Power Show, a solo exhibition of multimedia works by Ayo Akinwande, a trained architect, photographer and artist, opens this Saturday in Lagos.
Curated by Erin M. Rice, the exhibition, which runs till the February 21st, 2018 at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, is the third solo show by Akinwande. Power Show examines the nuances of the word “power,” in the context of Nigeria where electrical power cuts are a daily occurrence and fuel shortages are common even as the nation is rich in oil. Inspired by Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s song of the same title, the show also “examines power in the sense of authority and its corruptibility, especially where these multiple forms of power overlap.
The irony is not lost on anyone living in Nigeria without power amidst the humming of generators that the nation is the largest producer of oil in Africa.
It may seem even redundant to address an issue so entrenched in daily life in the context of art, but for Akinwande the issue is precisely this entrenchment and the complacency that comes when having no power or waiting in long lines for fuel is so commonplace that it is no longer a source of anger.
Rather when the power comes back on it becomes a moment to praise ‘NEPA’, the nation’s energy provider. Significantly, Akinwande seeks to channel both the frustration and the ordinariness of this situation.
The works presented in Power Show span multiple media and subjects to use the familiarity of found objects, such as the blue generator tanks and the NEPA bill, to expose the ways that a lack of (electrical or gas) power and powerlessness go hand in hand.
Works such as The Shrine evoke the way that power outages have become so entrenched in life in the city of Lagos and Nigeria at large, that recent architecture factors the presence and constant humming of generators into its design.
As the rich find ways to cope with generators and inverters that they have the financial resources to keep running continually, the work serves as a reminder that when the lights go out it is most detrimental to Nigerians who are already vulnerable, who may use chains and cages and other means to protect their source of energy, creating, in effect, a shrine. Power Show represents a pivotal turn in the early career of Akinwande and the fruits of an intensively experimental and creative 18 months.
In mid-2016, Akinwande made the decision to branch out from the medium of photography in which he was working exclusively at the time.
This decision came as a result of his participation in the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos’ residency program titled Asiko, which took place in June- July 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Encouraged by Asiko faculty to push the concept of the ‘Fuel Scarcity’ photographic series in a new material direction, Akinwande returned to Lagos with new ideas, and the motivation to experiment in forms from performance, installation, and sound.
The Lion And The Jewel goes on stage
The stage is set for the Crown Troupe of Africa production of Prof. Wole Soyinka’s play The Lion And The Jewel. Produced by the Ibadan Playhouse, the performances will hold at the Amphitheatre, Lagos Country Club, Ikeja, Lagos, on Sunday March 4, 2018.
Set in the fictional village of Ilujinle, The Lion And The Jewel tells a griping story involving four major characters – Sidi, the village belle; Lakunle, the village school teacher with Western ideals and believe in cultures such as eating with cutlery, kissing and bogus dressing; Baroka, the ageing but nimble witted Baale (head) of Ilujinle; and Sadiku, Baroka’s senior wife and head of the harem.
As the play opens Sidi, carries her pail of water past the school where Lakunle, approaches her and chastises her for carrying her water on her head and stunting her shoulders, but she is unruffled.
Lakunle loves Sidi and wants to marry her. Sidi does not love Lakunle; she finds him and his ideas about making her a modern, Western bride strange. However, she plans to marry him if he can pay the price as the village traditions necessitate. He refuses to pay her bride-price because he considers it an archaic tradition.
Meanwhile, Baroka has ‘got his eyes’ on the “feisty but voluptuous” Sidi. Baroka considers Sidi another conquest but Lakunle, whose cunning reluctance (or inability) to pay Sidi’s bride price, remains an obstacle. Sidi on the other hand will ‘not give’ unconditionally.
All three as well as the entire village are embroiled in a game that must be won by one.
Tribe and Prejudice: Omatseye’s musings in service of humanity
Title: Tribe and Prejudice
Author: Sam Omatseye
Publisher: Parresia Publishers Ltd, Lagos
Year of Publication: 2017
Reviewer: Tony Okuyeme
“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” The above statement by Plato, one of the world’s best known and most widely read and studied philosophers, underscores the essence of poetry.
Sam Omatseye, award-winning Nigerian journalist, poet, novelist and playwright, in his latest collection of poems titled ‘Tribe and Prejudice’, demonstrates his commitment to the making of and desire for a better Nigeria, where though “tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”.
In this collection, titled ‘Tribe and Prejudice’, Omatseye takes the reader, indeed Nigerians, on a reflective journey. While the last collection, Scented Offal, looks at Nigerian history with a view to “capturing some of the essence of the conflicts, crises, and challenges of our history over the years”, in this latest collection, Tribe and Prejudice, Omatseye interrogates further the sundry ills that have plagued the nation. He wants us to look at ourselves critically and realise the kinds of social ills that have bedevilled our nation for so long.
He laments the tribal psychosis and ethnic rivalry pervading our society. In this 63-page book containing 30 poems, the poet reminds us, with clarity of expression and vivid imagery, that “a nation which normalises evil can never make any progress”.
This is clearly captured in the eponymous poem – the first in this collection of 30 poems – Tribe and Prejudice. In it, Omatseye looks at the metropolitan city of Lagos, home to variety of people from different tribes and culture, living together happily, united by a foreign language, which they have adopted to suit their purpose. In the words of the author, “Tribes knitted beneath a tent/All tongues tied by one thread called English…”
But as politics and election came, ‘things began to fall apart’, tribal and cultural differences too centre stage. For, according to the poet, “but in that poll the cosmopolis/came apart one part at a time / One pact was one pact. / The Yoruba past / I jaw past / Igbo past and so on / But past make the present tense / Yoruba of the west / Igbo of the east / Were no longer at ease / The twain met in
Lagos / Not as friends or foes but as / Foes feinting as friends. “Suddenly all our past no longer met / In the pidgin English / We no longer convene in / one tongue.”
He laments the antics of the key politicians, especially Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe, two of the prominent political leaders of Yoruba and Igbo descent respectively. In the third poem, Massacre, 1967’, the author laments the invasion of Asaba by the Nigerian Army and the massacre of unarmed people – old and young – who had come to welcome them with songs and dance for liberating them.
Again, in another poem entitled ‘The Fart of War’, the poet expresses his personal view of war. He sees war as a foolish and destructive venture, an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
The poet notes: “A war does nothing / But build up / A ruin… Cities become fragile like / Human bones / Fields once green recoil to grey…”
With vivid description and haunting imagery, the poet captures other areas of tribalism and its attendant prejudice which are no doubt nauseating.
These include the supremacy battle in Niger Delta, among the Ijaw, Urhobo, and Itsekiri, the Ife and Modakeke case in Osun that raged for years until peace returned; and the activities of the Niger Delta militants and that of the Boko Haram insurgents. They also include Strangers Invocation; ‘Indolent beauty,’ ‘Girl Bomber,’ ‘Corruption’ Almajiri, Tyranny; ‘The Sham I Am’, ‘Wretches’, ‘The Vultures’ and others.
The collection is not just about historical events. The poet looks at some current issues such as the Awo statue at Alausa, Lagos, the Almajiri phenomenon, and some glorious moments such as the victory in the Under 17 World Cup Final in 2015 which he also celebrates in the poem, ‘A Mexican Tear’.
In all of these in Tribe and Prejudice, Omatseye shows us, with a deep sense of patriotism, his desire for a better Nigeria. Notes the Executive Editor of TheNews/PM News, Kunle Ajibade, author of ‘Jailed for Life: A Reporter’s Prison Notes’, Omatseye’s Tribe and Prejudice is passionate honest descriptive lyrical and reflective.
“The arguments here are empowered with measured rhetorical flourishes.
We are roused to rage, shame and pity as the poet confronts us with stupidities, madness, and calamities. We are roused to joy as he celebrates with us moments of glory and triumph. We are roused to value tenderness and to love even in our castle of miseries. We are admonished to consider constantly the futility of life. The poet reaffirms his faith in the goodness that will make humankind endure.”
Reading this collection, you cannot but agree with Ajibade when he also notes that the poet reminds us that “a nation which normalises evil can never make any progress”. Omatseye’s Tribe and Prejudice is a must read.
Entrepreneurship, innovation as panacea for unemployment
Book title: How They Started: Innovative Nigerian Brands
Author: Kachi Ogbonna
Publisher: MiH Consulting Limited, Lagos
Year of publication: 2016
Reviewer: Adejoro Cornelius
Every government in Nigeria in the past few decades have had to battle with the challenge of unemployment without much evidence of success yet. In fact it is safe to say that of all the challenges that are facing Nigeria as a country today unemployment is top on the list. Governments at various levels, private establishments as well as individuals have adopted different approaches as a remedy to this. Kachi Ogbonna’s approach is somewhat different. For him, not only is entrepreneurship the solution to unemployment, he also argues that Nigeria is the best place to start and run a successful business in the world. This, obviously, is contrary to the general opinion that businesses cannot thrive in a place like Nigeria. His book, ‘How They Started’ is therefore a detailed research which presents an empirical proof that it has been done successfully in Nigeria before and that it can be repeated even now. The author is an entrepreneurship consultant. He has established different businesses and today helps many universities to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in their students. He is also committed to helping startups grow.
The author argues that the solution to graduate unemployment in Nigeria is not rocket science. He maintains that it is first of all a matter of mindset and orientation. He maintains that if the young people can look inwards to discover the latent potentials within them and attempt to match them with the various problems they see in their surroundings with the aim of offering solutions and adding value, they would have succeeded in creating businesses with or without government’s special support.
In showing how Nigeria has always been a land of great opportunities, the author traced businesses that started as far back as the immediate post-independence era and still waxing strong today, down to those that were launched in 2012 and have grown to become multinationals in less than four years. The author’s ability to group the 25 brands featured into sectors (eight sectors in all) shows that opportunities abound in almost every sector of the Nigerian economy.
It is probably just a coincidence that this book was released at roughly the same time that Nigeria is passing through what can be described as the biggest economic decline since independence. The price of crude oil has fallen in the international market, the Nigerian currency the naira has depreciated significantly in value, investors are leaving, companies are retrenching with reckless abandon and with the obvious need to diversify the economy and also reduce importation, I am forced to say that if government and those that run our universities are serious about ending graduate unemployment then they must find a way to liaise with Nigerians in the mold of the author of this book and also adopt it as a practical entrepreneurship manual for building entrepreneurial universities.
It is difficult not to commend the author’s liberality and unbiased selection of the featured brands. However, the more he attempts to lay down the criteria for the selection the more we are forced to ask whether they are the only 25 brands that met those criteria. Yet, it is impossible for me not to recommend this book to all entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and indeed everyone that seeks to contribute in growing the nation’s economy through entrepreneurship. Let me also add that every undergraduate deserves to have a copy of this book before leaving the four walls of university.
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