Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Selling what was stolen

On the 17th February 2011, Sotheby's London will be selling an ivory pendant mask stolen from Benin by Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lionel Galway.  Details of the sale are here.  It is anticipated to be sold for between 3.5-4.5 million pounds
The polite violence of the language on the sales page is sickening. As a euphemism for 'stolen', the writer uses the word 'collected.'
The good news is that this sale of a stolen good is being resisted.  Please contact Kayode Ogundamisi if you can offer legal help, or want to register you support to the campaign.  [email protected].
One would hope that the Edo State Government and relevant traditional leaders are alerted to the attempt to double a wrong.
I would imagine that a formal public request for the stolen artefact should be made, and arrangements for its safe-keeping (and public display) in Benin now considered.

Click here to go to the petition page and here for the Facebook campaign page.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lola Shoneyin at the Life House tonight

6.30pm, 33 Sinari Daranijo, off Ligali Ayorinde.  If you are in Lagos and you don't go, culture will not be your portion in 2011.  You have been warned.  My juju is from the West Midlands and very very powerful.


Medium Net Worth

There's been a tornado in a teacup since Kayode Fayemi's declaration of assets a couple of days ago, including many a comment to Kayode Ogundamisi's Facebook note:

"When he became governor, Fayemi said he had in his local and foreign accounts N27million, with buildings and undeveloped property he owns with his wife in and outside Nigeria valued at N474 million.

They include a compound of three buildings in Ibadan valued at N73 million, a compound of eight buildings at Isan-Ekiti valued at N120 million, a three-bedroom duplex in London valued at 280,000 pound sterling and a four-bedroom detached duplex at Atlanta, Georgia, USA, worth US$250,000.

Others are a six-bedroom detached house at East Legon, Ghana, valued at US$650,000, an undeveloped plot of land at Guzape District in Abuja valued at N30 million, an undeveloped plot of land at Lekki Phase 1 in Lagos valued at N25 million and an undeveloped plot of land at Ambassadorial Enclave, Legon, Ghana valued at US$250,000.

There are nine vehicles valued at N73 million. Fayemi’s business, Amandla Consulting, is valued at N50 million and his household items such as generating sets, electronics, furniture, equipment and others, are valued at N80 million."

Let's ust pause to reflect on what an asset base of £3m amounts to in the case of the Ekiti State Governor:

1. A £280,000 property in London is a very modest affair. The average price of a home in London is over £400,000. Our poky flat in untrendy New Cross Gate is worth £260,000.
2. Again, a US$250,000 house in the US is hardly a palace

3. A c
onsulting company valued at 50 million is at the bottom end of what would be classified as a 'small' business - in fact it sits between the category of micro and small. There are hundreds if not thousands of larger consulting companies in Nigeria

4. The land in Lekki, Abuja and Ghana are again investments similar to those many thousands of people have made. 

As others have pointed out, some or most of the properties may have mortgages, which means there are liabilities associated with the assets.  We should not forget in all this that his wife Bisi has held high ranking positions throughout.

I could go on but I hope you get the picture. Having a net worth of £3m/N750m is hardly unusual in Nigeria and most likely puts Kayode Fayemi straight in at the bottom in a ranking of net worth of his fellow governors. There are tens of thousands of wealthier Nigerians than Kayode Fayemi. Given that we now know Reps and Senators make millions of dollars each year and also know that there is no formal accountability mechanism attached to the billions of dollars of Excess Crude dividends paid to State Governors in the past few years, we should direct our outrage where it is better spent.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Zim farmers in Nigeria - an update

A useful interview with one of the Zim farmers who set up in Kwara State here.  Access to finance and corruption are still the main inhibiting factors to the growth of commercial farming in Nigeria.  Irrigation and electricity supply are close on the heels.  If Ekiti State wants to attract commercial farmers, it would do well to make a case study of what has worked and what has not in Kwara.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ekiti magic

The palm wine was scooped out into large calabashes, which were then given to those with sufficient thirst to outweigh any embarrassment one might feel at tilting a large bowl of alcohol facewards in public view.  I took mine in libation to the Gods of the Middle Belt, for surely; Abuja is neither of the North, nor of the South. Insects panicked their way away from the liquid, drunk and hopeless in their plight.  Nearby, the band members were dressed in medieval Naijaware, as if a jousting tournament for Henry VIII were being put on half a millennium after the fact in West Africa.  The music was quirky; milliki music in English and Spanish and then Yoruba and Igbo, with references to Commandante Che as a Cuban rhythm kicked in.  There was brass and dundun and a synthesiser: good Nollywood meets juju for an enlightened consciousness.

We were waiting for Kayode Fayemi, the new Governor of Ekiti State and his wife Bisi.  In the house, or rather, the garden, of the Yar’Adua Centre in the lee of the Sheraton, were many of the activists who had helped support Fayemi through the dark days of the past three years, when all seemed lost to thuggery, darkness and primeval do-or-die politics.  

First to speak was Jibrin Ibrahim, of the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja, which functions as a finishing school for young ‘uns who go on to play leading roles in civil society organisations in Nigeria.  He alluded with delightful sarcasm to a ‘grand theoretician’ of electoral practice, one Olusegun Obasanjo, and his unique concept of the ‘community vote’, which, strangely enough, does not appear in the theoretical literature.  He then discussed the moral fraud of first-past-the-post, as evidenced in the UK – as a signpost for future reform in Nigeria, when counting becomes a little more scientific.  Pausing for a moment, he delved into the caverns of his memory to describe what happened in the Ondo State elections in 1983 as the first instance of a ‘digital election’ – when the archaic analogue practice of counting is put aside in favour of pure fabrication.  Jibo then segued seamlessly to a discussion on the sociology of electoral behaviour in the context of a post unity-party return to ethnic-based voting (Dora to the East, Buhari to the North etc.).  It was a compelling disquisition.

There followed a talk by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) – I didn’t catch his name – who was closely involved in the Ekiti Appeal which led to the former governor Segun Oni being removed just two months ago.  The learned SAN talked about the critical role courage and determination played in the pursuit of electoral justice in Ekiti State.  The 41-month legal battle had indeed been epic and dramatic.  The full story has yet to be recounted; when it does, it may involve as much gore as triumph, narrating an extraordinary pursuit of electoral justice in the face of extreme pressure, financial and otherwise.  If ever there is a film, it would make Cory Booker’s redemption song in Newark look like a kindergarten at Christmas. 

The story of Ekiti in 2010 shows that the moment Nigerians are prepared to go all the way for their political beliefs, electoral justice has a fighting chance. It’s a Hegelian story of the dialectic in a sense, as told in those few pages the German philosopher wrote on Lordship and Bondage in the Phenomenology of Spirit.  The slave who no longer fears death can conquer his master, who depends on the slave and does not want to die. Class consciousness becomes a dynamic in society; social change becomes likely, if not necessary.  There is a sense in which many States are in a similar situation to Ekiti. The elections in 2011 should be interesting!

Finally, just before ten, the entourage arrived, hours late thanks to Arik, an airline that will not be rushed in its task of delivering passengers from one place to another.  There was the usual swarming buzz of excitement as the group arrived, although the movement was gentler and more fluid than the circus scrum we have come to know through the PDP; the locust lure of cubic metres of money at hand was absent. Egghead, Naija’s twitter supremo, was in the pack, lolloping at the back, phone in hand, thumbs atwitching.  A few more introductory remarks were made, including some words by the ever-graceful Amina Salihu, followed by an emotional Odia Ofeimun, speaking as if through the lens of a lifetime of disappointed dreams.

One sensed a slight awkwardness among many at referring to Kayode as “Your Excellency” and the like; for those gathered, this is a man with whom they have eaten and drank and known as “Kay” for all their lives.  The awkwardness had been offset spatially from the outset; there was no ‘high-table’ at this gathering.  The compere had referred at the beginning to an avoidance of hierarchies in the designation of a ‘middle table’.  Around this place there was a ceremony with kola nuts, which were held in a bowl as Odia intoned, and then handed around.  Kayode seemed unsure how the ritual was supposed to work.  The need to articulate the solemn joy of the moment became adrift in a post-colonial indeterminacy and the cultures either side of the Niger.

In these moments, it’s possible to note the expectations that foster and constitute the paraphernalia of power in Nigeria.  There must be a swarm; there must be a ceremony; there must be grandeur; there must be ritual.  Bring on the garlands and the yards of cloth. And yet, among people who have spent their lives struggling for justice, these things become diluted to the point of meaninglessness. Perhaps this is what the verge of modern politics always looks like.  Apparently President Jonathan has expressed frustration over the size of the convoys and the redundant need to freeze cities into gridlock during his visits.  The juggernaut of sycophancy takes a while to hit the brakes, no matter where it rides and who is holding the wheel.  Those in power can hardly be blamed when the pressures of expectation in favour of a monarchic pomposity intensify yet again in the grounds of the temple.

Finally, we heard the couple speak.  Bisi Fayemi took the microphone first.  She spoke with crystalline clarity of the need to never give in to either fear or lassitude, and the urgency of occupying and contesting the space of politics.  Activism should never be contented with a ringside seat, she declared.  Her voice had tuned in to the frequency of courage. Feminism vibrated in the air as she closed with an aluta continua and a dedication to serve those in Ekiti.

One of his friends, Dr Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, provided the final introduction to Kayode, mentioning the need to ‘hold his feet to the fire’.  This brought the purpose of the gathering to its nub: we will celebrate you and we will support you and we will remind you of your purpose at every step.  And we will not let you forget, and you will not walk alone.  And then Kayode spoke.  He began by talking about the time he decided to go into politics and challenge for the governorship of Ekiti.  People had asked him at the time how he could possibly win without money.  He hinted at the immensity of the struggle since that time and the need to see politics as a form of activism (in an echo of his wife).  Again, we await the book and perhaps the film.  

Moving on to business, Kayode outlined his two legislative priorities: Freedom of Information and Fiscal Responsibility.  As he spoke, I could not imagine a better starting programme of legal change. After a passing reference to the need for judicial reform, he spoke of the need to end the backbreaking suffering of subsistence farming, the livelihood of most of the people in his state (and indeed, the country).  He outlined his plans to develop commercial farming, to feed the nearby Lagos metropolis, a market he estimated at three billion naira per day.  He also assured the audience that the horrible roads into the State would be fixed within six months. It sounds like a feasible and achievable platform to supersede Fashola as the most popular Governor in Nigeria, providing service and accountable leadership to the people.

The first avowedly feminist governor in Nigeria is now looking ahead to the next four years, and of building what he refers to a “model state” in Ekiti.  In his work, he is certain to get support from across the world.  Already, the World Bank and DFID have declared an interest.  The purpose will be to move away from dependency on oil revenues from Abuja, to build a state that thrives on its own steam.

After the national anthem, the entourage slowly melted away.  Kayode and Bisi made a beeline for Bibi and I, and the four of us held each other for a brief moment for a photograph.  It was a shock and a surprise to find out he reads my blog. It felt like being a part of a new history for Nigeria.  Good people, good times ahead. 


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Economist on Nollywood

Strange to hear Jean Rouch described as "a champion of indigenous art in Niger", Helen Ukpabio described merely as a "successful preacher" and Lagos described as having "just three working cinemas".  I suppose one should never turn to the Economist for analyses of culture.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Buka, Brooklyn

Clip originally appeared on the ever fabulous Africa is a Country blog.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lola Shoneyin at the French Cultural Centre tomorrow

Lola Shoneyin reads from her brilliant debut novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives tomorrow at the French Cultural Centre in Abuja tomorrow.  The event will also feature some excellent up and coming artistes.  Here's the programme:

Opening: 6.30pm
Musical Interlude: 6.45pm
Reading and discussion:  7.00pm
Musical Interlude: 7.15pm
Reading and discussion: 7.30pm
Book signing: 7.45pm
Vote of thanks: 8pm

Featured Artistes
Adanna C. Tojue (musician)
Tyna Adebowale (painter)
Rita St. John (photographer)
Lami Nafisatu Abubakar (ceramic jeweller)
Swat (Musician)
Pat Adidu (Card artist)
Millicent Osumo (painter)

The event is FREE.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Julian Assange in Nigeria

Many foreign companies dey Africa carry all our money go
Them go write big English for newspaper, dabaru we Africans
Fela Kuti, International Thief Thief

As I write, Julian Assange is in a secure wing of Wandsworth prison, secluded from his fellow inmates in a part of the complex usually reserved for sex offenders.  The irony is almost too much to bear.  It’s hard to see the extradition pressure from Sweden as anything other than a conduit for a pressure that originated elsewhere – perhaps a valve inside Joe Lieberman’s head.  Everything else was merely a concoction in between.  Or are we really to believe that Assange, the meticulous planner and anticipator, would throw a career’s caution to the wind when confronted by Scandinavian totty?

There’s a powerful political theory at work behind Wikileaks, which Assange has alluded to in various comments in the past few days.  The theory goes something like this: freedom of speech no longer has political traction in the west, in contrast to other parts of the world.  It doesn’t really matter what is said in America in the press or elsewhere; it has little consequence for a system that is buried from view, circulating via diplomatic cables and a (mostly) secure corporate communications infrastructure.  In contrast, freedom of speech remains a matter of life and death for hundreds of millions of other people, where the communications infrastructure is less sophisticated and inconvenient truths are harder to hide. 

The trick is to realise that the two versions of freedom of speech are intimately related: what cannot be said in one part of the world is often conditioned by the interests at work in another.  The raison d’etre of Wikileaks is to bring this occluded connection to light.  In the process, we are made to realise that the freedoms of speech we thought we had were scratches on the surface of a set of material interests that carry on regardless.  On one level we act surprised – that so much manipulation is at work in the world between powers via their corporate proxies – and another level we realise we knew it all before. What the Wikileaks diplomatic cables reveal is in fact an old secret: the military-industrial complex determining that a nation state’s interests count for everything. The beast must be fed and the beast must be protected. In the process, the cables remind us that no matter what we might know, we are apparently powerless to stop it.  The odd thing is: in the act of us realising this, everything now changes. A weakening and a dilution of power is now at work.  For the first time, we see formations of resistance that emerge from within the information system itself: Anonymous DDOS as a cancer upon the corporation’s circulation system.

From a Nigerian perspective, we find little we didn’t already know, save for details that add some fiscal spice to the talk in the beer parlour: the actual amounts a smuggler-thug kingpin charges for allowing uninterrupted passage of a container from Niger into Katsina; the price of a former (now disgraced) Attorney General’s ink.  The bigger picture remains unchanged and is known to all.  The history of post-independence Nigeria is intimately connected with Shell.  Nigeria and Shell are twins someone forgot to separate at birth.  No one is at all shocked to hear of the former head of Sub-Saharan operations Ann Pickard’s boast that the company has infiltrated government to the core.  There’s little point Shell trying to deny it at this stage. It might be better to go legit and create a Ministry of Shell Affairs. All other multinationals are at least one tier below Shell in terms of their complicity with official misappropriation: Julius Berger, Pfizer, Halliburton, Siemens and so on.  Again, the diplomatic cables do little more than reassure and refine our cynicism.  Quite how Berger has escaped the diplo-gossip relatively unblemished so far is a minor miracle.  Perhaps in the next few days of releases another national laptop recall will be circulated.

The lesson for those looking in at Wikileaks from a Nigeria perspective is clear.  Those that dismiss Nigeria as the home of 419 and the submarine vent of originary corruption with a tired flick of the hand fail to see the enduring handiwork of the transational corporation, attacking a fragile state like an opportunistic virus against a weakened immune system.  The dismissive ones have yet to listen to Fela and allow his words to make sense in their heads.  As it was in the 1960s and 1970s, so it is today, it seems.

But there is a crucial difference: the genie is out of the bottle.  It no longer matters what happens to Assange.  Westerners can no longer believe in the seductive entitlement of the First Amendment (now that we know how easily compromised it can be), at the very time when information has never been so disaggregated and available.  The way the tension between the two (the limits of the freedom of speech vs the unlimited power of disaggregated information) plays out will have consequences for the global order we cannot yet anticipate.  No matter what newly produced official secrets may stay secret from now on, the West’s handmaiden in corruption, the transnational corporation, will itself be under surveillance.  Anonymous is here to stay.


A cesspit in the Niger Delta

Good piece in Spiegel online today on the mess in the Delta - with more detail than the usual Niger Delta type article.  Here.


40 Best Blogs for African Studies Students

Good set of blogs listed here.  I think the selection of number 36 was a rare act of perceptiveness and insight on their part.


When Nnoo means yes..


Dambe at Deidei from Jeremy Weate on Vimeo.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Maigatari market

Nigeria's northern frontier from Chris Morgan on Vimeo.


Three of the wikileaks Nigeria cables



Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Shell tells the US that it knows everything in Nigeria

At last, the Wikileaks cables reveal what Shell tells the US about Nigeria. Here.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Nigerians Behind the Lens launch party this Friday

Inden request the pleasure of your company at the Launch Party of Nigerians Behind the Lens.

Nigerians Behind the Lens is a limited edition fine-art photobook with a mandate for showcasing contemporary photography from Nigeria. This maiden edition features 9 iconic contemporary Nigerian photographers - Adolphus Opara, Amaize Ojeikere, Andrew Esiebo, Emeka Okereke, George Osodi, Jide Alakija, Ty Bello, Uche Okpa-Iroha, Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko.

6.00pm, Thursday 9th December 2010
The Terrace, Four Points by Sheraton.
Victoria Island, Lagos.
A truly unique opportunity for serious collectors and photo enthusiasts alike. Kindly RSVP all names to be included on the guest list. 

Here for more.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Click here for the Facebook event page and to register for the event.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Building a bottle house in Abuja (forwarded message)

Please keep your plastic bottles to be turned into affordable housing.

We aim to collect 300,000 bottles to build a two-bedroom house. We hope that this project will encourage others do to the same – thereby providing decent accommodation and cleaning up a major pollutant.

I will be storing the bottles at our home; House 29, Shell Imani Compound, Madeira Street.

Please give me a call if you have a supply of bottles and would like me to collect them: 07057626282.

Katrin Macmillan


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Toni Kan at Infusion 10 - Thu 25th November

Here for the Facebook event page.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fashola at the LSE (from Sahara Reporters)


Friday, November 19, 2010

NOI Polls on Presidential aspirants

NOI Polls canvassed over 1000 people last month to find out what they thought of a selection of Presidential Aspirants.  Find out the results here.


Fashola at the LSE this evening

The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, speaks at the LSE this evening (6.30pm).  The title of his talk is "Lagos: confronting change in a global megacity."  Here for more.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cycling from England to Cape Town, via Nigeria

Peter Gostelow is cycling from the UK to Cape Town.  After over year on the road, he has finally reached the epicentre of the universe: Abuja, Nigeria.  Here and here to find out more.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perceptions of ethnicity in Nigeria

I'd be interested in your comments on this film.  For me, no matter that it is well done, it does little other than repeat the cliches that everyone knows.  That doesn't mean to say the interviewees are not dealing in social truths: the Yoruba thrive on complexity and ambiguity, the Igbo universe centres on trade and money and the Hausa live in a world structured by Islam.  But there is so much more to be said than this.  It would have been more interesting to interview members of smaller ethnic groups, rather than rigorously enforce the triangulation..


Untitled from Jeremy Weate on Vimeo.


Farin Ruwa

Farin Ruwa, originally uploaded by nobodaddy69.


Downstream from Farin Ruwa

Downstream from Farin Ruwa, originally uploaded by nobodaddy69.


Farin Ruwa

Farin Ruwa, originally uploaded by nobodaddy69.
Yesterday, we drove four hours from Abuja to visit the Farin Ruwa waterfall (see a previous blog post). It was a memorable day..


Friday, November 12, 2010

The power of pidgin English

Pidgin English, the lingua franca of West Africa, is finally coming of age.  Formalising pidgin in Nigeria, as I’ve said many times, would have tremendous positive ramifications, in terms of civic enfranchisement and effectiveness of communications.  In terms of education, either using pidgin or local languages has to be the way to go.  The only minor issue I have with the initiative mentioned here is the idea that pidgin can be renamed as “languej”.  Pidgin is pidgin, and no funded-project is going to change that.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Dead whale on Bar Beach


"Fela!" the musical sued by Carlos Moore

Here (NY TImes) and here (Guardian) for more.


Lagos 12th Book and Art Festival, November 11-14th

FESTIVAL's FULL PROGRAMME (visit the Festival blog here)

The 12th edition of the Lagos Book and Art Festival, LABAF, holds  November 12 through 14 at the National Theatre in Lagos.

The outline of the programme follows:

THURSDAY, Nov. 11:
Publishers' Forum -
This is the pre-festival programme, tagged Publishers’ Forum at Ocean View, Eko Hotel, VI, Lagos - featuring discussions and interactions among publishers on best way to move the publishing industry forward. The morning segment (10am - 2pm) Business  and Interractive session among Key Publishers in Nigeria; and afternoon segment (2pm - 5pm) Interractive session between publishers and the public).

Day 1. FRIDAY, November 12

9am-1pm, Venue: Exhibition, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

Opening Glee by Crown Troupe of Africa, featuring dance drama and expressions

(9 am) My Encounter with the Book - Oluboludele Simoyan [author, “The 8th Wonder of The World: Made In Nigeria”

(11am) The Festival Colloquium(I): Theme: Literacy and Independence: Readings, Reviews, and discussions around You Must Set Forth At Dawn — Wole Soyinka; Nigeria: Africa’s failed asset? — Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, In-Dependence — Sarah Ladipo Manyika, To Saint Patrick — Eghosa Imasuen, When Citizen’s Revolt — Ike Okonta

1-2pm: Opening Of Visual Art Exhibition/Live Music Interlude; Drama Skits, Wordslam

3pm-5pm: The Festival Colloquium (II):
Theme: A nation of stories
Readings, Reviews, and discussions around Tenants Of The House- — Wale Okediran,  Just Before Dawn — Kole Omotosho,  Half Of A Yellow Sun —  Chimamanda Adichie,  In My Father’s Country — Adewale Maja Pearce

Day 2, SATURDAY, November 13,

10am Children’s Programme “Talking Books with CATE” – You, Too, Can Write! A roundtable discussion on: ‘The Land of Kalamandahoo’- by Ruby Igwe [for 6-10yrs],‘The Missing Clock’- by Mai Nasara (Adeleke Adeyemi) [for 9-13yrs]

11am: Town Talk: Can a book make you rich? A top notch panel of discussants review the role of books in economic empowerment and the financial dynamics of book publishing from the author’s perspective. Books: The Outlier, by Malcolm Gladwell, Minding Your Business By Leke Alder, 17 Secrets Of High Flying Students, by Fela Durotoye
Musical Interlude/Live Performance

2pm  Writers Angst: Four young authors discuss the pains and joys of writing.

3pm:  Lagos: 2060:What will be the fate of Lagos 100 years after independence? A panel of discussants will be set up to discuss the future of the mega-city and its continued role in inspiring, infuriating and enchanting writers across generations, taking a cue from the Lagos: 2060 project by DADA books.

 Music by: Fatai Rolling Dollar
Festival  Birthday Party For:  Uzor Maxim Uzoatu @50, Patrick Doyle at 50, Taiwo Obe @ 50, Dele Momodu at 50, Odia Ofeimun at 60, Eddie Aderinokun @70, Ambassador Olusola at 75, Fred Agbeyegbe @75, Mabel Segun @80, Chinua Achebe @80 .

Day 3, SUNDAY, November 14

The programme features mainly the CORA renowned project to date the quarterly Art Stampede, which started I June 1991, under the theme: Folklore in Literature, Drama and film. It features a  panel discussion on the presence or absence of folklore influences in the literature and film of our time. Books to discuss include The Adventures of a Sugarcane Man: Femi Osofisan’s adaptation of Fagunwa’s Ireke Onibudo; Praying Mantis By Andre Brink; The Hidden Star, by Kabelo Sello Duiker, Allah Is Not Obliged — Ahmadou Korouma

14. Kiddies Segment: Presentation of works from the Children’s Creativity Workshop. The Green Party – Fun! Fun! Fun!

6pm (Drama Performance: Venue: TERRA KULTURE).
Festival Play: Killing Swamp by Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo, Directed by Wole Oguntokun, Performance by Renegade Theatre for Theatre @Terra, November 2010, to Commemorate 15 Years Of The Death of Ken Saro- Wiwa, writer and environmentalist, who was killed by the state on November 10, 1995

Also, ongoing and already published projects by some of Nigerian writers and friends of the festival over the years would be unveiled during the festival.

Contact: CORA secretary General/Festival Coordinator
Toyin; 08057622415;
[email protected];


Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Lagos Jazz Festival this w/e

Here for more jazz cats.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Sharon Stone in Abuja

Here for more.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Akin Akintayo - an Englishman in Amsterdam

It was my pleasure to meet Akin Akintayo yesterday on my trip to Amsterdam.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Outside the Gauguin exhibition, Tate Modern


Friday, October 22, 2010


An interesting short doc on Abami Eda featuring Sandra Isadore - the woman who brought Fela to political consciousness in the late 1960s, here.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Seven in Abuja, Nov 17th


Monday, October 18, 2010

Remembering Fela, an interview with Carlos Moore

As Nigeria says farewell to Carlos Moore, I have republished an interview with Carlos from a couple of weeks back in the Guardian here.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bukki Faleyi - Ewi singer from Jeremy Weate on Vimeo.


Nneka at the Shrine during Felabration from Jeremy Weate on Vimeo.


Friday, October 15, 2010


Good post on the Tax Justice Network's blog about the origins of the recent Global Witness report on how British banks act in complicity with corrupt Nigerian officials.  Here.  Thanks to Tayo the linkmeister for the URL.


Bez at the Life House from Jeremy Weate on Vimeo.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

33 Nigerian miners trapped underground

This one has been doing the rounds. Not sure Ibori is quite the right reference these days but its well done nonetheless:

"Last night I dreamt that 33 Nigerian Miners were trapped underground and the govt sent a capsule down to rescue them one after the other, but the rescue had to be called off as the trapped miners could not agree amongst themselves on who goes first. Zoning was suggested but they could not agree on which zone will go first. Eventually in a struggle to all board at the same time, the capsule was :leading to the attempt being called off.

Oh dear. Sorry it was only a nightmare. In fact the real problem was that FEC awarded the capsule contract to Ibori and we are still awaiting delivery 3 mths later.  There is a probe going on to unravel this and retrieve the award sum before we get to the issue of what formula to adopt for the rescue and which miner comes out first. Meanwhile traditional rulers from the miners' towns are paying solidarity visits to the President to thank him for his efforts to rescue the miners.

And the First lady has just invited the wives of the Nigerian miners to Abuja for dinner at the Hilton to honour them! At this meeting, they will pray for the good Lord to rescue the miners. The first lady will lead prayer warriors into battle to attack the devil and enemies of Nigeria, whose wicked acts are constituting an obstacle to the rescue efforts. The first ladies from the 36 states will also be in attendance. All including the wives of the miners will wear the Goodluck for President Ankara.
CNN reported early this morning that after 10mths underground all the 33 Nigerian miners have died and the Nigerian govt has declared 7 days of mourning during which the Nigerian flag will be flown at half mast."


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Agbero rumba at The Shrine from Jeremy Weate on Vimeo.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Missing the one who carried Death in his Pouch

After the Book Party at CCA Lagos on Saturday, the Brazilian film crew following Carlos' trip filmed a conversation between Carlos and Tunji Lardner.  Tunji's father owned and ran the Afro-Spot club in Lagos where Fela used to rehearse.  Femi Kuti and Tunji used to hang out together as Femi's dad practised away downstairs.  The Afro-Spot features briefly in the film Ginger Baker in Africa - it was the maverick drummer's first port of call on turning up in Lagos after a torturous drive through the Sahara in a Range Rover.  Tunji remembers the episode well.

The conversation was profoundly moving.  Although Fela was present in the gathering, having been called down by the searing Ewi singing, his absence was just as keenly felt.


Femi Kuti


Woman reading a newspaper, The Shrine


Lemi Ghariokwu at the Carlos Moore Book Party, CCA Lagos


Carlos Moore in conversation with Obi Asika, the Life House Book Party


GT the Guitar Man at the Life House/Carlos Moore Book Party

GT the Guitarman has a sublime falsetto voice - its hard to imagine him not going stellar. He rocked the Life House on Sunday.  Here for more.


Review of Louis Theroux in Lagos

...."His first meeting was with an area boy called Tawa, who proved, upon closer inspection, to be a girl. Her authority rests in her union ID card and her ability to fight "like a man".
Louis may be a master of faux-naive inquiry, but in Lagos he encounters several connoisseurs of the freely given but totally disingenuous answer. When he asks why Tawa's terrifying second-in-command seems reluctant to talk about the enormous corkscrew scar running up one side of his head, someone says, with a cold smile, "I don't know. Maybe his past is haunting him."



Audience at the Shrine for the Felabration Debates


The Shrine at The Shrine


Home cooking at The Shrine


The Secret of Life at The Shrine


Guests at the Life House


Carlos signing books at the Life House Book Party


Bukki Faleye, Ewi singer (at the CCA Lagos Book Party)


Backstage at the Shrine


Bez at the Carlos Moore Book Party at the Life House on Sunday


Odia Ofeimum and Toyin Akinoso at The Shrine


Siji, Carlos and Ade Bantu at The Shrine yesterday


Monday, October 11, 2010

Stanley (right) and friend, The Shrine


Jennifer at The Shrine today


Backstage at the Shrine today


Femi wears Prada (at the Shrine today)


Carlos Moore at CCA Lagos, Saturday, 9th October


Friday, October 08, 2010

Roforofo fight..


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bino and Fino - pilot edition


Storm 360

A good profile of Nigeria's hottest entertainment company - Storm 360 - here.


Where Kenya leads, Nigeria must follow

The story of the 1,000 Kenya teachers sacked for sexually abusing minors is disturbing yet welcome news. No one looking in on the development from Nigeria can deny the issue is just as prevalent here and needs to be addressed urgently.  This would require a joined-up effort between the State Ministries of Education and the police, using the Child Rights Law where it has been implemented.  Kenya has given children suffering in silence hope.  The Nigerian directive should of course be extended to tertiary level, where sexual abuse (for accommodation as well as for grades) seems at times to be the norm rather than the exception.  Teachers who are found guilty should be prosecuted, and banned from teaching for life.  Its time to say no more, and thank Kenya for taking the lead.


Youtube Nigeria goodies

The Colonial Legacy (excellent documentary series commissioned by the IBB Govt - marred slightly by poor quality audio & video. Ade Ajayi provides a firm counter to colonial apologist Anthony Kirk-Greene):
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The Legacy of Empire (BBC two-parter featuring John Smith, ex-Colonial Officer)
Part 1
Part 2

My Country (Funmi Iyanda on Nigeria)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thanks to Rosemary Ajayi of 419Positive for all the links.


Louis Theroux with KAI in Lagos

Ooooh - I really want to watch this.  It should be hilarious.  If you are in the UK, you can also watch the trailer here.

As usual, legal restrictions on the iPlayer mean no one except viewers in the UK will be able to watch the show.   The BBC's licensing structure is increasingly belonging to the wrong century.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Felabration at the Life House...


The Yoruba Institute in Brasil....

The holders of the culture, thousands of miles from home.  Perhaps one day, the culture will return home and find less ambivalence and confusion..


Bino and Fino - pilot launches tomorrow

The pilot episode of Bino and Fino launches tomorrow (Thu, 7th Oct) (on Facebook and YouTube). Join the creators in a live Facebook chat session from 1pm WAT till 7pm to give your views and feedback..




MEND rises again (from Al Jazeera)

Thanks to Black Looks' blog for the link.


Zoning the Presidency to women

Let's face it, Nigerian men have messed up politics.  Isn't it time the Presidency was zoned to women, asks Max Siollun..


The power of the tweet

Malcolm Gladwell is off the pace. Perhaps context is everything when it comes to the power of social media, and its amphetamine-fuelled upstart, Twitter.  In the US and the West in general, hot news stories are quick to break, with most angles to a story covered relentlessly until the next news break hits the shore. Helicopters take to the air, talk show hosts take calls, the 24 hour news cycle throws resource at the scene, pundits are summoned to the studios.. 

Things play out quite differently in other parts of the world.  Take the recent tragedy of 1-10, here in Abuja. The news warning of a bomb threat from MEND came through Twitter (just minutes after Jomo Gbomo's email was sent).  The news of the explosions (first in Eagle Square, then down the road) came through Twitter, from eyewitnesses using their mobile phones.  The fastest global news Twitter feed of them all - Breaking News - was onto the story within a few minutes. The news that people had been killed came through Twitter.  Bodies were 'seen' first on Twitter. As the terrestrial TV stations went into news blackout mode (showing only the fly past and calisthenics displays), the story developed - on Twitter, backed up by Facebook (although this was much slower and more sluggish), sms, BBIM and voice.  Those looking in from conventional media sources overseas, including CNN and the BBC, had to remind twitterers to continue using the correct hash tags so they could follow events.  They were powerless to lead on the news - plane tickets had yet to even be bought.

Even now, as the aftermath lurches from one side to the other, from Abuja to Jo'burg to Minna and back to Abuja again, Twitter is eons faster at pinpointing where on the radar the next aspect of the story is emerging from and way faster on follow-up than conventional news media.  In Nigeria at least, the revolution most likely won't be televised, but it may well be on Twitter.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010



Diego Maradona's come-back as manager of Argentina at the recent World Cup was the opportunity for a new generation of football fans to see the enigmatic Argentine in full view.  Always in a shiny suit, he would prance histrionically around at the edge of the pitch as if about to explode.  His team at one point looked the unstoppable tournament victors, until a heavy dose Teutonic logic flattened them.  He was also irresistible at the post-match press conferences, inviting the assembled world sporting to press to suck it and see..

Still, Maradona came out looking good - it seemed that the dark days of drug abuse and weight gain were behind him.  Argentina ultimately left their mark on the finals. A new contract was issued... and then retracted.  Who knows what will happen to him now?  England fans will never forgive those cunning hands, all the same.  Someone who has for so long dominated his country and appeared to be part of the landscape itself exits stage left.  How the mighty are fallen.


Monday, October 04, 2010

The master and the slave

The failure of leadership in Nigeria is so all pervasive and endemic it begs further analysis.  Why do Nigerian leaders fail their constituents or members so consistently, in politics, in commerce and elsewhere?  Why does almost every young hopeful end up being such a tawdry disappointment? It cannot simply be on account of a repetitious failure of personality, or a renewed shortfall of moral fibre. An individualistic explanation cannot suffice.  But why then is leadership in Nigeria such a seemingly insurmountable challenge?

Of the main routes into the seemingly impenetrable forest in search of the clearing of truth, one opportune path we might take is an examination of the master-slave relationship that is alive and well in Nigeria.

Lordship and bondage is the hidden seam running through all strata of Nigerian society. Of course, in the North, slavery has never entirely faded away; historically, the ‘abolition’ of the Saharan slave trade came much later (the early twentieth century in certain areas) than in the Bights of Benin and Biafra.  There were no British patrols of the Sahara equivalent to the ships that captured slaves setting out on the Middle Passage and dumped their cargo to fend for themselves in Sierra Leone. Indeed, some emirates still have what might considered as slaves who live in the Palace compound – an echo of the formalised and seemingly ineradicable inter-generational slavery among the hausa in the Niger Republic, where at least 8% of the population are slaves.  Outside of the North, slavery often takes a more concealed form.  To a foreigner, it can be distressing and embarrassing to glimpse.  The quickest way to witness it is by observing how domestic staff (maids, househelps, drivers etc.) are treated by their employers.  Apart from salaries, which, even when they are paid on time, guarantee a life of poverty, the verbal abuse can be so intense, it becomes a form of physical and psychological abuse.  Sometimes, those who help run the house are treated as untouchables.  They must eat from different plates, use separate cutlery and drink from separate glasses.  I have met house helps who are allotted one day’s holiday a year. I have witnessed meguards being kicked and beaten. It is reminiscent of the treatment of Philipinos domestic staff in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

It seems to me that this state of affairs is often regarded as the natural order of things: some are born to own and control a household; others are born to clean it up in perpetuity.  The pampered children of the elite are brought up with a sense that there are lesser humans among them. Other children are brought up with little sense of a destiny beyond the bondage of a life Sisyphus would recognise: the forever undone task of keeping the compound starched and clean.

It is this entrenched view of how a society should run itself that ruins many organisations in Nigeria.  Those made to feel like underdogs will do their best to subvert the system and ensure it never quite works. How can those treated like house helps give their best?  The battle at the higher levels to come out on top is intense. As soon as one edges one pay- grade above one’s peers, the licence to disparage and abuse is granted.  In corporate Lagos, it is, of course, the ajebutters, with their often hastily acquired British (or sometimes American) accents, who return home to become the new Overlords and Overladies of Ikoyi.

There is little chance in this culture for models of inspirational participatory leadership to emerge.  The oga who rolls up his or her shirtsleeves to ensure the work gets done is laughed at.  Those on the shop floor unconsciously require a leader who plays to the feudal baron role as expected – a sort of organisational Stockholm syndrome.  This is how a society based on patronage and obsequiousness reproduces itself from generation to generation.

Until the ‘problem of leadership’ is unpacked, and trite formulations are discarded in favour of unflinchingly honest analysis, it’s hard to see how highly efficient and productive value-enhancing organisations can flourish in Nigeria; it’s also hard to imagine that Nigeria will get the political leadership it so badly needs.  The way those who work for us are treated is the form that leadership takes.


Public lecture tomorrow on elections & democracy in Africa

Peter R. Claussen, Counselor for Public Affairs
Embassy of the United States of America, cordially invites you to a lecture by
Professor Richard Joseph
John Evans Professor of International History and Politics
Northwestern University

“Elections and Democracy in Africa:
Restoring Nigerian Leadership.”

Tuesday, October 05, 2010
10:00 A.M.

Venue: Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre
Cultural Section, PAS, Abuja                                                                       
Plot 1, Memorial Drive


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