Lebarty's "Ifeoma, Ifeoma, I want to marry you, give me your love" and Stella Monye's "Oko mi ye, duro ti mi o", or Tina Onwudiwe's award-winning "Asiko lo laye". there was so much meaning and polish.

This was in the 80s. That generation which sang music under its real names, not abbreviations or slangs, was continuing, after the fashion of T.S. Eliot's description of "Tradition and the Individual Talent", a pattern of meaning that dates back to traditional African musicians and all the musicians that succeeded them: S. B. Bakare, Victor Olaiya, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Dan Maraya of Jos, Osita Osadebey, Ayinla Omowura, Victor Uwaifo, Geraldo Pino, Rex Lawson, I. K. Dairo, Haruna Ishola, Yusuf Olatunji, Inyang Henshaw, Tunji Oyelana, Bobby Benson, Tunde Nightingale, and even the later ones: Shina Peters, Dele Abiodun, Y.K. Ajao, Ayinde Barrister, Kollington Ayinla, Batile Alake, Sir Warrior, Moroccco Nwa Maduko, Orlando Owoh, Salawa Abeni, KWAM I (Arabambi 1 and please include his disciples- Wasiu Alabi Pasuma et al), Oliver de Coque (Importer and Exporter...), Ayefele, Atorise .... But there has been a terrible crisis in the construction of music. The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of these ancestors have changed the face and identity of Nigerian music. As a rule, gospel musicians, given the nature of their form, sing meaningful lyrics, but the airwaves these days have been taken over by the children of "gidi","naija", "nija", "nigerzie" and "9ja". I listen to them too, but everyday, I struggle to make meaning out of their lyrics.

Music is about sense, sound, shape and skills. But there is an on-going deficit in all other aspects except sound. So much sound is being produced in Nigeria, but there is very little sense, shape and skills. They call it hip-hop. They try to imitate Western hip pop stars. They even dress like them. The boys don't wear trousers on their waists: the new thing is called "sagging", somewhere below the waist it looks as if the trouser is about to fall off. The women are struggling to expose strategic flesh as Janet Jackson once did. The boys and the girls are cloaked in outlandish jewellery and their prime heroes are Ja-Rule, Lil'Wayne, Fat Joe, P. Diddy, 50 Cents, Ronz Brown, Chris Brown, Sean Kingston, Nas, Juelz Santana, Akon, Young Jeezy, Mike Jones, T-Pain, F.L.O-RIDA, Will.I.am, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, Keri Hilson, Jay-Z, Ace hood, Rick Ross, Birdman, Busta Rhymes, Cassidy, Chamillionaire, Soulja Boy, Young Joc, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Kevin Rudolph, T.I.P-king of the South, Ludacris, Plies-The real goon, The Game, Young Rox, Flow killa, Osmosis (2 sick), Flow-ssik, Raprince, Bionic, Fabulous, Jadakiss, Nas, Swiss Beatz, Dj Khaled, Maze, Yung Buck, Maino, MoBB Deep, Lloyd Banks, Olivia, Lady Gaga... Well, God Almighty, we are in your hands.

And so the most impactful musicians in Nigeria today, the ones who rule the party include the following: D'Banj, MI, Mode Nine, Sauce kid, Naeto C, Sasha, Ikechukwu, 9ice, Bouqui, Mo'cheddah, Teeto, P-square, Don-jazzy, Wande Coal, 2-face, Faze, Black Face, Dr. Sid, D'prince, K-Switch, Timaya, Dj-Zeez, Dj Neptune, Banky w., Big bamo, Art quake, Bigiano, Durella, Eldee, Kelly Hansome, Lord of Ajasa, M.P., Terry tha rapman, Weird MC, Y.Q., Da grin, kel, Roof-top Mcs, Pype, Niga Raw, Ghetto p., Kaka, Kaha, Terry G, Ill Bliss, Zulezoo, Pipe, Dj Jimmy jatt, X-project, Konga, Gino, Morachi... Well, the Lord is God. These are Nigerian children who were given proper names by their parents. Ikechukwu bears his real name. But who are these other ones who have since abandoned their proper names? For example, 9ice's real name is Abolore Akande, (what a fine name!), Tu face (Innocent Idibia), Sauce Kid (Babalola Falemi), D'Banj (Dapo Oyebanjo), Banky w. (Bankole Willington), P-Square (Peter and Paul), MI (Jude Abaga), Timaya (Enetimi Alfred Odom), Sasha (Yetunde Alabi), Weird MC (Adesola Idowu). But why such strange names? They don't sing. They rap. Most of them don't play instruments, they use synthetic piano.

At public functions, they mime. They are not artists, they perform. They are not necessarily composers, they dance. The more terrible ones can't even sing a correct musical note. They talk. And they are all businessmen and women. They are more interested in commerce and self-advertisement, name recognition, brand extension and memory recall! They want a name that sells, not some culturally conditioned name that is tied down to culture and geography. But the strange thing is that they are so successful. Nollywood has projected Nigeria, the next big revelations are in hip hop.

Despite the identity crisis and the moral turpitude that we find in Nigeria's contemporary hip-hop, the truth is that it is a brand of music that sells. Nigeria's hip hop is bringing the country so much international recognition. All those strange names are household names across the African continent, so real is this that the phrase "collabo" is now part of the vocabulary of the new art. It speaks to an extension of frontiers. In Nigeria, it is now possible to hold a party without playing a single foreign musical track, the great grand children of Nigerian music are belting out purely danceable sounds which excites the young at heart. But the output belongs majorly to the age of meaningless and prurience. The lyrics says it all.

Rooftop MC sings for example: "Ori mi wu o, e lagi mo". This is a very popular song. But all it says is: "my head is swollen, please hit it with a log of wood." X-Project sings: "Lori le o di gonbe (2x), e so fun sisi ologe ko ya faya gbe, ko ya faya gbe, file, gbabe, se be, bobo o ti e le, wo bo nse fe sa hale hale niwaju omoge, ha, lori le odi gonbe, .....sisi ologe ki lo di saya o, so fun mi ki lofe, o wa on fire o...." Now, what does this mean in real terms? But let's go to Naeto C: "kini big deal, kini big deal, sebi sebi we're on fire", or D'Banj: " my sweet potato, I wanna make you wife, I wanna make you my wife o, see I no understand o, cause I dey see well well, but dey say love is blind, see I never thought I will find someone like you that will capture my heart and there will be nothing I can do....". Yes, we are in the age of sweet potato. And so Art quake sings: "E be like fire dey burn my body, e je ki n fera, oru lo n mu mi. Open your hand like say you wan fly away. Ju pa, ju se, ka jo ma sere, alanta, alanta."

And here is Zulezoo, another popular Nigerian musical team: "Daddy o, daddy, daddy wen you go for journey, somebody enter for mummy's house, person sit down for mummy bed, person push mummy, mummy push person, mummy fall for bed yakata, daddy, o daddy, the man jus dey do kerewa kerewa...kerewa ke" And Dj-Zeez: "ori e o 4 ka sibe, ori e o 4 ka sibe, 4 ka sibe, 4 ka sibe". And MI: "Anoti, anoti, anoti ti, anoti titi." And Konga: "Baby konga so konga, di konga, ileke konga, ju pa pa, ju pa, konga, ju pa pa, ju pa, sibe".. And 9ice: "gongo a so, kutupu a wu, eni a de ee, aji se bi oyo laari; oyo o se bi baba enikan, kan, i be double now, aye n lo, a mi to o, gongo a so, oti so o, e wo le e wo enu oko..." Or Tony Tetuila: "U don hit my car, oyinbo repete, u don hit my car o". Or Weird MC: "Sola lo ni jo, lyrics lori gangan, awa lo ni jo". Sheer drivel. So much sound, little sense. Is this the future? Maybe not.

Most of the music being produced now will not be listenable in another five years and this perhaps is the certain fate of commercial art that is driven by branding, show and cash. But we should be grateful all the same for the music, coming out of Nigeria also at this time in the soul, gospel, hip, hop genre: the music that is of Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, Lagbaja, Asa (there is fire on the mountain/and no one seems to be on the run/ there is fire on the mountain now..."), Ara, Sam Okposo, Dare, Sunny Neji, Infinity (now a broken up team), African China, Alariwo of Afrika.... We suffer nonetheless in music as in the national nomenclature, an identity crisis. A country's character is indexed into its arts and culture, eternal purveyors of tones and modes. Nigerian youths now sing of broken heads, raw sex, uselessness and raw, aspirational emotionalism. A sign of the times? Yes, I guess.

I find further justification in the national anthem, many versions of which now exist. I grew up in this same country knowing only one way of singing the national anthem: from "Nigeria we hail thee" to "Arise o Compatriots". The singing of the national anthem is supposed to be a solemn moment. Arms clasped by the side, a straight posture, and the mind strictly focussed on the ideals of patriotism and nationalism. Stillness. Nobody moves. And the national song is rendered in an unchanging format. But not so any longer. There are so many versions of the Nigerian national anthem these days. Same lyrics but different musical rhythms. I have heard the national anthem sung in juju, in fuji, in hip hop, in Ishan's igbagbolemini, in acapella mode, even reggae. I attended an ocassion once, the rendition of the national music was so enthralling, people started dancing. Even the photographers and cameramen danced with their cameras. For me that was the ultimate expression of the people's cynicism. The prevalent mood is as expressed by Dj-Zeez: "ori e 4 ka sibe, 4 ka sibe": an epigrammatic, onomatopoeic, market-driven diminution of language as vehicle and sign. What kind of people are we? A dancing nation? Dancing and writing away our frustrations and caring little about sense, in this country that is now known as "naija", "nija", "9ja", "nigerzie," "gidi"?


Monday, June 22, 2009

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani on the World Service

Here. I Do Not Come to you by Chance will be published in November by Cassava Republic Press.


Nigerian banks opened to foreign ownership

The big business news of the day for Nigeria, in today's FT. Its a bold move which should shake things up, introduce some energy into the financial services sector and introduce global best practice...


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Brian Chikwava interview

Brian Chikwava’s Harare North is one of the most talked-about African novels of the year. We caught up with Brian in London just after this year’s Hay festival in June. In this 30 minute interview, he talks about the language of his book, the writing process, artistic integrity, his favourite books, the importance of the internet, the location of the writer and the short story as the ideal medium between the poem and the novel.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Race in Lagos...

Oyinbo hawks Gala in Lag. Here for the story.


NEITI is recruiting..

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) is recruiting, for over 50 vacancies. Click here for all the positions to be filled, and here for the newspaper ad that went out yesterday (which includes the application email information). The application deadline is July 10, 2009.


Dispelling the myths of doing telecoms business in Africa

Interview with Taj Onigbanjo, MD of Cable and Wireless Africa, here. The game changes with Main One and WACS landing in Nigeria later next year...


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Call for papers (book project)


In many African societies money has become so vastly important that it is often personified. It defines and determines the trajectory of people’s lives and even mobility.

But just like the African peoples, modern African money currencies have had their own fair shares of tribulations and good times. A few of these currencies have been stable; some vacillate between life and death, while quite a few others are debauched. Yet, some others are now undergoing regeneration.

This book project seeks papers that analyze the life and careers of modern African currencies from diverse perspectives, most especially history, economics, sociology and culture. These can be from country studies or from comparative perspectives.

This book builds on the literature regarding the history and career of pre-colonial African currencies. Modern African currencies in this respect are defined as both the currencies of post-independence African nations or colonial currencies that have made it into contemporary period.

Contributors should focus on any of the following sub-themes:

Life history and career

  • Currencies, corruption and cultural obligations (funerals, birthdays, parties etc)
  • Currencies and rituals
  • Currency handling (from stringing cowries to wallets and money clips)
  • Underground economies and African currencies.
  • Minting and security of currencies
  • Currencies and Labor mobility (Case Studies)
  • Strong and weak currencies; strong and weak economies
  • The problems of fixed and flexible exchange rates
  • Economic liberalization and African currencies
  • African currencies, the International Invoice Currencies and export pricing
  • National and regional currencies
  • Currencies and modern barter (i.e. diamonds for guns, cocoa for guns, specter of “blood diamonds”)
  • The personalization of the currency in Africa
  • Currency counterfeiting
  • Theoretical Perspectives

Interested contributors should e-mail their tentative topics and a 150 word abstract by August 1, 2009 to:

E-MAIL: [email protected]
ALT. EMAIL: [email protected]


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ron Eglash on African fractals (TED talk)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Campaign to end the Oro ritual in Lagos State

From the Nigerian Guardian:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stop oro ritual in Ikorodu

SIR: I write to once again bring to the notice of the Lagos State Government, the obnoxious practice of forcefully preventing women from going about their normal activities in Ikorodu.

Every year, two days are chosen during the month of May and June when women are subjugated in this part of Lagos State. They are prevented from leaving their homes and engaging in their normal business activities.

On Monday, June 8, 2009, we witnessed yet another despicable and illegal act of oppression against women. There were no schools, market or any social activities because of this fetish worship of the Oro worshippers in Ikorodu.

A woman driving along Ayangbure road who was not aware of the Oro day was attacked by a group of half-naked boys wielding sticks, whips and other harmful objects opposite Honey Meal Restaurant. Her car was smashed and her necklace and wristwatch forcefully snatched before she managed to escape towards Ebute part of town.

In May after the first episode, I forwarded a message to the Executive Governor of Lagos State to step in and prevent a reoccurrence in June. It came to me as a surprise that the Oba of Ikorodu and his cohorts still went ahead to organise the second leg of this discriminatory act against women.

Is it not laughable that Lagos State that is geared towards attaining a Mega city status will allow this type of archaic tradition to continue unabated? Every Nigerian is free to practice whatever religion he or she so desires without infringing on the rights of others.

The Lagos State Government is culpable in this act against the womenfolk because most if not all of the senior officials are aware of this ancient practice. The Secretary to the State Government is from Ikorodu town. The attention of the House of Representatives member was drawn to this issue some years back via the newspaper articles I wrote.

The Oba of Ikorodu when he was interviewed opined that anybody that is not comfortable with the arrangement should leave his domain. They have all decided to play the ostrich by allowing this despicable act to continue.

As my very good friend Bolanle said when I narrated the experience to her and I quote "illegality ma pade illegality ni Nigeria yin" meaning (Illegality is always meeting illegality in Nigeria).

I have therefore resolved to toe the line of Dr. Priye Iyalla-Amadi who dragged the Nigeria Immigration Service to court over the condition that she needed a letter of consent from her spouse to secure an International passport.

My friends and I have briefed a law firm to immediately commence the process of dragging the Lagos State Government, the Oba of Ikorodu and his Council of Chiefs to court over this issue and by God's grace the women living in Ikorodu and environs will be free.

Titilayo Benson (Mrs.),
Ikorodu, Lagos State


Friday, June 12, 2009

Yoga in Senegal: July/August


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Passport freedom for Nigerian women

Married Nigerian women no longer have to get their husband's permission to apply for a passport, thanks to a landmark court case (see below). The next step will be to give Nigerian women the right to grant citizenship through marriage (only Nigerian men can do this at present):

Court voids Immigration condition for issuing passports to married women
From Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt
IT was victory for women as the current administrative policy of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) compelling a married Nigerian woman to produce a letter of consent from her husband as a condition for issuance of international passport has been declared unconstitutional by the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.

The presiding Judge, Justice G.K. Olotu, made this declaration in a suit by Dr. Priye Iyalla-Amadi, wife of renowned author, Elechi Amadi, against the director general of the Nigeria Immigration Service (first defendant) (NIS), (second defendant) and the service itself.
Justice Olotu, in his judgment, said this requirement for processing of application for international passport as it concerns married women, is a violation of Section 42 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution and Article 18(3) of the West African Charter on the People's Human Rights, being discriminatory on grounds of sex, hence unlawful and unconstitutional.

Following the loss of her international passport, Dr. Iyalla-Amadi had applied to the NIS for the issuance of another passport and the officer who attended to her request gave a list of documents that she would attach to the her formal application, among them a letter of consent from her husband.

Irked by this condition, the plaintiff protested against it on the ground that a mature adult citizen of the country like her should not require the consent of any person before she could be issued a Nigerian passport, but her protest fell on deaf ears, thus the decision to file the suit against the NIS.

The defendants did not really dispute the facts adduced by the plaintiff in their counter-affidavit but sought to justify the requirement of a letter of consent from the husband of a married woman who wants to be issued a Nigerian passport on the basis that Nigerian married women are classified alongside with minors by the government as persons who require consent from the head of the family.

NIS argued that the requirement for consent was put in place to perpetuate the authority of the man over his wife, no matter the status she had attained in society. It also stated that the requirement was set to avoid unnecessary breakdown of marriage institution in the country.
Another argument advanced by the NIS was that obtaining a Nigerian passport from the Federal Government by a Nigerian is a privilege, hence any person applying must fulfil all the conditions laid down by the sole agent of the government, which is the NIS.

But counsel to the plaintiff urged the court to declare the requirement unlawful and unconstitutional on the ground that it discriminates between Nigerian citizens on grounds of sex, contrary to Section 42 of the constitution.

She added that the requirement offends the equality of citizens' principle enshrined in Section 17 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution.

Iyalla-Amadi's counsel argued that the condition for issuance of passport to married women violates internationally-accepted standards of non-discrimination against women, which to Nigeria is a signatory.

Justice Olotu explained that he had directed the plaintiff and the defendants to present the facts they wished to rely on for and against the plaintiff's action.

According to him, while the plaintiff complied with the order of the court, the defendants did not. He also stated that the defendants did not challenge the averments in the affidavits of the plaintiff.

He observed that the defendants seemed to have thrown in their towel after filing what he called their spurious and sociological dissertation in the name of counter-affidavit.

The judge observed from the wordings of the constitutional provisions in Sections 17 (1) (2) and 42 of the 1999 Constitution that all citizens of Nigeria are put on the same pedestal irrespective of sex and status.

Olotu declared that the policy is obnoxious, repugnant and unconstitutional, stating that the defence of the defendants merely showed that the policy was a cunning, surreptitious and high-powered calculated attempt to subjugate women as if they are still in the medieval times.
According to him, "this kind of policy has no place in the 21st Century Nigeria."


Monday, June 08, 2009

Shell pays out US$15.5m

A success for the Saro-Wiwa family and the other plaintiffs, but perhaps a shame that the case didn't go to trial. Still, the payment is an admission of culpability of sorts..


The Head of Ife

We still live in an outdated, sepia-tinted world. Or rather, the BBC does. Its I-Player is tangled up in legalities, which mean that you can only use it if you live in the UK, and even then, you have a poxy 7 days to watch it, in lo-res format only.

At some point, a radical step will have to happen, and the BBC opens up online on-demand access to content to a global market (perhaps giving up on the licence fee in the process). It would make plenty of money in this way, given the vastness of its archives and its daily output on TV, radio and the web.

Then, and only then, will people around the world have access to content such as this. Maybe my hair will be 100% grey by then...


My top-ten tunes

Listed (and listenable to) over at Sean Jacobs' blog. Treat yourself to a listen to the Pharoah Sanders link on youtube if you not heard this one before. The repeating riff is addictive.

You've got to have freedom. You've got to have peace and love..


Sunday, June 07, 2009

El Sadaawi on Obama

Nawal El Sadaawi, the older woman I'd most like to share a mint tea with, takes a sharply critical view of the recent Obama trip to Egypt:

"Obama is different as a person from GW Bush. Obama looks more human, but politics and economic interests have nothing to do with humanity.

We live in one world ruled by the capitalist patriarchal religious system. Power dominates our whole world (not justice or freedom or peace or ethics or human values).

Politics under such a system is a game based on how to use beautiful words to cover ugly actions, how to use the power of God to dominate your listeners, how to select verses from holy books to hide double standards and contradictions, how to kill people and rob their land and resources and then apologize to them with tears in your eyes . We call them in our Egyptian - Arabic language : "Crocodile Tears"

In Cairo (on Thursday June 4, 2009) Barak Obama spoke to 2,500 Egyptian men and women invited by the Egyptian and US governments and allowed to enter the big hall at Cairo University surrounded by 13,000 Egyptian and American police men.

We are 80 million in Egypt, so those 2,500 men and women who applauded passionately 30 times during Obama's 50 minutes speech are not the whole of Egypt. They are only: The Chosen People.

They applauded strongly when he said that Muslim women should wear the veil if they choose to wear it . As if veiling (or nakedness ) is something to be chosen! As lf oppression is something to be chosen by the oppressed.

Like saying girls or boys should be circumcised if they choose to be circumcised (because they do not want to be different from others), or like saying the poor people should be poor if they choose to be poor ( because of their laziness or ignorance), I read during the Gaza Massacre that the Palestinians choose to be killed ( or they kill their children ) so that they appear as victims and gain sympathy of the world.

I was looking at the TV screen, observing how Obama talks with his hands, eyes and lips. His lips and hands look less cruel than GW's. His colour more attractive, not black not white not yellow, a mixture of human blood and multiple races developed into a more sophisticated human being.

Obama is a creative actor on stage, learned his text by heart to sound as if there is no text at all. He is well trained in being spontaneous.

Egyptians, Americans or others, especially those chosen by governments, are not creative enough to understand this type of creativity : how some political leaders acquire what is called charisma. The Germans passionately applauded Hitler, the Russians loved Stalin, the Americans elected GW more than once. Sadat in Egypt won all elections by not less than 95 % of votes.

The most dangerous political leaders are the most charismatic, they make you sing : Kill Me Softly. You sacrifice your blood for them.

One of the chosen Egyptian men screamed in the hall while Obama was giving his speech: I LOVE YOU! Obama replied : Thank you.

Obama praised the king of Saudi Arabia in his speech, portraying him as a hero of the dialogue between religions! The theocratic kingdom breeding extremism is democratic ?
A dictator ally of US can be transformed to a democratic hero . Sadam Hussein and Ben Laden were freedom fighters at one time.

Obama praised Netanyahu saying he is intelligent . He did not describe any Arab ruler as intelligent, including Mubarak sitting next to him.

He did not mention the name of Mubarak in his whole speech . Did he want to distance himself as a person from himself as the American President ?

Did he want to expose or hide his double personality ?. But he is sophisticated and understands what is called in psychology "The philosophy of the present moment." How to leave yourself to the moment but not leave the moment to itself .

Obama`s body language looks natural, he jumps the plane stairs with his hands near his chest jumping with his body, like a happy school boy going to meet his girl friend . This is not the American President but Barak Hussein Obama.

I heard his speech through the TV and read it 2 more times to grasp or detect some improvement in the US policy . General human beautiful words selected from the 3 holy books. He sounded like the Pope giving his speech in Jordan some months ago, praising the 3 religions.

He used very well his middle name "Hussein" to speak to Muslims but he knows also when to hide it as a deformed organ .

Muslims listening to him applauded passionately when he read verses from the Kuran . They did not notice his mistake in understanding Surat Al Israa. It did not say that the 3 prophets Moses, Christ and Mohammad prayed together Lilat Al Israa.

Egyptian Copts applauded when he spoke about minority rights in Egypt . Israel applauded when he confirmed that USA and Israel are tied eternally by culture (not mutual interests) and when tears appeared in his voice when he spoke about the Holocaust, 6 millions jews burned in Germany, their eternal sufferings, their right to have a homeland.

He did not say that this homeland should have been in Germany, the country that burned them or in Europe or in the USA or in some other place where there is no people to be killed and robbed of their homes and land by military force. He did not ask Israel to stop its military violence against the Palestinian children . He only asked the Palestinians to stop their violence against Israeli children. He did not mention the number of Palestinians killed and tortured by Israel in the last 60 years till today.

He did not ask Israel to respect previous UN resolutions, he just asked Israel to stop building new settlements. What about old settlements that expelled thousands of Palestinians of their homes ? What about settlements to be build under the so called "Natural Growth"?

He asked Palestinians to forget the past and look forward. Some days ago in his country he asked people to forget the crimes of torture, to forget the past and look forward .
But what is the function of the Law if it is not used to investigate and punish criminals who killed or tortured ?
Obama shifted smoothly from ethics to politics and interests as if no contradiction.
He said the USA has no interest in Iraq resources. He ignored or forgot the Law of Oil forced on Iraqi government (which submits the oil of Iraq to the monopoly of American companies for 30 years) .

He mentioned the danger of Iran owning nuclear power, he did not mention the danger of the nuclear military power of Israel.

The real goal of Obama's speech was to mobilise the Muslim countries against Islamic extremists, to open the markets of Islamic countries to American goods under the so called development and partnership, to guarantee Saudi and Gulf oil and other American interests in the so called Middle East.

Egyptian people suffered because of the Obama's visit to Cairo. Thousands of students did not go to their schools or universities and delayed their exams. Those schools and universities were closed by the government for security reasons during the Obama visit. Mrs Obama stayed in USA and did not accompany her husband to Egypt to be with their 2 daughters during school exams.

Many streets in Cairo were closed by the police and many people could not go to work losing $20 million.

The Egyptian government spent $500 million for the security of Obama. 10 000 policemen and hundreds of police cars. Egyptian people were ordered to stay at home and not to open their windows in all areas visited by Obama, including the Pyramid region, Giza, Ain Shams, Helwan, Cairo University, some ministries, Al Kalaa, Sultan Mosque, Kasr Al Kobbaa, and all streets leading to these areas and more.

The normal life in Cairo stopped. Streets were empty, people were prisoners in their homes, no body was allowed to be near Cairo University while Obama was delivering his speech except 13 American men and women were allowed to make a show of demonstration at the university gate, shouting some slogans asking Obama to visit Gaza,

Those 13 Americans were allowed by the police to demonstrate . They are the opposition or the dissidents in democratic Egypt, while the real Egyptian dissidents are in prison or outside Egypt.

But politics is a game to be played by all parties.

Only 30 minutes after Obama`s plane took off the poor Egyptian workers were in the streets removing the artificial flowers and trees implanted everywhere to welcome the semi god of the world."

Nawal El Saadawi
5 June 2009


Lola Shoneyin

Lola Shoneyin was interviewed recently on RTE's the Art Show. Shoneyin's much-anticipated debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is published by Cassava Republic Press in February 2010.

We are utterly excited to be the first to be publishing this fresh voice in African writing. The American and UK publication will follow later next year.

Her poetry collection For the Love of Flight will be out in October. For some recent poems - Jolademi - click here (there's one dedicated to Toni Kan called Skirt-Raiser!)

Lola's website.



Every time I return to London, we have both changed. I always look for something different, so the city offers me difference. This time round, I noticed how Dalston is developing and upscaling itself. Shoreditch to the South and Stoke Newington to the North both used to be grotty areas in the 1980s. Both developed in the 1990s, and are now unaffordable for the vast majority. Dalston was always that even-grottier place between.

Well, not for much longer. Places like Cafe Otto and Tina, we salute you (funny signboard pictured) are sure signs that if you want to live in an increasingly trendy part of town, you'd better move in quick. Even with relatively poor transport links (buses and London Overground), property prices are sure to rise in the next few years in Dalston.


Alaa Al Aswany on our common humanity

From the author of the brilliant novel The Yacoubian Building. In many ways, his approach is similar to Obama, especially in his recent speech in Egypt. Rather than a clash of civilisations, a common humanity must be the way forward if we are not to destroy ourselves. Big business and the companies that make weapons won't like it one bit..


Saturday, June 06, 2009


Silliest name for an organisation in Nigeria nominee is INTERCRAP. This sign board was snapped in Area 11, Garki, near Fahad Stores.


Soyinka on Obama and Walcott

In The Times last week.


Def Jam Poetry - performance poetry at its finest


The Shrine is closed down

The Afrika Shrine has been closed down by Lagos State Government. Its a real shame - its one of the few things foreigners visiting Lagos look forward to experiencing. I hope they sort it out. As it is, Lagos is in desperate need of better music theatre facilities. Its a poor set of choices between the National Theatre, TBS and that tent thing Dis Day have down the Lekki Expressway...


Friday, June 05, 2009


Sam Itauma, director of CRARN, on the World Service today.


Postcard from 1976


Interesting job advert...

Click to read/enlarge.


The Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou


Thursday, June 04, 2009

That bloody bill again

She must really hate cleavages abi?


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Lord Hereford's Knob

Panoramic of the view from near Lord Hereford's Knob, the Black Mountains, Wales (click for full size version).


Excellent critique of Dead Aid

On the Oxfam site. The question is: why is a book with two questionable alternatives to aid (deal with China and government bonds) so popular?


Regent St, Barcelona

On Sunday, Regent's St was closed to traffic for a celebration of all things Spanish. Chairs were set down in the middle of the road, and a beach of sand was created. The city was transformed - for the first time I found myself admiring the buildings and the gentle curve towards Piccadilly.

The idea of creating a Ramblas style pedestrian street that connects Regents Park to St James' is not a new one. It would utterly transform the feel of central London and challenge Barcelona's position as number one sexiest city in Europe..


Homage to the Sartorialist

Snapped on Pall Mall near Simpsons bookshop. I am sure he was on his way home to Thamesmead or somesuch...


Congrats Tolu

Tolu Ogunlesi (male, Nigeria) wins the Guardian prize for a fictional short story (writing the first paragraph). The winner was selected by Kate Mosse, Orange award co-founder.


Monday, June 01, 2009


Taken in Feb this year by le mec..


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