Saturday, March 27, 2010

When in love with home and abroad!


Name: Olanrewaju Blackman Sule
Profession: Chattered accountant
City: Atlanta, GA

His story:
When Olanrewaju left Africa, his plans were simple- get a good education overseas and come back to serve Nigeria as a politician. But Like many young Africans in diaspora, Olanrewaju Sule who migrated to the US in 2002, in search of a qualitative education to boost his high school dream and ambition of becoming a successful Politician someday, changed his plans as he acclimatized into the system abroad. His perception on life was broadened after he got into college. He studied Accounting and Finance, with a major in Business in a two years college- Georgia Perimeter and later transferred to Georgia State University where he obtained a BA in Accounting. He is now working on obtaining his Masters from the same school. When ‘Blackman', as he is fondly called by friends, is not working, he is playing soccer or socializing. He even runs a vibrant entertainment outfit with his friends called “Rock on dude”.

After about eight years of being abroad, Olanrewaju visited his motherland recently. In this interview, he shares his experience of life abroad, visiting in Nigeria again and why he is excited about returning or not returning to Nigeria:

How was life back home before relocating abroad? What was it like getting acclimated?

Back home, I was a little immature, not as buoyant. Life in Nigeria was a beginner’s life then. I was dependent— but here it is different. At first it was very difficult adjusting after I moved here. Many factors contributed to this, including having an accent and knowing everyone around had one too. It was hard to understand people and people didn’t understand me too. I also found the food here strange, and the transport system was very different from the Danfo buses I was used to in Lagos. In fact, the first two months was very frustrating. I missed my friends and trying to make new friends was very difficult. There is still so much racist attitude—everywhere, even in soccer field—people won’t play with you because you are of different color.

What excited you most about relocating
?
The free education—getting paid to go to school was a huge motivation. There is no such opportunity back home. Even if there was in Nigeria, there will be a slide, not everyone will be able to access it. Staying in the US has so far made me the best man I could be.

Tell us about your recent visit to Nigeria. What major changes did you see?
I saw a couple of changes—people have more stuff. When I was there, there were no movie Theaters and Plazas. This means more job opportunities are opening up for people. However, the people don’t look happy. Their facial expression didn’t give me a good vibe. Nigerians are the happiest people on earth but their facial expression didn’t depict that when I visited.
The visit to Nigeria discouraged me from considering coming home soon. Electricity is still bad. I thought things would have improved. In the US, customer service is held at high esteem but in Nigeria, it seems nobody cares. At the airport, I was trying to have my bag checked, the officer directing me pointed to a group of guys and said “go meet that man there” when there were about 5 men...

Do you see yourself in near future doing anything to serve Nigeria?
Considering how the financial sector is blooming in Nigeria, I’m actually doing a research in the investment banking, to see how we can further boost this aspect in Nigeria, even though it is not yet a popular trend.

Does that mean you are hashing out plan to come back home to Nigeria? if yes, Why? if no, why not?
Yes---there is not place like home…eventually…one day be one day--- I will go home set up a business and create job opportunities for graduates. My goal is not just to go back but to go back home and set things up. Living abroad is not the answer to everything--- diaspora is over rated—but there are opportunities here. It is left for the youths to come here and grab those opportunities for good use.

Does that not imply you are in support of brain drain?
It won’t hurt to gain experience here and learn what is making them successful and go back and use it to improve things back home.

In your opinion, what are those things ordinary Nigerians like you and I need to keep in mind in our quest to contribute to Nigeria’s development?
Education: Educate people that don’t want to be educated by telling them about the importance of education to personal and national development.
Set a goal: Know what you want out of life—have a goal in life and set how to achieve it
Community service and volunteer work: learn to give a little of your time to serve your community—giving your time shows you care about your country.
Keep good companion: Hang out with good people. If you hang around with the wrong crowd, it will rub off on you. One of the principles I learnt in High School is that joining multitude to do evil will make you evil. That has always helped me in picking the right friends.
Don’t be greedy: Be sufficient and content with what you have.
It is also important for young Nigerians to listen to what is going on around the world—current affairs—be locally aware and be globally aware too—listen to news, follow Nigerian political system, know how it works—know how the money and infrastructures is taken care of. That basic experience on how Nigerian government is run will motivate you to want to serve and build a better Nigeria.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

THE MEGA CITY PHENOMENON


According to United Nations predictions, for the first time in history, over 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities rather than in rural areas. This social statistics is expected to become real by 2030. Between 2007 and 2050, the global urban population is forecast to increase by 3.1 billion, passing from 3.3 billion to 6.4 billion. While Africa is projected to have its urban population increase by 900 million, Lagos is particularly rated as one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, thus ranking as one of the top twenty-five (25) Mega cities in the world today.

There are many criteria used in defining a mega city. A mega city can be defined as a metropolitan area with a total population that exceeds 10 million people. It also refers to a city chacterised by rapid economic growth coinciding with a high poverty rate, crime and other social problems. A mega city can be a single metropolitan area or two or more metropolitan areas that converge upon one another. Thus, the term Conurbation is used to describe the latter. One of the challenges of mega cities is the difficulty in accurate population estimation.

In 1950, New York was the only urban area with a population of over 10 million worldwide. By 1985 the number of such cities rose to nine, but in 2004, Geographers identified 25 of such areas. The world’s most populous mega city today is Tokyo, which has more than 40 percent of its country’s entire population. According to the 2007 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, “It is expected that in 2025 Tokyo will still be the world’s most populous urban agglomeration, with 36 million inhabitants.” Meanwhile, the population of Lagos, which has grown from about 300,000 in 1950 to about 14 million in 2007, is estimated by the Nigerian government to expand to 25 million by 2020.

The world’s mega cities face the challenges of urbanization which include illegal settlement caused by massive rural-urban drift that results in residential shanties or slums being built around and within the metropolis. Such characteristic tendency contributes to political, social and economic degradation, which most mega cities face. For example, most urban slums have little or no access to qualitative education, health care and employment opportunities. Thus, the slum dwellers become instigators of social problems that trickle inevitably into the city.

In the case of Lagos, to ameliorate the negative effects of rural-to-urban drift on the growth and development of the state, the Lagos State government has been implementing different programs calculated to perpetuate the maintenance of Lagos State as a mega city. Different recreational parks as well as serene landscapes have been constructed to replace the obtrusive dumps in the city. Modern business districts have replaced the illegal roadside traders’ sheds that also used to double as hide-outs for hoodlums and other social miscreants especially at night. An imaginatively functional transport system called “BRT” has also been introduced to ease the public transport system in Lagos, thus contributing to the growth of economic activities in the state. In the process of implementing these projects, job opportunities were created invariably for the unemployed in the society.

THE TWENTY-FIVE LARGEST MEGA CITIES IN THE WORLD

RANK CITY COUNTRY
1 Tokyo Japan
2 New York United States
3 Seoul South Korea
4 Mumbai India
5 Mexico City Mexico
6 Delhi India
7 Sao Paulo Brazil
8 Los Angeles United States
9 Cairo Egypt
10 Shangai China
11 Osaka Japan
12 Kolkata India
13 Metro Manila Philippines
14 Jakarta Indonesia
15 Karachi Pakistan
16 Guangzhou China
17 Buenos Aires Argentina
18 Moscow Russia
19 Tehran Iran
20 Beijing China
21 Dhaka Bangladesh
22 Rio de Janeiro Brazil
23 London United Kingdom
24 Istanbul Turkey
25 Lagos Nigeria
List Source: Th. Brinkhoff: The Principal Agglomerations of the World

THE NEW AIR-CONDITIONED DAEWOO BUSES IN LAGOS!


A few years ago, the public transportation system in Lagos was a far cry from what it is now. Not only was it rugged, mortifying and unfashionable with so many commuters hustling to jump into moving buses, no one could tell how much was lost in the process. Street urchins popularly called “Agbero” were another menace to the system as they harassed commuters, picked pockets and engaged in all sorts of mischievous activities to the detriment of a functional transport system in the State. However, with the introduction of a government-driven public transport system, the transport sector in Lagos has since been upgraded from its dissipation and deteriorating status into a standard befitting one of the world’s Mega cities.

As part of its resolute effort to turn Lagos into a Mega City and improve business activities in the state, the Government launched the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in March 2007. The project was actually initiated by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration, with assistance from the World Bank. It has since seen the light of day, thanks to current Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola’s successful implementation strategy.

Since the launch of the BRT system, Lagos has joined other modern Mega cities that are overcoming the hectic transportation problem caused by urbanization and overpopulation. In the past, to meet the transportation needs of Lagosians, similar systems, such as the Lagos Municipal Transport Service (LMTS), Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC), the Jubilee line and other transport outfits, were set up but gradually faded out due to poor maintenance and related negligence.

The BRT system, which is being regulated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) to ensure effective operations, is classified into the Red and Blue buses, which ply designated routes within the metropolis. While the Red Buses, popularly called “LAGBUS”, under the operation of the LAGBUS Asset Management Limited run non-stop from Mile 12 to CMS, the Blue Buses, operated by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), run the same route but with stops at every BRT designated Bus-stop where the BRT shelter is built with tickets on sale for commuters.

As the name implies, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) seeks to give passengers a smooth ride at an affordable fare and to encourage more Lagosians to imbibe the culture of public transportation, thus reducing traffic congestion that result when everybody puts their cars on the road daily. Although, the latter has significantly been achieved, the hope of enjoying a cheap transport was thwarted when Lagos commuters woke up to the announcement of the increase in the BRT bus fare with the introduction new BRT LAGBUS.

These new LAGBUS are Daewoo buses that have facilities such as radio, Air conditioning etc. which do not exist in the Marcopolo LAGBUSES. The introduction of the new buses increased the routes covered to include Oshodi, Festac, Dopemu, Ketu, Ojubode etc. plied by BRT LAGBUS. The ticket price increased as well. For example, a ride from Ojodu Berger to TBS that used to cost N120 on the old Marcopolo buses was increased to N150 while the new Daewoo LAGBUS cost N200.

Speaking with Lagos Friday Telegraph on this new improvement, one of the operational Staff who claimed anonymity said “Daewoo Executive buses started operation on February 23rd 2009 with the intention of providing a better improved service. It has AC and radio for commuter’s enjoyment. The increase in fee was not effected without notice. In fact, passengers had the opportunity of traveling on the air-conditioned buses at a minimal fee on the first week of operation so that they will know the worth of the Bus. There was a banner displayed to notify the commuters on the price variations. Not all of them agreed to the change. We must however not forget that the BRT was introduced to make transport easier for Lagosians, not necessarily cheaper. ”

While a few commuters interviewed showed keen preference for the new air-conditioned buses to the Marcopolo buses, some showed repulse, while others were basically non-challant in outlook. Mr. Akintunde, a communicator who works on the Island said “I prefer the Air-conditioned buses because they are more comfortable.” Similarly, another commuter, Mr. Famudimu Gabriel simply described it as super-convenient. “But I am not taking it today because I have cold and the air-conditioned bus might not make me feel better” he said. Although, Joy who works in SAPN, an oil company in Lagos Island and travels on BRT actually exclaimed that the Daewoo bus was too expensive, she admitted preferring it to the other bus because of its comfort. Meanwhile, Abimbola Folashade simply said “it makes no difference.” Mr. Obasi who also shares Folashade’s view said that he travels on the Marcapolo bus because to him the two buses are just the same. However, Mr. Samuel Adegola who was traveling through the Ojodu-Berger BRT terminal for the first time enthusiastically opted for the new air-conditioned bus, “It is worth the price. I think it is going to be more comfortable. It will create room for relaxation before commuters embark on the stress of the day” he said.

BRT LAGBUS: AIR-CONDITIONED DAEWOO VS. MARCOPOLO BUSES

ROUTE PRICE (N)
DAEWOO MARCOPOLO
Berger-TBS 200 150
Tollgate-TBS 150 120
Alapere-TBS 120 100
Oworo-Obalende-TBS/CMS 100 80
Berger-Oshodi 100
Alapere-Oshodi 100 70
Ojubode-Leventis/Obalende/CMS 200
Benson-Ketu 100
Agric-Ketu 100
Oshodi-CMS/Obalende 150 100
Mile 2- CMS (Broad St.) 120
Iyana Ipaja- Oshodi 70
Iyana Ipaja- CMS (Broad St.) 220 180
Dopemu-CMS (Broad St.) 200 160
Pleasure-Oshodi 70
U-turn- Oshodi 100
Mile 12-CMS (Outer Marina) 150 120
Festac- CMS 200
Festac- Oshodi 100
Festac- Mile 2 50

THE BEACH AT YOUR DOOR-STEP

THE BEACH AT YOUR DOOR-STEP
BY JENNIFER EHIDIAMEN

Lagos is rightly referred to as the city that never sleeps by many. Characterized by over population, noise, business hub, cultural diversity etc. the city is most celebrated for its liveliness and hot spots which distinct it from other cities in Nigeria. Among the many features that can only be found in this fast-becoming-a-Mega city, the Beach remains the most outstanding.

Bar Beach (so long forgotten), Kuramo Beach, Lekki Beach, Alpha Beach, Eleko Beach, Akodo Beach, Badagry Beach, Agaja Beach, Ilashe Beach, Whispering Palms, Lighthouse Beach, Atlas Cove, Ogogoro Island and Tarkwa Bay are some of the private and public Beaches in Lagos.

These Beaches serve as a good spot where Lagosians and Tourists let their hair down and feel the earth under their feet. They turnout in tens on weekdays and in hundreds on weekends, but during festive holidays or other public holidays the place is besieged by both rich and poor itching for an opportunity to bask in the glory of nature. Everywhere you turn, you will see lovers strolling on the white sand, families sitting under the Palm trees with their picnic basket, youths swimming in the wave of the calm ocean or religious groups/spiritualists offering sacrifice/sun worshipping (in some of the public Beach).

Despite the similarity in the features of these coasts, they are all uniquely located in different parts of Lagos and each appeal to a varied audience. For example, the Kuramo (named after a small lake which lies behind it), Eleko Beach and Tarkwa Bay are often patronized by the masses while Ilashe and Whispering Palms (a holiday resort near Badagry) are exclusive Beach resort accessible only to those who can afford it.

Tarkwa Bay, a sheltered Beach located at the entrance of Lagos Port is one of the best public beaches in Lagos. It is easily accessible by boat from Tarzan Jetty at Maroko or through Falomo Bridge on Victoria Island. Tarkwa Bay is loved by many because of its calmness which makes it possible for children to swim. Also, the white sand is not as coarse as of other Beaches, thus people find it more comfortable to walk or lie on.

Like Tarkwa Bay, Lekki Beach is a popular Beach on the Island. It is accessible through the Lekki-Epe Expressway, around Ilasan Housing Estate. The Beach has small huts/shelter made of palm fronds which are available for hire to tourists and other visitors.

Meanwhile, another serene Beach for Lagosians who love to live big in an exclusive environment is the Halem Sea Side Resort on Kuramo Beach or Ikaare Island or Satellite Town. Like Ilashe and Agaja Beach, this exclusive Beach resort is open to people looking for a place to take-off for a short vacation while maintaining a sense of community feel.

Father away from the Island and the buzzing of the metropolis is the Badagry Beach. People who visit the Badagry Heritage Museum or Slave Port often maximize their trip by heading down to this famous Beach. The horse ride, fresh-looking coconut begging to be eaten, clean and calm atmosphere makes it an attractive place to unwind.

In terms of proximity, Bar Beach and Kuramo Beach are located at the heart of business in Victoria Island. However, Lekki Beach, Eleko Beach and Akodo Beach are located around the Lekki Environ. Still on the Island, Tarkwa Bay, Halem Sea side resort, Lighthouse Beach, Ogogoro Island and Atlas Cove are closely knitted around the Port entrance. The whispering Palms Beach and Holiday resort, Badagry Beach and Suntan Beach are all located in Badagry. No matter where you reside in Lagos, one of these Beaches are near you, if not at your door step, so imbibe the holiday culture and take a trip to the sun!

Tosyn or not Tosyn?


For some people, living with sickle cell is something to be timid about, to whisper about behind closed doors. It takes boldness to talk about it, but Tosyn is not just talking about it, she is also spearheading an organization called THESE GENES that is primarily set up to address what ordinarily the society would want to ignore. These Genes aims to create awareness about sickle cell towards building a better-informed society. Tosyn Bucknor is a young lady who has chosen to stand up and be counted, thus making a difference in her life and the lives of others. Here young Tosyn talks about her passion, writing, music and of course these genes!

Who is Tosyn Bucknor?

I have to be honest, every time I’m to introduce myself to people always depends on where I am and what is happening there. But I will say in a nutshell that I am a writer who is into media and entertainment…who is a singer-song writer. I’m very interested in not-for-profit. I run two but three projects. The first one is the sickle cell one; the second one is Share, which is a social network for young adults. Lately I have become interested in orphanages, especially one in Kogi State- Mama Ekundayo orphanage. I studied Law. I grew up in a family of four- my dad, my mum, my sister and I, and I am a daddy’s girl.

You said you studied Law but do you practise?

The good thing is I may not be practicing in the sense that I don’t go to court but I find that law is something that affects everything you do… the thing that law does for you is that it opens your mind to certain things, it helps you ask questions and it helps you to always know how to protect yourself and the things you do. Thus, I can do legal consultancy in the entertainment field.

What has been a major influence in your life that shaped your ambition?

I have a lot of things that influenced me. First of all, I was very influenced by the way I grew up. Now I realized that I grew up in a very bohemian lifestyle in the sense that my dad is a musician so all the things I love now can be traced back to the way I grew up. I have also been influenced by the fact that I live with sickle cell. I find that it helped shaped some of the opinions and views that I held while growing up. And, of course, coupled with a Leap Africa sponsored conference I attended in Ghana, when we were asked about what we are passionate about and we were told to start a change project in our environment, it opened my mind to the things that I knew, that you don’t have to wait to be a president to do something, you can affect the people around you. That conference was also a very important influence. Being passionate about what people are passionate about also influences me. Take, for instance, the Mama Ekundayo thing when I saw it in TY Bello’s documentary, I wanted to support that passion.


Tell us about this Mama Ekundayo

Basically, officially she is like ninety something, she is in Kogi State, she runs an orphanage…in the documentary by TY Bello, she was like how can she eat when her own children have not eaten? This is actually a woman who doesn’t work or have a stable source of income and she is running an orphanage home. Mama Ekundayo is very inspirational in the sense that she shows that you don’t actually have to have everything to help…

And you want to support this vision?

Yes. God-willing I want to go there in November, some people already volunteered to support. But I will also want to return next year and return with a lot more people. The idea is to go there and see for myself their areas of need and then go back with help.

What qualities will you say you possess that puts you at advantage over others?

Actually, I’m just an average person who refuses to be average. I am very passionate about showing that. In our society we seem to be very impressed with superlatives- you are the tallest; you are the best…but what about the people that are average? I’m very stubborn about being an average girl but not being treated averagely.

Was that what inspired you to start up THESE GENES?

When I was growing up, I would say the information I had about sickle cell was very scientific. Nobody was talking about how you feel, people weren’t talking; it was as if people were shy. When I was growing up and I tell someone I’m a sickler, they would say don’t tell people. Why? I’m Yoruba, I’m short, I don’t hide that. Why should I hide the fact that I live with sickle cell? What inspired me to start up THESE GENES was to be able to talk to teenagers because I think that is the age you are a bit confused about it… I was so fixated on the fact that they said I was going to die when I was eighteen, that I wasn’t living my life. Until I realized that it really isn’t how long you live but what you do with the hours you have…a lot of people who live with sickle cell are stigmatized…they are thought to be abikus, or seen as spiritual attack…

What has been some of the things you have achieved by talking about it?

In fact I was very surprised with the impact these genes has had so far. Even educated people are inspired to go learn more. We have a lot of people coming to ask us how they can help their friends who live with sickle cell not to be defeatist about life. We get emails from all over Nigeria, from people who just want to express themselves. We then also have people who just want to talk about it…sickle cell is something to talk about because the truth is practically everyone in Nigeria is affected one way or the other. If you are not, you might know a cousin or friend that is.


How about your other passions- the writer in you, have you published a book yet?

No I haven’t published a book; I have a lot of written books. As a writer, for a long time I just used to write, I never used to show people what I write. But lately, I have become more confident and actually want to publish. Not because I think it validates me as a writer but because I have a lot of books written and I just feel I should publish one or two. I wrote a book when I was growing up on my journey living with sickle cell, now it is being edited and proof read. Hopefully I should be able to publish it.

And your music?

Oh music. Music. Music. Music is very interesting. My stage name is Contradiction… I find music to be very scary. I don’t know if it is because my Dad is a musician so there is always the question of am I trying to be like him? Will I even match up? What will people think? Should I do music? Should I stick to writing? Music has a lot of questions for me but it is because it has a lot of questions that I know I have to do it. It is like I have to face my biggest fear, so I don’t want to look back on my life and see this whole music thing I didn’t explore.


Why the name Contradiction?

I wanted a name that will capture who I am. I’m like an old woman one day and then I’m a young girl. Sometimes, I’m a tomboy; usually, I like wearing jeans, T-shirts. There are days I wear short dresses and high heels. I’m a very nice person but can be very mean, especially if I want to get things done. I wanted people to understand who I was, it even reflects in the music… it is my different persona playing out.

And you are also an event planner?

No! That is my sister. My sister is an event planner. But I know why people tend to think I’m an event planner; it is because I do events. Like on THESE GENES, I wanted to do a fashion show, we called it Jeans for genes and we basically got five designers to work with denim materials to create outfit. We exhibited them, people bought the outfits and the proceeds went to These Genes.

Who is your role model?

I would say it is combination of three people- my dad, my mum and my sister. My dad because I’m naturally like him, all the things that come with being an artiste…he taught me how to sacrifice for the family, he is a wonderful guy and that is why I’m a daddy’s girl. My mum on the other hand is more practical, more businesslike, very into family. When she wants to do something she does it. My sister completes it. She thinks and she does. My sister is so giving of herself. She is focused, which is why she finds success in what she does. I find her very inspirational.


Are there factors around in your life that make life oppressive?

No. People always say I’m a very happy person. All the things that make life oppressive for me come from within. I’m a melancholic person, so I’m prone to rounds of depression so I have learned to just put one foot in front of the other…Depression is something else I speak about because in Africa, especially in Nigeria, we don’t talk about things and we sweep everything under the carpet. People don’t believe people can get depressed, they say you are sad and if you say you are depressed they say, “Oh I reject it for you in Jesus name…it won’t be your portion.” We can’t just close our eyes to the fact that people can be emotional…and feel suicidal. I’m a very sensitive person, very self-analytical…

What is your dream job?

I’m very pretty contented person. I’m enjoying everything I do now…when I was growing up and people ask me what do I want to be when I grow up, I used to say a star or I would say famous. I really want to get on top of the game in media and entertainment. Maybe I do have a dream job…My dream job is any job that allows me get people that also have their own dream realize it. In the sense that I don’t like the fact that in Nigeria now someone has an idea, for instance, for a television show and he has to sweat so much to get a sponsor.

What do you think are some of the factors that contribute to this?

I do think corporate Nigeria is too hard on creative Nigeria. It shouldn’t be so difficult for us to get our dreams out…people who have access to finance shouldn’t make things so difficult for creativity, and I don’t mean just art and entertainment. I believe there is a doctor somewhere, who wants to work on a cure for something, don’t make it so difficult. If you look at developing and developed countries, people are more willing to take chances, if you support ten ideas and two come to life, it is a good thing…but everybody wants the best but no body knows what this supposedly best is…we see this in our music, everybody wants to do popular music but we can do music that carters for people that just want to see you perform live every evening and it should be okay for you to do. I feel the opportunities arte there but corporate Nigeria say we don’t speak like them, creative Nigeria say “well we don’t understand who you speak”. Well, maybe we need someone who understands what we are saying and translate it to them and understand what they are saying and translate it to us so that we can get things done.

On your blog, you stated that you like living in Lagos, why do you like it in Lagos?

I love Lagos because I’m a Lagosian. I really wish Lagos were safer… Lagos is like the social capital of Nigeria and so it will be of Africa and the world. I like Lagos. I think Lagos has a good vibe because Lagos has a lot of different kinds of people. Wherever you live, there is always something happening.


What advice do you have for young people out there who have a lot of aspirations but think they are at a disadvantage?

I would say turn your disadvantages to advantages. The people that said when life gives you lemon, make lemonade, they knew what they were saying. They are not silly people; it is because they know it can be done. We don’t have access to a lot of things youths in developed countries have. So, are you going to whine or get some things done? That is what I will always say, do something…be something and don’t wait until it is given to you…don’t have a sense of entitlement. Whatever you do, be yourself within the boundaries of law…and be comfortable in your own shoes.

To learn more about Tosyn Bucknor’s work, visit www.thesegenes.org

NIGERIA’S ACE CINEMATOGRAPHER: TUNDE KELANI


Tunde Kelani, often synonymous to Mainframe Film and Television productions known for producing quality epic movies rooted in Yoruba culture, is one of Africa’s top cinematographers. He is celebrated for his award-wining movies such as Ti Oluwa Nile, O le ku, Thunderbolt, Campus Queen, Ire Olokun, Aja To N’Lepa Ekun, Kosegbe, Saworoide, Ayo ni mofe, etc. including the recently premiered “Arugba” which was inspired by the Osun Osogbo festival, and a series of other short features such as A Barber’s wisdom, A place called Home, Twins of the rain forest etc. Lagos Friday Telegraph recently had a chat with this renowned filmmaker, to talk about the making of the man who makes the movies. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Growing up
I was born in Lagos but I grew up at the family compound in Abeokuta with my grandfather. I was separated from my mother at age five and I sort of missed everybody because I was the eldest child in the family and it was my father’s policy to send us to Abeokuta. Once you are five (years old), you had to go and so I waited for another three years before my sister joined me. I was very lonely and I was plucked from the heart of Lagos, our house was close to Tinubu Square, straight to the family compound in Abeokuta where there weren’t any electricity. I was afraid of the dark mostly because of the stories we were told. Unfortunately, the toilet was not part of the building so you had to go out in the dark to use the toilet. They told me different stories. We heard the story about dead people not leaving immediately, that they would be in the house. And we were dared to take a needle and stick it into the four corners of the house if we did not believe it. But of course no one tried to do that. I got to know a lot about Yoruba religion and festivals. My favorite of all is the Egungun because of its responsibility to entertain the Yoruba nation.

Did you return to Lagos after sometime?
Once I left, I didn’t come back to Lagos until after my secondary education. My father delayed me one-year so I could attend the Government College Ibadan. But in any case it didn’t happen so I ended up at the Abeokuta Grammar School. Which is an equally good school; sincerely I am so proud because Abeokuta grammar school celebrated a 100 years anniversary recently. I have no regret for not attending government college Ibadan. I believe that Abeokuta Grammar School is the best school in the whole of Southwest Nigeria.

Relevance of growing up in Abeokuta
It had a very positive influence. Bless my father, he is late now, who ensured that I grew up in the family compound at Abeokuta, otherwise I would have missed the essence of Yoruba culture. I know that scholars and researchers all over the world have tried to familiarize themselves with the Yoruba culture but there is nothing like the real thing. It clearly made me a different person.

Discovering the prowess of film-making
At the beginning I didn’t know I would venture into filmmaking. But just before I finished primary school, I discovered photography. I actually owned my first camera from primary school. Through out my secondary school, I spent a lot of time and invested a lot of money mastering photography. So by the time I left secondary school, I was more or less an accomplished photographer. Another thing was that I loved films; I saw all the great films such as The Lawrence of Arabia, The Helen of Troy, Elizabeth Taylor, etc. At first I didn’t believe they were acting. I thought they were there when these historical events happened, that sort of fascinated me. So I thought it would be another dimension of photography to do moving images. There was nothing wrong with my photography, except that I wanted to make the art more dynamic. So basically, that was how I got into making motion picture. I was employed at the former Western Nigerian Television Station where I was trained as a cameraman. Then there after, because of the need to learn how to make film I had to attend the London Film Institute. From my experience in the community, I saw the challenges of my people, thus for me, with my previous experience growing up and the closeness to my people and our culture, I could not ignore those things. I am just responding to my environment through filmmaking.

Major factors of influence in the process of discovery
Yoruba literatures, Nigerian Education, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (I looked up to him and wanted to be like him), Yoruba religion, Yoruba Philosophy etc. these are worthwhile rich experiences that will continue to influence me.

What does culture mean to you?
Your total being is your culture. The Yoruba culture is essentially a moralistic one. You can apply this to any other culture but what we know in our culture was the importance of a good name and a good character, “Omo Oluwa bi”, you have to bring honor to the family…why we are having so many problems today is because there is a cultural vacuum. People are cut off from their culture, therefore resulting to short of moral.

What is leading us to such cultural extinction?
An open society, influence from other cultures. When I was growing up, there was only one TV station; this TV was the first in Africa. Today, Nigeria has over 100 TV stations, only God knows how many radio stations, and then we have Satellite TV, mobile phones, Youtube, etc. all these have devastating effect on our indigenous culture because some other cultures are so rich that they propagate their culture and seek to dominate other cultures. Unfortunately, in our society, we tend not to like our own, and we seem to prefer those other culture to our own and it is a serious error because those other cultures that have preserved their own culture, like Asian countries, have developed while those accepting other cultures have remain undeveloped.

Any hope for redeeming our culture?
That depends on the political will of our leaders, which depends on if there is a conscious effort to start a process of re-orientation then there will be hope. On a personal level, I think families are compounding the problem. I think we are settling for self-colonization with the way the present generation of Yoruba people, especially women, are discouraging their children from speaking the Yoruba language. Therefore, they are making them 2nd class citizens of other cultures; they are doing more harm than good. Without your culture, then you are nobody. That is why Yoruba define the culture of nation with the language. When Yoruba talk of a nation, they say “Orile ede”. This means a place with its own language. If you remove the “ede”, it becomes “Orile” which means nowhere. So without your language, you have no root, and without your root, you are nobody. Some people think it is civilized or fashionable by not allowing their children speak their language but this is the greatest level of ignorance, it is shameful, absolutely repulsive.

The role of Mainframe Productions in ensuring the growth of the film industry
We are noted for using culture as a springboard, we promote our own culture and will continue to do our best. It is by doing and leading by example that other producers can follow. Though some producers like to make quick money, our way is the longest route but it will pay off at the end. There is more value in it.

Basic challenges so far
They include lack of cinema culture, lack of infrastructures e.g. good electricity and poor economy. All these make it difficult to reequip investment on our project. But we are trying to tackle some of these challenges by promoting the cinema culture through our movies. We also try to find other sources to make films. We are currently working on registering Mainframe Foundation which will be NGO based.

Mainframe Foundation?
Yes we are trying to get it registered so that we can make films on specific themes, like issues on children and women. We can actually get funds if we don’t operate as commercial enterprise.

Most Significant life-values
I think I am much particular about my character, integrity and passion for my work.

And back to photography, your first love?
Photography is a version of what I do. It is a wonderful medium because it comprises of other arts. But I find it boring these days compared to filmmaking.

If Not filmmaking, what else?
I will like to do things that will help me make money. Filmmaking is not as lucrative in the material sense, not yet. Just that it is tied to many things, such as national development, portraying values etc.

Most interesting experience in making movies
No one experience is the same. It is just like football, if football was all about scoring, going across the line and putting the ball into the net, it will be boring. But the combination of so many factors makes it very interesting. In filmmaking, no two stories are alike, the people you meet are different, and the environment you film is going to change. That is what makes movie experience different. Every one of these movies at that particular time is different. In a way, it gives some level of satisfaction in spite of all the problems associated with production.

How can government and corporate bodies support the film industry in Nigeria?
The role of the government is clear, the government is the regulatory body but they should create an environment conducive for film industry. I think it is the corporate bodies that we need to work together. I can’t help but be very envious at the attention the corporate world show Music and Reality TV shows. I just feel some percentage of all these can be channeled towards filmmakers. Take the screening of Arugba for instance; it will be wonderful if we had a brand that recognizes these films as films that should be backed.

Favorite food
Pap, moi-moi and efo riro (vegetable)

WILD CHILD!


Ikponmwosa Osakioduwa is actually his real name. But over the years this young man, born on May 21st 1979, has warmed his way into becoming one of Nigeria’s top on air-Personalities. A two-time winner of the Redstrat’s Future Awards as Presenter of the Year, the middle child of 5 children born to retired Brigadier-General Samuel Oviawe and Mrs. Felicia Oviawe, IK as he is now called, carved an interesting image for himself when he interrupted a radio station on frequency 93.7fm and introduced himself as “Wild Child”. So his fans on radio simply know him as Wild Child (until the change of identity) on his Rhythm Dance Party show which he hosts every Monday, Tuesday and Friday 7.30pm-9pm. But on Television as MNET Studio 53 presenter and on stage as an MC, he is known as IK. The dawn of 2009 saw Ikponmwosa saying goodbye to Wild Child and rebranding himself into one personality- IK. Some speculate that the change of identity came with his new responsibility as a married man. However, in this interview with Jennifer Ehidiamen, IK talk more about himself, his passion and how he discovered his competitive advantage in the media.

How long have you been working in the media?

For about seven years now.

How do you combine radio, TV and stage presenting (as an MC)?

When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I speak for a living. I do not tell them I am a radio or TV presenter. What I do on TV and what I do on stage are not too different. On radio, you are a lot bolder because nobody can see you and you just imagine your listeners are enjoying it. But on stage, it is slightly different because if you suck, you see it on the people’s expressions. People love confidence; people will appreciate you for your confidence.

Can you tell us about your childhood?

We lived in the U.K for a few years but I grew up mostly in Nigeria. My Dad was in the army so we used to travel a lot and lived basically everywhere in Nigeria. He was always on transfer or on course somewhere. Eventually, it helped me accept different kinds of people. But, unfortunately, I don’t speak any Nigerian languages because we never lived anywhere long enough to learn. My parents are from Edo State but they speak different languages so we all grew up speaking English.

What about your education?


I studied Economics at the University of Lagos. I had no idea of what I wanted to be or do afterwards but studied Economics because it just seemed nice. I started out doing Sociology but after my first year I decided there were too many books to read and not enough calculations in there. So I quit and turned into an economist. And that was fun for a while. Then, after that, I was going to do my Masters in Communications, somewhere in Baltimore but everything was pretty tied up. Then, suddenly I realized I have seen too many people go through the motion of doing school and come back to take the 9am-5pm job. I just felt irritated. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I wanted to do something I love.

Ever done a 9-5?


I had worked in advertising for about a year after school. But during my final year in school I was in radio already but I left after graduating to do advertising. I discovered that although it was fun, I’ll rather be doing something more of my personality. So, instead of going into the dogmatism, that is following the routine of everyone else, I decided to do something I really liked. So I went into the media and, since, I have been doing that!

Is there anything in your background that informed your decision to go into the media?

While I was in school, apart from the fact that I was studying Economics, there was nothing about me that defined me as an Economist. I was more of the “loud mouth” kind of person, the guy in class that makes all the noise. I got involved in an organization called the Rock Foundation and found myself doing all the publicity for them. I thought up all these crazy publicity ideas for the school charity and concerts and also MCed at their concert. I developed a flare or love for the microphone… that is the only thing I would say started my love for radio.

Any regrets about the profession so far?

I am not the person who regrets stuff easily. If I were going to say that I have any regrets I would say not committing earlier to radio or entertainment. Maybe if I got involved earlier as a younger kid I would have been more developed. But at the same time I recognize that the fact that I wasn’t in it earlier gave me the time to hone my skills a lot better. Once the media light hits you, it exposes you good and bad. If it hits you too early, it could destroy your career. It is like giving birth to a premature baby. A baby is a blessing but a pre-mature baby is a struggle. If I got into the media too early, maybe it would have destroyed me.

What are some of the challenges you have faced since your adventure in the media?

Keeping to me. People always place a demand on you to be what they want you to be. I’m different. I like to do me. I don’t apologize for who I am. I don’t like soccer, and I am not going to like it because people want me to. You find that generally there is that pressure from people you relate to. Because of the way the name “Wild Child” sounds, people always want you to remain in that crazy state all the time. They try to stereotype you.

And how are you dealing with such stereotype?

By standing my ground. Because I don’t speak any Nigerian languages, I am every finicky about the way people speak English. When I first came into the media, people tended to pressure me to water down my English but it is the only language I speak thus it is my business to speak it properly. Some people approach me to do advert for them in pidgin and when I decline they try to pressure me. But I always stand my ground and say this is who I am, I am not going to change it.

Tell us about life as a son of a Brigadier-General.

Quite interesting, I didn’t tell you my dad’s rank. Yeah, he retired as a Brigadier-General. That was nice. We enjoyed the benefits. It made certain things easier but it also made things pretty difficult. Like there was a time a ban on traveling was placed on army officers’ children. I couldn’t school abroad because my dad was in the Army. To even get my mum to travel for medical reasons was hard. There were blessings that came with being a son of a Brigadier-General; there were troubles as well. The troubles included not seeing my dad often because he was always on transfer. We couldn’t keep up with the lifestyle of traveling back and forth to different states and countries so we settled down somewhere. We stopped at Kaduna for a while and afterwards moved to Lagos. I remember one day my dad came home and asked me, “Why did you drop Physics?” and I said, “I dropped it over a year and half ago but you haven’t been around so you wouldn’t know.” So, there was also that pressure of growing up and becoming my own man without much influence from him at some point because he was working very hard.

Any favorite childhood memory?

It might be when I was around six years old in Kaduna and my dad and mum were in town. They used to make out time for us to go out as a family. I think those years were the defining moments for my family, and we were all very close.

What are your thoughts on the Nigerian Media?

The Nigerian media is only just learning freedom since democracy is just having its hold now. And through that freedom is coming true expression. You find initiators now have the freedom to be critical, they now have the boldness to be blunt about things that need to be addressed. With that boldness and that audacity that comes with democracy you find that there is freedom of expression which breeds creativity. So creativity is now coming into the print media, multi-media and all other forms of media. With that creativity has come appreciation for the media. The money is being earned in the media in reference to the way people pay for entertainment etc.

Despite these positive changes in the media, you will agree there is need for improvement. If you were to ameliorate the system, what would you do?

I would invest a lot more. I would raise the bar for terrestrial TV broadcast. You find very few stations have content that they produce; most of them rely on independent producers. If I had the resources I will invest in TV stations and develop contents. On radio, I will completely increase the price of advertising to reduce the no. of adverts on radio stations. There are way too many adverts on radio and it is killing the stations. Everybody is tuning off and listening to their ipods. For the print media, I would lift the standards of editors, if I could, so that there will be more creativity and so that print media and the broadcast media will move away from its archaic style of presentation to conversational presentation. Young people do not read newspapers or watch the news because of unfriendly style of presentation in Nigeria. With regards to entertainment, I would lift the bars so that we can separate the boys from the men because there are too many people in the industry who shouldn’t be in it.

Who are some of the people you look up to as mentors in the industry?

Will Smith. I love Will Smith because he has proven that you can be taken seriously even if you are goofy. He is appreciated by the public because of who he is. I guess he is similar to who I am. I also love Ben Bruce, not because he is my boss but because Nigeria today is enjoying the dream that he pursued when he wasn’t fashionable. When he started out doing beauty pageant and bringing artistes to Nigeria he really wasn’t the happening person. He built the Cinema when it was long a forgotten thing in Nigeria and started the radio station at a time government owned most radio stations, so was when he built the TV stations. But now, Silverbird is doing very well in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt… and they just bought Nu Metro in Kenya and they are moving all over the world.

You have been working in the media for seven years, what has been your most significant achievement?

When I first came to radio, my Boss then said to me, “We like your idea but nobody is going to accept it. This is Nigeria. It is not going to work. You can’t really call yourself “Wild Child” on radio…” I did a demo telling him how my show is going to be but he laughed and told me it is not going to work. I think my greatest achievement is getting Nigeria to appreciate who I was without having to modify myself to suit other people’s impression. Getting listeners to be honest with me, to call me and make confessions was not really fashionable. It was not really popular when I started. As arrogant as it might sound, I think I brought a level of freedom to the style of presentation on radio in Nigeria.

Future Awards

I won the awards twice- 2006 and 2007, as the presenter of the year. They called me and said to me “You are one of the reasons why we have decided that one person can’t win it three times in a roll”. I liked it. It is always a good feeling to be appreciated by people who listen to you and be nominated for such awards.

With such good looks, how do you cope with your female fans?

I do not cope with female fans, I enjoy them. It is a lovely feeling to be appreciated. I enjoy everyone who appreciates me. Everyone in the entertainment business have a love for attention. We come into the business, not necessarily for the attention, but it is part of it. When it becomes too heavy, that is when it becomes a problem. I am too young to be dodging right now from attention. I am not struggling with female fans. I recognize the fact that they pay my bills, so I owe it to them to be nice when they call me in public and say to me “Hey! Let us take a picture.”

What is your most embarrassing moment with any female fans?

I was at The Palms the other day when a chic walked up to me and said, “Hey, wait a second. I just want to touch your butt.” And she smacked it and walked off. I don’t have a problem with it.

And your wife…?


She understands. I think she understands that she enjoys the things she enjoys because I can afford them. And I can afford them because people like that price me high.

For how long have you been married?

Since October last year. I tried my best to keep it low key but still about 1,000 showed up.

Has being married changed anything about you?

Why would I have to change because I am married? People assume so but not much has changed about who I am. It makes you a little bit more focused and prudent about how you spend money. Before marriage, I spent money a lot foolishly because I am not responsible for anyone but not any more. I think that is one of the significant changes that happened to me-I became more focused and responsible for others. Other than that my personality hasn’t changed one bit because she knew who I was before we got married.

Tell us about your wife

I call her Vitamin O. O being the first letter of her name and because she makes me go “O” every time we are together. She is very nice, accommodating, friendly, passionate and a happy person. So, she is able to live with me. She is not jealous. When she sees me kissing and hugging other ladies she doesn’t worry. She is able to keep up with my life style. She lets me do me. She is not trying to force me into a different mode now that we are married. You know some women do that to you; they are fine while you are dating but as soon as you get married they try to change you.

Describe Wild Child in one word.

Free

So what is so wild about Wild Child?
You might have heard but I’ve actually rebranded. So I don’t go by the name Wild Child anymore, I just go by IK.

Why did you rebrand?

Several reasons, really, after much deliberation I changed it. But the core reason was that it wasn’t a brand I could develop much further. It gathered popularity in Lagos but I had started doing some work outside of Lagos- in South Africa and America, and I discovered that I couldn’t use the name there because somebody has the right to the name Wild Child. All the various modifications I could have used for the name were used as well. So you find everything I do with MNET I’m IK because I can’t use Wild Child. If I have to start using two brands that wouldn’t be too good- IK outside Nigeria, Wild Child in Nigeria, because some people who know you on radio won’t know you as the same person who is on TV. So I decided to merge the brand and go by the name IK Osakioduwa and that is something my kids can use when they grow up.

Do you miss the name “Wild Child”?

Yes, sometimes. Because it really is the definition of my personality, not in terms of how people think it is crazy but in terms of Wild in the context of freedom. How animals that live free in the wild are called wild animals. I like the concept of living free. And the “Child” is just the innocence of it all. When he is falling and grabs the closest person, it is without shame or inhibition. That is how I live my life; if I need help during a crisis I’m going to grab the closest person that can help me stand.

What is your philosophy of life?

Do you and I will do me. Be yourself and I‘ll be myself. That means no matter how much I like you I will not try to be you. No matter how right you feel you are by what you are doing, I’ll not try to do what you are doing. Your personality is your personality. If you look at your thumbprint, that thumbprint can identify you in six billion people thus; I believe personally that everything you touch should bear a witness to the fact that you touched them. In order words, there should be a difference when you are done so that when you leave, people can bear witness that you were there. We have too many “Yes Men” in the world today. Too many people saying yes to one Oga or the other, too many people just following their father’s footstep of going to school and coming out to do 9am-5pm job. Nobody is creative anymore.

If you were to pick between radio, TV and Stage presentation, what will it be?

If I was going to pick, it is going to be TV because there is more money in TV. But really I wouldn’t pick one. I love interacting with large crowds as an MC, I like being on radio because the level of stupidity you can display on radio is phenomenal. I like being on radio because you don’t have to be serious at all- I have a rule on my show and that is no news, no information, strict entertainment. So, even if we were talking about something heavy like somebody popular died, we will talk about it but won’t dwell forever on it. Sometimes I don’t want to be on stage, I just want to do radio, other times I want to be on TV and have the cameras on me…

Any words of wisdom you would like your fans to commit to heart?


Do you. There is something spectacular, special and unique about you. If you take out time to study yourself, to look at what makes you different, you will discover something special about yourself and the moment you discover it and you pay attention to it people will be willing to pay you millions for it. Just to experience that unique factor. So, do you. For some people, it is something as simple as a smile, for other people their personality or a skill they have developed from the course they studied. So, don’t try to be somebody else, just do you.

DANCE, A WAY OF LIFE!

DANCE, A WAY OF LIFE!
By Jennifer Ehidiamen

Segun Adefila, synonymous to Crown Troupe of Africa, is a house hold name to dance lovers. From the heart of the University of Lagos 13 years ago, the Crown Troupe of Africa dance group was formed and has since grown from strength to strength. With a keen passion for projecting the African Culture through their various performances at home and abroad, one cannot help but wonder if Adefila, the leader of the group is a cultural activist. “I don’t think so” he said. “I am just myself, a child who needs his place in the world. I know that I’m not just a fluke; God had a purpose in His mind for designing me. My parents taught me the importance of having a value for one’s self and not necessarily the importance of knowing my culture. They taught me not to steal, lie etc. and left me to find my way in the world. The Yoruba people say, ‘ti omode ba to ni oko, o ye ko l’oko’ meaning when a child is old enough to handle a hoe he will handle the hoe and start farming. So if you are talking about cultural activists then you mention Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Wole Soyinka, Sofi Oluwole etc.”

With someone so experienced in the areas of art, how does he define dance? Adefila who grew up studying science in secondary school but always felt more at home in Literature class says “Dance is the rhythmic movement of the body within space. There is no dance without movement but there are so many movements without dance. I don’t see myself as a dancer, I’m just an artist.” If you follow the Crown Troupe of Africa’s dance so often, you will notice that most of their dance is rooted in satire while projecting the African culture. “When I want to tell a story about what is going on around me, I first look for a movement to define it. Dance is controversially the mother of all other arts because it starts with a gesture which is ritualized.”

On his philosophy as an artist Adefila adds “Every story we tell is relevant to preserving our culture. Although there are those who say art is for art sake, I say art is for life sake.” Why does he suddenly want to add music to his collection of arts? Is his anticipated album to validate their existence as artists? “An artist is an artist. There is always a rhythm going inside of you. It is left to you to express this rhythm by singing, dancing, writing, painting etc. Crown Troupe of Africa is a performance art group and not a performing art group.” He affirms. And what is the difference? “A performing artist is a musician, a singer, a dancer and an actor. A performance artist is first an artist who sculpts, who paints, who does installations and then puts a performance to amplify the story. ”

How has the 13 years old journey of performance art been for Crown Troupe, has it been all rosy and sunny or filled with bumps here and there? “It has been full of the grace of God. Yes, we have been able to do so much because God has been with us. The journey has been turbulent and challenging but we still have reasons to be thankful to God. We are carrying on because of passion and sometimes I wish I’m able to give these young people (dance members) monetary reward for their efforts.”

Despite the challenges, Segun Adefila looks forward to building a dance resource centre all over Lagos as a way of keeping the youths off the streets. Who are his inspirations and what keeps him going? “I am one of those people who say whatever I have achieved in life is because some giants have allowed me to stand on their shoulders.” According to him, these giants, this includes his University professors, mentors, friends etc. who nurtured him and gave him opportunities to achieve his dream. “For example, the National Theatre where we hold our monthly dance show was given to us in-kind by someone who wanted to encourage our passion.”

What has prepared and adequately equipped Segun Adefila to enable him tread this path so confidently? “I have always loved acting. As a child I had a masquerade because I come from a royal family and that was a big deal then. In secondary school I always found myself serving in the capacity of the President of the Debating society, Drama group and other art group despite the fact that I was a science student. My first professional experience was with Black Image in 1995 and then I went to obtain a certificate in drama from the Center fro Cultural Service, University of Lagos in 1997. After which I proceeded to the University of Lagos to study Theatre Arts. My professors played their role in nurturing me well.”
What word of advice does he have for aspiring dancers? “Keep reading, keep studying and keep looking for opportunities to attend workshops and other trainings. Don’t try to be like Segun Adefila, try and attain the best but make sure you know your God. You see, I’m not a very serious person you can call me wayward but I don’t play with the position of God in my life.”

IN THEIR MUSIC AND DANCE…
“To sing and to dance well is to be well educated.” says Plato. And on the 7th of June 2009, Crown Troupe of Africa, a renowned dance-theatre company based in Bariga celebrated their 13th anniversary, which also marks a beginning on a new era as they gave fans a sneak preview of their forthcoming musical album during a staged a concert at the National Theatre, Iganmu.

The Cinema hall 1 was crowded with fans that were eager to have a fore taste of what the evening had in store. The duo- Mathew and Laff-up who anchored the program stirred the audience up with their rib cracking joke. It wasn’t long after that they introduced Beautiful Nubia, who unexpectedly performed poetry themed “Can’t you see”, instead of singing one of his songs.

Afterwards, the Crown Troupe group set the stage ablaze with their first performance themed “Ere ti ya”. Although it was the first track in their album, the song was accompanied by an eccentric dance by Footprints and the Crown Troupe dance group. After that, Adunni and her Nefertiti clad in white attire sent jitters in the spine of the audience as all listened, mouth agape, as their sonorous voice rang through the hall.

While the audience was recovering from the amazing performances, an upcoming dancer called Chris Solo, his burned his energy to an Indian rhythm. This was closely followed by another preview track “Mi o ni choice” from the Crown Troupe of Africa’s album. The collaboration between Koffi and the group although a satire also held the audience spellbound.

Lifting the audience from its afro centric mode, Sound Sultan and W4 spiced the event up with a bit of their hip hop rave. And in the interlude, Sultan suddenly sounded serious as he emphasizes on the importance of good music “we need to sing song that will impact generation and leave a lasting message.”

Modella, one of the top Nigerian Fashion designers had his models on the runway, not dressed in adire or any of the normal fabric but in sponge. Indeed he awed his fans with the concept of designing skirt, gown, trousers and shirts from raw materials people limit to using as sponge. I was indeed an African thrill. As Laff-up later puts it “if not for the fact that civilization brought in Demin jeans and all, this is how we would have been dressing…” For Modella, the designs were inspired from Africa.

The female comedian did warm up the audience with her jokes which are usually capitalized in dissing and insulting one of two people in the audience, and this time, the non-Nigerians in the audience were her main target. Tosyn Bucknor, a.k.a Contradiction thrilled the crowd with her song “hidden motives” after Crown Troupe made yet another appearance, but this time to sing a more relaxed song of praise to God tagged “Baba mi mo”.

The star studded event brought together the likes of Yemi Sodimu, Beautiful Nubia, Yinka Davies, Alhaji Yusuf, Yo of Wazobia FM, Princess the comedian, Modella, Tunde Kelani, Marian Travis, amongst others.

EATING OUT

EATING OUT
By Jennifer Ehidiamen.

As a result of the fast-pace nature of living in Lagos, everyone gets to eat a meal away from home once in a while. Fast-Food restaurants have become a big part of Lagosian eating scene, many of which are chains of related restaurants with the same menu offering at the various outlets located within the metropolis.

This definitive guide to Eating-out provides readers with fascinating first-hand experience in some of these restaurants. The review is not deliberately written to undermine or patronize any restaurant, but rather to keep them on their toe towards improving their service delivery.

The criteria used in rating these restaurant includes the kind of menu they offer and their price, the attitude of sales person, the ambience of the Eatery etc. in a nutshell, does the quality of service make those restaurant experience memorable or miserable?


TANTALIZERS
Despite an initial resolution to eat only home-made meal this year, I have been prey to occasional impulse to eat out. Today, I finally gave in to the urge when I found out that Tantalizers have opened a new outlet at Ojodu Berger. The gigantic building and large parking space looks more inviting than some of their numerous branches in Lagos. What I love most about this restaurant is the friendly atmosphere as well as the neat environment that holds a promise of serving you healthy food in a healthy environment, after all in Tantalizers, “every bite is a promise kept.” The door man deserves an award, the way he opens and close the door for customers with a friendly smile tells of one who enjoys doing his job- such attitude is infectious because a smiling door man sure goes a long way in setting a positive aura for the restaurant.

As early as 9am, you can be confident of walking into this outlet and find something edible. However, if you are going for a quick meal, then I’ll suggest you ask them to suggest what they have on their menu because asking for anything you have in mind will mostly be rebuffed by the sales person. First off, I ordered for Salad but was told they do not have, Hollandia yogurt? Same reply, Malta Guinness? “Not available” was the quiet reply. “Then what do you have?” I was tempted to ask in exasperation. I left, a little disappointed, with the words “Don’t judge a book by its cover” buzzing in my ears- so avoid not judging Tantalizers by its size. The energy spent in maintaining such a cool ambience should also be channeled towards restocking their items to match the menu.

CHICKEN REPUBLIC
Is Chicken Republic less sensitive about who they hire for sales person or are they lacking in giving their staff the basic training needed to build a good customer relation? Or is there no correlation between the charisma of staff and the quality of service delivered? Chicken Republic is one of my favorite restaurants to eat out. Its ambience will not thrill you in excitement but at least the place is neat enough not to have chicken feathers lying all around. If you visit one outlet once, you will want to visit again for two reasons- the Chicken is super delicious and the price won’t create a large dent in your wallet. Well, they also boast to serve extraordinary chicken for extra-ordinary people and I believe them.

Today I had lunch at the Jibowu branch, Yaba but the treat was quite a sacrifice. After walking in, I was struck by the urge to squirrel away from the restaurant because everywhere looked sleepy- including the snacks on display. The pastry looked all ready to crack up in the heated environment. There was no electricity! “NEPA is bad in this area so we depend mostly on generator, but unfortunately today the generator is being serviced” explained the sales person in what was intended to be English language. Oh well, at least they have the decency to enlighten us about the state of their affairs. I had to ask them to pack my Chicken and chips which cost only N740 as take-away; there was no point in eating-out and end up feeling miserable.

WE LIVE HERE

Lagos, the city that never sleeps is celebrated for many things- for its population, for being the commercial hub of Nigeria, for its sudden rise from being a junk into a Mega city amidst other features. Do know that the statistics by the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria, States that no less than 60% of total economic activities in Nigeria take place in Lagos?

With such important attribute, the government has found it essential to further develop the State to maintain its status as part of its effort to ameliorate the habitable condition for a better standard of living in Lagos State. Talking about the standard of living, do you know that the size of your wallet will determine where you eventually reside in Lagos?

Residential properties in Lagos are overpriced. The determinant factors in the price of houses include Location, features of the house and the facilities available. A quick glance at a copy of The Castle shows the disparity in the prices of these properties.

Exquisitely furnished luxurious houses on Victoria Island, Lekki, GRA Ikeja, Ogudu etc, that serve as the business nerve center of the city, is only affordable to a privilege few. These prime locations are thus expensive because they are highly developed and enriched with good infrastructure and facilities, garden, parking space etc. For example, a detached house in Lekki phase 1 goes for at least N3.5 per annum, in Victoria Island, the same kind of house goes for about N5.5 while in Ikoyi, such a property cost about N7.5m. How many average Lagosian can afford that?

A well furnished 5 bedroom flat with BQ in Victoria Garden City is priced at N80m. In Victoria Island, 3 bedroom flat cost N70m. A furnished 5 bedroom bungalow with swimming pool, Garden, CCTV cameras etc. in Lekki cost N200m. However, farther away from the Island, into the mainland where housing standard is considered low, the prices are less intimidating. 5 bedroom bungalow at Bariga cost N15m. A detached house for sale at Yaba cost N25m. And in Dairy Farm Estate in Ogba Ikeja, 3 bedrooms flat cost about N10m.

For Lease per annum, 5 bedroom detached house with BQ in Lekki cost about N5m, while 7 bedroom bungalow with servant quarters at Ojo cost N1.2m. 5 bedroom detached houses in Surulere cost about N3.5m while 5 bedroom duplex at Oregun cost N1.2m. In Gbagada, 3 bedroom flat costs about N650, 000 while 3 bedrooms flat at Eliot Iju cost about N200, 000.

The dominant factor that determines the cost of a property for sale or to let remains its location. In Lagos, the location you reside tend to define the size of your wallet or vice versa, which eventually dictate your standard of living.

What is Schizophrenia?


What is Schizophrenia?
By Jennifer Ehidiamen

Schizophrenia, one of the major mental disorders, is commonly misunderstood to mean that people suffering from it have a split personality. However, in this interview with Jennifer Ehidiamen, Dr. Olugbenga Owoeye, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Federal Neuro-Psychiatrist Hospital Yaba, gives a clear insight into what Schizophrenia entails and its prevalence in Lagos State.

For how long have you been practicing?
In fact I have been in Psychiatric since 1997 but became a Consultant in 2003.

From your vast experience in the filed, how would you define Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is one of the major Psychiatric disorders. It is a disorder of the mind. But in a layman’s definition, it is like a Psychological condition in form of a shattered mind. Just like how a shattered glass looks. It is a chronic recurrent major psychiatric condition that tends to deteriorate with time. As a result of which the individual will not be able to function socially and emotionally.

When you say it is recurrent does it mean it doesn’t ever get cured?
It can be treated but cannot be totally cured. It has to be managed for a reasonable period of time.

What is the major cause of this mental disorder?

When you talk about the causes of Schizophrenia in particular, they are also related to the causes of mental illness in general. And these causes can be divided into 3 groups, which are referred to as factors because the exact causes of Schizophrenia are unknown. So among these factors, there is the Predisposing factor, Precipitating factors and the Perpetuating factors.

The Predisposing factors are factors operating in the early life of the individual that tend to make the individual vulnerable to the development of a major mental disorder. For example, during pregnancy the mother may fall ill, suffer from malnutrition or the child might suffer some injury or infectious at childbirth. Also, early in life, the person may have suffered from a major illness like severe infections either due to virus or bacteria infection. These could be a major access to the brain. Aside those, other Psychological factors can also lead to Schizophrenia, such as someone not having any Parental attachment or closeness early in life. Schizophrenia can also be transferred from Parents to Offspring, that is to say that it is also hereditary.

When you talk about the Precipitating factors, those are factors operating in the life of individual around the time that the illness started and thus, appeared to have caused it or precipitated it, thus making the person mentally vulnerable. This varies from Physical condition to social situations.

Finally, we also have the Perpetuating factors. These are factors that help to maintain the illness that will not allow the person fully recover even after treatment. For example, where you have a family that is too emotionally over-involved with the individual. Or those families that run critical comment that discourages the person suffering from Schizophrenia from taking medication. Also, when educated individuals find out the extent of the illness, they feel demoralized and become socially withdrawn. As a result, the illness perpetuates further.

What are the major signs and symptoms of this mental illness?
The major signs and symptoms of this illness vary. But the major one is that the individual will start experiencing auditory hallucination, hearing voices of unseen people either discussing the person in a third-person among themselves or commanding the person on what to do. They may have strong paranoid delusions. For example, they may believe the family member is responsible for their problem or believe they own the whole world and become so grandeur. Apart from that, they may also execute some bizarre behavior. Sometimes, these believe may be so bizarre that it will be difficult to comprehend. They experience a situation where their thought is being spoken aloud to them, thus causing them to believe that their thoughts, actions or plans are being made known to everybody without them informing anybody. These are the major symptoms associated with these individuals.

Do they get to a point where they become violent?
Sometimes, they tend to act on their abnormal behavior and attack those people they believe are their enemies.

What effect does our religious background have on the Psychiatric trend in our society?
When we look at the issue of religion, we must take it from the general cultural perspective. As a result of our cultural background and beliefs, it is discovered that a lot of people may not believe that the illness needs treatment. So they go to all sorts of unorthodox places like “Babalawo”, spiritual homes, Churches etc., because they believe that the illness is Spiritual, their approach to treatment is spiritual. This sometimes also contributes to the delay in treatment. But in some of these Churches, whose leaders are educated, the moment they recognize the symptom, they pray for the person and aks him/her to go for medical attention.

From your experience in dealing with Schizophrenia, will you say the illness is on the increase or decrease?
The prevalence is not so much. Schizophrenia only affects 1 to 1.5% of the general population. The only thing is that it has a devastating effect that tends to run a deteriorating course in the life of the people concern.

Is there a particular age group that is most affected?
Yes. You know, we have different types of Schizophrenia. There is the paranoid Schizophrenia which is the commonest. This type affects people in their 20s and 30s. Then we have the Epiphrenic Schizophrenia and the simple Schizophrenia. With these ones, if you are not a professional Psychiatrist you may not know that they are sick. The only sign is that they may not be socially active but in their dressing they look normal and make no trouble with anyone. But they lack the ability to move up in life, they lack motivation, they refuse to associate with people and are unable to function socially and occupationally. They may not aspire to set up their own family, they just eat and live. Another type is the Catatonic Schizophrenia. Those are the ones that may be reckless or aggressive and hyperactive on one hand and be socially withdrawn and mute on the other hand.

What are the major challenges most Psychiatrist face in curbing the mental illness or trend?

The major challenges we face right now is the lack of adequate infrastructure to manage the people. Our Psychiatric facilities are not adequate. We do not have rehabilitation home for them, Vocational center is not adequate and in the area of personnel, we do not have enough of the personnel to take care of the patients. The few we have need training and re-training. All these need government intervention. There are some of these patients who cannot live in the community; there is need for accommodation for such people. If we have such, those people you see living under the bridge or walking naked along the road won’t be there. They are Schizophrenics, the Epiphrenic type, which are those ones that hoard rubbish. So the challenges we face are in the area of infrastructure, personnel and facilities/equipment.

The challenges listed above are more of government’s responsibilities. Is there anything the public can do to support?

Yes. The Non-Governmental Organizations can help along these lines in establishing these foster homes, I mean the hosted accommodation. They can encourage community participation in the management of these patients in their rehabilitation back into the community. In some of the Psychiatric Hospitals where they lack one or two things, they can come up with a Structure to help the Psychiatric home; individuals can also do that to help.

Are there current Schizophrenic patients you are currently treating?
Yes, we have so many of them in the wards. This is the major center where they refer them to.

Over the past years, have you been recording successful treatment of these patients?
Yes. They get well with our medication but the only thing is that most of these medications are very expensive. Thus, the patients face the challenge of sustaining the medication and rehabilitation process. Some of them are very poor and there is a limit to which the government can subsidize these drugs. There is no Social Security System to cover them. I don’t think they are included in the National Health Insurance Scheme. Some of these conditions require a long term treatment which is quite expensive so their families are left to do all the running around to raise fund.

From a professional perspective, what is your overview of the mental health status of Lagosians? Are they more at risk of being psychotic?

No, most people in Lagos are not at risk of being Psychotic. It is just the problem of Urbanization that make people react aggressively towards their environment. Thank God the recent development in the infrastructure is improving the situation. The challenge of Urbanization make people react violently to situations. Some of these challenges include poverty, unemployment, poor electricity etc., which are the basic things that can precipitate mental illness.

What is your advice to Nigerians in general that could help them remain healthy?
There are some basic things people need to do to remain mentally healthy. First, they must not go beyond limit. Don’t bite more than you can chew. Also, you must abstain from drugs and alcohol. Also, you must have an easy going attitude and be able to tolerate others to avoid bitterness and grudges. Nigerians need to learn how to be content with whatever God has given them. Don’t say because somebody is riding a Jet then you must ride a Jet overnight. Most importantly, you must try to avoid stressful situations. Although this may not be possible because you need some degree of stress to make it in life but one must try as much as possible to avoid unnecessary stress. By so doing, you can remain mentally healthy and live a fulfilling life.

Schizophrenia and the Social-cultural fallacy

Schizophrenia and the Social-cultural fallacy
By Jennifer Ehidiamen


Many people have misleading concept about Schizophrenia, most of which are rooted in the Nigerian social-cultural system. Thus, most Schizophrenics experience dehumanizing conditions before they are eventually taken to a Psychiatric Hospital. In this interview, Dr. Richard Ademola Adebayo, a consultant Psychiatrist and a Clinical Psychologist at Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, elucidates further on some of the cultural factors that delays or limits the treatment of mental disorder.

Sir, do you believe some Psychotic conditions are spiritual?
Well, I will not say so directly as a Psychiatrist though I have my own Personal opinion. We try to be holistic in our approach because we cannot isolate our believe from how we see things. Thus, we do what is called evidence base medicine. That is, medicine is not just what you practice; there must be an evidence for it. From the cultural or religious point of view, I’m a Christian and I believe that everything that is not good is not of God. Because the Bible says that God’s thought towards us are thoughts of good and not of evil, to give us an expected end. So it means that anything that is not in line with that is not of God. Also, knowledge comes from God. Science is not an anti-god device, science is knowledge from God but it is the wrong application that is not desirable. So if you believe science comes from God and through science we have been able to proffer solutions to problem then it will be very wrong to say in a myopic way that mental disorder is from a particular cause. From the science point of view, the current thinking is that mental disorder can be seen from a biological and social perspective. This means that mental disorder can be genetic i.e hereditary or socially incurred. From the cultural point of view, they see it as a curse running in that family but in reality it is the genes. Just as Down syndrome can be genetic, so also can Psychiatric disorder be inherited from the genes of parents. Other biological conditions that can manifest into mental disorder later in life include childhood infections, road traffic accident that affects the brain, the medication a pregnant woman uses that may affects the child, drug or substance use, hypertension etc. while Psychological factors that may cause mental disorder include unemployment, broken relationship, abandonment etc. The Sociological factors include, overcrowding, traffic jam, even the current economic meltdown is enough to cause mental disorder.

Can a mental disorder caused by domestic accident be heritable?

No. such can not be inherited. That someone in a family has a mental disorder doesn’t mean his or her children will inherit it.

From your experience as a Psychiatrist, what are some of the social –cultural beliefs limiting the treatment of mental disorder in our society?
People tend to read meanings to the condition of someone suffering a mental disorder and such person is often stigmatized and ostracized. Even after the person is treated or the situation is managed, the person might still be avoided by others. Unlike developed countries, in this part of the world we are still holding on tenaciously to our cultural belief. Sometimes Schizophrenic people are called witches who want to confess their evil deeds. For example, a young patient once went to a grave and said she was responsible for the death of the person. Meanwhile, the dead had long been buried before the patient was born. If not for that the people would have thought she was a witch. As part of the cultural believes, people with mental disorder are taken to various places- herbalist homes, Churches etc. Some of them are dehumanized, chained, beaten and stigmatized etc in the process of finding solutions to what they deem is spiritual.

Please elucidate further on this pathway to care
This is one of the largest Psychiatric Hospital in West African. Because of the stigma associated with mental disorder, people don’t usually think of this place. Pathway to care refers to the passage or process of seeking help before the person is brought to the Hospital. Because of our cultural belief, people connote causes of mental disorder as religious and call it demonic attack or spiritual curses. So the first place they go to is religious or traditional places. They shop around for solution in these places thus causing delay in medical treatment. The patient passes through all sorts of things. Some of them are deprived of food, made to undergo vigil and even sexually abused before they are eventually brought to Hospital for treatment. But with enlightenment now, a lot of people come to the hospital directly, to avoid unnecessary delay in treatment which might lead to prolong recovery.

Sir, how can we eradicate such misconceptions?
That is why we are telling our people that the only thing that is permanent in life is change. We need to change from our perspective of being myopic. We shouldn’t just think that anyone that is having a particular problem must be addressed from the religious point of view. We thank God that a lot of patients have come to this place and they have recovered. The medication and mode of treatment we use is universal. Without anyone stigmatizing them, these people return home to live normally and fulfill their destiny.

What advice do you have for religious leaders?
They should not see Psychiatric conditions as being caused by demons because there are others causes. Even if they are caused by demons, they can still benefit from our treatment. Let them do the praying aspect but they must send the patients to us on time. While the patient is in Hospital, they can come here and pray with them. God is not limited by any barrier or distance. We don’t discourage our patients from going to churches. Unfortunately, we have some Pastors who will tell patients not to take treatment. They tell them to exercise their faith. But the same Bible tells us that faith without work is dead. The work aspect is for patient to take treatment, listen to doctors etc. We are not working against Pastors or religious leaders; we should have a meeting point. Ultimately, God is the healer and not man.