ll is set for the stage production of Jagagba, a play by Abdul-Qudus Ibrahim, winner, 2nd Beeta Playwright competition.
A production of Beeta Universal Arts Foundation, producers of Our Son the Minister, the show holds on Friday July 19th to Sunday July 21st, at the Agip Recital Hall, Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos. Directed by Olabunmi Adewale, and starring Kunle Coker, Mawuyon Ogun, Bamike Olawunmi “Bam Bam”, Ese Lami George, Olarotimi Fakunle, Eden Attai, Kelvinmary Ndukwe, this 40-man play is a colourful folk rendition of great acting, with wonderful music from Debbie Ohiri.
Produced by award winning actress and producer, Bikiya Graham-Douglas, Jagagba is thought provoking, emotive and entertaining.
The King is dead! Who will wear the mighty crown Jagagba? Will it be Adebola, the King’s adopted son or Adesupo, the King’s estranged brother?
Amidst palace intrigues, political conspiracies and family traditions, Abebi the King’s widow offers her advice.
“You will be transported to a fantasy world that mirrors ours with societal vices that touch on relevant social issues like female inclusion, security and co-existence.”
Insight into Nigeria’s development experience
Book Title: Federalism, Leadership and Development
Author: Samuel Orovwuje
Pages: 161 pages
Publisher: Dictus Publishing, Germany
Reviewer: Obed Awowede
here are very few books that capture the breadth and depth of Nigeria’s contemporary leadership and development experience against the background of its history as Samuel Orovwuje’s Federalism Leadership and Development. A collection of some of his essays, most of which have been published in Nigerian newspapers and foreign journals, Federalism Leadership and Development provides a more than sufficient peek into the Nigerian state and its developmental challenges. Yet, it is not limited to issues about Nigeria, as it delves into international relations and migration, yet another concurrent issue of interest across the world. Aside from the functional themes of nationhood and development, the book looks at the structural issues of federalism and explores the crisis of leadership both in Nigeria and on the African continent. Orovwuje’s kaleidoscopic panorama also touches heavily on such social issues that have engaged Nigeria’s rulers in recent years such as same-sex relationships, the Boko Haram insurgency, national security and free speech, leadership, unemployment and the ethos of nationhood. In all, through forty five (45) essays, he dissects the Nigerian condition in a style that anyone, policy wonk or layman, can connect with.
The background of Orovwuje’s essays is situated in the state of underdevelopment of Nigeria, which has forced a robust public debate on the issues of leadership, federalism and development. This underdevelopment is suffused in the experiences of unemployment, poverty, social dislocation, fear, anxiety, economic difficulties, corruption, migration and political succession problems. In addressing these issues he frontally engages them and is not scared of speaking to the problems and offering solutions. In ‘Leaders, not Pretenders!’, The author speaks to the malaise of godfatherism, nepotism and empty campaign promises that are the bane of party democracy in Nigeria. This is an essay he wrote and published just before Nigeria’s 2015 general elections. In it he pushes the argument that the country needs true leaders and not pretenders who want power for the sake of it. He takes on the leadership selection process in the two main parties, APC and PDP thus: “Internal democracy is not respected in the APC, PDP or other parties. Internal democracy is one of the major attributes of party organizational leadership but it has not always played out in Nigeria’s space and, indeed, the emergence of the incumbent president (Dr Goodluck Jonathan) as the only PDP aspirant is also a challenge for the democratic process and the leadership question in Nigeria.” That was 2015; the same can be said of the primaries for the 2019 general elections where President Buhari ended up the sole aspirant of the APC!
The theme of leadership failure interweaves the issues of underdevelopment as seen in the essay, ‘The Common Man and the Failure of Leadership in Nigeria’: “the parochialism in the political realm has not only exacerbated the socio-political and economic disparities between the rich and poor, it has crucially also played a role in institutionalizing corruption in Nigeria.” Those problems were expected to get a salve, especially with the successful transfer of power to President Buhari, a man famed for his ascetic lifestyle and Orovwuje captured the expectations and the potential pitfalls, which must now seem prophetic, as follows: “Indeed no one has a fair idea of the critical mass of this government, but it may only be a matter of time that we see the demonstration of a newfound Nigeria where courage, discipline, stewardship and indeed promise-keeping, reminiscent of Buhari’s ancestral DNA, will resonate with the election triumph. One thing, however, is abundantly clear. Unless the bogus structure of governance and the number of political jobbers that draw off the resources of the state at various levels is sorted, Buhari cannot go through with his ambitious economic reforms agenda for Nigeria. We can only hope that the Change is here.” How prophetic! But Orovwuje’s comes from deep thinking and a thorough reading of the social space, which has been his practice for over two decades now.
For Nigeria to achieve true change and development it must regularly engage its peoples in discussions on the terms of the union. That point is succinctly explored in the essays dealing with Nigeria’s corporate history and true federalism and finds expression also in other subjects dealing with the everyday problems in the country such as insecurity and forced internal migration. In them the author sees the symptoms of the main problem, which is a defective federal structure. Again, the failure of leadership connects with the problems of the political and governance structure, because the current arrangement is both unwieldy and unaccountable. He advocates a structure that promotes national inclusion while providing for the expression of the identities of the diverse nationalities at the local level. In ‘Toward a new Governance Structure for Nigeria’, which was published ahead of the 2014 National Conference organized by the President Jonathan administration, the author counsels as follows: “Nigeria should not be in a hurry to forget the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia between 1992 and 1999, which had similar trajectories like us. Therefore, the national conference should facilitate a deep-rooted and inclusive democracy where all minorities are protected.”
Throughout the book Orovwuje emphasises that elite exploitation using the instrument of state power creates social problems,pitting groups and against groups through the vehicles of propaganda, hate-speech and manipulations of the levers of power. To stem the tide toward civil unrest, he canvasses that ‘Politicians should be ready to make necessary compromises whenever it is required in the spirit of national interest.” (The imperatives of Social Harmony)
While majority of the essays focus expressly on issues, a few come in the form of tributes: to Chief MKO Abiola (winner of the annulled June 12 1993 presidential election);President Nelson Mandela; Professor Ali Mazrui; Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew; Maya Angelou and Dr.Tunji Braithwaite. These are easily recognizable names and their values will resonate with many readers, but in including a tribute to HRH Chamberlain Orovwuje, Okpara I of Agbon Kingdom in Delta State, the author brings out the point that even in our small corners there are persons who have shown commendable qualities deserving of recognition and have in their own ways tried to make a difference in their communities. The king was one such person;he “was a disciplinarian and highly principled man with a large heart that accommodated all shades of opinions, particularly from his chiefs and subjects.”
Federalism, Leadership and Development is not a textbook on those issues but a practical examination of the themes as threads that run through the essays. Broadly the 45 essays provide a deep insight into the historical and contemporary issues that collectively make up the touchstone of the Nigerian experience, a reason the book is highly recommended to anyone who seeks to understand why Nigeria is the way it is, a wasteland of development sprinkled with a few bright stars.
Biyi Bandele’s Rain returns on stage
‘Rain’, a play written by Biyi Bandele, goes on stage on Sunday, August 25, at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Directed by Toyin Oshinaike, produced by Park Theatre in collaboration with Theatre @ Terra, the play features guest performance by standup comedian Odogwu D Comedy Machine. Famed for his performances on television as “Principal” in Bovi’s comedy series titled “Back To School”, Odogwu also hosts a yearly one man stand-up comedy show known as Home Alone.
Rain, which won the International Students Playscript Competition in 1989, is an absurd but funny play of two crazy street sweepers who find their mental balance in telling each other tall stories that reflect their warped state of mind made up of and by the state of the nation.
Park Theatre is the resident theatre platform established to offer and promote regular theatre culture within the serene atmosphere of Freedom Park Lagos, which is in response to the urgent call for more community-based performance spaces that balance the delicate needs of the performers and the community they serve.
The play was earlier staged at Esther’s Revenge, Freedom Park, Lagos, on Sunday, June 23, 2019. It was also directed by Toyin Oshinaike.
Education as tool in birthing new Nigeria
Book Title: The Hope
Author: Uwana Michael
Publisher: EndFront Express Ventures
Year of Publication: 2011
Number of Pages: 104
Reviewer: Oladipo Kehinde
he Hope is a book that envisions better tomorrow for Nigeria and other African countries. Every change that comes to any nation comes with a price. Change is inevitable. The author tries to make Nigerians, Africans and, indeed, black in Diaspora believe there is possibility in impossibility.
The first place we can make that possible is in our thought pattern. Doubting mind is an enemy of progress. The author says: “Reasons why some people may think that the Nigerian dream is a daydream or impossibility is because of the previous challenges the country has encountered.” page 10.
We have to change our attitude for the nation to move forward. Every nation needs a progressive vision. The leaders need the followers vice versa. A shared vision is a fulfilled mission. The country is waiting for the sun of hope. Michael urges the nation to fast not from food but from thinking wrong thoughts. The youths are parts of the transformational change the country waits. A reading nation is a progressive nation. The author puts across Chief Obafemi Awolowo assertion: “Any people that are starved of books, especially the right type of books, will suffer intellectual malnutrition, stagnation and atrophy.” page 12.
Education is an indispensable tool in birthing the dream of a new Nigeria. Thinking is the business of life. The book has 20 chapters.
Each chapter has food for thought, quotes and reflections. The diction is lucid and specific. The cover design has pictures of our past and present presidents. The cover design has green background which shows the future of this country is green. Hope is everything. Dream is a product of one’s imagination. Michael urges Nigerians to hope for the best.
He affirms that it takes the mind of a man to achieve his dreams and ultimately live a purposeful life. Knowledge from books helps a nation to progress. Government should allocate fund for education. The author cites Professor Chibuzo Nwoke’s statement that, “If we know so much with all the conferences and workshops conducted, why Nigeria is still the way she is?” page 25. This is a question we should ponder on. We have to think of the way forward.
The author says: “People talk about how and what they know will move Nigeria forward, but they leave it at the discussion table only to go back to their normal lifestyle.” page 25. The author opines that organisations and religious groups should engage in youth empowerment projects. Government should create employment opportunity, stable power supply and friendly policies to achieve this lofty vision.
The author also advises the youth thus: “I bet you, if there is no job in the country, you would still be you; as the case may be; but you would eventually create a job.” page 29.
This is a motivational book on how to discover a new meaning to life; survive tough times, manage ones emotions, faith and spirituality, national and personal development and a special feature on Africa. This book is a must read for all Nigerians.
The author is a freelance writer, singer, value-entrepreneur and a trained administrator. He’s the initiator of the Mission to Nigeria Project and a minister.
Overcoming failure in examinations
Title: Secret Behind Examination Success
Author: Tunde Ogunsola
Publisher: Education Times Publication
Reviewer: Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga
Tunde Ogunsola’s new book, Secret Behind Examination Success, is a commendable effort by the author in a situation where students no longer want to read but make good grades in both internal and external school examinations over the years, with the connivance of some shameless teachers and unprincipled parents on one hand and the students personal laziness on the other.
Divided into 12 chapters with topical headings such as The Concept of Examination Success; Understanding and Application of Examination Techniques; Concentration and Curbing Distractions; Overcoming Comprehension Difficulties and Sustaining Growth in Reading; How To Become a Fast Reader; Your Path To Academic Excellence, amongst others, the book brings to the fore how over the years, Nigeria has recorded poor performance in public examinations.
Ogunsola however, points out that despite the huge deficits in the education sector; some sterling individuals are making outstanding progress in their examinations. He says “Every year, such students prove their academic prowess by their uncommon performances.”
The book highlights the legal things and techniques that honest students are doing well, strengthening them to excel, which others that are struggling to succeed could apply to achieve their academic goals too.
Commenting on the standards of secondary school education as yardstick for admission into higher institutions of learning in Nigeria, Ogunsola posits that “It is an established fact that students’ performance in public examination especially the Senior Secondary Examination (SSCE), is one of the criteria for measuring and establishing the effectiveness or otherwise of Nigerian secondary schools and the prerequisite for gaining admission into tertiary institutions.”
It is on this basis that many lazy students do all sorts of illicit and condemnable things to get the necessary grades in English and Mathematics including three other relevant subjects in order to be eligible for admission into Nigerian Ivory Towers. Unfortunately, some also buy their way through by giving money to admission officers and lecturers who allow them to be enrolled as students even when some could barely write two sentences without committing terrible blunders.
Hence, apart from the earlier aforementioned topical headings, the author pinpoints the mastery of common examination terms, how to answer mathematical and scientific questions, how to develop positive attitude towards studying and examinations, the secret of how to successfully understand oneself, techniques of effective study, and computers as personal educational tools, as remedies to perennial failure by conventional students and mature people who write professional exams from time to time.
Remedies to examination failures are replete in the book like a doctor’s prescription for medical ailments. Both intellectual and academic analgesics, injections, vitamins and what have you that neutralize laziness and fear to study to achieve academic goals without engaging in nefarious means to excel, are well dissected and explained with electrifying analysis and simplistic use of elegant diction for the basic understanding of any average reasonable reader.
The author’s effort is commendable as he tends to always use his intellectual works to encourage and develop the moral, academic and social lifestyle of the average Nigeria youth or student.
Apart from being the Editor-in-Chief and publisher of The Nigerian Education Times magazine, the author is also a traditional title holder, the Balogun Apesin of Ode-Omuland, who had published a book titled Letter To The Nigerian Youth, in the recent past, to foster discipline and positive character of Nigerian youths.
He studied Guidance and Counselling at the University of Ibadan, and also holds a Masters degree in the same discipline and Mass Communication from the University of Lagos as well.
This Lovesong for my wasteland
oetry is the oldest genres and advance form of composition. This offering, “Lovesong for my waste land, “is where poetry intersect drama. The poet uses action with purgation of emotion in the prologue. The thematic preoccupation of the poet literary motif hinges on the concept of land and its symbolic and metaphoric importance to the people. There is a story in our history. The Poet has been to the market place of thought. It is pertinent we borrow a leaf from his poetic messages. “The land is for us to Plough; not to Plunder”, a poem by Niyi Osundare and “This Earth My Brother” a novel by Kofi Awoonor are in corollary with Lovesong for my Waste Land. The Poet poetic lines ride the wings of the clouds and beat the drum of peace. Truth will always challenges the tongue of lies. It is not normal when abnormality becomes the order of the day. Wanton waste of our natural resource is the paradox for the love song. The country consumes what it does not produce and produces what it does not consume. There is more than meets the eyes with these poetic lines. The Poet urges the people to fight for their collective request. Changes can only come when the people know that they are part of the system. We have to dialogue to put an end to the labyrinth of violence. We have to dialogue to correct some mistakes of the past.
The land has witness The Years of the Elephant – when music was made out of the skulls of men. When two elephants fight the grass suffer it. Those who say the truth become the palace soup. The Year of the Wolf-all that was saved became food for phantoms and bandits. The Year of the Dog- Everybody barked after the band and now party of bandits. The Year of the Hyena – The Hyena claimed all our limbs except for those who spoke with their legs. The way in and out of the forest is identical. The Poet writes in “In The Beginning of Season”: what does the farmer think/ when to sleep, how to harvest or what to plant? / There is a land where thirst runs through the river/ p 15.
This river belongs to us. It is our collective inheritance. But this river of oil is our bane of disintegration. The laughter and smile that meet peoples face is fake. The land is famished. The Poet buttresses in “We have Ore but invent Nothing”: We have rain but hate to plant/ We have the heat and the glory of the rainbow/ But we kill our own suns with hurtful glee/ The earth swoons in the farmers hands/ But all we do is rape the land/All we know is maim the mind/All we plant are epitaphs for the dead/p19
It is those who work that the earth support. The rain brings food to the earth. In the Year of the Elephant- People work like elephant and eat like ant. The upland sun nourishes the plants yet the farmer gaze at the sun from the window of his heart. Our can we sing the songs of victory when our voice is stolen? How can we protest when bags of rice tame our hungry mouth? What can we make out of it when we sing the national anthem in fear? The Poet put across in “Why would I Think of Love in Times of War”: why would I talk of tenderness when the argument in the rafters can start a fire? / Why would I peddle laughter in a paroxysm of pain? P22. We are living in a country where everybody is a talking solution. Nobody wants to take action. Action they say speaks louder than words. Enough of false rhetoric! Let leaders lead. We have paragon of failed promises. If you were the solution would you tell us the answer without excluding the question mark? We are tired of lies. In “Ten Monarchs, Ten Seasons” the Poet writes: Believe the lies and query the truth/ or strangle the truth and embrace the lie/ Your life shall be long/ We have not reached the threshold/ But the crossroads are multiplying daily/ Ten Monarchs, Ten Seasons/ p27. Change can only come to the land when we collectively take away power from those misusing it during the election.
The state of the country is that of Victorian sensibility: a country not strong enough to divide and too weak to be united. We are not motivated to learn from the past. This is not the land our fore father’s envision. This is not the dream of the land. Tears from the eyes of the young and old; terror terrorizing the peace and unity of the land. When will this land become a bride again?
In “There Can be no argument on where I Stand” the Poet asks these salient thought provoking questions—Who stole the secrets of oil from the rack of Forcados? / Who at night decimated the harvest of Kano’s pyramids/ And started the ululation and the curse in the morning? / Who burnt the trees of wealth: rubber, cocoa, kola and palm/ Which sprawled the land and crossed many rivers? / Who bled the bellies of caves and aborted earth? /p28. This collection of poems is an overflow of powerful recollection of the past. The land is kind enough to tell her stories of rape and wanton waste of her resources – Lovesong For My Waste Land.
POETRIP: Civilize The Earth
Let my words be like rain for the earth
Let my words grow on the soil of my heart
Let my breath be a budding to the dreams of my eyes
I will give it all it takes to walk in my dreams
Look into my eyes and tell me you know the ways of the day unfolding with the hands of time
Unfolding with the promises of hope
I will have my share from the hands of the upland sun
Do not forget the hands of many children
My hands and knees in prayer tell
Time to learn the wisdom of the night
Time to learn the language of dawn
You are the fountain of my desire,
On this journey
I love to taste the honey in the parable of life
Let the day show me the way to the house of wealth
Let the wind bring forth good tidings to the chambers of my ears
Let the heart of men civilize the earth for a table of bread
Tomorrow, the world will be awaken from the memory of the night
Let the heart of men civilize the earth
Tumours and Butterflies, happiness like water
Book Title: Happiness Like Water
Author: Chinelo Okparanta
Year of publication: 2013
Reviewer: Adeniyi Taiwo Kunnu
Happiness Like Water is a brazen collection of short stories that are fictive realities of our lives. The part of us we love to share, or those moments which are locked up in our remotest recesses. Expressing itself in cunning artistry, the stories become personified as you would a speaking ink on an accompanying piece of white paper, rustling under the weight of a dexterous hand, crafting thoughts and moulding minds without being bridled.
On Ohaeto Street opens readers to the un-put-down-able collection. Eze and Chinwe become a married couple after the intrigues of evangelism by Eze. Chinwe’s ideals of a man she wants differ, but as would in many homes, her mother’s will prevailed and she becomes the wife of a man whose religious inclination and financial prospects are enough to make him qualify, thus becoming a husband to a woman whose life he values less than his cars and other material possessions. On page 15, paragraph 3: “But the more she looks at him, the more defeat she feels, because she knows that she’s no match for the car”
The challenges of child-bearing and the length a woman is made to go in getting it splatters the pages of the story which makes up ‘Wahala’. From the cleansing process at a herbalist’s, to the hosting of a family party, the threads of pain felt by every woman who makes effort at bearing a child resonates. Nneka, Ezinne’s mother would not be alive to see her daughter bear the name, mgbaliga – an empty barrel. Her daughter’s pain combines the pressure of not becoming productive for Chibuzor, her husband. Again, a woman’s pains rises to a crescendo as she desires the completeness that is associated with a woman’s lifetime cycle. The yearning, the challenges and eventual hope for the ‘fruit of the womb’ prompt deep thoughts.
‘Fairness’ is the third and most replete with comical relief of the stories. The mischief of secondary school students was explored, and what rib-cracking moments there were, as an attempt to have light-complexioned skin turns out way beyond expectation. Onyechi suddenly turns fair, while freely availing Uzoamaka and Clara the secret of her magical physical conversion. Experience turns out to be the best teacher afterwards.
The devious nature of humans gets the proper examination in the fourth story. ‘Story Story’ is in fact a narrative told about Nneoma and how desperation to have her emotions satiated and motherly longings gratified, results in satanic entrapment through her fetish practices. Four pregnant women lost both ways all for her to conceive a child. The zenith and seeming un-forgiveness of her actions is that, she seeks her prey in the church, showing penitence just for a momentary reprieve of graver ill.
Survival series is definitely on the cards as well. Charles Darwin in the Origin of Species says; the most adaptable to change of any living creature survives. By implication, neither the strongest nor the smartest cope, but the ones which understand the dynamics of change. Ada’s mother appears on a journey to death land because of her sickness, having initially lost her husband. Without a father and with a sick mother, Ada becomes a Runs Girl in the self titled story; seeking to cater to her mother’s needs and her education.
America and Shelter are in tow. With both settings in the USA, America examines Lesbianism in ways that only few have, while Shelter dwells upon the lack of choice for a woman in a grossly abusive relationship. the former considers the pains of same sex sexual preference and the latter flays the irascible excesses of a man who cannot take a count of his teeth with his tongue.
Grace is the seventh and arguably the most profound of the stories in this fiction. It is an unusual lesbian connection between a lecturer in religion and a student of the same department. From seeking answers to prodding on faith, to a sudden swing in mood and complete transfer of intimate loveliness to another; Chinelo Okaparanta demystifies the illusions of amorous expressions between same sex of old and young diversions.
Design pitches a simple Nigerian wife-to-be against a no- holds – barred former girlfriend. Nonso is the man who wants to eat his cake, have it and be a person whose tendency never to lose a thing, while opening his palm facing down is legendary. But legends die, so does the sexual theatrics and subtle ‘penile’ excesses of the man in the middle of an American girlfriend meant to be in the past by the name Celeste, and an unarguably dutiful Ifeinwa, who is now living in America to be a wife.
Tumours and Butterflies is about the indifference to make a mother get out of an abusive relationship. She stays put, while Uchenna, her only daughter could not enjoy the least cordiality with her parents, particularly her father. He falls ill, her mother calls, he remains unbearable, his wife supports him, Uchenna takes a final walk-off and nothing seems the same again.
Chinelo Okparanta elevates the women-folk as angels to say the least, whereas the men are sure the albatross of the she-human kind. This position evidently demonstrates a deliberateness to enable women assume more power and positivity, which in itself is good, but her obvious stance may give this brilliant author up as one whose world and literary view needs utmost diversity and elastic geography, which in itself would be very needful..
On page 144 she writes, “Happiness is like water…. We are always trying to grab onto it, but it’s always slipping between our fingers….”
Personal journey to rediscovering values
Book title: The Last Flight: A Personal Journey to Rediscovering Values
Author: Dapo Akande
Publisher: Ceenai Multimedia Ltd, Gbagada, Lagos
Year of publication: 2017
Reviewer: Maureen Ihonor
“The Last Flight” is a book that touches on many cogent issues bedeviling the Nigerian society. It is replete with numerous anecdotes and analogies while it ekes out critical lessons learned from personal experiences.
The book implicitly questions the human, nay, African tendency to conjure up complicated solutions to problems when simple ones will do just fine. Manners, Integrity, Neighbourly love, Discipline and a common good approach to Success( M.I.N.D.S); all are as simple as they come and if rediscovered, embraced, widely and faithfully adopted, could do wonders to the mindset of our people and ultimately lead to the much needed rejuvenation of our society; the progress and wellbeing of our society.
With hints of an autobiography, ‘The Last Flight’, notes the author, betrays the unmistakable influence a 20-year sojourn in the United Kingdom would expectedly have on the outlook of the author even if he did return to his motherland over two decades ago.
This book sets out to subtly coerce the reader to self-examine, reflect and assess his own set of values. It has something for everyone as I believe anyone who reads it will discover something in it that speaks their mind.
The Last Flight unapologetically preoccupies itself with the Biblical notion of Good Success while great attempt is made to contrast the self centred nature of Success (so prevalent in these climes) and the more common good complexion of Good Success. Great pains is also taken to trace a strong link between the pursuit of the common good, the fulfillment of one’s purpose and the notion of Good Success.
As the book draws to a close, it gradually comes to the conclusion that all the best intentions, grand political and socioeconomic solutions, may eventually fail to provide the apparently desired result if we as individuals don’t demonstrate genuine love for the other. No matter how grandiose the development plan, if a solid foundation of love for our fellow man is not set, the plans will fall flat like the proverbial pack of cards. Love produces Character and Character develops a society.
Though ‘The Last Flight’ “shies away from categorically expressing an opinion on whether it’s a little late in the day to significantly change the mindset of the older generation; it does however, repeatedly and with much hope express the strongest belief that it’s not too late for the younger generation, if only we start now by inculcating in them time tested values inherent in MINDS. MINDS, an abbreviation of my recently registered NGO, MINDS Reform Initiative, has the sole aim of propagating these simple, long lost ideals.”
The scriptural verse which says a child who’s shown the way to go will not depart from that path when he grows up has never sounded truer. The soul, the spirit and the very essence of ‘The Last Flight’ wholeheartedly aligns with that revered English author, William Wordsworth, who once said, the child is the father of the man.
Just the right edge of keen sports imagery thrown in as dessert. The chapters are both short and fast and all stories are interspersed with just the right amount of quotations. The inclusion of extensive quotations from other publications, the Holy Bible and from world renowned scholars fully demonstrate to the reader that the author’s vision enjoys worldwide and historical foundations as some have been successfully utilised to improve past and present societies round the globe.
Oladapo is eager to demonstrate that a change in personal mindset is not only possible but is actually the only way for each citizen to move towards the long awaited “new Nigeria”. His style is non-judgmental and rich with personal experiences of authority figures in his life from childhood; people who have and continue to affect him tremendously.
“The Last Flight” is a compelling work. I could not put it down. It is not only a theoretical analysis as each idea expounded in one chapter is fully given a practical review in the subsequent one. It will be difficult not to like Oladapo’s unpretentious style. His work provides a window of opportunity for change in present day Nigeria, a change that can only come about when each citizen develops his mind by following the steps provided.
I would recommend the book to everyone – young and old, who wants to witness some positive change in our community and country. Oladapo’s invitation to all of us is to hasten to board the flight as it may be our last opportunity.
Mrs. Maureen Ihonor is the founder of Cedar Multilingual School.
Exploring an enduring Yemoja festival
It was a calm Monday evening, the weather was peaceful. Guests gathered at Ita Agbole in Ejigbo, a suburb of Lagos, where renowned multimedia artist, Jelili Atiku, explored an enduring Yoruba festival, Yemoja, which celebrates the feminine energy.
Tagged, “The Sacred Feminine Energy and Spiritual Values”, speakers at the seminar, Kafilat Abene Raji, Iyalorisa Omitonade Ifawemimo, Jumoke Sanwo, Jacob Stanton, and Ayo Akinwande, shared knowledge on the festival values to the indigenous African bodies. Speaking during the seminar, the convener, Atiku, whose art involves installations, drawings and video, to interrogate socio-cultural and political issues, emphasised that the essence of the seminar is to “discuss the Yoruba spirituality on the essence of feminine energy, and trace its values to the well-being of the society and the people.”
Elaborating on the festival, Stanton who participated during the festival procession at Brown University, Providence, RI, USA alongside other students on a course taught by Atiku, an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, on the theme Decolonized Bodies, Spirit Bodies: Tracing Indigenous Knowledge of Africans reveals, said the Yemoja Festival at Brown University introduced him to the practice of Ifa.
“I had been in Atiku’s class for the entire semester, but since it was a class, it was structured very theoretically. It was only participating in the festival that showed me what these festivals are actually like and how they are infused with spiritual power.
“At first, I was very shocked by what I saw, and I didn’t know how to interpret several of the things that kept occurring during the festival, such as when Atiku would drink gin and spit it out or when he threw offerings into the water. However, as the festival progressed, I began to feel the spirit and power of the festival. I remember as we got in sight of the water, it got warmer, it was a cold day, and it felt like the whole festival fell together,” Stanton said.
Stanton, who spent some time in Ejigbo, Lagos, added the festival taught him the power in indigenous belief systems. “Prior to taking this class, and participating in the festival. I most likely would have looked at these practices as being outdated or not based in ‘true’ spirituality. However, feeling the power of this festival, and the way that our group came together in that moment, shows me that these practices are filled with truth and spiritual power. This festival at Brown was of very serious importance.
Brown University was able to build its wealth upon the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the state that Brown is located in was one of the most active slave trading states in the United States. Further, the water in which we worshiped the Yemoja Orisha was used to transport these enslaved peoples. For this reason, the water is intrinsically tied to oppression, specifically the oppression of black bodies. For this reason, practicing traditional African beliefs at this water represents coming full circle. It serves to cleanse the water from its evil past and the pain that is within it. Many of those participating in the festival were black Americans who may have ancestors who partook in these practices but have no knowledge of this due to the erasure of slavery. Due to this, participating in this festival represented a return to this legacy and a reunion with our ancestors.”
He further stated that participating in the Yemoja Festival has greatly changed his beliefs on African culture and tradition.
“After the festival, I see these practices as a key to black people acquiring spiritual growth and working to liberate themselves. And my stay in Ejigbo was incredible. The first memorable aspect was the way in which the whole community.”
rallied around Atiku during his dispute with the king. This provided me with a model for who I want to be in my own community. I was amazed at the amazing hospitality that I was treated to during my stay. The people were so incredibly nice and welcoming even though many of us couldn’t speak with each other, due to me being unable to speak Yoruba. I was deeply moved by the spiritual devotion I felt within the community. The community was alive with a spiritual power and unity that deeply moved me and has me longing to return.”
He expressed delight in associating with the Yoruba culture, rituals. “It is incredible to be associated with Yoruba culture. Every time I think about my name, or have someone refer to me by ‘Ajewole Ojomo’, I feel absolutely full of pride. I feel that I have reclaimed a heritage that was lost during slavery and by the mechanisms of the United States. It’s incredibly powerful to see black people as Princes and Kings and to know that I now have a place within this system. This is incredibly powerful because in the United States, black people are constantly ridiculed by being told that they have no culture and portrayed as are criminals. I feel that I have connected with a legacy and heritage that is life sustaining and offers me a pathway to freedom. In Ifa, I see a way to continue my mental and spiritual decolonization and liberation. I feel that I have been connected to a force and culture so powerful as to liberate me and all of my descendants.”
Artist, curator and writer, Akínwande hinted that the Yemoja Festival has been a great opportunity to learn more about the culture and traditions, “and documenting the rituals, processions, activities around the Yemoja Festival. The Festival has become a rallying point to awaken the people towards the traditions. It has become an event that is enshrined in the Ejigbo calendar. The people get to become participants and spectators in these celebrations.”
Akinwande, who was the co-curator/Curatorial Advisor, Lagos Biennial 2017 emphasized that the images of the festival has become a reference point in the culture scene. “The Festival in Ejigbo, is the celebration of the feminine energy in Yoruba culture. It is not about “addressing” but more about showing to the world, the importance of Women and the role they play in our culture.”
A transcontinental saga
Title: Imminent River
Author: Anaele Ihuoma
Publisher: Prima – Narrative Landscape
Press, Lagos, Nigeria
Year of Publication: 2018
Reviewer: Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
There is the compelling need for me to go back to the publishing of Alex Haley’s Roots in 1976 to find a book that bears comparison to Anaele Ihuoma’s debut novel Imminent River. Just as Haley after hearing grandma’s tales, Haley traces his roots back to the adolescent Kunta Kinte who was kidnapped into slavery to America from West Africa in the 18th century, Anaele Ihuoma regales us with the intriguing story that goes way back to early 19th century West Africa. The soul of the tale is the old matriarch Daa-Mbiiway, the bearer of the formula to prolong life.
Ihuoma stresses from the beginning that Imminent River takes its roots from fact as he writes in the author’s note: “This story may be fiction, but it is built on, rather than merely imitating, real life. The grand matriarch of the epic, Daa-Mbiiway is unashamedly a great maternal aunt of mine, by the same name although spelt (if it ever was), Daa Mbiwe. One of my most exhilarating exhibitions as a little boy growing up in Eziudo community, my maternal home, was when I was asked to go to Itu, now HQ of Ezinihitte LGA, Imo State, Nigeria, by my maternal grandmother Daa Nnennia Iwe, nee Abii, to go visit Daa Mbiwe.”
It is a mark of Anaele’s mastery that Daa-Mbiiway who uncannily disappears at the beginning of the novel curiously ends up holding the entire tale together through the spell of the much-coveted longevity recipe.
The span of the novel divided into three parts can be appreciated thus – Part One: The Progenitors (West Africa. Early 19th Century); Part Two: Prodigious Leap of Limbs (West Africa. 19th Century to Early 20th Century); Part Three: Blindfolds and Iron Fists – The Rocky Road to the Imminent River (Southern Nigeria: 20th Century). There is a mini-section in Part One bearing one chapter (14) entitled “Mid-19th Century: Trans-Atlantic to New England).
The book ends with “Epilogue: Ajaelu Tastes the Hiatus Music” where we read: “Urem Okakuko sat, pensive, in front of the Centenary Hall, Ake, Abeokuta, bathed in her own tears. Inside the Hall, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong were performing Satchmo’s ‘Back O Town’ and Armstrong himself, the lead vocalist, was rhapsodising.” Further down the epilogue, Ihuoma writes: “It was 13 July 1934. Duke Ellington had released his hit track ‘Symphony in Black” in New York. That same day, not far from the Centenary Hall, a baby was born to the family of Pa Ayodele Soyinka in nearby Isara, Abeokuta.”
Let’s call that baby Wole Soyinka, the future Nobel Laureate in Literature who was Ihuoma’s Head of Department at the then University of Ife from 1978 to 1982.
Ihuoma’s blend of fiction, fact and fantasy in Imminent River intervolves the longevity progenitor Daa Mbiiway and her husband Okpuzu, the feuding plutocrats Jesse an Opuddah warring to take custody of long life medicinal formula, the matriarch’s hostile sons Chimenam and Dioti-Ojioho, the suitable boy Ezemba and the village belle Agbonma whom Ezemba loves madly, Edidion whom Daa-Mbiiway almost adopted as a granddaughter, the treacherous and cultic High Chief Nnanyereugo Chris Ojionu, Urem Okakuko the story teller, Wopara etc.
The quest for certitude is not deterred by a letter that informs: “I have just realised that there is no such thing as the Longevity Formula. Or rather that the documents we have, with figures purporting to point us to Eldorado, is nothing but an attempt to send us on a wild goose chase.” Cracking the Nsibidi code of the Longevity Formula remains a life-affirming mission.
Disunity in the land makes the people susceptible to conquest and slavery. Conspiracy rules the roost. The comeuppance of evil comes translated in the news headline: “Strange River swallows HCO’s Ojionu Cottage.” It is a brave new world in which “Youths Demand jail for Eagloma cultists”, by listing “the alleged crimes of the fraternity to include, murder, unhealthy sexual practices, the so-called ‘Eagloma double’, political blackmail, archaic cultural practices such as bride battering and perversion of justice.”
Ihuoma’s Imminent River strikes a chord with Ayi Kwei Armah’s 1978 novel The Healers in which the protagonist Densu envisions African unity, just as the hero Ezemba gets the ultimate introduction from David thusly: “Sir, my name is David. I’m the son of Jesse, the healer from the Healing Home. We were rescued from the sea of malevolence. We are here to help the just retool.”
Ihuoma’s reputation as a poet is well-established. He has equally done commendable work as a playwright. His novel Imminent River is ample evidence of his roundedness in all the genres. His power of description can be enchanting, as note: “Even though he liked to reassure himself that it was Agbonma’s character, rather than her looks, that held his attention, he would be hard pressed convincing God in heaven that her physical beauty had no part in it. She had such lush supply of eye lashes and brows. Her deep, brown eyes themselves appeared to be set deeper from the rest of her face. This tended to project her face outwards, giving her something of a permanent smile and an inviting visage. You would think Leonardo Da Vinci had wanted to capture her in that immortal brushwork but could not and had to settle for the Mona Lisa instead.”
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