Veteran actor, musician, poet, playwright and journalist, Chief Lari Williams talks about his concerns and vision as an artiste. The septuagenarian, who is still active in the industry, despite challenges associated with age, also shares his thought about Nollywood; why he is against the choice of name, among other issues. He spoke with TONY OKUYEME
What have you been doing, in terms of the usual stage plays by your playhouse?
I have not done shows now because of funds, and it has been difficult to raise funds. The Playhouse, the repertory theatre company that I run is still waxing stronger, but we are thinking that we need to do a bigger show, a show which I call my swansong, which in arts parlance is like retirement thing, the last performance before retirement. You know, they say artistes don’t retire, but it is the biggest show that I intend to do now. And that is my Biblical expose titled ‘Herod Drum Call’. That is what we are trying to raise money for, because it is a big show, a musical; and the cast is the biggest that I would use, or likely to have – nearly 50 people, including dancers and musicians. The last time I did such a big show was in London, when I did Kolanut Junction, one of my earliest plays. But this Biblical expose Herod’s Drum Call, a musical which has dances songs, dialogues, in fact it is a total theatre. That is what we have at the moment.
Apart from producing, are going to direct and or act in it?
I would be co-directing; I might act a small role, but mainly, I would be working with the director.
So, your teeming fans and indeed, Nigerians look forward to seeing you again on stage…
Yes, that is exactly the reason why I would act in it.
Do you have any time frame or proposed date for the show?
No, I have not because we have not concluded anything about funds yet. It depends very much on the funds. It is not a small play; it is a play that we wish to across the country and perhaps outside the country. Given your status as a veteran and a recipient of the national honour, MFR (member of the federal republic), have you reached out to government – state or federal – for support? There are times that when it is difficult crying out to say ‘look at me’. It is better people like you journalists to say ‘hey! Look at this man’. This is the situation. I have done so much for the arts; I have lectured in three universities; I have a record of appearances on NTA, right from the early days, since FESTAC 77, I have appeared in most of the Soaps on NTA, starting from the Village Headmaster, and maybe 14 others, not forgetting home videos. I was also in the very first home video, ‘Witch Doctor’, which was shot on locations in Badagry, Lagos. That was before ‘Living in Bondage’. I have done all kinds of productions on radio, stage, films. I have acted in every stage (hall) in the National Theatre, from the Mainbowl to the Cinema Hall 1 & 2. I did The gods are not to blame at the Exhibition Hall which I acted with the late Toun Oni. I put in so much, 30 years of column writing on the arts. I call the column ‘Stage and Screen’.
Have you then reached out to the corporate sector for sponsorship or support?
I would be telling you a lie if I say so. The truth is that I really need a manager. If I have a manager who can take care of the business side of things, it will be better, because running around to get sponsors and thinking of the artistic input, makes it difficult.
Are you saying that you have not had a manager all this while?
I don’t, I never had a manager. Art Osagie tentatively for a very short while acted as manager. I have had one or two people act as manager, but not that they didn’t do well, but it was just that they were involved in other things. They were people who for love, wanted to be with me and help the situation at that time.
How was your experience with Village Headmaster?
I joined the Village Headmaster rather late. When I came back to the country Village Headmaster was already running on air, but they created a role for me. They called me Man from Soweto. Because when I came I was still in the hard protest of Apartheid and the poems I brought for FESTAC were all revolutionary, I was fighting apartheid. That was my demonstration. So, they called me the Man from Soweto; so I visited Oja Village. Eventually, they wanted to retain me, they made me the school visitor and a friend to Garuba. Then we used to go and have a drink at ‘Amebo’s Palmwine Bar’. That was mostly what I did.
Like I said, I am not going to take the blame, and I am not going to blame anybody. The truth is that I don’t have a manager that can do the run around.
So, any regrets?
No regrets at all. I have enjoyed being who I am, what I have been doing. I trained as a journalist; I started life as a journalist. I didn’t stop writing; that is why I have been able to write a column for Vanguard for 30 years, just to put my hand in writing. I wrote plays as well; I have written quite a number of plays. One of them is Herod’s Drum Call. I have also writing a book which I intend to lunch very soon, on speech, which is what I was teaching schools.
As a journalist, has it been rewarding for you?
Looking back now, 30 years as a columnist… Well, rewarding, for me, is the satisfaction of saying what I have to say. I have writing been about the National Theatre, about lives of the past heroes in the arts. What have they done about Ambrose Campbell? What have they done about Orlando Martins? I talked about all these. So, it has been satisfactory to me because I have the opportunity to ask.
You are one of the founding fathers of what is today known as Nollywood. What is your opinion about the industry now?
I don’t know if you read an article which says that ‘Lari Williams hates Nollywood’, which is wrong. I like to correct that. I have said it several times, I don’t hate Nollywood. But I do not agree with the choice of the name Nollywood. This is what makes them think that I hate Nollywood. I suggested that it should be called Camwood, because Camwood has a leaning towards makeup. Our great-grand-mothers have been using Camwood to paint their faces, and it has served for skincare, hair growing and so on. And also, camwood has been used as makeup, and so on. So I don’t see why we couldn’t have said ‘Camwood’. In one of my articles, I asked the question: ‘Nollywood, is it a location or an allocation? Up till now, I don’t know where Nollywood is. They keep saying Nollywood. What is Nollywood? I can tell you, I physically went to Hollywood in California, USA. I went to Hollywood after I visited the late Ambrose Campbell, the man who sang Nigeria into independence.
Fans hail Teni, Frank Edoho for new ‘Billionaire’ video
Fans have continued to praise singer Teni Akpata and veteran television host, Frank Edoho for the newly released video for ‘Billionaire’.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the video, which was released on Thursday, quickly garnered positive response as fans described the concept as nostalgic.
Starring cameos from comedian, Broda Shaggi, ‘Billionaire’ video is a parody of defunct hit television show, ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’.
Appearing as ‘Who Wants to Be a Billionaire’ in the video, Edoho returned to host, reining in his legendary hosting skills and the suspense he earned the limelight with.
In the video, Teni sits as a contestant, playing to win one billion while her song plays in the background.
Set in the 90s, the TG Omori-directed flick also featured actress, Tina Mba and a host of extras who played Teni’s support club and cheering as she won.
Since the video’s premiere, fans have taken to social media to commend the return of Edoho to host as parody of his hit show as well as Broda Shaggi’s hilarious take on the winning question.
@Ugbedeojo wrote: “Teni’s ‘Billionaire’ video is so nice. I love the part where Frank Edoho hosted ‘Who Wants to Be a Billionaire.”
@HeroNation tweeted: “The video is my video of the year. Thank you for this song. Great video concept and thanks for bringing back the good old days memories of Frank Edoho.”
@Omotola said: “Mad concept. Broda Shaggi was crazy as usual and thanks for bringing back the boss, Frank Edoho. The best always remains the best.”
@Zinnivibes wrote: “The concept is mad. Using one of our best all time television shows as the setting required a lot of creativity. Nice one.”
Why I haven’t produced any movie in five years, by Kelani
Veteran filmmaker, storyteller, director, cinematographer and photographer, Mr. Tunde Kelani, in this interview with TONY OKUYEME, shares his thought on the movie industry, the need for a vibrant reading culture and other issues
Last Sunday at LABAF, you observed that the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, started on a shaky note due to poor reading culture, and that there is need for filmmakers to read… Can you explain further on that?
I just want to encourage young people to cultivate the habit of reading primarily for pleasure. Comparing my own of formation, during my primary school at Oke-Ona United Primary School in Abeokuta, we had a library. And at that time private schools were not that common, it was just a public school, but we had a library. My friend, Dr. Gbolade Oshinowo, who was a Special Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Political Matters, was the librarian then. And between us, we just read everything. That was how I encountered the literary triangle of J. F. Odunjo Odelana and D. O. Fagunwa. I must have read all the five books of D.O. Fagunwa at that time because when I arrived from Lagos to the family compound, my grand-father, and, in fact, everybody in the compound was telling the story. But barely three or four years after I started my primary school, I read D. O. Fagunwa’s books then. I read Igbo Olodumare, Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole; these were the two that really fascinated me. But I finally read all the five books. I felt these materials are not accessible to the young people, but I am happy that Prof. Femi Osofisan has actually adapted them as plays in English language. At least, they can start from there. D. O. Fagunwa prepared us for the future because there is a lot of sermonising; there is the concept of grooming people to be of good character, to be ‘Omoluwabi’.
So, I would go to anywhere that I find a group of young people either in schools or programmes to encourage them to read. In fact, a school called me recently and told me that some students want to come for an excursion and they usually would come to meet me in Abeokuta, and for an hour or two hours I can read and they can read, and so on.
That is the kind of thing that concerns me, and that is probably why I have done more adaptations than any filmmaker in Nigeria, or, perhaps, in Africa. Most of the films that I have done are adapted from books. It is an opportunity for me to celebrate the authors, who I really admired. They were geniuses; they have done so much to fuel my imagination which I continuously put on screen. Out of the three movies that I want to do now, two of them are adapted from books; only one of them is fiction based on historical account of the protagonist.
So, what is the way forward?
When I look at the movie industry in Nigeria, and in fact, African cinema, I think the next level is to begin to make meaningful films, to begin to look at films that entertain and impact the society, social-political awareness. We have thousands of literary materials that we can work on. We should begin to look inwards, tell our own authentic stories and not follow Hollywood blindly.
When I was in secondary school we read everything we came in contact with. I noticed that there is a lot of distraction now, with social media, the new technology, many children want to play games rather than read. So, what I did in the case of my children is that I forbid games on our computers, so they can’t play games ion their systems; they can’t even watch television until 5pm; and they can’t change the channel unless they come and take permission from adults. Somehow we must lure young people into reading. That is what I am doing.
So, reading is very imperative for filmmakers…
I thought it was obvious that filmmakers should naturally see that connection between the superior art forms, which starts with the literary, then design, then music, and then from there to movies. We need to produce films that are richer in themes, than just making films about mundane things. I think it is a waste of recourse.
Where do you see Nollywood in the next five years?
We are living in a very fast-paced technology world. Five years is a lifetime. If you can dream it; if you can imagine it; then it can be done. So five years is a long time, so, in the next five years Nollywood or whatever we would call it, would be clearly established as a big player in global cinema.
What is your advice for the young ones on how to get better?
They need to read, learn. How do you expect people who are not developed yet to start making films? What kind of story would they tell if they don’t read? We were lucky we didn’t start like that. You start education in your own language and culture, and gradually add English, and gradually ease into every comparative literature from other places and so on. And then you are interested in your community, in your environment. I combed the nearby streams, rivers and the forests as part of development. I followed the Osogbo artists; I followed musicians and so on. That is part of building, getting ready to do something. So, I think young people should really be interested in something. I followed Fela Anikulapo Kuti. I got inspiration from all our creative uncles throughout television days and so on. These are experiences. So, young people should treasure their experience, look into the community, and then learn how to express themselves in images. That is the way I think that they should go.
When I was in primary school every end of the year each class must produce a play. You must take part in drama; you must join the literary and debating society. So, I think teachers, particularly, should involve children more in these creative activities and not just read to pass exams.
What has been your greatest challenge as a filmmaker?
The greatest challenge primarily is funding. Also the environment itself, I don’t think it is easy to make film in a country that cannot produce electricity. That is what has fueled piracy because there is no platform commercially to make the industry sustainable at the moment. So, Nigeria has to invest in those things. We have to invest in broadband internet access. They talk about streaming; the market for streaming is actually not in Nigeria. You cannot worry about electricity, and then use mobile data to watch films. It is too expensive. So, the streaming at the moment, for me, is for the diaspora. Most of us filmmakers, we are not working as we should. I have not released any movie in the last four or five years.
I haven’t recovered from the piracy of all my works. I have lost the business; I have lost everything. Everything I have done has been pirated. I have not recovered from it, but I am not giving up, I want to go on, but look at the options, and then look at how truly it can be sustainable. The infrastructure in Nigeria is underdeveloped. Altogether, maybe, we can boast of 200 screens; the USA has 40,000 screens; India has more than 13,000. So we have barely started, we still have a long way to go.
Any plan to into politics?
I can’t. It is not possible for me because I decided long time ago to stay with the arts. Politics is for people who like it, who understand it. I don’t. What I do is to use the medium of film, cinema to address or to share my cultural experience. Everybody knows what I do. I am into language, culture, history. There is a lot that I haven’t done that I have to do before I die. But, certainly it is not politics.
Halima Abubakar backs TI on virginity tests
Halima Abubakar, Nigerian Nollywood actress, says there is nothing wrong in making one’s daughter undergo “virginity tests,” adding that her father also did that to her when she was young.
Clifford Harris Jr., American rapper better known as TI, had recently revealed that he takes Deyjah Harris, his 18-year-old daughter, to a gynecologist annually to check if her hymen is still intact.
“Deyjah’s 18, just graduated high school now and she’s attending her first year of college, figuring it out for herself. And yes, not only have we had the conversation [about sex], we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen. So it’s this one time we go, I think this might have been after her 16th birthday,” the rapper had said.
On Thursday, the film star took to her Instagram handle to back the rapper while baring her opinion on the topic which has since dominated social media discussions.
She said, although she hated her father at the time, all she later saw was a man trying to protect his “stubborn daughter.”
“I don’t see anything wrong in checking if your daughter is still a virgin. I remember my dad taking me to see different doctors, just to be sure. He stopped after the third time. I hated him a bit. But he is just a father trying to protect his stubborn daughter,” Abubakar wrote.
9ice set to get married for the 3rd time in December
Nigerian music star, Abolore Adegbola Akande popularly known as 9ice is set to get married for the third time in December 2019.
According to a reliable source, the singer is getting married to his baby mama, Sunkami Ajala, who he has a daughter Mitchelle with. The couple are expected to get married at an already fixed date in December 2019.
Sunkanmi Ajala and 9ice have been in an off and on relationship before the wedding. The two welcomed their first daughter, Michelle Abolanle Akande, five years ago. Sunkanmi Ajala is an event planner based in Lagos.
9ice got married to Adetola Anifalaje, a United States based software engineer in 2018 (Second marriage). They had three wedding ceremonies, which took place between March, July and August of the same year. The marriage with Adetola is blessed with a daughter, Milani- Francoise Imisioluwa Akande.
Back in 2008, 9ice contracted his married to Toni Payne, and they had a child together. After the marriage collapsed, 9ice got into a relationship with Vickie Godis who bore him a set of twins.
Back in 2018, there were rumours that 9ice was expecting 5th child with another lady identified as Olori Oluwayemisi. According to blogger, Linda Ikeji, 9ice had gotten the lady pregnant and is expecting a child with her.
It was also reported that the lady in question is a skincare expert. When 9ice’s camp was contact, his manager, Taiwo made it clear that they don’t want to talk about this story. 9ice however, came out to deny the news that he was expecting any child.
Living in Bondage: Breaking Free sets records with N25m in first weekend
‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free,’ newly released Nollywood movie, has emerged top of the country’s box office after raking in over N25 million in its first weekend.
In the recent ranking released by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the movie placed first ahead of ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’, a 2019 American science fiction action film, which had N12.6 million.
‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ grossed N8.2 million to rank third on the chart while ‘Gemini Man’ and ‘Joker’ secured N2.4 million and N2.1 million respectively to round up the top five.
Following the ranking, ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ ousted ‘The Bling Lagosian’s N23.4 million to become the biggest opening for a Nollywood film in 2019.
It is also the highest opening for a non-comedy film, a record formerly held by Kemi Adetiba’s 2018 ‘King of Boys.’
The organisers of the movie took to its Twitter page to list out some of the records it made in its first weekend.
“We are already breaking records and rewriting history – highest opening weekend Nollywood for 2019. – Highest opening for a non-comedy film. – Highest single day for a Nollywood Film in 2019. – Highest public holiday total for a Nollywood film in 2019. Thank you Africa,” it wrote.
‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ is a sequel to the well acclaimed Nollywood blockbuster ‘Living in Bondage’.
Written by Nicole Asinugo and C.J. Obasi, the film tells the story of Nnamdi, Andy Okeke‘s mysterious son, and his do-or-die approach to getting luxuries of life at his disposal.
‘Living in Bondage’ remake is created by Play Network Africa in conjunction with Native Filmworks and co-produced by Steve Gukas, Dotun Olakurin and Charles Okpaleke.
Ramsey Nouah, Nollywood actor, who directs the film had earlier dropped a trailer of the movie before its eventually release on November 8.
Zlatan wants to feature in Funke Akindele’s hit series, Jenifa’s Diary
Zlatan made a subtle appeal to Funke Akindele to feature on her hit series, ‘Jenifa’s Diary’ during an Instagram live video.
The ‘Jenifa’ star prayed for Zlatan in the Yoruba language during the brief Instagram live video on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. “We will both remain successful, may we not be put to shame, God has made us the head, may we not fail. Zlatan,” Akindele-Bello prayed.
Zlatan, who kept on responding saying ‘Amen’ also inquired about the actor and director’s family and kids before subtly pleading to feature in ‘Jenifa’s Diary’. “Please ma, don’t forget me for the next episode oo,” Zlatan said as Akindele-Bello promised to hook up with him soon.
Several music stars have featured in Funke Akindele-Bello’s hit TV series, ‘Jenifa’s Diary’ in the past.
In its 17th season, ‘Jenifa’s Diary’ has featured music stars like Banky W, Tiwa Savage, Falz, Wunmi Obe and JJC Skillz in past episodes.
‘Jenifa’s Diary’ documents the life of Jenifa, a school dropout turned hairdresser and trying to remain relevant and upright as she runs her Jenifa Hair Salon.
AMVCA 2020: Organisers call for film submissions ahead of 7th edition
Africa Magic, in association with MultiChoice Nigeria, has called for film submission ahead of the 7th edition of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, AMVCA, scheduled for March 2020.
In a statement, the organisers announced that entries are now being accepted from Wednesday, November 13, 2019, till Friday, December 13, 2019.
The AMVCAs were created to celebrate the contribution of African filmmakers, actors and technicians in the success of the continent’s film and television industry and with the success of the previous editions, preparations are now underway for the seventh edition which will hold in March 2020.
Channel Director, Africa Magic, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu said: “It’s been a long wait, but we are pleased to finally announce that the seventh edition of the AMVCAs is here and set to once again celebrate film and television talent across Africa.
Every year the industry continues to grow in leaps and bounds and we are proud to be a part of its success story through the AMVCAs. The AMVCAs remain Africa’s most prestigious awards and most reputable celebration of talent in front and behind the camera.”
Chief Executive Officer, MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe added: “Beyond celebrating talent, the AMVCAs represent a significant investment in the African film and television industry, igniting ancillary industries in the process. Each year, revenues are increased and jobs are created to cater to the opportunities presented in areas like fashion, styling, photography and make-up. The AMVCAs also presents a unique opportunity for the world to see and experience Africa beyond the headlines, telling its own story and celebrating its best storytellers.”
Films, made-for-television movies or television series previously entered or nominated for an award, or awarded a prize in another film and television competition are eligible to be entered for the AMVCAs.
A call to action against anti-female culture
Title: Killing Them Softly
Author: Martins Agbonlahor
Publisher: i2i Publishing, Manchester, United Kingdom
Year of Publication: 2019
Reviewer: Andrew Iro Okungbowa
illing Them Softly, written by Martins Agbonlahor, a Nigerian-born, United Kingdom-based lawyer and professional journalist, is not just seminal book on the struggle for women’s rights in Nigeria but also of the exhibition of the oppression and injustice visited on the women based on cultural beliefs and practices.
It is obviously an x-ray, in a very moving manner, of happenings in Nigeria, his country of birth, where bad governance has given root to endemic problems of injustice, abuse of human rights, bribery and corruption, religious bigotry and all sorts of social vices. It is also a reflection on other Africa countries where such practices are elevated to an act.
Interestingly, the writer has shown through his proper situation of the story that he may have left his country of birth, but he is fully abreast of developments in the country, as he draws essentially from his background and experience to lay bare the endemic problems plaguing his fatherland.
He will surely earn the recommendation of anyone reading the 318 pages novel for telling his story from the stand point of a feminist. Agbonlahor succeeded in sustaining interest in his socio-fictional cum factual novel by choosing to adopt the story telling technique rather than use mere polemics and socio-jingoism employed by many of the feminists or promoters of feminism.
Agbonlahor from the prologue left no one in doubt of what he sets out to achieve with his work. Detonate African’s oppressive culture as laid bare in a patriarchy setting and beliefs that at every point undermines the rights of the women, putting a hold on them as second class, if not third class citizens, who are only fit to fan the embers of man’s ego, doing his biddings and satisfy his erotic and bestial desires most times.
Although not a feminist himself, but for obvious reasons and using his poetic license as a writer, he has decided to bring to the fore the disadvantaged position society has put the women. And so, at every point in the novel, while unfolding happenings across the socio-cultural, economic, religious and political planes, to bad governance, he does so highlighting how all of these are skewed against the women.
The entire 28 chapters are devoted to how Martha Clifford challenged the status quo, trying to break the glass ceil and act not only as a conscience of the society but a voice for the oppressed women and others in the society.
Agbonlahor takes his readers into the inner recess of the cultural practices and beliefs of his Benin background, giving us a benefit of his experience and apt understanding of the cultural practices of his forebears while growing up in the city of Benin.
Martha Clifford is raised in a polygamous home where the father calls the shot and turns his wives and children to mere furniture or appendages to his person as none of them had any say in the running of the home or dare go against the autocratic decree of his father, who is seen as ‘The Lord of the Manor.’
Growing up, she agonises over these accepted ways of life and whenever she raises questions, she is silenced by her father and mother as well as others around her, who have acquiesced with the oppressive and degrading cultural practices, to simply do as she is told and not go against the societal code as the consequences are grievous.
Her fate was defined from the first day of her life. And this, she knew too well as she lived in perpetual fear of being denied education and given out early in marriage. Perhaps her first practical experience of the brutality of the skewed cultural practice was the mutilation of her genital at a very tender age by her parents. This single experience was like a wake – up call to the reality of her situation as a girl-child growing up in a patriarchy environment and under stultifying cultural beliefs.
But somehow, fate smiled on her as at the point of being given out in marriage, her prospective husband, who happens to be a creditor to the father, and the manager of the pool betting outfit in her community, brought the good news of her father becoming an instant millionaire following his winning.
However, before handling the cheque to her father, he succeeded in eliciting a promise from the father to educate Martha Clifford from secondary school level to university level.
It was this singular happening that changed her life as she gradually became more exposed to the realities of the injustices around her.
Reflecting on the road destiny has taken her through, she says of the transformation of her life from a local village girl to an internationally recognised feminist and human rights crusader thus: “I had set out to be a Microbiologist, sweating it out in the labs and fondling with all familiar and unknown test tubes and syringes, but events and call of conscience were to steer me in another direction. And here I am.”
With five of her university friends, she formed a group known as ‘Women Incorporated,’ which was later corrupted by the government and the society to, ‘Woeman6.’ Imprisoned for over two years alongside her five other feminists, she fought every injustice against the women and children.
Despite her fight, she was not able to reach the ‘mountaintop of her desire’ due to the deep-seated nature of the cultural beliefs and endemic corrupt practices in her country, as she voiced out her frustration on pages 314/315 thus: “Our country, Nigeria, has deep-seated, stone-age anti-feminine culture coupled with her two main religions, Christianity and Islam, as well as the unofficial ‘traditional religion.’ All of these place the woman in an inferior position, their adherents quoting verses and spitting venom in support of the debasement, our slavish existence.
“Therefore, so long as there are still these stark inequalities, there will always be toes to be stepped on, and we shall courageously continue to step, and in fact, thump on them, until these toes develop gangrene or feminine rights are respected in Nigeria.”
Martha Clifford may not have reached the mountaintop of her desire, however, she succeeded in breaking many grounds and drawing attention of the international community and her people to the oppression of the women and the less privileged in the society and other issues that she set out to addressed.
This, she clearly reflected on in the epilogue, page 318, where she also expressed optimism following the recent developments in the political landscape of her country, with some women now being elected and appointed into political offices, and one of her members, Ifueko, made a minister of women affairs, predicting that in less than two decades a woman president may just emerged in her country.
The author has carefully penciled the novel in a lucid and simple language, with symmetric flow and diction while he has also spiced it with anecdotes and drawing examples from other parts of the world to drive home his story.
This is a book every Nigerian, especially the women and human rights activists should read.
In a recent interview on his work, Agbonlahor tries to let the reader into his world view and the thought process, which gave birth to the story: “Martha represents every African woman who has been a victim of fierce oppression, as well as every other woman in the world.
“She personifies their collective strength, courage, tenacity and that stop-at-nothing spirit for true equality and recognition. Yes, it’s a fictional novel, but the narrative could have been plucked from any woman’s life.”
SPAN opens 12th season with ‘West African Latin dance festival’
he Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN) is set to foster creativity across Africa with the unveiling of its 2019/20 season tagged: “Your Success, Our victory”.
Following a series of successful seasons in the past 12 years of operations, SPAN, has continued to bridge the gap between performing arts education and presentation through missions and messages that have resonated through social and artistic challenges.
This season program which kicked off on Monday with empowerment community programs and performing arts as a tool, workshop includes an interesting lineup of partnerships and community outreaches, starting with the “West African Afro Latin Community”.
Announcing this earlier at a press conference, the Chairperson of SPAN, Sarah Boulos, said this starting point is in Lagos with four days of thrilling performances, encapsulated in a four-day empowerment and presentation programs featuring six international music and dance facilitators teaching about 400 students and building their professional skills, helping them to set up their studios.
“This four-day project will also connect local business to diverse audience making our victory your success.
“Our impact has stretched beyond socio-economic class, tribe or religion as the benefit of engaging the grassroots’ audience with performing art education, entertainment and transforming messages has remained our core drive.
“This season, we have set out to inspire the victorious among us, those who helped others succeed. Our message projects with showcasing different sides to the story of Victory and Success, and how this can drive a sense of togetherness, growth and unity. The 2019/2020 season is tagged ‘Your Success, My Victory’,” she said.
Speaking on the rationale behind this message, she further stated: “I have realized that some of the barrier to our individual victory does not necessary mean our direct effort at something, but the effort at ensuring the other person succeeds. Victory should now be attributed to more than just our wins but also helping the other person win and our winning together.
“Focusing on helping someone succeed, can also assure your victory, and that poverty alleviation will be one of our emphases, using empowerment community programs and performing arts as a tool.”
With initiatives such as this and the many more to come, SPAN promises to offer an all-encompassing experience touching on key aspects of life through the Performing Arts.
Also speaking about the West African Latin Dance Festival, the convener of the festival, Buddy Agedah, said the festival will be the 5th edition and that they are expecting professional Latin dancers from Europe, and over six West African Countries like Benin, Cameroun, Benin, Ghana and many more. Several workshops and master classes will hold throughout these days including special evenings with spectacular performance to crown each day’s activity.
Sarah Boulos extends her invitation to the general public to a special dance and music performance crafted from her life story themed “Reflection”. This story dives into the struggles and triumph of different stages of her life, all expressed in dance and music performances.
The lines up of activities workshops which kicked off on Monday 11, and will run till 15th, at SPAN Community Centre, Davies Street off Broad Street, Marina Lagos, include music, dance and drama workshops by six international facilitators scheduled to hold at the Lagoon Restaurant, Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The show continues tomorrow with West African Afro Latin Festival, Nigeria: Promoting Dance Tourism & Unity in Africa, featuring performances and competitions.
On Friday, Reflections – My Victory: The Dance Project – A Sarah Boulos Story, featuring tales of success from both international and SPAN dance artistes”, takes centre stage, while on Saturday 16th November, is for Salsa congress showcase, featuring performances and competitions.
On Sunday November 17, ‘Relections – My Victory: The Music Project. A Sarah Boulos Story returns on stage, featuring tales of success from both international and SPAN jazz music artistes.
“SPAN is a non-profit organisation with the vision to build a performing art center in Nigeria to educate, present and empower the performing artists and their God given talents. SPAN has become a key holder in the Nigerian economy, as their projects have provided lead to over 800 jobs development and the emerging of over 30 dance studios and music studios throughout Nigeria.
“Over the years, we have reached out to over 2.5 million youths and children with unique propositions that have enabled them learn, share knowledge and develop an interest in performing arts – dance music, drama and leadership.
“We have received tremendous support and sponsorship from our faithful sponsors like, Indomie, Eko Hotel, 7up, Chellerams, Cool FM, La Pointe, and SCOA Nig PLC,” Boulos further stated.
Telling the Nigeria story, culture with ‘Tori Tori of LAIF’
or many years, the Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (LAIF), has continued to push the frontiers of advertising in the country, creating elaborate and robust atmosphere in the sector.
This year edition, the 14th in the series, tagged ‘Tori Tori of LAIF’, focuses on telling the Nigeria story, culture. It will hold on Saturday, December 14 in Lagos.
During a roundtable, the Chairman, Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (LAIF) Management Board, Steve Babaeko, disclosed that the award has lived up to its billing.
“We are super glad that the tradition has remained unbroken. We are looking for more participation from new/young agencies, and if we cannot get the younger agencies to be part of it then what is the point and guarantee of the longevity we plan for the industry to have,” he said.
Put together by Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), the award ceremony which has become the authentic award for the adverting agencies in the country has turn out to be much more exciting where the best of experience come to judge the best of work in the country. Kudos to the experienced jury: Yaa Boateng (Ghana), Irene Donati (Ghana), Kayode Olowu, Ekenena Ezaga, Gbemi Sagay, Toni Kan Onwordi, Dave Chukwuji, Sunny Mohammed.
“It is going to be a mixture of some of the veteran in the advertising sector, and the current people who are active in service. We have seen that there is benefit to blend both the young; we started experimenting on this for about three years ago. The veterans bring a very refreshing perspective. They have nothing to lose; they have no alliance with any agency, while the young people bring contemporary knowledge to the business.”
Babaeko, who was a jury member at the New York Advertising Festival held in 2016, 2017, hinted that the award for the Advertiser of the Year which is the new category will see brand, company that have supported, invested to see a robust adverting is created will be rewarded.
“It will help stimulate other clients to support, not just advertising, but creative advertising because at the end of the day, it is about creativity and efficacy of communication. We are trying to push that strongly for clients who support advertising and, who support their agency to be more creative. We will single them out and honour them appropriately.
“This will be a beckon for other clients to see that if LAIF begins to reward clients who support creative advertising they too should be doing the same,” he said.
Speaking on the theme ‘Tori Tori of LAIF’ and its impact on the campaign, Babaeko said that storytelling has become a global phenomenon. “Sometimes we get the shaft when we follow the trend globally; the thing is you jump in the deep end when you start to behave like they do abroad… I understand this trend and I am going to look at it from the local perspective. We have decided to do exactly that by using our own culture to tell the story for the audience to see and relate with.”
Babaeko further stated that the recipient will be rewarded for work done in 2018 and up till July 2019. “We encourage young agencies, there is nothing like a big agency, which is my personal philosophy. There is either a creative agency or agency that is not creative, some agencies abroad who have just started are giving existing agencies a run for their money, and there is no reason why it should be different in the country. I expect younger agencies to be hungrier and want to take on the so-called giants. They should come out and through their heart in the ring and fight for the position because the so-called big agencies today were small agencies many years ago, so they should come out and fight that is what we want to encourage.”
Highlighting on the benefit, Member LAIF Management Board, Bolaji Alausa said: “From inspiring the youngest creative who inspire to be on the stage and to see his work celebrated to having clients, CEOs having to make it as part of their Key Performance Indicator (KPI), that apart from delivering on the product we should also deliver on the Public Relations angle that means we should do well regionally, globally in terms of awards, only LAIF awards have been able to do that for us because people come, invite clients to the award ceremony and they see other campaign been celebrated, while their own work is not seen, it makes you feel that next time when I give brief to an agency, apart from the fact that the campaign move the country so much that it become something so big that can be awarded.
“That way it is a win-win for them, and at the end of the day you have something to put on the shelf, and it became a good reference point.”
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