Wednesday, February 4, 2015

#NigeriaDecides: Political campaigns everywhere

It's Nigeria's general election season and there are huge billboards and posters advertising candidates everywhere you turn.

The presidential and national assembly elections hold on Febuary 14 while the votes for governors and state assemblies will be held two weeks later on February 28.

Nigeria is at another important moment in its history. Who will win this one?

I have covered elections in Ghana and Togo, but none of them have been this tense even before the votes are cast.

In 2008 when Ghana went to the polls, I remember the deadlock between both candidates pushed the battle to the small town on Tain. Even then, Ghana was peaceful.

While in Lome in 2010, even as the opposition failed to defeat the long-term family heir Gnassingbe Eyadema, there was not much disturbance of the peace.

In Nigeria, the opposition All Progressives Congressive hopes to use its growing popularity to unseat the government of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Africa's most populous country has not seen such a keen contest since the return to civilian rule in 1999. Many say it is now or never for the coalition of opposition parties to defeat the ruling party.

Nigeria is set on edge, February's polls will either make or mar her.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Afropolitan Vibes: Victor Olaiya and Keziah Jones in performance

Victor Olaiya
It was a fitting way to end 2014 as highlife music legend Victor Olaiya rode the stage at the December 19 Afropolitan Vibes, which continues to grow into a veritable live music hangout for many young Lagosians.

The success of the AV has made it an event to look forward to every month due to its eclectic atmosphere.

And since the move to the main stage of the Freedom Park, the crowd has seemed to increase and become more diverse than when the show was at the smaller theatre stage.

Blufunk singer and guitarist Keziah Jones also performed on the night. Although I interviewed him sometime in 2011, it was my first time to see him play live.

Though he only did about three songs, his dexterity on the guitar was not lost on crowd as the women called out for him to take off his shirt like he has done in the past mainly with European audiences.

Perhaps not wanting to divert the attention of the crowd from the music or due to the different sensibilities of the Lagos audience, KJ decided to keep the shirt on. I'm glad he did.
Keziah Jones
January's Afropolitan Vibes will take place on January 30 with expected performances from 84-year-old highlife legend Chris Ajilo, neo-soul singer Bez, Afro hiphop artist Ajebutter22 and R&B sing Ruby Gyang hosted by the 13-piece Bantu collective.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Afropolitan Vibes: Ebola Can't Stop the Music

Weird MC performing Ijoya

Even as Lagosians have become more cautious of handshakes and hugs in the days after the Ebola virus disease began claiming lives in the city, many citizens still gather in public to have fun and enjoy live music.

For the patrons and followers of the monthly live music Afropolitan Vibes at Freedom Park, Friday August 15 would not be forgotten too quickly.

When veteran rapper Weird MC took to the stage to perform her legendary hit songs Allen Avenue and Ijoya, all they could do was applaud as she shared fist bumps all around with the audience.

“Forget Ebola,” she said, ‘make we chop knuckle” as she greeted the fans before getting them in the groove and making sure they understood that she still “own[ed] the dance.”

While we danced, it was easy to forget about all the bad news and just revel in the moment. After all, the spirit of Lagos cannot be cowed by any “gaddem” disease.

Other performers on the night were Show Dem Camp, Isedale and founder of the Afropolitan Vibes, Ade Bantu and crew.
Next base jare.

Ade Bantu and crew

Friday, April 11, 2014

Celebrities at #Occupy Nigeria

Seun Kuti and fans 
It has been two years since the massive anti-subsidy removal demonstrations that held Nigeria to a standstill in January 2012. Looking back through my archives, I discovered these images with Nigerian celebrities - singers, musicians, actors, comedians and rappers - who stood with the masses against injustice and insensitivity of the Goodluck Jonathan government.

They spoke out at Ojota and used their image to draw people out to the streets in protest. Today many of them have forgotten. But some are still in the fight. This post is to remind everyone involved that there's still a lot to fight for.

Comedian Jedi and friends

Afrobeat singer Ade Bantu

Rapper Eedris Abdulkareem

Actor/director Kunle Afolayan with fans 
Actress Bombo Akintola

Waka queen Salawa Abeni addressing the crowd

Travel, Nigeria style

Hiking on the back of trucks is a common means of travel for many poor people who come to Lagos in search of the good life. The bulk of them come from the North and become porters, fetchers of water and other menial jobs.

They too are the earth's.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - Nigeria @ 100: Lugard's Residence

Happy New Year 2014!

Glad to be back on the blog this year and my first post is about the building in the background and its relationship with the history of my country.

This year marks a century of the existence of the entity called Nigeria. In 1914, British colonial governor general Lord Frederick Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates to form one unified Nigeria.

It was this building in Badagry where Lugard's HQ existed and it was here that he signed the declaration of amalgamation. It stands as a monument to our past and could help shed light on our future.

As the Federal Government of Nigeria is set to celebrate the country's Centenary this year, this building will come back into great focus. It has already undergone renovation preparatory to the activities that will hold in and around it.

A hundred years after the amalgamation of Nigeria's many peoples, tribes and races, lots of suspicions, misgivings and animosities are still evident in my country.

Was Lugard right in bringing us all together without our consent?

Perhaps the National Conference being proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan this year will be able to help heal our wounds.

Happy New Year Nigeria!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reading Kaye Whiteman's Lagos: A Cultural and Historical Companion

Profile: Kaye Whiteman
 Last week, 77 year-old Englishman Kaye Whiteman was in Lagos for a public presentation of his book Lagos: A Cultural and Historical Companion. During that trip he attended a session where Lagos' literati examined the issues presented in the book.

Having produced some of the images used in the book, I also attended and spoke about the choice of the cover photo.

The former editor of West African magazine spoke about the Lagos he experienced in the 1950s and 60s and the changes that have taken place today.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Femke van Zeijl, Igoni Barrett & Victor Ehikhamenor

Tolu Ogunlesi, Van Zeijl, Deji Toye, Whiteman &Toni Kan

Ogunlesi, Whiteman & Lolade Adewuyi

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fans in Nelspruit - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

I am reporting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa for football website Nigeria where I work full time. It has been an exciting time in Nelspruit/Mbombela where the Nigeria national football team are based. I arrived late in the city for the Group C opening matches on Monday but I was able to catch a few photos of fans who'd come from all over the continent to cheer their teams to victory.

By far the most boisterous are the Ethiopian fans who returned to the tournament after 31 years. Many of them drove all the way from Addis Ababa to witness this grand occasion. They were rewarded for their enthusiasm as their team drew 1-1 against defending champions Zambia on Monday night.

Nigeria fans were left disappointed after Burkina Faso scored late to earn a 1-1 draw in the second game.

Here I present a few of my photos.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Kaye Whiteman's LAGOS

Lagos - Front cover
In 2011, I received an email from James Ferguson, an executive at Signal Books in the UK that they needed photos for a book they were going to publish about Lagos.

They had seen my blog and wanted to know if I could produce photos for the seminal volume they were working on.

It took two years of work for them and I'm glad to present Kaye Whiteman's LAGOS to everyone.

The book chronicles the history of the city, explores its many different founding stories, founders, tradition, lore and culture.

When I was approached by the publishers to provide them photos for the book, little did I know that it was going to turn up in this well-written, beautifully bound and packaged volume.

Whiteman, a columnist at Businessday newspapers, has painstakingly produced a work that would continue to be a reference point for many years. He explores the city in all its ramifications - the good, the bad and the ugly.

The author sheds light on the history of the city and how it has since the 17th century become a magnet for many.

He also explores its modern day image as a commercial centre, a growing metropolis, a cultural capital for West Africa and a city that still has its traditions at heart. 

Whiteman interviews key actors in the city: Governor Babatunde Fashola, former governor Bola Tinubu, Oba of Lagos HRM Rilwanu Akiolu, culture ambassadors Jahman Anikulapo and Toyin Akinosho, among many others.

This is the book that you need to have in order to understand this beautiful city of ours better.

Lagos - Back cover

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Applications open for $30,000 scholarship to attend Singularity University’s 2013 Graduate Studies Programme

Nigerian innovators, entrepreneurs, academics and scientists have been invited to apply for an opportunity to win a $30,000 scholarship to attend the Graduate Studies Programme of the Singularity University, California, USA.

This contest is open to academics, scientists, and entrepreneurs from Nigeria, who are ready to transform their innovative ideas into reality. It is an exciting opportunity to present their ideas for the future.

The Graduate Studies Program (GSP13) at Singularity University is a ten-week interdisciplinary program which brings together entrepreneurial leaders and top graduate and postgraduate students from around the globe to explore solutions aimed at solving some of the world's most pressing challenges.

Emem Andrew, a Nigerian former staff of SHELL who was class speaker for the 2010 edition of the Graduate Studies Programme, is the promoter of the scholarship:  “This is your chance to share your ideas on how we could use technology to change the lives of 10 million Nigerians in 5 years and win a scholarship to Singularity University at NASA AMES, California. This is your Eureka Moment. Innovate.”

The deadline for entries is January 21, 2013. The contest is intended for individuals or teams. A candidate cannot be a member in more than one team and team size is unlimited, though teams of 2-4 are recommended.

Interested applicants can find more information on how to apply via:

Emem Andrew can be contacted via email: or via Skype: EmemAndrew

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Idanre Hills - 660 steps up to heaven

Entering Idanre town

It's been so many months since I last blogged on here. It was due to a packed schedule of events in my life in the last year. I went back to school to get a Masters degree in Literature at the University of Lagos while continuing my work full time. There's only so many things a man can do at the same time.

I have also recently gotten engaged!
Lawale doing the Usain thunder-Bolt move

Amazing view from the top

Lots of things to be done on top

Posing with Laide

Seun poses while descending the hill
So Christmas time my fiancee and I have traveled to Akure to be with my parents. On Christmas eve we drove down to Idanre with my brother and two cousins, a town just 30 minutes from Akure to climb the famous hills that were part of the subject of Wole Soyinka's 1968 volume Idanre and Other Poems.

There are 660 steps on the way up the hill. Lacking physical conditioning, we all panted as we climbed except for my brother who ran, jogged and looked so strong climbing.

Due to our late arrival, we couldn't explore so much of the features but it was still a breathtaking view from the top - even it's my second trip there. It's always a thing of great beauty to behold the majesty of those hills.

I joked to my fiancee that the hills are the droppings of an extinct race of giants. We all had a good laugh.

Idanre is a great place to visit for anyone looking for great mountain climbing adventure. There's lots of history locked away in that town.

I just wish that the local people and government would take it upon themselves to promote the resource better. First, we could start with a good restaurant and refreshment shop at the bottom for tourists who need to unwind after a long climb.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Femi Kuti performs on stage with his children

Femi Kuti performing with sons Ayomide and Tunmise and daughter Demilade
 Femi Kuti has been playing at the New Afrika Shrine with his young children. Just like his first son Omorinmade (a.k.a Made) who is now studying classical music in the UK, when he was much younger, Ayomide, Tunmise and his daughter Demilade have been going on stage with their father in recent times.

During his Thursday evening rehearsals at the Shrine, the boys mimic every move that their legendary father makes; they sing along with him on make-believe microphones, tap on the keyboard alongside and also pick up imaginary trumpets when he blows.

Femi described Ayomide as "just like Fela, too troublesome" in my interview with him last year. He also said Tunmise is learning to be "a rascal" from Ayomide. From what I've seen so far, these are two kids who look up to their father so much and are already looking to step into his shoes.

The kids are already warming into the celebrity role that their father enjoys as they regularly have to greet revelers and admirers with fist bumps just like their father does. The Kuti family looks assured of another generation of musical torch bearers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unilag Lagoon Front

 The University of Lagos is bordered by the Lagoon. Along its bank has been built a park where students usually spend time having fun, reading, discussing and plain just admiring the view. One can watch the Third Mainland Bridge economic rat race from the peaceful lagoon front.

I made these images a few weeks ago and only just found them out again to share.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In language class with Femi Kuti

Femi Kuti speaking to Lolade: Photo by Wale Falola

I have had some interesting interactions with musicians over the course of my journalism career but this one with Afrobeat star Femi Kuti trumps all. During my recent interview with him following his third Grammy Awards nomination, we talked about the concept of ‘knowing’. He made a point about the fact that I couldn’t have known his father Fela which I responded in the affirmative. Then he went on to lecture me about the rudiments of English grammar. And the following argument ensued: 

Femi Kuti: How old are you?
Lolade Adewuyi: 31
FK: You couldn’t have known Fela.
LA: Well I knew him even though I didn’t grow up in Lagos.
FK: You knew him; you don’t even speak English well. Knew? How did you know him? You met him? Knew means you must have met him, you’re familiar. Knew him in terms of you have heard his album, abi?
LA: Before he died. I grew up with my dad playing his songs.
FK: So from your dad is how you got to know his music.
LA: Yes.
FK: Even before he died, you were not privileged to even come to Lagos to watch him perform. Patapata [at most] you would have seen him on TV and the footage they have of Fela on TV is when he was old, over 50.
LA: No that was Egypt 80 performing in, was it that Egypt show?
FK: He never performed in Egypt, either Berlin.
LA: There was a big show. It was really the biggest I’ve seen.
FK: Where?
LA: I can’t remember the city, but it was really big and I saw it on Ondo State TV because I grew up in Akure.
FK: You have to tell me because they don’t have much footage of my father when he was young, except you Google him now. There is some footage that people are putting on the internet when he was in his 30s, when he was at his peak.
LA: I think he was in his 40s in this video.
FK: You still did not “knew” the man.
LA: But I’ve read his biographies.
FK: It’s like me saying that I know Kwame Nkrumah. I’ve read his book, I’ve read his philosophies.
LA: You don’t have to meet someone before you know them.
FK: It’s good to still meet, you have met me now; you can tell another generation that you met me. It says a lot in 20 years time when, if I’m still alive or dead, that you have met me than to know or read about me.
LA: Yes, true.
FK: So “knew”, I’m only going about the English you’re speaking, “knew” is different. You do not know the man; you have heard about him, you have read about him...
LA: Stop trying to intimidate me!
FK: I’m not trying to intimidate you, I’m trying to make you understand the English that we’re speaking as African people is such a problem and a burden on our lives that if we don’t understand what we’re writing, when a journalist takes his pen and writes that Femi Kuti is mad, it’s a big deal because 100,000 people will read, and they will tell their friends and then Femi does not have the power to counter that story or fight back this journalist, or journalists.

Needless to say, I left that interview a whole lot wiser and became a friend of Femi Kuti. The interview that was scheduled for an hour ran into almost two hours as we exchanged banters. Perhaps like Femi said, I can tell my children that I met him, therefore I know him. However, since I enjoy Fela’s music and identify with some of his messages, having interviewed his sons, read his story and philosophy, I would like to maintain that I KNOW him. Jesus Christ said, blessed are those who have not seen, yet believed. I have researched enough to assume a level of knowledge that many people who met him physically can say about knowing him. I do believe that I know Fela. After all, he’s no longer a man but a concept.     

A more 'serious-minded' part of the interview was published in TELL last week

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Passion of Christ

Captured this Passion of Christ procession on Good Friday along Agidingbi Road as I drove out in the morning. I'd always seen scenes like this on TV and in the papers but it was my first live view. So I parked by the kerb and shot a few images as the procession by St Leo's Catholic Church moved along the road towards Coca Cola Junction.

By the way, did you notice the hair? Wonder how well coiffed Christ's hair was as he was led like a lamb to the slaughter on Calvary.