Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The death of Jahman Anikulapo

Godwin Agbroko, the former Editor of African Guardian, The Week, Newswatch, and lately Chairman ThisDay Editorial Board, was brutally killed on Friday(December 22) night, less than two kilometres to The Guardian's Rutam House office.

Ruonah, his (awaiting NYSC) daughter published the article below the following day on Saturday, December 23. Now, I know why i have been so sad ever since Oga Goddee -- as we fondly called him at The Guardian in his days here -- was murdered. In some ways I have become an extended member of the family…

I had not met any other member besides Oga Goddee, until I met Ruonah, the daughter by accident on Wednesday December13… well, I had met her through reading her columns on the pages of ThisDay Plus every Saturday… I recall that I had even had occasion to make enquiry about her, having read one of the stuff she did on, I think, the fuss about dressing culture of the young… I need to check this out.

I thought that for a young person herself that depth of reasoning san all those stuff about `they are young, let them explode' was inspiring…I was talking about meeting Ruonah physically, right?

Now, on December 13, I had gone to Eko FM as a guest of the popular `Breakfast With Mr K', a programme thatis truly innovative in every sense of the word.... it is broadcast live from the studio of Eko FM but it is cast also on the internet such that anywhere you are in the world, you could access it. In fact while I was in the studio (with NAFDAC's heroine, Dora Akunyili)calls came in from as far as France, UK and the USA. Also, inventive is the Celebrity News Reading .. I read the news with Dora…. come deh shake gbirigbiri for mouth… even though I had done same (and on magazines) in 1986/1987 with FRCN as a jobless fresh graduate, and later in mid-90s as an adventurous co-presenter on The Beat (with Kole Ade-Odutola andToyin Akinosho)…

Anyway back to meeting Ruonah: I was embarrasingly late into the studio that day. I was expected at 8.20pm, but did not get in until about 9.10 am. Why? It was the day the madness of Governor OjuYobo Tinubu's Lagos (may God deliver us from his spell ofi ncompetence and inept governance in 2007) decided to play its worst drama. The traffic was maddening, as Area Boys and all the crazy fellows in uniform mounted inexplicable barrierseverywhere.. .
Surprisingly the traffic only occurred where-ever you see Tinubu's uniformed rogues!.... at other places, trust Lagosians, they got around to sorting (or slugging) it out. Well, sadly and out of character, I made the studio solate.

As I rushed in there, I was accosted by a slim lady in a smart jeans dress... `Uncle Jahman, so this is you...' she washed off my mix of agitation and anger. 'Uncle Jahman? I had to look around for that fellow… `Uncle!'Me ke? Me that should have been flogged for getting late to alive programme. Well, I unleashed the tyranny of my tongue... I am so sorry, it is this impossible Lagos, those crazy Danfo drivers, the madmen of Lagos trafficscheme bla bla......

`No, Uncle don't worry we wereall victims of that traffic too. Ruonah said. " I spent two hours on that same route.. from Ire Akari", she had recounted. "It wasserious o, Uncle..".`Uncle', again! Okay, it is me she is talking to, right? But who is this smiling lady Uncling me all the way? I was still working out the best way to get that query across, when she helped out…My Daddy speaks so highly about you? I even told him Iwanted to start writing for Life magazine. I love whatyou do with that magazine. My dad loves it so much,and so I told him I would want to write for themagazine. Her Daddy?

`He said he worked with you at The Guardian?' All the while I still had no clue.. Ruonah who?Haaaaa!`Writing for Life is simple…. Okay, give me your number..'She wrote her name,,, and wala! Ruonah Agbroko!

Oh, so you are my Uncle's daughter? She smiled. You are the columnist in This day, the one I have been reading… wow, you are so young…. She broke out in a broader smile now…. And a wink of caution had to come from the studio minder… as Dora was all the while being interviewed by the main anchor/ initiator of the programme – Kayode Akintemi. As I was going to keep the praise-singing going on, Iwas summoned to join Dora at the Mic to present the news…. That broke my fascination with this young, deep and intense lady.. one I could actually call my niece.

In any case, we continued after the programme, as she reminded me of her earlier request to be part of the committee for Relevant Art's subsequent programmes. That was when I invited her and the entire crew of the`Breakfast with Mr K', to the Formal Presentation of the Prince Claus Award to CORA holding the next day December 14 at the Netherlands Embassy on Lagos Island. The team attended the show. I recall Ruonah dressed in skirt suit, looking fit and trim. I think I joked that she looked like an air hostess, and earned that smile once more. The team was busy on that day – it was desirous of talking to Ambassador Ariel Van der Weil, who was chief host of the day, which explained why we eventually never got to talk.. but I saw when the four-some `Breakfast with Mr K' team was leaving thevenue. A joyous group, I remember now. I saw that smile again.

Now I shudder to see tears roll down those innocent young cheeks that spoke so passionately about `My Daddy…'; My Dad'.. on my first encounter with Ruonah. For that, I have been hell scared to head to the family house in the Isolo area to pay my respect to Oga Goddee, that committed journalist, fine columnist whose main writing virtues were the depth of his thought, sincerity of intellection, and simple-ness of prose… the man who as Editor of the African Guardian, accosted me one day on the staircase, gave me a stick of cigarette and bellowed... `No think say na only Guardian and Lagos Life you go deh give all that your arts stories… we deh here too o'… He did not even wait for an answer from my shocked lips, he just walked on in his`rolling style'…

But that was what launched me into copies to that magazine that died an untimely death with the Abacha proscription in 1996.


The Prince Claus/ Cora ExampleBy Ruonah Agbroko, Email:wudupls@yahoo. com, 12.23.2006

A week ago, I heard for the first time that His RoyalHighness, Prince Claus of the Netherlands in 1996 hada fund inaugurated in his name as a 70th birthdaypresent. What this has got to do with the price of teain Milan? Well, nothing, really. But, it’s got a lotto do with Nigeria. And the issue is that the PrinceClaus Fund for Culture and Development made Nigerianculture advocacy group, CORA, a recipient of thePrince Claus Fund Award 2006 worth 25,000 Euros,(approximately N4 million).

Principal Officers of The Committee for Relevant Art(CORA) went on air to aptly say the awards were “mannafrom abroad”. That innocent people like you are hearing CORA, or Prince Claus for the first time doesnot at all faze me. What does is the fact that thename CORA had been heard and read in the proposallists of almost every corporate organisation in Lagos,and yet, “for 15 years CORA was run without governmentor foreign donor support”. Granted, a prophet is without honour in his home, butwhat kind of a home celebrates the ‘prostitute’children and frustrates the ‘well-behaved’ ones?

Everything, from crappy comedy shows to the albumlaunches of washed-up artistes bear long, long listsof blue-chip sponsors, yet, an organisation that has convened amongst other things- seven editions of TheLagos Book and Art Festival and fifty-nine ‘ArtStampedes’ (a discursive platform) still manages to gounheard of and un-helped by the overwhelming majorityof Corporate Nigeria. Speaking to the members of CORA whom I have known for some time, they put flesh on the skeletons of my thoughts. Most corporate individuals and organisations are always on the lookout for cheap and loud avenues to exhibit corporate responsibility. That is normal. What, however gets my goat mewing and my cat bleating is the irresponsibility with which these avenues are chosen.

Credible, enduring avenues are irresponsibly veered-off while faddish unnecessary routes are taken. Let me explain. Oftentimes, the bearing, or usefulness of an event or project to Society is not taken into account. So long as sponsorship recognition is loudly fêted, there’s always a willing sponsor. Examples abound. The average company would rather come up with a Lagos marathon doused in some humanitarian theme, than go to Gombe and quietly build a children’s hospital.

The average company falls over itself to give participants in reality TV shows endorsementdeals. The average Nigerian “philanthropist” would rather film for posterity – and campaign purposes-some flimsy humanitarian gimmick than help set up an art and craft centre. Corporate Nigeria wonderfullyhas a list of priorities, only they scarcely realise they’re reading the list upside-down. It’s appalling.

For even at that gathering, I did not see, or hear of a local government or blue-collar donation. Yet CORA needs to build six libraries in sixcities of this country to give our reading culture that much-needed shot in the arm. CORA seeks to resuscitate that brand of Theatre where performances were staged at pocket-friendly venues. Prince Claus himself says it as it is “…It is impossible to ‘develop’ another country from outside. People develop themselves, and so too do countries. All that we can do is assist that process if asked to do so.” No one can develop our film, book, art, dance,and tourism potentials – our culture- better than us.

I do not ask that Corporate Organisations andblue-collar/ babaringa billionaires refuse to sponsorbeauty pageants and album launches. I only ask that the prophets- the ones who see impending consequences and are doing their best – be helped in their efforts. It goes beyond culture. In entrepreneurship, small-scale businesses, health care, name it. I do not ask for much. I merely ask that in the coming year, in the coming budgets for well-heeled companies and private pockets, let there be intentional, corporate responsibility. The kind that casts off greed, and would sometimes risk losing a tad of self-hype for the future of its society.

As HRH Prince Claus (of blessed memory) put it: “Tie-wearers unite. Cast off the rope that binds you.Risk your neck. Liberate yourself and venture forth into open-collar paradise.

Christmas Greetings Hurrah! We made it! Saint and Sinner alike, Democrat and Despot alike, Common man and Con-man alike, we all get to see another Christmas. It’s surely not our doing; else the bad folk would long be six-feet below.It’s the grace of the Almighty we all get to see the eve of the eve of Christmas. For my family…I love you all much more than I tend to show. God bless and keep you. For the rest, readers, friends and foe alike… may the goodness of God be your portion this Christmas and forever more. AMEN!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Activist

by Tanure Ojaide
324 pages
Reviewer- Wole Oguntokun

The novel appears to be along the lines of “faction”, first coined by Wole Soyinka, meaning “fiction based on fact”. The theme of the novel is unhidden, direct and confrontational. It is a strong depiction of the terrible exploitation of the Niger Delta area and the writer succeeds in painting a vivid picture of the rape of the environment by the Oil and Gas companies that do their business there.

There is a half-hearted attempt to hide the identity of Shell as the chief marauding company but even the emblem of the main culprit in the book is a red-rimmed shell of yellow flames, the same as that of Shell Oil in reality.

The writer makes many strong allegations, chief of which is that the rest of the country developed with the oil wealth of the Niger Delta area but at the detriment of the oil producing areas. Examples given are the development of the Festival Town (Festac Town) in Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.

It is notable that the book was published (at least in Nigeria) in 2006, yet the major local collaborators with the exploitative Oil companies is the Federal Military Government of Nigeria. No where in the book can this reviewer recall seeing the word ‘Government’, without the prefix, ‘Military’. It is almost as if the writer wishes it to be believed that civilian governments have not collaborated with the Oil Companies in the transformation of the Niger Delta Area into bleak and desolate wastelands. It might also be considered a self-preservatory reflex by the writer.

At some point, Ebi, the main female character and a supporter and eventual wife of ‘The Activist’ takes a suitor (Udoma), whom she met before she met her husband, to a traditional healer who is asked to help the man father a child with his wife. The inclusion of this ‘digression’ from the plot is the cause of puzzlement except it is to promote belief in the efficacy of traditional healing remedies as a cure to the woes of the Niger Delta area.
Udoma eventually fathers a child through his wife but loses the child years after because he did not pay the debt he owed the healer and instead trusted in his ‘born-again’ pastor.

The sensuality created by the writer between ’The Activist’ and the unlikely 37 year old virgin known as Ebi is at its most captivating when they go for a picnic by a distant river. The follow-up to the scene where they actually make love fails to match the initial sensuality. The language chosen does not call to mind a picture of a long awaited event. “The Activist stretched his tongue and Ebi reciprocated. They kissed.” Imagery calling to mind the activities of an Anteater.
The degree of sophistication of the Nigerian reader is a high one and appropriate words would have aided the appreciation of the situation better. The writer continues, “They began to rub each other”. Further on, we read in a moment of loving desire with Ebi and the Activist that “They broke the embrace to look at each other’s eyes satiated with desire for the other”. There is a contradiction in terms here and the language caused this reviewer to look up the word, “satiated” again. “Satiated” is a feeling of having had too much of something.

The main character, “The Activist”, is an academic and without any noticeable flaws. Even when he engages in the illegal acts of bunkering and fuel hoarding along with his area-boy friend, Pere, where the people who feel the hardship the most are the oppressed of the Niger Delta area, the writer lays no blame at the door step of “The Activist”.

Further on in the book, we observe that a Women’s stripping protest” where aged women had intended to walk naked in protest was aborted by the oil companies and the Federal Militry Government. Mrs. Taylor of the Women’s group invokes Umalokun, the patron goddess of women, to avenge the rape and humiliation of the women.
Mr. Van Hoort of Bell Oil subsequently suffers a heart attack and dies a week later while General Mustapha Ali Dongo, head of the Military Government also dies in strange circumstances. According to the writer, “the women’s thoughtfully planned action was fulfilled cosmically”. This appears to be an advocacy by the writer for supernatural ways of fighting the exploitation of the Niger Delta area. When the matter of Udoma’s son’s death for not paying a debt to a traditional healer is looked at in this light, the writer’s leanings become more apparent.

There are some grammatical errors in the book of which the blame of oversight must be laid on the publisher’s editors. The trunk of a car is referred to, at least twice in the book as a “booth”. The proper word would have been “boot”.

For this reviewer, by the end of the book, the Activist could not be told apart from the exploiters he had fought long and hard against. He had engaged in bunkering, a criminal act, and had also used his petrol station as a base for the illegal hoarding of petrol so as to force prices up in periods of scarcity. Who paid the ultimate price for these acts and suffered hardship? Not the Oil Companies but the poor people of the Niger Delta.
The Activist also sends his daughter to a “high class private kindergarten” school attended by the Children of Bell Oil and other Oil Company workers. The Activist’s excuse is that it is a “counter penetration” into the ways of life of those who have ravaged the land.

The reviewer learnt more in this book than he ever had about life in the Niger Delta area and the information on the background of the crisis is highly instructive. Still, there are many ways the story telling might have been improved.

Yellow Yellow!

Yellow Yellow
Kaine Agary



The many issues on the Niger-Delta revolve around the familiar words used to describe the activities of the people of the Niger-Delta. The bunkering, killing, abducting, spillage, vandalization and now bombing.

Yellow Yellow is the story of Zilayefa; born to a Greek father. Her mother who out of naivety at the time; was hoping she would have a better life with him, but she had been thrust with an unexpected pregnancy instead. Zilayefa, while battling with her racial 'confusion' moves out of her village, which is slowly being robbed of its farm lands by the oil spillage. The writer opens the book with the scene of an oil spillage, "During my second to last year in secondary school, one of the crude oil pipies that ran through my village broke and spilled oil over several hectares of lan, my mother's farm included. When she got to the house, she knocked on the door and said very cooly. "Zilayefa, bring me my bathing soap and sponge." Zilayefa finally leaves the village and the shielding of her protective mother for the city. In Port Harcourt Zilayefa gets a guardian with the recommendation of her Church Pastor to execute her dream of a better life in the city. She encounters a life that goes in a long way to expose the wide social gap which exists in the cities and the villages in the Niger Delta region.

The book tells us a new story; one, which many do not know or have been made to forget in countless charges of blood, and oil spillage. Agary's story is the story that is told of usual people who have not been sensitised enough to know how much of the issues going around affects them enough to contribute. It is the story of cultural demise, the birth of immorality and the loss of identity and loss of focus. Yellow Yellow opens a new vista to the many untold stories in this region. The many stories that go beyond the spilling of oil or blood, the disintegration of kindred and the loss of confidence in justice, as the people had known little of it. In one of the chapters she writes,
"People did not call the police to settle disputes, and even when they did and a matter was charged to court, there was so little confidence in the fairness of justice that very few waited for the court's decision…."

The people learnt to take matters into their own hands. "Everyone who could afford it had their own army they could call on to fight their wars, which were over property, contracts, even girlfriends. And the boys who made up these armies were so caught up in the anarchy that they lost all sense of decency and respect."

Yellow Yellow is simply narrated. Although there are several unanswered questions as one reads the novel, the book is subtly engaging. Zilayefa becomes a typical example of the many 'confused' children born to oil workers, sailors, British expatriates and the many people of different colours many women meet for so many reasons that lead us back to the 'oil matters.' She is the example of the many young girls who lack direction and disillusioned with the life and lack of vibrancy in the village leave its ebbing rustiness for the bustling city life. In contribution to the literature of this region, Kaine Agary goes further to tell one of the many untold stories of the area. The psychological trauma many young people are forced to face. One of which basically is the issue of growing before their time.

Yellow Yellow
perks up reasonably well in its description of the old rich and the nouveau riche in the Niger Delta, the submissiveness to poverty and the way so many people have accepted the poverty-lives-next door-lifestyle. Yellow Yellow is a simple narration of what to expect from that next generation. The story is told very directly. It is certain the writer just wants to tell one story which would embody her intent and she seems to have captured the trauma of a people well without slapping our faces with the details of what is known.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Prince Claus Award

The Committee for Relevant Art was a recipient of the 2006 Prince Claus Award of 25, 000 Euros. The Award, instigated by a government backed foundation in the Netherlands is named after the deceased husband of the current Queen of the Netherlands.
The award is based on success in the advocacy for the Arts and the ceremony took place on the grounds of the Mission House of the Dutch Embassy on Eleke Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos.
In the picture, His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Nigeria (right), who presided over the ceremony, chats with guests before the event. Posted by Picasa
Ruka Sanusi of Price Water House Coopers (Ghana) Ltd (left) and Ebun Olatoye of True Love magazine at the Award Night. Posted by Picasa

Three Kings...

From left, Tunde Kuboye (Jazz 38), Femi Asekun (Veteran Broadcaster) and Benson Idonije (leading Music Critic) at the Prince Claus Award Night. Posted by Picasa
At the award night, Chuxx Ohai, Arts Editor of the National Mirror (left) and Professor Duro Oni, Head of the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos. Posted by Picasa
Mark Rutgers, Second Secretary (Political Affairs) of the Netherlands Mission in Nigeria, stands here with Chief Joop Berkhout OON, Executive Chairman of Spectrum Books, at the Prince Claus Award Night. See more pictures Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Our Kulture

Members of the Crown Troupe, a dance-theatre company, load their eqiupment on the Chariot of Fire, (their bus) after a performance at one of the leading Arts venues in the city, Terra Kulture. Posted by Picasa

CORA at Deji Toye's

CORA held a meeting at Deji's to, amongst other things, celebrate his birthday, his new apartment and his survival of his car falling more than 40 feet off the Apongbon bridge to the ground. The car was turned to a mess of warped metal but Deji walked away from it. In the picture from left are Chris Ihidero, Jahman Anikulapo and Deji Toye. Picture- Wole Oguntokun. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 17, 2006

Highlife Party

The music legend, Sunny Ade meets with Sam Harvey of the British Council at O'Jez, the venue of the Great Highlife party organized by CORA, in honour of 'King' Sunny Ade, as he turned 60. Just behind Sunny Ade is another legend, Fatai Rolling Dollar (Won kere si number). Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Odewale (left) rejoices to see Alaka, the friend of his youth in 'The gods are not to blame'- Oct 28, Muson Centre Posted by Picasa

The gods...

Odewale (lanre dele-abrahams) teaches the people of Kutuje to war. "The gods are not to blame" was the official drama presentation in the 2006 Muson Arts Festival. Written by Ola Rotimi and directed by Wole Oguntokun, the cast had more than 50 members. See more pictures Posted by Picasa
A dance sequence in 'The Gods...' Posted by Picasa
The people of Kutuje weep as Odewale leaves with his children to purge the curse on the land. Posted by Picasa
Alaka, left, (Sola Iwaotan) pleads for his life as the Ogun Priest (Bayo Ogundele) interjects his body between Alaka and King Odewale (Lanre Dele-Abrahams).- The Gods are not to Blame. Muson Centre, Oct 28 Posted by Picasa
The chiefs and Alaka (seated) mourn Odewale's departure (The Gods are not to blame) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Rain Maker


For the first time in seven years Majek Fashek, in an exclusive interview with Thisday newspaper, addresses concerns of his health and erratic behavior. During a telephone interview, Majek and his US based management agency spoke to Thisday on these issues.


This Day: You’ve been on self-imposed 7 year exile from Nigeria. Why are you returning now with this 46th Independence Day Thisday Music Festival?

Majek: It is time. I’ve been gone for seven years from Nigeria. For so long and too long. I never stopped playing my music during my “exile.” I went into exile to renew my commitment to myself and to this beautiful art called music; to rediscover a new music. During this process, I also embarked on world tour. I’ve been fortunate to perform on the stage with world music stars, stars such as Jimmy Cliff, Alpha Blondie, and Tracy Chapman. I am returning home this time because I believe my people are ready for me. I love my people (Nigeria) and I can’t go to my people in just any old way. Hence my return. With the tremendous help of my record company, November Records’ Charles Novia and my USA/Africa management outfit, Instant Media Communications, headed by Azuka Jebose Molokwu and Joseph Anumbor; this brilliant team worked hard to put me on this bill and I look forward to celebrating life with my people. I am coming to give Nigeria blessings from God. God has helped me. Josiah is the King of Kings. The excitement is overwhelming.

This Day: There are speculations about your health, mental health and physical health. We’ve heard stories about your dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol. Are you well?

Majek: I am not crazy. And I don’t have a drug problem. I do have an alcohol problem. It is not because I like to drink.... When my Mother died, I felt a part of me left with her. To lose someone so dear and so close to you can be extremely painful. In an attempt to come to terms with this loss, alcohol became a chosen part to communicate my pains to her and also to journey into a mystical world. My mother was my strength. She is still. Every day I make peace and come to understanding that she is in a place where she would be blessed and appreciated. If you have a mother today, love her, spend time with her and cherish every moment that you see her…

(At this moment, Instant Media Communications Head Hunter, Azuka Jebose Molokwu provides Majek’s steps towards his problems): Alcoholism is a disease. No one wakes up and decides he wants to be an alcoholic. We are all human. He has taken the greatest step to recovery by recognizing his dependence upon alcohol. We must support him in this journey because in each Nigerian there is a Majek Fashek. Show me a family without life’s crises and I’ll show you a virgin in a maternity ward. We can’t afford to ignore, refuse and reject him. If we turn our backs on him, then we’ve turned our backs on all those struggling with the disease of alcoholism. Every day is a struggle. Majek needs our support in his great stride to wellness. He is one of the most gifted Nigerian musicians. Nigeria should feel privileged to have Majek: a loving father, husband and law abiding citizen of the world. He is our man in the mirror. Posted by Picasa

LNG Night

The writers (from left) Layi Adeniji, Toni Kan and Kaine Agary at the LNG $20, 000 Award for Literature (Drama) on Saturday October 7. Venue was the Shell Hall of the Muson Centre. The prize was won by Ahmed Yerima Ph.D, the current C.E.O. of the National Arts Theatre and Artistic Director of the National Troupe of Nigeria. His entry was the stage play, The Hard Ground.  Posted by Picasa

The Gods...

The Gods are not to blame is the official drama for the Annual Muson Festival slated for later this month. Ola Rotimi's take on the Greek tragedy of Oedipus Rex written by Sophocles, tells the tale of a young man who travels far in a bid to escape his destiny. He finds this a bit more difficult than envisaged.
The play is directed by Wole Oguntokun and will be staged at the Agip Recital Hall of the Muson Centre on Saturday the 28th of October 2006.
There will be a Matinee show at 3pm and tickets will cost N500 for Students and N1000 for adults.
The evening show slated for 6pm will go for a flat fee of N1500. Posted by Picasa

Your Books of the Year

For the 3rd year in a row, Molara Wood is calling for writers' contributions, to help compile a list of the Books of the Year. Books read/published this year would be the main focus; not-so-recent books that have impressed you during 2006, would also be eligible.

So, she would be grateful to receive titles of the 2 books you enjoyed reading most this year. The works could be in any genre.

Please provide brief commentary - in no more than 50-100 words - to explain why you have chosen these particular books. Every comment will be credited when the list of Writers' Best Books of 2006 is published.

Please do not select a book written/published by yourself.

Book choices must be submitted by Friday 3rd November

Her email address:

Friday, October 20, 2006

Radio Play Writing

The British Council is once again joining with the BBC World Service to launch the International Radio Playwriting Competition 2007. Below are details of the said competition.

About the Competition

Applicants are invited to write a radio play of about sixty minutes on any subject of their choice. The play must be the original, unpublished work of the person or persons submitting it. The contest is open to any writer who is not normally a resident of the United Kingdom. The play must be written in English but can be translated by a third party, although there is no financial assistance available to help with any translation costs. Translated work must be identified as such, and the translator’s name given.


There are two main prizes given: to the best play written in English as a first language and to the best play written in English as a second language. The two prize winners will each receive £2500 sterling and a trip to London to see their plays being recorded and to attend a prize-giving evening. There are also additional prizes of digital or short wave radios being given for the best radio play to be written from each of the following geographical areas: The Americas; Europe; Africa and the Middle East; South Asia; Russia and the Caucasus; Asia and Pacific.

All writers whose plays reach the judges' final shortlist will receive BBC goodie bags as well as getting feedback on their plays from the BBC’s team of professional readers.
Competition launch overseas

The competition launches 30th October 2006, with the closing date for applications 30th April 2007. Application forms will be available for download on and from 30 October 2006.

Submissions and application forms can be emailed to or submitted at any British Council office near you.



1)http://perseus. uk/uhinfo/ extrel/uharts/ awards.cfm


Entrants are invited to submit a short story of up to3,500 words on the theme of 'vision'. 1st prize£1,000, 2nd prize £500, 3rd prize £300, 4th prize£200. The winner will also be able to apply for the UHWriting Award three-year scholarship to the Universityof Hertfordshire, study commencing in 2007.The top twenty stories will be published in an anthology by the University of Hertfordshire Press. Deadline-January 15, 2007.

2) CommonTies would pay $200 for personal stories orstories about people that are compelling. There is noneed to use real names. Sample stories are in their website:

3) OV Books Announces Its Third Title!

OV Books, the book imprint of Other Voices magazine (and publisher of the acclaimed short story collection SIMPLIFY by Tod Goldberg), will consider short fiction submissions for its third book, a cross-cultural anthology titled A STRANGER AMONG US. The book will be distributed by University of Illinois Press and will be released in late 2007. A STRANGER AMONG US will focus on stories of cross-cultural collisions/bonds, encompassing a wide variety of ethnicities, races and nationalities.

Any work that tells the story of what happens when a member of one culture finds him/herself in relationship with members of an "other" culture is eligible. (Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Third and Final Continent" would be an excellent example of this theme.)
Other, hypothetical examples of plots might include:

  • A Brit living in Thailand

  • A Native-American college student at an Ivy League university

  • An African-American family moves to an all-Caucasian suburb

  • A gay man on a dominantly heterosexual sports team

  • * A wedding brings together a Latino family and a Jewish family

  • A Muslim academic goes to the American South for a conference

  • A Nigerian woman and African-American man meet on

The sky is the limit! Writers of all ethnicities and races are eligible. Writers do not need to be of the same "group" as the characters they are writing about; the only critereon is excellence of the fiction submitted. Writers should avoid "editorializing" or political preaching in their stories, and focus on the dynamics of character and plot, letting the cultural issues rise organically from the material.OV Books will read submissions from June 1 to December 31, 2006.
No entry fee. Enclose SASE for response only. One story per writer, unless invited to submit more work. No emailed submissions, please. 8,000 word limit. Previously published pieces are eligible.
Mail to:OV BooksDepartment of English (MC 162)601 S. Morgan StreetChicago, IL 60607.

Inquiries should be directed to

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Elders dance for Fela's men


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Baba Ani, Leader of Fela's Egypt 80 Band

Two prominent members of the Egypt 80 band, led by the late Afrobeat king- Fela Anikulapo-Kuti were honoured recently in Lagos. It was at the monthly elders forum jointly organised by the Committee for RelevantArt (CORA) and O'Jez Entertainment, located at Surulere, Lagos.

The two Afrobeat legends; Lekan Animashaun (a.k.a BabaAni), and Duro Ikujenyo, were honoured at the 60th edition of the Great Highlife Party, otherwise knownas Elders Forum. Interestingly, the duo were Fela Anikulapo Kuti' s side-men. Animashaun, now 70, was Egypt 80's band leader while Ikujenyo, was the keyboardist. Friends and admirers honoured both men as they beamed with smiles. And perhaps more significantly, the duo's birthday feast coincided with Nigeria'sIndependence Day Anniversary in addition to marking the fifth anniversary of O'Jez Entertainment. Anchored by veteran broadcaster, Benson Idonije, the party drew a large number of elder artistes, thereby making a major statement on the flourishing highlife scene.

In his remarks, CORA's Secretary General, Toyin Akinosho recounted how Baba Ani was snatched away from Pa Chris Ajilo's Kubanos Band by the late Abami Eda."He was recruited in the 60s, 1964 precisely into theEgypt 80 Band and he was one of the frontline members of Movement of the People (MOP), a political party founded by Fela during the Second Republic" However, the claim that Baba Ani was snatched from ChrisAjilo band was however faulted when Ajilo himself mounted the stage. He told the all-attentive audiencethat there was a particular journey, which Animashaun was supposed to go with the group but could not make it. His words "he (Baba Ani) was then working with the Lagos Town Council. Of course, he could not go on tour with us. That was why we had to let him go. He was not snatched by the late Fela Anikulapo. He has always been a very close friend. Now, I am very proud of him because when he left Kubanos, the next band he joined in 1965 was Fela's band. "Duro Ikujenyo who is presently the leader of Age ofAquarius was lauded for his managerial acumen. He was said to have produced some of Fela's songs and that of Fatai Rolling Dollars. Fela's Unknown Soldier andFatai's Won Kere si Number wa particularly were two popular songs credited to the keyboardist.

Akinosho noted further, "I know that there are some other people here who know so much about the two, adding, however, that their scholarly position was deliberate and it was to create a platform for collaboration withO'Jez.Also, Seyi Solagbade, highlife singer and leader of Blackface said Ikujenyo was a legend whose efforts cannot be pushed aside. He said:" He (Ikujenyo) has been there for so long doing things that are creative. He is a veteran of a kind. I think these are the kinds of legends Nigerians should celebrate."

On the highlife party, Solagbade said that the initiative has come of age and should begin to attract corporate sponsorship. "CORA has been there for almost20 years now. It has been a self sponsored programme but big companies should now show interest in things like these rather than fund programmes that will pollute the minds of the youths."

Shortly before guests took to the floor, Elder Steve Rhodes, Fatai Rolling Dollars and Chief Femi Asekun inducted the celebrants into the Elders Forum. Soon after, Chris Ajilo relived the Eko o gba gbere oldies while Baba Ani performed Oni Dodo Oni Moinmoin.


At 15, CORA celebrates culture in book fiesta


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Women writers

Photo: Sun News Publishing

Although the opening day was threatened by a downpour, this did not deter hundreds of artists, writers, culture workers, and journalists who trooped to theOnikan venue of this year's edition of the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF).

Organised by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), the festival which entered its eighth edition this year held between September 15 and 17 and was graced by notable men and women of letters drawn from within and outside the country. Also in attendance were book exhibitors, arts and crafts dealers, publishers, musicians and art patrons. Even children were not left out of the yearly ritual as they also had their workshop which was graced by such prominent writers as Professor Pat Utomi, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi among others.

CORA's effort in this edition was to bring every participant under a big canopy with its educative and entertaining activities cutting across all spheres of arts such as poetry readings, seminars, art exhibitions, drama and musical performances, arts stampede as well as workshops and talks for authors and kid writers. The festival itself was a welcome development by all and sundry and an improvement from last edition in terms of quality programming and audience participation. The keynote address on the opening day was delivered by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi a playwright and forme rminister of national planning.

The first segment of the event commenced with StoryTime flagged off by Aunty Noma. There was also readings of poems from Wings of Dawn by women Writers Association (WRITA), as well as Orita Meta by Peju Alatise, Araceli Aipoh-No Sense of Limits and Mobolaji Adenubi's Splendid. Women writers also had a discussion session on how they write and concluded that they all write about their experiences, as they have to disover themselves, and set the goal of seeing the female writer as a veritable voice in the literary world.

Seyi Solagbade and his Black Face band and Adunni and her group Nefertiti, thrilled the audience with beautiful renditions of songs. The exhibition hall too was a beehive of activities as it was adorned with beautiful art works of different shapes and sizes. Some of the paintings and crafts were seen hanging on the wall, the ceiling and everywhere. This year's exhibition which was titled The Dawning of Dreams featured works of artists like Mufu Onifade with his Araism, Washington Uba Chukwuemeka, a photographer, Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo, an installation artist and Atiku Olorunfunmi an art activist.

Facilitated by Goethe-Institut, a discourse on arts reporting was anchored by Gerd Mauer, a visiting German radio presenter and a former African correspondent who grew up with a large number of African writers. Meuer has the privilege of having translated works such as Wole Soyinka's Ibadan, The Burden of Memory and a Climate of Fear. He was the major speaker at a workshop tagged: Reporting the Arts. Meuer who spoke about his experiences in journalism also gave hints on the basics and rudiments of reporting the arts. According to him, art pages in Germany are reported on a daily basis with a large section given to the art on the pages of newspapers. He also recounted how he got into journalism, his sojourn in Nigeria during the arrest of Wole Soyinka, how he used to visit Soyinka in prison, his reportage of environmental issues as well as how he covered African countries as an environmental journalist. He however lamented that the level of professionalism in the Nigerian context is no longer what it used to be.

Professor Pat Utomi spoke on the topic Book in My Life while Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi launched Dr Sola Olorunyomi's new book on Afrobeat, Fela and the Imagined Continent. The second day saw children displaying their creative ingenuity in art, dance-drama, craft etc. This segmentwas co-ordinated by Footprints Art Academy which gave a drama presentation which preached against child abuse and the negative effect of abortion. Also the Children Art Movement International thrilled guests with a drama sketch on the need for parents to educate their children. The drama also gave highlights on ways of building future leaders and making them useful to the society.

Professor Utomi had a good time with the children as he lectured them on the benefits of reading. Odia Ofeimun and Bisi Sylvia on third day, had a dialogue on the 15 years of CORA: An appraisal. Odia spoke extensively on the history, achievements, shortcomings and innovations of CORA noting that the committee had lived to its billing as one of the leading voices for cultural revival in Africa. The group which started as an advocacy team had held well over 50 public discussions many of which have helped to influence government policies in the promotion and propagation of the country's culturalheritage.There was also an art stampede on the achievement ofthe Nigerian literature after twenty years of the first nobel prize. This session was facilitated by speakers such as Gerd Meuer, Araceli Aipoh among others.

The festival came to an end at the Terra Kulture with performances by Footprint Academy and the NationalTroupe of Nigeria in a drama titled Idemili.The Goethe-Institut also entertained guests at the institute with film shows, The Edukators and Go for Zucker.

Other dignitaries at the event included, GboyegaBanjo, Professor Pat Utomi, Chief Frank Okonta, RichardMofe- Damijo, Jennifer Osammor, Rita Dahl from Finland, Mobolaji Adenubi, Elder Steve Rhodes among many others.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

International Poetry Competition 2006

Entries to be sent by post to the following address only:

Féile Filíochta/International Poetry Competition 2006
P.O. Box 6983
County Dublin


• There is no entry fee.
• Poems can be on any subject and there is no restriction on length, theme or style.
• As a signature is required on the entry form, poems will NOT be accepted by e-mail.
• Attach this form to poem(s) submitted.
• Write your name on entry form only - not on poems.
• Please include title of poem on top of each page.
• Entrants may submit up to four poems in each language in their age group. Use separate forms if submitting poems in more than one language.
• There are 10 language categories in the Adult competitions: Irish, English, German, French, Italian, Welsh, Spanish, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish and Polish. In the Under 17 and Under 12 competitions, there are two language categories: Irish and English.
• In the junior categories entrants must be under 12 or under 17 on the closing date of the competition.
• Incomplete entry forms will not be processed.
• Poems cannot be returned to entrants and once submitted cannot be altered.
• We do not acknowledge receipt of poems.
• Poems must not have been published prior to entering the competition and should not appear in print, on a website, self-published or broadcast in any form before announcement of competition results. They must be the original work of the author.
• The list of prizewinners and winning poems will appear on the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Libraries website in early March 2007. Winners will be personally notified by the end of February 2007. Results will also be sent out in the post in March if you enclose a SAE with your entry.
• Further entry forms available from address above or from libraries, or phone (01) 278 1788, fax (01) 278 1792. Entry forms and conditions in Irish, English, German, French, Italian, Welsh, Spanish, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish and Polish available online at
• At the discretion of the County Council winning poems may be published in different media.

The Judges' decision is final and no correspondence can be entered into regarding their decision.

  • Closing date: Saturday 11th November 2006.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More Pictures from the Festival...

The Book and Art Festival featured Seyi Solagbade, the 'Palongo' exponent, and his band, The Black Face. Posted by Picasa
The Children at the Festival present a drama skit. Posted by Picasa
The Comic Book Stands at the Book and Art Festival. Posted by Picasa
Artists were on hand at the Lagos Book and Art Festival to do 'real-time' sketches of willing customers for a small fee.  Posted by Picasa
A stand at the Book and Art Festival. Posted by Picasa
Former Ambassador to Ethiopia, Olusegun Olusola (left), sits with Iquo Eke as the German Radio Presenter, Gerd Meuer, engages him in conversation- location-The Book and Art Festival. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Actor, Richard Mofe Damijo, meets with the children at the Lagos Book and Art Festival. Also standing is the 80-year old music icon, Steve Rhodes. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 16, 2006

On the 2nd day of the book and arts festival, Sola Alamutu, author of the children's book, Cate saves the rain-forest (seated in cap), and Elder Steve Rhodes, pose with some young ones.  Posted by Picasa