January 12, 2007




One effect the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States of America has had on Africa is that it laid the secrurity forces of the continent open to the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency than ever.
But a fundamental effect the attack has had on the US is that America has woken up from its insularity to try
and study those cultures it once did not consider worthy of importance.
A Nigerian, Okwui Enwezor, Dokumenta 11 curator, in view of this said: ” September 11 should perhaps be framed as the instance of the full emergence of the margin to the centre.” He believes that The Ground Zero it created could become a metaphor for “the founding instance of the reckoning to come with Westernism after colonialism ; that is, a ” ground clearing gesturing of the tabular rasa,” a beginning of the ethics and politics of constituting a new order of global society.”
But while America is turning its attention to the rest of the world, some researchers like Ali Mazrui, Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies and Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities, Binghamton University, State University of New York at Binghampton, New York, USA argues in an essay captioned Between Terrorism and Wars of the Liberation: From Dedan Kimathi to Osama Bin Laden that “Africa has been caugtht in the crossfire soon after when President Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of an apparently harmless pharmacy near Khartoum. President Roland Reagan ordered the bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya because Reagan thought that Libyans were reponsible for a bomb in a German bar which killed Americans.”
Mazuri continued by saying that violence between the Americans and the Middle East has been spilling over into Africa for decades .
For example, after explaining another September 11 effect on Africa where some heads of states held sympathy matches for US, and and the resultant violent crises that greeted America’s reprisal on Afghanistan attack in some parts of Nigeria where some Muslims rose up in defence of bin Laden leaving many people dead, Mazrui said, “September 11 has had other consequences for Africa. The security forces of Africa have opened their doors to the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency than ever, if Africa ever had any.”
It is against these two backgrounds that I hope to present a paper on TERRORISM, AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND THE 21ST CENTURY . I will anchor most of my examples on the works of Professor Wole Soyinka as well as other African writers.
I will therefore have to look at the shifting and disappearing uses of African languages since the continent had its first contact with the Middle East and the West.
Here, I will discuss the role of language in maintaining equal relationships and what happens to that language when the position shifts and one becomes a conqueror and the other, the vanguished.
This is where slavery and the suppression of African languages come in. I will give instances of language suppression by the enslaving and colonising languages during the slave trade as well as the role of the imperial languages through official policies to dethrone and replace African languages as media of communication and instruction.
The part imperial languages played in terms of aiding the colonial governments to rule over vast and diverse linguistic areas will be discussed just as I will highlight the effect of this on the elites that cropped up through colonial education to decide the affairs of the new independent nations.
But most importantly, the essay will discuss the place of African languages after colonialism, with suggestions on how to develop and make African languages media for scholarly discourse, in all fields of human endeavour.
To this end, therefore, I hope to bring out the factors militating against the use of African languages and why Africans must use, write, think and express themselves in their own languages as continued use of the colonising languages in a large way reinforces the Western notion that we have no language and so must evolve by imitating the cultures of the west.
From such argument will emerge the fact that Africa will remain an unstable and impoverished continent by its continued use of foreign languages with particular reference to the NEPAD and the AU.
I will equally give statistic details of how Western and Middle East languages continue to prey and terrorise our African languages so much that some of them in Southern Africa, the Cameroun-Nigeria Border as well as those in Nigeria’s Niger -Delta are dying or have died in the last 100 years.
I will explain how African languages can become universal languages and so become meta languages for scholarly works in the world of learning, because, for now, as Chief Victor Nwankwo, managing Director of Fourth Dimension Publishers, Enugu, says in a paper on Print-on- Demand: An African Publisher’s Experience, in Abuja, at the first Nigerian International Book Fair , last May, African languages are nothing but “talking languages”. They must cross this basic description and become languages of discourse, of diplomacy, international relations, literature and criticism, science and technology, medicine, computer and others.
But first why are researchers worried that African languages are dying, with some of them even predicting that the major languages of the continent are under threat?
For me the preying on, taking over and cannibalisation of African languages is an act of terrorism. And like the United States, the continent has to learn how to preserve and use its languages for it to develop and take its place in the comity of nations.
By pointing out the merits of having African languages as media of discourse I will debunk arguments advanced by some writers against using African languages for their literary works. I will share the view of Ngugi wa Thiong’o that those that utilise African myths and stories in their foreign language literary works do not necessarily represent the continent well but are also agents in the exploitation and cannibalisation of African languages since they do not add anything to the African cultures but only take away from them.
This brings up the issue of translation which I will argue has both good and bad effects as it misrepresents as well as brings to the notice of a foreign language speaker, the existence of a strange experience from other cultures as well as misrepresent the original culture it purports to present as that culture can only be well represented in its own language.
I will then move on to discuss how only few non African language texts, including those by Africans, have been translated into African languages by arguing that African languages have benefitted marginally from both their works in foreign languages by Africans and from works in foreign languages by non Africans. This, in my view, is our fight this 21st century, which is to restore the image and dignity of African languages.


Bodies Inside Nollywood

January 12, 2007

Bodies in the movie industry

By Uduma Kalu
Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN)

This ensures that the African film, television and video develop to international standard with adequate training of practitioners in the various fields. It hopes to train practitioners in the various areas of production-scriptwriting, producing, directing management, camera operation, lighting, editing, set designs, special effects, costume and make up, continuity and acting, etc.
The ITPAN Training School established in 1998 with Ford Foundation grant sharpens skills of film/television producers and practitioners in the West African region along with provision of facilities to train local trainees who will in turn train other practitioners.
Nigerian Actors Guild
This rose due to the need to enhance professionalism in directing, encourage and propagate research in film production, create and establish a code of conduct and ethics, train, protect the interest of directors and above all harmonise the vocation of directing.
Criteria for membership of this guild are those among whom may have directed a film, have credit as assistant director in film, in process, or as a movie director.

Nigerian Video Marketers Association (NVMA)
This is the major body in the industry fighting piracy and protecting interest of marketers. It has a taskforce on video rentals club to fight piracy and infringement on the copyright of producers. The nine- year old group, also aims to protect the copyright video production in Nigeria. Members of the club is drawn from zones-Kaduna, Lagos, Aba and Onitsha.

National Union of Motion Picture Practitioners
This intends to act as umbrella body of all existing guilds and associations in the movie industry. Now recognised by NAG, Directors’ Guild of Nigeria, it hopes to ensure that members and the movie industry are protected.

Association of Movie Producers.

This groups aims at taking care of interest of movie producers, enlighten producers on what film production entails, protect members’ interest and work towards the development of the movie industry.

Video Club Owners Association

Formed three years ago to deny piracy, stressing that the Nigerian copyright law recognises plays incorporated in videocassette as eligible for copyright protection. Rose as calls on Nigerian Copyright Commission to ban all video all rental outfits of home video.

Conference of Motion Pictures Practitioners

Formed in 1999 as umbrella body to take care of other guilds and associations in the movie industry, it claims large membership of about 200 practitioners, 40 directors, producers 50, cameramen, and editors. It aims to train and retrain practitioners, ensure broad level distribution network for the films; fight piracy and creating a standard and equity for all practitioners, and to organise movie festivals.


The Nigerian Film Corporation

Establish 24 years ago in 1979 by Decree 19 of 1979, it tries to encourage the development of cinematography, theatre, produced by Nigerians, by way of financial and other assistance, establishment of and maintenance of facilities for film production, production of film for export, establishment of national film archives etc. strives to stay above board amidst lots of criticism from film makers.

Acting director Dr Hyginus Ekwuazi, took over office from Brendan Shehu who retired after 14 years of manning the corporation. He has taken steps to revitalise the celluloid sector and created an atmosphere of peace between the filmmakers and the corporation through a forum in 1999 called The Nigerian Film Corporation and You. The aim was to prepare filmmakers for the task ahead in the new millennia.

Nigerian Copyright Commission

This is a governmental monitor of the creative industry for any form of copyright violation on the rights of creators of intellectual properties. Established 10 years, it has faced allegations from home video practitioners for failing to ban rental clubs. Its Director General is Moses Ekpo. He has reiterated his stand to ban clubs that infringes copyright laws. To check excesses of video rentals clubs, Decree 37 subsection 4 empowers the commission to make regulations of a business involving the production, public exhibition, hiring or rental of any work in which copyright subsists.
It has introduced a security outfit called Hologram affixed to all tapes for sale. Any tape not carrying it is deemed pirated and seized and destroyed.

National Film and video Censors Board.

Established in 1993, this is a Leader in the country’s movie industry. It commenced operation in 1994. It took over operation from defunct Federal Board of Film Censors created in 1963 as replacement of the colonial film censorship outfit established in 1933.
The board commenced operation with Iyawo (Part One) in 1994 but has since registered, examined, analysed and classified 1,300 home video productions. It sponsored research report on The Impact of Film and Video on age 7_17 in Lagos State. It is compiling a directory of films and video outlets in Nigeria covering 110 urban centres. A code of ethics and production for Film makers in Nigeria’ has also been drafted to enhance sanitation, regulation and control of the movie industry.

Nollywood; The Big Producers

January 12, 2007

By Uduma Kalu
Babatunde Kelani,
Producer, Cinematography

Adept motion picture practitioner and one of the very few in the professional class. He is a native of Abeokuta, Ogun State. A product of London International Film School, and Managing Director of Mainframe Productions. He calls and determines the shots in commendable productions in Nigeria. Fondly refereed to, as T.K., Kelani was part of the crew that shot the Hollywood film, Mr. Johnson on location in Toro, Bauchi State. This was late Herbert Ogunde’s last effort at celluloid.
He has made outstanding inputs as producer, director, director of photography in pictures such as Oleku, Ayo ni Mofe, kose egbe Ti Oluwa mi ile and lately, Saororide which was screened to usher in the new political dispensation. Kelani who has a passion for the big screen was also the director of photography for the MNET New Directions’s short movies, Twins of the Rain Forest and A Place Called Home.

Oludotan Jacobs
A consummate actor and one of the best hands in the industry, Olu Jacobs trained in England for many years.
A master of both the stage and screen, the Cancerian with a thick frame is a member of the National Theatre of the Great Britain. The Ogun state born native featured in a number of big screen productions among them Ashanti Baby, Dogs of War, Pirates and Vigilante.
He returned to Nigeria from Britain, and was engaged on many television pictures like the Rest-com, Second chance, Mind Bending, and the detective series, Third Eye, where he played the role of the crack detective, Inspector Idaifa.
From television, the actor launched himself on the then flourishing live stage circuit. He has to his credit products like Digging for Gold, The King Must Dance Naked, Holy Child, Kaffir’s Last Game and Trials of Ovoranwen.
Today, Olu is the toast of the home video sector producers and marketers. He has appeared in many home videos such as Onome, Amina, Okun ifa, Daybreak, Fearless, Owura lojo and Ulaga. Lately, he paired up with his wife to star in the MNET New Direction movie Twins of the forest.

Richard Mofe Damijo
Actor, Producer

One of the top rated actors Damijo is a product of the Theatre Arts Department of University of Benin. He featured in the famous television production where he played role of the philosopher, Demeyin in Last Omen and from there, broke out on to the big stage. Immensely talented and very popular, the Delta State born actor no doubt, had a very remarkable career, leaving memorable imprints in the minds of many.
His stage credits also include The King Must Dance Naked, Then Zoo Story, Kurunmi, The Gods are not to Blame, Things Fall Apart, From Zia with Love and many others.
On screen, he has imprints in movies such as Violated, Checkmate, Ripples, Out of Bounds, Mean Girls, Vigilante; Naked scores to settle, suicide Mission, Amandos, Shame and Haunted.

Lari Babatunde
Lari is a tested character with a flair for accomplishment in poetry and journalism. He has over forty decades of his life in the theatre.
Among his peers, Lari commands respect; in fact, they see him as a rare gift to the theatre profession. Many would easily recall the very caring husband, Ladipo of the rested NTA soap opera, Mirror in the Sun. Indeed, Lari has in the last 35 years, thrilled his audience on TV, stage and movie productions like The Village headmaster, For better for Worse, Adio’s Family, Third Eye, Ripples, wind of destiny, Memorial Hospital, Blood Money, Black Powder, Full Moon and lately, Amaka Igwe’s award winning Forever and many others.
On celluloid, he credits are Lion Man shot in England, Omen Love, The Return and Cry Freedom shot in Accra, Ghana. At the count, the Lagos born actor has taken part in over 15 soaps, about 5 celluliod works, had over 15 home video appearances and about 30 stage performances.
He studied at the CMS Grammar School, Lagos and in the USA. After that he worked sometime as reporter for West African Pilot at age 17.
He also trained as a journalist at the London School of Journalism, Mosley College, branch of the London University, and later as actor/director of the Mountainview Theatre School.

Adekunle Adewale Bamtefa

Actor, Producer, director.
Born March 14, 1954, he studied at Remo Secondary School, Sagamu, Ogun State. He went to the University of Ibadan for a diploma in Theatre arts in 1970 and later got a BA, also at the same university. Then he worked as a producer, newscaster and presenter with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Western Television Authority (WNTV), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Lagos and in Jos, in Radio Plateau.
After his national service, NYSC in Jos, he returned to the NTA, he was reabsorbed as senior television producer and director. He served NTA for six year and resigned for a job at Latola Films, the Diamond Productions and Family, Kunle Bamtefa associates, which he runs apart from directing and acting which he does full time.
A trained screen director, Bamtefa has imprints in many documentaries and television programmes such as Sura di Tailor, a situational comedy created and directed for the NTA and Magnate which he once directed for African Independent Television (AIT), Lagos.
Outstanding and reputable screen performer, Kunle was in the Nigerian contingent that toured USA, Japan and Germany between 1982 and 1984 with a Flash in the sun, a dance presented at exhibition of 3000 years of Nigerian arts.
Other stage works include Kongi’s Harvest, Spirit of Lagos, The Silent Gods, Trials of Oba Ovaranwen, Marriage of Anasewa and others he featured in as a member of the University of Ibadan Performing Arts Company.
On TV, he starred in such soaps as Mirror in the Sun, Cradle, Magnate and Checkmate-he played the gregarious role of Chief Fuji, the head of the Fuji House of Commotion, a role that endeared him to many.
On video, The THEMA 1997 Best Supporting Actor and Overall Best Actor winner has only few appearances, one celluloid, outing in Ladi Ladipo’s Power.
Movie- Violated, Opera of Love, mortal inheritance, Forgive, Masterkind and Saworide.

Pete Edochie

Trained broadcaster and then head of presenter at the Enugu State Broadcasting service (ESBS) he came on board screen as actor in the television adaptation of Things fall apart, directed by David Orere. He was invited to play the protagonist, Okonkwo, which he delightfully.
With home video, he became the most sought after actor. Lately, he was under criticism for appearing in any movie and that he rehashed Okonkwo’s nuances and mannerisms in his roles.
But marketers insist that they feature Edochie because “he sells movies”. It is difficult to say many movies the bearded titled chief has featured in but some of them include, Felony, Evil Men, rituals, out of Cage.

Joseph Terhemba-actor
Joseph has a strong stage presence. Until 1996, he member of the National Troupe of Nigeria. Born 37 years ago, in Tse-Agberaghbva in Konshika, Benue State. He former staff of the Benue state Arts and Council. His Major job after leaving NTN was his role as Tanko Daruju in the rested NTA soap, Winds of destiny. He was actor in the movie PLC. And he starred in Raging Storm, Heart of Gold, Victim of the Gods, Babysitter.
His stage productions include Marriage of Anansewa, Trials of Ovaranwen and Attahiru, a millennium play premiered in Abuja in December 1999.

Obafemi Lasode-Producer.

Born in Port Harcourt Rivers state, 46 years ago. He is known simply as Sango because of his high budget epic, Sango. He sits at the head of Even Ezra Studios, an audiovisual production in Lagos, reported in Africa’s Vogue production series.
Obafemi who is from Ogun State, he is a prolific filmmaker. He takes inspiration from Fela. He has a Degree in Business Education with bias in international marketing from the Kogod Business School, Amakan University in Washington D.C. and masters in community arts, Brooklyn University, City University of New York. School. His early education was at St Gregory College, Obalande and Lancaster Polytechnic, Coventry, England. Last Amazon; follow up of Sango was released on home video in Nigeria, Europe, Asia and America.

Achibi Samuel Dede
A character actor and trained director, his acting started in 1974. Born in Lagos in early 60s, the six feet tall Rivers State native and certified Voice and Speech trainer was educated at the University of Benin. He has a Degree in Theatre Arts, specialising in acting and directing.
He started screen acting at NTA. Then he got Masters at the University of Port Harcourt where he is teaching acting, voice and speech patterns.
His movie credits include, My Fathers Property, Igodo, Last warrior, Blood Money which shot him into prominence. He directed Evil Men, Maana, Naked wire, the Child and many others. Recently he appeared in Onaco’s Odam.

Ajoke Adamarandan silva, Actress

Trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts and worked at the BBC and the Royal Court Theatre, London, the Lagos state born is celebrated wife of Olu Jacobs. She has starred on stage, television and movie, some of which include Pot Power, Mirror in the Sun, Second Chance, Mind Bending, Jero’s Metamorphosis, The King Must Dance Naked, Holy Child, Digging for Gold, Colours of Tomorrow, Violated, Silent Night, Strange Women, etc.

Henretta Orovosa Kosolo

His real names have been consumed by Omolade, a screen role that shot her into prominence by the same title.
The Delta state born, pretty wife of popular stage and screen actor, Jide Kosoko, speaks Yoruba fluently. Educated at Amuwo Odofin Grammar School, she was a trained Caterer. Omolade, one time Thema award nominee has featured in a number of stage and video productions such as Ojiji, Jokotade and Omodiyan.

Esther Idowu Pillips (Actress)

Popularly called Mama Rainbow, she started acting in the early 70s where she was matron of Osunare Theatre troupe, led by late Femi Phillips, her husband. Her first live stage was in 1972 at the Glover Hall. She played the lead role of the same title.
Widow, mother, trained nurse, the Odogbolu born, Ogun State born actress has starred with Kolonsan, Kanran, Tajudeen Gbadamosi. She gets inspiration from another highly rated Yoruba actress, Mama Oyin Adejobi. The movies he starred include Tinuade, Jensinmi, Edunjobi, Iya Ife, Omo Onikan, Ayanmo, Eri Okan, iya ni wura, Ija Orogun, Wurola, Lakunle Alagbe etc.

Zachee Orji(Actor producer, director,)

He studied Estate Management at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is in the class of very prominent, regularly featured and well paid actors on the Nigeria movie scene. He plays the good husband or lover boy role . A native of Mgbowo, Enugu state, his first job after shutting down his transport business was the role of Chuks in Unforgiven sin (1993). The effort paid off as he has featured in over 40 pictures some of which are True Confession, Betrayal, Ikuku, Deadly Affair, Dead End, Glamour Girls that has remained controversial as ever because of a scene he shared with Eucharia Anunobi, and Love Vendetta.

Segun Aina.

A trained actor from Obafemi Awolowo University, he was forced to adopt the stage name, Segun Arinze, because of the difficulty in marketing his debut album, Dreams. Born Yoruba and Igbo parents, the singer-actor described as the bad man of the screen because of the mean roles he plays, was once married to Ann Njemanze of the Domittila fame. His movie credits are Eye to Eye, Solitary Night, Cursed from Beyond, EyeWitness, Blind Trust, Fortunes, not My Will, power to Blind and Contractors. He Has many stage credits.

Abdul Rasak Abdul (Marketer)

Called Corporate, he is the CEO of Corporate Pictures Ltd, a marketing firm for motional and moving pictures. A well-read businessman, he has marketed such pictures as Obuko, Omowunmi, Iyowo Agbekele and the commercially Imule Ife.

Dolly Unachukwu (actress)

Made prominent by her interpretation of the role of Fadike, the beloved and tolerant wife in the rested TV soap, Mega Fortunes, the Amichi in Nnewi, LGA born Anambra state born actress has appeared in some of these home videos: Wounded Heart, in Opa William’s Deadly Affair where she earned the name, Big, big mama for the film. Since then, she has featured in one film after another. She has a Diploma in LASU and a qualification in TV production from NTA College, Jos.
Her movie credits include: Brotherhood of Darkness tears for Love, Final Decision, Widest Dream, Glamour Girls.
Obirina Nwafor (Actor)
From Mbaitolu, Imo State and called Saint Obi in the movies, the six feet, 2″ University of Jos graduate of Theatre Arts won the Most Visible Actor in home video award as he has graced almost all the home movies produced recently.
He won modelling contracts with Bevista, a fashion outfit and debuted in Without Love. He has been popular, movies have become his career since then. He performed Mike Alade in Goodbye Tomorrow and paired with Hilda Mrakpor in that movie.
Kenneth Okonkwo. (Actor/Producer)
He debuted in the groundbreaking Living in Bondage. From Nsukka, Enugu State, Okonkwo studied Business Management at the UNN. But he caught public attention in his role as Andy, in that pioneer movie.
Former star of TV opera Ripples, he was one of the highest paid actors in the home video sector, which may be the reason why he has appeared in few pictures. His credit include Taboo Betrayal and Aru si yi.
Opa Williams. (Producer, actor)
Delta State born head of Virgin Organization, Williams is one of the most organised producers around. He has a BSC in Economics, University of London, and a master in business Administration, Miami University.
His works include Tears for Love, Deadly affair, Onome, dead End, Without Love, Maami, The Child., the award winner, Sergeant Okoro, which produced the REEL, award winner in Sam Loco Efe.

Kenneth Nnebue

The pacesetter head of Nek Video Links that boasts of most functional productions and postproduction facilities.
He heralded the dawn of most home video production with the release of the 1992 unprecedented Igbo home video, Living in Bondage. Script writer and producer, he has many videos whose distribution, production, publicity and sales are unparalleled in the circuit.
1995 recipient of the Men of Achievement Award, he has produced and marketed Glamour Girls, True Confession, End Time and over 20 Yoruba home movies with Aje ni Iya mi as top of the list.
Bola Anike Obot (Actress)
Ibadan based 1995 Thema movie award winner as Best Actress of the Year because of role in Ayo ni mo fe from the stable of Mainframe productions, she was the little known former dancer and staff of Council for Arts and Culture, Ibadan. She once worked as a clerical officer at the Ibadan Municipal government and Lister Motors, Ibadan. Native of isale Osin, Oyo state she featured in pictures such as Elemosho, Aropin ni Tenia.

Olantunde Laniyan (Actor, Director)

Known in the folk theatre as Chief Kanran, Segun Ige is one of the most popular actors in Yoruba language medium. He acts in English too. Abeokuta born, he was educated at Eko Boys High School, Lagos. His role as Alaafin Karnran on stage of Akinwunmi Isola’s Aiye Ye won tan, earned him the name Kanran. His works include Obirin Asiko, Asiri Nla, Eniyan Dudu and Igba Aimo.

Ejike Asiegbu-(Actor/director)

A 1992 Theatre Arts graduate of the University of Port Harcourt he was born in Umuahia, Abia state, and starred in Thorns of Rose, Millioneers are Saints, Rituals, Venom of Justice, Cross Roads, Love Vendetta etc.

Okey McAnthony Onyegbule(Actor)

Popular stand up comedian and 1992 Agricultural Engineering graduate of Rivers State University of Technology and Technology, Port Harcourt, Okey Bakassi as called, is from Mbaise, Imo State. Movies: Decision, Silent Night, Deadly Affair, Tears for Love, Pam Pam, the one that endeared to many, among others.

Hilda Nwachinamereogu Akarose(Actor)
Hilda Dokubo Akorose Mkrakpor ranks tops among the credible actresses in the local home video. She caught her teeth on live stage. She played the pitiable Nengi, the HIV positive but faithful wife in Goodbye Tomorrow. She is delightful, any day.
Born to the late Prince Benibo Edmund and Princess Stella, the REEL and Thema multiple award winner is from Buguma in Asaritoru LGA, Rivers state. She studied at the Government Girls Secondary School, Port Harcourt and has Diploma and then BA in Theatre Arts with bias for acting, scripting and directing. She proceeded to the Royal College of Arts, London for post graduates in Choreography and Dance.
Her first major stage credit which turned out to become her national outing was her role as Abuna in the stage play, Ebejiba, Rivers state entry for 1981 National Festival Festival of Arts.
Stage: Everyman, His or Her troubles, The Gods are not to blame, Odum Egege, isiburu, Hopes of the Living DEAD, Behold My Redeemer, Aguda etc.
Screen: Above Death, Holy Crime, Without Love, Deadly Passion, Another Campus Tale, Blood Vapour, Black Heart, Eye for Eye which set the REEL and THEMA’99 award Best Supporting Actress diadems.
Other big names in the home video include Liz Benson, Zebrudaya, Sam Loco, Iroha Eke, Segun Olusola, and Peter Igoh.

Making of the Nigerian music (2)

January 12, 2007

Nigerian female musicians

By Uduma Kalu

Nigerian women are not left behind in the growth of Nigerian music. Joy Nwosu, Martha Ulaeto and Afi Usua were trained as singers in Italy and Greece respectively. Back in Nigeria, they gave concerts by famous European composers but it was as if the people were not keen on listening to such music as they wanted to listen to their own music as produced by their own people. The ladies, like their male counterparts, had to adapt their techniques to suit the prevailing taste by using Nigerian folk tunes to meet the popular demand and by making excellent use of their voices. Soon, other locally trained lady singers came up to continue the Nigerian popular music. They include the Lijadu Sisters, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Oby Onyioha, Nelly Uchendu, Onyeka Onwenu, Stella Monye, Lorine Okotie, the Sunshine Sisters, among others.

Recording companies in Nigeria`

Due to the hard economic realities in the country, most Nigerian artistes now release their music on their own labels, some of which are almost none existent. Suffice it to say that the following are some of the leading record companies operating in the country.

Premier Records
Feline Records
Infinity Records
Kenny Music
Dudu Heritage
Tabansi Records
Sigma Disk
Master Disk

Music associations in Nigeria
Performing Musicians of Nigeria ( Parent body)
Fuji `Music Association of Nigeria.
Juju Music Musicians of Nigeria
Music Copyrights Association
Performers and Mechanical Rights Society
Musical Copyrights Society of Nigeria
Guild of Dancers

Evergreen Music
My Landlady and Suwa by Johnny Eze
Danny Nnem and Sambola Mama by Peak Cock
Apama, Ofe Owerri, Ebelem by Sir Warrior and Oriental Brothers
Bonsuwe by Israel Nwaoba
I gbaka bia ilum and Tell me what to do by Sweet Breeze
Love Nwantiti by Nelly Uchendu
Taxi Driver by Bobby Benson
Joromi by Sir Victor Uwaifo
Kete kete by Ebenezer Obey
Jolly Papa and Adure by Rex Lawson
Omo Ode De by Emperor Pick Peters
Mas sese daro fun won by Theophilus Iwalokun
Owo ile ayinla Omowura by Apale
Congratulations by Salawa Abeni
Precaution by Sikiru Ayinde Barrister
Appreciation by Sonny Ade

Music Festivals Organisers

Benson and Hedges Golden Tones
Nigerian Brewery Stars Parade
MUSON Centre
Silver Bird
7 Up Bottling Company
Guinness Breweries
Nigerian Bottling Companies
French Cultural Centre
The British Council
The Gothe Institute

Origin of Nigerian Music (1)

January 12, 2007

[Nigerian music]`
[T]`he very first fusion of Nigeria’s indigenous musical forms with Western civilisation was as a result of its contact with the guitar. This was in the 1920s through sailors and Kru-men from Sierra Leone who played the guitar as an instrument of pleasure. Over the years, many more instruments were added. The professional approach has since been adopted to performance, and the music itself has evolved through various trends and complexities which in contemporary terms have continued to be propelled by high technological advancement.
Nigerian music, writes Sam Akpabot, has many faces which over the years have been so interwoven that differences among them are very thin.
The late musician and critic reasons that Nigerian music is a deeply functional exercise which draws heavily on religious, political, sociological, anthropological, economical and educational fronts, adding that the music derives its socio-cultural power from the society in order to make any progress in the future.
Some other critics of African music say that African arts, especially, traditional music, functions in the social structure on three principal levels as part of religious ritual, as expression of social organisation and as recreation.
These three areas seem to cover almost the whole spectrum of Nigerian music. Religious ritual is about the music practices of Nigerians from antiquity.
Social music has gone through the maze of musical acculturation that changed the face of Nigerian music without destroying its traditional base; and recreation focuses on popular music up till the present draw heavily on political and sociological associations.
Nigerian neo-classical music draws its inspiration from traditional norms, music in Nigerian churches uses religious ritual and some of the texts of modern dance bands in the country fall back on traditional texts for effective communication with the masses.
But there are still other forms of Nigerian music, such as disco, reggae, Makossa and rock which Akpabot and others did not treat, may be because of the fact that these aspects of the music are still recent.`
[Nigerian religious music]`
[N]`igerian traditional music as other African traditional music centres on rites of passage: birth puberty, marriage and death, and it involves certain rituals offered to traditional gods for the unity of the people and to link them to the supreme being. Traditional music in the country, therefore has an element of religious ritual attached to it in one form or the other. Because these rituals are only for the initiates, the term “secret society” was used by western scholars. These secret societies, governed the social attitudes prevalent in the area; regulated sexual conduct, supervised political affairs and provided various forms of entertainment, and popular music drew its inspiration and general form from the activities of the secret societies.
A survey of Nigerian traditional music must focus on the individual and collective functions of musical instruments, musical instruments as symbolic musical instruments identified with particular deities and number symbolism. It examines the peculiar role of song texts as well as the different uses and functions of traditional orchestras.`
[Traditional music instruments]`
[T]`here are musical instruments struck, plucked scrapped, blown or shaken. These instruments have special names. Some of them include the drum and xylophone which are stuck to produce a sound. String instruments are plucked and a column of air is blown into other instruments to produce a sound while others are scrapped. Examples of these are the Emoba drum at the court of the Oba of Benin, the obodom wooden drum of the Ibibios, the Egwu omoha xylophone of the Igbos and the koria(calabash) drum of the Hausa Fulanis are all struck. The Ubo aka (Thumb piano) of the Igbos, the Garaya (lute) of the Hausa are plucked. The Kakaki (trumpet) of the Hausa Fulanis, the Oja (flute) of the Igbos, the Ikpeziken (flute) of the Edos and the Utah (gourd horn) of the Ibibios are all blown. The Sekere (rattle) of the Yorubas is scrapped and the Nsasah (rattle) of the Ibibios are all shaken.`
[Functions of Nigerian traditional music instruments]`
[I]`N Katsina, when an Emir is to be crowned, the Yanibari drum is struck 12 times so that the people can know that they have a new Emir. In other parts of the country, when a chief or village head ants an important announcement he sends out an emissary who strikes a gong or woodblock to alert the community of his mission. In the north, the Garaya is used as an instrument for going into fits. A member of the community approaches a Garaya player and asks for a particular tune; and as the musicians strum and sing away, the person requesting the tune dances, first slowly, then gradually working to a frenzied finale when he faints and is later revived. At the palace of an Emir or Yoruba Oba a kakaki (trumpet) player precedes the Chief blowing his instrument to warn the subjects of the approach of their ruler. Among the Igbos and Yorubas, the elephant tusk horn is only blown by the royalty.
When many instruments are played together, they can also perform specific functions. The Emoba drums on the palace of the Oba of Benin are usually played by six musicians but never outside the palace premises. Among the Ibibios, members of the Ebre women’s society are three gongs (Nkwang). The most important of these gongs is played by the leader of the group. This practice is also found among the Yorubas who play the lera (flute) in groups of six with the chief of the village playing the most important of the flutes. Musical instruments used collectively also indicate what values Nigerian place on family life. It is said in myths that the Yoruba god, Obatala, had four wives who sang and clapped their hands to him every evening. Eventually, the god had four drums constructed and named them after his four wives – Iya Nla, Iya Agan, Afere and Keke – family of drums that used till today in ceremonies pertaining to the worship of the god Obatala.
Again in the worship of the Yoruba god Sango, four drums are used – Iya Ilu Bata (mother drum) Emele Ako (male drum) Emele Abo (female drum) and Kudi (infant drum).
Among the Ibibios, this grouping is also similar. The names of the Uta (group horn) orchestral are Eko Uta (mother ), Akpan Uta (first son), Udo Uta (second son) And Etukudo Uta (third son) – a mother and three male children unlike the Yoruba experience which made of male and female children. Critics like Akpabot say that the naming of the Uta horns as male children is not unconnected with the beliefs of the Ibibio society, and indeed, Nigerian (and African) society in general. Without a male child, they argue, a Nigerian family does not consider itself fulfilled; and there have been many instances where a father had continued trying for a male child in spite of having anything up to 10 female children.
When an Ibibio woman feels her feminine powers and beauty waning, she invites an Uta orchestra to perform for her, convinced that this will rejuvenate her believing in the concept of the male supremacy in the Uta horns ensemble; her action based on historically created designs orientated towards the cultural beliefs of her ancestors.
Myth behind the making of the music instruments
Among the Yorubas, only the Oma and Apa trees are used for carving out drums. The trees are situated on the roadside and the instrument makers think that such trees listen to human conversations and are therefore able to reproduce human tones when used as drums. Any other tree used for drum making does not produce good tunes. Among the Ibibios, the Idiong society is the only one that does not use a drum in its instrumentation. The Hausa and the Fulani strike the Tambari drum 12 times to announce the election of a new Emir. In Kwara State, the Aku drum is played seven times at intervals for seven days preceding a new yam festival. In Ondo State, the Oshima drum is struck seven times to alert the town folk about an impending battle. `
[Nigerian social music]`
[A]`lmost all secret societies in Nigeria have element of entertainment in their rituals in the form of songs and dances. The general form of a secret society ritual consists of (a) incantations (b) offerings for purification (c) songs and (d) dances.
Secret societies in Nigeria can be classified as being either benevolent or malevolent. Two good examples of a benevolent secret society are the Osanyin society of the Yorubas and the Idiong society of the Ibibios. The deities in these societies make life fruitful and bring peace to the community they function. The god Sopono or Ogun can be called upon to help for or to punish the enemy; but you can only go to the god Osanyin or Idiong to find out how you can save yourself from the wrath of your enemy. Songs and Dances in Nigerian society
These have helped to shape the social organisation of Nigeria societies. For example, songs can be used by different age groups in the country during birth, puberty, marriage or death. The complexity of song reflects a complex society as it is an adaptation of the trait of that society. The social structure of any community in Nigeria can also affect the style of a song bearing in mind whether the society is stratified or egalitarian. You will find in stratified societies like those in the Benin Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba areas, that praises songs are very common with the traditional rulers and ancestral gods as the centres pieces of their message. The Emir or Oba is never wrong, and the gods are never to blame for any misfortune that may befall the community.
In an egalitarian society, such as can be found in many parts of the Eastern Region of the country, the song styles are more complex and individualistic reflecting a complex society. Carrying this musical message to the arena of social organisation, it is easier to rally round members of a stratified society into a unified whole, than those in an egalitarian society. Two possible exceptions of egalitarian society in the East is Anambra State where the Obi of Onitsha resides and in Rivers State where we have the Amanayabos of Bonny and Opobo. These communities are unique in that they combine the stratified and egalitarian styles of the Nigerian song.`
[Features of Nigerian songs]`
[C]`ritics of Nigerian music posit that Nigerian languages are inflectional in character, so certain characteristics of the spoken word condition the musical patterns of songs especially the high, low and medium accent placed on vowels in a sentence. The songs are repetitive and do not modulate meaning that they stay in one pitch throughout. Nigerians songs are generally in two sections, the second bringing the first to a close. Sometimes the two sections are different; at other times, the second section borrows materials from the first and brings it to a conclusion. On rare occasions, it can be in three sections – the first part, a contrasting second part and a repeat of the first part.
Some say that Nigerian song can be solo performed by only one person, or more commonly, a song with solo and chorus referred to as call-and-response. When it is a solo song, as in the case of Ewi music of the Yorubas, the rhythm is irregular, the tempo is set by the singer as he wishes and the overall form is improvised as improvisation is one of the hall marks of Nigerian song style.
Every Nigerian song tells a story and in almost every case the words or texts of the song are more important than the melodic content which in many cases is limited because most Nigerian musical instruments are not constructed to play long melodies as in the western tradition. The song may be repetitive, but the text changes from verse to verse so that unless you understand what the singer is talking about, the whole experience can sound boring. A good example is provided by the Jos singer Dan Maraya who sings to small flute in Hausa. He tells a story full of humour, proverbs and a commentary on the contemporary scene with a musical ostinato as an accompaniment. Ostinato just means a repetitive musical phrase.
A great feature of a Nigerian solo song is the liberty taken by the singer. He can shorten or lengthen a vowel. He can use metaphors, archaic expressions, and cryptic utterances. He can take a liberty and licence that he would not dare take in an ordinary spoken word which is a unique feature of the Nigerian musical scene.`
[Features of the Nigerian dance]`
[T]`his is how song and dance are used as forms of social organisation in Nigerian traditional society. Researchers have proved that all African dances are generally in harmony with the body. The Nigerian dance easily divides itself into ritual and non-ritual. The former is performed as a propitiation to traditional gods and the latter for entertainment and therefore more flexible and improvised.
Dancing can be a response to a melody or rhythmic beat. Music north of the Niger among the Hausas, Fulanis, Biroms, Angas and Kanuri relies more on subtle melodies which the dancers react to gracefully. South of the Niger among the Igbos, Ibibios, Urhobos, Itsekiri and Edos, there is more accent on rhythmic beat and therefore the dancing is more vigorous.`
[Dance forms in Nigeria]`
[F]`our dance patterns most prevalent in Nigeria are (a) Leap dance (b) Stride dance (c) Close dance and (d) Stamp dance.
In the leap dance, the dancers lift their feet off the ground sometimes in an acrobatic display. Examples of this type of dance are found among the Bata dancers. The stride dance, where the dancers move gracefully in an unhurried movement taking one step at a time is very common among royalty in the Yoruba speaking areas, but it is perhaps among the Hausa/ Fulanis, that this style of dance is best exemplified. The Atilogwu dancers also use the dance in addition to the leap dance with which they are more commonly associated.
The close dance is predominant among the Ibibios, Ijaws, Ohafias of Abia State and the famous dance of maidens of Afikpo. This style of dance uses only waist movement, whilst the rest of the body remains still.
The stamp dance is famous among the Tivs. The Tiv who share a boundary with the Igbos of Enugu State are examples of the stride dance combined with elements of the close dance. Though this not exhaust all the dance patterns in the country, they will be found to be the most commonly used by the various communities. People in the riverine areas of the country tend to have a common feature in their dancing styles which distinguishes them from people in the hinterland of the country.`
[Dance orchestras]`
[D]`ance orchestras can be for ritual or non-ritual purposes and one way of deciding whether an orchestra is ritual or not is by the presence in the orchestra of a ritual rattle. This is a special kind of rattle shaped like an hour-glass with two small piece of wood tied inside both ends which rattle when shaken. The Yorubas call this instrument Sekere and the Ibibios Ekput. Orchestras used for ritual dance have a standardised instrumentation which has been unaffected by western culture over the years. These type of dance orchestras operate within the secret societies.
Non-ritual dance orchestras have a very flexible instrumentation. They can be named after a particular dance like the Atilogwu dance of the Igbos and the Abeti dance of the Itsekiris. It can be named after a predominant musical instrument in the ensemble like the Bini orchestra of Hausa women and Sekere awo orchestra of Yoruba women, which are both scrapped rattles, or the Lere orchestra of the Yorubas and Kara orchestra of the Birom, both flute ensembles. It can also be named after wooden or skin talking drums like the Ida orchestra of the Edos, the Igede orchestra of the Igbo and the Dundun orchestra of the Yoruba. In Nigeria, all drums are said to talk, some more eloquently than others.
But it is not all orchestra in Nigeria that are used for dances. A good example of this being the Ekpri Akata orchestra of the Ibibios. So the Ekpri Akata orchestra is set up as an orchestra designed to regulate the social conduct of members of the community. Examples of this kind of orchestra can be found in most ethnic groups of the country and their use is simple. In the night, around 2 a.m members of the orchestra move from location to locations in a village warning about thieves, adulterers, witches and dishonourable men. They give out the names of the offenders and warn them to either change heart or get out of town. Many times they speak in metaphors and proverbs and daytime, all dubious characters in the community have been identified and rendered impotent by the embarrassing exposure. No one ever comes out to challenge these musicians of social control and no one ever knows who they are. Their source of information is a secret and they have never been known to make any allegations that were not proved to be true.`
[Traditional music and the Christian church]`
[I]`n the beginning of last century, three churches were predominant in the country — the Roman Catholic Church (RCM) the Anglican Church (then known as the Church Missionary Society (CMS), and the Methodist Church. The colonial missionaries recognised the power of traditional music and cultural patterns; and one of the first things they did, in their attempt to Christianise a community, was to ask them to burn their musical instruments and stop singing their traditional songs. The musicians in those days operated from secret societies which they saw as their traditional religion; and the invading missionaries must have known that magical powers reside in songs. This worked for many years until the parishioners started feeling suffocated by the monotonous form of imported liturgy. They wanted to dance and clap their hands, ululate and be in direct communication with the preacher but this was not possible.
They desired change and one way to do this was to reach back to their traditional culture and superimpose this on the accepted imported Christian norms. Since this was not acceptable to the missionaries, there occurred an inevitable break with the imported Christian tradition and some Nigerian priests and laity left to form their own churches under the prevailing title of African Christian Church. These early ‘rebels’ stuck as close as they could to the Anglican form of liturgy with a few changes.
They translated the Christian hymns into Nigerian languages forgetting that the rise and fall of Nigerian vowel sounds did not correspond with the English ones.
But this change did not satisfy many of the new members who still felt restricted by the imported missionary style of worship. So, in time, some left to form other churches where they introduced drums, dancing and ululation all of which are elements of Nigerian traditional music. This is the rise of churches like the Aladura Church, the Pentecostal Church and the Celestial Church. Akpabot notes that all these churches were the direct result of the influences of African traditional song and dance – those two important elements that mentioned earlier as being present in every ritual ceremony in Nigeria.
The worshippers could react to sermons, songs and rhythmic beats spontaneously without any inhibition instead of being told what to do. The element of improvisation so common in traditional Nigerian music is clearly exemplified in this setting. The folk element in the songs and dances used are very evident in the overall structure of the new liturgical style.`
[ Nigerian music as entertainment]`
[C]`ritics who assert that African musical is an entertainment is very valid in the general context of African culture. Even in the serious rituals of secret society, the elements of entertainment are ever present. For example, the Yoruba Ogboni and Egungun secret societies have masquerades like ode, alagbo, sembe and arebe where singing and dancing feature circus-like tricks and acrobatic displays. Among the Ibibos, a branch of the Ekpo secret society is called Ndok Ekpo whose members perform the role of comedians entertaining members of the community. From the activities of these masquerades, it has been possible to detect solid outlines of an open traditional theatre. Thus, what started out as a secret ritual society blossoms into a training ground for actors and dramatists seeking an avenue for well expression.
An important contemporary development has been the attempts by indigenous playwrights to exploit the cultural contents of some secret societies and bring some of these traditional practices to the notice of the uninitiated men in the community, through special written plays and music dramas. Examples of this aspect of Nigerian music as entertainment are the music dramas of Duro Ladipo and Hubert Ogunde Ladipo’s Oba Koso and Ogunde’s Yoruba Ronu draw upon the myths, rituals, legends, religious beliefs and symbols of traditional Yoruba society. Their music dramas, adapted to the platforms of western performing arts, have become vehicles for cultural interdependency not among third world countries, but also between these countries and the western world.
Another form of entertainment, which broke away from the constraints of traditional melodies, rhythms and song texts is what is today described as Nigerian popular music – a form of entertainment whose roots can be traced to a deliberate protest against western popular dance music which thrived in the country during the colonial era, in the first half of this century.`
[Modern Nigerian orchestra]`
[E]`uropeans had arrived in the country bringing with them dances like the waltz, foxtrot, quickstep and tango, and it was not long before Nigerians caught on to this brand of popular music. In time, orchestras were formed by indigenes of the country to enable them to play the music for these various dance steps. But imitation was not enough for these improvisation-orientated musicians; so they started adapting Nigerian folk tunes into a ballroom setting using western instruments and in the process introducing new rhythms that were the Triumph Orchestra, the Bosocal Orchestra and Three Chocolate Dandies Orchestra. It is notable that one of these orchestras, the Triumph, originated from King’s College, Lagos, where Fela Sowande, then joined the Bosocal Orchestra briefly, but went on to form the Chocolate Dandies Orchestra led by Saxophonist Soji Lijadu, for many years a distinguished baritone singer at the Cathedral Church of Christ. Also in the orchestra were the present Oba of Lagos, Oyekan II, who played the violin and Ben Olumuyiwa yet another fine tenor singer at the Christ Church Cathedral, who played the trumpet. Olumuyiwa known fondly as “Big Ben” was to die in a motor accident touring the Eastern part of the country with an orchestra called “The Lagos Rascals”.
There were one or two other orchestras worthy of mention. The Lagos City Orchestra and her Rhythm Dandies were Fela Young (later to become a chief Magistrate) played the trumpet and at various times, Olu Macfoy, a long-time employee of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and Tunde Derby played the piano. Derby, like Lijadu an Olumuyiwa, was an active member of a church choir, being organist of Tinubu Methodist Church. It is indeed amazing that the Anglican and Methodist Churches, where these fine dance band musicians functioned, did not raise any loud objection to a church musician playing at a night club.
But it was not in Lagos, the Nigerian capital that popular music played with European instruments was thriving. At Calabar, there was the Effiom Brass Band. In the Rivers State, there was the Bakana Brass Band; at Onitsha, the New Bethel School Brass Band, and in the Cross River State, the Ikot Ekan Brass Band which played what was then referred to as “native airs”, which later developed into the highlife – a dance form whose origins are not quite clearly defined. Thus from imported dance like the waltz and foxtrot, acculturation had taken place and indigenes of the country were now leaning towards playing a brand of music that reflected their cultural heritage even with European instruments. There is a point worth noting here; and that is that the Bakana Brass Band and the Ikot Ekan Brass Band introduced the wooden drum into their rhythmic ensemble – the beginning of a trend, that was to find fulfilment in the music of later popular musicians like I.K. Dairo, Roy Chicago and E.C. Arinze.
Two trends are easily discernible here. The first one being those musicians who played traditionally-derived music on European instruments; and the other those who discarded European dance band instruments to form small groups of performers comprising a guitarist, who was usually also the solo singer, supported by secondary traditional drums. All drums in Africa are grouped into primary drums (the large ones) and secondary drums (the small ones). It is this group of popular musicians who relied on guitar and drums, to make their impact on the society with their special sue of vocal texts that developed into what we know today as juju, fuji and waka music among other hybrid forms. But we shall come back to them later.`
[Highlife music]`
[S]`ome critics say that it is quite possible that highlife music originated from Ghana and the name highlife is probably a nonsense word. Singers sometimes use nonsense words to evoke a mood or describe something they cannot find a suitable word for. The music played by Sunny Ade, the juju musician is sometimes described as “sychro system” – clearly a nonsense word which has no bearing whatever with the style of music played. Another example of a nonsense word is penkelemess, which was used during the First Republic to describe the late Adegoke Adelabu’s style of politicking where he was equally at home dining with a taxi driver at a roadside eating place (buka) or dressing up in European style to eat with royalty at a grand restaurant. Thus the word penkelemes was used to describe this odd style of behaviour.
What we do know about the possible origin of highlife music is that in the 1930’s a dance band composed of servicemen came to Nigeria from Ghana on a short tour. They called themselves the Sugar Babies and what made them special was the special favour they added to their rendition of specially adopted Ghanaian (then Gold Coast) folk tunes on their European instruments. They performed mainly for the elite of the society associated with high living standards, which could account for that brand of music being called highlife music. It is from these beginnings, that E.T Mensah, a trained Ghanaian pharmacist, formed a band devoted mainly to playing highlife music. The influence of E.T Mensah, definitely spurred Nigerian popular musicians on to forming their own bands specialising in highlife music.
At about the time E.T Mensah was making a name for himself as a highlife musician, a Nigerian, Bobby Benson, arrived in the late 1940’s to start a dance band which he called Bobby Jam Session Orchestra. His orchestra was unique in that it introduced variety acts into his dance music presentations ably supported by his wife Cassandra, in what was known as the Bobby and Cassandra Show.
The only other Nigerian to follow in Bobby Benson’s footsteps was a Nigerian actor based in Britain, Willie Payne, who returned home briefly to rival Bobby Benson until bitter confrontations between the two artists caused Payne to return to his acting roles in Britain. In the 1950s many highlife bands sprang up in the country.`
[Stars of yesteryear]`
[H]`ighlife was however the early form of the popular Nigerian music highlife of the guitar dominated type played at palm wine bars to provide background entertainment. Names like Tunde King in Lagos, Okonkwo Adigwe from Delta State, Ishie Brothers from the Eastern part of Nigeria, Appollo and Paul Ede from Edo State, among many others from the Southern part of Nigeria come to mind as some of the pioneers of palm wine highlife music in Nigeria.
The end of the Second World War in 1945 also enhanced the fusion of the indigenous music form, which had already been done through the guitar. Nigerian soldiers who came back home from foreign lands; having been discharged from the army into which they were formerly enlisted on the side of Britain to fight the World War, introduced foreign trends into the music. This they did not only through the guitar, but also through other instruments. Apart from their influence on the Nigerian popular music scene, Nigerians who had learnt to play instruments in the marching bands established by the colonial masters were now many and so brought about a multiplier effect in which they also taught young civilians who were desirous to learn the theory of music, its rudiments. Many of them also learnt to play instruments.
Lagos became the city from where new trends were introduced to other parts of the country. The cosmopolitan nature and its viability for commerce allowed cross-cultural affinities to thrive, especially in terms of musical culture.
While the likes of Tunde King were setting the pace for palm wine highlife, a highly talented young man called Irewolede Denge created melodies from social commentaries and praise singing as he walked the streets of Lagos, playing some really guitar with which he accompanied himself on vocals. He was a praise singer all right but he influenced a whole generation of singers in Lagos and helped to establish a cultural identity for Lagosians in terms of the nuance and idiosyncrasies that characterised his musical performance. This was the culture from which the like of Ayinde Bakare, Tunde Western Nightingale, Ambrose Campbell, Julius Araba among others emerged to give the evolution and development of highlife a big boost.
One of the most influential of the early bands was the West African Rhythm Band formed by Ambrose Campbell in 1947 with a group of ex-service men and students, specifically, to create a new ‘Africanised’ dance music in response to the smooth Western big bands. With an instrumental line up including shekere (Shaker), talking drum and mandolin to accompany Campbell’s drums, and guitar, they brought a diversity of indigenous folk music into the spotlight as a measure of Nigerian culture, and belief. The band became one of Nigeria’s early highlife champions, but in the early 1950s Campbell travelled to England where he made a new career, reinterpreting his abalabi rhythms and developing multi-cultural fusion with musicians from various parts of the world. At the time, there was half a dozen African clubs in London’s Solo district where musicians could link up with brothers from the Caribbean, American and Europe. Campbell settled into a residency at the Club Afrique and backed up his live work with regular releases on the Melodisc label, thereby becoming the first to popularise highlife in Europe and America.
On the home front, however, big band highlife began to take root as the Tempos Band of Ghana, led by Emmanuel Tetteh Mensah introduced its Ghanaian version to Nigeria, with frequent visits to Lagos. Bobby Benson who was now leading his Jam Session outfit was the first to be influenced; and as a contemporary of Ambrose Campbell started out playing regular ballroom dance and swing music spiced with jive, Sambas and Calypsos.

Nigerian Fashion: Through the Years

January 12, 2007

Nigerian Fashion: Through the Years

By Uduma Kalu

IN 1993, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, former national President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) and owner of Rose of Sharon (House of Fashion) travelled to the United States of America to attend the Black Expo Exhibition. She went there again in 1999 and did some shows in New York, Washington D.C. Atlanta, Georgia, Mississippi and Maryland as part of the International Black Buyers and Manufacturers Expo at the Washington D.C. Centre.
At both exhibitions, Folorunsho tried as much as she could to meet up with her western counterparts but failed. This failure later made her realise that she could not compete with the westerners in their own line because they know it better than she does. It is not in African countries, she thought, to work with fabrics like pure virgin wool.
Yet, the fashion designer wanted to compete amongst the westerners. She thought of the way to do so. Then suddenly, she got the answer. “Rather than compete with them using their pure virgin wool and their cotton, I opted for something from the eye of Africa.”
So, Folorunsho started working with ethnic fabrics that celebrate Africa, capturing and representing the styles, symbol, sign, dreams and aspirations of the people. On designs, she decided that it is necessary to understand that fashion is relevant, relative and dynamic. It must be relevant to the culture and environment where it is being sold.
The result of her research was the production of designs that were originally African but also embraces contemporary realities. For her, therefore, the designs must be a hybrid of African heritage and exemplary western designs. She felt that this way, new designs would be made without them being wholly African but a blend of western and African designs.
This research by Folorunsho seems to be the idea controlling contemporary fashion in Nigeria today. Through this way, the Nigerian design has been able to make an impact in the world fashion scene.

[Why Nigerian fashion is taking on the world lately]`

But this was not the case some 20 or so years ago, no thanks to colonialism which for over 100 years, condemned African ways of life, including the fashion. The result of that indoctrination was a rise of a mindset amongst the people that what is African or made in Nigeria was not good enough. To break away from this thinking is only possible when the people are made to experience and appreciate the beauty and depth of their heritage.
To some extent, it seems this effort to bring the people to appreciate the African culture is paying off. With the campaign effort of late Mazi Mbonu Ojike of boycott the boycottables fame, which caused the federal government to make it compulsory for its public servants to wear Nigerian wears to their offices on Fridays, to the flamboyant traditional wears of late Chief Okotie Eboh, former finance minister, prominent Nigerian politicians and leaders such as Chief Tom Ikimi and Ibrahim Babangida began to notice the need to wear Nigerian inspired clothing. The more celebrities or role models are in this crusade, the better for the industry.
[Origin of Fashion]`
The difficulty associated with promoting Nigerian design and clothing may actually be based on the origin of fashion as a concept.
The fashion industry, which is today a multi-trillion dollar business in the world, is understood as part of a cultural and social history. Fashion cannot be separated from our daily lives; even those who refuse to follow fashion, it is argued, do so in order not to partake in trends.
But fashion itself is a modern European phenomenon. Its rise is inseparable from the emergence of capitalism in Europe. Fashion, in a narrow sense, is a development out of the bourgeois 19th Century and the Industrial Revolution. In the words of Folorunsho, in her book Fashion: The African Connection, before fashion evolved, there were traditional costumes or clothing worn by people the world over. Apart from its distinguishing factors, clothing was solely used functionally for covering up of the body and for protection from heat or cold or other environmental factors.
In Africa, apart from the use of clothes for decoration of the body, the body was equally adorned with painting, tattooing or by the wise use of jewellery.
Among sociologists, clothing, other than its functionality, has from the beginning of time been used for the decoration of the human body. The origin of fashion, they argue, is therefore, the desire to adorn oneself.
The difference between clothing and fashion in the modern sense, as the argument continues, is that unlike fashion, clothing has no defined purpose.
Many people would have owned few clothes if their desire were solely functional. Fashion, it is said, suggests that man is not satisfied with functionality of clothes alone.
Traditional clothing separates social classes and regional groups. It is standard, and its costumes symbolise a community and constancy. It never changes. City and rural dwellers in Nigeria can distinguish the Eastern way of dressing from that of the Northern or Western as each identifies with the various ethnic groups.
Traditional clothing hardly ever changes. If any change occurs, it is only in very little details, and this can be very slow. It hardly expresses individual personality as it indicates group membership and is timeless.
Fashion, on the other hand, is not standard as it derives its appeal from its transience nature. However, fashion emphasises belonging to a certain social stratum but it expresses individual personality.
In the late middle age, the bourgeois and the aristocrats began to use clothing not only to separate themselves from other social classes and assert their social positions they also used it to express their individuality. That was when the word fashion became a concept.
[The Hair Ways]`
Hair has always been seen as part of body beautification for the Nigerian man and woman. In the pre-colonial times, it was given a special attention during important occasions and ceremonies. Men and women, in Nigeria, adorned themselves in almost the same way. Low cut was the norm, as long hair was not given much attention. They could scrape the hair almost bare and leave only some patches.
But this evolved as contact with colonialism affected it. Many readily perm their hare or do jerry curls today. But a glance around will show that the hairstyles of the old have returned, strongly. And it seems to have taken over from the perms and jerry curls.
The return of the hairstyles is a thing of joy to the Nigerian fashion industry. It shows that we are going back to our roots, and that one can still look beautiful with or without curls and silk.
[Hair Styles in Nigeria]`
Two traditional techniques of styling hair have survived to this day. They are braiding and hair threading. Braided hair, worn in various styles, was either for daily or ceremonial occasion.
The braided hairstyles, worn by women in simple occasions, had the hair arranged in neat ridges, and this worn daily. The braided ones for ceremonial occasions had some intricate styles and were reserved for special occasions.
The technique of braiding is generally one in which the hair is braided firmly at the surface of the scalp. It also depends for its effects on the patterns or intricate formed on the scarp through hair parting.
Recently, there have been countless innovations of braiding. There are the traditional Yoruba norms for basic styles such as Suku, (basket), Ipako Elede (occiput of a pig), Koroba (bucket) and Kolese (leg less).
[Hair threading]`
The Igbo method of plaiting with thread is on a return but this time, most people use wool or the nylon thread to avoid the mundane appearance of the old style.
Among the Igbo of Eastern Nigeria, and the people of the Niger Delta, changing hairstyle signalled the growth of a girl towards maturity. As the girl began to spot breasts on her chest, she started to dress her hair in a way to attract men.
In a period of eight years, the girl adopted a style annually; each style would be to display her neatness and choice of variety. During her wedding, a particularly coiffure marked the day. The hair was generally coated with a mixture of charcoal, clay and oil, moulded into a crest, which was decorated with coils of hair, coins and brass ornaments.
The Fulani, also known as the Fullah, are a Negro-Hermetic race of nomadic pastoralists found in semi-desert Saharan region of West Africa. Because they are very much scattered, there are noticeable differences in their dresses and hairstyles. Traditional dressing among the Fulani women has survived in spite of the requirement of the Islamic faith, which requires women to conceal their hair with shawls.
The dressing of hair, among them, starts at a very early age. Styles are linked to clan, age set and locality.
Girls have their hair corn rowed or simply braided until they are married when they begin to don more feminine styles. Young boys have their heads toncilled so as to leave tufts of hair in various designs, a practice that persists until they are circumcised. After this, the boys will begin to wear their hairs in braids, which become more elaborate during courtship. They shave their hairs clean after marriage.
The Fulani sometimes adopt simple hairstyle but some special occasions require very complicated traditional coiffures, which range from the imposing crests worn in Guinea and Mali to the exquisitely united hair of the Shuwa Arab of Northern Nigeria. Some of these are so complex and take long time to finish that the wearers lie on the head dressers lap while she work on them. Such styles are often decorated with ornaments such as coins, shells, beads and coins.

Jewellery as ornament is indigenous to Africa, since time immemorial. The Egyptians used it, and among the blacks Africans of the continent, it is lacerates every facet of their history making it impossible to separate the two.
Jewellery matters to people based on the value they place on it. For example, the coral beads are obtained from the seabed and are very dear to the people of the Niger Delta.
Gold is another example. In the Northern part of Nigeria the people adorn themselves and their children with it at a very tender age.
In the East, the beads and others such as jigida are treasured and worn around the waist of the maidens as a symbol of virginity. Today, beads are part of the ever-growing fashion world.
[Where to find Nigerian jewellery]`
The making of jewellery requires craftsmanship. Usually, it is passed down from generation to generation. Different beads precious stones and cowries have different ways of producing them.
In Nigeria, precious stones can be obtained easily in Jos where they are produced and processed. Different stones are processed from beginning to the finish with a resultant different shades and hues at different stages.
And Nigerians are very good at it, being a very meticulous and creative people. The jewellery they produce has a marked difference in the world, and has quality. African jewellery is reputed for its market value and can be used as collateral
But getting jewellery is a difficult task, requiring mines, excavators, water pumps and others. It requires deep digging, and yet, when they are got, it will not be the end as its natural form calls for cutting and polishing in order to be a finished product. Good stones not cracked are required. So, the machine is not supposed to break them, especially, gold.
Coral beads are however got from the sea. To get them is as hard as mining precious stones. It could be easily produced through modern Japanese technology by injecting an oyster and it duplicates. The coral beads come big and are very expensive. Wearing it places a certain position on you because if you do not have money, you cannot afford to wear the real coral beads. What it is easily available is the lay-by.
Among those that wear coral beads, it is believed that the coral beads in the common market are not the first class ones. They do not come cheap either.
The production of jewellery however depends on jewellers and where they get the beads.
Some of the jewellers are onyx, which is found in Jos, and it can be designed to one’s choice. There is smoky Kwaz, which could be mixed with Amethyst for a stunning effect.
They are pink, opal, blue, green topaz and cat eye. These entail an easy procedure, as they require only a stringy. Beads could be held with copper wires. Some earrings are cast in gold but being an African concept, it is better done in an African way.
Inscription on pendants involves the use of some sort of iron blade. It is put in the fire and the design painstakingly drawn out. In the North, the pendant inscription is cherished and the people are known for this. They are good at this as their art works and engravings can testify.
Cowries are unusual but they were used as money centuries ago. Today, they are part of fashion and evidence of Nigerian heritage.
Elephant tusks are also popular for making distinct Nigerian jewellery. But the prevalence led to widespread poaching and increase in the number of elephants killed for their tusks. Trading in elephant tusk is banned in Nigeria and several African countries.
Jewellery may have evolved from various stones which the metal worker, through hammering, soldering, repose, welding, and engraving has turned into beautiful ornaments. The enameller, the gun cutter and the maker of glass paste and other substitutes for precious stones played part in the history of the art too.
Necklaces, earrings and bracelets could be worn as decorations just as amulets can be worn for magical and religious purposes. Crowns and chains also designate position.
The coral has been part of Nigeria that in some sections such as the riverine areas, it is part of the dress culture. It also has its own significance as a sign of dignity.
Fashion designers these days have had some range of traditional wears using coral as designs or decoration on them. This new evolution has brought the coral to the fore, away from its local background position.
The coral called ivie in Urhobo and Edo languages and Iyun in Yoruba is a symbol of title and is related to water and the goddess, Emere, is reputed to be its custodian.
It signifies respect and dignity but designers believe that it is important and dynamic in fashion.
It is there common to find fashion loving Nigerians wear a coral and don a western suit at the same time. This is a marriage of effect utilising African ornament with western wears.
It is important, as fashion designer say, “to break down the myth and symbolism of our ancestors so that they will be relevant to time and not become extinct, so that people of this generation might be able to walk into it”.
To this end, Nigerian designers have revolutionised the use of this great jewellery by infusing it as accessory on clothes for the distinctive African appearance. One of these creative costumes has the face of Mandela, an abstract face patterned with coral.
This use of the fashion is said to be the reason why some Nigerians believe that the African fashion statement is not fashion for fashion’s sake. It is not to look good alone but to speak, to show and hear Africa. It captures the temperament, elements, and philosophy of the people as well as their heritage.
Some of the companies like ABC, WAX, AFPRINT and WICHEMTEX in Nigeria have good fabrics, and are usually sold in the local market. But some fashion designers like Folorunsho would not want to buy those fabrics sold at the common market. This is her reason for not doing so: “Fabrics sold to the Nigerian market are used mostly by the women folk to do wrapper and tops, and I think is a little uncomplimentary if I make clothes for a guy and he adorns it to go to a party, only to see a woman selling groundnut (epa) along the road, tying it as a wrapper. I have done it before, so I opt to use fabrics that are not common in the local market”.
Some Nigerian designers therefore prefer fabrics that are not commonly found in the country. Some of them work with Woodin in the Cote dIvoire, an affiliate of CFCI Textiles in Holland. Its textile tends to reflect true African looks, especially their patterns that capture the Adinkram symbols of Ghana. These are symbols of sexuality or the rituals of rites and passage of Africa like circumcision. The Ank denotes the omnipotence of God.
Woodin fabrics also capture the wild life of Africa in addition to the theme of celebration, which is contemporary. The clothing must be relevant to people that are young for they are the ones a lot of colour and varied patterns appeal.
Some designs go to Ghana, South Africa etc. to get fabrics. However, most of the prints in the African fashion market are made outside of the continent, telling much of the development of textile manufacturing as development on continent Fabrics come from China, India and Bangkok displaying the spirit of African culture. Textiles like Lentex, Spandex and Stretch fabrics have ethnic patterns reflecting the life and elements of Africa. The Asian textile industry can be a role model for Nigerians to learn from, as they seem to be catching up with trends more than we are.

[Nigerian Fabrics ]`

[Tie and Dye]`
Dyeing is one industry done for Nigeria, not for tourists, as it is not highly demanded by them. The trade thrives, largely in the North so much that it used to compete with imported textiles.
The Yoruba like bright colours from overseas. So, the demand for the local cloth, though persistent among them, is slim.
Some big towns in the north like large spaces for dye-pits. A dyer has several of these pits, each about eight feet deep, some for actual dyeing, and one or two for rinsing.
The noticeable aroma of indigo, now used together with airline indigo from Europe lies over the place, as the dye is often allowed to accumulate and become stale.
Nigerians have not entirely switched over to airline dye because being fast, it does not come off the skin, which is seen as an undesirable side effect.
The clothes are left lying in the mixture for a day or two, then rinsed and dried by being laid out on the surface. Now, the pits are generally walled with cement, as in Kano.
In the North, it is easy to notice chiefs and notable people in deep blue shiny turbans locally wound round their heads, which give a rich appearance to their attire.
This is a property of the cloth imparted to it, not gloss. This is done when the cloth is first dyed indigo by dipping several times until saturation point. The indigo contents is then increased further by a technique similar to the much more ancient- some say pre-textile method- making basic cloth. The cloth is laid over a tree trunk and beaten vigorously with heavy mallets or beaters. Liberal amounts of dry indigo in powdered form are then sprinkled on and so it and so it becomes the main vehicle of the gloss.
The Yoruba are adept at pattern dyeing which they call adire. There are different techniques though they are all based on the same principle of reservation of certain areas of the cloth from the dye, so that the pattern is seen in white or in lighter blue of the blue background. The reservation may be effected by tying small stones or seeds into it or by the resist method, in which cassava starch is pointed on the cloth either by free hand or through stencils. Before, it used to be of leather, then of zinc and now of tin.
Among the Yoruba, the traditional colour for wrapped skirts, loose blouses and headties is blue, the colour of indigo. In most Yoruba markets are rolls of cloth with beautiful patterns. Mostly the women who dye them sell them. Men and the youth also engage in this business. They concentrate in-groups around canals boiling, beating, tying and beating the cloths.
Small circular designs are made in some tie-dyed cloth, by pinching up lots of the materials and tying them with raffia or thread before dying.
To produce the larger designs, tucks are made in the cloth and tightly sewn. When the dyers dip the white cloth into their big drums, the indigo (now varieties of colours are used) cannot soak into the tied and sown parts. The result shows white after the cloth is dried up and the stitching and raffia taken out. Then another dipping will stain the white designs in a soft pale blue or in a different colour entirely.
The patterns have a name each. There is ” The meeting place of roads,” a cross-shaped pattern in the centre of a cloth. A spiral shape of beads is called “welcome to the masquerade.”
There are resist-dyed clothes in which patterns are painted on free hand or using a metal stencil. A feather or a rib of palm-leaf can serve as a brush and the print can be a mixture of alum and starchy cassava that protects the cloth from dye. The patterns come out white when the paint is scrapped off and the cloth has been dipped in the indigo. There are geometric patterns, figures of men and animals, or leathers of the alphabet. Combinations of designs give rise to each name one can be called “All the birds are here” and another “We enjoy Ibadan.”
Ibadan and Abeokuta are some of the big cities in Nigeria that are centres of dyeing adire cloths. Many countries in West African sub-region also have them in the their markets, far away from the Yoruba area. The dyers of adire work with machine-made cotton materials but hand woven clothes can also be found in the market.
These are clothes produced in Akwete of Abia State, Eastern Nigeria. They are produced in a wide range of patterns from plain striped ones to profusely, rather picturesque types based on geometrical motifs of domestic animals. Others are patterned along symbolic objects floated on plain ground weaves by extra wafting.
Some weavers derive sources of their pattern motifs from inspiration and imagination while some copy or make their original drawings and then copy again them when weaving.
But not all the patterns found on akwete are indigenous. The indigenous akwete patterns include the Ebe, Kaki and Dada Nwakafa.
Cotton warps and wefts, imported or domestic, commercially spurn or hand spin yarns are usually the materials for aso oke weaving.
Among the Yoruba, anaphe, the wild silk is treasured and woven into strip of cloth called Sanyan, a clothing for important events.
The wild silk, in some places, is used for warp and weft yarns. In places like Ilorin, cotton fibre is used for warp and the indigenous silk for weft. Alari is silk fibre dyed deep red and woven into narrow band strips to be sewn into wrappers and agbada for weddings as well as other important events.
Narrow band cloth is the common nature for aso-oke in Yoruba. Often, weavers are commissioned to weave a special pattern of aso-ake for a family, friends or age groups for special events or occasions such as naming ceremonies, weddings, and funeral or important birthday ceremonies. Such cloth is called aso-ebi, meaning “family cloth” or “association of cloth”.
Etu is a special narrow band finely woven fabric from indigo-dyed cotton, which is deep, blue-black in hue and dyed over a period of three years. Etu is used for funerals and other sombre events.
The weaving of aso- ebi is a testimony of social solidarity and group identification. No doubt in the past, most aso-ebi were made from narrow band cloth, now, a variety of cloths, which is expensive and elegant such as velvet, brocade, lace and embodied eyelets may be selected in addition to commercially printed fabrics or hand-woven ones.
Locations for narrow band weaving are mostly found in the Western part of the country like Akoko, Owo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osogbo, Ibadan, Iseyin and Oyo.
Iseyin, Oyo and Ondo specialise in weaving sanyan cloth. Vertical woven looms, with designs made by the same kind of inlay technique is also made in the north such as Bida, Yola and Okene. Fashion designers today use aso-oke for exotic clothing, hats, shoes handbags and other types of accessories as well as soft furnishings.


Weaving in Nigeria is traced to Eastern Nigeria. Archaeological evidence of early textiles supposedly woven from brass and leaf fibres has been discovered and they date over a thousand years. But whether strips were woven simultaneously or individually is difficult to say, as no further evidence was available to corroborate this.
Kano cloths is the 1590s, was said to be used as currency. Researchers such as Barth (1851) observed that dyed and woven cotton were the main products of Kano. He described over 20 different kinds of cloth made in Kano and all its environs.
During the later part of 1800s, locally woven fabrics were exported to other parts of Nigeria and other countries. This was sadly reduced by the large imports of printed cloth from England, which could be purchased more cheaply than hand-woven fabrics. Still, the hand woven cloth remains treasured for important ceremonies and events. This was bolstered by the nationalism generated by the independence in 1960.
There are two primary types of weaving done on two different types of looms, in Nigeria, especially in the Western region. While men and youth use a narrow, horizontal loom with meddles and treadles to weave strips of cloth infinite yardage, the women are primarily responsible for growing and processing the fibre for weaving. In towns like Oyo and Ilorin, the people plant, cultivate and harvest cotton fibres. They also spin and dye.
Embroidery is like a stamp of African aesthetic on an outfit. Modern designs are given exotic embroidery patterns in order to marry western and African imprints.
The history of embroidery in Nigeria dates back to centuries. Though not indigenous to the country, embroidery has become integral part of Nigerian dressing.
Among the Nupe and Hausa research has proved that embroidery has been a long tradition and it is used on many types of garments, from Hausa farmers cloths to riding robes and ceremonial apparels.
The embroidery done on Mens clothes is traditionally made with dark stitches with asymmetrical and non-representational designs.
Gorgeously, voluminous robes, intricately embroidered are a symbol of prestige and rank for men in Nupe and Hausa communities.
Designs of the Nupe embroiders are well known and prized by Nupe and Hausa people. Three types of stitches are primarily used. They are the chain stitch, the buttonhole stitch and couching. The stitching is done with either imported or indigenous silk thread on either imported or hand-woven cloth. Often, indigenous silk thread in its own creamy colour called Tsmia in Hausa is used for the most prestigious and elegant Rigona robes on hand-woven narrow band cloth which is most times, creamy in colour.
There are still other types of embroidery designs in the country. These embroidered cloths are used as bedspread, tablecloth or wall hangings. Some artists say the colourful and cheerful cloths are the examples of “folk art”. But the Hausa call it “Hausa bridal sheets”. What is note worthy in these cloths is that the embroidery designs and traditional house decorations have similar motifs.
Embroidery was not also indigenous to the Igbo but surface designs for body paintings were easily converted to embroidery designs for table linens in the Igbo town of Arochukwu.
Yoruba men have also used some embroidery on clothing, round the neck of their traditional agbada.
[Leather Works]`
The leather industry in Nigeria is not as rich as it should be as the raw material itself, animal skin, is used for food, called ponmo or kanda.
Also, most of the leather from Nigeria are locally processed and is intended for the local market or rare export. However, fashion in Nigeria has reached a stage where diversity is the same. And leather has become hot item in the fashion world.
The place with the most leather products as well as its production in the country is the north. Most of the slippers and soft finishing are done with it.
There are also items such as leather waistcoats that have existed for ages but are still well used in the fashion world.
Daggers have sheaths made for them. Bags, purses, bracelets, shoes, hats other products are also made from leather. Their economic significance has pushed these leather products into expensive products.
There was time in Nigeria when headgear popularly called gele was almost compulsory for Nigerian women. In the 1950s and 1960s, gele was for the fashion diva of that time, the ultimate headgear. The women proudly wore gele to the admiration of other women from other climes.
The glory of gele was however, highest in 1960, the year of Independence. Lagos was agog that year and to reflect the festive mood, Nigerian women wasted no time in upgrading the fashion to catch the euphoria of the moment.
Different headgears also came in with the euphoria one of which was Onilegororo. This was one of the sky-scrapping head gears and it marked a new level of sophistication and the status symbol for society women Onilegororo, after the independence, was quickly replaced by Flora Azikiwe, the style, in honour of late First Lady and wife of the president of the new republic.
From then, it became the vogue to name headgears after public edifices and personalities, from Azikiwe to Aguiyi Ironsi, Yakubu Gown, Eko Bridge and National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).
NEPA, patterned after the statute of Sango, god of thunder and lightening, which is the logo for NEPA, came into being in the 70s as a mark of recognition of the once mighty corporation. In appreciation of the beauty and architectural excellence of the National Theatre, a replica was fashioned by the lists which became known is National Theatre headgear.
But after the euphoria of independence warned, the love for headgear waned too. By the 1980s, following the ban on importation, the inflow of headgears reduced dramatically and with it, the imagination of the ingenious stylists whose fort it was to come up will names and styles.
The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) played a significant role in demise of the gele. The fall of the national currency, the naira, forced the prices of gele out of the reach of the average Nigerian woman.
The urge then was to satisfy the stomach. This out weighed the desire to spend some time for fashion, as it also required expensive accessory. Gele, to many people, became an occasional wear for Sundays, parties, weddings and other special occasions.
The changing circumstances in the affairs of the gele gave way to a deeper westernisation of the average Nigerian teenager’s dressing that very rarely do young women wear gele or traditional attire show in their wardrobe.
So, while the gele is for grand occasions like the Christmas and special events, the vogue for her is the hat, the ultimate headpiece. It anger against this is not the appreciation of western dressing but the total rejection for what is African.
This danger has perhaps, made some fashion hat designers create a modern version of the gele aptly normal Fila oge.
Further researches and studies in the art of hat making have led to the introduction of relevant and constant invitations. The innovations have made hats come to stay as part of modern Nigerian fashion, leading to introduction of “group hats”, uniform hats.
Hats are made of different materials such as cynamay, a soft material dyed into a variety of colours and shades. Cynamay can be moved, twisted and cut into different shapes. It is light and suitable for the African weather.
There are also straw hats, the knotted style and the pail boxes. Some are designed with feathers and flowers such as roses and ornament, like sequins. About 80 per cent of the materials are imported. But the preferred hat colours, many people say, are silver, gold and platinum. But hat the colours in vogue are hot pink, lemon and orange.

[Nigerian Fashion Show]`
Unlike South Africa, Cote DIvoire, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and other African countries, Nigeria started late in exposing its designers internationally. Whereas the African Fashion Industry has come of age after several years of evolving from Western fashion to a leading inspiration in World fashion trends, Nigeria only started to display its designer’s works only in 2000. This was when the first international exhibition of the Nigerian Fashion Show featured eight Nigerian designers in Paris.
Before Nigerian Fashion Show, whose project director is Lex Mojo-Eyes, started five years ago, designers like Sophisticat, Rose of Sharon, Vivid Imagination, Dakova, and Latris not only blazed the trail but also kept the industry alive and functional.
The dynamic exhibition of the industry in Nigeria has brought in young, creative and innovative designers like Odua Originals, Mon Ami, Megitto, Wunmi “O Divine Creation, Kesse, Jabari all in Lagos, and Oak Exclusive Designs from Warri, Rimo & Royal Vintage from Kano, Mama Fashion from Jos etc.
However, there are problems facing the industry today, the biggest of them being funding for the designers.
Folorunsho would want the government and the private sector to come to the help of this industry. “Infrastructures and machinery used by the Nigerian designers are on the average not up to date. The government and private sector should invest in this industry because properly harnessed, it can be a major sector in the nations economy.”

Profile of some Fashion Houses

[Graces Hats]`
This out fit debuted in 1980. Just before the owner Mrs. Mark Chitta finished her secondary school education, she had been told that she had a talent in making hats and so she decided to go into it. Her first attempt fetched her N30 for three hats.
She began to assemble materials and accessories as she explored new ways of fulfilling her dream. The result today is Graces Hat. Entering the trade with no formal training, she had to learn by continuous self-assessment, not making excuses for her mistakes but dealing with them head on. She responded to criticism by evaluating them in order to improve her natural talents. Nigerians are very fashion conscious so Graces Hats has kept on re-inventing itself to meet the challenges of different occasions and clients’ demands. It is evident that her designs are among those anyone would consider as top of the range.
She makes different hats of which “Crotchet” is one variety. There are also “straw hats” which are cheaper than the crotchet hats. Mrs. Chitta’s travel abroad has broadened her understanding of the trade and has spurred her to be more innovative in her designs as she keeps pace with unfolding trends. She is inspired by what she sees people wear just as much as she could get some ideas in her dreams.
Uduak Umondak, the vivacious designer behind the Colours label is as colourful as her designs. She designs unusual and electrifying outfits, specifically for the rich. She makes no preferences that she appeals only to this genre “I spend time to make an outfit and my creativity does not come cheap.” Indeed, Udy as she is popularly called, says, “I could be described as one of Nigeria’s leading Haute Couture designers.”
She uses expensive materials for her designs, not for her the relatively modestly-priced Aso- Oke. Hers are usually made of raw silk. At a time when many are still using cotton, she has discovered the exotic silk thread specially woven into Aso-Oke.
She uses shantung silk for her boubou and very expensive laces for her blouses and fitted skirts. Although she makes European clothes, she finds the African fabrics and styles more exciting.
The Colours showroom was a spacious, one-floor office complete with a catwalk ramp. Here she held several yearly show to usher in her usually exciting clothes.
A few years ago, she decided to experiment with the local Ankara fabrics. To this end, she organised a fashion show in 1997. By securing fabrics from Afprint and gifts from the corporate world, including First Class Tickets for two lucky winners, the N5,000-per head show took place at the Golden Gate Restaurant. It was an overwhelming success.
Unfortunately, a few days after the show, a mysterious fire razed her beautiful show room down. She was forced to close shop and relocate to her living room. But Udy in her usual spirit remained undaunted by the incident. She never stopped making clothes and she has put grand plans in place to bounce back even bigger and better than before.
[Jimmy King]`
Olujimi King was one of the very early designers who started using African fabrics for contemporary styles.
At a time, when many were still using the ankara and aso-oke for traditional iro and buba, he was already making jackets, waits coats, modified buba – and sokoto to suit international markets.
In no time, Jimi King had made his mark in America as an African designer, who appealed to the soul of the African American’s yearnings for a touch of Africa.
He loves using African fabrics and telling the story behind each symbol and graffiti. Jimi King usually makes his own fabrics, this he says is to forestall any problems. So whatever you buy from him, you are sure it is original. He concept was more Afro-American than traditional. He believed so much in the marriage of the two worlds. He cannot understand why we are stuck with the old ways instead of moving ahead and reaching out to the rest of the world. “I have a vision as a wearable art designer to translate my rich African heritage into worldly accepted fashion by fusing African styles with western fabrics and vice versa.”
Jimi is an artist at heart and his appearance portrays this inclination. Usually dressed in African fabrics, he has worn dreadlocks for choose to twenty years and believes very much in adorning his visage with African jewelleries. He describes his garments “as one of a kind wearable art.” This, he says, is because his fabrics are carefully hand dyed and printed with love using ancient traditional Yoruba techniques.
Born to a Nigerian father with a Sierra Leonean mother, his grandfather was a renowned tailor in Freetown, and his grandmother a textile arts in Itoku, Abeokuta. He attended St. Finbarrs College in Lagos, City College in San Francisco and Chelsea School of Art in London.
Jimi operates both in the United States where he has a massive show room in Atlanta, Georgia and a shop in Ogunlana Drive in Surulere, Lagos. He shuttles between the two countries, carrying with him a mix of cultures, a combination he has blended so well.
Labanella is a prominent Fashion House owned by the delectable Princess Abba Folawiyo. She began designing at the age of twenty, and at nearly sixty years of age, she has a wealth of experience in the industry, which she brings to bear on her cloths.
She started independently after receiving the necessary training from her mother who was a dressmaker. It was her interest that made her to excel. In making her clothes, she looks at people who give her inspiration on what to do and what kind of fabric to use. She does not stick to one design, but does all kinds of designs to suit every individual.
She designs what she loves to wear, and if people admire it on her, then she designs it for them. She does not like fitted clothes because most people do not have the shape for it. She also does not deal with the younger ones since she caters for the interests of the elderly and middle-aged women. Women in this class do not wear something that is too tight, they wear fitted clothes.
Princess Abbah uses brocade, print, cotton, or even silk and tries to combine them. She began combining African fabrics with brocade and when people like it, everybody followed suit. She mixes African prints with expensive fabrics for appliques.
She recalls he visit to a departments store in England where she saw an African fabric made into a little short jacket. At most two yards would have been used to make that jacket and they were selling it for five hundred pounds.
Princess Abba didn’t stop admiring it, but it was nothing compared to the designs available in Nigeria. `

[Contacts of Fashion Centres in Nigeria]`

There are so many fashion houses in Nigeria. The following are only representative of such houses across the
Some fashion schools in Nigeria

Path Finder School of Fashion, 202/ 204 Palmgrove, Phone 823208
Peacock Creations Ltd. 11 Ibiyinka Olorunnibe Close V/I 7740769, 2625595
Perfect Tailor, 14 Odunnuga St. Off Osho Street, Ikeja,
Rabboni Stitches, 5, Adedo Close Off Wilmer, Ilupeju St 963211, 774413
Ralex Fashion Avenue, 5 Toyin street, Ikeja
Rare Collections Ltd, Suite 5 F Block Falomo Shopping Centre, Awolowo Road , Ikeja 2692093
Reflections, 2A Osborne Road, Pees Galleria Ikoyi 2690443
Risikat Fasion Centre, 11 Igunnu St Off Freeman street. Lagos
The Rose of Sharon (House of Fashion), 13 Adeniran Ogunsanya St Surulere 5834141, 7744139
Today’s Men, 50 Obafemi Awolowo Way Ikeja
Trendies, 94 Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos

[Fashion Cosmetology 7 Catering School]`

Cathey Ltd Festac Gate Near Mazamaza 883918

[Fashion Designers]`

Sofisticat, 3 Ribadu Road, Ikoyi
Soft Touch 58 Alhaji Ammo St, Ojota
Tina Afrique Fashion Designers, 1, Ogundele St. Isolo, Lagos
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Grabbing the Silver Lining in Nigerian Music

January 12, 2007

Confronting Nigerian Musicians’ Problems

By Uduma Kalu
The acceptance of Ambassador Segun Olusola to steer the ship of the newly formed Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria is seen as a big boost to the Society’s existence.
The ambassador as a man of serious sense of commitment coupled with his great reputation and gigantic artistic profile; his personality is bound to lend credibility and relevance to the society.
However, some artites insist that the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria, MCSN, itself must be prepared to give the reciprocal support needed for its new president to succeed.
The musicians need to come together to prepare the ground for the enabling environment. Since the issue is all about the protection of musical property, they must be ready to enthrone an ideal music industry where products are professionally produced, popularly acceptable and commercially attractive. Otherwise there is nothing to protect.
The music scene is presently replete with semi-talented artists who turn out mediocre materials regularly. The radio stations would not play them because of the substandard quality but televisions would rather accommodate them because of the theatricals they exhibit on video clips in terms of visual effects – for promotional purposes.
Rather than benefit from this frequent exposure, the products over sell their ugliness and eventually destroy the artists. The musicians lose in the end because unknown to them, they had been promoting mediocrity.
With a music industry that has the right infrastructures in place, check could be put in place to prevent sub standard musical materials from going to the studio. The artist and his repertoire manager, with the ear for good music, would discover genuine talents. Composers and songwriters would be on hand to handle their own specific aspects of the artiste’s materials; and of course, producers would be ready to take them on in terms of arranging and determining directions for the products.
Right now, every artiste combines all of these roles. These procedural processes used to prevail from the 40s to the early 80s with the presence of multinational companies such as Decca, EMI and Phillips, which has metamorphosed into Premier Records. It was this tradition that turned out some of the great stars that are still influencing our musical culture today, among them, Emmanuel Tetteh Mensah, Bobby Benson, Victor Olaiya, Haruna Isola, Mamman Shatta, Rex Jun Lawson, Victor Uwaifo, Eddy Okonta, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The list is really long.
Copyright protection can only be sought for materials that recommend themselves to the public, especially, in chart terms. But it is a very well known fact that no genuine hits have come out of the Nigerian scene for years. And yet other African countries are daily reaching out to the world with new releases, new trends.
Following the tradition of Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekella, the South African scene is presently thriving with young groups which are already making considerable impact with the hope of taking over from the veterans.
The Congo/Zairian scene is as busy as ever. Since Zaiko Langa Langa broke the monotony of the traditional rumba beat established by Luambo Makeadi of OK Jazz and Kabasele, a new generation of musicians has come up with soukous, a new tread with Papa Wemba, Kofi Olomide, Awilo Logomba, among others in the vanguard.
Of all the hopeful artistes bringing Manding sounds out of the Sahel region, the first international success came to Salif Keita, the albino singer from Mali who continues to attract attention in Europe and America. He now has whole new generation of followers.
A genuine supper star in his home country since the early 80s, the whole world has continued to be a stage for Yusson N’daor of Senegal whose hits are presently making some pleasant noise simultaneously in America and at home in Africa. And of course, since the credibility of Mali’s Electro griot, Mory Kante was boosted in 1984, with the collaboration he had with Mann Dibango, Salif Keita and other Francophone African artistes, the sky has been the limit for him. Following his footsteps, Mali is presently thriving with new music.
These artistes from the various countries of Africa are succeeding because of the originality they continue to exhibit as musicians from Africa and because they are operating along professional recording procedure. The Nigerian scene needs to take the profession more seriously so that quality productions of international standards will emerge.
The next phase would be to make sure that the music is played on the Nigerian electronic media. There is no reason why radio stations should not promote music of Nigerian origin. It is not only a shame; it is a serious act of disservice to the country to promote foreign musical culture at the expense of Nigeria’s. Some of the deejays have always blamed it on poor quality music from Nigeria, but if with improved musical materials at their disposal they still continue to promote foreign music, the performing musicians Association can fight it out with government through legislation.
Nigerians love western values and would want to be fed on western musical materials, but this trend can be reversed with a genuinely devised cultural policy.
Video chips of inconceivable theatrical variety are presently assaulting the airwaves – in the name of promotions, but the most effective avenue is radio. This was the tool that Decca West Africa used to introduce Ghanaian highlife to Nigeria in the early 50s. Their formula was a concerted airplay of the music of the Tempos Band led by E.T. Mensah. Bobby Benson was the first to be influenced, then Victor Olaiya, followed by a whole new generation of musicians. All the veterans whose names have remained indelible in the Nigerian music scene came to prominence through airplay.
But then it was through the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, which devised various programmes for promoting the various idioms of our musical culture. This can still be done today because as the adage says, “What you hear you remember; what you see you know”.
The airplay of our music will grow on today’s listener with frequency of impression. The youth can only imbibe Nigerian musical culture if they are exposed to our music.
A way of equipping our young musicians for the task of playing good music is exposure to formal music training where they can develop themselves in terms of identifying such musical elements as form, chords, melody, rhythm and all about the rudiments of music.
The highlife revival project currently happening at OJEZ Club on Iwaya road, Yaba, every last Sunday of the month can also be an eye opener for our young musicians who need to build on a solid African foundation. Listening to such veterans as Fatai Rolling Dollar who unleashes the melodies and harmonies of the past can be a rewarding musical experience and source of inspiration.
Experience has since shown that Afrobeat is a unique idiom that was one man’s fusion. You can only imitate Fela; you cannot be another Fela. So, let every one, in his own individual way; draw for himself from the vast musical resources where Fela took his Afrobeat.
Today’s generation of musicians should be able to attract royalties from their works from home and abroad. But from all indications, only the veterans continue to receive royalties for the works they recorded decades and decades ago. The reason is simple__ genuine hits are no more forthcoming. And it is a shame.
The new Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria should be able to attract royalties from new stars’ new sounds on a continuing basis. Only then will it be justified for being an umbrella for the other societies. Only then will it be justifying the appointment of a heavyweight like Ambassador Segun Olusola as its president.

Legends of Nigerian Music (Classical, Juju

January 12, 2007

Golden names of Nigerian Classical Music
By Uduma Kalu
Fela Sowande

First acknowledged composer and conductor of a symphony in the country. He was born in Oyo in 1905 to an Anglican priest. He travelled to the United Kingdom in 1934 to read Engineering but ended up reading music. He had a fellowship diploma of the Trinity Music College of Music, London and a bachelor of music, London University.
He was appointed organist and choirmaster in West Mission of the Methodist Church at Kingsway Hall. Back in Nigeria, he joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation(NBC) as head of music section. He taught at the University of Ibadan. . Died March 1987 at 82. Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh, and Kent State University, Ohio. His Works include_ Laudamus Te for Organ, Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, for organ, Obangiji, Ka Mura, Oyigiyigi all for organ. He also wrote the African Suite for string orchestra and folk symphony, also for orchestra.

T.K. Ekundayo
He was first Nigerian to study music to a professional level. Ekundayo was trained by his uncle, Rev Johnson before being appointed organist of the St Paul, Breadfruit, Lagos at 18. In 1911, he went to study at the Trinity College Music, London. He returned to become the organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, till he retired in 1962. He laid the music foundation at the cathedral which eventually trained other Nigerian art musicians.
He was the Oratorious of the Herald Mendelsslus’s at both Cathedral Church and Glover Hall, Lagos.
His works include: Emi O gbe Oju mi Soke Wonni, a setting of Ps 121 in Yoruba to music, Samuel Cantata for soloists, chorus and organ, A Choral suite for the Republic of Nigeria, for Soprano, Contralto, tenor and bass soloist, choir and piano.
Israel Oludotun Ransom- Kuti
A Reverend, an organist and Anglican priest that trained a lot of generation of musicians. He was born in 1891 and studied art music but was privileged to study at Fouray Bay, Sierra Leone where he said music was part of the curriculum.
Later he was teacher and principal of Abeokuta Grammar School, Abeokuta.
The reverend experimented with adaptation of traditional musicial idioms for use in the church while he also had his own personal compositions
Some of his works are Sons of Olumo (Omo Olumo), Gloria and Iwe Kiki which was the most evergreen.
He displayed lot of leadership traits that hyped up the musical sector in his days. He replayed the colonial tune of God Save the Queen Anthem, with Lori Oke Petele at Abeokuta Grammar School, a patriotic trait that undermined the influence of colonial masters on the country’s church music.
It is to his credit that music has remained a tradition at the Abeokuta Grammar School. He was also a first piano teacher to his son, Fela.

Ayo Bankole.
He was Nigeria’s foremost art music composer and organist of repute. Born May 1935 and died in very tragic circumstances in November 1976, he had his early music education from his parents. He went to London in 1957 on federal government scholarship to study music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He rose in London to become organist and choirmaster of the St James-the less in South London. He was the first Nigerian to study music at the Cambridge University where he received the organ scholarship of Clare College.
Prolific composer, excellent in classic, he gave a niche for serious art music. Known for using native idioms in his works Among his great works are: the Three songs for baritone and piano comprising Iya, Ja Itanma to ntan and Kiniun, three part songs for female choir, comprising Orisa bi Kosi, Yungba Yungba and Enikeni to ba gbe ara rega, Toccata and Fugue for organ and the cantata songs for mixed media comprising a narrator, singer and an unusual combination of musical instruments including the Indian Tambura.
Christopher Oyesiku
One of the first generation of schooled musicians in Nigeria, he started his career as a choirboy in the Cathedral Church of Christ. He went on a scholarship to London Music Conservatoire where he specialised in Voice. He became baritone singer of note who competed favourably with his white counterparts, featuring in concerts graced by the Queen of England.
In Nigeria, he joined the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria(FRCN) as director of music and raised good and reputable choir for the corporation.
On retirement in early 80s, he went to the academic and pioneered the establishment of a music department. At the Osun State College of Education. He later joined University of Ibadan as artiste in residence and raised a choir for the university community. He is retired from the university now.
Akin Euba.
Dr Euba is one of Nigerias trained musicians. Born 1935 to a pianist father who gave him early music education, he studied at the Trinity College of Music, London, University of California, Los Angeles. and the University of Legon, Ghana, with a PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University.
He pioneered the establishment of a department at Ife. He has contributed to the development of tradition music just as his research has led him to become a spokesman for traditional music.
Some of his works are Six Yoruba Folk Song arranged for voice and piano, Scenes from traditional life for piano, The wanderers for cello and piano, Olurombi for symphony Orchestra, Igi nla so for piano and Four Yoruba Drums.
For years, he was organist and choirmaster at the St James-the less in South London, which he took over from Bankole. He combines the rhythmic and melodic elements of traditional Yoruba music. Presently, he is lecturing at the University of Pittsburgh, United States.

Sam Ojukwu

Prolific composer of Choral music in Nigeria today., he was pioneer student of music UNN. He authored the University Anthem in use till today. Now a reader at the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri where has been there for the past two decades., his works are over 200.

Joshua Uzoigwe

He is a second generation of classical musicians in Nigeria. After initial training in Nigeria, he studied Music at the Guildhall of Music, London where he got GGSM diploma. At the Queens University, Belfast, under John Blacking, he got M.A and PhD in ethnomusicology.
Now assistant professor of Music, Uyo, senior lecturer at the dept of music OAU, his is said to be the most talented among his peers. He is cited in Contemporary Composers edited by Brian Morten and Pamela Collins, Chicago and London James Press, 1992. Works: Four Igbo Songs for Voice, Piano and Maracas, Siren Limits (A poem by Christopher Okigbo) for unaccompanied choir, oja for flute Lustra variations for symphony Orchestra.

Emeka Nwokedi
Well known Choir trainer in Nigeria. He is Director at MUSON School of Music where he conducts music choir. He studied Music at the UNN. Today he has positioned himself at the mainstream of art music in Nigeria. Instructor at the Nigerian Army of Music, Ojo, Lagos, he is also a broadcaster with the Voice of Nigeria and radio Nigeria a choir master in various churches in Lagos, director and conductor of City Choral, Lagos, and music consultant to Orpheus Company Ltd.

Ayo Bankole Jnr.

A second generation of art musicians in the country, he got his training from his father, Ayo Bankole Snr. He studied Music at the University Lagos. In he 1986, won the first prize in a piano competition sponsored by the MUSON and French Cultural Centre, Lagos. He was awarded scholarship to study in France and attached to the Conservatoire of Music of the University of Picardy, Amiens. He has been in the vanguard of the propagation of art music in the last decade.
He is also involved in Classical music and popular music. Ayo is at home with jazz and Afro beat. His band Asha, is a pacesetter in music scene. But he is also involved in advertisement. He composed the music of the Eko Bank advertisement on television and the theme song for the aborted Nigeria 95 World Cup.

Wilberforce Echezona

Born in August 18, 1926, to the family of late Sam Nwakezie Echezona of Uruoga, Nkwelle-Ogidi, Anambra State, he inherited music from his father. Acquired formal training. Obtained associate of the Royal College of Music and Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music. He Possessed GTCT in 1950.
He aslo pioneered the first music department at the UNN, and remained the Head of Department until his death. He bred a set of musicians at Nsukka that today makes it occupy the apex of Nigerias art music. Some of students include Sam Ojukwu, Felix Nwauba, Lazarus Ekwueme and Meki Nzewi.

He had a PhD in musicology with interest in African music and instrument. Echezona invented the popular Ogenephone, the melodic idiophonic instrument common to the eastern Nigeria. It is painful that he died working on bottlephone, another experiment.
Folksongs he arranged are Egwuobi, Obu Ije Ozim, Akwa Eke and Centenary Song.

Felix Emeka Nwauba.

Epitome of hard work in Nigerian art music scene, Nwauba was born on December 23, 1936, at Isioji Village in Nkpologwu Aguata, LGA, Anambra State. He studied music privately and most of the time on his own to pass grade viii, final grade of the Trinity College of Music, London. It was unsuccessfu for him to further his education. So did it through correspondence. He obtained M.Ed., from the Buffalo University in 1977 and established the Music Deptarment of Alvan Ikoku College of Education. Some of his works are- Gozie Jehovah, Mkpuruobi, Onu Uzu Oma and The Case of Biafra.

Adam Fiberessime.
Great exponent of art music in Nigeria, he studied at the Trinity College of Music, London. Even as a black student, he was expert as in dance music. This led to his stint as a pianist for Ambrose Campbell.
Back in Nigeria, he was head of Music Department at Voice of Nigeria. He loves classical music. But he also promoted traditional music.
His works included- Fantasia Origin for Orchestra, Orukoro, an Opera for Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra, Opu Jaja for Soloists, Chorus and orchestra.

Sam Akpabot

A leading crusader for new African traditional music in Nigeria, he spent years researching into African traditional music. He taught traditional music in Nigeria and broad. He also broadcast programmes on radio, designed to educate the general public about the elements of indigenous music culture. Akpabot maintained columns in newspapers for the promotion of cultural music for years.
Some of his works were Suite Nigeria for Symphony, Ofala Festival for wing symphony and orchestra and Nigerian instruments, tone Poem, Nigeria, for wind orchestra and African Instruments, Verba Christy, an opera Cantata, Jaja of Opopo, an opera.
Born October 3, 1952, Akpabot attended the Royal School of Music, London and the University of Chicago. He was Senior Music Producer for FRCN, Visiting Professor of Music and African Studies, Michigan State University, USA, Fellow, Trinity College of Music, London, Associate, Royal College of Music, London
James Adekunle

Born October 22 1930, he studied music at Guildhall School of Music, London, and graduated in 1962. Since then, he has been organist and choirmaster at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ebute Ero, Lagos.
Ex Deputy director of Federal Ministry of Education, he was founding member MUSON School of Music. He designed the curriculum and nurtured it. The school is now a breeding ground for young musicians. The school has about the best music library in the country. It boasts of books on music education, history, scores, video, CD, tapes of works performed by renowned artistes all over the world.
Laz Ekwueme

Reputed as the first professor of music in Nigeria, he studied in London for BA in Music degree of the University of Durham and MA of the Royal College of Music, London. He obtained PhD in Theory of Music. A distinguished composer who professionally performed in England and US as singer, conductor, actor and broadcaste, he returned to the country in 1974 and joined the University of Lagos as lecturer.
His choir, Laz Chorale, established in 1974, became a pacesetter in and around Lagos. He pioneered the idea of private choirs to satisfy the yearnings of most numerous enthusiasts. His works inlude Dance of the black witches, for Quintet, Flow Gently, sweet Niger, for string orchestra, Four Spirituals for choir, Acapella Psalm 23 for Contralto and chamber orchestra, Nigerian rhapsody for strings, two Igbo Introit for choir.
Ekwueme also studied in Germany at the University of Manchester, Guildhall of Music, and is a Licentiate of Music College, London and director, Nigerian National Choir for FESTAC`77.

Emeka Nzewi
Born October 21, 1938 in Nmuezu, Nnewi, Anambra state, Meki, pioneer student of Music University of Nigeria Nsukka, joined the NBC in 1965. He studied iun London, and at the Queens University, Belfast for a PhD in Ethnomusicology.
Some of his areworks- Ogbunigwe (an opera), 1965; A Drop of Honey, (a musical) 1969: The love of Finger (musical drama) 1968; Death and the Dance Spirits (Symphonic Poem) 1966.

Adebanke Ademola.

Egba Princess, he got trained at the Royal Academy of Music, Maryland, London. A Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, versatile pianist and singer, staff of FRCN for years. She was music producer with the corporation. 54 years old musicologist, she is faculty member of MUSON School of Music.

Francesca Yetunde

MUSON Trustee, she studied to sing as a child. She is a member of the School Choir of the Holy Child College and the Musical Society University of Ibadan. She won first prize in soprano solo at the Nigerian Festival of Arts in the early 50s. One of the artistes that participated in the Great Britain/Nigerian Association in London in 1992., she is a member, Steve Rhodes Voices.

Femi Akinkugbe

University of Ibadan graduate with BA in Linguistics in 1983, Femi has a PhD in the same course specialising in Comparative Phonology. She has an interest in music and has exhibited singing talents as a student at the UI. She sang for years with the University chapel Choir and Music Circle. She has been MUSON artiste since 1987.

Dupe Akinola

One of the rare young talents in Nigeria, she was born into an Anglican family and she started singing at seven. She is in love with wide range soprano and won she her membership of numerous choral groups as a soloist.
Now, member of Laz Ekwueme Choral Group, FRCN Choir, Steve Rhodes and De Clique, she is studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Lagos. But she home with popular gospel music in Nigeria, fusing classical music studies with popular music in her album, Ba yanu. She also performed at various concerts in Africa and America and MUSON concerts.

Joyce Adewunmi

One of the first Nigerians to study voice and dance, she is currently, Voice and Dance lecturer at the at the Department of Music, Uyo. She studied in USA and OAU with best graduating student.

influencing our musical culture today, among them, Emmanuel Tetteh Mensah, Bobby Benson, Victor Olaiya, Haruna Isola, Mamman Shatta, Rex Jun Lawson, Victor Uwaifo, Eddy Okonta, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The list is really long.
Copyright protection can only be sought for materials that recommend themselves to the public, especially, in chart terms. But it is a very well known fact that no genuine hits have come out of the Nigerian scene for years. And yet to be fed on western musical materials, but this trend can be reversed with a genuinely devised cultural policy.
Video chips of inconceivable theatrical variety are presently assaulting the airwaves – in the name of promotions, but the most effective avenue is radio. This was the tool that Decca West Africa used to introduce Ghanaian highlife to Nigeria in the early 50s. Their formula was a concerted airplay of the music of the Tempos Band led by E.T. Mensah. Bobby Benson was the first to be influenced, then Victor Olaiya, followed by a whole new generation of musicians. All the veterans whose names have remained indelible in the Nigerian music scene came to prominence through airplay.
But then it was through the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, which devised various programmes for promoting the various idioms of our musical culture. This can still be done today because as the adage says, “What
Big Boys of the Fuji Music

Dele Abiodun
Born on 30 March 1948, in the Edo State, Nigeria. Resisting his parents’ plans for a career in medicine, “Admiral” Dele Abiodun used his school fees to enrol at the Young Pioneers College in Accra, Ghana. Here he immersed himself in highlife music, playing bass in several bands, before returning to Nigeria in 1969 and basing himself in Lagos.
He founded his own band, Sweet Abby And The Tophitters, who played Ghanaian-style highlife and then a tough and idiosyncratic fusion of juju and afrobeat that Abiodun dubbed adawa (translated as “independent being”). The new style immediately attracted a large audience throughout Nigeria, and Abiodun has adhered to it, with occasional modifications, throughout his career. His first album, Kino Mo Ko Soke Yi, was released in 1971. Eschewing the established juju practice of releasing four or five albums a year, Abiodun chose to release just one album a year, free of the sponsorship of local dignitaries and politicians. As a result, he has never achieved the super stardom of his peers King Sunny Ade or Ebenezer Obey, but has built up a loyal following and maintained substantial record sales throughout the ensuing decades. He toured the UK for the first time in 1974. In 1984, Abiodun refined the Adawa sound to include western elements such as electroclaps and drum machines, while also deepening the African base of his music with an expanded drum and percussion section. The new approach was introduced with 1984’s It’s Time For Juju Music and came to maturity with the following year’s Confrontation. He has continued performing throughout the 90s. While Confrontation remains his most compelling album to date, 1989’s Current Champion is also an essential set in any representative juju collection.

King Sunny Ade
Born Sunday Adeniyi on 1 September 1946 in Oshogbo, Osun state, Nigeria. When Ade dropped out of school in 1963 in order to play with semi-professional Lagos juju bands, his parents – from the royal family of Ondo – were horrified. In Nigeria, as in much of Africa, music was regarded by “respectable” people as a very low-caste occupation. Ade’s subsequent national and international success should have mollified such parental disapproval, for his star rose fast and high. By 1964, he was lead guitarist in Moses Olaiya’s highly regarded band, the Rhythm Dandies and by 1966, after a short spell with another major bandleader, Tunde Nightingale, he had formed his own outfit, the Green Spots, playing a speedy but relaxed style of juju characterized by tight vocal harmonies and deliciously melodic guitar work. The band’s name was a cheeky riposte to seminal juju stylist I.K. Dairo, whose Blue Spots had ruled the juju roost since the early 50s. Ade’s luck continued with his first release, Challenge Cup, a song about a local football championship that became a national hit in 1967. The same year, Ade released his first album, Alanu Loluwa.
The late 60s and early 70s saw Ade and his renamed African Beats go from success to success. By 1975, he felt sufficiently powerful and financially secure to set up his own label, Sunny Alade Records, now a major independent in Nigeria that issues all Ade’s domestic releases. The mid-70s also saw him open his own juju nightclub in Lagos, the Ariya, the African Beats’ home venue when not on tour. By the end of the decade he was one of the ruling triumvirate of juju music – alongside Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun – releasing some six albums per year, and selling around 200,000 copies of each release. This achievement was countered by the fact that a substantial proportion of these sales were of bootlegged pressings.
By the early 80s, African music was finding a growing audience in the UK, where a number of the more adventurous labels were looking around for African artists to put under contract. In 1982, Island Records signed Ade for Europe and North America (promoting him as “the African Bob Marley’).
His first album under the arrangement was Juju Music, an across-the-board critical success that charted in the USA. Ade’s UK breakthrough came with a triumphant concert he and the African Beats gave at London’s Lyceum Ballroom in January 1983. Without exception, the music press hailed Ade as an emergent international star. He played regularly to a hugely enthusiastic, multi-ethnic audience, proving that – in a live context at any rate – juju’s use of Yoruba rather than English-language lyrics was no barrier to overseas acceptance.
The audience size and composition was in marked contrast to Ade’s previous UK concerts. In 1975, he had made a three-month tour of the country, playing almost exclusively to expatriate Nigerian audiences at specially organized cultural evenings in municipal halls and community centres.

The critical success of Juju Music was matched by the 1983 follow-up, Synchro System, which also made encouraging UK and further US chart entries. Both albums were produced by the young Frenchman Martin Meissonnier, who must share much of the credit for Ade’s, and juju’s, international breakthrough. A third Island album, 1984’s Aura, which included a guest appearance by Stevie Wonder, was also well received, but the label – who were clearly banking on major chart success in the short term rather than career development – refused to renew Ade’s contract.
The same year was also marred by dissension among the African Beats. Following successful tours of the USA and Japan, they demanded substantial increases in salary. Ade, who was in fact losing money on his international touring owing to the large number of musicians he was carrying and the limited audience capacity of the venues he was playing, was unwilling to meet these demands, and the African Beats were dissolved.
Returning to Lagos, he formed a new band, Golden Mercury, and now records and performs almost exclusively in Nigeria. While the abatement of his international activities is regretted by juju music fans in the West, Ade continues to record outstanding albums that are readily obtainable at specialist record stores. Another international release was then recorded for Dutch label Provogue Records in 1989 ( Rykodisc Records in the USA). Ade’s collaboration with Onyeka Onwenu, Wait For Me, provoked a good deal of intrigue. The album included a song titled Choices, and it later emerged that the collection had been funded by the USAID Office of Population as part of a million family planning project. Some African-Americans slammed Onyeka and Ade as “accomplices to an attack on African cultural traditions and religious beliefs”.
This contrasted with Ade’s more usual advice about the promotion of the population (by this time he himself had 12 children). Reports followed of his death in 1991 after an onstage collapse in Lagos, but these were unfounded. He travelled instead to London to recuperate, but his once mighty reputation was clearly in danger of losing its lustre. He returned to form in 1995 with E Dide, promoting the album outside Nigeria. In his homeland he retains a huge following, with each release selling at least 200,000 copies. He runs, among other things, a record label, a film company, a nightclub and a charity foundation.

I.K. Dairo
Isaiah Kehinda Dairo was born in 1930, at Offa, Kwara State, Nigeria, and he died on 7 February 1996, at Eton-Alaiye, near Akure, Nigeria. The “Father Of Juju Music’, bandleader, composer and accordionist Isaiah Kehinde Dairo established the stylistic framework which fellow Nigerians Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade , Dele Abiodun , Segun Adewale and others would develop in the 70s and 80s. After leaving school, Dairo worked in a variety of casual occupations while teaching himself to make and play drums. Inspired by the proto-juju experiments of Tunde Nightingale, he formed his first band in 1947, working semi-professionally in and around Ibadan. In 1957, he became a full time bandleader, moving to the capital, Lagos, and forming the 10-piece Morning Star Orchestra.
At this time he changed forever the direction of juju music by adding new elements such as electric guitar, made available to him by the advances of technology. These were paired with the harmonies of the local Cherubim and Seraphim Church to dramatic effect. He was awarded an MBE for his achievements in 1963
.In the early 60s, signed to Decca Records and renaming his band the Blue Spots, Dairo became the most successful recording artist in Nigeria, a position he retained until the emergence of younger performers like Obey, Ade and Abiodun – and Afrobeat originator Fela Anikulapo Kuti – in the mid-70s.
Despite the rise of this new generation of performers, however, Dairo remained a major artist in Nigeria throughout the 70s and continued to be active, both on stage and on record. Between 1965 and 1985 he released over 45 albums, a record even by the prolific standards of the Nigerian music scene. However, he entered semi-retirement in the early 80s to manage clubs and a hotel in Lagos, before joining the ministry. He made a comeback in 1990 with a re-formed Blue Spots band for I Remember, and was welcomed with open arms by juju enthusiasts. He died in 1996 following complications from diabetes and hypertension.

Confrontation. He has continued performing throughout the 90s. While Confrontation remains his most compelling album to date, 1989’s Current Champion is also an essential set in any representative juju collection.

Ebenezer Obey
He was born 27 August 1942, at Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria. Obey’s earliest musical experiences were as a member of the local church choir while a child in Abeokuta – his parents, both devout Christians, were also members. In 1955, he joined the local band Ifelode Mambo, which despite its name was actually a juju outfit, playing guitar and thumb piano. He also played briefly with Fatayi Rolling Dollar and the Federal Rhythm Brothers Orchestra before moving to Lagos in 1963 and forming his own juju band, the International Brothers, in 1964. Under Obey’s leadership, the International Brothers forged a highly individual style of juju. Abandoning the percussion and single-guitar style developed by I.K. Dairo, Obey added two more frontline guitars and electric bass, speeded up the tempo and simplified the beat. The formula struck an immediate chord with Nigerian juju fans. Obey enjoyed his first hit, Omo Lam”, in 1965, followed by even greater success the following year with Olo Mi Gbo Temi. By the early 70s, Obey was rivalling King Sunny Ade in album output and sales, achieving major local hits with In London, On The Town , Board Members and Aiye Wa A Toro. In 1971, he renamed his band the Inter-Reformers and retitled his style miliki system (essentially a shrewd marketing move, for the music continued in the same juju style he had introduced with the International Brothers, heavier and faster than that played by most of his peers). In 1972, he opened his Lagos nightclub, the Miliki Spot, and for the next two or three years reigned as the city’s pre-eminent juju bandleader. By the mid-70s, however, Obey was beginning to be threatened by the younger Ade. Juju fans split into two camps: those who followed the Master Guitarist Ade, and those who favoured the sweetness of Obey’s vocals and the philosophical nature of his lyrics. It was with their lyrics, above all, that the two men identified themselves. Ade’s reflected his belief in traditional Yoruba religion, while Obey, always the perfect Christian gentleman, preached the orthodox values of love, the family and peace in the household. He also took on the role of Government spokesman, explaining the switch to the right-hand side that took place on Nigeria’s roads in 1972, and the need to follow more recent campaigns, such as Operation Feed Yourself in 1976 (with Operation Feed The Nation ), or the austerity measures that followed the end of Nigeria’s oil-based boom in the early 80s. While Obey never achieved the international profile of Ade, he actually preceded the latter in the attempt. In 1980, he licensed six albums to the London-based OTI label (including Current Affairs and What God Has Joined Together ). Lacking the promotional and financial muscle of a larger label like Island Records, with whom Ade signed in 1982, OTI were unable to sell Obey outside the expatriate Nigerian market and a small number of white enthusiasts. In 1983 he tried again, signing to Virgin Records, and releasing the adventurous funk and highlife -infused Je Ka Jo. Grossly under-promoted, the album failed to convince expatriate Nigerians or make any impact on the growing white audience for juju. A similar fate befell the Virgin follow-up, Greatest Hits. A third attempt, with yet another label, the specialist independent Stern’s Records, produced Solution. It too failed to reap a sufficient audience. Ever resilient, Obey next set his sights on the US market, touring there to great acclaim – but with little effect on record sales – in 1985 and 1986. He continues, however, to be a popular recording and performing artist at home in Nigeria, despite the subsequent rise of yo-pop and the young man Segun Adewale.

Segun Adewale
Born in . November 1956 at Oshogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, by the mid-80s, Nigeria’s juju music had been dominated for over a decade by just three bandleaders – King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun. Though by nature conservative in its taste, the juju audience was nonetheless ready for a fresh sound to enliven the music. At the same time, the western African music audience, naturally less traditionalist than its counterpart in Nigeria, and, almost by definition, possessed of a huge appetite for novel sounds and sensations, were looking for new performers to discover and enjoy. Enter Segun Adewale and his Superstars, stepping into both breaches with their yo-pop style, a more brash and aggressive derivative of the music of Ade, Obey and Abiodun. Born into a Yoruba royal family (yo-pop is Adewale’s shorthand for Yoruba pop), Adewale successfully overcame parental pressure for him to become a doctor or lawyer, and on leaving school immediately joined juju godfather I.K. Dairo’s band in Lagos. He then joined Chief S.L. Atolagbe’s Holy Rainbow before forming the Superstars in 1973. The band released Kogbodopa Finna-Finna, before breaking up in early 1974. Towards the end of that year, Adewale joined Prince Adekunle’s Western Brothers Band as co-leader with Sir Shina Peters. He remained with the band until 1977, when he and Peters left, taking six other members with them, to form Shina Adewale And The Superstars International. Peters left in 1979, and in 1980 Adewale put together his second 20-strong Superstars line-up. Initially playing a style closely allied to that of Ade, Adewale’s yo-pop emerged as a distinctive and genuinely new sound on the 1982 album Endurance (the Superstars’ fifth album). Elements of funk, reggae and highlife were blended into the juju foundation, while the band crashed into their music with an aggressive abandon unusual among modern juju exponents. Adewale subtitled yo-pop “kick and start music” and it was this emotional intensity and speedy drive, more than the eclectic range of styles represented in the band’s music, that gave yopop its unique character – and, especially for Western audiences, its instant appeal. In 1984, the band’s eighth Nigerian album, Play For Me (which featured a smattering of English lyrics), was released in the UK by specialist record label Stern’s Records, and they played a triumphant one-off promotional gig at London’s Venue club. A second Stern’s album, Ojo Je, a compilation of material already available in Nigeria, was released in 1985, and the Superstars returned to the UK to play three acclaimed concerts at the Edinburgh International Festival. Having burned extremely brightly in Nigeria and the UK between 1983 and 1986, Adewale’s star faded somewhat in the late 80s. In Nigeria, the initial impact created by yo-pop’s brash urgency failed to engender sustained interest, while juju itself began to lose ground to the closely related, but more roots-orientated fuji style. In the UK, the African music audience also moved on. Nevertheless, the Superstars’ late 80s albums remain every bit as exciting as the earlier, more commercially successful, Endurance, Play For Me or Ojo Je. However, in 1989 the lack of an international breakthrough engendered a break-up in the Superstars’ ranks, and by 1990’s Cash And Carry Adewale was launching opportunistic attacks on fuji music as the self-appointed defender of juju.


We Must Apologse for Slavery (Preface to Ife…!(Poems Apologising for Slavery), My Forthcoming Collection of Poemsg

January 12, 2007

By Uduma Kalu


It has become very important for me to en-centre Africa in a 21st Century, which will unarguably host the beginning of the largest expansion of the idea and practise of globalisation.
It is essential that I do this bearing in mind that one of the signs of the new age appeared in the twilight of the last century with the creeping into the media and elsewhere the question: Does Africa still matter to the world?
Proponents of this question argue that having looked at sad indices of Africa- debt, poverty, hunger, deserts, corruption, war, violence, bad governance, diseases, illiteracy, poor technology- they have come to the conclusion that Africa cannot compete with other regions of the world in the 21st Century, which I have dubbed the Age of the Internet or Information Technology Age.
This arrogant assumption, in my opinion, appropriates the global village. To most citizens of the world, this is a negation of what we thought was a marriage and/of understanding of different cultures of the world; with each culture contributing to the global pool of culture and tradition so that in the end every individual, not minding his continent, country, clime, creed or culture, can claim a portion and build his home.
The purpose of this collection is therefore to set the records straight, through poetry, by showing how Africa first laid the foundation for globalisation; how it globalised freedom and development in all spheres of human endeavour.
One of the was to straighten the records has been illustrated by the novelist, Chinua Achebe, in his book of essays, Home and Exile. According to Achebe, Africa should be allowed to tell its own stories, as opposed to the practice where outsiders tell our stories as if we were dumb.
Africans should therefore face up the challenge of telling their continent’s stories and so reclaim their Fatherland to the global village, which is already under hostage.
In my humble way, therefore, I have chosen the African globalisation of the world from the way and life of my people, the Igbo people of the world.
I use the phrase Igbo people of the world bearing in mind that the Igbo race is found mainly in their ancestral homes in South East and South South regions of Nigeria. But their roots extend to such countries as Haiti, St. Louis, Martinique Dominican Republic, Belize, USA, UK St. Louis, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, and other Caribbean countries, among others.
One of the ways the Igbo have charted a global village for the world is rooted in their culture of ezi and ulo and ikwu na ibe. However while ezi na ulo is paternal with all siblings and in-laws of that paternal root forming part of the family, ikwu na ibe is the maternal and extended roots of that mother family. Used beyond the physical meaning of a house and extended homes of the family members the two concepts mean extended relations of these families.
The families therefore stretch into many generations, countries and cultures. It is like the sea waves whose tumble reverberate around the world. Ezi and ulo and ikwu ibe are therefore, for me, a right metaphor for the global village.
Extended relations may be separate from their original root but they are, however, part of that root and inheritors of its culture and tradition. In a world of migrations and mutations, a diffusion of the Igbo culture is inevitable making the inheritors of these cultures in whatever shade they may appear as extended relations of the initial culture. It is, therefore, for me, inevitable to argue that the Igbo culture has impacted on every region of the world. It is the celebration of this marriage of cultures and peoples that this collection aims to recapture for Africa.
In his book, World Struggle for a Just World—Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu—70th Birthday Anniversary lecture, encapsulates the Igbo impact in globalising the world. The Igbo activities to free African slaves in the New World are yet to be fully documented. In fact, their leading anti slavery roles in the US made the Alabama Governor George Wallace accuse them in 1968 of causing the American Civil War of 1861-1865. He, therefore, opposed any relief to the war ravaged Biafra during his 1968 presidential campaigns. The Biafran War, as noted by former South African President, was the first post independence African struggle for self determination.
However, before the US war of freedom, the Igbo of Haiti after winning freedom during the Haitian Revolution of August 22, 1791, under the command of François Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture, who was half Igbo, went ahead to defeat Napoleon Bonarparte’s best army under the personal command of his brother in law, Leclerc. They defeated that army at the great battle of Vertier on November 18, 1803. Haiti was important to France, being its most productive slave colony in the world then. Napoleaon’s effort to recapture the colony suffered more devastating defeats. After the 1803 defeat at Vertier, Napoleon sold his French Empire to the United States for $15 million in the historic Louisana Purchase. The Napoleon the British defeated at Waterloo was therefore a ghost of the dictator in Europe.
Then the Haitians set themselves the task of implementing their resolve to free African slaves all over the world. First, they invaded what is now the Dominican Republic, defeated the Spanish slave owners and freed the slaves. Then they made a deal with Simon Bolivar, called the Liberator of Latin America. They rebuilt Bolivar’s army that the Spanish destroyed, gave him a printing press for propaganda on condition that he free the slaves wherever he conquered. This action set the stage for the freedom of Latin America and the slaves.
The chain reactions of events ultimately freed African slaves world wide with another Igbo, Olaudah Equiano, this time in Europe fighting for the freedom of slaves world wide.
The 1968 Haitian President Francois Duvalier acknowleged the Igbo role in the Haiti Revolution in his letter to the United Nations Secretary General, U. Thant on why his country had to recognise the Republic of Biafra.
“To free the African from bondage of ages,” Nnamdi Azikiwe observed last Century, “is Igbo man’s manifest destiny.”
Equiano is attributed the first man to have articulated the concept of Pan Africanism. Edward Blyden, another man of Igbo extraction whose descendants became the first orator of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is reputed to be the first man to use the term, Pan Africansim. The concept of Pan African activated the roles played by the Martinique Negritudian, Aime César and his fellow countryman intellectual, Franz Fanon. Their country is Igbo dominated.
The roles played by such figures as Jaja of Opobo against colonialism is another example of Igbo heroism.
The Igbo anti colonial activities are perhaps more documented than the Diaspora ones. In 1929 when the Aba Women Revolt broke out, it resulted in commissioning of intelligence about anthropological studies on colonial peoples world wide by European colonialists. The findings taught Europe that these colonial peoples had authentic native civilisations, contrary to the presumptions of Imperial Europe to be on a world wide civilising mission. The 1929 Aba Women Revolution undermined the basis of that European ideology.
Before the war by the women would settle down, Azikiwe appeared in the horizon along with the militant Zikist Movement. The peoples he touched, including Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, are those that have made the difference in the decolonisation of the African continent.
But then the explosive reactions of the Biafra War still reverberate world wide, making it difficult to ignore the role Ndigbo have played and continue to play in world civilisation.
Africa matters is therefore the kernel of this narration. It is an arch participant of the global village village. It is not the Igbo culture alone that has impacted on the world. Other African cultures have also done the same, making it is essentially difficult to isolate Africa’s contribution to the global village.
The super computer, Philip Emeagwali, in a speech delivered in the US entitled Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed noted contributions of black Americans to America. Emeagwali also noted that “Our history books are full of erroneous statements,” and that we need to challenge the erroneous statements in our history books. “A period for us to teach our children the truth.”
Then he explained that contrary to what history books said, Euclid, perhaps, the world’s greatest mathematician of all time, is African, and that science is the gift of ancient Africa to the modern world. He said that 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint his masterpiece “The Lord’s Supper.” Before the Renaissance period, many paintings of the Madonna depicted a black woman. The infant God or Christ-child was depicted as black. But Leonardo da Vinci was searching for himself in Jesus Christ. He re-depicted Jesus Christ as white, Emeagwali wrote. But Jesus, he argued, was dark-skinned.
He also said that Africans are the pioneers in many other fields of study which is agreed by Isaac Asimov, the most prolific science writer, that mathematics, science and technology are the gift of ancient Africans to our modern world. Also the Encyclopedia of Science acknowledges that an African named Imhotep is the Father of Medicine; that an African is the Father of Architecture; that an African is the first scientist in recorded history. The book agrees that the earliest Greek scientists were educated in Africa by Africans. That they lived and worked in Africa. That they were even born in Africa.
The scientist also said that the ancient papyri are our primary source of information about the mathematics of Nile Valley civilisation. A page from Ahmes papyrus which is about one foot tall and 18 feet long. This book was renamed Rhind Papyrus. But this Rhind Papyrus was not written by Alexander Rhind, the Scottish traveller that purchased it. It was written 4,000 years ago by an African named Ahmes. But it was renamed after a non-mathematician that purchased it.
With all this Emeagwali argued that if the earliest Greek scientists lived in Africa, then it leads to the profound conclusion that Greece is not the birthplace of Western civilisation. It leads to more logical conclusion that Africa is the birthplace of civilisation.
Indeed, a digital facial reconstruction of a mummy believed to be Queen Nefertiti astonished British forensic experts that performed this reconstruction when the image of a black woman emerged on their computer screen.
“We know that Africa is the birthplace of humanity. It is the Motherland of all people: black or white. We should teach our children that: Science is the gift of ancient Africa to our modern world. Finally, and most importantly, we should remind them that Africans were the carriers of light. Africans were not waiting in darkness for others to bring light to them.”
Perhaps, those trying to subtract Africa from the global village are not mindful of the global village of human relationships and the universality of human emotions, hopes and aspirations. It is to reclaim this portion and force it on consciences of the world that has propelled me to write this book.
Therefore, most of the poems readers will encounter here are a journey into memory, that stabilising factor that reconnects the present with the past to unravel the future. Much of that memory goes back to the Uli concept, which is very central to the Igbo worldview. That endless memory resonates with the image of a folk hero journeying into the invisible world. His trials and triumphs are what the personage in this collection encounters both as contemporary reality and as magical existence. The poems are therefore a re-memory of lived experience; a reconstruction of one’s rites of passage; an attainment of wisdom from innocence. They celebrate life as an unflinching faith in the ultimate triumph of the human spirit over the rampaging clouds of our reality.
After writing these poems and I look back today at my days at Nsukka, I realise that Nsukka was the nucleus of this collection. That University was for me both a pilgrimage and workshop. The four years I spent there was a constant struggle to enmesh myself in its great and rich flourishing literary tradition whose influence transcends what has become known as Modern African Literature.
It was a constant struggle to extricate myself from the pervading grips of the great names that bestride the literary landscape there. Through it I came to realise that art is a private thing. So in the privacy of my halls of residence, classrooms, libraries and other places, I began to fashion styles and philosophies, which though still Nsukka, deviated from other writers’ stylistic influences. The freedoms Nsukka offered built in me not just the boldness and confidence to etch my own unique voice out of that drowning tradition that invaded our literary landscape, but encouraged the congenial atmosphere that existed between the creative writers and the aspiring critics with their literature and language lecturers. This relationship was such that it was difficult for a committed artist to leave that institution without becoming one of the voices to remember in time to come.
And if one could take away anything one cannot easily take away the influence of the Nsukka Literary School. Apart from instilling in the young writers a sense of art as a strive towards perfection, whether in the abstract or plain form— a continuous struggle of how words can best be used as a tool for art first before what it can achieve; the recourse to oral tradition- to utilise its form and language to create musical or sweet poetry in English which could be sung and therefore touch the soft layers of the heart; to defeat sadness by building a conquering personage that triumphs over the tyranny and injustice in the land; the use of spirits seen as in the lines of Uli which flows forever in their tiny slides; the constant criticism that existed; the struggle to partake in the University tradition; harmonising the different theories taught in that University to agree with the superior African ideologues for our works to become African- are some of those I cannot get over with.
And for me this has made all the difference. For that tradition has seen me through many troubled rivers in this rough literary voyage. Whenever any monster raises its head, it is this tradition that appears to deliver me, when I recall my past. Nsukka has in part become the creative spirit that hovers over my art.
However, there was one thing that I took out of Nsukka with me when I left it in 1995. This was the value of freedom and the responsibility that comes with that freedom. I think it is on this value that my creative growth and all my other growths reside. The freedom I received from Nsukka was what I came to realise through my associations and studies as one cardinal principle of an ideal university because it is only in an atmosphere of freedom that one can study, recreate and penetrate the mysteries of existence. At Nsukka then one could not but cherish freedom.
This was an intriguing experience for me. For this was a young man born in the harrowing days of Biafra, in the bloodiest time of the Nigerian Civil War, where millions of lives were lost, genocide committed, hunger used as weapon of war and death. A period of fear. And savouring the post- war peace was another horrible experience. Tales of the horrors of the war, the menace of ravaging soldiers intensified that fear among a hapless and helpless people. And to see a warrior and heroic people reduced to that fearful position was a tragedy for me.
Worse still, the continuing military rule did not even help matters. This was worsened by the brutal termination of the brief democracy of the Second Republic in the land, which promised a certain freedom, and the gaiety that was in the air.
That was why the freedoms the democratic institutions offered me at Nsukka were intriguing. For me it made Nsukka a safe haven from the horrors outside its confines. In such a place creativity strives.
But this freedom had with it a responsibility which made me, like other students, realise that if I abused the freedom then I would be responsible for my action. Hence I knew my limitations. I studied to increase my knowledge and worked to fulfil the University anthem and motto- To Restore the Dignity of Man. That restoration, I came to understand later, begins with the black man first. And that is understandable looking at how our humanity has been abused by historical forces.
In literature Nsukka has a very rich and striving tradition. Journals, magazines, books and other publications dating back to the ancients, were in abundance and were available to the students. The presence of such literary associations such the Writers’ Forum which I was one of the founding members, The English Association, Anthill, on top of the Odenigbo Hills, outside the eastern gates of the University among others were there to make us partakers of this tradition.
The English Association was the most influential of these groups. Once a member, which was compulsory for English students, its publications such as The Crest, Omabe, a poetry journal, and The Muse, described as the oldest student literary journal in Africa by the eminent theorist and bibliography, Prof. Bernth Linfors, which we read, were like a register or a journey into the making of traditions, and the rise of the different generations that shaped the movements in Nigerian and African Literature. To belong to this great tradition and take a place in its growth was possible only with a constant inscription of one’s name in these journals. But this was not easy as only the best judged by a literary panel merited a place in the mostly thirty eight page- annual publications, from a crowd of enthusiastic poets and writers.
The presence of some of the makers of that tradition was very helpful. Apart from the pervading presence of other literary artists in other faculties, there were the great names in the department such as Professors Donatus I. Nwoga and Juliet Okonkwo, Ossie Enekwe, Obi Maduakor as well as the constant visitations of some established authors coupled with the return of some of those who were part of that tradition to the University.
And the invisible presence of Chinua Achebe, Romanus Egudu, Emmanuel Obiechina who had their offices in the department with their names written on the walls, as well as the hovering presence of those who had left to found literary or arts departments in other universities such as, Sam Ukala, Eni Jones and Kalu Uka mingled with those that had died, was enormous. The dead included the poet, Pol Ndu, Okogbule Wonodi, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Christopher Okigbo, who gathered, with Peter Thomas, the writers of that department to create the Literary Tradition there.


Some of these poems have appeared in 25 New Nigerian Poets, published by Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, Berkeley, California, United States, edited by Toyin Adewale; Music and Poetry in Harmony, MUSON Centre; Lagos, Association of Nigerian Authors anthology of poems, Trembling Leaves, Oracle Books Limited, Lagos, edited by Bunmi Oyisan; Association of Nigerian Authors anthology of poems, A Volcano of Voices, Kraft Books Limited, Ibadan, Anthology of Women Writers of Nigeria, (WRITA); Omabe, Department of English, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; The Muse, Department of English, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Okike, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, edited by Ossie Enekwe; The Guardian, Lagos; Daily Champion, Lagos; Daily Times, Lagos; Post Express, Lagos; Anthology of Ife Poetry Festival, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife; May Ayim Anthology, Berlin, 2004 nigeriansinamerica.com, Sentinel Poetry, an online poetry journal, edited by Nnorom Azuonye, poetry.com, nigerianarts.com; AfricanWriter.com, among several others.
Some of them have also been performed at the University of Nigeria, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Festival of Life Conventions, Ife Poetry Festival.

To Restore the Dignity of Man: Towards A Human Century 2 (My IABA Lecture)

January 12, 2007

Part 2
By Uduma Kalu

Fig 6: Stepwise derivation of the African Archetype; Rindre Pot.

If one recognises that the “IZU” symbol is presented in two-dimensional space, an object on top of the structure would generate the square pyramid. The square-pyramid is employed in the building of Pyramids; stools and display of crops for sell by Africans. And one object on top and another below the plane would generate the OCTAHEDRON. The octahedron is the most stable structure in all nature. It is the structure of diamond. It is also central to the structure of important natural substances, such as water, the hemoglobin of blood and chlorophyll in leaves etc.
Animalu has shown that at the heart of the African curvilinear system is the Z-cobra, equivalent of the triangle, basic ELEMENT of universal structure, and tetrahedron basic structure of all nature8. The Igbo symbolize tetrahedral structure in two-dimension by “ekwuato” (tripod), its triangle-base, and symbol of ERIMA, the Igbo ideal of the organic community (see fig. 7). Of interest is the Igbo word for the number three, 3, “ATO”, contained in the term “ekwuato”. It comes from the verb “ITO”, to be stuck. If we follow a number system in which one (otu/olu) implies loner, two (abuo) means split, three means stuck, four means stable and five (ise) means extra (that is stable plus one) etc, we realize that “stuck” implies structure formation. A relevant Igbo expression holds that “ihe ruo ato ya-ato na-anya”9. That is to say, when a process gets to three, it locks into place. “Anya” in the expression means, literally, eyes as the Igbo call openings like the keyhole of a padlock ‘eyes’. Three makes structure! Three-sided structure, the triangle, is the first or primary structure of the African World system. The triangular three-cusped hypocycloid is the primary element of structure of the African world system as Animalu had deduced from the African archetype and derived Z-cobra. It can easily be shown that the “ekwuato” appears to be, in the first instance, to the ordinary eyes, ‘half’ a four-cusped hypocycloid. And for a world system that believes in complementary-binaries, that important natural structures come in complementary pairs (e.g. upper/lower Egypt in the Nile valley and Ikenga/Ihitte community structuring among the Igbo in the Niger-Congo basin), it would be logical for us to expect such an important structure as the IZU to be constituted of a binary.

Fig. 7: Ekwuato the triangle; Object on Top Generates a Tetrahedron

These two most fundamental structures in nature are also, therefore, the most fundamental structures of the African world (see Figs. 8 and 9.) Just like the triangle is the most fundamental element of structure in both nature and the African world.

Fig.8: Tetrahedron and Octahedron; Fundamental Structures of Nature.
These two structures are each exploited for African constructions; from the pyramids of the Nile valley to the “mpata”, the octahedron and “Oche-nze”, the ‘dioctahedron’ and Noble’s stool in the Niger basin, to children’s games, testing ability to destabilize stable structure, as “Okwensirim” game.
A contrast of the African concept of boundary as seen from Igbo eyes and the Western world concept will highlight one more unique aspect of the African world system.
In Western eyes the boundary is an exclusion point. A limit, border, bound, termination, edge, margin, etc. In African eyes the boundary is an inclusion point, a coupling point. The activity at OKE, the Igbo boundary, also called AGBATA, for instance is IGBA-AGBA – to couple (same sense as copulation). Whereas a population of discrete entities populates the Western world, the African world is populated by a chain work of coupled entities. (Neighbours are copulants, AGBATOBI). Designs on African dresses, particularly Nigerian caps are nothing but a relentless effort to elaborate on this point. The African world is a network world…. a natural CYBERWORLD. A CYBERCOSMOS! Nothing stands alone. “Ihe kwuru, ihe akwubido ya!” Everything in the World stands on everything else. An act at one point in the African world reverberates through the whole system. A 16th century Benin Bronze sculpture of two mudfish-in-copulation illustrates the African concept of the boundary and network world (A close view of the four fins will show them as quarters of the Izu, while the scales are designed into a network; see Fig. 10).

Fig 10: Copulating Fish; African Boundary as Bini Art.

It is activity at the boundary that inspires another important element of structure in the African Cosmos… the SPIRAL. A look at African designs will show varieties of spirals. These include double spirals, basis of DNA …the molecular basis for heredity and life.
The confluence of two rivers is their AGBATA. This confluence is usually called ‘AGBATA DI NA NWAYI, literally coupling – point of husband and wife, by the Igbo. The whirlpool that forms at the confluence is a very important natural phenomenon to the African and of great ritual interest and observational fascination. The whirlpools at confluences have led to one of the general conclusions about the world by the African. As the Igbo put it, “UWA WU OGBAHIRIMEHI” … the world is a WHIRLPOOL. A realm of spirals of forces and of order amidst chaos. The spiral represents the RECRUDESCENCE, the creative intersection of worlds and forces (This apparently, explains the python as an important African symbol … a live spiral decorated by nature with the African archetype-like shapes).
The whirlpool picture of the World is consistent with an ever-changing world…uwa wu mgbanwo-mgbanwo! We note that “INWO” which describes the changing or transforming world actually means ‘TO METAMORPHOSE’, as in a snake shedding its skin for a new one (this, again, emphasis the importance of the snake symbol in the African world system; it symbolizes creative dynamism, such as metamorphosis). The African world is like ‘EHIRIMEHI’ or ‘EHIMEHI’ for short, the SPIRAL. The African world is in a perpetual state of metamorphosis (This fact is celebrated in the Mbari, ephemeral art, and tradition). This, also, is consistent with the world as unfolding and as a realm of chance. A realm of probabilities…uwa wu ahia! Only probabilistic knowledge is possible in the African world. This explains why AGWU/THOT/HERMES TRIMEGISTUS, the patron-spirit of knowledge/science in the African World system is a spirit-of-chance. The African knowledge man (the medicine men) throws the dice in search of knowledge. What the Igbo call “igba-okwe” or “igba afa”. There is no final knowledge in the dynamic African world system of continuous change and probabilities… amamihe wu oke ohia, anaghi epiocha ya epiocha! Knowledge is a great forest that can never be exhaustively probed!
With the triangle, tetrahedron, octahedron and spiral, the African world system has the key structural elements to construct the cosmos, as we know it. The African cosmos mirrors the natural world known to Science. With key elements of world structure and an epistemology that prescribes eternal search for knowledge, the African world system is a natural world for new knowledge, new skills and reconstructions. Like the symbolic snake, shedding old skins for new ones, in perpetual cycles of metamorphosis, the African world is a perpetual state of creation and recreation … uwa wu mgbanwo-mgbanwo!
There is one more African concept which the ancient Egyptians called MAAT and Igbo call OGU. This concept means a cosmic force that drives relationships in the COSMOS towards a stable equilibrium… a cosmic equilibrium dynamo. This cosmic force dynamizes the African network world. The stable equilibrium generated by this cosmic dynamo is LIFE (Note that the Igbo word for life, NDU, comes from the verb idu, to stay or to be). Ogu/Maat is the apparent origin of the fact that the African world is universally animated… ANIMISM.
Without an understanding of MAAT/OGU, the African world system cannot be understood. It is a cosmic force to which all-cosmic entities; gods, animate and inanimate beings are bound and are expected to have consciousness and commitment to OGU (ijiogu). All are expected to broadcast Ogu (ijuogu) for the preservation of all (ndu-mmiri, ndu azu! life to all; Universal life is the end product of Ogu). Ogu/maat animates the African world.
The symbol of OGU/MAAT in the Nile valley is light, sunlight 10. And so it is among the Igbo of the Niger-Congo system. The Igbo hold that “OGU WU IKE”. OGU IS ENERGY! A cosmic force! The African Cosmos is an ogu-energized system.
If OGU/MAAT is conceived in the ordinary physical energy sense, one is dealing with African Cosmology. If conceived in a transcendental sense, one is dealing with African Theology (OGUNDU is an appropriate term for African traditional religion). But we note that the boundary between African cosmology and theology is an African boundary; a coupling point. A bond, and not a separation. This is why non-Africans, sometimes, find African religiosity in everything African difficult to comprehend. All are linked to all!
Ogu/Maat, which Theophile Obenga translated roughly as “JUSTICE-TRUTH” for lack of A Western equivalent concept, is “cosmic order. The African world is a network world … A, natural, cyberworld. A cybercosmos! Nothing stands alone. “Ihe Kwuru, ihe akwubido ya!” Everything in the world stands on everything else in cosmic equilibrium. An act at one point in the African World reverberates through the whole system. This is important! The African world system requires a very high moral order to maintain stability. This is because in a non-linear system, such as the African world, arithmetic events have geometric reverberations. This is what the Science of Chaos calls the butterfly-effect, where the flap of the wing of the butterfly in New-York can reverberate as a thunderstorm in London. This would explain the emphasis on truth and justice in traditional African society, and the emergence of chaos in African societies when these factors are lacking. As it is said:
In the same league of grand ancient African scientific experiments as The Great Yam Experiment that established the lower Niger yam civilization of Africa is the grand worldview simulation shown in the images below (Fig. 11). These images, as part of the Igboukwu archeological collection, are more than a thousand years old. Having formulated the UWIZU, the CYBERCOSMOS, the ancient Africans introduced different beings into it to observe, as well as show, how they see it. The visage of each being type shows clearly that different beings see the world differently. UWAWUGHOTU! … Worldviews are different! Each person and people have a different worldview.


Fig 11a: Uwaumunwoke; man’s World. Fig 11b: Uwaumunyanyi; Woman’s world.

The study of the African World system can be called “IZUOLOGY”, the Science of whole systems and complexity. This is in sharp contrast to the “reductionism” of the currently dominant Western scientific paradigm of interacting with the world. Although, the western mode has done exceptionally well in such less complex areas as physics, its performance has be dismal in such more complex areas such as social sciences. The holistic African paradigm can come to the rescue here, if well articulated.
Interestingly the West has realized the difficulties posed by reductionism. Western thinkers are, currently, trying to obviate this difficulty through the new science called, ironically, Chaos11. The core ideas of the “science of chaos” or Chaology do not flow naturally out of Western atomistic cosmology of discrete entities. African cosmology would, with necessary name change to Izuology, provide a more natural springboard for it and thereby enrich African and World science.
Also important is the fact that the western reductionist paradigm is not natural to the African mind. Handling modern science from a more natural “Izuologic” or holistic-complexity conscious framework would be more productive for Africans and the world, just like African art and music have been.
Africa societies are currently (2006 AD) in a general state of chaos. African Cosmology offers a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon. A non-linear world system, such as Uwizu, the African dynamic network world, subjected to even small perturbations will transform, over long time, into chaos as Africa has done. We also now know that only Truth-Justice, Ogu/Maat, the force universal equilibral order, will restore natural order to Africa. This knowledge is the first, critical, step to the realization of the necessary rejuvenate metamorphosis, which the African world system prescribes for itself at all times.
All aspects of a people’s culture flow, logically, from their cosmology. This explains the observation of the artist C. C. Aniako that the key motifs of Igbo art, which is only a variant of African art, include “geometric and organic designs of lines, spirals, diamonds (octahedra), triangles, crescents (curvilines), etc.”12 These motifs are expected from African cosmology, as outlined in this paper. The dominant influence of African art on modern world art, like African music, testifies to the efficiency of Uwizu cosmology as a creative framework. The application of the networking and synergetics motifs would also be natural to the self-conscious African scientist, as excellently realised in the great computing science work of P. C Emeagwali, a father of the internet.
The sciences of such phenomena as biology and the economy that involve complexity and demand a holistic approach for their deeper appreciation would be quite amenable to the epistemology that is inherent in African cosmology. This is against the current dominant European epistemological regime applied in these fields in which biology is alienated from the Biosphere and economics from the Economy, bur rather anchored on human Psychology with its gross limitations.

I am not saying my idea is final. No, it is just the beginning. I hope that by the end of this conference, we will be able to find out other ways to change our world, and make it a better place than it is now. And that can only begin when we understand that we are all interconnected- man and his universe- and that no society or individual is free from the misery that afflicts the other. As we say in Nigeria, what goes round comes around.