Wednesday, August 31, 2011

St Paul's Anglican Church, Igbara Oke

Recently visited Igbara Oke in Ondo state for a project and saw the St Paul's Anglican Church perched on a little hill. Ascending into the church on its well worn staircase felt like a short trip to heaven. Inside I found no one to ask questions about its age so I made a silent retreat.

Friday, August 19, 2011

AP No. 1 Campbell Street

This very antique-looking African Petroleum (AP) fuel station is on Campbell Street. It's listed as AP No. 1 on the official manifest of the petroleum regulatory company PPPRA which makes me feel it is actually the  first ever fuel station in Lagos (which in turn could make it the oldest in Nigeria). The dealer is Chief Isaac Nweke.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Marina Street

Once the proud home of Nigeria's top banks until Victoria Island lured many of them away, Marina Street is a rich long stretch of skyscraper-filled real estate. It is where the famous Stallion Plaza, the tallest in the country, lies alongside other impressive architecture.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

St George's Hall

This really cool looking building along Broad Street is the St George's Hall, home to the Freemasons Lodge 3065. I found it unusual and knocked on the door hoping to find someone to speak to and perhaps see the insides but was told by the guard that it doesn't open on Saturdays. It was he who later told me it belonged to the Freemasons, "a club of big men," he said.

On closer scrutiny I discovered that the sign on the top is the compass and square of the masonry. This lodge was founded in 1904. There's a website link here.

As I'm presently reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, I have a little insight into the workings of the fraternity depending on how true the fictional tale mirrors reality. According to Brown, "we all fear what we do not understand." How well that is true with the Masons I do not know but I would like to see the insides of that magnificent hall that lends so much olden beauty to Broad Street.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bishop George Amu @70

Archbishop George Amu
Having read a lot of his interviews in the media in the past, it was a good opportunity to throw questions at Archbishop-elect George Amu at a press conference today where he announced his 70th birthday as well as his consecration as an archbishop, the celebration of his 43rd wedding anniversary and the consecration of three new bishops in his church, the Goodnews Mission.

A popular school boy in his youth when he captained the football team of St Gregory's College, Obalende, the Bishop still stays awake to watch late night football matches as he never likes to miss a thing. Although he regrets that none of his kids ever took to professional sport, Amu says the secret to his long life is that he holds no grudges with anybody. "Do the best you can, how you can, when you can, nobody knows tomorrow,"he says.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Inside MKO Abiola Home IV

The Abiola Graves 
These spots mark the burial places of MKO Abiola and his wife Kudirat. Kudirat was killed by assassins under the military government of Sani Abacha. They lie in front of the main house in the expansive compound. In keeping with Islamic injunctions, they are not overtly decorated but cannot be missed as one enters the compound. 
Sign for the Kudirat Abiola Corner in New York 
The signage above is a copy of that placed on New York's 2nd Avenue and 44th Street in front of the Nigerian Consulate. The corner was renamed after Kudirat in 1997 in honour of her life. The Nigerian military government fought hard to stop it (some people say Abacha spent almost a million dollars) but didn't succeed. In retaliation, the military government renamed the road in front of the American Embassy in Lagos after Louis Farrakhan Street, the controversial Nation of Islam leader. The street has since been renamed after Walter Carrington, a former US ambassador who was very outspoken in the fight to return the country to democratic rule.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Inside MKO Abiola home III

 This is the Abiola study just by his room. The books have been rearranged by KIND but I do not know how much of his stuff remains in there.
Here's a letterhead of MKO's where he's addressed as Aare (Aare Onakakanfo), a traditional title that signified him as the war leader of the Oyo Kingdom.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Inside MKO Abiola home II

At the end of the passageway are portraits of Kudirat Abiola, MKO's wife. She was murdered by the military government's assassins in 1996. I remember hearing the news that she had been shot and was in emergency surgery on the radio as my friends and I were preparing for our school certificate exams. Later on the announcer said she had died due to wounds sustained in the cranium. It was highly uncertain times in Nigeria during the rule of the military. You always turned on the radio awaiting news of who had been shot or arrested. Public dissent was stifled and anyone could be the next to be invited "for discussions" at the office of the State Security Services. We lived in fear. 

The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) was founded by her daughter Hafsat to keep alive the heroine's ideals. 

A biography of Ralph Bunche sits on one of the numerous bookshelves in the Abiola home. Less visible is one of Malcolm X and another report on state-sponsored violence in Nigeria. I believe they are not his as some of the titles were published after his death. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inside MKO Abiola's home

MKO Abiola's portrait on the wall was painted by Togolese  Segla Yenu in 1992
 One of the biggest experiences I've had since I started the Lagos Photo Blog three years ago is the opportunity to photograph the living quarters of the late MKO Abiola, Nigeria's icon of democracy. Abiola died in 1998 in mysterious circumstances during his incarceration by the military ruler Sani Abacha. He had won Nigeria's presidential elections in 1993 but was denied the opportunity to claim his mandate by the military. He was put in jail for treason for declaring himself president by Abacha.

I was welcomed into his expansive home in Ikeja by staff of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) who now use it as office to propagate his ideals and his wife Kudirat's. For someone I admire, it was an intense feeling walking around his large room that had been renovated in 1998 in anticipation of his return home. Unfortunately, it was his remains that were brought to be buried in the compound.

I hope it becomes a public monument to his life soon and that people are allowed to come in to see first hand how the business mogul turned political activist lived his life. His taste for the better things of life can be seen in the bathrooms that are filled with golden accessories. His thirst for knowledge are also evident in the enormous amount of books in the house.
Abiola's massive bedroom is now used for an office by KIND

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Aquinas College Akure @ 60

The Bishop Thomas Hughes Tower and administrative building of Aquinas College, Akure

My alma mater Aquinas College, Akure celebrated her 60th anniversary during the weekend. It was my first time back since 2007 and I took time to go round the school reminiscing the good old days (isn't that a cliche?) when I thought the world only revolved around the four corners of the school. 

Prof O.S Adegoke
Oluwafeyisola Adegoke, a professor of geology and Nigerian National Merit Award winner (1987) took students, staff and old students down memory lane. In a lecture delivered at the occasion, Adegoke told of how he came to enroll as a student in the 1952 set of the school founded by the Roman Catholic Mission a year earlier on a piece of wild land called Igboliki that was donated by the Deji of Akure, Oba Adesida. Adegoke said the thick forest that had been used by the Akure community for the sacrifice of outcasts and twins became the foundation for him and many other young men (including my humble self, seriously) who have now become important people in society. The eminent geologist encouraged the staff members to continue to put in their best in the training of the young boys passing through the school as they are the leaders of tomorrow.

Old students at the event (I'm in there somewhere)

A dinner and launching was held to raise funds at the Alumni Hall. It was graced by Ondo Catholic Bishop Most Reverend Jude Arogundade as well as by representatives of the Deji of Akure. The old students held a thanksgiving service at the Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church on Sunday led by their president Engineer J.R Olusoga. A former student Monsignor Sylvester Adekoya of the Ijebu Ode Catholic Diocese blessed the thanksgiving service.

Monsignor Adekoya giving the blessings during thanksgiving
As part of the four-day events that marked the celebrations, inter-school debates were held as well as football matches between different schools. The buildings in the school were renamed after many of the old students and pioneering staff including founding principal Reverend John Keaveney, Francis MacGovern, Peter Kelly, Michael Evan, first Nigerian principal Ade Iluyemi, Enock Dare, Michael Ibikunle and the late Emmanuel Babalola. On Friday night, rising hip hop singer Ojoro, who is an old boy of the school (he was my class captain in third year), performed to the delight of all at the Rev’d O’Shea Library.