Wednesday, November 12, 2008

JUMOKE VERISSIMO: Her sweet fart at Lagos Book Festival

. Jumoke performing Ajani at the festival

. Jumoke with guests (Her Mum, Sister, and another poet, Ambassador) at the LABAF presentation

By Akeem Lasisi

Each time some of her friends want to make a mischievous poem of her surname, Verismo, they pronounce it as ‘very-small‘. Actor and culture activist, Ropo Ewenla, is particularly guilty of this. What they play upon whenever they pronounce the name so is the modest frame of the Lagos-based writer, Jumoke Verisimo, who is also a copywriter with a Lagos-based advertising agency.

Despite such a joke, however, many people know that in her is the promise of a good poet, one of those who should shape the future of literature in Nigeria.

After about 10 years of active poetry writing and performance, Verisimo had a great day in Lagos on Saturday, when the just-concluded Lagos Book and Art Festival featured her as reading poet of the moment. The fact is that apart from providing an avenue to celebrate books, LABAF, organised by the Committee for Relevant Arts, promotes virtually all areas of the arts. This is one of the factors that differentiate it from other book fairs. Amidst inspiring talks on the art and science of Lagos – where popular writer and activist, Odia Ofeimun, participated and Crown Troupe of Africa performed – LABAF had mounted the stage to announce to the world the arrival of her first collection of poem, I am Memory, from where she read a couple of poems.

Among such was Ajani, the only love poem in the collection. Verisimo confesses that the man she addresses in the poem had, truly been a lover of hers. Yet, she will not want the reader to be carried away in terms of how close poetry is with love.

”My position on what poetry is and what it is not, is primarily subject to emotional interpretation. Poetry could as well be the food of hate, emotion, whatever it is prompts the reader to dig deeper than he‘d normally do on an average, unfeeling day. The passion which could generate a poem on love could also bring one on hate,” she says.

.Jumoke's mum at the LABAF presentation.. Joy of a Mother

Verisimo got into poetry through a little unusual way. According to her, she did not start out to write poetry in the beginning. She just wanted to spill out things she felt inside her. She says, ”I developed this flair for writing from reading, parents, school, teachers, environment, and I just began to write. I just started to write something and at the time, I couldn‘t have called it poetry per se. But now, I‘ll say poetry for me is not simply about lines in metrical forms, it is about a sigh. It is dramatic, and living. You know the way we‘ll say that there‘s poetry on the streets, I‘ll say, writing something that evokes genuine feeling that someone else can feel is poetry for me. At the moment, I am working on a novel.”

On what her focus is as a poet, she notes that she writes about whatever things that get close to her nerves. ”I am emotive,” she says, ”so, my writing is usually about things I feel strongly about, and many times these things are what the average mind would say is inexplicable. To me, it starts out as beyond me, but I question and question it. For me, poetry is a living thing. It is all around me, and it is always new to me.”

At the LABAF show, where her mother was present to celebrate with her, the lady who read English at Lagos State University also rendered a poem for which she is mostly known, “Mo fe so – a Yoruba statement that translates as I want to fart.” It is a poem that has beaten the audience for years.

.Jumoke performing from I'Memory

She says, “Mo fe so questions my plight as a Nigerian youth. It confronts my insecurity and frustration, and my desire to show my contempt for the problems faced. I didn‘t set out that Mo fe so, should be a poem, and I still won‘t call it a poem. “I‘ll say it is a performance of frustration. I‘m still pissed at certain quarters, but like many youths, I have learnt that our society teaches independence, and how you achieve that independence is not subject to questions. I am a very angry young woman, because I have seen a lot of fantastic minds depraved of opportunities, and others are snuffed so their chances of survival takes them from who they set out to be. I still want to fart, into the faces of those in high places. I‘ll like to fart and ease my pain.”

Published by Designs, Agency and Dreams, I am Memory started out as a poem on reparation. But, according to Verisimo, ‘maturity‘ and reading made her to understand that reparation is not all about slavery and the likes.




ADDRESS: CORA HOUSE Plot 95, Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos. Nigeria. Tel: 00234 (1) 6653587.,,

Images from the Lagos Book and Art Festival, Nov 7-9, 2008 at the national Theatre, Lagos (1)



ADDRESS: CORA HOUSE Plot 95, Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos. Nigeria. Tel: 00234 (1) 6653587.,,

Monday, November 10, 2008


The CORA`new identity unveiled at the formal inauguration of the organisation on Wednesday november 5, 2008 at 10A Ikoya Avenue, off Macpherson Ikoyi before a distinguished audience that included the renowned physician and founder of the Sickle Cell Foundation, Prof and Mrs Akinyanju, former minister of National Planning, Dr Rasheed Gbadamosi, the renowned public intellectual and former Presidential candidate of the Peoples Progressive Aliance, Prof Pat Utomi, Iya Adinni of Central Mosque, Surulere, Hajia Zainab Abbah Folawiyo, the MD of Integrated Macrofinance Bank Ltd, Dr Doyin Abiola,former Deputy Editor of The Guardian, Ben Tomoloju, the famous Designer, Theo Lawson, the General manager of Bang & Olufsen, Chinwe Uwatse and a host of other distinguished Nigerians.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Feast of Book & Art Begins In Lagos



7am: Exhibition already set up

9am : Formal Opening of CHILDREN FESTIVAL
:Exhibition and comic Workshop.

10am : “My Encounter with the Book” by Funmi Iyanda

11am: “Green Graffiti” Workshop – Karo Akpokiere & Chukwuma Ngene
“Green Tales” Workshop – Obari Gomba & Adeleke Adeyemi
Theme: “Lagos on My Mind”- [Organized by LC3 in collaboration with CATE/CORA].

11.30am: The Festival Tour (where kids and their teachers are taken round the grounds of the Fair).

Children on duty at the festival last year



(Panel Discussion on “Youth, Creativity and Development”) with established artists and active young people such as:
•Mrs Nike Davies-Okundaye: (Director, Nike Centre for Arts and Culture)
•Dr. Hope Eghagha: (Lecturer, Dept. of English, Unilag)
•Odion Ogogo: (Director, Heritage Ceramics)
•Tunde Aboderin: (Director, Mobile Cinema Crew)
•Denrele Edun: (presenter, Sound City)
•Segun Adefila: (director, Crown Troupe)
•Oyiza Adaba (Director, Africa Related)
•Kaffy Shafau: (Dance Director)
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Reviews, readings and discussions of Novels, and Non Fiction Works including
i. Ahmadu Koroma's ALLAH IS NOT OBLIGED ,
ii. Uzodima Iweala's BEASTS OF NO NATION;
iii. Helon Habila's MEASURING TIME,
• Theme: The visibility of Photography in the Nigerian Art Gallery Space
Keynote: TAM FIOFORI, veteran photographer,
2. Rep, DEPTH OF FIELDS (James Uche-Iroha)
3. Rep: BLACK BOX (By Uche Okpa-Iroha)
5. CHUKA NNABUIFE — Art writer
6. Victor Politis – Photography Enthusiast
7. Rep, Society of Nigerian Artists, SNA
8. Rep, Guild of Visual Artists

Moderator: Molara Wood, Writer, Journalist
Chairman: Kunle Filani
Special Guest: Chief Joe Musa, Director General, NGA
• Accompanying EXHIBITION on the theme: ‘The Energy of the City’
Featuring works by:
I. Members of PAN including Don Barber; Richard Enesi; Tam Fiofori; Okhai Ojeikere; and Adolphus Okpara
II. Members of DOF,
III. Members of Black Box and
IV. other photographers


7am: Exhibition already set up

10am: Talking Books with Aunty Sola & Friends: A roundtable discussion on ‘Banana Leaves’ – a sequel to ‘Without A Silver Spoon’ by Eddie Iroh.

11am: Panel Discussion and Interactive Session on ‘Sanitation and Climate Change’ the theme of ‘The Green Book’, an anthology of environmental poems, prose and plays by children and young people of ages 7-16.

1pm: “Green Creative Art Workshops”
with Rosalie Modder; Uche James Iroha/Akin Oniti; Wale Asobiojo; Tina Mba; Sheriff Ojetunde/Nike Fagade; Nkechi Osili

11. 30am: OPENING RECEPTION: Dance, Music, Readings etc

1pm: Presentation of THE WEAVER'S COLLECTION


Readings and discussions of Novels, and Non-Fiction Works including

(i) Paul Theroux’s DARK STAR SAFARI,
(ii) V.S Naipul's HALF A LIFE,
(iii) Shiva Naipul's NORTH OF SOUTH,
(iv) Gil Courtemanche's A SATURDAY AT THE POOL IN KIGALI,

Moderator: UCHE NWORAH
(Author, The Bloody Machete; The Long Harmattan Season; Chasing The Shadow)

Music, Wine and Dance Party For:

* Filmmaker TUNDE KELANI at 60,
* Painter KOLADE OSHINOWO at 60
Actor * Zack Orji at 50.
* Writer KUNLE AJIBADE @ 50
* Dancer ARNOLD UDOKA @ 50
* Designer HORGAN EKONG @ 50
(More names of “birthday people”, who have made significant contribution to the growth of culture production in the country, will be added)


• Theme: Dijns, Ghosts, Ghomids and Magical Spells: The reappearance of the Moonlight Tale in the New African Novel

* Zakes Mda's HEART OF REDNESS ,
*Ahmadou Koroma's ALLAH IS NOT OBLIGED

Day 3

10- 2pm: Fashion Show
(Between Kowry Kreations and LCC)


Theme: When Is The Profitable Reading Market?

Toyin Tejuosho,
Otunba Lawal Solarin,
Muhtar Bakare,
Bibi Bakare Yusuf

Moderator: TONI KAN
(Author, A Ballad of Rage; When A Dream Lingers Too Long; A Night Of The Creaking Bed)

5pm : Presentation of Awards for participation

* This will be the result of the Green Book Contest published to mark National Creativity Day. It will be a contest whereby notable environmental authors will participate by 'writing' the 'first paragraph' of a poem, story or play to be completed by school kids. 21 winners of the contest will have their works published and launched during LABAF 2008.


. National Gallery of Art
. National Theatre of Nigeria


The 4th Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival

The Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival is a self styled ultimate gathering of admirers, lovers and downright fanatics of comics, cartoons and animation. The 4th edition of the Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival holding at the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos from the 7th – 9th of November, 2008 as a part of the 10th Lagos Book & Art Festival organised by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) and is themed: Youth and the Creative Revolution.

Youth and the Creative Revolution
This year's theme captures effectively the mandate assumed by LC3's organizers to harness the creative energies of young people towards positive development particularly through socio-cultural and economic empowerment. In that regard, this year, we have tagged on to the ever vibrant, ever youthful and ever revolutionary hip-hop movement in our programme for the LC3 through our different collaborative activities which we have lined up with our partners for the three days.



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

10:00 am – 10.30am: Official opening of the 4th Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival.

10.30 am - 3.00pm: Graffiti workshop and talks on creativity and the environment. Organized in collaboration with The British Council Lagos, Children And The Environment (CATE), Dream Arts & Design Agency and the African Artists’ Foundation. School children will get to practice their hands at graffiti under the guidance of visiting international graffiti artists and their home based peers.

3.00pm – 6.00pm: Interactive sessions / exchange for young artists with International Comic Book Artists from across Africa facilitated by the Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos CCA.

11.00 am – 6.00 pm: Screening 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.


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

10:00 am – 4.00pm: Words and Pictures (WAPI): The free expression event organized by the British Council Lagos will berth at LC3 with a major focus on hip-hop and its influence on comics, cartoons and animation.


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

10:00 am – 2.00 pm: Fashion show in collaboration with Kowrie Kreations Media featuring the works of young Nigerian designers and of course, costumes inspired by comics straight out of Nigeria. All attendees are encouraged to wear the costumes of their favourite local / international super-heroes.

2pm – 4pm: Music, dance, networking till close.

What interested participants should do:

Comic / cartoons publishers and artists are encouraged to book stands to exhibit their comic books, cartoon collections or portfolios by contacting us through the email addresses / phone numbers below. Networking is key to LC3.
Artists who are already involved / who have interests in comics and cartoons are invited to bring their portfolios on Saturday the 8th of November for the Interactive sessions / exchange for young artists with International Comic Book Artists from France and across Africa facilitated by the Center for Contemporary Art where they will have one-on-one interaction with these facilitators.
All lovers of comics, cartoons and animation – children and adults alike- are encouraged to wear their favourite super-heroes' costumes on Sunday the 9th of November for the fashion show. Home made costumes are also most welcome and the most ingeniously dressed attendees will get to strut their stuff down the catwalk, right on television!
Spread the word.

For further information, please contact us though the following means:
Phone: 234-803-3000-499, 234-806-7421-215
Secretariat: CORA House, 1st Floor, 95 Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos.


Professional Portfolio Review for Young Comic Artists at the 4th Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival

The Centre For Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA Lagos) will be facilitating during the 10th Lagos Book and Art Festival an interactive session and creative exchange for young cartoonists and comic artists with visiting comic professionals from Africa and Europe at the 4th Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival. This programme is part of the educational component for the Picha. African Comics, an international touring exhibition featuring 19 comic artists from all over Africa opening at CCA,Lagos on the 8th of November and continues to 20th December 2008.
- Hide quoted text -
Young cartoonists and comic artists are invited to come with their portfolios to the main exhibition hall, by Entrance 'C' of the National Theatre Iganmu, Lagos, venue of the 4th Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival (which holds from the 7th till the 9th of November 2008) on Friday 7th November 2008 from 3pm till 6pm.
Two of the artists Kola Fayemi (Nigeria) and TT.Fons (Senegal) with curator of Picha Joost Pollman (Holland) and Caroline Vedhuizen (Holland) will take turns reviewing and discussing individually the works of the young cartoonists and comic artists in attendance after which will be held an interactive session with the general audience. This is a capacity building / cultural exchange initiative from the CCA in collaboration with the Lagos Comics & Cartoons Carnival and the Committee for Relevant Art.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

10th Lagos Book and Art Festival, Nov 7-9, 2008

Theme: Literacy and the Global Knowledge Society

DATE: NOVEMBER 7-9, 2008

Key Literary Events:
Panel Discussions . Dialogues . Conversations . Arthouse Parties

Details on

95 Bode Thomas Street, Suruletre, Lagos
Contact; Toyin 08057622415; Jummai: 08023683651

Marketing Consultant:
c/o AYOOLA SADARE 08023044806;

Building Knowledge capacity of the people of Africa

Preparations for the 10 th Lagos Book & Art Festival, scheduled for November 7 – 9, 2008 , began on the last day of the 9 th outing. The key goal of this edition, which is slated to hold in the spacious Exhibition Hall of Nigeria's National Theatre, right in the heart of the city, remains two fold: (1) To help improve the African human capacity through encounters with The Book and (2) to provide a site for the most informed, robust debates on the literature of the continent.

In pursuit of the second objective for this edition we have detailed the programme content for the three days in this brochure. Conversation will focus on Africa in the Eyes of the Other; The Moonlight Tale in Emerging African Fiction ; The Growing Popularity of the Child Hero in the New African Novel and The Search For A Reading Market.

The first objective – to help improve the intellectual capacity of the people of our continent, -- is a work in progress. We continue to work with libraries, educationists, governments, private sector, brand specialists, communication solution experts, to find the formula to build the knowledge capacity of the African people. We are getting there: Last year we had, 1,600 children attending reading workshops, book debates, drawing experiments, craft practice. LABAF is not a Book Fair, it's a culture carnival with a high book content.

This booklet is a first call for participation: For registration as a trade visitor, to the festival, or as an exhibitor, please fill the form on this brochure and mail to our address, visit our website, or call 234 -8022016495. Thank you.


Secretary General.

Join us at the Feast

The Committee for Relevant Art invites the public within and outside Nigeria, to the Tenth annual feast of the written word. For exhibitors from anywhere, this is a huge market. A hundred and forty million Africans inhabit some 960,000 sq km of space in Africa 's most populous country.

Over 60% of this population are young people between the ages of 18 and 25. Lagos, where the event is holding, is home to 10 million souls.

Every year the Lagos Book and Art Festival plays host to a stream of visiting writers coming to take part in some of the most insightful conversation on literature, literacy and the book market in Africa.

This year won't be different and if you are a writer, an intellectual, a student, a book enthusiast, and you want to participate in any of our programmes, please simply go o the registration page, do the needful and fax to us. We are as keen to have this party filled with Kenyans, Ivorian, Algerians and Mauritanians as we are interested in welcoming Sudanese, Egyptians, Zambians, Angolans and South Africans.

If you have a proposal to do anything that's outside the template that we've put on the programme page of this brochure, please send it to me at, or call me on 234-8022016495.

Lagos is an exciting place to be. You're welcome to share the human energy that animates this city on the edge of the southern Atlantic .


(a.) Opening Reception- The Book In My Life- Funmi Iyanda
(b.)Presentation To Winners of The The Green Story Writing & Telling Contest
(c.) Presentation To Winners of The The Green Comic & Cartoon Contest
(d.) The Festival Tour (where kids and their teachers are taken round the grounds of the Fair).

• Theme: Wars Without End: The Child Soldier As The New Hero in The Emerging African Novel
Reviews, readings and discussions of Novels, and Non Fiction Works including Ahmadu Koroma's Allah Is Not Obliged , Uzodima Iweala's Beasts Of No Nation; Helon Habila's Measuring Time, Biyi Bandele's Burma Boy


• Theme: Challenges of Liberal Democracy In Africa
William Mervin Gumede, author of Thabo Mbeki and The Battle For The Soul of the ANC spars with Dare Babarinsa, author of House Of War



Talking Books with Aunty Sola & Friends" : A roundtable discussion on Eddie Iroh's 'Banana Leaves', by upper primary and lower secondary school kids.

*Presentation of "The Green Book ", an anthology of environmental poems, prose, plays and paintings by children and young people of ages 7-15.



• Theme: Africa In The Eyes Of The Other .

Reviews, readings and discussions of Novels, and Non Fiction Works including Paul Theroux Dark Star Safari , V.S Naipul's Half A Life , Shiva Naipul's North Of South, Gil Courtemanche's A Saturday At the Pool In Kigali, Karl Maier's This House Has Fallen.

2-3PM Saturday, November 8,2008 .
Music, Wine and Dance

Party For:
* Ambassador Segun Olusola at 75,
* Jazz Promoter Tunde Kuboye at 60,
* Filmmaker Tunde Kelani at 60,
* Painter Kolade Oshinowo at 60 and the actor * Zack Orji at 50.
(More names of “birthday people”, who have made significant contribution to the growth of culture production in the country, will be added)

• Theme: Dijns,Ghosts, Ghomids and Magical Spells: The reappearance of the Moonlight Tale in the New African Novel

Zakes Mda's Heart of Redness , Andre Brink's Imaginings Of Sand , Ahmadou Koroma's Allah Is Not Obliged


When Is The Profitable Reading Market?

Andy Akhigbe, Toyin Tejuosho, Otunba Lawal Solarin, Muhtar Bakare, Bibi Bakare Yusuf

Moderator: Tolu Ogunlesi

Presentation of Awards for participation

* This will be the result of the Green Book Contest published to mark National Creativity Day. It will be a contest whereby notable environmental authors will participate by 'writing' the 'first paragraph' of a poem, story or play to be completed by school kids. 21 winners of the contest will have their works published and launched during LABAF 2008.

Paintings will also be sent in and the winning illustration will be placed on the front cover of the book.


THE 8th Lagos Book and Art Festival began on a wet note last Friday at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos, as the heavens disgorged litres of water.

Had guests and exhibitors at the event organized by the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), chosen to sing the nursery rhyme “Rain, rain, go away...”, they would have been forgiven because the heavy rain almost became a kill-joy by holding up proceedings.

And although it succeeded in delaying the opening of the festival by over two hours, it took nothing away from the event as participants had their fill of books, art, comics, lectures, workshops, dance and drama which were in abundance for the three days the festival lasted.

Seyi Solagbade and the Black Face Band who returned from a music festival in Italy recently and Adunni and the folk music group Nefertiti, treated guests to sessions of music which would have been more than it was on the first day had the rains not delayed events.

Nonetheless, the opening ceremony finally kicked-off in a relaxed atmosphere with Chris Ihidero, a member of CORA doing the initial introduction before Jahman Anikulapo took over the formal introductions. Jahman began on a light mood by saying that the rains fell because majority of those at the event left their homes that morning without praying. He then highlighted the objective of the festival and explained why it is more than a book festival.

Jahman said art was added to the book aspect of the festival to showcase the creativity of Nigerians whom he stressed are very creative before explaining the choice of the keynote speaker, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi. Gbadamosi, he explained, was invited to the forum as a playwright and for his contributions to Nigerian literature and not because of his affiliation to the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), Ragolis Water or any other body.

Before he called Gbadamosi who is a leading patron of the arts to the rostrum, Jahman told him to prepare to launch Sola Olorunyomi’s Afrobeat: Fela and the Imagined Continent, which he was given the honour to launch because of his closeness to the late Afrobeat maestro.

In conformity with the prevalent bonhomie spirit, Gbadamosi who was dressed in a blue suit removed his suit and tie before he mounted the rostrum. Though he was scheduled to speak on The Book and The National Consensus, the keynote speaker who came without a prepared speech, spoke on writers and writings in the country.

He said he was aware Olorunyomi was working on the book but was surprised that it was ready. On new writers, Gbadamosi disclosed he met some at an event recently and was thrilled by the freshness of their ideas, styles and command of English language even though he is disturbed by the magic and fantasy some include in their works.

Gbadamosi, who mentioned Peju Alatishe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Promise Ogochukwu Okekwe among other female writers as those that thrill him however said he would love more plays to be written. He noted that new playwrights are not getting published and advocated a union between playwrights and stakeholders in Nollywood.

The economist and playwright equally tasked playwrights to produce enduring works and advised writers to produce text for all classes of students to encourage reading. He subsequently opened the exhibition mounted by four artists: Nkechi Nwosu Igbo; Mufu Onifade; Washington Uba and Jelili Atiku Olorunfemi inside the exhibition hall of the museum as part of events for the festival.

What women write
A session appraising the engagements of Nigerian female writers was one of the events held on the opening day of the just concluded 8th Book and Art Festival. Given the new heights female Nigerian writers have attained and the rave reviews their works are enjoying across the globe, four women, out of which three were present, enlightened the gathering on the theme of their works at a colloquium moderated by Deji Toye.

Before Peju Alatishe, Araceli Aipoh and Mobolaji Adenubi discussed their works: Oritameta: Crossroads; No sense of Limits and Splendid respectively, and also Helen Oyeyemi’s Icarus Girl, some women writers read excerpts from their works.

Ibiba Don Pedro, two-time winner of the CNN African Journalist of the Year Award read excerpts from her work Oil in the Water ; Kaine Agary took excerpts from Yellow-Yellow, her forthcoming novel; Veronica Uzoigwe read a poem entitled Dance Again; Virginia Ogah read The Journey So Far and Ndidi Enemoh took excerpts from her work Flight for Murder, which original title is in Igbo language.

In the presence of bookworms and art patrons like Odia Ofeimun, Professor Akachi Ezeigbo, Gbenro Adegbola, Professor Adebayo Lamikanra, Mr. Modupe Oduyoye, Mr. Gboyega Banjo, Chief Frank Okonta, Dr. Sola Olorunyomi, Rita Dahl, a journalist and poet from Finland who read a poem in Finnish language before Jumoke Verrismo read the English version entitled It’s Amazing and Gerd Meuer, former correspondent of the German Public Radio (ARD) who later facilitated a workshop on Reporting the Arts, the women dialogued and gave insights into their works.

Peju Alatishe, painter and author of Oritameta: Cross Roads revealed that she had always been passionate about females and always advocated on issues concerning them even though she is not a ‘feminist’. She said her writing evolved from her paintings and the accompanying poetry to explain them in response to the moderator’s observation that her work resembles advocacy for women.

On why women make the lead characters in their works, Alatishe explained that it is because no one can express a woman’s feelings and concerns more than a woman. She said women have not been done enough justice in the literature by men and that men need to explore their feminism more.

Mobolaji Adenubi, on her part, said women writers make women their heroines because they have been portrayed negatively by men. The former president of Women Writers’ Association of Nigeria (WRITA) said women have become what they’ve been told they are by men over time and that women in Africa before colonization are different from women after colonization due to changes wrought by colonization. Colonization, Adenubi affirmed, taught women to be submissive and take on feminine roles which, hitherto, were not part of their roles.

She said further that current women’s writing is still trying to find the place of women in the society and that the negative potrayal of women in men’s writing made WRITA organize a seminar with the theme ‘Writing Women Right’ some years ago.

Former ANA president, Odia Ofeimun, who was ‘stampeded’ to comment by the moderator identified with the women by declaring himself a feminist because WRITA was formed during his tenure as ANA president. Although he said Nigerian literature has been taken over by women, he stated that it does not follow that when they tell their stories, they tell it better.

On what she writes, Araceli Aipoh said she writes about “things she loves and hate; what is real and fantasy; what she has and will like to have; about everything”.

Reporting the arts
The workshop on reporting the arts facilitated by Gerd Meuer was the final event held on the first day of the festival before the floor was surrendered to Seyi Solagbade and his Black Face Band. Before the German who had sessions with arts reporters earlier in the week took the floor however, Arne Schneider, Director of the Goethe Institut, Lagos, made a brief remark. Schneider disclosed that his first contact with the vibrant arts scene in Lagos was last year’s book and art festival and told the audience about the German films The Edukators and Go for Zucker showed last Friday and Saturday evening at the Gosthe Institut.

Other events held at the three-day festival which ended on Sunday include a lecture entitled Book in My Life, by Professor Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business School; a celebration of the landmark birthdays of members of the arts and culture family; a seminar with the theme Is African Literature More at Home Abroad than in Africa?
On Sunday, the festival bouquet with the theme 45 years of CORA: An appraisal where

Odia Ofeimun and Bisi Sylva spoke and the usual stampede with theme 20 years After The First Nobel Prize.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Stampede For Uncle Steve On June 29

THE Committee for Relevant Art will hold a special art stampede for Steve Rhodes on Sunday June 29 at the National Theatre. It is not yet clear if the Steve Rhodes Orchestra will perform, but the plan is to have a range of personalities who have passed through the grandmaster, including alumni of the Steve Rhodes Voices and artists who have worked directly with him, to talk about how he rubbed off on them. The stampede is scheduled to start at 1pm, run for five hours, with musical interludes and a screening of Femi Odugbemi's documentary. The audience will retire to O'Jez Restaurant at the National Stadium for a huge highlife party for the departed patriarch. "CORA doesn't do art stampedes for individuals anymore, but this is special," says Jahman Anikulapo, the Foundation's programme chairman. "The most we do for individuals is an Arthouse Forum, which is more specific than art stampedes. But for us, Uncle Steve is Huge, very large." Anikulapo said, "some of the alumni of the SR Voices will come on stage and do some of the stuff that are in the Voices' repertory." He says that CORA expects the Orchestra to do his more recent work, "but we haven't concluded." CORA hopes that, with such personal testimonies, music and film pieces, and "we would be able to tell the artistic story of the man's life." Anikulapo said that a majority of the Art community who could not be part of the funeral would have been effectively engaged. CORA has decided that each of its remaining programmes for the year, including the Book Editing Workshops and the Book and Art Festival.

*Culled from ARTSVILLE, The Guardian June 22

Saturday, June 21, 2008




Banquet hall, national Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

The legendary Art Impresario, STEVE BANKOLE OMODELE RHODES died May 29 at age 82. He has since been buried.
The name Steve Rhodes represents for Nigeria an institution of inestimable value, having bestrode the entire landscape of the Art and Culture life of the country. He was a Broadcaster, Composer/Arranger of Music, Art Manager whose industrousness and Journalistic practice helped in shaping the career of such great Nigerian artistes as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Rex Lawson, Bobby Benson, Fatai Rolling Dollar, as well as scores of other younger artistes. (See

At his death, he had requested for a quiet funeral, which was respected by his family and associates. This means that the ARTISTES COMMUNITY to which he was colossus as well as an inspiration did not have opportunity to pay their last respect to him.

The COMMITTE FOR RELEVANT ART (CORA) has decided to dedicate its 78th Quarterly ART STAMPEDE (started since 1991). The objective is to avail the ARTISTES AND CULTURE COMMUNITY as well as other Nigerians (who
may wish so to do), the opportunity to pay their respect to his blessed soul.

Also, the CORA wishes to use the STAMPEDE platform to set up a process of INSTITUTIONALISING the name STEVE
RHODES, particularly towards helping to put his many unfinished projects on sound footing.

The event will feature
1. Reflections on his life and works by such eminent culture producers and patrons of culture as Mrs.Francesca Emanuel. Amb Segun Olusola; Profs. Duro Oni, Ahmed Yerima; Benson Idonije; Dr Peter Badejo (the Nigerian biggest Dance export) and a horde of many younger artistes musical performances; dance skits;
2. Musical performances
3. Dance performances
4. Screening of Steve Rhodes Documentary produced by
Femi Odugbemi; among others.

The details are:

TIME: 2pm
VENUE: Banquet Hall
National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

Steve Rhodes (1926 -2008)

Musicologist, master of interpretative music, icon of multi-dimensional talent and leading arts and culture advocate, Mr Steven Bankole Omodele Rhodes died at age 82 on Thursday, May 29, in London. He had been ill for some time.

More widely and better known as the founder and director of the Steve Rhodes Voices, 'Uncle Steve', as some fondly called him, was a man of many parts whose talents earned him recognition as radio broadcaster, as producer of music and television programmes, and as arranger, and director of music. He was the first Nigerian Head of Programmes for Africa's first television station - the WNTV at Ibadan, and the first director of the first big band in Nigeria, the 15-piece NBC Dance Orchestra that cut across nationalities.

It is a credit to Mr. Rhodes that the Steve Rhodes Voices (SRV) quickly became, even in its early years, an award-winning vocal ensemble that took the first prize at the Llangollen International Musical Festival at Eisteddfod in Wales, a place described by Professor Wole Soyinka as "the source of the vocal art itself".

The group has continued on a path of tremendous success, performing to high-brow and appreciative audiences, and to rave media reviews. It could not be different though. Mrs. Francesca Emanuel says 'the discipline at SRV was unparalleled' adding 'I have not seen such discipline anywhere'. Uncle Steve was well-known for demanding high standards but even more especially, from himself; excellence was his watch-word. He had zero tolerance for mediocrity.

Said he on the content of our television programmes: "I grieve for the fact that after forty years, we should have been a long way down the road, but unfortunately we are still showing high percentage of garbage from abroad". A sticker for details and perfection, he maintained that Nigeria is yet to have a music industry in the proper sense of it because "an industry consists of various specialists that include singers, song writers, arrangers, managers, costumiers, and stage designers". He described as "crazy," a situation, such as common in these parts, whereby a singer will be his own song-writer, arranger, producer, and every other thing else .

• Whe he was 80

Steve Rhodes, educated and polished, lived a full and active life, he was respected and honoured in cultured societies and in high places. He did well for himself; he also did much for others, especially younger artistes who looked up to him for guidance and inspiration. For his country, he accepted to collaborate with Professor Wole Soyinka in his capacity as Artistic Consultant for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2003 All Africa Games. It turned out a difficult and thankless job, but this elder, so worthy to be so called, was not one to complain in public.

He also served as the first president and later, member of the Board of Trustees of the Independent Television Producers' Association of Nigeria (ITPAN). He has left behind an example that is truly worthy of emulation by present and future generations of artists. He was devoted to his art, remaining active until his last moments. He will be missed by the arts community and by all patrons of good art.

— Adapted from The Guardian Editorial of June 20, 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dancing for Kelani and Fosudo

When two seasoned artists are billed to mount the highlife stage- on the same day- to mark their birthday anniversary, then one should expect a large turnout of guest, if not a crowd. Yes, the first experience was the edition that had veteran artist Kolade Oshino and frontline actor Zack Orji-that edition recorded large crowd.
However, the 78th edition of the monthly Great Highlife Party held last Sunday at the Ojez Restaurant, National Stadium, Surulere, to celebrate filmmaker Tunde Kelani at 60 and actor Sola Fosudo at 50, was another big bang! The hall was full to its capacity; even the lobby too. In fact, Ojez management had to source for extra seats from anywhere to accommodate the crowd that kept growing bigger and bigger every minute.
Last Sunday’s edition of the monthly highlife revival initiative also called Elders Forum was special. Oh yes, special in the sense that both celebrants graced the occasion with almost their entire family members, with each cheering their own whenever their names were mentioned. Dressed in a traditional outfit, Kelani was the first to hit the venue with his wife and very long entourage. Few minutes after he ‘colonised’ a section of the hall, Sola Fosudo made his way into the venue, followed by his wife, family members and friends, immediately, highlife tune rented the airwaves.
As usual, the regulars were present at the show, except for Elder Steve Rhodes, who was conspicuously missing in the fun-filled show; well, Chief Femi Asekun was present to conduct the rituals, a traditional prayer session offered for every celebrant at every edition of the show. Ambassador Segun Olusola joined in the celebration half way. Aside the in-house band that succeeded in taking most guests down the memory lane with refined highlife tunes, other veterans who performed at the event include Tunde Osofisan, Maliki Showman, Alaba Pedro and Fatai Rolling Dollar who had an energetic performance, striking his guitar with dexterity, even at 80! Meanwhile, Che Chukwumerije had his turn on the stage; he actually opened the show.
Oh, Femi Asekun, you need to see how the old man turned the audience wild in excitement when he managed to clutch one of the microphones in his hand. Not long he started singing, the dance floor was full with guests, dancing and responding to Asekun’s songs, which he rendered mostly in Yoruba. The anchorman, veteran broadcaster and music critic Benson Idonije was caught up in that wind of excitement. In fact, it took Idonije time to stop that particular session; he enjoyed it, yes, he actually confessed.
As for paying tribute to celebrants, hmmmmm, this is one function exclusive to the Secretary General of CORA, Toyin Akinosho and he does it in style. Trust Toyin, in just few minutes, the Chevron staff, sorry, former Chevron Staff practically x-rayed each of the celebrants, pointing out their achievements one by one off heart. Anyway, Toyin has a way with history. Just hang around him, he’s definitely going to feed you with the history of Lagos, especially his growing up in Ebute-Metta or his numerous experiences in Cape Town.
Both Kelani and Fosudo were sooo grateful for the honour done to them. Happiness were written all over their faces as the dig it on the dance floor with their wives, and latter joined by their family members and other guests. The Great Highlife Party is a highlife revival initiative of Ojez Entertainment, with the active collaboration of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

For Kelani at 60; Fosudo at 50, a highlife party

By Benson Idonije
(As published in The Guardian Friday March 28, 2008)
COME Sunday, March 30, 2008, the 78th Great Highlife Party also called the Elders’ Forum will be experiencing another milestone in its continuing push for the resurgence of a dying musical culture. On this special occasion, trumpets, saxophones, trombones, guitars, drums and indeed all the instruments of the orchestra will be at their frienziest as the entire art community congregate to celebrate Tunde Kelani and Sola Fosudo, two of its most distinguished artists. The party begins at 5.30 p.m. and terminates at 11 p.m. at the usual venue of OJEZ Entertainment, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
A foremost Nigerian film maker whose creativity matches international standards, Tunde Kelani’s passion for this career is still as profound as ever-even at age 60. He does newsreel work for such reputable stations as BBC World and other international organisations in Nigeria. His passion lies mostly with the documentation of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage including shorts and features where he turns out works that are resplendent with the creative treatment of actuality as well as the imaginative presentation of concrete facts. He has contributed immensely to most of the films made in Nigeria to date.
T.K. worked as cinematographer on Anikura, Ogun ajaye, Iya ni wura, Taxi Driver, Fopomoyo and Iwa which he also produced. This represents a sizeable segment of the popular Nigerian films made in celluloid medium.
More recently, with funding from South Africa as part of the M-net New Directions initiative, T.K. functioned as cinematographer on Twins of the Rain Forest (16 mm), A Place called Home (16 mm), A Barber’s Wisdom (35 mm) and White Handkerchief) (16 mm), which he also produced and directed.
As a director of photography, T.K. stretches the optical capacity of digital video close to its elastic limit. What he does is use light to create what he sees because light is his main tool. He then uses the camera to record as much of it as technology makes available to him before PHCN (Nigeria’s unreliable power utility company) switches off his light to disrupt his work.
As a director, T.K. is a man of profound imagination who digs deep into the innermost parts of his mind, drawing inspiration from the past and building a bridge across the past and the present. This is because at 60, his age has afforded him the opportunity of being exposed to Nigeria’s cultural past – unlike most of the young folks whose knowledge of the past is vague and so are prone to foreign influences. With the deeply theatrical culture of his Yoruba pedigree, T.K. appears to have perfected the art of conveying Yoruba traditional theatre on the cinema screen without necessarily importing the limitations of the stage to the screen.
One of the attributes of a good producer is the clear identification of his target audience. T.K. understands what the viewing public expects of him and one of the strategies for achieving his objectives is the strong relationship with the traditional Yoruba theatre movement which constitutes a major group from which he draws actors and actresses. And because his casting is in the right direction, they often acknowledge him as a vital link between their history on stage and presence on the cinema screen.
T.K. recognises the popular video work as digital film making and has managed to make no less than seven full length features which represent some of the best offerings of the prolific Nigerian video phenomenon. Some of them include such down to earth productions as Ti Oluwa nile, Ayo ni mofe, Koseegbe, Oleku, Saworoide, Thunder bolt and most recently Agogo Eewo.
T.K. is a firm believer in alternative technology for motion pictures in Africa and says with conviction, “My ancestors used wood, terracotta, bronze and whatever else they could lay their hands on to document their reality. If we do not use whatever we can to document our own present realities, our children will suffer identity crises if they have to resort to archaeology to find out how we lived in the age of multi-media.”
Like last month when the artist, Kola Oshinowo and actor Zack Orji were celebrated for their achievements, Sunday’s party is another double take, featuring in addition to Tunde Kelani, the consumate actor and dramatist, Sola Anthony Fosudo. At 50 he is at the prime of a successful and challenging career. He is also a theatre director, scholar, critic and Head of Department of Theatre Arts, Lagos State University (LASU).
As a versatile artist, Fosudo has registered considerable impression on stage and screen.
He floated Centre stage Productions essentially to discover and nurture budding talents. His exploits on stage speak loud even though he has also made his mark in Nollywood with a participation that has continued to introduce intellect and professional commitment to the home video movement, featuring in such movies as True Confession, Glamour Girls, Rituals, Strange Ordeal, Iyawo Alhaji among several others.
Fosudo’s interest in theatre began from primary through secondary school where he played prominent roles in the end-of-year cultural dramatic activities which snowballed into participation in National Arts Festivals. But the final polish was put to this passion and professional career at the University of Ife. Says he:
“No picture can best paint the serenity that was Ife in those days. It was a campus to behold with its array of lecturers. I was thrilled by the stimulating and challenging academic environment, the structures, the unending rehearsals, the songs, drama and so on. It was indeed a very great experience.”
Explaining how he settled down to the real business, he further says: “The first play I took part in was Ola Rotimi’s Kurumi. After Kurumi, I found myself picking lead roles in most other productions that probably showed that I must have impressed the lecturers in Kurumi. The lecturers in Ife back then were some of the best anyone could ever pray for. We had the likes of the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, eminent theatre director, Chuck Mike and a host of others who gave all they had to the theatre. After the training, I was retained by the troupe for another two years.
“While there, I often craved to be like my lecturers, and I realised that the only way I would become a lecturer was to go for further studies. When Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) refused to allow me into a degree programme with my certificate, a friend advised me to go to the University of Ibadan where I later ran a diploma programme. I followed up with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and later, a Masters degree.”
However, it was not the paper qualifications that prepared him for what he is today. Rather, it was the natural flair and urge to give vent to and lend expression to his talent that did it. While at Ibadan for instance, he reached out restlessly to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) to act. He got involved in a number of TV plays and moved from stage to the screen. He produced a dance programme for BCOS, a Disco Jam fashioned after Soul Train. But Koko Close was perhaps the most challenging of them all.
When he came to Lagos, he was invited to join The Village Headmaster, The Third Eye and later Ripples which established him as an actor because it ran for five years, during which period he played several controversial roles.
But today, Fosudo is a master of situations with a level of involvement in theatre that transcends acting. He directs, produces, markets and teaches.
Kelani and Fosudo will be treated to the best of highlife on Sunday from some of the veterans of the music still alive. Headlined by octogenerian Fatai Rolling Dollar whose career began in the 1940s, the party is bound to swing as he reminds you about the past and the present – in live setting.
Singer Tunde Osofisan of Maria fame will be on hand to sing from the highlife era of the 60s. He operates from a wide repertoire that extends beyond Roy Chicago, his mentor and former band leader – to the Tempos Band led by Emmanuel Tetteh Mensah, the king of highlife.
Alaba Pedro whose palm wine guitar strokes evoke the nostalgia of the vibrant highlife of the 60’s will thrill the audience as he doubles on vocals while Maliki showman’s hard- driving sound will generate excitement for dancing – with vocals and saxophone.
In recent times, the scope and dimension of the music have been extended beyond the conventional by musicians who sound rather progressive because they are masters of their instruments. Veteran Eji Oyewole, a multi- instrumentalist will feature on a couple of vintage highlife tunes. Fred Fisher, perhaps the finest trombone player around will lend support to the ensemble sound. Biodun Adebiyi will excite the audience with his exuberant trumpet as he plays with tremendous fire and spirit, soaring off into high note runs with confidence and precision.
And of course, the Highlife Messengers, an aggregation of brilliant musicians will be playing exuberant highlife that speaks for the present even though it has its roots deep in tradition.
The trio of elders headed by Steve Rhodes and supported by Chief Femi Asekun and Ambassador Segun Olusola will be present to initiate the two great artists into elderhood.
The Great Highlife Party is a highlife revival initiative with the active collaboration of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tempers Flare At the 74th Art Stampede

(Culled from ARTSVILLE (16/3/08) by Toyin Akinosho)

JOKE Silva was upset. Mahmoud Balogun bristled and Umar Farouk Jibril was visibly rattled. Everyone was talking at the same time, at a point in the proceedings of the 74th Art Stampede (Packaging The African Cinema For A Global Audience) in Abuja last week. It seemed that the stakeholders had all come with set interpretations of how far Nollywood had come, why it works and why it doesn't, but the opinions were so tight that crossovers were difficult. The hint that the atmosphere was going to be charged came after the lead speaker, Ben Tomoloju, had delivered an hour long cerebral lecture on the road that Filmmaking had taken on the continent, citing references from Frantz Fanon to the Meiji Restoration. When the moderator, Ayo Arigbabu announced that members of the panel, comprising Balogun (a filmmaker), Sylvester Ogbechie (art historian), Francis Onwochei (Fimmaker) and Francis Duru(Actor/director), would respond to the paper, a murmur of protest went up from the audience and a number of hands were raised, including Jimi Johnson's, suggesting that the field should be open for questions. It was thus natural that words started flying all over the place the moment the panelists finished their comments. Clear takeaways from the discourse include that the Nigerian moving pictures industry may have become a phenomenon of sorts, but it requires some structure to take advantage of its potentials, in terms of aesthetics, global appeal, market access, distribution etc. But there are significant internal hurdles in Nigeria to clear. The Comittee For Relevant Art CORA, is finalising a communique form the proceedings, that will soon be published.,


Packaging African Movies For A Global Audience
THIS paper aims at examining contending issues in the motion picture industry. In doing so, it approaches the subject, motion-picture, from the point of view of a realist. Against the counterpane of history and all the standards that have emerged worldwide, it argues for the legitimacy of the African initiative. With a few criticisms of the shortfalls in the production standards of African movies highlighted, it goes ahead to philosophically position African motion pictures as part and parcel of a universal development which the rest of the world should embrace.

Introduction: The Historical Paradox
THE origin of the science of motion pictures is traced back to 1824. From that year, through the rest of the 19th century, series of experiments were carried out by notable western inventors like Eadweard Muybridge, Thomas A. Edison, W. Friese-Green, the Lumiere Brothers and George Eastman who produced the first celluloid film. However, it was the Lumiere Brothers who did the first public-showing of motion-picture in a cinema-theatre in Paris in 1895.
Tracing the history of the motion-picture to the beginning of the cinema in 1895 is significant in evaluation the place and poise of Africa in the movie-world. It helps in determining how far the continent has come in the use of the powerful medium, its profile among contending forces in inter-cultural relations, the challenges faced by African motion picture practitioners past and present as well as the prospects ahead of them in the global setting.
Naturally, the history of the movies sings a different tune from culture to culture. In Africa, it is not different. Using Nigeria as a closest example, the first public showing of the motion picture took place in 1903, eight years after the western world. In fact, the United States of America woke up to the public screening of films just about the same time as in Africa. The difference, according to history, is that commercial screening started in 1905, well ahead of the African continent.
Against this backdrop, it would have been assumed that, in over a century of contact and connection with the movie enterprise, Africa ought to have stood tall in its mobilization and utilization of the medium in the overall interest of the Africa people. But here lies a serious contradiction.
In its history of 100 years, American motion-picture industry accounts for about half of the world’s box-office releases, grossing an annual revenue of over $4.5 billion at the turn of the last century. Nigerian movies, on the other hand, are still battling for global recognition, surviving on paltry budget and cost-cutting improvisation. This comparison is not meant to cast the Nigerian motion-picture industry in a bad light, but to simply show how disadvantaged it has been in the global scheme of things.
Motion picture in Africa did not begin as cultural property of Africans as it did in the Western world. Its utility-value was, therefore, not salutary to the African intelligentsia who identified in the development an attempt by the colonialists to undermine the dignity and integrity of Africans. While the motion-picture as art and science evolved out of the organic creative and inventive essence of western cultures and was utilized for the promotion of their respective national interests, the reality of its advert in Africa is antithetical.
The motion-picture served the purpose of entrenching the control of the colonialists over the colonized peoples of Africa, manipulating them mentally, subjugating them politically, exploiting them economically and denigrating their cultures.
In this connection, an analysis of the problems besetting the motion-picture enterprise in Africa and the proffering of possible solutions must take into account this contradiction. Certainly, modern history has not been fair to Africans who were once referred to by Professor Ali Mazrui as “the most victimised race” in the world.
For the fact that most of this history was documented by the white overlords, it could not have fared better. Nevertheless, this paradoxical chapter of the African story should not be dumped in the backrooms as sheer chronological happenstance. It is part of our reality, even in the travails of the motion-picture in Africa. It must be held under the powerful lens of African movie-makers as an object for historical and cultural reconstruction in consonance with the political, ideological advocacy of Walter Rodney in his famous book How Europe Under-developed Africa and, of course, the literary model of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart against Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Realistically, history once made can never be unmade. Its consequences can only be accepted as factors challenging the inheritors of its legacy, whether fair or foul.
The legacy of motion-picture, as inherited from the west by Africans, should serve the latter as a catalyst for self-reinvigoration and, ultimately, self-vindication.
African scholars and producers like Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka and Senegal’s Sembene Ousmane, among others, have had the cause to initiate a process of reconstruction in which African film-making reacts against “the western stereotype of the black man and his world” towards an objective which Hyginus Ekwuazi aptly describes as a restitution of the distorted culture” of Africa.
Expressly, the voice of the African movie-maker is calling the rest of the world to meet Africa on its own terms. Its persona is not playing the victim, but taking a principled stand as a thoroughbred in the crafting and interpretation of the complexities of a new, dynamic world order.
Concerning the African film, Ekwuazi states as follows: “in this functionalist view, culture becomes not just what it is at any time, but also its elasticity, its growth potentials. Besides, the dynamics of cultural elasticity makes culture the dialectics of growth by providing the thesis and antithesis out of which is born a synthesis; a richer culture, reaching out towards cultural convergence; a homogenisation which becomes more of a reality in each generation.
The African motion-picture is currently berthed upon the shoreline of a synthesis in the dialectical relationship between the continent and the rest of the world. It casts off the beggarly torso of docile end-user of foreign initiative and positions itself on the path of self-actualization. Such attempts at self-actualisation may not be palatable to the metropolitan mercantilists and their predatory collaborators in Bombay and Hong-Kong. But a fact which cannot be wished away and one with which African movie-makers can arm themselves is that the African motion-picture is a cultural-nationalistic insignia. It is part of our collective struggle against any form of domination. It is part of our struggle against the North-south Information Dichotomy. Though our culture relates to others on the basis of mutual respect and universal solidarity, the movie remains a part of the struggle for economic and political emancipation, a struggle for self-determination.
This, in one’s opinion, is the principle upon which the pedagogy of African movies for the global audience should be anchored. It provides the ideological super-structure upon which the paradoxical image of African motion picture is anatomised and refocused. And it does not fail to acknowledge the need to uphold universal standards which determination should not be the exclusive preserve of the west.

African Movies and the Credibility Hurdle
LET it be made clear that the end-in-view of this paper is to create a healthy environment for mutually beneficial cultural dialogue and partnership between Africa and the rest of the world, based essentially on equity and fair-play. It is not meant to obliterate the shortcomings of movies produced in Africa which have been flayed by critics locally and international.
In fact, packaging African movies for the global audience cannot be discussed without taking into consideration issues bordering on competence and accomplishment and, by extension, the credibility of the practice on the continent. In the past three decades or so, critical salvos have been fired at African movies outputs, most of them coming in this era of home-video releases.
Motion-picture industry in Africa is criticised for the paucity of trained professionals in its stables. Screenplays, in a number of cases, are hackneyed, pedestrian, banal or morally bankrupt. The sub-sector is vulnerable to the activities of pirates and all manners of criminal abuse. Enforcement of the copyright law is in a sorry state. The movie-industry is economically marginalised and this is even worsened by the lack of political will among members of the political class to adequately empower the sector.
In the sense that they are aimed at improves professionalism, enhancing the quality of production, its moral responsibility and economic security, these criticisms are genuine. Certainly, they do not apply to all the practitioners. A number of African movie-makers are distinguished professionals with world-class status in their own rights. But they, too, have to temporarily put aside the aura of individual accomplishment and accept these criticisms as a pointer to the challenges that African motion-picture practitioners have to work together to surmount in the process of a global outreach.
Some of the criticisms are valid. Others raise posers for further rumination. For instance, the two issues on non-release of movies in the cinema-theatre and that on the recourse to the video format serve closer scrutiny.
Releasing movies directly to the public by way of home-video is making its own point in a free-market environment. Bu there can be no adequate protection in home-videos the way a theatre-based network would secure the canned fortune of the movie-maker.
Concerning the preponderance of video over celluloid, its logic ties in directly to the principle of self-actualization as earlier enunciated. What African practitioners are doing with the video is determined by the peculiarities of their situation for which they should have no apologies.
The economic arrangement between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and some African government which led to austere economic measures like the Structural Adjustment Policy (SAP) was a catalyst for new thinking in the movie world. In Nigeria, which serves as a prime example, SAP was very unpopular and the people had to embark on whole days of anti-SAP riot to express their disapproval of the obnoxious economic measure. As a fall-out of the adoption of SAP, the naira fell against major currencies of the world. Foreign exchange procurement was as difficult as a camel passing through the needle’s eye. The spending power of the average Nigerian was drastically reduced. Several companies folded up leading to capital flight, huge job-losses, near-extermination for the middle-class and brain-drain.
The impact of SAP on the movie industry was stultifying because practitioners, as a matter of necessity, had to process their films abroad. With low spending-power and scare foreign exchange, the survival instinct of Nigerian filmmakers led them to start improvising with the video and making the best of a bad situation. Considering the fact that, like culture, creativity is dynamic, it would be out rightly preposterous to fault the step taken by Nigerian movie-makers in this direction.
Looking around Africa, for instance, in a country like Ghana, foreign-induced economic downturn was so ravaging that it swept some of their best performing artistes like Evans Hunter, Dela Williams and Liz Hammond out as economic exiles seeking their fortunes here in Nigeria.
It was largely a continental bog, and certainly a universal burden caused by the prescriptions of the world’s economic therapists with dire consequences on film productions in Africa.
To make recourse to video should therefore be viewed with sagacity by the cosmopolitan critics as a commercial novelty and nothing less. To state otherwise would seem tendentious.
The truth, as pointed out by African film-scholars, is that modern technology, in accord with the resilience, dynamism and creativity of motion-picture practitioners in Africa, is also narrowing the borderline of the cinematic art generated by the celluloid and video. What is left is to make the best of whatever medium that is chosen.
On this note, the credibility hurdle is scaled, with the understanding that current development in the African motion-picture industry which deviates from the application of established motion-picture technology is a creative response to a problematic universal phenomenon.
Logically, the solution to such a problem is also of universal significance. As a component of the mosaic of universal aesthetic responses, it has a right to the attention of the rest of the world. What is desired now is to evolve strategies and map out actions for a profitable outreach of African movies across the globe.

Consolidating the homefront
INTERESTINGLY, the charity of global outreach begins at home. The way to earn the respect of outsiders is for one to put this own his own house in order. There is the need to firm up the home-front in terms of building a culture of excellence in all departments of the industry, through the standardisation of productions, efficacious distribution network and compliance with relevant laws.
In this respect, also, the local populace, when effectively sensitized and mobilized, are a formidable asset in enhancing the fortunes of the industry. They constitute not only the major consumers of the products, but also help in entrenching a movie culture which translates into a living heritage commanding collective loyalty and pride.
In Nigeria, for instance, such a culture is evolving. At the national level and the level of the African Union, governments should invest in this development to take the industry to greater heights because it has the advantage of mitigating some of the problems of individual nations. Apart from creating employment, the motion-picture is a tool for mass-mobilisation.
Promotional and marketing events such as FESPACO in Burkina Faso, Le Benin Festival International du Film in Benin Republic, Sithengi in South Africa, and the troika of BOB-TV, Zuma Festival and AMAA right here in Nigeria, apart from their numerous roles in the industry, serve to project proudly the image of respective African countries. They also promote tourism while consolidating the cultural calendar of individual nations. For these and other reasons, the support of both the public and private sectors of the economy for these major events is highly desirable.
One other factor to examine which may constitute a spoiler to the noble efforts of stakeholders, patrons, governmental and non-governmental agencies, is an unregulated or at the best over-liberalised distribution network. From personal interactions and experience at the local level, one is convinced that this area is not well supervised and monitored.
Lack of accountability and respect for the rights of creators is quite rampant in the distribution sub-sector. Its general state of indiscipline constitutes a drain on the fortunes of movie-makers and tends to open the entire industry to unbridled roguery by local and international syndicate.
In this connection, one are which serves just as an example is video clubbing. Video Club owners now have an association. On the basis of fundamental human rights, it is their inalienable right to do so.
On the positive side, they account for bulk purchases of movie releases and are, therefore, strategically important in the marketing process. The problem, however, is that the video club association has been turned to a cabal of buccaneers who levy and terrorize their members and make huge sums of money that do not, at the end of the day, translate into fortune for the original creators of the movies.
I think video-club owners association now is nothing short of a bunch of motor-park-tout look-alike exploiting the sweat of movie-makers for personal gain. This is unacceptable. Video-clubbing should be more intensely regulated. Every single club has a right to be or not be a member of the association.
But every single club should register with the Nigerian Copyright (Intellectual Property) Commission even if it is situated in the remotest part of the country. Club owners should pay an annual registration fee or levy, an agreed fraction of which should go to guilds recognized in the Nigerian Film Policy or to the Motion Pictures Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON).
A directory of video clubs in Nigeria should be published and revised annually. Any club that is not listed will be deemed illegal. The clubs should also be subjected to periodic inspection to ensure strict compliance with the copyright law.
We can even go a step further. Every video-club operator should keep a register of movies in his/her stock with relevant information on sources and proof of genuine transaction. Ile la ti nko eso rode.
This is a Yoruba proverb which translates as in “Charity begins at home.” To consolidate the home-front in movie marketing and distribution, it cannot be business as usual. Nigerian marketers and their numerous outlets and retailers must respect and even protect the intellectual property rights of movie-makers.
This way, they will not play into the hands of international syndicates and the reciprocity clause in the copyright protocols will be easier to implement.

Standardisation of Movie-outputs
THIS is an imperative relevant to both the local and foreign markets. With regards to the former, members of the African community are now having easy access to the outside world via satellite technology. They are getting increasingly sophisticated and discriminating in their taste for good movies. Thus, it is incumbent on stakeholders to insist on quality in all areas of production – screenwriting, directing, cinematography, acting, designs, among others.
To win the foreign audience who, naturally, are weaned on numerous classics, the real is to present them with credible alternatives from Africa, not only in terms of cinematic craftsmanship, but also the pulsating grip of fascinating and inspiring African stories.
This, I dare day, is an area where a producer such as Tunde Kelani stands distinguished. His partnership with a highly resourceful creative writer such as Professor Akinwunmi Ishola in movies like O le ku and Saworo Ide combines the eloquence of the moving-image with the profundity of well-told African stories.
More of these are recommended. There is the need to search through our epic models, the trails of heroes and heroines, the communal essence of African life and epochal subjects in the contemporary social circumstance of Africans for rich African stories with universal appeal.
The stories of Sundiata, Chaka the Zulu, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Haile Sellasie, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba and other freedom fighters, including those in Nigeria, will make a compelling viewing outside the shores of Africa.
Creativity is dynamic. Regardless of what works may have been done on some of these historical personages, as in Eddie Ugbomah’s Death of a Black President, fresh ideas and interpretations can sublimate into new and exciting classics.
Of equal importance in the sourcing of materials for the African movie-story is our creative literature. An outstanding work like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart deserves to go beyond the adaptation by the Nigerian Television Authority. Kongi’s Harvest by Wole Soyinka has been adapted and produced on celluloid, but, from all indications and with the objections raised by the playwright himself against the director’s intervention, there is certainly another room for a movie excursion into the fictional world of an African dictator. Ngugi wa Thiongo’s The Trial Dedan Kimathi is a gripping story on popular struggles. And, on the comic side, Efua Sutherland’s The Marriage of Anansewa and Femi Osofisan’s Who is Afraid of Tai Solarin are succulent offerings waiting to be explored. In his introduction to an anthology of Best American Screenplays (Volume 2), Sam Thomas presents aptly the interface between literature and motion-picture. On an optimistic note concerning the literacry quality of movie-scripts, he writes: “We look forward to a time in the very near future when screenplays will become common reading, not only in university and high school film course, but in English departments as well, alongside the novel, the stage play and poetry."
The statement is unambiguous. Literature can be very useful to screenwriting. What is important in the case of the African movie is to utilise materials sourced from Africa to make the difference.
One may only add that producers should find a way for mediation between the literary and the cinematic. No doubt, the African motion-picture, in communicating with the rest of the world, will respect the prime position of the moving-image. It should, however, see the literary as an added resource, especially for its condensed sublimity in complementary relationship with the moving-image. Taken straight from Things Fall Apart one could feel the emotional impact visually and verbally when Okonkwo was forewarned concerning Ikemefuna: That child calls you father. Do no have a hand in his death.”
These are the kind of words from the African repertoire that can give the screen a poetic resonance.

Foreign Connections:
ONE of the strategies in audience cultivation is to “use what you have to get what you want.” Another is, “you rub my back, I rub your back.” One has preferred these descriptive simplifications in the popular lingo to illustrate possible outreach strategies in packaging African movies for the global audience because they drive the point home directly.
One of the reasons behind the influx of western movies into Africa was that virtually all the nations in Africa, with the exception of Ethiopia, were colonised. As such, citizens of the new African nations were like anxious brides waiting to be groomed. The metropolis has all things going for them because their unctions were hard to resist. In the case of contemporary Africa, there are no conquered territories to goad.
But one vehicle that we have in projecting our movies to the outside world is the formidable presence of Africans in the diaspora. Already, this factor is being exploited by individual film-marketers.
It, however, needs to be comprehensive. Stronger arguments deriving, for instance, from the leadership position of Nigeria in the black and African world as well as the restoration of cultural links can be put to use in the attempt to cultivate a devoted clientele for African movies in the African Diaspora. For example, one can imagine the kind of reception an epic movie on Emperor Haile Sellasie will have in the Rastafarianism infested countries of the Caribbean. Definitely, as I have had the opportunity to note in a trip to the Caribbean some years ago, our African brothers and sisters whose ancestry were long severed from the mother continent are yearning for this arm of re-union.
Beyond the African Diaspora, other countries in Europe, America, Asia and Oceania have signed one form of cultural agreement or the other with African nations which entail cultural exchange programmes and trade. Recently, during the visit on Nigeria’s President, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua to China, a Protocol on Cultural Exchange and Education was signed between the two countries.
Already, the Chinese are rushing into Africa, utilising various agreements to project and market their products and skills. It is, therefore, incumbent on movie-makers of Africa just as it is on every professional to utilise these agreements and protocols in marketing their products.
In these documents are enshrined an order of reciprocity — you rub my back, I rub your back. A partner in the bargain who consigns his own prerogative to dormancy can only have himself to blame.
If the Chinese come to Africa flapping their own copy of the protocol, Africans should go to China to flap their own copies. If the British Council moves around Nigeria flaunting the Commonwealth instrument, Nigerians should, without apologies, go to Great Britain flaunting our own commonwealth instrument as it pertains, especially, to cultural relations, trade and education.
If the United States beams its way into our living-rooms via satellite television, and on the basis of globalization, the AIT satellite television should beam into the heart of America branding the globalisation instruments.
This brings us to the “Heart of Africa Project”. Former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Frank Nweke Jnr. Was quite enthusiastic about this project. One is not so sure what the situation is at the moment, whether the momentum is sustained or whether it has dropped.
Whatever, one believe that the Federal Government of Nigeria, for the sake of Nigeria and Africa at large, should sustain the “Heart of Africa Project” as a cardinal initiative in spirit, letters and action.
The interest showed in Nollywood should also be sustained because this will ensure the packaging, promotion and propagation of Nigerian movies abroad, open the door for other African countries, with all the attendant benefits in the promotion of the country’s national interest.

Global Networking and the African Motion-Picture Consortium
GRANTED, African motion-pictures are making an appreciable impact around the world. There is, however, a great room for improvement. More movies have to be produced on an ambitious scale, which should go beyond whatever has been done in The Battle of Musanga, Sango, Sitanda or Amazing Grace. And all the inputs, including distribution and exhibition locally and internationally, have to be correspondingly ambitious.
One is looking at African movies getting the big headlines in the international media, making waves in the big cinema-theatres of the international capitals and attracting huge revenue for their robust artistry technical excellence.
Without doubt, producing such movies of epical dimension entails a lot of capital. Furthermore, it would require deliberate policies and actions on global networking for African motion-picture. It certainly is an onerous task.
But it can be done. In the free-market economy such as is currently being operated in this era of globalization, participation in such global networking can involve individuals, companies or whole consortia.
In view of the liquidity problems in sole-proprietorship and private companies, it seems that a consortium of African motion-picture practitioners would easily carry out this objective.
Already rudiments of this idea exist at certain levels of the production of motion-pictures in Nigeria. One is aware that indigenous practitioners in Yoruba engage in a kind of labour-based co-operative which reduces the financial burden of individual producers. Recently, a group of producers got together and established a marketing outlet in Lagos. Also it is on record that some Nigerian marketers – though in controversial circumstance – stood down the production of movies at a stage when there was a glut in the market. All these are business initiative, which indicate that practitioners can mass together all resources available and embark on gigantic projects for large scale export in their own best interest.
Such ambitions production designed only for the making of quintessential classics with the best possible technical back-up can take off at national or continental level. Guilds of screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, directors, actors, editors, designers and other experts in the field have a vital role to play in this respect.
The Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON) or a similar umbrella body in any African country should lend policy weight to it.
In the same vein, governmental agencies, on line of duty and on account of practically implementing existing bilateral and multilateral protocols and agreements are germane to this cause.
By the consortium, one is speaking of total engagement in which production capital is multifariously subsidized in cash or kind from production stages to the establishment of distribution networks and cinema across the globe for African movies.
On the grounds of globalization, a horde of businessmen and women from Asia, Europe, America, Oceania and the Middle East are finding their ways to Africa.
An order of reciprocity as a matter of right has to be brought to bear on contemporary global economic trends so that Africans will also penetrate other limes with equal vigour with their skills and businesses and sell their products under a free-market, non—protectionist arrangement.
Let it be stated unequivocally, therefore, that African movies are a prime-product for export; that Africa boast of a quantum of high-skill in the film industry that can impact positively on the global consciousness.
The flag of this position will be carried by the consortium using all possible international treaties as a launch-pad, re-tying the bonds of kinship in the African Diaspora and winning the solidarity of professional counterparts abroad for safe-landing.
With a vigorous and assiduous pursuit of this objective, alongside other suggestions earlier made, one is certain that a route will be carved for the smooth flow and acceptability of quality movies from Africa to the rest of the world, with the attendant economic and other benefits guaranteed.

In this exercise, one has attempted a general overview of the movie industry in Africa. One would only like to conclude by extracting in a distilled form some of the recommendations for further discussions.
• The pedagogy of the motion-picture industry in Africa should be based on the universal significance of the merits of innovations that African movie-makers have brought into the practice which, in a process of confidence-building, should recommend their works for global recognition and acceptance.
• Standardisation in all departments of the motion-picture industry in Africa should be a sine qua non.
• Internal cohesion, full capacity-utilization and a culture of excellence should be ensured locally to earn the respect of the global community.
• The public and private sectors of the economy should take advantage of numerous benefits of the motion-picture industry by giving it maximum support and empowering its practitioners.
• The general indiscipline and lack of respect for the rights of intellectual property owners in the marketing and distribution of African movies should be checked to avoid pernicious collusion with international syndicates.
• African movie-makers should do more to exploit the African story in their screenplays to make the difference.
• Restoration of cultural links with the African Diaspora should form part of the strategies for cultivating a massive global audience.
• Africa movie-makers, in collaboration with relevant governmental agencies, should be pro-active in putting to use all bilateral and multilateral instruments that can open doors for African movies worldwide.
• The Nigerian government should sustain and pursue more vigorously the “Heart of Africa Project,” especially for the vital role the motion-picture industry can play in the realization of its noble objectives.
• Practitioners at national and continental levels should embark on global networking on an ambitious, massive scale through a consortium to establish viable and thriving outposts for African movies across the globe.

-Being a Paper Presented by Ben Tomoloju, Executive Director, BTC – Media and Creative Consultants, Lagos for BOB – TV 2008, Abuja, Nigeria seminar on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, Co-ordinated by the COMMITTEE FOR RELEVANT ARTS (CORA).