Saturday, October 22, 2011

Street football

Young men take to the empty streets to play football during this weekend's elections into Lagos State's  local governments and local council development areas. This photo was made at Ojodu where youngsters made use of open roads to play football due to the ban on vehicular movement during elections.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Felabration 2011: Fela's Children

A young man raises a clenched fist in honour of Fela at the end of an Afrobeat performance at the Afrika Shrine during Felabration 2011
Friday night is usually the biggest of all the performances during the annual weeklong Felabration. Extremely long queues of people trying to get into the Afrika Shrine can be seen all over as the crowd press into each other. However, order is maintained by the aptly named green-shirted Shrine Police that keep everyone in check with their whips and clubs and sometimes a machete or two. It's not as rowdy as it may sound. 

So struggling to get inside with my media pass, I tried to document the crowd and their loyalty to the genre created by the genius that Fela Kuti was. I have decided to call this post Fela's Children because no matter how long that it seems the legend has been dead, he still possesses a huge following of young men and women (some who were toddlers when he died and many not even born). Such is the power of Afrobeat that it will grow continuously for a long time. 

 Felabration 2011 has come and gone. Like Gabriel Okara wrote in his poem The Fisherman's Invocation, "the celebration is now ended, the drums lay quiet, silent, waiting" for another year.  

Faces of young men in crowd during Felabration 2011 
Cross section of the audience at the Afrika Shrine during Felabration 2011
Security guards frisk a man on the long queue to enter the Afrika Shrine during Felabration 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bar Beach: WatchTower


This watch tower stands on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean at the Bar Beach in Victoria Island.

Obafemi Awolowo

One of the three famous statues of the founder of modern Yoruba politics and economy, Obafemi Awolowo stands immortalised at the Allen Avenue Roundabout in Ikeja. The two other statues like this one are located in Ibadan and Ile Ife (inside the university named after him).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Felabration 2011: Buy Africa

The Executives perform a dance sketch

It's Fela Kuti's birthday again and this year's theme of Felabration is "Buy Africa". A formal opening was done with speeches delivered by public intellectuals on Monday at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. 

The New Afrika Shrine has been playing host to nightly performances by new acts and big name music stars since. The Executives Dance Club opened last night's performance with a sketch that featured a cameo role by a Fela look-alike. 

This year the duo of Femi and Seun Kuti, sons of Fela, will not be performing as they are on tour at the moment. Here are some images from Tuesday night at Felabration.

Two men have a go at the Ayo board game inside the New Afrika Shrine
Travel paper Waka-About carries Fela on its cover page

A patron lights up a joint at the New Afrika Shrine 
The crowd at the New Afrika Shrine for Felabration 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lagos Photo Festival 2011

 The 2nd Lagos Photo Festival opened on October 8 at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos. Bigger and better than last year's, this edition parades 44 photographers from Nigeria, Ghana, Italy, India, South Africa, France, Holland, etc. It is the biggest photo exhibition on the west coast of Africa and the quality of images and stories on display are impressive. Follow the official exhibition blog here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bar Beach: Girl on a Swing

A girl sits on an old swing looking into the distance at the Bar Beach resort in Victoria Island. The beach is a popular destination for fun seekers in Lagos after its reclamation from the surging ocean waves in recent times.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Independence Day Nigeria: 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

For too long, Nigeria and Nigerians have been readily associated with the online scams, financial crime and impersonation - termed ‘419’. However, beyond the unfortunate stereotyping, there are several positive characteristics and cogent intriguing traits of the country, Nigeria and its people, some of which are highlighted below as part of the ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ campaign which enlisted 100 volunteers and bloggers to share reasons why they like Nigeria. These reasons echo the voices of Nigerians, with resonating similar themes. The campaign is being facilitated in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.

The full list of ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here  (
The list of contributors to ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here
If you would like to say something positive about Nigerians and Nigeria, please do so here.

v  I like Nigeria because it is a land of endless opportunities and possibilities. Nigeria is one country I believe the world is yet to experience it true potentials. I believe Nigerians are sharp, brilliant and accommodating people. Giving the right enabling environment the world will marvel at what Nigeria will become.
v  Nigeria is the most populous black nation - and a buying one at that. From a capitalist point of view, this makes for a great investment opportunities.
v  The fact that Nigeria currently lags behind so much - in infrastructure and developmental terms - hints at the size of the potential for innovation and transformation, and at the huge number of vacancies that exist for 'transformers'. What I think this means is that the world will be hearing a lot about Nigeria and high-achieving Nigerians (in the public and private sectors) in the near future.

v  The Nigerian Green and White flag is a notable national symbol. The green color symbolises agriculture, seeing that the country is endowed with masses of arable land, while the white colour signifies unity and peace. Other national symbols include the Nigerian Coat of Arms, which depicts an eagle on a black shield, tri-sected by two wavy silver bands, and supported on either side by two chargers. The national motto underlies the coat-of -arms: "Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress." Her national symbols convey great meaning to its people.
v  The Nigerian accent is currently ranked by CNN Global Experiences as the 5th sexiest accent in the world.
v  Nigeria is home to Nollywood, one of the world's biggest film industries.

v  Something great to like about Nigeria is our cultural diversity. A strong affinity exists, despite our differences. Learning about other ethnic cultures in my country really helped me personally relate to other cultures when abroad.
v  I think the food is tastier in Nigeria than that I have found in other countries.
v  Nigerians live a communal life style.  The extended family is part of the immediate family in a Nigerian home.

v  Nigeria has produced many world class musicians. A notable mention in this regard is Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A Broadway show titled ‘FELA!’ was produced in 2009 depicting the life and times of the Afrobeat musician.
v  Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, is reputedly the 3rd largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood, and has grown gradually into a $250 million industry in more than 10 years.
v  Nigerian indigenous musical instruments are unique, soulful and rhythmic. They comprise the popular Talking Drum, producing proverbial and storytelling sounds, the Shaker (shekere), the Udu drum, the Lute, the leg and arm Rattle, the Omele, the Ogene (Gong originating in Eastern Nigeria), the Ekwe drum and the Kakaki (A 4m metal trumpet popular in Northern Nigeria). Many of these instruments have been incorporated in South American music over the years

v  Nigeria is a nation blessed with rich human and natural resources. As the 8th largest exporter of Oil in the world, with the 10th largest proven reserves, our blessings cannot be overemphasised. No earthquakes, no tsunamis, no droughts, an evergreen land. The rest of the world should live here.
v  The beauty of the Nigerian state cannot but leave one in awe. Blessed with captivating physical features and abundant wild life. From the rolling hills to the vast plains in the North Central Nigeria and the forests in the South, the beautiful scenery of the country is more than breathtaking and with the wildlife spread all over the country; Nigeria is surely a beauty to behold and a tourist's delight all year round.
v  Nigeria is blessed with tremendous agricultural resources. Cotton in the North, Cocoa & Oil palm in the south amongst many others. The flag is green for a reason

v  Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa. Approximately 1 out of every 2 West Africans, 1 out of every 4 Africans, and 1 out of every 5 persons of African origin is a Nigerian.
v  Nigeria is the largest contributor of troops to the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and by extension, is the largest force for peace and stability in West Africa.
v  A Nigerian will stand out anywhere you find him/her, from Libya to London, Tokyo to Timbuktu. Well known examples include Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets, USA), Olumide Oyedeji (Seattle Sonics), Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Sunday Adelaja (Ukraine), Chris Aire (US), etc.

v  Nigerians are intelligent, brilliant minds who have proven their mettle in various fields - Wole Soyinka was the first African to win the much coveted Nobel Prize for literature in 1986. Chinua Achebe’s classic novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ was ranked as number 14 in a list of top 100 books in the world by Newsdesk in 2009. Others include Cyprian Ekwensi, Mabel Segun, Chimamanda Adichie and Helon Habila whose literary works have won both international and local awards at various times.
v  We have budding fashion designers. Yes! It's a line every Bunmi, Amaka and Amina has decided to tow but to disregard the effort and originality of our Fashion Designers would be disrespectful. Tiffany Amber, Lanre Da Silva and Deola Sagoe are building world renowned brands, not to mention the legacy developed by the likes of Abba Folawiyo, Maureen Onigbanjo, Remi Lagos and Zizzi Cardow.
v  Nigerians have excelled in the fields of economics and finance, managing well established global bodies. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the current Minister of Finance, was until recently a Managing Director at The World Bank.  Obiageli Ezekwisili is currently the Vice President for Africa at The World Bank. Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi is a first class graduate of Oxford, and Managing Partner of Global infrastructure Partner (GIP), a concessionaire of London’s Gatwick International Airport.
v  We take technology and expand it in ways those who created it could not have imagined. For instance, take the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) which allows you to send broadcast messages to all addresses on your contacts list; Nigerians recently found a unique way of advertising the different businesses they do. Someone started a message highlighting the fact that many people in Nigeria are entrepreneurs or provide a service and included his BB PIN in the message and sent to all his contacts with the charge that they state the service they provide, include their PIN and send on to all their contacts too. This seemingly small campaign has gone “viral” with whole lists of entrepreneurs and their BB PINs being passed from phone to phone. This is a clear sign of the ingenuity of Nigerians!

v  Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation in the world (over 160 million) and most populous in Africa - a gold mine of energetic, determined and talented people in each and every field. From Lagos to Aba to Kano, the Nigerian business spirit and desire to succeed is visible. It requires just proper harnessing of these human resources before Nigeria becomes the super power she was meant to be.
v  Nigerians are passionate, friendly, welcoming, hospitable, and well cultured people. The average Nigerian reflects a combination of vivacity, intelligence, energy, talent, and resolution.
v  We are a nation of people that can hardly hide their excitement at seeing family and friends. Some misconstrue this thinking we are loud but let's just say we are EXPRESSIVE! If you see us on the streets of New York making a big ruckus and hugging? No sweat. We are just happy to see each other.

v  The Giant of Africa: Not ignoring the current challenges, eventually, when we get our acts right, we will reign supreme on the global scene. We have the potential and as is much touted by the Warri people - "Naija no dey carry last"
v  The 'survivor-mentality' hard-wired into the DNA of Nigeria's people. The fact that against all the odds (and there are many of them), Nigerians continue to live, hustle and seek to triumph. It is not by mistake that Nigeria is regarded as one of the "happiest" countries in the world, despite its challenging economic and social conditions.
v  We are hardy. The average Nigerian does business under circumstances that are unimaginable to people from other parts. In a place where there is no power, no credit, and scant regulation, people do business and do very well for themselves too. If you can make it in Nigeria, you can make it anywhere in the world.

v  Nigeria is an amazing tourist haven and is home to the Obudu Cattle Ranch, located in Calabar. It is only 45 miles from the Cameroon border. The Obudu Plateau is spread over 40 sq. miles and is 5,200 feet above sea level. The Obudu resort features a Gorilla Camp where tourists may observe gorillas in their natural habitat.
v  Nigeria has two UNESCO world heritage sites, the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa. UNESCO world heritage sites are places designated as being of cultural significance.
v  Nigeria has produced great footballers like Teslim “Thunder” Balogun (the first Nigerian to play for an English Club – QPR), Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini (who scored Nigeria’s first ever goal at the World Cup), Nwankwo Kanu, Austin 'Jay Jay' Okocha, John Mikel Obi, Osaze Odemwingie, to mention but a few.
v  Nigeria has excelled in athletics over the years, still holding continental records in the 100m men and women, 4x100m men and women, 400m men and women, among others. Over 100 skilled Nigerian professional footballers played in First Division leagues in different countries all over Europe in the 2010/2011 season, 9 in England; 8 each in Finland, Norway; 10 in Ukraine and 7 in Sweden.

v  Nigerians, despite our diversity are a united people who always strive to help one another. With 774 local government areas, multi religious and ethnic affiliations, 36 States, and population of over 160 million, we still stand undeterred to move forward together.
v  Even outside the country, Nigerians remain united. This gives a quiet assurance somewhat that you can get on a plane and go to any country of the world and find a Nigerian there who will not only make you feel welcome but will go out of their way to be of really good help. I have experienced this several times on my travels and each time it amazes me how all I need to be is a Nigerian, not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa and once I run into another Nigerian, I will immediately feel at home.
v  Our greatest strength lies in our diversity.

The ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ Campaign is in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.