Friday, December 28, 2007

Highlife party for Yemisi Ransome-Kuti at 60

• Article by Benson Idonije as published in The Guardian December 28, 2007.

THE end-of-year edition of the monthly Great Highlife Party (also called the Elder’s Forum) falls due on Sunday, December 30, 2007 at the National Stadium Annex of O’Jez Entertainment. Happening with the collaboration of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), this edition is a Christmas Party of sort for the dynamic and hardworking diva, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti who turned 60 recently. The party will take off at 6 o’clock in the evening and last till 11pm.
An activist to the core, Yemisi is a patron of the arts, mover of civil society and Executive Director of Nigeria Network of non-governmental organisations, (NGOs). Her views on corruption and the need to protect the girl-child are very strong. She has championed this cause for years and has made considerable impact. A typical Ransome Kuti, with rebellion and activism running in the blood, Yemisi has made good her aims and objectives. She has scored success in practical terms, finding solutions to many issues surrounding women and the girl-child.
She strongly believes that every girl-child must be educated and that she should not be discriminated against on account of her gender. This is true to her words: “The Federal Government has done a lot in this area. Different schemes have been set up to ensure that education is available at a qualitative and quantitative level. But the mindset of Nigerians has got to change, first of all, to value having a daughter. There are so many women that are excelling in every field that no man should feel, oh. I’ve got a girl.
“You’ll be who you want to be, depending on the kind of training and value that has been with you. And we should equip the girl-child with not just the education capacity but psychological power because there are still some who are educated but still feel inferior. The girl child should be brought up in an environment where she is treated as a human being”.
A mother of four and two grand children, Yemisi, who has great passion for this cause, always teaches with her own example. “That’s what has made me what I am. I was never treated any differently from Fela, Beko or any of the boys around. And I was given the same challenges, same responsibilities, and taught that I had to be independent and had to be able to take care of myself and my responsibility I bring into this world. This is the kind of environment that we must provide for the girl-child, to allow her to blossom and to realise her own potentials, to understand what talents she has and utilise those talents comprehensively.”
With regard to the Triple N.G.O, Yemisi is enjoying her work as the Executive Director of the Nigeria Network of Non-Government Organisations. In the process she is harnessing the energies of civil societies, both in voluntary and the organised private sector, focusing on issues that will assist them in meeting their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) considers Yemisi’s aspirations and achievements rather spectacular and people-oriented. The only way it can sufficiently demonstrate appreciation and commendation is by honouring her on the platform of the Elders Forum as she turns 60. She falls within the purview of the Committee’s idea of celebrities. She has been committed to this selfless service to mankind for over ten years.
Tributes will be duly paid to her by the Committee for Relevant Art in conjunction with special guests and friends who admire her. In addition, she will have a chance to tell the audience the present state of her NGOs and the plans she has for the future.
Yemisi will be celebrated with highlife music, the music that helped to usher in independence for this country. And in doing so, veterans of the music have been lined up. She is particularly lucky in that she will be the first celebrity to enjoy the highlife of the new, improved Highlife Messengers, a crop of veterans who are individualists and masters of their various instruments.
They will provide accompaniment to the music of such veterans as Tunde Osofisan, Maliki Showman and Alaba Pedro. But perhaps the act she will find most exciting is that of Fatai Rolling Dollar, and eighty year old veteran who truly represents vintage highlife. The interesting thing about his music is that it is a mixture of the old and the new. Young female singers lend fresh voices to the music while Fatai himself introduces new elements to the rhythm section through vibrant syncopations and guitar strokes.
The Great Highlife Party has come a long way. It’s been on for over six years, and this being the concluding session for the year, will be exciting and colourful with Yemisi Ransome-Kuti as celebrant.
The out-going year had many exciting sessions and celebrated several great people, among them Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya, Paschal Orts and others.
But perhaps the most interesting edition was the one that was based on an issue rather than the celebration of a selected person. It was on the Nigerian civil war which lasted from 19967 till 1970 and the way it affected highlife. This topic was influenced by the theme of the very successful Book and Art Fair mounted for three days at the National Theatre, Iganmu early in November by CORA.
Speakers included Mr. Aderinokun and Ajibade Fashina Thomas, veteran journalists who witnessed the impact of the war at the time. But perhaps the contribution that helped to boost the event was the one that came from Kevin Ejiofor, former director General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). He gave an insight into the goings-on on the other side of the divide, telling the story from the beginning to the end.
The Great Highlife party started as an Elders’ Forum, with the hope that only the elderly would be keenly interested in highlife. But events have since proved this theory wrong. The forum is now being dominated by the youth for whom it is actually meant as a highlife revival initiative. It is the youth who did not experience the flourishing days of the music in the 50s and 60s that actually need to hear it now. And they are responding in large numbers.
On the 14th of December 2007, the Edo Chapter of the Great Highlife Party was officially inaugurated at the Hexagon Hotel, Benin City. There, a formidable highlife band has been playing regularly, but the Highlife Messengers, Fatai Rolling Dollar and Tunde Osofisan from Lagos, all went to Benin to help establish the forum. Again, the audience was dominated by young people who all sat down and listened with engrossed interest to highlife music.
In the case of the Benin experience, the fruits of the highlife revival initiative are visible. Two young people who are taking highlife to the next level are Mariam Alile, the daughter of veteran actor, Alile who gave the audience a new dose of highlife, singing and playing guitar. The second happens to be the son of Osayemore Joseph, another veteran musician who goes by the name, Oriri Joseph. He sang his own compositions and played guitar. This is the kind of experience we expect to see in Lagos.
And, who knows, some of them may come forward on Sunday, December 30, 2007 when the Great Highlife Party celebrates the activist, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti.

Friday, December 21, 2007

From left, Otunba Lawal Solarin, Publisher Literamed, Mr. Joe Musa DC, National Gallery, Deji Toye (moderator), Abdul Bangbopa, Director Nextzone, Mahmoud Ali-Balogun, MD Mainframe and Mr. Afolabi Kofo-Abayomi, Special Adviser to Gov. Fashola on Special Duties

What Budget has to Do with Culture Production

For a fair share in the budget, artistes brainstorm
By Chuks Nwanne and Jumoke Verissimo
INADEQUATE funding and poor attitude by government at all levels have remained the major headaches of the art and culture sector of the economy. Unlike other sectors, budgetary allocation for the arts is very poor, and even the lean provision is hardly properly distributed by political heads of the culture ministries in both state and federal levels.
The Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), took the bull to a slaughter house on Sunday, December 16, 2007, when it constituted a panel of policy makers, art enthusiasts, and those in the private sector to examine the effect of budgetary policies on Arts and Culture in Nigeria.
With the theme, "What Has the Budget Got to Do with Culture Production?" the 75th Art Stampede had on the panel the Director General of National Gallery of Arts, Mr. Joe Musa; Chairman, Nigerian Book Fair Trust, Otunba Yinka Lawal Solarin; notable movie maker and activist Mahmoud Ali-Balogun; the Special Adviser (Special Duties) to Lagos State culture; Folabi Kofo Abayomi and Mr Abdul Bamgbopa of NextZone. The session was moderated by CORA's member, himself a writer and lawyer, Mr Deji Toye.
In his contribution, Folabi Kofo-Abayomi expressed the need for artistes to partner with the private sector by involving them in their programmes. He explains that when the issue of showcasing Art and Culture comes to the fore in government budgetary discourse, dance, drama and such mere performances are what comes into the policy makers' contetion. This he sais, maekes it rather difficult to determine a serious budgetary allocation for the sector. While this seems problematic, the special adviser to Governor Fashola, informed that in other parts of the world; the interaction between the private, non-governmental organisations and government agencies ensure that large money is voted and expended on artistic and cultural projects.
"Whatever we count ourselves to be as a people, it is really the art and the culture that typify what you really are as a nation. Considering the diversity and the interrelationships, we then begin to see that we have a lot to offer."
However, Kofo-Abayomi observed that for the government, issues about responsibilities concerning what it has been elected to do and the overwhelming problems it has to deal with usually come first.
"How do we now prioritize resources and at the same time put Arts and Culture in its proper place? Not just in an allocation of say, 'Let's just give it 1per cent or 2per cent, but the proper way to allocate these resources is a major problem."
Otunba Lawal-Solarin observed that, funding is a major problem in the sector, citing the Nigerian Book Fair Trust, organisers of the International Book Festival as an instance.
"We have not received money from the Federal government as expected, rather the organisation has been faced with as much challenges as other art organizations seeking fund from the government."
He pointed out that the policy for National Arts and Culture does not include anything about budgetary allocation.
"It simply says there should be provision of allocation for infrastructure." In essence, the government from the outset has removed itself from the provision of fund for the sector.
The Director General of the National Gallery of Arts Mr. Joe Musa outlined some challenges being faced by the sector during budgeting, which he described as frustrating. The DG reasoned that there is an urgent need for art organisations to unite in pursuing their agenda. He also frowned at the poor representation of the sector in government.
"At the moment, there is an absence of enough culture workers in government. Culture workers are lacking in the ministries; we don't have them. The artists are not always in the corridors of power to push their agenda. We need more people to come and join us. You are existing in an environment at a time when your contribution is necessary, not when you are dead. The best for the industry would be first and foremost, the art organisations uniting to articulate their needs and desires from the government. This is the opportunity to ask many of us, how we can also be involved in the policy making, " he quips.
Musa, apainter and art journalist himself, informed the gathering of the need for an edifice for the visual arts, which he says, would help in the area of fund raising.
"We don't even have an edifice; the National Gallery of Art does not have an edifice, a proper edifice that can match any international standard gallery. There are international galleries all over the world. There is the Louvres in Paris. Let me give you an example, you need to pay 8 euros to enter the Louvres and they received up to 80,000 visitors a day. That is money. "Since I have been in government, I have been fighting that if we do not achieve anything, we should at least, have an infrastructure on ground. Let's have an edifice on ground first of all in addition to designing other policies that we've been working on, " he said.
In his contribution, Femi Jarret believes that the first step in the struggle is for the artists in government to examine themselves. "We need to examine ourselves. For these guys to succeed, we need to co-operate with them. If we can gang up together, we can make it happen. I remember a few years back, a reporter came to ask me what I think about Nigerian movies, and I said, 'it will thrive'. Whereas, a few weeks back, some of my contemporaries were rubbishing home movie. I told them, 'look, it's true there are some bad movies, but it will sort itself out. Today, Nollywood is number three in the world." Abdul Bamgbopa, from Nextzone, an investment, financial services firm with interest in entertainment, charged artistes to come up will programmes that will improve the current status of the sector. He said that the availability of such programmes and ideas will surely attract investors to the sector.
"Many of the art products are "abstract" to the audience it is directed to. There is the need to involve organisations in our programmes, but first of all, we need to make them marketable."
Mr mahmoud Ali-balogun, an art activist, movie maker and ex-President of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, NANTAP, stressed that unless the artistes themselves primed themselves ready to participate actively in the desire to redeem the abject state of the arts and culture sector, the sector will remain short-changed in the national scheme of things. He was worried that not many artistes even show interest in the affairs of the sector. All they know is just to perform; they do not ask questions from their fellow artistes who have been appointed by government to head the various cultural agencies; so how do they expect to have their voices heard,' he asked. Ali-Balogun also charged the few artistes in government to work for the common god of the sector instead of seeing their current positions as tickets to their personal conveniences and riches.
Meanwhile, CORA has proposed that a communique for the programme will be made available soon. It also promised that some of theme will be examined at a gathering in April.
• Culled from The Guardian, Wednesday december 19, 2007

From the archive: Music for Book

* At the Book Trek segmemnt of the 7th Lagos Book and Art Festival, LABAF 2005, Edaoto jams with Awoko (on guitar) and the Edun twins on drum. The book Trek is an educational initiative which takes book reading culture to the campuses.

Monday, December 10, 2007



The 73rd ART STAMPEDE holds on Sunday December 16, 2007 at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. Time is 1pm.
Otherwise called the 3rd Steve Rhodes Carnival, the theme of the Stampede is
What Has the Budget Got to Do with Culture Production? It is to examine, in this season of budgetary planning and review in Nigeria, the implication of Federal budgetary practices in the promotion of our Arts & Culture.

Art and Culture received its own Ministry eight years ago, thus raising hope that this crucial aspect of our national development would begin to receive its due attention in the scheme of things. However, as it has turned out, Federal budgetary practices have not justified such optimism. It is said that the Ministry, with its four departments and ten parastatals, receives less than 1% of annual budgetary allocation out of which, in the last fiscal year, the parastatals received anything between 3% and 30% of the already paltry allocation. What is the implication of this for our Culture and Tourism industry in view of our vision of positioning as “the Heart Beat of Africa.”

There is a converse argument, which is that, this is the era of liberalization, or private participation in otherwise public sector space, and that public funds appropriation alone cannot sustain the production of our Arts. But then, some other watchers have argued further that, without the appropriate structure amenable to private sector participation, out Art and Culture industry, including the Billion naira Home Video industry, will miss out on the current investment boon in the private sector.

Speakers include Culture Bureaucrats from Federal and State agencies; Culture producers; Culture patrons as well as academics and art enthusiasts. They include Honourable Minister for Culture, Tourism and national Orientation, Chief Tokunbo Kayode (SAN); Mr. Joe Musa, Director-General,National Gallery Of Art; Otunba Yinka Lawal Solarin, Chairman, Nigerian Book Fair Trust; Folabi Kofo Abayomi, Special Adviser (Special Duties), Lagos State Governor; Mahmoud Ali-Balogun, frontline movie maker and activist among others.
Venue: National Theatre
Date: December 16, 2007
Time: 2pm.
Performing Groups: Adunni Nefertiti, Pelumi's Crew.
Toyin Akinosho

The Stampede will also feature dance and drama skits; as well as the CORA end-year party.

Words from the Book and Art Feast, November 9-11, 2007

He wanted to be present
(A Tribute to Cyprian Ekwensi)

Sunday November 5, 2007. Members of the CORA Collective stood in front of their secretariat at 95 Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos. The gathering was an extension of a long meeting that had stretched from 2pm call time to that time – about 8pm. Someone raised the question: how far are we with Cyprian Ekwensi? Would the old man make it to the opening of the Book festival? I responded that I had had a chat with the wife; and she was not certain the man would make it. One he was ill; two, he was in Enugu and flying him to Lagos is not visible.
The members were disappointed at the news, but they understood.
Unknown to us, at the time we were deliberating over him, the man famously called the ‘Grandfather of the City Fiction’ had passed on.
Cyprian Ekwensi died on Sunday November 5, 2007. He was 86 (born September 26, 1921).
Of course, the passage of the man has altered drastically the entire plan for the 9th Lagos Book and Art Festival. He will not be joining us at this opening as we had envisaged, but his Spirit and his Letters shall be with us. The man has changed the landscape of our literary world forever. He has also changed the texture and tenor of this particular edition of the annual festival.
Were we being clairvoyant when we decided to honour him at this festival?

This festival has been dedicated to the memory of the man who documented city life in his works. You can say then that this is a CYPRIAN EKWENSI LAGOS BOOK AND ART FESTIVAL.
Last year on occasion of our 15th anniversary, the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) was made a recipient the Prince Claus Fund, the foundation for culture and development based in The Netherlands. And that also changed the character of not only CORA but also the nature and size of our dream.
This festival is a manifestation of the change in the colour of our dream.

CORA came into being on June 2, 1991, as a non-profit making, non-governmental, cultural activist organisation. Its main goal is to explore all legitimate means of building the perfect environment for the flourishing of the contemporary arts of Nigeria.
To this end, the Committee produces a range of programmes and products, including, the quarterly Art Stampede; the monthly Arthouse Forum; the annual Lagos Book and Art Festival; the annual Lagos Cinema Carnival as well as publication of the quarterly Lagos: The City Arts Guide.
In its fifteen (15) years of existence, CORA has convened:
• 71 Art Stampedes
• Seven monthly Arthouse Forums
• Six editions of Lagos: The City Arts Guide,
• Eight editions of Lagos Book and Art
Festival and;
• Two (2) Annual Lagos Cinema Carnivals, which have been in collaboration with Mainframe (Opomulero) Film and Associates
• We also collaborate with Moving Movies in the staging of annual BOB TV among other programmes.

• The Quarterly Art Stampede is an open air informal discursive platform at which the most burning issue regarding the contemporary arts of Nigeria are tabled. The
workshop-like sessions feature a gathering of artists, culture administrators and culture enthusiasts who engage issues and ideas surrounding the quality of the arts and the
management of the culture sector. CORA’s arts advocacy through this “parliament of artists” has propelled the arts onto the front burner of Nigeria’s national debate.

• The Annual Cinema Carnival is designed to showcase and celebrate the African Film, set a standard for, and challenge Nigerian film producers in the context of telling the story of an understated continent. On the last week of September every year since 2001, a large, tall screen is hoisted on the front lawns of the National Theatre in Iganmu. At least, 10 high quality African movies are screened on three weekend evenings.

• Lagos: the City Arts Guide is a quarterly calendar of the artistic and cultural events in Africa’s most vibrant city. It compiles forthcoming art exhibitions, drama performances, and musical shows. It previews and reviews homegrown movies and serves as compass to the hottest new spots in town.

* Of all these, the Lagos Book and Art Festival is the most important event in our illustrious annual calendar. An open-air market for books and art, the LABAF features live music and drama, dance sketches, workshops for kids, readings of poetry and excerpts from prose works, book parties and seminars around books. The focus of this event is to highlight the importance of the book in the development of the human capital. This event is located around the National Creativity Day to emphasise the fact that the quality of our collective and individual creative productions are measured by the quality of documents we record them on; and the number of people we can convince to access them.
Major segments of the LABAF are sessions specially designed to initiate the youngest of Nigeria’s teeming citizenry into the rites of reading. One of such is the workshop for kids on a wide range of issues that can capture their attention. Another of such was the Secondary School Essay Competition, which was introduced to the format two years ago.
We are working on improving that format.
The past eight editions of the festival have seen a tremendous growth in the rate of acceptance and patronage by all concerned - save the government itself.
Last year alone, there were not less than (fifty) 50 exhibiting organisations.
This year, we are expecting a twenty five percent (25%) increase in the population of exhibitors.
To be sure, this number appears modest. But in the absence of life-saving sponsorship we have built this ‘clientele’ mostly by word of mouth. This looks likely to change in the coming year as the community of’ funder’ notices our enthusiasm and sincerity.

Toyin Akinosho

You Will Feed, Feed... Feed

On behalf of the Central Working Collective of the Committee For Relevant Art, I welcome exhibitors and audience to the ninth edition of our annual homage to The Book. This is the event through which we contribute to building a virile book industry by encouraging public engagement in literary pursuits.
As it was last year, this year’s feast of the written word has drawn comrades from outside of this shore to join CORA in the celebration of the importance of idea and knowledge in the development of the human capital. Thus we welcome into our midst our dream sharer and soul mate in this stressful but beloved journey, Akin Adesokan from Indiana University, Plumington USA. He is the author of Roots in the Sky, winner of ANA prose prize in 1991. The book was eventually published in 2002 by Festac News Press. We also salute Prof. Niyi Coker from the University of Missouri and Prof. Awam Amkpa, our collaborators in the on-going 10-day Africa World Festival – a documentary Film feast screening over 50 films. If you have missed out on it these past seven days you have from today through Sunday to join in the party.
Following our modest publicity, we have received hundreds of applications from a whole range of individuals and organisations.
CORA’s famous The City Library Shelf — a thematic glimpse to the proposed six-city libraries that we hope to establish in the most populated cities in the country in the next few years – has resurfaced this year. The dream is sure in our grasp.
The past eight editions had been held at the Ikoyi-Lagos premises of the National Commission for Museum and Monument, NCMM, which management had indeed been magnanimous in their support. But as we approach the 10th anniversary of the festival we decided this year to seek fresher ground and as well new relationship; moreso worm deeper into the heart of the people of this town. Hence we berthed at the prime cultural centre of the country, the National Theatre of Nigeria, which we must admit has received better and improved life under the management of Dr. Ahmed Yerima. We need to stress that the management of NTN has graciously put its facilities and personnel at our disposal – free of charge. We are grateful for this kind gesture, which we consider so alluring that we resolved – against our wish and nature, you would say – to abandon our usual ambience of open air for the cosy comfort of a fully air-conditioned exhibition hall.
We also salute the management of the National Gallery of Art (NGA) under the direction of Mr Joe Musa - actually (now do not say I told you) a CORAite by inclination. The Gallery has remained our valuable supporter. We thank the management of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, which was kind enough to support us in realising our main educational/capacity building project, the Annual Book Editors Workshop – which second edition ended yesterday. We are grateful to our collaborators in the various segments of the festival: Children Care for the Environment, CATE, coordinators of the Children section; Revolution Media, conveners of the Lagos Comics and Cartoons Carnival, LC3; Goethe Insitut, organisers of the presentation on Dokumenta: Towards a Nigeria Biennale; BookCraft, publishers of Ake: the Year of Childhood who are launching an bridged version for children; AJ Bookshop/Daggar Tolar, presenters of the book Darkwater’s Drunkard: a poetic mish-mash oil dirty politics & despoliation of land and life. We are grateful to our performers: Fatai Roling Dollar; the Highlife Messengers; Seyi Solagbade and the Blackface; Crown Troupe of Africa; Pelumi Lawal and troupe and the magnificent National Troupe of Nigeria.
In particular, we are very grateful to the ElderArtsMan, Steve Rhodes who unsolicited presented us with the biggest showpiece for the festival – the SR ORCHESTRA. Uncle Steve, we can’t ever thank you enough, sir.
We are glad that we are able to pay honour to the Noblemen of The Arts, whose various landmark birthdays we have celebrated all through the year – Fatai Rolling Dollar (80); Femi Asekun (75); Bruce Onobrakpeya (75); Niyi Osundare (60); Ihria Enakimio (60); Tunde Oloyede (60); Sonny Okosuns (60); Yemi Ogunbiyi (60).
We cherish you our consistent resource persons, event facilitators, exhibitors and audience(s) in the past and this festival — speakers, discussants, keynoters, and the audience included. We salute you for your belief in the possibilities of this country.
We thank our numerous patrons and supporters, particularly members of the Arts Writers Organisation of Nigeria, AWON, whose work has remained the major vehicle through which the various activities of the CORA have been projected to the larger public. We appreciate the enthusiasm of our numerous fathers, uncles and aunties, as well as colleagues and dream sharers, whose advices, critical commentaries and admonitions have kept us glued to the drawing table.
To members of the Central Working Collective (CWC) of the CORA, plus the endless stream of enthusiasts, volunteers and friends, word is not enough to express our gratitude. Let’s keep steadfast on the self-chosen path.
We have been accused in the past of being over-ambitious — chewing more than our little mouth can chew. Well, we assure you that we are unrepentant. We have gone far past redemption. And you have been infected too. You will feed and feed and feed till you become fed up. Our plan is to drain you out at this culture picnic. So sit up and tight.
We often insist that this is not a Bookfair. It is an Arts festival with large Book content.
In the next three days we would have all witnessed a sprawling display of books of diverse subjects produced in this country; a large exhibition of fine art; spirited debate on the state of the nation through the Book and the Art.

THIS indeed is a feast like no other. The next three days will thrill you to no end.
It’s our wish that by getting the public into a party atmosphere, we can subtly convince an increasingly larger body of Nigerians that The Book is the key ingredient in the growth of the country’s human resource. The truth is that all this talk of “abundant human resource” is glib, when half of the people can neither read nor write.
We trust that you will enjoy yourselves tremendously as we have attempted to ensure that there’s something for everyone.

Jahman Anikulapo
Programme Chair

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Scenes from 9th Lagos Book & Art Festival, Nov 9-11, National Theatre, Lagos

* Dr Reuben Abati, Chairman of The Guardian Editorial Board, conducting a MENTORING session with students during the programme MY ENCOUNTER WITH THE BOOK at LABAF 07. Over 600 chuildren from as many as 26 schools from all over Lagos attended the session on the opening day. The Festival eventually recorded over 1,700 students and children attendance in its three-day run. The session was an initiative of CORA with collaboration by Children Care for The Environment, CATE, directed by Ms. Sola Alamutu

* A student discussing AKE: The YEAR OF CHILDHOOD (abridged version for the young ones) (BOOKCRAFT 2007...on DAY 2 of the LABAF 07. The session was moderated by Dr Tony Marinho, Medical Doctor, Poet and Newspaper Columnist and founder of Educare Trust Ibadan. A total of 406 students from colleges attended the session from more than 12 schools

* Founder EDUCARE TRUST, Ibadan, Marinho introducing AKE... to the students. He was moderator of the session PHOTO: MARCEL MBAMALU

*Dr Marinho and Sola Alamutu, ED CATE and coordinator of the Children Section of the LABAF... kicking off the programme. PHOTO: MARCEL MBAMALU

* The Students at the Cartoons and Comics Workshop session conducted by the LC3 team under the direction of Revolution Media led by Sewedo Nupowaku and Ayo Arigbabu

* Sola Alamutu, ED CATE taking the students (plus some of the parents)through a session of the Green Festival, a segment of the Students Section

*Audience during an interractive session between the Children/Students section and the adult section.. on Day 2

* Fatai Rolling Dolar 'jamming' with the Seyi Solagbade and the Blackface during the ARTHOUSE PARTY 92) celebrating the eight NobleMn of the Arts: Fatai Rolling Dollar @ 80; Femi Asekun @ 75; Bruce Onobrakpeya @ 75; Niyi Osundare @ 60; Ihria Enakimoio @ 60; Yemi Ogunbiyi @ 60; Tunde Oloyede @ 60; Sonny Okosuns @ 60... On stage with Fatai is one of the celebrants, Femi Asekun and a veteran dancer/actor, Olu Okekanye and other guests

* The Liberian Boys, a group of Acapella singers in performance for the NobleMen of The Arts

* Another shot of the Liberian Boys

* The SRorchestra in performance conducted by the ElderArtsMan, Steve Rhodes -- who actually donated the multi-million Naira call-fee band to the LABAF 07


Monday, November 05, 2007


Sunday November 5, 2007. Members of the CORA collective stood in front of their secretariat at 95 Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos. The gathering was an extension of a long meeting that had stretched from 2pm call time to that time – about 8pm. Someone raised the question: how far are we with Cyprian Ekwensi; would the old man make it to the opening of the Book festival? Toyin Akinosho, the secretary General of CORA responded that he had had a recent chat with the wife; and she was not certain the man would make it. One he was ill; two, he was in Enugu and flying him to Lagos was not visible. The members were disappointed at the news, but they understood.
Unknown to us, at time we were deliberating over him, the man famously called the forefather of the City Fiction’ had passed on.
Cyprian Ekwensi died on Sunday November 5, 2007. He was 86 (born September 26, 1921).
The passage of Ekwensi has changed the tenor of the 9th Lagos Book and Art Festival. The edition has thus been dedicated to the memory of the man who documented city life in his works. You can say then that this is a CYPRIAN EKWENSI LAGOS BOOK AND ART FESTIVAL.

(Statement by CORA at the Opening of LABAF 07)

"By the end of the twentieth-century Lagos had become established as one of the world’s pre-eminent fictionalized cities, as with London and Paris by the end of the previous century."

That was international scholar Chris Dunton speaking in September 2005 on the theme ‘Lagos in the Imagination’ at the international workshop organised by CORA as part of the 7th Lagos Book & Art Festival (LABAF).

One book must take the credit for starting that process. It is People of the City (1954) and its author, the legend, Cyprian Ekwensi who passed on, on 4th November, 2007, aged 86 has the undisputed crown of being the father of the Lagos novel, writing other novels and short stories that celebrated the social life of the city over the decades.

Cyprian Ekwensi had agreed to be guest and to read at the Colloquium on Civil War Literature themed ‘Constructing a Nation: 40 Years After the First Shot in Biafra ’ being organised as part of the 9thLABAF holding from Friday 9th and 11th November, 2007. His novel, Divided We Stand had been chosen as one of the texts for the panel discussion during the colloquium. Then, just a week before the Festival, we had signal that the old man had taken ill and been transferred to Enugu for treatment. And then, a couple of days later, the news of his demise.

This is the second time we would fail to ‘stampede’ Pa Ekwensi into an event organised around him or his work. The first was in September 2006 when he could not attend the Highlife Party organised in his honour on his 85th birthday. He took ill a few days to the event.

Beyond the Lagos and the Civil War novels, Cyprian Ekwensi’s significance perhaps finds the deepest etching in his contribution to children and popular literature. Which child grew up from the 1960s to the 1980s and did not pick up an Ekwensi off a bookshop shelf? From The Passport of Mallam Illia through An African Night Entertainment, Juju Rock, The Drummer Boy to Trouble in Form Six, Ekwensi gave to children and adolescents the pride of reading books with the blurb containing the same author’s biography as that on the book read by their parents. And as they matured, they never had to take a course in advanced literature before picking up novels like Jagua Nana, Jagua Nana’s Daughter, The Burning Grass and Beautiful Feathers. It was only Ekwensi that could be profiled in a compendium on Onitsha Market Literature and generate so much debate between two scholars, Ernest Emenyonu and Bernth Lindfors, on the pages of the elite African Literature Today.

Ekwensi’s work went ahead to inspire popular music (such as Orlando Julius’ highlife song, Jagua Nana) and would have, were it not for the intrusion of a sanctimonious government, inspired the first international film based on a Nigerian novel.

It is in recognition of the significance of this writer’s work to the lore of Lagos and the popular imagination of generations of Nigerians, youths and adult alike, that we have decided to dedicate this year’s (the 9th) LABAF to Cyprian Ekwensi. In furtherance of this, the opening Arthouse Party of the fist day of the Festival will be presaged by an EKWENSI OPEN HOUSE in which Mr. Kunle Ajibade, the Executive Director of The News magazine, will deliver a keynote tribute to the late writer and members of the public would discuss their first encounters with his work. Also, an exhibition of the Ekwensi section of LABAF would be opened where discussions, reminiscences and condolence signing would continue for the duration of the Festival. In this regard, a competition amongst Fine Art students within the Lagos environment has been commissioned for the drawing of the portraiture and caricature of the late writer. Emphasis should be on drawings that locate the writer within the ambience of the city life.

CORA believes that Cyprian Ekwensi’s life should be celebrated rather than his death mourned. The events at the 9th LABAF are just to kick off the celebrations.

(As presented at the opening of LABAF 07)
Words can sometimes be so inadequate. Take this headline from the front page of The Guardian of Monday November 5, 2007, for instance: Renowned author, Cyprian Ekwensi, dies at 86.
See how bare, how banal almost, how bereft of emotions, how it fails so woefully in capturing the essence of the man, the breadth of his accomplishments and the sphere of his influence on Nigerian letters.
Cyprian Odiatu Duaka Ekwensi was born in Minna in Northern Nigeria on
September 26, 1921, was educated at Achimota College in the Gold Coast, and at the Chelsea
School of Pharmacy of London University. A pharmacist by training, he gained worldwide fame and acclaim as a novelist, who had an unusual facility for chronicling the angst and malaise of the metropolis even though he also had a finger on the pulse of the pastoral.
Ekwensi’s accomplishment is best appreciated when you realize that he is unarguably the most read Nigerian writer on account of his racy narrative and accessible prose as well as the fact that he remains the most prolific Nigerian novelist. Ekwensi was a man in love with the narrative, not for the stylistic pyrotechnics which have an uncanny way of alienating the reader, but for the racy, heart thumping story of human interaction, of fate and destiny checkmating our best laid plans.
His gift for the simple and uncomplicated prose was both a blessing and a curse. Eldred Jones has taken issues with Ekwensi’s writings accusing the novelist, who famously declared that he wrote a full length novel in 2 weeks while on a cruise ship no less, of not taking pains to hone his writing style, while Bernth Linfords nailed the coffin of Ekwensi’s literary aspirations shut with the tag “An African Popular Novelist.” His novels have also been accused of lacking structure, of being episodic and appearing as no more than mere vignettes, a charge that now elevates Ekwensi’s craft in the light of contemporary works from authors like Helon Habila, David Mitchell and even Stephen Crace who have offered us exquisite novels made up of interlinked narratives held together by no more than a common theme.
While many critics were right in taking umbrage at the “popular” flavor of Ekwensi’s novels, its mass appeal and lack of artifice, they did him great disservice by not taking into account how pioneering he was in moving Nigerian writing into a whole new locale away from ghosts and ghommids (Tutuola), wrestling matches and colonialism (Achebe), the insular and the provincial into a whole modern and cosmopolitan era.
Viewed from that perspective, it is easy to see that Ekwensi is in many ways the father of the “Modern” Nigerian novel and would then by extension be regarded as the literary forebear of writers like Ben Okri whose novel Dangerous Love (or its first incarnation The Landscapes Within) bear the hallmarks of Ekwensi’s influence from novels like People of the City and the Jagua Nana series. Other writer’s whose engagement with the metropolis evinces influences from Ekwensi would be Chris Abani in Graceland and Maik Nwosu in Alpha Song in their exploration of the seedy side of the city as well as night life. But the writer on whose work Ekwensi seems to have stamped the strongest presence may well be Helon Habila, a fact most critics have missed.
I am already exploring this in greater detail in a forthcoming essay, “Parallels and Convergences: Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel and Cyprian Ekwensi’s People of the City.” In Helon’s novel, the major character is Lomba and he is a journalist. In Ekwensi’s People of the City, the major character is Sango, a journalist and band leader. Both of them have names made up of two syllables. Lomba lives in a tenement house where a woman entreats him for sex and so does Sango whose young and nubile neighbour want to sleep with him and Ekwensi who was a master of description captures her essence thus: “She could not be more than fourteen, but her breasts were taut and large with ripeness….This was temptation.” Sango’s life and job are imperiled and so are Lomba’s. The two protagonists are estranged from their families. They both pine for an unattainable woman and both live in a sprawling modern metropolis on the cusp of both political and social upheavals.
It is also interesting to note that in the two books, the whiff of politics is strong, palpable and unnerving while the City is a character, huge, hulking and menacing with a gluttonous appetite. In Helon’s book, Lomba’s editor tells him that politics is part of our lives because “The air we breathe is politics.” Those very words sound like an echo of Ekwensi’s words from page 40 of The People of the City where the Councillor tells Dele and Sango that “Politics is life.”
This piece is by no means an exhaustive review or comparative analysis. It is a tribute really to a master story teller, a gifted writer who was at home in different cultures and genres straddling both the pastoral as in “Burning Grass” and the modern as in Jagua Nana’s Daughter with the ease of a maestro and despite his stature still found it easy to stoop low to accommodate the taste of the young in novellas like Drummer Boy, An African Nights Entertainment and The Passport of Mallam Ilia
His passing at the age of 86 in a country where the life expectancy is 49 is cause for celebration rather than mourning, but the pity of his death is the fact that Ekwensi died without a proper rehabilitation, one that was long due and which is in fact necessary in order to properly situate his place, importance and influence in and on modern Nigerian literature.

Brief tribute by DEJI TOYE

Anybody who ever read anything asd a child or ever picked up a book off a bookshop shelf must have picked up an Ekwensi. This will be a tribute to the universality of his theme and style which unifies both old and young, expert and rookies. For me, i cant forget books like Juju Rock, An African Night Entertainment, The Drummer Bor, Trouble in form Six, The Passport of Mallam Illia (I laways imagined that train fight scene in a film) etc. Growing up, I read Jagua Nana's Daughter, then Jagua Nana itself. of all of these, only jagua Nana did I read as a recommended text in a university cause.

Ekwensi defined the literature of my childhood along with Kola Onadipe of such books as Sugar Girl, Sweet mother, Pot of Gold, Tha Boy Slave and Return of Shetimma.


I am deeply saddened by this news of the death of the pioneer Nigerian novelist Cyprian Ekwensi this week. He was 86. Ekwensi, the author of arguably the earliest major novel in Nigeria (People of the City, 1954) and other vastly popular novels--Passport of Mallam Illya, African Night's Entertainment, Lokotown, Jagua Nana, The Drummer Boy, etc--that, as secondary students in Nigeria in the 1980s, captured, intrigued, and liberated our fertile imaginations and youthful fantasies. His simple, uncomplicated plots, while a subject of longstanding critique by literary scholars, was the very reason we read, and re-read his incomparably entertaining works. He was the people's novelist!
Ekwensi was scheduled to participate in the key event of the Lagos Book Arts Festival (which begins this week), by reading from his novel on the Biafran War, Divided We Stand published in 1980. The CORA-organized Festival and its colloquium, Constructing the Nation: Stories Out of Biafra, will now serve as a memorial to a man who used his unpretentious yet prodigious fictive imagination to instill in me and a zillion others the love for the novel and for literature. Rest, Old Man; travel safely.


(Excerpted from kalu Uduma’s news report in The Guardian Monday Nov. 5, 2007, announcing Ekwensi’s passage)
Cyprian Odiatu Duaka Ekwensi was born at Minna in Northern Nigeria on September 26, 1921. He later lived in Onitsha in the Eastern area. He was educated at Achimota College in the Gold Coast, and at the Chelsea School of Pharmacy of London University. He lectured in pharmacy at Lagos and was employed as a pharmacist by the Nigerian Medical Corporation.
He married Eunice Anyiwo, and they had five children.
After favorable reception of his early writing, he joined the Nigerian Ministry for Information and had risen to be the director of that agency by the time of the first military coup in 1966. After the continuing disturbances in the Western and Northern regions in the summer of 1966, Ekwensi gave up his position and relocated his family to Enugu. He became chair of the Bureau for External Publicity in Biafra and an adviser to the head of state, Lt.-Col. Chukwemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Ekwensi began his writing career as a pamphleteer, and this perhaps explains the episodic nature of his novels. This tendency is well illustrated by People of the City (1954), in which Ekwensi gave a vibrant portrait of life in a West African city. It was the first major novel to be published by a Nigerian. Two novellas for children appeared in 1960; both The Drummer Boy and The Passport of Mallam Ilia were exercises in blending traditional themes with undisguised romanticism.
His most widely read novel, Jagua Nana, appeared in 1961. It was a return to the locale of People of the City but boasted a much more cohesive plot centered on the character of Jagua, a courtesan who had a love for the expensive. Even her name was a corruption of the expensive English auto. Her life personalised the conflict between the old traditional and modern urban Africa. Ekwensi published a sequel in 1987 titled Jagua Nana's Daughter.
Burning Grass (1961) is basically a collection of vignettes concerning a Fulani family. Its major contribution is the insight it presents into the life of this pastoral people. Ekwensi based the novel and the characters on a real family with whom he had previously lived. Between 1961 and 1966 Ekwensi published at least one major work every year. The most important of these were the novels, Beautiful Feathers (1963) and Iska (1966), and two collections of short stories, Rainmaker (1965) and Lokotown (1966). He continued to publish beyond the 1960s, and among his later works are the novel Divided We Stand (1980), the novella Motherless Baby (1980), and The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), and Gone to Mecca (1991).
Ekwensi also published a number of works for children. Under the name C. O. D. Ekwensi, he released Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales (1947) and The Leopard's Claw (1950). In the 1960s, he wrote An African Night's Entertainment (1962), The Great Elephant-Bird (1965), and Trouble in Form Six (1966).
Ekwensi's later works for children include Coal Camp Boy (1971), Samankwe in the Strange Forest (1973), Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975), Masquerade Time! (1992), and King Forever! (1992).
In recognition of his skills as a writer, Ekwensi was awarded the Dag Hammarskjold International Prize for Literary Merit in 1969.
Ekwensi, a one-time Commissioner for Information in the old Anambra State, is survived by children and grand children.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rolling Dollar, Asekun, Onobrakpeya, Oloyede, Ogunbiyi to be honoured at LABAF 07

At LABAF '07, Grand Reception For The Big 5
By Gregory Austin-Nwakunor
(As published in The Guardian on Sunday 4/11/07)

THE ninth Lagos Book and Art Festival begins Friday November 9 and will end 11th at the National Theatre, Lagos. Steve Rhodes, the grand arts persona, has offered his incredibly talent-filled S.R Orchestra to perform at the Grand Arthouse Reception, which is in the fourth year.

The reception is held to mark the collective birthdays of significant artists who have been earlier honoured in the year at the Elders Forum/ GreatHighlife Party, which Rhodes, 81, himself chairs.

This year's honorees include Fatai Rolling Dollar, who turned 80; Chief Femi Asekun, who turned 75; Bruce Onobrakpeya, who turned 75; as well as Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi and Chief Tunde Oloyede, who turned 60. The Steve Rhodes Orchestra is an 18-man band, which delivers a big fat sound. It breaks down the structure of some of the most significant urban social music in Nigeria and renders them in new, profoundly articulate ways.

Bruce Onobrakpeya

THE Urhobo-born printmaker, painter and sculptor, belongs to the first generation of contemporary artists graduating from the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (NCAST, presently known as Ahmadu Bello University).

Onobrakpeya's training was based on the Western illusionistic tradition of representational ar; however, many of his works do not reflect his training in Western aesthetics. Instead, they portray stylistic elements and compositions that mirror traditional African figural sculpture and decorative arts.

Regarded as Nigeria's best-documented artist, He needs very little introduction in art circles both within and outside the country; Onobrakpeya has devoted his life to his work and has played a significant role in the renaissance that has swept through the country's contemporary art scene.

Over the years, Onobrakpeya's Agbarha-Otor artistic outfit, with in-built chalets, successfully hosted artists to yearly communions, called the Harmattan Workshops.

Listed in International Who is Who in Art and Antique, Onobrakpeya received an honourary D. Litt. from the University of Ibadan in 1989 and on June 6, 2000, he was honoured with the Fellowship of the Society of Nigerian Artists. He had previously, received Pope John Paul II award for painting the life of Saint Paul, the Fellowship of Asele Institute award, the Sadam Hussein award, the Solidra Circle award, and Fulbright Exchange Scholar award.

Femi Asekun

The veteran broadcaster and one of the pioneer staff of NTA 10, is one stickler to perfection.

As a pioneer staff of NTA, he and some others like him, learnt everything about television, including the engineering side because there was no point standing in front of the camera doing whatever you had to do and not knowing the nuances of the job itself. This made him a rounded broadcaster.

His zest for arts and music is commendable, and at the monthly Great Highlife Party, you will see him conducting affairs.

Asekun had, at a young age, performed in Norway, England and France, and has indeed, remained in practice even in his septuagenarian age.

His involvement with the arts started from home. His father was a very good organist and there was a small organ in the house. Because he was a reverend gentleman, most times in the evenings when he wanted to relax, he would just go into the church and play; and usually, he used to take Femi along. That made him feel interested in music. He was the one who first started teaching him music. Then when he became too busy and didn't have time to continue, he arranged for him to be going for piano lessons with Professor Akin Euba's father.

This aroused his interest in the arts. Then, when he got to CMS Grammar School, music was taught as a subject as well and there was a dramatic society, we were taught fine arts at school. So these really made him to be alive to this other side of life. At CMS Grammar School, he was a member of the school's quartet, JEPA Quartet - JEPA - J for Jadesimi; E for Euba, P for Peters, and A for Asekun - that took part in the 1948 festival and won a silver medal for choral singing.

He recollects: "In 1956 or 1957, during the summer months, about three months holiday from the university, most people go out to work and earn extra money to buy one or two things that they might use. Through the Scottish Union of Students that time, I got a job in Norway, at a hotel in a little town called Hama. I played for two months at the hotel's nightclub and that was very good. My group was called Femi's Trio + 1. It was a quartet. Instead of calling it Femi's Quartet, we called it Femi's Trio + 1. One of the guys played piano, a bass player, I, on drums and a tenor and a trombone player."

Yemi Ogunbiyi

He is a literary icon, a great administrator and academic. But the highpoint of his journalistic and administrative career was perhaps his stint as Managing Director of the Daily Times Newspaper.

He gave the Daily Times a new sense of direction and lease of life. He infused new blood into its editorial content and made it readable again to its former customers and admirers. This, he was able to accomplish with the good sense of management, part of which was the ability to motivate people. Unfortunately, there was no continuity, as he did not hold the job for too long.

His Tanus Communications has remained a leader in Public Relations and corporate management services.

Ogunbiyi was part of the literary activist movement of the 70s through the 80s, during which a great body of literature, as well as performances were produced. This streak he took to The Guardian when he joined the newspaper organisation from his teaching up of the University of Ife. He thus coordinated the literary services of The Guardian, which yielded the famous books, Perspectives in Nigerian Literature volumes 1 and II. He also edited what has been referred to as the bible of Theatre studies in Nigeria, Drama and Theatre in Nigeria, which is currently undergoing reproduction due to popular demand.

Tunde Oloyede

He has made positive impact on film production in Nigeria. But perhaps it all began from his television production days at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) where he proved his worth in the production of some of the major programmes.

He brought creativity and imagination to bear on the production of Village Headmaster, one of the biggest soap operas on Nigerian television, when he took over from Sanya Dosumu, who is now a traditional ruler.

As chairman of the Steering Committee of the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON), he was instrumental in designing a blueprint to regulate professional practice in the country's motion picture sector.

He also had a crack at the chairmanship of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN), a formidable outfit, which Steve Rhodes first groomed as founding president. His wife is Bimbo Oloyede, a veteran broadcaster whose face is a delight to fervent viewers of Channels Television.

Fatai Rolling Dollar

He represents early highlife - from the exploits of Tunde King in the 1930s through to Ambrose Campbell in the 1940s and Julius Araba in the 50s.

Fatai Rolling Dollar was one of the leading musicians of the early generation of highlife exponents, having had considerable apprenticeship from his association with Julius Araba's Afro -skiffle group. When he struck out on his own in the fifties, he immediately became popular.

He had the ability to compose, from the experience acquired from early highlife and juju musicians who considered moral rectitude, industry, social commentary and the philosophy of life more important than praise singing.

Rolling Dollar refused to associate with this trend and collapsed his previously big band into a small group of four because his sidemen had left him in disapproval for greener pastures. They had gone to join the new commercial bands, which were making the money.

Rolling Dollar became impoverished because his music appealed only to a few people. He sang all the songs, played the lead guitar, which took endless solos after it had provided accompaniment, and played the role of the rhythm guitar. He then switched over to the conga drums where he played various rhythmic patterns to hold a dance floor community down for long periods of time. Rolling Dollar carried on with three other musicians where one of them played bass guitar, another played cleave and other percussion instruments and the fourth doubled on percussion and vocals to help harmonise tunes and establish counterpointal dueting with Rolling Dollar on a number of songs.

Gists on the 9TH LAGOS BOOK &ART FESTIVAL 2007

By Toyin Akinosho


Festival Week Opens With Film Screenings

THE preface events leading to the 9th annual Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) opened at the National Theatre last Friday with the African World Documentary Film Week. Among the films on view are Wazobia, an adaptation of Tess Onwueme's play of the same title, directed by Awam Amkpa (Nigeria, USA); As Old As My Tongue by Andy Jones (Tanzania, United Kingdom); Living with Slim: Kids Talk about HIV/AIDs by Sam Kauffman (Uganda, USA); Raadis: In search of... by Emmanuel Mutsune (Canada, Kenya); The Professor by Jason Price (Liberia, USA). There is Sisters of Selma by Candomble y Fredrique Zepter (Brazil) among others. The event, a collaboration between the Committee For Relevant Art, organisers of the LABAF, the University of Missouri, The National Theatre and the West African Documentary Film Forum runs from November 2 to 11. The second Semi Annual Workshop For Book Editors opens at the Federal Palace Hotel on Tuesday, November 6 and runs till Thursday, November 8. The workshop parades a top-notch faculty, with Professor Dan Izevbaye teaching participants how to edit works of prose fiction and Professor Festus Adesanoye lecturing on scholarly publishing. The workshop is facilitated by Book Builders Editions Africa, headed by Chris Bankole. Gbenro Adegbola, Managing Director of the publishing house, Evans, will give a talk on publishing for primary and secondary schools. Before he went to Evans, Adegbola was co-founder of the hugely successful publishing firm Bookcraft. The week will be rounded off with the Book and Art Festival, which opens on Friday, November 9 and lasts till Sunday, November 11.

Teenagers Ready To Take On Soyinka

SEYI Akogun, Leke Olaleye, Oruomen Igbokwe and Isaac Onoh, all in their mid teens, have been reading the abridged version of Wole Soyinka's Ake: The Years Of Childhood, and they are ready to interrogate the text. "My girl has been saying: 'I am reading this book with a dictionary by my side..why is he (the author) employing such tough words?', says Chi Igbokwe, a facilities engineer whose 13 year old daughter, Oruomen is one of the participants. Isaac Onoh, the 12 year son of Ezinne Onoh and her accountant husband, Okoroji, is travelling all the way from Elyon College in Ogun State for the conversation. Teenagers Trace Soyinka's Footsteps is a highlight of the youth programme of the Book and Art Festival and it is slated for 10am on Saturday, November 10 at the exhibition hall of the National Theatre. The event is organised by Children and The Environment (CATE) , Bookcraft (publishers of the Book) and the Committee for Relevant Art, host of the festival.

Abati, 'Things Fall Apart', To Kick Off Book and Art Festival

A VERY short drama sketch of a passage in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart by the National Troupe will signal the start of the ninth Lagos Book and Art Festival, at the National Theatre on Friday, November 9, 2007. The skit is the groundbreaking ceremony for the series of events planned worldwide, for the 50th anniversary of the classic novel, in 2008. Afterwards, the columnist Reuben Abati will give a motivational speech: The Book In My Life, to 1000s of children and adults at the event. The Festival colloquium, Constructing A Nation: Stories Out Of Biafra, starts at 12noon on November 9. It will feature reviews, readings and conversations around five books based on the war, including Cyprian Ekwensi's Divided We Stand, Dulue Mbachu's War Games, Chimamanda Adichie's Half Of A Yellow Sun, Chukuemeka Ike's Sunset At Dawn, Eddie Iroh's Toads Of War, Ken Saro Wiwa's On A Darkling Plain and Ekwensi, perhaps the most widely read Nigerian author in Nigeria will read excerpts from Divided We Stand, a story of love in a time of war. Professor Ike will read excerpts form Sunset At Dawn. The National Troupe will perform a passage in Divided We Stand. Crown Troupe will perform from skits from two other works of their choice. A short excerpt from Obi Iwuanyanwu's 40 years of Civil War Literature will be read before the discussion. Three of the authors have confirmed their participation. Dr Chidi Amuta will moderate the proceedings. Shiyan Oyeweso, professor of history who convened a symposium on civil war literature a few years ago, is on the panel, so is CORA's Deji Toye and Uzor Maxim Uzoatu.

...MENDing The Damage after the Civil War Chat..

THE symposium on the emerging literature of the Niger Delta: MENDing The Damage: How Literature Illuminates The Niger Delta Crisis, originally scheduled for Saturday, November 10, the second day of the Book and Art Festival, will now take place at 3pm on November 9, that is immediately after the colloquium. It will take the place of the international dialogue between William Mervin Gumede, author of Thabo Mbeki and The Battle For The Soul of The ANC and Dare Babarinsa, author of House Of War. "The non resolution of the issues that led to the civil war has partly led to the mayhem in the Delta today", says CORA spokesman, Ayo Arigbabu. "So the two talkshops are a good fit". MENDing The Damage features readings, reviews and discussions around Ken Wiwa's In The Shadow Of A Saint, Ahmed Yerima's Hard Ground, Ike Okonta and Oronto Douglas' Where Vultures Feast, and Kaine Agary's Yellow Yellow.

Compiled by staff of Festac News Press Agency,

Friday, November 02, 2007


CAPTION: Executive Director, children Care for the Environment, CARE and coordinator of the LABAF Children Section, Sola Alamutu directing the children with the LABAF06 Children Special Guest and Mentor, the actor Richard Mofe-Damijo.

CAPTION: Richard Mofe Damijo (left) and ElderArtsMan, Steve Rhodes with the children at the last feast

CAPTION: At last year's feast for the young ones... the actor, Richard Mofe Damijo (towering above all); the Story Teller and Children mentor, Noma Sodipo (right), and the environmental activist for the young, Sola Alamutu (left) with the children

Children Takes on Soyinka's AKE, Discuss NLNG PRIZE winning Books at the
9th Lagos Book & Art festival

The 9th Lagos Book & Art Festival organized annually by Commitee For Relevant Art (CORA) to mark the National Creativity Day, will take place from 9th – 11th of November 2007 at the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos.
This year, the children’s programme organized in collaboration with Children And The Environment (CATE) will feature four events.

According to Sola Alamutu, E.D. of CATE, and Co-ordinator of the Children’s section of the Festival, ‘Over 40 Public and Private schools in Lagos State have been invited to the event which kicks off on Friday 9th of November with Dr. Reuben Abati as the Chief Motivator of the children with an address entitled, “My Encounter With The Book” at 9am’.

“Talking Books” at 10 a.m. will feature excerpts of 4 environmental books namely; “Tell It To Mr. President” by Tony Marinho, “Adaba & Other Stories” by Wale Okediran, “Village Girl in Town” by Yemisi Egunjobi, and “Poems on the Environment” by Toun Mohammed to be read and discussed by the authors with Ropo Ewenla and ‘Deleke Adeyemi as moderators. Poetry recitals and a question and answer section follow this. The day ends with a Festival Tour’.

Alamutu further said ‘On Saturday 10th of November by 10am, ten children between the ages of 13 and 17 yrs will hold a roundtable discussion around “AKE – The Childhood Years” by Wole Soyinka. Another roundtable discussion of the 3 shortlisted books for the NLNG Prize for Children’s Literature, “Sam & The Wallet” by Uche Peter Umez; “My Cousin Sammy” by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo; “Readers’ Theatre” by Mabel Segun to be moderated by 11yr old Omolola Amira for Children ages 8-15yrs takes place at 11am.

Nike Adesuyi, assistant co-ordinator added that ‘The Green Festival 2 workshops will start by 1pm and is open to children ages 3 to 17yrs with “Tell Tales” with Ropo Ewenla & Tope Ogun, “Paint Pictures” with Edosa Oguigo & Rosalie Modder, “Click Cameras” with Chydy Njere & Ife Omotayo, “Perform Poems” with Nike Adesuyi & ‘Deleke Adeyemi, “Tie Dye”, “Make Mats’ and “Hand Print” with Wale Asubiojo & Partners and Create Crafts with Tolu Okieimen (specially for 5yrs & under)

The Festival rounds-up on Sunday 11th November by 1pm, with a ‘Creativity Talk’ by Biodun Omolayo of ‘Young-At-Art and a public presentation and exhibition of the Creative Workshops by the children at 1:30pm. Portrait Paintings by C.A.V.E Atelier ends the festival.

Registration is on and interested participants should please call:
Aunty Sola Alamutu - 0802 308 7725, 0702 819 1848
Aunty Nike Adesuyi - 0802 315 7882, 01 – 8726301
Folayemi Akinwole - 0808 2090 211



The Committee For Relevant Art (CORA) is working, in
partnership with Bookbuilders Limited in Ibadan, on a
workshop for Book Editors. The event will run from Nov
6 to 8, 2007, at the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos.

The workshop is the second attempt by CORA to engage
in capacity building for the Book industry.
The idea of the workshop is to develop a generation of
fully trained book editors who are envisaged to
energize the book industry with the editorial skills
that are so lacking in current literary and scholarly

In hardly any of the few operating publishing houses
is there a book editor of redoubtable skill and
renown. "Indeed, so negligible is the impact of
editors on the few books that are published that
nobody makes the ordinary connection between editing
and the quality of a published book", according to the
CORA proposal.

Mrs Chris Bankole, the key facilitator, and Mrs
Sherifat Oladokun, both of Book Builders Limited, a
highly regarded firm of book editors, will give
closed-session lectures, seminars, and tutorial-style
meetings. Participants will have the opportunity to
engage in practical demonstration of how a book is
worked on. They will learn about the role of the
editor in relation to the publisher, agent, and
author, and the differences between a newspaper editor
and a book editor. There will be illuminating
conversations on a range of topics including general
overview of editorial process (using layouts of
various books, journals, scholarly books, novels,
etc.), Initial assessment of a book, Copy Editing,
Substantive editing, science editing, Proofreading,
Indexing, Cover design, Grammar and usage, clich├ęs,
Nigerian malapropisms. It will also look at challenges
in editing creative writers; both of children and
adult fiction, as well as Scholarly/ tertiary
publishing / research vs university, textbooks.
Participants, who will pay 10,000 naira for three days
(which covers tuition, course materials, tea/snacks,
lunch, certificate and group photograph) will be
taught Footnote / reference styles, publications of
Newsletters / flyers / brochures as well as how to
handle tables / diagrams / maps etc.

"The experience is not substitute for a sustained
academic program in publishing", the proposal reads.
But we hope that participants will gain a lot from
this workshop to develop career interest in book
publishing. The organizers look forward to hearing
from such large (mostly erstwhile multinational)
publishers such as McMillan, Longmans, Evans, as well
as homegrown, midsized companies including Spectrum,
Africana, 4th Dimension, Litramed. The workshop will
be particularly useful for emerging companies like
Farafina, New Gong, Cassava Republic, Book Kraft, and
Kraft Books. Perhaps the major beneficiary from this
sort of learning would be people between ages 22-40,
preferably university graduates or those in the final
semester of their bachelor programs, with demonstrable
interest in reading and writing.
Staffers of reputable publishing firms should only
need to present a letter from their employer
authenticating their status. Completed application
package will include a letter of application, and a
statement of purpose. For those who are not working in
a publishing house, there is, required, a letter of
recommendation from academic mentors or teachers
optional(). Contacts: CORA Secretariat: 95 Bode
Thomas, Surulere, Lagos.
Contact:, Ayo Arigbabu:, Jumoke Verissimo,; Juwon Bukola Phillips
( and Wale Omotoye,

oDownload participation form at:

Toyin Akinosho
Secretary General



Theme: Literacy As Democracy Dividend

DATE: NOVEMBER 9-11, 2007




8am: Exhibition opens

9am: Children Programme Opens

9am: Cartoon and Comic carnival Opens


Opening Reception - 50 Years of Things Fall Apart

* Ground-breaking prelude to the series of worldwide events starting January 2008. (Talks, Dramatisations, Excepts Reading etc)

12 noon: COLLOQIUM

Theme: Constructing a Nation: 40 Years after the

First shot in Biafra.

Reviews, Readings and discussions of Civil War

Literature; Novels, Drama and Non Fiction Works


_ Cyprian Ekwensi's Divided We Stand

_ Chukwuemeka Ike's Sunset At Dawn

_ Chimamanda Adichie's Half Of A Yellow Sun

_ Dulue Mbachu's War Games

_ Benjamin Adekunle's The Nigeria - Biafra War Letters - A
Soldier's Story (Vol. 1)

_ Eddie Iroh's Toads Of War; and

_ Rasheed Gbadamosi's Echoes From The Lagoon


Theme: MENDing the damage: Literature and the Niger
Delta Crisis

A panel discussion on Literatures borne out of the Niger Delta crisis

Discussants include:

_ Oronto Douglas (Where Vultures Feast)

_ Ken Wiwa (In The Shadow Of A Saint)

_ Ahmed Yerima (Hard Ground)

¥ Kaine Agary (Yellow Yellow)

* SPECIAL: Presentation of DAGGA TOLAR's book in honour of Ken
* Saro-Wiwa and the Niger Delta Struggle



8am: Exhibition opens

9am: Children Programme continues

9am: Cartoon and Comic carnival Continues


Newly published abridged version of Wole Soyinka's
Ake - Years of Childhood

The following youngsters discuss Literature of Childhood:

_ Oruomen Igbokwe (13)

_ Leke Olaleye (15)

_ Isaac Onoh (14)

_ Seyi Akogun (14)


Music, Wine and Dance for:

_ Fatai Rolling Dollar at 80

_ Femi Asekun at 75

* Bruce Onobrakpeya at 75

_ Tunde Oloyede at 60

_ Yemi Ogunbiyi at 60.



¥ Seyi Solagbade,

¥ Adunni Nefretiti


Theme: Writing In - Tales from the Diaspora (THE EMERGING Nigerian literature outside the borders of Nigeria).

Keynote by Akin Adesokan (Associate Professor, Indiana State University, USA)

Features discussions of:

_ Segun Afolabi"s Caine award winning short story 'Monday

_ Biyi Bandele's The Street

_ Chimamanda Adichie's 'The Thing Around Your Neck'

_ Diana Evans' 26A

_ Helen Oyeyemi's Icarus Girl; and

_ Diran Adebayo's Some Kind of Black


10am: Exhibition opens

10am: Children Programme continues

10am: Cartoon and Comic carnival Continues


Nigeria & The Age of The Mega-Shows

A panel of Visual Artists and Art Historians discuss possibility of Nigeria's own Biennale

* Moderating: Chuka Nnabuife
* Remarks: Arne Schneider, Director Goethe Institut, Lagos
* Programme is courtesy GOETHE INSTITUT LAGOS


Topic: The Myth and Realities Of A Golden Age of Culture Production

Was the era of the 'Mbari generation' the golden age of culture production in Nigeria? Was more happening then than now - the 'CNN generation'?

The following participants in the work of culture production and promotion across generations of Nigerian art discuss the issues:

_ Segun Olusola

_ Segun Bucknor

_ Aderemi Adegbite

_ Andy Akhigbe

_ Segun Adefila

_ Tosyn Bucknor

_ McPhilips Nwachukwu

Wednesday, October 10, 2007



LC3 is a unique event initiated and coordinated by Revolution Media
and is geared towards raising the awareness and sensitivity of the
public (especially the youths) towards the vast field of cartoons,
comics and animation creation and publishing while adding a boost to
the nation's reading and entertainment culture. The first edition of
LC3, held in September 2004, was a collaborative effort of 3
enterprising young men (who firmly believe that Nigeria is a fertile
ground for the emergence of a richly rewarding and potentially booming
comics pop-culture) facilitated by Evolution Media (now Revolution
Media), Design Jockey Sessions and with support from CORA (Committee
for Relevant Art) as a part of the 6th Lagos Book and Art Festival.

LC3 '04 recorded considerable success, which points out the fact that
there is huge potential for the emergence of a comics and cartoon
industry. This year, we plan to make LC3 '07 bigger and better than
the last effort in September 2006. The event is slated to hold from
9th to 11th of November 2007 as a part of the 9th Lagos Book & Art
Festival at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.


The third installment of LC3 will have a high capacity building
content with major focus on trainings and workshops for up coming
creatives in the comics and cartoons trade. Participants in the
training seminars and workshops will be drawn from secondary schools,
higher institutions of learning, independent practitioners and
practicing professionals in established advertising / media related
agencies, newspaper houses, etc that could be interested in a
refresher course of sorts. Facilitators will be drawn from a shortlist
of highly skilled professionals and the sessions will be highly
interactive. The first two days of LC3 '07 will be dedicated to these
workshops and seminars running alongside the exhibitions and sales
while the third day will be dedicated fully to a multimedia exhibition
of works by major players and emerging talents in the comics,
cartoons, animation and motion graphics trade, which will dovetail
into a dance party at the end of the event headlined by an 'A' list
Disc Jockey.

LC3 '07 is thus designed to cater for the multiple needs of
exposition, networking, marketing and entertainment.

Day One (Friday 9th November 2007)

8:00 am – 9.00am: Participating exhibitors / collaborators set up their stands.

10:00 am – 10.30am: Official opening of the 3rd Lagos Comics &
Cartoons Carnival.

10.30 am - 3.30pm: The 3rd Green Comic & Cartoon Strip Contest
(Themed: Plant an idea, watch it grow). Organized in collaboration
with Children And The Environment (CATE), and The Cartoonists
Association of Nigeria, the Green Comic Strip contest is targeted at
Secondary School Students between the ages of 13 and 20 years, the
programme is geared towards young people who have a flair for writing
and illustrating comics. Winning entries to the contest which would
have been collated and judged will be awarded prizes and a workshop
will be held for the children on how to create comics.

11.00 am – 6.00 pm Screening of short listed entries of animated short
flicks will hold for older folks who are not engaged with the
children. Participants will talk shop on the screened flicks and the
talks will be moderated by leading lights in the industry.

Day Two (Saturday 10th November 2007)

8:00 am – 9.00am: Participating exhibitors / collaborators set up their stands.

10:00 am – 12.00 noon: Workshop on Animation with focus on 2D.

12:00 noon – 12.30 pm: Break / Interaction.

12.30 pm – 2.30pm: Workshop on Animation with focus on 3D.

2.30 pm – 3.00pm: Break / Interaction.

30.00 pm – 5.00pm: Workshop on Animation with focus on motion graphics.

5.00 pm – 6.00pm: Re-cap / Question & Answer session / presentation of

Day Three (Sunday 11th November 2007)

8:00 am – 9.00am: Participating exhibitors / collaborators set up their stands.

10:00 am – 3.00 pm: Screening of short listed entries of animated
short flicks will continue and participants will talk shop on the
screened flicks as was done on day one.

3.00pm – 6.00pm: Dance party / closing celebration with an 'A' list
disk jockey on duty.


In achieving the set goals for LC3, and as a direct benefit of having
done this before, we shall be facilitating this carnival in
collaboration with front line creative art and graphics companies and
individuals; some of whom we have collaborated with in the past, who
will also exhibit their publications and artistic offerings.
Co-facilitators will include Children And The Environment (CATE),
Design Jockey Sessions, Imperial Creation Studios, the Cartoonists
Association of Nigeria amongst others.

The Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), as in the past, shall provide a
broad platform at the 9th Lagos Book and Art Festival at which LC3 can
draw from a large pool of book and art enthusiasts.

Glossy Brochures branded by our sponsors and containing general
history and information about the speakers and exhibitors at the
carnival will be made available to participants and visitors to
further aid the networking we hope to sustain.

For more information, please contact the undersigned. We look forward
to your active participation.

Yours Faithfully,

Ayodele Arigbabu

Sewedo Nupowaku

Will all animators please stand up!!!

This is a call for entries to animators of all backgrounds and cadres
to send in VCDs of their work for screening at the 3rd Lagos Comics &
Cartoons Carnival. The entries could be commercial or experimental
works, however, commercial work must come with authorization from the
copyright owners (if different from the creators of the works) for
them to be screened publicly. Feature length presentations and short
animated clips in the genres of 2D, 3D, motion graphics and
combinations thereof may be submitted, however, brevity will be an
advantage for screening and for the subsequent discussions that would
ensue. The works may range from short films and musical videos to
advertisements, architectural presentations and other esoteric

The Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival is a self styled ultimate
gathering of admirers, lovers and downright fanatics of comics,
cartoons and animation. The 3rd edition of the carnival will hold at
the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos from the 9th – 11th of November,
2007 as a part of the 9th Lagos Book & Art Festival and will have a
strong focus on animation. Received entries will be screened on the
three days of the carnival after which participants will talk shop on
the screened flicks. The talks will be moderated by leading lights in
the industry.

These sessions are designed to facilitate interaction between
professionals and enthusiasts, create a platform for cross pollination
of ideas, provide an avenue for employers of creative talent to
encounter fresh minds and serve as a fulcrum for building a database
of the variety of talents available in the field of animation.

Entries should be copies of the original work (original CDs or DVDs
should not be submitted as entries will not be returned) in VCD format
submitted with a letter addressed to The Coordinators, Lagos Comics
and Cartoons Carnival, stating the title, genre and theme of the
submission with a short Biodata of the creator(s) and should be
submitted to Revolution Media, c/o CORA secretariat, 1st Floor, 95
Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos on or before the 31st of October
2007. Revolution Media reserves the right to select from entries
received, those which will be screened at the carnival without
prejudice. All entries will be collated and catalogued after the
carnival at the CORA community library as reference material.

Please contact the undersigned for more information.

Yours Faithfully,

Ayodele Arigbabu

Sewedo Nupowaku

Calling all animators!!!

Revolution Media, organisers of the annual Lagos Comics & Cartoons
Carnival (LC3) will be hosting a one-day workshop on animation at the
3rd Lagos Comics and Cartoons Carnival which will hold at the National
Theatre, Iganmu Lagos from the 9th – 11th of November, 2007 as a part
of the 9th Lagos Book & Art Festival. The third installment of LC3
will have a high capacity building content with major focus on
trainings and workshops for up coming and established creatives in the
comics and cartoons trade. Participants in the training seminars and
workshops will be drawn from secondary schools, higher institutions of
learning, independent practitioners and practicing professionals in
established advertising / media related agencies, television houses,
etc that could be interested in a refresher course of sorts.
Facilitators will be highly skilled professionals and the sessions
will be very interactive.

You are therefore invited to participate in a workshop on animation on
Saturday the 10th of November 2007 (Please see programme below) from
10am – 6pm. The session shall cover 2D, 3D and motion graphics and
will be highly interactive. This workshop is recommended for those
with some background knowledge in animation who wish to improve on
their skills and is Revolution Media's initiative towards capacity
building in the field of comics, cartoons and animation.

The workshop session will be free and interested participants may
register at the CORA secretariat, 1st Foor, 95 Bode Thomas Street,
Surulere, Lagos or may send an email stating their interest to

Please contact the undersigned for more information.

Yours Faithfully,

Ayodele Arigbabu

Sewedo Nupowaku

Monday, September 03, 2007


1. President ANA Wale Okediran, delivering his paper
2. The writer, Literature Enthusiast, Mrs Mobolaji Adenubi aka Mama Agba
3. NLNG Head of Communications & PR, Ifeanyi Mbanefo
4. Eror repeat of Mbanefo
5. CORA Secretary General, Toyin Akinosho
6. The audience at the event
7. CORA Prog Chairman, Jahman Anikulapo, introducing the event
8. The panel in session
9. Moderator Deji Toye stresses a point
10. Panelist Chike Ofili speaks