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Love as recipe for mental illness, Unbreakable screens at UNN

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Love as recipe for mental illness, Unbreakable screens at UNN

S

tudents of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in their numbers thronged the Princess Alexandria auditorium located at the centre of its Nsukka campus for the recent screening of a movie, titled Unbreakable.

 

 

Written by Sola Osofisan, an award-winning Nigerian writer and directed by Ben Chiadika, an M-NET multi award-winning soap Tinsel, the movie is a timely piece as it addresses the complexities, helplessness, pain, anguish and ignorance surrounding mental health issues, which in recent times has become prevalent in various parts of the country, despite it being a taboo in most Nigerian cultures. The movie explores in multiple layers, how the society perceive mental illness in Nigeria. The choice of University of Nigeria, Nsukka as one of the places the movie has been screened in recent times is due to the vulnerabilities of the population demographics of educational institutions such as UNN-one of the many communities that has witnessed incidents of suicide among students and young people in recent months. The successful screening of the movie happened through the efforts of the institution’s authority and partnering non-governmental organisations.

 

 

Chukwuemeka Akachi, a first-class final year student of English Language and Literary Studies of the University, took his life, after dropping a suicide note on Facebook. It was an incident that threw the academic community into mourning. In hindsight, there were arguments over how the deceased could have received some help and the tragedy prevented from occurring. It is against this background and similar cases of suicide in UNN and other tertiary institutions, that Unbreakable, was screened. The movie is an endearing love story of a new couple Ikepo and Chidi, who shortly after their marriage, went through a problem that left the young family distressed. Irekpo had a mental problem. It started hearing of strange sounds and voices in her head like she was hearing things from a different wavelength. Soon she started shifting dramatically between moods. First Chidi and later Irekpo’s relatives would have been more comfortable living in denial but the evidence of mental   illness kept getting dangerously real to the point of self-harm and impossible to ignore. Hallucination and depression crept in from the dark labyrinths of what was later discovered, towards the end of the movie as a hereditary condition. What stands out in the movie is how irrespective of Ikekpo (played by A’rese Emokpae, the 2016 winner of the Voice Nigeria) and her condition, her husband and family provided her with a much-needed emotional and physical support throughout the movie, as she battled with her unique health challenges. Chidi, Irekpo’s husband (acted by the Nigerian award-winning actor, O.C. Ukeje), proved to be a responsible husband whose show of understanding and commitment in the support of his wife, to whom he had sworn a life of love, notwithstanding her mental health challenges. Apart from the lead roles, the movie also featured a cast of some of the most popular actors and actresses who broadly and resoundingly resonate with audiences of all shades in Nigeria. Some of the casts in the movie include: Richard Mofe-Damijo, Bimbo Manuel, Ebele Okaro, Uche Mac-Auley, John Dumelo and Wendy Lawal.

 

 

The production team of the movie is also made up of veterans in the Nigeria’s movie industry. The producer of the movie, Buky Campbell, is an actress of repute who has also worked in the broadcast industry for many years, was present at the screening. She led an interactive session which was a part of the movie screening. The students were led to make affirmative statements that uphold the importance of self-control and timely help-seeking. The students were provided with helplines which they can call to get counselling and help. Campbell led the students through the rite of renouncing the negative outcomes of struggling to deal with depression as a result of stresses of life due to relationship break-up, excessive social pressure, chronic pain and illness, family conflicts, abuses, acute sense of isolation and economic pressure. Although the economic undertone of mental health was not emphasised, it is one of the conditions that could people to the vulnerabilities that have become rampant, which predisposes people to resorting to all kinds of criminal behaviour in reaction to the pressure exerted on their socio-economic well-being.

 

 

The quality of the cast and crew as well as the message made the movie “Unbreakable,” a hit in the few venues where it has been screened. It is this factor, for example that inspired the collaborations that made its screening a reality for the UNN audience. The collaboration was between the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and several non-governmental organizations. Chief among the partnering organisations is Knowledge Exchange Centre, a corporate social Responsibility vehicle of the Excel Africa Group. According to its executive chairman, Charles Nwodo Jr., “as you may know, the problem of youth restiveness has assumed a dangerous dimension resulting in the rising cases of suicide among students.” Nwodo acknowledged that the UNN authority is understandably doing its best in stemming the tide of the pressures that result in mental issues among students. He further stated that some of the problems of the youth, are what they do not appear capable of dealing with on their own, hence his NGO’s partnership to assist them weather the storm facing them.”

 

 

The highlight of the occasion was a short talk about mental health by veteran Nollywood actress, Ebere Okaro, after which she had interactions with a cross section of students.

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Billy Porter makes history with Emmy win

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Billy Porter makes history with Emmy win

“The category is love, y’all,” actor Billy Porter said while accepting his Emmy award for lead actor in a drama series.

Porter, who was honored for his work in FX’s ground-breaking period drama “Pose,” made history Sunday night by becoming the first openly gay black man to win in this category, according to the Television Academy.

His speech went on to reference acclaimed writer and activist James Baldwin as well as speak of society’s need for acceptance.

“We are the people,” Porter said. “We, as artists, are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t every stop telling the truth.”

Porter’s win came after Ben Whishaw, who also identifies as gay, won the supporting actor in a limited series or movie Emmy for Amazon’s “A Very English Scandal.” Lead actress in a limited series winner Patricia Arquette also thanked her late sister, Alexis, during her acceptance speech and spoke of a need to protect transgender people from persecution.

“Game of Thrones” actor Peter Dinklage used his time accepting his fourth win for his role in the HBO fantasy show to speak about inclusion in general and said “I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is all about tolerance and diversity, because nowhere else could I be standing on a stage like this.”

Porter’s Emmy win is notable for another reason. The accomplished stage actor already has a Tony and a Grammy Award for his work in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots.” He just needs an Oscar to achieve the title of EGOT winner, reports CNN.

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Billy Porter makes history with Emmy win

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Billy Porter makes history with Emmy win

“The category is love, y’all,” actor Billy Porter said while accepting his Emmy award for lead actor in a drama series.

Porter, who was honored for his work in FX’s ground-breaking period drama “Pose,” made history Sunday night by becoming the first openly gay black man to win in this category, according to the Television Academy.

His speech went on to reference acclaimed writer and activist James Baldwin as well as speak of society’s need for acceptance.

“We are the people,” Porter said. “We, as artists, are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t every stop telling the truth.”

Porter’s win came after Ben Whishaw, who also identifies as gay, won the supporting actor in a limited series or movie Emmy for Amazon’s “A Very English Scandal.” Lead actress in a limited series winner Patricia Arquette also thanked her late sister, Alexis, during her acceptance speech and spoke of a need to protect transgender people from persecution.

“Game of Thrones” actor Peter Dinklage used his time accepting his fourth win for his role in the HBO fantasy show to speak about inclusion in general and said “I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is all about tolerance and diversity, because nowhere else could I be standing on a stage like this.”

Porter’s Emmy win is notable for another reason. The accomplished stage actor already has a Tony and a Grammy Award for his work in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots.” He just needs an Oscar to achieve the title of EGOT winner, reports CNN.

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I don’t take music as entertainment but a ministry –Dupsy Oyeneyin

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I don’t take music  as entertainment but a ministry  –Dupsy Oyeneyin

Born Modupe Oyeneyin, her stage name, Dupsy, rings loud in the gospel music terrain in Nigeria and beyond, also with four albums and counting to her credit. Dupsy has been around long for a while and coupled with an annual music show she puts together known as Foretaste Concert, she is leaving footprints along for music lovers. With Foretaste now in its 6th edition, she spoke to ADEDAYO ODULAJA about her journey along with future plans.

 

 

In looking back at your career so far, how did it kick off?

Growing up, we typically sang hymns morning and night during prayer times. But taking music professionally, if I may use that word, came as a result of my giving my life to Christ. A lot of people ask me how I can combine both but what I know is my work is helping my music and my music is helping my work. It was a divine call. I don’t take my music as an entertainment, I take it as a ministry, I take it as a tool to reach people and that is the offshoot of the concert that I organise annually by the grace of God, the Foretaste Concert.

There are two sides to me, but they complement each other. Do I see myself singing full time? Maybe in the future, because we all know that music needs funding to push it forward. And do I see myself doing Supply Chain only? No, because like I said, the music gives me balance, it helps me to keep my sanity. If I am stressed and I sing, I am fine. So, those are like my left and right legs, I can’t do without the other one.

It’s easy to see Dupsy came from your name but it is a bit unusual for gospel ministers?

Growing up, people just call me Dupsy, and I also wanted something playful. Not that I wanted to make the work of singing unserious, but I just wanted something friendly.

With how demanding music is, has there been instances of clashing with your professional life?

No, there have been no instances like that. I give time for my music and time for my work. There have been times when I have been asked to sing at functions at the office, not just in my current company but all the companies I have worked in. They know Modupe, the Supply Chain Professional and they know Dupsy, the gospel artiste.

You have four albums right now, tell us about them

My first album was released in 2005, it was titled ‘No More Pain.’ A few years later, I did the ‘No More Pain Reloaded.’ After that, I did another album titled ‘The Experience’ and followed that up with ‘Worship Unleashed.’ In all, I have four albums.

What have you been up to this year on the music front?

I have recorded four singles this year. Two have been released and we hope to release the other two before the concert. The first single that was released this year is titled ‘The Move’, I had that with a few of my friends, Ifeworships, Ejen and Asatta and the second one is called ‘See His Glory’, the other ones will come before November by the grace of God.

Would you say your songs, or at least some of them, are inspired by personal experiences?

For me, song writing is inspired by different experiences. Before 2014, maybe like 2010, if you had asked me that question, I would have said that I don’t write songs, bring your songs, I will sing them. But through some experiences I have had since 2012, I noticed that during my quiet time, songs do come to me and I write them down. In 2014, I was praying one day and the Spirit of God told me all these songs that you sing to me, how about we have a concert where you then sing the songs and minister to people with them? So that’s how the concert side of my life came about. If you ask people that know me, personally I like to take responsibility for things, but I don’t like to take too much than I can handle. If I don’t feel like I am equipped to do something, I don’t venture into it. But then, some of the things I have had to do from 2014 till date, they have been things that sometimes I feel I can do, there are some that I feel that I cannot, but when God nudges you to do it, and He sends the help to achieve it, you see yourself doing it.

Who among fellow gospel ministers do you consider contemporaries in terms of interactions?

I have friends; I have people that I interact with. So, in the course of organising the concert and this one will be the sixth, I have had to interact with a lot of people. And by interaction, I mean invite them to minister at the event. We have had people like Nathaniel Bassey, we have had Victoria Orenze, we had Pastor Kunle Ajayi in 2015, and we have had Segun Obe, Ighiwiyisi Jacobs, Folabi Nuel, Olumide Iyun, and Moji Olusoji and my friends Ifeworships, Asatta and Ejen.  I have had to work with a lot of seasoned professionals in recording my songs. I did two songs with Wole Oni. The very first concert we had was produced by one of my friends, Ifeworships, then the next producer we had was Segun Obe. In the last three years, we have had our production done by one of my friends and brother Asuzi Allwell Brown, popularly known as Mr. B, the CEO of Gate House Music, and he has produced a lot of my songs. These are people I have had to work with fulfilling this calling.

And which ones do you regard as sources of inspiration?

I believe that the calling that I have is peculiar to me, yes I have mentors, I have people I look up to, but I won’t call them my contemporaries. I have silently had CeCe Winans as a mentor not personally. I have had to work with an America worship leader, Candy West, who was my vocal coach for a while. In Nigeria, there are some people that I have also looked at how they do their things, like Pastor Nathaniel Bassey, and Victoria Orenze.

Why is the annual concert you organise known as Foretaste?

It is interesting how things come to me. When I receive inspiration, I get into a state where I don’t think of anything else, more like my senses are suspended. I just focus on that thing, which I am being inspired to do. I was thinking the other day, how did the name Foretaste Concert come about? It was during one of my study sessions even before the concert commenced in 2014. I was doing a discipleship programme in my church; we have about three stages namely: Master Life, Experiencing God and the Mind of Christ. So, this whole journey started when I enrolled in the discipleship programme. The first one, which was Master Life, helps you focus on the fact that God who has created you has something He wants you to do in the world, by being a part of what He is doing. So it is not for you to ask the question, ‘what is the will of God for my life?’ That is not what you are supposed to do, you are supposed to ask ‘what is the will of God and how am I supposed to be a part of it?’ By the time you start asking personalised questions, you will be limiting yourself. You are just a piece of a puzzle, so when you focus too much on yourself, it means you are focusing on that small piece and the tendency is to then have it broken into smaller pieces and become myopic. On the other hand, when you see yourself as a part of a whole puzzle, you are focused on the divine vision, and that is what happened to me. It is not just about me, it is about me contributing to other people’s ministries, lives and encouraging to be all God has created them to be. So, in terms of the name, it was in one of those prayer sessions that I received it. It was not something that Dupsy sat down and thought about.

Typically, it will come up on the second Saturday of November. The very first we had, we did it in December because God told me you have to do it and you have to do it this year. So, when I looked at my work schedule and planning, and I remembered I had a child going to the university in the same year 2014, we had to do the first in December. After the first one, we always improve on things, and we realise that December is a very busy period for people and a lot of people that you will need to support the work like music production and sounds were spread out over the month. So carefully, and prayerfully we landed on the second Saturday of November.

Tell us what to expect from the 2019 Foretaste Concert?

The vision behind the Foretaste Concert is to gather people together in an atmosphere of worship. There is a state that the human mind is in, that you can receive from the Divine, receive from God and that is usually created through worship. When that atmosphere is created, people receive inspiration from God and not just inspiration, but the focus is to receive the inspiration and mandate for their own lives and what they are supposed to contribute to the Kingdom of God, what they are supposed to do in life. So, it is not just the place where you just come and worship and leave, you leave with something, a vision, a word that helps you in your life. One of the things I constantly say to the band is that when you come and you are a part of the Foretaste Concert in any year, there is something that you should have in mind that you are trusting God for and that God will do it for you. So, it’s a concert that is constantly bringing people together to launch them into their destiny. And for people that already know what they are meant to do in life, it gives them the grace and capacity to be able to fulfill their God-given mission.

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Linda Ikeji celebrates 39th birthday in Dubai

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Linda Ikeji celebrates 39th birthday in Dubai

On Thursday, Nigeria’s leading blogger and socialite, Linda Ikeji, celebrated her 39th birthday in Dubai with friends and family.

The mother of one posted a picture on Instagram to mark the occasion, writing: “My last year as a 30-something year old! But I am so grateful for how far God has brought me. For all the blessings I don’t take for granted; for my son, parents, siblings, great friends, loyal fans, everyone who has followed my journey and to you reading this!

“Happy birthday to me! Thank you so much for all the well wishes. God bless you and yours!”

Two days before, she had marked the first birthday of her son, Jayce, whom she gave birth to in Atlanta on two days to her 38th birthday, with a family party in Dubai.

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I was target of insults from young Nigerians when I ran for governor – Yul Edochie

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I was target of insults from young Nigerians when I ran for governor – Yul Edochie

Nollywood actor, Yul Edochie, has said that he was insulted by the youth when he ran for governor of Anambra state. In a tweet on Thursday, the 37-year-old said that he received encouragement from elders instead of his age demography.

“When I ran for Governor, surprisingly I got more encouragement from elders, youths were busy insulting me, giving reasons why it’ll never work. Leadership is never given, it’s taken,” he wrote. The younger Edochie was reacting to a tweet by Don Jazzy which reads: “Africa has d youngest population in world.

The average age of Africans is 19.4 years but d average age of African Presidents is over 60 yrs. That is d world’s largest age disparity between d governors and d governed. How can we address this generational inequality? #voiceofthedon.”

Recently, Yul Edochie, who contested for the governorship of Anambra in 2017 as the flag bearer of the Democratic People’s Congress (DPC), said that he used to think Nigeria’s problem was the leadership until he joined politics. He was once an aide to Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano. Last year, in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, the star actor announced his defection from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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Lizzy Anjorin, Toyin Abraham fight dirty on social media

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Lizzy Anjorin, Toyin Abraham fight dirty on social media

The long-standing feud between Nollywood actresses, Lizzy Anjorin and Toyin Abraham, became public knowledge a few days ago, with the two thespians who are notable in the Yoruba section of the Nigerian movie terrain, making it public.

According to sources close to both actresses, who are controversial by nature, in words and deeds, the misunderstanding started a while back but it was ignited on Saturday as Lizzy Anjorin alleged that Toyin opened multiple Instagram accounts to troll her.

According to her, Toyin, who recently gave birth to a baby boy, also leaked damaging reports about her to some blogs.

Angered by the claims, lawyers representing Toyin Abraham wrote to Anjorin on Monday, demanding a public apology and retraction for accusing Abraham of cyber-bullying.

While many expected Lizzy Anjorin to at least beat a retreat, she said the letter from Toyin’s attorneys made her laugh and she soon returned with a letter from her own lawyers as well.

Days after, Lizzy promised that she would continue to attack Toyin Abraham until the actress formerly married to Adeniyi Johnson cautions her followers especially with bloggers she believed are loyal to the Alakada actress having twisted her apology to fans to mean she is appealing to Toyin.

Coming up with another salvo, Lizzy, who lashed out at those urging her to support Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe) some months back, said Toyin Abraham gave birth to her child in a traditional centre in Nigeria, branding her a liar.

Responding, Toyin Abraham countered the claim of having her child in a traditional centre in Nigeria on Wednesday via a video made public by Broadway TV.

According to Toyin, she had her baby at Vedic Lifecare Hospital, Lekki, Lagos, after seeing how efficient the clinic was.

“Because I trust you people, I decided to have my baby in Nigeria. I actually travelled but I came back. I said I am coming back, let me have my baby in Nigeria because I want to be around everybody,” Toyin, once linked to the incarcerated Seun Egbebe, said.

Yet again, Lizzy Anjorin came back, accusing her fellow actress of hastily organising a session that shows her childbirth in a hospital.

“Irolabi.com sebi awa wo condom soju , pikin wey don grow reach enter marriage..e pain them, una for come rent camera from my studio,” she wrote.

While it has been a tough time for fans of both, who have taken the battle to other social media platforms, it has been a week not short of entertainment for neutral observers who are wondering about the kinds of persons both movie stars are.

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Our love isn’t perfect but we can’t live without each other – Annie Idibia to 2Face on birthday

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Our love isn’t perfect but we can’t live without each other – Annie Idibia to 2Face on birthday

Singer, 2face Idibia, was a year older than he was last year on September 18th. And his wife, Annie, took to her Instagram page to express how deep their love is. Posting a video showing some of their ‘loved up’ moments, Annie wrote;

Our love isn’t perfect! But one thing I am 1000% sure of is we can’t live without each other. Together we are stronger. No one could have ever loved me the way you do. Lawwwwwdddd you make me laugh out loud so much all the damn time. Thanks for filling our home with so much laughter and happiness! Gosh! I know I push all your every buttons by now I for don get black eye with my sharp mouth, but your patience is overwhelming, your love is so healing. For all the times I made you sad “I AM SORRY”

For all the times I didn’t listen, “I AM SORRY”. For all the times I doubted you, “I AM SORRY”.

And all the times I didn’t love you enough, “I AM SORRY”

I L O V E YOU. H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y MY WORLD

Recall we reported that the singer, 2face Idibia, addressed the whole country, advising all Nigerians to unite and embrace peace for the progress of the country. In a lengthy post he made on his IG, page the singer admonished Nigerians to embrace peace.

I am calling on government (i.e. our political leadership, security service heads and so on); and all citizens (i.e. artistes, entrepreneurs, media, okada riders et al) to do everything we can and must do to promote and guarantee peace.

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‘Beautiful: The Exposition’ exhibition holds at Freedom Park

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‘Beautiful: The Exposition’ exhibition holds at Freedom Park

‘Beautiful: The Exposition’, an exhibition of paintings, drawings by Chidynma Ochu and Ronke Komolafe, holds at Freedom Park, Lagos.

The exhibition also features a presentation of Beyond Aesthetics, a book by Prof. Wole Soyinka, and screening of a documentary, ‘Eye of An Artist’.

Beautiful: The Exposition is a two-part showcase of the artists’ interpretations of beautiful― especially formed by their duration of practice and as posited in their works.

The first part of the event is display of paintings and drawings by two artists, Chidynma Ochu and Ronke Komolafe; and a documentary presenting a compilation of interviews with 19 artists with diverse training, orientation and duration of practice — spanning two years to five decades.

The exhibition which will take place October 13-20, 2019, at the Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery, Freedom Park, Lagos, also features a special section on works from select private collections.

“The project brings to bear elements that shape or have shaped the artist’s definition of beauty, ranging from aesthetic compositions to experiential leanings and process, all of which have been succinctly presented through their works, their words and collector’s intervention,” presenter and curator of the exhibition, Kennii Ekundayo, said.

According to her, artists interviewed in documentary include Chief Dr (Mrs) Nike Okundaye, Professor Peju Layiwola, Muraina Akeem, Ayoola Mudasiru, Ayoola Omovo, Ibe Ananaba, Oliver Enwonwu, Sadiq Williams, Iyunola, and Godwin Samuel.

The list also includes Raji Babatunde, Ugonma Chibuzo, Adekile Mayowa, Yusuff Aina Abogunde, Emmanuel Odumade, Abinoro Akporode Collins, Adeojo Oluwaseun, and Sylvester Aguddah.

“The ‘Beautiful: The Exposition’ will run concurrently with the 2019 and 22nd edition of the annual Felabration Festival.  It thus keys into the year’s theme, ‘From Lagos With Love’, and situates the participants among those whose practices have been influenced by the colours and textures of the State.

The second part of the show is the book presentation. “The playwright, poet, essayist, novelist, and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka is also a long time art collector. Beyond Aesthetics: Use, Abuse and Dissonance in African Art Traditions is a continuation of his three-part Richard D. Cohen lectures delivered at Harvard in 2017.

This book of essays offers a glimpse into the motivations of the collector, as well as a highly personal look at the politics of aesthetics and collecting. Detailing moments of first encounter with objects that drew him in and continue to affect him, Soyinka describes a world of mortals, muses, and deities that imbue the artworks with history and meaning.

“Beyond Aesthetics is a passionate discussion of the role of identity, tradition, and originality in making, collecting, and exhibiting African art today. Soyinka considers objects that have stirred controversy, and he decries dogmatic efforts—whether colonial or religious—to suppress Africa’s artistic traditions.

“By turns poetic, provocative, and humorous, Soyinka affirms the power of collecting to reclaim tradition. He urges African artists, filmmakers, collectors, and curators to engage with their aesthetic and cultural histories.”

The exhibition opening/book presentation will hold on October 13.

‘Beautiful: The Exposition’ is supported by FelabrationNG, Freedom Park Lagos, ODUMIJE, Wole Soyinka Foundation, and sponsored by Alexander Nwuba.

Ekundayo, the curator of the exhibition, is a Nigerian-based curator with an extensive background in the Arts that spreads across creative writing, dance, drama and languages.

She began her professional practice in March 2017 and has worked with the likes of Verdant Zeal Group, Freedom Park, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, Ken Nwadiogbu, Arinze Stanley, Helen Gebregiorgis, Sylvester Aguddah, Raji Bamidele amongst several others.

Her practice also encompasses art(ist) advisory and management to artists, collectors and cultural initiatives.

She runs her curatorial outfit, Odumije and is also the Communications Officer for the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) and the Lagos Book & Art Festival (LABAF).

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Ajai-Lycett: I’m an accidental actor

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Ajai-Lycett: I’m an  accidental  actor

Foremost Nigerian actress, Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett (OON), turned 78 this year. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, the veteran of so many stage, radio and film productions, a journalist, television presenter, and cosmetologist, shares her thoughts on Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, stage plays and the music industry. She also talks about the play, Hear Word, and how she became an actor by happenstance 

 

 

At 78, you still look 50. What is the secret?

Work, work, work. Again, what we were discussing this evening, this business of not thinking that the world revolves around you. It is fantastic. The secret of success is service to other people. If you concentrate on yourself, how much can you find to think about yourself or say about yourself?

Your have spent 53 years of your life as a thespian, looking back now, how has it been so far?

Up, up, up on the way. It gets better every year. One thing I have learnt from my career is that practice makes perfect. Consistency, persistence, eventually, you start hitting the mark. You polish, and polishing and polishing, and there is no where you are going except you get better and better, in spite of yourself.

You recently came back from Edinburgh for the performance of Hear Word. Share your experience. How was it?

It was absolutely amazing. And Nigerians were there and they came, and they were so proud that such an incredibly powerful piece was coming from Nigeria. You know, we all bellyache about what is not going right in our country, but we do have some qualities and wonderful things that are happening. In little pocket areas, people are doing wonderful things for Nigeria. We are dwarfed, of course, by all the things that are not going right, but we must not despair, just keep going on because eventually cream always rises to the turf.

Tell us about Hear Word. For you, what is unique about Hear Words as a play?

It is not about women per se; it is about men and women. And I think it is about how to restructure society. It is about accepting that women should have a say, and that women themselves should examine their role in the society before we start blaming society for undermining us. Because most of the things that are going wrong in society women actually are perpetuating them; they are helping men to dominate and undermine their own gender, and that it is about time that we know that the contributions of women matter, not in an aggressive way but in a didactic way because it is true that if you have the capacity of women, wonderful women, you spend a lot of money, give them the best education in the world, and then you accept that they should marry, and if they fall in love and they marry, that their life finishes; you caught off the contribution that they could make to the development of the country. This is not to say that women are particularly better than men; there are very corrupt women as well. But it just means that all hands should be on deck when it comes to nation building.

Did you really set out to become an actor?

I didn’t, that is the fascinating thing about my life. I am an accidental actor.

How?

I was going out with a man, Yemi Ajibade (he is dead now), an actor in England. He was one of the old actors. And I went to the theatre and they were rehearsing Wole Soyinka’s ‘Lion and the Jewel’. It was the premiere of Lion and the Jewel. I was sitting in the Foyer and the director walked passed, I think he was going to the gent, and he came back and asked whether I was an actor? I was a civil servant in England in those days, I was working for the Post-Master General at that time, which meant that I was always well dressed and so on. And I said no, I was not. He felt, maybe, I looked like an actor. They had already started rehearsals at the time. He asked me if I would like to join them. So, he invited me to join the production.

So I went back to the office the following day to tell my boss to ask for somebody to deputize for while I go for annual vacation, which was about six weeks, and within which I used for the rehearsals and performance of the play. The play opened and after the performance, I was besieged; I was inundated…

What was your role in the play?

I was just a village girl… They had cast the lead; they had done everything, so I was given the role of a village girl. I didn’t know I had the talent, but I think I was the most forward Nigerian girl. There was another girl, Stella, who was a Nigerian, in the play. After that, I got an agent who decided to represent me. The following week, a producer from the BBC invited me to come. That’s how I started working in show business.

So, I trained; and I trained; and I trained; and I am still training.

What’s your opinion about the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, then and now?

There was no industry before. People were doing films. When we had FESTAC in 1977, we thought with FESTAC, films were going to really jump, but nothing happened. And then, 1977, 1978, there was a depression in the country, and uncertainties, clubs closed, not very much arts activities going on, nothing happening much. But it has been revived; there is a renaissance, and greater respect for the entertainment industry. People now see it that there is potential; it has been proven that there is potential; it can add magnificently to the GDP. And so we just need story lines that are more pertinent to us, with more substance and everything. And in the acting part, yes, people are talented but you got to work at your art. Pretty face is not everything.

What is your opinion about the Nigerian music industry? People have expressed concern about the contents and lyrics of the songs these days…

Lyrics are rubbish, and that’s sad. And everybody is copying the same beat; you hear one piece of music, you’ve heard them all. It’s like it is generic. The lyrics are the same, fixated on money, and not life’s values. That is what I call pandering to the lowest common denominator.

You were doing well in England why did you have to leave and come back to Nigeria?

What’s the point of having success in another man’s country, without your people knowing what you are doing? Isn’t it wonderful? I am here, amongst my own people; and generation to generation, they are talking about what I have done. I found that more successful. It is very easy for me to stay abroad. We have got to stop thinking that our talents and our lives have to be validated by overseas.

Stage or screen, which is your favourite?

Stage, of course…

Why?

Because that’s where it is happening; that’s where all your talents and all your skills have to come to play. That’s where they are tested; that’s where you are in direct communication with your audience. That’s where you come alive; that’s where there is no child’s play. It is not play-acting. 

Which of the productions you have featured in is your favourite?

All my productions are challenging and very good.   

What are your plans for retirement?

I don’t have control over how my life goes, so how can talk about retirement. As long as people want me for work I will be there. But I think some people are intimidated by me. 

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Arts & Entertainments

Femi Otedola takes over Majek Fashek’s hospital bills

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Femi Otedola takes over Majek Fashek’s hospital bills

Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola has offered to foot the medical bills of ailing Reggae music icon, Majek Fashek. The ‘Send Down The Rain’ crooner has been seriously ill.

According to Fashek manager, Uzoma Omenka, the benevolent businessman has decided to foot all the medical bills for the ailing singer who has been admitted in a London based hospital.

“We really appreciate him for coming through and taking care of the hospital bills. It’s a huge relief and we are grateful. We however still need more support from well-meaning Nigerians to take care of other expenses,” Omenka said.

This latest development is coming days after Majek’s manager had debunked the claims he was dead.

According to him, Majek was still in the hospital and only required prayers and funds from well-meaning Nigerians.

He added that the reports on social media about Majek Fashek’s death are mere rumours. He also said the singer is responding to treatment and would require more donations and prayers from well-meaning fans and individuals.

“9:30 PM from London in Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Today is Sunday, this is to inform all the well-wishers, fans and lovers of Majek Fashek back in Nigeria that Majek is not dead, he is very fine. I just stepped out now because of this ongoing music that people are saying that he is dead. Let’s not wish him dead, let’s join hands and pray for him.

“For those of you that are praying, prayers are working, every day there is a gradual improvement. We need funds, we need money for maintenance. The notable Nigerians that deposited for his medication…but we still need money for other things. We also heard that people are raising money which is without our consent…” he said.

Omenka’s statement was coming after news of the reggae icon’s reported death started making headlines. It would be recalled that a few days ago, the manager announced that Majek Fashek was gravely ill and hospitalised.

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