Wednesday, 15 December 2010

GLOBAL PRAYERS - Redemption and Liberation in the City

metroZones, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Viadrina University, Frankfurt Oder (Germany)

present:

GLOBAL PRAYERS - Redemption and Liberation in the City
About new religious movements in Lagos, Beirut, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Berlin

Presentation and discussion at JAZZ HOLE, Lagos 17th of December, 2-6 pm

The renaissance of religious movements and communities in the world’s metropolises as it manifests itself in the expansion of Pentecostal churches, Islamisation, or Hindu nationalism – all of which play an important role in the organization of urban citizens these days – can possibly be described as a kind of urban cultural revolution.

The interdisciplinary and international ‘Global Prayers’ project aims to research and discuss new urban religious communities by different artistic and scientific means and methods. The case studies and research projects by about 20 scholars and artists link the global aspects of the religious everyday, which has become a central feature of urban life across different religions, city types and parts of the world, with the local features and practices of specific religious communities as they have been shaped by history and urban context.

How does the urban everyday life change through new religious movements? A discussion and a critical reflection on the project with local researchers and artists and activists is an essential part of the ‘Global Prayers’ project. In Lagos, a key city in the global boom of new urban religions, we would like to discuss the main questions of Global Prayers with local experts, present some first research products, video cutouts and sound pieces from Beirut, Mumbai, Kinshasa and of Lagos itself. There will be a presentation of the works of the video workshop, organized by Jens Wenkel and Victor Okhai, as well as of the first tracks by the Hip Hop Workshop, initiated by Ade Bantu.

The public presentation and discussion will take place at JAZZ HOLE, 168 Awolowo Road Ikoyi, LAGOS 17th of December, 2-6 pm. Everybody who is interested is cordially invited to attend! The event is supported by Goethe Institut Lagos and Heinrich-Böll-Foundation Lagos.

Further information:
johannes.ismaiel-wendt@hkw.de
www.GlobalPrayers.info

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Bantu ft Azadus - Marching To Aso

Artist: Bantu feat. Azadus 


Title: “Marching To Aso” 
Label: Faluma Records / Pako Records
Producer & Director: Siji

Bantu bursts right back unto the Nigerian music scene with his controversial new video ‘Marching To Aso’.
Taken from his new album, No Man Stands Alone, the video follows Bantu as he makes a rallying call to the masses  to march and confront the powers that be in the nation's seat of power, Aso Rock.
The bold and visually arresting video, was shot in Ajegunle, a local district area of Lagos and home to over 4 million disenfranchised Nigerians from various parts of the oil-producing volatile nation.
The clip was produced & directed by Yoruba soul star: Siji.
Check out Marching To Aso:
twitter:bantucrew




Order “No Man Stands Alone” online: www.faluma.com

Monday, 22 November 2010

Killing ME The More

As you may be aware, the 12th Lagos Book and Arts Festival (organised by the Committee For Relevant Art - CORA) was held in National Theater, Iganmu, Lagos, Nigeria from Friday 12th - Sunday 14 December, 2010.  On Sunday 14, Jelili Atiku protested against the current National Gallery of Art Bill (NGA Bill) through a performance he titled, NGA Bill…Kill Me the More. The Bill has becomes a symbol of social and political realism in Nigeria.

When the bill was brought to the Senate by Hon. Tunde Akogun, it reminds me of Guerrilla Action Group’s manifesto of January 10, 1970. The manifest said that Art is guilty of the worst sort of crime against human beings: silence. Art is satisfied with being an aesthetic/machinery, satisfied with being a continuum of itself and
its so-called history, while in fact, it has become the supreme instrument through which our repressive society idealizes its image. Art is used today to distract people from the urgency of their crises. Art is used today to force people to accept more easily the repression of big business. Museums and cultural institutions are the sacred temples where the artists who collaborate in such manipulations and cultivate such idealization are sanctified.

Jelili's concern in the performance was to express his personal and collective concerns over some bills in Nigerian Senate. Therefore, he wish to educate, appeal, urge and protest for change in the Nigerian socio-political lives.

Here is the letter he addressed to members of the Senate. The letter was published in the performance information brochure.


14th November, 2010

From the Office of the Citizen

Open Letter to Members of National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria

To:
All Members,
Senate and House of Representatives,

Through:
Senator David Mark (GCON),
The Senate President; and

Dimeji Bankole (MON),
The Speaker

Dear Fellow Nigerians,

NGA Bill…Kill Me the More

It is saddened that as I write this letter you may not able to see and feel the problems I am going through.  There abound several visible and invisible barriers that have collectively pressurize my life as a Nigerian contemporary artists. Since 1998 when I completed National Youth Service; each day I grow grey hair as a sign of emotional infiltration that I have gone through in an attempt to survive as a Nigerian and as an artist.

I have felt the pains and effects of inequality and poverty since I was born. I see in every day that passed how Jose Ortega y Gasset’s views made in 1958 has been holding sway in our socio-political lives. As you may have read, Jose wrote in an article, titled “The New Mass”(published in Joseph Satin (1958), “Ideas in Context”, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, page 16) that “Today something very different is happening. If we observe the public life of the countries where the triumph of the masses has made most advance… we are surprised to find that politically they are living from day to day. The phenomenon is an extraordinarily strange one. Public authority is in the hand of a representative of the masses. These are so powerful that they have wiped out all opposition. They are in possession of power in such an unassailable manner that it would be difficult to find in history examples of a government so all-powerful as these are. And yet public authority – the Government- exists from hands to mouth, it does not offer itself as a frank solution for the future, it represents no clear announcement of the future, it does not stand out as the beginning of something whose development or evolution is conceivable. In short, it lives without any vital programme, any plan of existence. It does not know where it is going, because, strictly speaking, it has no fixed road, no predetermined trajectory before it. When such a public authority attempts to justify itself it makes no reference at all to the future”.

The manifestation of Jose’s view came once again in form of NGA proposed bill. As you aware, this bill, which is sponsored by Hon.Tunde Akogun is “an act to repeal and re-enact National Gallery of Art Act, Cap. N41 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and other related matters”. On Thursday, November 5, 2010 a hearing was held inside 028Conference Hall, House of Representatives (New Building), Abuja in regards to the bill. The Stakeholders have talked and reached harmonious resolution on the bill. My present financial ailment could not permit me to attend such a gathering. However, it will not be OUT of ORDER to read in part this bill. It reads: “BE IT ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows… Every contemporary visual work of art originating in Nigeria or not originating in Nigeria but is being sold or auctioned or exhibited for sale in Nigeria, shall be registered, stamped and issued a number by
the Gallery…”

The philosophy, idea, objectives, and contents of this bill reminds me of the Guerrilla Art Action Group’s (of New York City) manifesto of January 10, 1970.  It says, “Art is being slaughtered… Art today glories in its own self-importance and its false set of value. It glorifies property instead of relating to people. It has become
property. Art has become business, a stock market, a repressive and racist megacorporation that enriches its directors and stockholders and exploits its workers to a point of complicity in the crimes committed against human life… What do you think art is all about? Is it some sort of mythical abstract commodity that is traded on the market and guarded by the police? How can it be that art needs police protection? Only “valuable” possessions, property and money are given police protection – is that what art must be? Is property more valuables than life and freedom? Shouldn’t art relate to life and freedom rather than property?...”

This bill and those that conceived it see art as commercial entity. Its values of life and freedom are not appreciated by them. They do not bother about the growth of contemporary art and the wellbeing of the artists instead; they wish to regulate how we create our works.

Forty-three years ago, March 25, 1967 precisely, the then Nigerian Military President in person of (then) Lieutenant Connell Yakubu Gowon threw up an advice for Nigerian leaders. He said in a radio broadcast that “Our duty as leaders is not just to pursue ideologies of forms of government for their own sake…  concern is the happiness of the ordinary citizens. We must therefore look at matters concerning how we should run the government in the light of how they affect people’s lives. We must always assess how the  political decisions that we reach will influence the way our people live… Nigeria has been going through hard times… Governments have fallen and often people have not known where to look for guidance and honest  leadership. In the absence of true leadership mistrust and suspicion have come to the surface and as a result people have been killed; women have been left without husbands and children without fathers”.

I wish to appeal to your honourable selves to look at this bill as a political means of executing artists. I want to beg, the bill should be looked into critically and amend to make us happy. However, I wish to say also instead of bothering yourself over this bill, I am of the opinion that the Freedom of Information Bill (FoI) is more  important to us a State of different nations. This is because going by the level of corruption in the country the FoI bill is necessary and indispensable.


As opinionated by Chidi Anselm Odinaka (in The Guardian, Tuesday, November 4, 2008, page 102) “The existing system of secret government in Nigeria undermines the promise of equality and non-discrimination in our constitution and substitutes in its place a hierarchy of citizenship distinguished by monopolies of  knowledge and access to officially-held information. An infinitesimal minority of well placed people with access to information constitute the superior class of citizens; while the overwhelming majority of us are inferior, second and lower class citizens consigned to an information under-class. Through the existing system, we have an artificial manufactured information aristocracy who use their monopoly of access to official information to control the commanding heights of our economies and politics, protected by their control of the security apparatus in a perpetual game of the revolving intra-family musical chairs while the rest of us in the information wilderness watch in rumour mills of trepidation. The default doctrinal justification for the secret state is state security. This is used in a way that subverts our constitution and our politics and destroys our development. It is both immoral and unlawful. Changed here is in the self interest of both ruler and the ruled”.

Let me also borrow words from Charles Ikedikwe Soeze (who wrote in Nigerian Compass, Friday June 6, 2008; page 4) FoI “is prerequisite for good and just governance and for effective social development”. If it is signed into law Nigeria will become an egalitarian society-where extreme poverty, child mortality, under-development, segregation, political apathy, electoral fraud, and all those ills that dwarf our economy will be eliminated.


If the NGA Bill is signed into law, you shall be killing me the more.

Yours living art,

Jelili Atiku,
29, Ifoshi Road, Ejigbo, Lagos Nigeria
+234 802 315 5408, +234 805 935 8116

Friday, 29 October 2010

No Man Stands Alone" is now available worldwide

Hurray!

"No Man Stands Alone" is now available worldwide. The album was released today by FALUMA - Worldwide digital release.

To buy your softcopy, please following this link: NO MAN STAND ALONE on FALUMA



ABOUT THE ALBUM

“No Man Stands Alone” is an album that tells a story which is very personal and yet also widely known among travellers and cosmopolitans. It is the personal story of Bantu, a man who returns to the country of his father where he spent his childhood until he left for Germany.

It is the story of a man who returns to a once familiar place as a visitor, as someone who just knows a bunch of people there. However also knows that each of these friends will open him a door to a whole new world.

It is the story of a man who just goes with the flow in the bustling city of Lago. Who adapts to the rythm of the metropolis and it’s people. Who lets himself drift, but with an aim in mind. With music on his mind.

Story of a musician who meets other musicians in the land of Juju music, who produces and sings, features and get featured, who gives and takes and travels on with a new song in his luggage.
Therefore the title: “No Man Stands Alone”!

The new album is a musical journey throughout Nigeria with a side trip to Ghana in ten songs. Each of these songs reflects an encounter with an artist, like for example the internationally renown MOBO awardee, singer and actor Nneka, the 84 year-old legend of Highlife music Fatai Rolling Dollar, the young and eccentric guitarist Dabyna, the Ghanaian superstar Wanlov the Kubolor and many more.

Not only musical, but also lyrical wise this album is diverse and reflects many facetes of every-day life, not only in Nigeria: sociocritical and intelligent food for thought, as well as tunes that will make you dance, swing and sing.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

CALL FOR ENTRY EXTENDED TO 20TH SEPTEMBER, NO AGE LIMIT

Heinrich böll Stiftung, Nigeria office is pleased to extend the call for
essays/short stories and photographs competition for a publication on the theme “Unity in Diversity: Diversity is positive for Nigeria”. This is part of the Foundation’s contribution towards addressing the recurrent and protracted conflicts in Nigeria rooted in diversity issues.

Attached is the call for entry document. Deadline for submission is extended to 20th September 2010. Feel free to circulate it amongst your networks and contacts.

We look forward to receiving your essays/short stories and photographs on the above theme.

Call for Essays/Short Stories and Photographs
For a Publication on:
 
UNITY IN DIVERSITY: DIVERSITY IS POSITIVE FOR NIGERIA

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung is a German political foundation, affiliated to the Green Party Germany. The Foundation is engaged in civic education worldwide with 28 offices. The Foundation was named after the writer Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novels and short stories in 1972. His courageous and unerring intervention significantly enriched and influenced political culture in Germany. He personifies the values the Foundation now stands for: the defense of freedom, civic courage, tolerance, open debate and the valuation of art and culture as independent spheres of thought and action.

The Conflict Management Program of the Foundation’s Nigeria office emerged as a response to threats at Nigeria’s democratic processes (see www.boellnigeria.org). As part of the Foundation’s contribution towards addressing the recurrent and protracted conflicts in Nigeria rooted in diversity issues, the proposed publication should underline the positive role the rich diversity of the country can play and explore ways of transforming the current negative social cohesion into a common strive for development.

This call for essays/short stories and photographs on the theme: “Unity in Diversity: Diversity is positive for Nigeria” intends to:

- Encourage Nigerians to be part of a solution to the recurrent diversity related violent conflicts in the country.

- Explore new ideas/strategies to solve the incessant violent conflicts.

- Provide a platform for citizenship participation in the quest for sustainable peace in Nigeria.

The essays/short stories should concentrate on:

- Telling a true-life story of how the diversity of Nigeria’s people enriched your personal, your families or your friends’ life and explore how the positive aspect of diversity could benefit Nigeria’s social and economic development

- Drawing conclusions from your own positive experiences to develop new ideas/strategies for integrating the positive role of diversity into the social and political structures

- The role of future generations of Nigerians to ensure peace is sustained in the country

The photographs should

- Concentrate on the theme “Diversity is Positive for Nigeria” and include a brief description of how the photograph depicts the theme

Send entries to: competition@boellnigeria.org


Word Count: Not more than 3000words. Quotes and references must be clearly marked as such and properly cited at the end of the text

Format: Texts are accepted in the following formats: word or pdf, they must be in English language

Age Limit: No Age Limit

Deadline for submission: Extended to 20th September 2010

Notification: Selected entries will be notified in October 2010

Further Information: Heinrich Böll Stiftung

16a, Oladipo Diya Street

2nd Avenue Extension

Roselyn@boellnigeria.org

http://www.boellnigeria.org/
A jury of Nigerian writers, conflict experts and photographers will select the best entries which will be posted onto the Foundation’s website and published as a book. There will be an official presentation ceremony (date to be communicated) followed by a short expert roundtable discussion. Note: We reserve the right to modify the format and content of the submissions for publication purposes.

Rewards:

- A 5-day trip to Berlin / Germany to participate in an arts festival and educational event organized by the Foundations head-office for the overall best entry!
- The selected essays/short stories will be rewarded with N 25 per word up to a maximum of 3000 words.
- The selected photographs will be rewarded with N 30,000each




Quotes on “diversity” by Nigerians:



Ola Joseph, Nigerian author: “Diversity is not about how we differ. It is about embracing one another’s uniqueness”.

Toni Kan, award winning writer: “I drew inspiration, anecdotes and ideas from the diverse nature of my country, Nigeria. My thesis was that by focusing so much on what divides us, we fail to see the ties that bind. The world we live is no longer delineated by clear cut boundaries. We have become a true global village and it is more evident in Nigeria where travel, the imperatives of work and survival as well as inter-tribal marriages has blurred the lines of division.”

Prof. Albert Oluwole Isaac, internationally renowned conflict expert from the University of Ibadan defines diversity as “human differences in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, ideology or social class. It calls attention to the fact that human beings are not born the same and even when they are, some environmental factors make them to have diverse social, economic and political orientations. However, diversity is like a budding flower with many beautiful petals that complement each other in adding beauty to the environment. It is therefore an asset to any nation. For example, diversity makes it possible for Nigeria to be one of the most culturally significant nations in the world. This could be seen in the variety of languages, food, dresses, songs, festivals and cultural sites in the country”.

Ade Bantu, Musician: “As a Nigerian-German, I consciously embrace the best of the world and my continent. Diversity is my reality, yes, it is challenging and demanding, at times, but I have learned that as long as I am open, curious and willing to go extra miles, there is so much of ‘me’ to be discovered in the alleged ‘others’.”

Roselyn Onyegbula, HBS Program Manager, Conflict Management: “Diversity is like a human being, each with a distinct finger print but with other common features that make us all human. Nigeria is a very diverse nation, to draw strength from our diversity we need to focus on our commonalities and not differences, to move the country forward.”

Friday, 23 July 2010

Sangodare Ajala won the National Art Competition 2010

African Artists' Foundation is happy to announce the winners of this year's edition of the annual National Art Competition which held at the Civic Center Lagos on Wednesday, 21st July, 2010. The grand finale was well attended by art livers, art practitioners and corporate individuals. 

The winners are:

1st prize winner- Sangodare Ajala- N1,500,000
2nd prize winner- Stanley Dudu- N1, 000, 000
3rd prize winner- Fidelis Odogwu- N500, 000

All thirty finalists will however be part of an all expense paid workshop on a date to be announced shortly.

Sangodare's work

The Fire of Nigeria Burns Strongly
 
My artwork is inspired by the oral traditions and myths that I was born into: that of the Yoruba people.  But the meaning transcends any single religion or belief.

When our forefathers settled in Osogbo they were looking for water.  The hunters went into the forest and they came to the Osun River, but the Goddess Osun of the River said, “Do not settle here.”  So they went to another place and again the Goddess said, “Do not settle here.”  They lit a fire, and they danced around the fire and they saw that the fire healed people. The Oba saw that the fire of lamps cleansed and healed, so they settled in Osogbo. They found peace.  It was a new beginning.

I chose to represent Nigeria at 50 through this artwork because its’ symbols are universal.  It is a about our beginning, as a country, and to continuous new beginnings.  It speaks of joy, peace and strength.

Fire is a strong element: without fire there is no life.  Fire cleanses; it heals; it prepares us for change and new beginnings.  The fire of Nigeria burns strongly. 

Today, just as our forefathers before, Nigeria is looking for peace and good forward movement at 50.   We pray that our fire is not quenched.  We dance for happiness and freedom in life.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A poetic song by TOSIN OTITOJU

I am glad to share with you a poetic speech delivered by Tosin Otitoju few days back at her formal school - Queen's College. She is the newest author (author of Comrade, poetry collection) in the Nigerian literary sub-sector of the creative industry. O, it was a day I am not sure I cannot forget soon because of its musicality. A young future leader nudges the upcoming leaders who are still undergoing the necessary tutelage to pass on the torch to greatness.


Text of a Speech delivered by Oluwatosin H. Otitoju (FRM)
as Guest Speaker at the Annual Speech and Prize-Giving Ceremony of Queen’s College Lagos on 3rd July, 2010

Pass on the torch
Still brightly gleaming
Pass on the hopes
The earnest dreaming
To those who follow close at hand.

My warmest greetings to all: our distinguished guests (naming them), as well as our distinguished hosts – the students and staff of Queen’s College Lagos.
Since 1927, the Queen’s College torch has been passed on.
Eighty-three years - that is four generations. That is, of the earliest classes of QC girls, some may have had grandchildren whose granddaughters have become QC girls. So we -

Pass on the thoughts,
The skills, the learning
Pass on the secrets
In most yearning
That they may build where we have planned.

The words of a poem. The lyrics of a song. When Miss Dorothy Peel wrote these words, how did she know that the most beautiful ones are not yet born? That where our set planned would be where your set built the house? That our biggest accomplishments would be but a starting point for your set?

Your dreams will be bigger. Isn’t there a lot to excite you as you look around and see a world filled with delicious problems that your ancestors have not solved?

The effort of your forebears over the last fifty years has yielded a democratic state. Still, in this government for the people, the percentage of people served and the quality of this service both need to be increased by orders of magnitude.

In Lagos, we have seen the recent miracle of road-improvement projects, refuse collection, urban beautification. Still I am sure that we can envision a still more beautiful environment with functional public architecture, excellent mass transit, with flowers everywhere.

Yes, your dreams must be bigger than ours. In particular, your dreams must be bigger than money. I like the phrase “poverty of ambition.” As Obama put it, “There’s nothing wrong with making money, but focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself...”

Pass on the songs
Pass on the laughter
Pass on the joy
That others after
May tread more lightly on their way

I hope that you always remember these words. Remember to sing, to laugh. Remember to play (do you need to be reminded to play?) Remember to dance a little. Keep the tradition of Queen’s College ladies as joyful and fit, as we -

Pass on the faith
That naught can alter
Pass on the strength
Lest they should falter
In hours of stress some future day.

We are pilgrims now. We’re on a journey now. We tread lightly, joyfully on our way. We who have studied the Bible and reflected on the Qur’an. We preserve our faith.

For you, my young sisters, this is not even enough. Draw strength also from the Bhagavad Gita. Read also from The Origin of Species. Take a lesson or two from ‘Things Fall Apart.” Do you hear the wisdom in DaGrin’s flow? How do you feel about God and religion? Comment on non-local interactions in quantum science. Who can quantify the vastness of the known cosmos?

In short, get what the giant of African-American history W.E.B. DuBois referred to as “intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it.” This is the sound education for which YOU must strive.

Pass on the firm determination
To guide a later generation
By gentle influence in the home

It may be true that a woman has a domestic role. In days past, fitness for the domestic role was the entire purpose of a woman’s education. The home. Home economics, essentially.

But some things have changed. In those days, few people went to school. Now, many children will be raised primarily in schools. Now, many fathers, men, will participate in raising their own children. These days, you as a woman need not divide your day between scrubbing wooden utensils – along the grain! – and cutting patterns for your next party dress. There is a machine for the wooden spoon, and we all know where to shop for the dress.

With home tasks outsourced, shared, and mechanized to such a large extent, you, we, women, are called outside the home as well as in. There is a public sphere, is my point, and how could you not want to stamp your mark on it? Let everybody know: I was ‘ere in class and style.

As a young woman, you are invited to be a politician - of the excellent kind.
Or to be an actor and make us dream.
Be a scientist – they are not just people you read about in books, they are flesh and blood like me.
Be a teacher, and guide that later generation.
Be a sculptor; be something we haven’t heard of before, or do something traditional - but do it with style.
Be a man. I’m not saying don’t be a woo-man. I am saying you can be omo-seggsy if you wish, or even if you’re big-bosomed and nurturing, or you’re shy and sensitive, or you’re this short and fragile and you love pink, pink everything, when it comes to greatness, feel free to be a man.

If ever good advice was given, it was Rudyard Kipling’s poem titled “If”:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But give allowance for their doubting too…

Some of you must know the rest. The poem ends:
…Yours is the earth and everything in it,
And – which is more - you’ll be a man, my son.

Be a great woman!

While I was a student here at Queen’s, our PQC Marinho instilled the following words, ascribed to the 19th century writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept were toiling upwards in the night.

Pass on the health, the youthful vigour,
Pass on the love that can transfigure
The darkest hours that yet may come.

We’re on a journey now. We’re on a journey now. The little we have we have passed on to you.
The little strength they have, your parents have passed on too, in the hope – no, in the certain confidence – that you are greater than they are. Although I am a little older than you, I recently lived with my parents. Let me tell you what I found: Parents will worry.

A story: once I was at lunch with two North American executives, in Detroit, Michigan. We were eating in the company cafeteria when one man complained about his teenage son, bemoaning that the young man was not motivated. The other man replied, “Bill, you know, there are many ways to skin a cat. Maybe your boy is just doing things a different way, that’s all.” To this he said, “Daniel, you’re talking about skinning a cat. I just hope my son knows there’s a cat to be skinned.” They laughed. Lunch continued.

Across cultures, parents really can’t stop thinking and talking about you. They care about you. They will worry.

Some girls here will like to beg their parents (yes?) for less worrying and more listening. Parents, if you will listen to us, you may discover that we care even more about the future than you. We know that there is a cat to be skinned. We’re boiling the water, we have filed the knife, …
Before this gets too macabre, I’ll continue…Poor cat!

The love that they have, your teachers have passed on to you. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes bursars and matrons, Principals, language teachers and business teachers, artists and scientists. Here at Queen’s College, the teachers – the Principal and all the staff – give you their all everyday, so that you may be prepared, not only when things are easy, but for the tough hours that yet may come. Cherish their love, and I say to our parents and teachers: Thank you.

To our dear students, I say, take advantage of Queen’s College. Make effort. Some of you are winning prizes today because of the effort you have made. Some of you are winning so many prizes today, that we’ll just have to wonder – how? How do you do it? (Answer : The heights by great men reached and kept… )

Some of us are not there yet. But we’re on a journey. And I quote this student favourite, attributed to Benjamin Cardozo: “In the end, the great truth will have been learned, that the quest is greater than that which is sought, the effort finer than the prize, or rather, that the effort is the prize, the victory cheap and hollow were it not for the rigour of the game.

Bill Clinton liked that quote in his student days and I kept it as my laptop screensaver for many years. The effort IS the prize.The truth that I know, I have passed on to you. With a great sense of history and a great sense of hope, I ask you finally to sing with me, the final stanza of our school song:

Pass on the torch, the cry inspiring
Unites us here in hopes untiring
In bonds no future years can sever
We forward press not backwards turning
That this our torch more brightly burning
May yet pass on and on forever.

Friday, 2 July 2010

pret-a-partager exhibition and participating artists talk @ CCA, Lagos.

Indeed, Lagos art scene is really booming, for its constant provocative ideas and activities within the city. Art is fastly becoming a major sub-industry to be reckon with in the Creative Industry of Lagos. Lagosians are surely embracing this new development. Kudos to all the gallerists, curators, and art organisations that are championing this movement.


Do come along. There is a space for you too to fill as an artist, art practitioner and arts manager. This International Art Exhibition is holding tomorrow at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, gallery. 



prêt-à-partager
a transcultural exchange in art, fashion and sports

Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos has gained worldwide recognition for its dynamic and innovative programming of solo and group exhibition of artists from Nigeria, Africa and from around the world. As we continue our programme in celebration of fifty years of Independence we present the second exhibition in our focus on Art, Fashion and Identity. 

We are please to be Nigerian venue of an African wide touring exhibition prêt-à-partager organised by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. (ifa) and presented to a Lagos audience in partnership with Yaba College of Art and Technology Fine Art Department, Goethe Institute, Lagos and African Art Foundation. 

Following an invitation by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. (ifa), seventeen artists from Africa and Europe came to Dakar in November 2008 to engage with fashion, identity, history and movement in a ten-day multimedia and interdisciplinary workshop. The artists brought influences from Berlin, Kinshasa, Dakar, London, Stuttgart, Douala, Hamburg and Johannesburg with them to the Senegalese capital and together developed projects in a wide variety of artistic genres. The artworks created during the workshop – such as photographs, films and video, sound and room installations – will be on display for two years in Africa in the prêt-à-partager exhibition. 

After the premiere in Dakar in September 2009, it has been shown in Maputo, Mozambique, before its forthcoming presentation in Lagos. The tour will continue to east and south Africa. prêt-à-partager exhibition is a transnational artistic dialogue on fashion, sport, Africa and its Diaspora. 

These collected works take the varied meanings and possibilities of clothing and fashion as determined by society and individuals and explore them in myriad ways that go beyond their function as consumer goods or economic factors. The Dakar metropolitan area serves as the stage for the protagonists of a world in constant flux, where concepts of identity are fluid. The artists have utilised the tapestries of their own history and familiarisation with new cultural practices to develop striking works, hybrid creations which are socially explosive. 

PROGRAMME SATURDAY 3RD JULY 3PM

prêt-à-partager
a transcultural exchange in art, fashion and sports
Artists’ talk: 3rd July2010 at 3 pm at Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos
Opening : 3rd July 2010 at 5 pm at Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos

An exhibition organised by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa)

Exhibition sites:

Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos
9, McEwen Street, off Herbert Macaulay, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos
Opening hours : Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm

Gallery of the Yaba College of Technology 
P.M.B. 2011, Yaba, Lagos
Opening hours : Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm

African Artists’ Foundation
54 Raymond Njoku Street, off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
Opening hours : Monday to Friday, 11 am to 5 pm & Saturday, 12 pm to 5 pm

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

NATIONAL ARTS COMPETITION: CALL FOR ENTRIES

Nigerian Breweries Plc and African Artists’ Foundation present the third edition of the annual National Arts Competition in partnership with Dana air (official local airline of the competition), Goethe Institut, Society for Nigerian artists, Bogobiri House and Transcorp Hilton Abuja.

To commemorate Nigeria’s Golden jubilee, the theme of this year’s competition is:
“Chronicles of a Great Nation at 50”

Participating artists are required to interpret their vision of Nigeria at 50 through various art media.

There are fantastic cash prizes to be won in this competition:
3rd prize – N500, 000.00
2nd prize – N1, 000, 000.00
1st prize – N1, 500, 000.00

ALL VISUAL ART GENRES are welcome, and the competition is open to all budding and emerging artists.
Finalists in the competition will be selected to be part of an all expenses paid art workshop.

*Video Art *Multimedia *Painting *Sculpture *Installation *Photography *New Media

Participation is limited to ONE entry per artist, however artists may enter the competition in more than one genre, in which case artists may send in ONE entry per genre.

*For entries in Photography, please send an image that is representative of a complete body of work.
*For entries in Video, please send in clips not exceeding 3 minutes in length.
**Please note that artists who send in more than one image per genre or more than one entry under different pseudonyms will be automatically disqualified**

To submit an entry, please send an image of your work to: NIGERIANBREWERIESAAF@GMAIL.COM
Along with your details as follows:
- Official name in FULL - no pseudonyms or nicknames. Please indicate surname.
- Genre of work entered into the competition (Painting, New media, etc)
- Telephone number(s)
- Email address
- Home address
- Current location
- A brief description of your work (Artist Statement)

The deadline for submission is 6pm on the 15th of June 2010.

Please spread the word!

For more information:
www.africanartists.org
01-7450750

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

6-story Jesus statue in Ohio struck by lightning

Story curled from YAHOO NEWS





MONROE, Ohio – A six-story-tall statue of Jesus Christ with his arms raised along a highway was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night and burned to the ground, police said.

The "King of Kings" statue, one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.
 
The lightning strike set the statue ablaze around 11:15 p.m., Monroe police dispatchers said.

The sculpture, 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signaling a touchdown. It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained early Tuesday.

The fire spread from the statue to an adjacent amphitheater but was confined to the attic area, and no one was injured, police Chief Mark Neu said. The fire department would release a monetary damage estimate Tuesday, he said.

Travelers on Interstate 75 often were startled to come upon the huge statue by the roadside, but many said America needs more symbols like it. So many people stopped at the church campus that church officials had to build a walkway to accommodate them.

The 4,000-member, nondenominational church was founded by former horse trader Lawrence Bishop and his wife. Bishop said in 2004 he was trying to help people, not impress them, with the statue. He said his wife proposed the Jesus figure as a beacon of hope and salvation and they spent about $250,000 to finance it.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A Call for Entry


Call for Essays/Short Stories and Photographs

For a Publication on:


UNITY IN DIVERSITY: DIVERSITY IS POSITIVE FOR NIGERIA

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung is a German political foundation, affiliated to the Green Party Germany. The Foundation is engaged in civic education worldwide with 28 offices. The Foundation was named after the writer Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novels and short stories in 1972. His courageous and unerring intervention significantly enriched and influenced political culture in Germany. He personifies the values the Foundation now stands for: the defense of freedom, civic courage, tolerance, open debate and the valuation of art and culture as independent spheres of thought and action.

The Conflict Management Program of the Foundation’s Nigeria office emerged as a response to threats at Nigeria’s democratic processes (see www.boellnigeria.org). As part of the Foundation’s contribution towards addressing the recurrent and protracted conflicts in Nigeria rooted in diversity issues, the proposed publication should underline the positive role the rich diversity of the country can play and explore ways of transforming the current negative social cohesion into a common strive for development.

This call for essays/short stories and photographs on the theme: “Unity in Diversity: Diversity is positive for Nigeria” intends to:

-Encourage future generations of Nigerians to be part of a solution to the recurrent diversity related violent conflicts in Nigeria.

-Explore new ideas/strategies to solve the conflicts through youth-led solutions.

-Provide a platform for citizenship participation in the quest for sustainable peace in Nigeria.

The essays/short stories should concentrate on:

-Telling a true-life story of how the diversity of Nigeria’s people enriched your personal, your families or your friends’ life and explore how the positive aspect of diversity could benefit Nigeria’s social and economic development

-Drawing conclusions from your own positive experiences to develop new ideas/strategies for integrating the positive role of diversity into the social and political structures

- Considering the role of future generations of Nigerians to ensure peace is sustained in the country


The photographs should

-Concentrate on the theme “Diversity is Positive for Nigeria” and include a brief description of how the photograph depicts the theme

Send entries to: competition@boellnigeria.org

Word Count: Not more than 3000words. Quotes and references must be clearly marked as such and properly cited at the end of the text

Format: Texts are accepted in the following formats: word or pdf, they must be in English language

Age Limit: 18years to 35years

Deadline for submission: 31st August 2010

Notification: Selected entries will be notified before 9th October 2010

Further Information:

Heinrich Böll Stiftung
16a, Oladipo Diya Street
2nd Avenue Extension
Roselyn (at) boellnigeria.org

A jury of Nigerian writers, conflict experts and photographers will select the best entries which will be posted onto the Foundation’s website and published as a book. There will be an official presentation ceremony (date to be communicated) followed by a short expert roundtable discussion. Note: We reserve the right to modify the format and content of the submissions for publication purposes.


REWARDS:

-A 5-day trip to Berlin / Germany to participate in an arts festival and educational event organized by the Foundations head-office for the overall best entry!

-The selected essays/short stories will be rewarded with N 25 per word up to a maximum of 3000 words.

-The selected photographs will be rewarded with N 30,000each


QUOTES ON "DIVERSITY" BY NIGERIANS
OLA JOSEPH, Nigerian author: “Diversity is not about how we differ. It is about embracing one another’s uniqueness”.

TONI KAN, award winning writer: “I drew inspiration, anecdotes and ideas from the diverse nature of my country, Nigeria. My thesis was that by focusing so much on what divides us, we fail to see the ties that bind. The world we live is no longer delineated by clear cut boundaries. We have become a true global village and it is more evident in Nigeria where travel, the imperatives of work and survival as well as inter-tribal marriages has blurred the lines of division.”

PROF. ALBERT OLAWALE ISAAC, internationally renowned conflict expert from the University of Ibadan defines diversity as “human differences in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, ideology or social class. It calls attention to the fact that human beings are not born the same and even when they are, some environmental factors make them to have diverse social, economic and political orientations. However, diversity is like a budding flower with many beautiful petals that complement each other in adding beauty to the environment. It is therefore an asset to any nation. For example, diversity makes it possible for Nigeria to be one of the most culturally significant nations in the world. This could be seen in the variety of languages, food, dresses, songs, festivals and cultural sites in the country”.

ADE BANTU, Musician: “As a Nigerian-German, I consciously embrace the best of the world and my continent. Diversity is my reality, yes, it is challenging and demanding, at times, but I have learned that as long as I am open, curious and willing to go extra miles, there is so much of ‘me’ to be discovered in the alleged ‘others’.”

ROSELYN ONYEGBULA, HBS Program Manager, Conflict Management: “Diversity is like a human being, each with a distinct finger print but with other common features that make us all human. Nigeria is a very diverse nation, to draw strength from our diversity we need to focus on our commonalities and not differences, to move the country forward.”

Thursday, 3 June 2010

AMP – House of Discord – Season ONE

Few days ago, I was listening to a TV report on a particularly new group for Nigerian film producers, ANCOP - Association of Nollywood Core Producers, and its members condemned the opperations of AGN, saying that it's an association of hooligans and unserious minded people in the Nigerian film industry. This story was written last year, I have decided to publish it here since my last post was on cinema. You can see the contrast in the reality of the indsutry. 


As soon as I came down from a bike at the entrance gate of NCAC Artistes Village, an extension of National Theatre, I saw pioneer actors and actresses of Nollywood leant upon jeeps parked serially along in the premises. At first number of jeeps parked and the crowd of artistes surprised me, since the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) is no more in the premises. But a colleague told me that the presence of the artistes in the premises is nothing than an election for new executives of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP).

They were said to have moved from the Film Cooperation, which is not quite at a distance from the village to continue their electoral process, when the office closed for the day.

As my mission at the village is never to participate in the election neither am I an observer, I decided to mind my business. Well, I had scheduled a meeting with an art administrator earlier in the day at the Village, and as soon as I find my way in, I saw the fellow sipping a brand of beer from a glass-cup at the mini-bar behind the Little Theatre. Adjacent to the mini-bar is an open-ground where AGN normally audition for films some two years before they moved to their new office in Surulere, and there were actors and actresses in twos, threes and fours, having cheerful discussions with themselves. While some five of them sat round a table with seemingly documents for the election on the table. Having a full understanding of this kind of arrangement, I concluded that this must be the electoral board representative.

Having seated beside my colleague, the operations of the electoral board and the electorates for the AMP election were vivid from the mini-bar.

Some minutes after I had finished my meeting with the colleague of mine that we started noticing a different look on the faces of a while ago cheerful artistes in the premises. Out of my curiosity, I stood up; moved closer to the artistes and on getting into there midst I realized that there is bottled anger in some of them. Somebody asked, “why would they disqualify Lilian Amah?” behind me. I quickly looked towards that direction and I saw a round belly fellow who was later identified as Tony, on his feet, Paul Obazele and Lilian Amah, glued to their sit and some other unknown (to me) artistes around them. “Whatever happens you are still the president,” Tony said, referring to Paul Obazele, the current National President of the association.

Now the mood has changed completely and the unease pacing and whispering in the premises send a signal, which was later to be understood by me rashly. Suddenly, Paul Obazele pulled himself up from the seat and went towards the entrance of the village with his face laced with anger. He returned not quite long, alone, and Tony went to the electoral board representatives to challenge them. There were seconds of argument between him and the board before he started screaming “everybody come and cross check your name now…this list is doctored,” the list which was later to be recognized as the accreditation was protected by the electoral representatives from been touched. And artistes started approaching the table one by one. Within a twinkling, a crowd surrounded the table, argument ensued, the table got turned upside down by Femi Ogedenge, who coarsely ran towards the mini-bar, he got hold of a bottle and brook it. Approaching the table again with a sharpen edge of bottle, Tony, Fred Amata, Franca Brown, and some other artistes blocked his way with soothing words. But then, season one of the “AMP: house of discord” had began.

“Where is Ifeanyi Ikpoenyin running to, he started this, he should stay” Paul Obazele said pointing his finger at a jeep zooming off the premises. Few minutes later Madu Chikwendu, President Producers Guild, movie producer, director and organiser of the Lagos International Film Festival (LIFF) arrived with two armed “mo-police,” and started shouting, “where are those who say this election will not hold…where is Femi Ogedenge,” but the Madu could finish pronouncing the name, the fierce producer charged at him and a serious uproar brook. The policemen couldn’t arrest anybody realizing that they are artistes. They couldn’t stop the fight that ensued neither. The scene turned to two fighting scenario: Femi against Madu, Sosa furiously slapped Dickson Iroegbu, also threw pouches at Madu intermittently, Tony threw a wrecked chair at Madu. All the while, I peeped from behind Tope Babayemi’s jeep parked at a corner. The ace art and culture manager, Tope Babeyemi, is busy settling the dispute but was unsuccessful despite his continuous shout “don’t spoil this place! Sosa stop this shit!”

Although, the lyrics of Asa’s song “Fire on the Mountain” reverberated in my head continually as the show went on, but “if I run away who will report this discouraging attitude of the men who control our presently world acknowledged industry”–Nollywood–was a question that beamed through my mind. As I pulled down the thought of running for my dear life, similar lyrics of a song by Daddy Showkey echoed in my heart: “fire dey bone wall no run,” I smiled and concentrate more on the show.

Now seated in the mini-bar, Femi Ogedenge, Sosa, and other artistes chanted aloud: “Paul is the best!” twice. As I tried to catch a glimpse of this scene from where I was hiding, some heavily armed “mobile-police” came down from a vehicle, running after everybody and shooting aside at the same time, unfolded another scene. The whole place scattered. Nobody told me to run for my dear life at this point in time, because I realized that Ben Johnson was just opportune to be a track-lane athlete, if he is to be a street runner, really with my moves ahead of the policemen on the August 5th, 2009, I would outran him.

Ode Dance studio took hostage of many of us–the onlookers. We were in the studio for close to thirty minutes until one of us called somebody with her moble phone, she was told that the policemen left.  awhile ago. Indeed, the artistes had equally gone with the policemen too by the time we were out from the studio.

Well, this exhibition of frivolity is no big deal as far as I’m concern. It is just a typical of Nigerian leaders in all spheres. They usually lost all sense of reasoning when post and money is involve. The culture of throwing chairs in both the house of Reps and the house Senate is eminent with our political leaders. But theatre is a scared venue and these warring producers of our film industry, Nollywood, should know better.

Friday, 30 April 2010

THE STREET CINEMA CULTURE



Through the 60s to late 90s in the entertainment history of Nigeria , cinema plays a vita role. Cinemas are mainly found in the cities. Lagos , as the former capital of the country, has the largest and biggest, and these are always well populated by people who want to see foreign films, from Hollywood to Bollywood and Japan . Historically, artistes in Nigeria have not yet started documenting their creative ingenuity in the form of film for commercial purposes.  Hubert Ogunde and Ola Balogun who made their films in the 60s got their commercial successes from the cinema, although production costs were really huge.  

Since Nigerian artists, as championed by Mr. Kenneth Nnebue with Living in Bondage in 1992, started documenting their own histories–folk-tales, fable-stories and fictional stories on tapes and cds for commercial purposes–Nigerians have come to feel at home with their own histories being documented and they troop out to see them in the cinemas. Although, they still appreciate the foreign films. Indeed, this culture of going to cinema to see both old and new films has drastically changed.

The Casino cinema in Alagomeji, Yaba, Pen Cinema in Agege, God Dey Cinema in Ajegunle, Odion Cinema on Lagos Island, Jebako cinema in Idi-Oro, and of course the Studio Cinema in Mushin are all presently ordained venues for church crusades and services. Some are under many years lease to the church that occupies them and others are completely sold to the church owners.

After a decade of the dead cinema culture in Nigeria , Ben Murray-Bruce the former Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority(NTA), and presently the Chairman of Silverbird Group, invigorated the cinema culture by building two cinema centres, Silverbild Galleria and The Ozone. And several cinema outfits suddenly sprang up like a cobweb afterwards. City Mall, Civic Centre and The Palms cinemas are a few of the Nigerian 21st century cinemas.

Today, Nigerians who can afford the elitist cinemas, that is the new city cinemas, pay between one thousand and two thousand five hundred naira to see either new or old films in the new age cinemas. But those who cannot afford the money troop out at night to watch films of their choice on the streets of Lagos . Actually, the street cinema has not erupted from a vacuum, it came out from the new marketing strategy by the film-sellers, scattered on the streets of Lagos .

Returning from work every night, I see a multitude of people crowding before a mini TV set, which is normally placed on a high shelf, to see a film – from the Island to the mainland and the suburbs of Lagos. At first I had thought that these sets of people were those who had no home to return to– the scavengers, the cart-pushers, the load-carrier, but when I began to take proper notice of the bulk of these street cinema goers, I realized that most of them are responsible people, with office jobs in some cases.     

However, when I asked a couple of friends and neighbours about this development, some were of the opinion that anybody who could stoop low enough to see a film on the street at night when he/she should be at home resting for the coming day’s job is not responsible in anyway whatsoever. Some on the contrary agreed that there are responsible people amongst them, but they had this to say: “I cannot do it!” One even asked me if I could do it for any amount of money and I flinched.

Ideally, one cannot talk about this decadence in our entertainment life without pointing a finger to the Satellite TVs, which became the first source of cinema culture breakdown before its resurgence under Nigeria entertainment business men. The story is different now that if you cannot afford DSTV, which usually come with big dish when the satellite television newly came in the 90s, you can now buy HITV, a Nigerian own company.

But as a low income earner, if you struggle to buy satellite TV decoder, either DSTV or HITV and it cost five hundred naira to fuel your mini-generator every night, why would you not decide to join the street cinema club?

Is it now that the effort of Nigerian filmmakers is being recognized worldwide that the entertainment industry, film in particular, should be faced with this kind of plague? “No!” will be my candid answer if asked.

PHCN, an offshoot of NEPA has proven not to be the answer to our epileptic electric power  problem, which is the foundation stone on which the street cinema culture is built. Although, campaigns have started on the “light out Nigeria syndrome,” the popular tendency is “LIGHT UP NIGERIA,” which appeared on I-report website, an arm of CNN.

Indeed, if the “responsible” amongst the street cinema goers can have light to watch their films at home, they will rather buy the film than to join in the promotion of street cinema culture which is detrimental to the growth of our film industry and the cinema culture.