Book Title: In the Curious City
Author: Stephen Erutor-Pat
Publisher: CoachInFocus Resource Planet
Year of publication: 2016
Reviewer: Tony Okuyeme
“The greatest invention in the world”, notes American inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison, “is the mind of a child and every mind is born with the instinct of curiosity.”
Also, renowned German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, notes that “Curiosity has its own reason for existing. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
This is the focus of book written by Stephen Erutor-Pat and curiously titled In the Curious City. This 72-page book published under the Motivated & Driven Series, the author notes, “is a summer when every young mind should explore the world”, stressing that …“In the Curious City… wisdom begins in Wonder.”
He however added that “Answers only change the world when the right questions are asked.” Divided into six chapters with an introduction, this ‘larger than its frame’ work is a must read for anyone eager to explore or question everything for the advancement of knowledge and discovery.
In the introduction, the author presents his thoughts, and tells of the inspiring power of a girl who is trapped in her father’s house, situated in the middle of a thick forest and was firmly secured every night with a heavy stone, such that no one could neither come in nor go out. But curious leads her to know new things, to meet great people, and opened her to exciting world of opportunities.
Chapter one titled “The Curious Cat”, the author provides different definitions of ‘Curiosity. Quoting from Wikipedia, he states: “Curiosity is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and many animal species…”
On his part, he defines curiosity as “the quest for new ideas and information, a strong desire to question things until understood. It is a hunger to explore and delight in discovery.” According to him, “when we are curious, we approach the world with a child-like habit of poking and prodding and asking questions. We are attracted to new experiences. Rather than pursuing an agenda or a desired set of answers, we follow our question where they lead.
“And the exciting thing is that you do not need all the answers at once, you just need to get one answer after another, satisfy one curiosity after another and you are well on your way to fascinating discoveries.”
In this 21st century…, Africa, he says, is in dire need of deep thinkers, people who will go after knowledge with a club, stressing that “power goes to the continent or country that has greater knowledge. This is also true of individuals. This is why countries like America, Japan, China, India, the UK, and so many others are powerful.”
Chapter two, as the title suggests, focuses on “What Curiosity Does To You”. According to the author, curiosity promotes intelligence, awakens the mind to new ideas, perspectives, as well as makes one more positive among other things.
In Chapter three, the author urges the reader “Explore: Question Everything”, and never quit until you have satisfied your curiosity. In this chapter, the author also writes on the power of observation, highlighting the contributions the contributions of the Wright Brothers, Isaac Newton to science and knowledge.
Chapter four is titled “Discovering Your Spark; Burn Up Some Curiosity”. Here he opens with a quote by James Stephens and Dorothy Parker, which states respectively that: “Curiosity will conquer far more than bravery will”; and that “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
He however notes that you must believe in yourself, stressing that “until you are successful inside, you cannot be successful on the outside. And that is why wealth is not defined by what a man has physically but by the quality of his thoughts. This is why this book is written, to help you see yourself and the world differently.
In this chapter, the author also offers insight into how to develop a questioning mind. These include acknowledge that you don’t know; seek to clarify thoughts; learn how to listen; and mingle with those who know more than you.
“The Lead of Curiosity: What Education Really Is” is the title of chapter five, while the “Epilogue: Impression is never the goal is the focus of chapter six. How to develop your curiosity; replace fear of the unknown with curiosity; write, put your thoughts and ideas on paper; be tolerant and admit when you are wrong; become an expert in something; learn to learn and do; and don’t take things for granted are some the areas the ways to develop your curiosity, according to the author.
How the author has managed to say so much in this small book is no doubt, ‘curious’. This is a compelling and inspiring book.
Stephen Erutor-Pat is the founder and president of SoarSTARS Club, an NGO with a mission to bring out the best in every young star.
He is a passionate motivational speaker, a writer and a strong believer in the Great New Nigeria. He strongly believes in change and that Nigeria will lead the world if her youths (her future) can but rise up, sharpen their skills, develop their talents and pursue knowledge with a club.
Ade Abayomi Olufeko: A Mid-career Retrospective of a Multidisciplinary Technologist with Africa’s 2020s in view
Ade Olufeko’s personality may best be described as both Zen and reclusive. The former finds him offering wisdom and insights on technology and emerging economies at keynote invitations and public lectures. The latter finds him running away from that same limelight.
He is an American born multidisciplinary technologist and entrepreneur who is currently between Lagos and New York. He has been sought by numerous startups, mentorship programs, non-profits, multinationals and even business competitors for his global expertise and innovative lens on contemporary issues. He grounds this lens in the deeply rooted compassion and stoic pragmatism common to cultures in sub-Saharan Africa, including his.
Olufeko’s traceable ancestry originates from the royal class in the Ijebu kingdom in what is now known as Nigeria, a country that negotiated its independence from the British Empire in 1960. He spent his formative years in Lagos, a cultural, social and economic melting pot in southwestern Nigeria.
His entrepreneurial path was catalyzed during his time navigating the fields of technology and graphic design in the corporate world. Beside winning a prestigious award for IBM during this period, he also worked on teams that include – Deutsch Inc and WebMD in West Village New York, Wunderman DC (Formerly RTC) in Georgetown, Target Headquarters on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. He later became a quality software tester for Shavlik Technologies followed by Adobe Systems. He also had stints with PayPal Inc, Constellation Energy in Baltimore and JPMorgan on Wall Street.
In a chapter release from his forthcoming manuscript, he is cited saying; “it was many drives in 2008 from Hollis Queens to Garden City Long Island where I worked with Sony Music – Bertelsmann’s Direct”. The rich intersections inherent in his career sparked an opportunity to cross pollinate ideas, and then develop and solidify emerging concepts from parallel industries.
As if aware that his father, Prince Ade Abayomi Sr. had named Olufeko “Epiphany”, his current path came as simply and clearly as an epiphany. He attributes this satori moment to the cold Minneapolis winter of 2006, in which he founded Visual Collaborative, a platform for humanities and innovation.
The latest of his contributions to global discourse to be made publicly available is his collection of digital paintings and empirically grounded visual data. New comers and budding economists will have the opportunity to tap into these works in a forthcoming undisclosed exhibition slated for the autumn of 2018 or Quarter 1 of 2019.
A stranger walking by reading about Olufeko’s work might wonder about the practical and economic feasibility of intersecting technology and the arts. But the answer to this question is only superficially elusive– all they need do is place their hands into their pockets, pull out their smart phones and see this confluence at play.
Observing locations and communities for exhibits has always been an important part of Olufeko’s fieldwork. In 2011, he held an exhibition in collaboration with Gloria Chen at multiple locations in Queens borough of New York City. The exhibition was a study on the cognitive faculty of human beings and the way we interpret colors and shapes in real time. Despite lasting for only one month, it captured the interest of hundreds who came to view it.
During the exhibition, ten to twelve pieces including the famous “Philosophers Legacy “(2017) which debuted inside Sungbo’s Eredo, the largest rampart in pre-colonial Africa, as well as the newly mastered mixed-media painting “Remember to Rise – Black Dreams” (2018) will be exhibited. The public will have the rare opportunity to experience Olufeko’s mastery of the creative process.
As the 2020-decade approaches, the Visual Collaborative platform and its valuation is attractive and could be purchased or merged into a formidable platform by industry stakeholders for result-oriented collaborations. In Africa where it will be rebranded as “ta wa ni” it will encompass research on the social dynamics of innovators, artists and ecosystem architects and their patrons. It will also address cultural and economic barriers to entry, thus demystifying and stimulating paths of brain gain across the continent.
10 years, 2 continents, 20 cities and over 150 artists in curated pop-up exhibitions later, Olufeko remains relentless. He recently served as chair and moderator of the socio-cultural panel at the 2018 London Business School’s African Business Summit, on the topic of scaling for impact which also featured Ozwald Boateng OBE, Banky W. Rikki Stein and Michael Ugwu.
Olufeko is an autodidact and a provocateur with a driving vision for mindful progress. His strong support system which include his wife, his mother, business advisors and an international legal team ground him and hold him accountable to his responsibility for creating social and cultural impact. He will be making his commercial art debut on the African continent in the following countries in the future; Nigeria, Cairo, Ghana, Namibia, Ethiopia, Senegal and Bostwana.
Values, morality as panacea for unity, development
Title: Music of the Muezzin
Author: R. Adebayo Lawal
Year of Publication: 2014
Reviewer: Mahfouz A. Adedimeji
Against the sorry state of our world that has lost its moorings, resulting in the Hobbesian conception of life as being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” Adebayo Lawal in his second collection of poems, Music of the Muezzin, offers us a way out of the miasma. Through a blending of soulful sounds, delicious lines of pure poetry that offer us sense from the pervading nonsense beclouding our global horizons, the poet draws our attention to the need to uphold morality and promote character in our lives.
Basically, Music of the Muezzin is a collection of 38 poems divided into six unequal parts: “Pro-Song: Symphony of the Lonesome Lark”, “Invocation: the Cock’s Mystical Music,” “Smiles of Sorrow,” “Exhortation: Cryptic Clauses of Counsel”, “The Snail’s Courage” and “Epi-Songs: True Time is but Timelessness”. As common to most works of poetry, the themes are as diverse as the poems artistically woven in the compelling collection, but one thesis that reverberates across the work is the need for values and morality in our society. This the author does by distilling messages that tantalize or religious, moral, cultural and ethical sensibilities.
The first poem in the collection is the “eponymous” poem (i.e. the poem that gives the collection its title) where the poet explains the impact of the muezzin’s call to prayer on him. The rationale for putting the poem first is most likely informed by the fact that when a baby is born in Islam, the first thing he hears is the adhan or call to prayer. We then have the poet’s interpretation of the magnificence of His Creator, Whose majesty he celebrates in “The paradox of your presence” (p.12).
However, the first two parts are not about Islam and faith alone. There is a striking poem, “Lines for a don”, dedicated to his teacher, Prof. David William, with which the poet decries the decline in the academics, which is of interest to every lecturer or don. In his usual inter-lock of sense with sound, a major stylistic feature of the collection, our poet takes a swipe at academic shoddiness and intellectual laziness, a cankerworm that seems to have seeped, or sneaked like a thief in the night, into our ivory towers. The sense is compelling in describing various types of dons in lovely lines and repetitive sonority before upholding the standard as symbolised by the teacher: “There are dunces / And there are dons. / Dons by distinction, / Dons by connection / Dons by compassion / Dons by constipation. / The mafia don, / Done by cruel connection, / Is the Don Juan / Thriving on a code of terror.” … (p.20)
There are interesting poems in Part Three, which begins with “The multinational tycoon’s theory”, a witty and humorless poem that ascribes the black man’s tragedy to the accident of creation. He lampoons the archetypal politician in our era of politics without principle describing him in powerful imagery using the bat metaphor: “Bird by day/ Rat by night/ The bat vies with the vulture/ And races with the rodent.” (p.25).
In “Damsel of the ivory tower” (p.31) and “City damsel” (p.32), Lawal has urgent and pungent messages for the students who waste their present and future on illicit sexual adventures.
For the latter poem (i.e. “City damsel”) that exploits the computer imagery, the warning to men is that the city damsel is not more than a lovely laptop with a caveat: when you “insert a randy flash-drive / You end up with a vicious virus” (p.31).
The third part under consideration contains the longest poem in the collection, “Smiles of sorrow” (p.34), which drives home the need for character and morality in our society.
In Parts Four and Five, the author offers antidotes to our troubled and troubling times while canvassing the virtues of love (i.e. “True love”(p.38); “We are all one” (p.39)) reason (“Who are you? (p.40); “Rat race or human race? (p.41)), religious tolerance and righteousness (i.e. “The cannibals” (p.42), “The bubble shall burst” (p.48), “Blessed are they” (p.52)) and other poems of similar thematic concerns. There are also well-crafted poems in this section like “Ilorin” (p.45) which offers a food-for-thought that everyone would like to relish and “In the long run” (p.47) which gives poetic expression to the maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Generally, this collection is “larger than its frame” in terms of the profundity of the timeless messages that make good sense for our troubled season in a world that is going amok. It is a call to action to eschew what is morally bad, religiously sinful and ethically repugnant in our day-to-day interactions.
Sam Dede supports PHLS Poetry Slam
The PHLS Poetry Slam has received a major boost from acclaimed and award-winning actor, Dr. Sam Dede, with the institution of the Sam Dede Prize for Best Spoken Word Artist.
Dede made the announcement in Port Harcourt when he spoke with the Resident Poet of the Port Harcourt Literary Society, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi. He commended the Society for energizing literature in Port Harcourt.
“What you guys are doing is quite remarkable and deserves the support of every well-meaning artist and sponsor of the arts,” Dede said.
The actor, whose inspiring performance in Isakaba earned him Africa’s top acting honours, stated that the Prize comes with cash and a plaque.
The Sam Dede Prize is in addition to the N100,000 already set aside by the Society for the winner of the PHLS Poetry Slam. Other prizes are N75,000 for first runner-up and N50,000 for the second runner-up. A fourth prize of N25,000 will go to the best Spoken Word poet from one of the secondary schools which have benefited from the Society’s monthly PHLS Literature for Teens programme.
The PHLS Poetry Slam, already described as Nigeria’s biggest Poetry Slam, will be judged by award-winning poets, Efe Paul Azino, Andrew Patience, Obii Ifejika and Graciano Enwerem.
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