Friday, July 27, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Season 8, Ep. 17 - Last season of American Dad, American comic Wayne Brady plays Tungee (Tunji?), one of those kids in the pictures sent to you by NGOs/charities in those late night infomercials, asking you to stick the kid's pic on your fridge and send a few cents to the NGO every month so the kid can eat. Anyway, Tungee is all grown up now, and he flies to the U.S to visit his long time pen pal benefactors, Stan and Francine.
But I am beginning to sense subtle changes in the treatment of Nigerian characters actually depicted on U.S. TV screens. References to online scams, corruption and other things Americans have come to know still come up, but all those things have quit being the focus. American TV writers are more aware and are now, indirectly, creating complexity an American audience can digest in such characters by taking what they think makes these character different-- i.e. that sense or illusion of naivete, innocence and authenticity people from the developed world thoroughly enjoy in less developed places--and making it into a mirror and a foil for critiquing American cultural hangups, arrogance or exceptionalism. No better example than in the 2009 episode of Monk (Season 8, ep 2) titled "Monk and the Foreign Man", starring Nigeria-British actor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
More changes - here. Follow "supervillians of the modern age" series of posts - here.
Monday, January 23, 2012
An interesting pocket of Nigerian history in connection to the Garifuna of Central America; the Garinagu can be found in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua. According to Wiki:
Young recorded the arrival of the African descended population as commencing with a wrecked slave ship from the Bight of Biafra in 1675. The survivors, members of the Mokko people of today's Nigeria (now known as Ibibio), reached the small island of Bequia, where the Caribs brought them to Saint Vincent and ill-used them. When the Carib masters felt that the Africans were too independent in spirit, according to Young, they planned to kill all the male children. The Africans, learning of this plan revolted, killed as many Caribs as possible and withdrew to the mountains, where they joined with other runaways who had taken refuge there. From there they raided the Caribs continually until they had greatly reduced them in numbers. There are few other accounts of the island, as it was not occupied by Europeans and visitors were rare or there unofficially, hence Young's account is the only one of the century before he wrote to provide specific details of the origins of the Garifuna.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The Guardian's Chuks Nwanne reviews The Ticket, an international TV commercial by Saatchi & Saatchi - Cape Town, produced by Guinness Nigeria and shot in location within Nigeria with local talents and crew:
When the invitations to the screening of new Guinness TV commercial, The Ticket, were given out to media men, there was little or no detail on what exactly the brewery actually intends to achieve with the new advertisement. No doubt, Guinness has acquired a strong reputation of producing classical commercials that provide consumers with extraordinary experiences.From the epic, long running Michael Power campaign, through to the recent award-winning Sky (My friend Udeme is a great man), Scout (…give a man half a chance and he take it), and more recently Guinness The Match, the brand has shown some level of creativity with their advertisements.
Notwithstanding, to most journalists present at the screening held recently at the Protea Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, this could be another invitation to celebrate foreign creative minds, especially South Africans; this has always been the case with multinationals in Nigeria when it comes to shooting commercials.From the opening scene, the commercial looked very much like the usual foreign work, except for the yellow buses in the package, which is considered a trademark of the city of Lagos. But as the tape rolls further, capturing Lagos bridges, with the usual hustling and bustling scenes typical of Lagos, the picture became clear; this is a TV commercial shot in Nigeria, with Nigerian cast and crew. At this point, the media men adjusted their sitting positions, with their eyes fixed on the screen with rapt attention.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
The quote below about an emerging elite class of Lagosians embracing modernity under colonial rule is from Michael J. C. Echeruo's Victorian Lagos: Aspects of Nineteenth Century Lagos Life , which uses archives of the Lagos Press from that period to reconstruct patterns of life and thought in Lagos during the second half of the 19th century.
These Lagosians were usually very conversant with events in Europe and America, especially with the progress and consequences of the American Civil War. They maintained close contact with friends and other descendants of rescued slaves on the West African coast. They had high hopes for themselves and for the Africa they were going to help civilize. They felt deep obligations to the hinterland, and yet considered the civilizing influence of British power sufficiently beneficial to justify the gradual control which Britain was gaining over Yorubaloand. They wanted good education for their children to be "refined," and so they frequently sent them to England. These children had to be in the smart circles of Lagos, so thay went into the right professions--law, medicine and the Arts. Educated Lagosians wanted to associate themselves with the usual recreations of a sophisticated Europe, and so went to the Races, to Fancy Dress balls, to the Gymkhana games, and to cricket. In the evenings, they went for "brisk walks" or for "short rides." On such ocassions, (as an advertisement reminded them), they called first on "their friend, the hairdresser. Everything will be done to your taste and profit and you will come again PRO BONO PUBLICO." (page 30)The picture of Broad Street, Lagos, from 1951, comes from the diary of Margaret Jefferies, "A Trip to Nigeria, (1951)". The growing independence of the Lagos elite during this period and the change in the colonial equation from Britain as colonizer to Britain as source of the tools for modernization is captured in the voice of Augustus Engmannin, A West African, narrating the 1950 British documentary, Here is the Gold Coast, about the modernization of Ghana.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Above (4:00 in), Nigeria's CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, making the frank--many will say unfair--neoliberal argument for the removal of the country's fuel subsidy on the BBC Africa Today podcast a few days ago (David Harvey's 'neoliberalism and the city' lecture springs to mind about now). If neoliberals weren't so smug by how right they are, this necessary enterprise could be phrased in over time, with each phrase marking the end and start off of the infrastructure projects the government keeps talking about. An addendum to that interview will be the alleged Sanusi email below that's been making the rounds:
Subject: Fwd: Biggest Expose - by CBN Gov.
You establish a company for importing 20,000MT of PMS and the PPPRA says this is at a landed cost of N145 for example per litre. So u know that for every litre in that vessel you will get at least N85 as subsidy. Now you have a number of "possibilities":
1. You can off load 5,000 MT and bribe customs and other officials to sign papers confirming u offloaded 20k MT. Then do the same across the chain with a paper trail showing you delivered 20k MT to a tank farm, and maybe even that u transported it to Maiduguri entitling you to a share of the price equalization fund. Maybe for N20-N30 per litre u bribe all those who sign the papers. The 15k MT you take to Benin or Ghana or Cameroun and sell at market price thus makin an additional "profit" of N55/ltr on 15,000MT!
2. You can just forge documents and have them stamped without bringing in anything and collect the subsidy-PPPRA pays based on DOCUMENTS.
3. You can bring in the fuel, load on tankers, sell some at N65N some at N80 some at N100 some across the land borders.
You can do all this and no one can catch it or prove it because somebody was paid to sign off on docs. And with a high enough margin there is too much temptation to be resisted and firepower for bribing officials.
When I spoke to the house of reps I told them why I was suspecting fraud. It starts from PPPRA "allocations" based on "capacity". You will find a company like Mobil with capacity for say 60,000 MT and a relatively unknown name with a capacity of say 90,000 MT. Red alert number 1.
Although PPPRA is supposed to give license only to marketers with a national distribution network you see names of companies where you have never seen a filling station in their name.
I was a chief risk officer in UBA and in FBN for many years approving loans so I know the name of every big player in every industry that nigerian banks lend to as these are among the biggest banks in the country. I see names on the list I don't recognise either from portfolios. I looked at our industry studies over the years. Red alert number 2.
I studied the papers presented to PPPRA in a short period in 2010 (I won't tell you how I got them!). And I was surprised that on some days over 10 vessels are said to have discharged cargo in lagos on the same day-clearly the same officers stamping and "verifying" that the vessels were SEEN. Is it really realistic that on the same day 13-15 vessels can discharge in Lagos? Red alert number 3.
Why was I interested in fuel marketing. Because the two sectors that led to the near collapse of the banking industry were capital markets and oil marketing. I am not giving any confidential info out as AMCON MD has already disclosed publicly that two companies alone-zenon and AP-owned by the same businessman owed the nigerian banking industry N220b. And we all saw the amount of subsidy paid to those companies published by BusinessDay.
So money had been taken, subsidy had been collected but loans were not repaid, and we couldn't see the money either as product in tank farms or in fuel stations or credit sales. So I became obsessed with trying to understand how that industry operated and the more I saw the more I hated it and I started the war against subsidies.
It is actually better to do a direct cash payout or add a line item to salaries called petroleum support or transport allowance capped at say N300b p/a than to keep paying it. It goes to pay middle men, rent-seekers and corrupt officers and there is no amount of preaching that will stop this fraud so long as the policy is so badly defined.
Everytime oil price goes up and everytime the naira is devalued and everytime the quantity of imports increases the "subsidy" and thus the "rent" increases and there is more gravy to go round. So every year we "import" more and more and deplete our reserves, and the government borrows more and more to pay for subsidy and the beneficiaries are a smal group of marketers, govt officials and neighbouring countries which get fuel without losing forex! And while a person who applies intelligence can see what is happening you can't prove it in a court of law. If the man says he sighted the vessel and it was 20kMT you have to accept it. It was a year ago!
So for two years I have been convinced that this thing is a scam and that it cannot be stopped because the entire controls have been compromised. NNPC sells domestic crude, Pays whatever subsidy PPPRA says and then gives the balance after JVC to the federation account. And while Fani Kayode is right to speak up, the truth is that it was Obasanjo who first subverted the process by allowing NNPC to make the deductions before paying into federation account. Because once money goes into that account it is to be shared among 3 tiers of government so strictly speaking the deductions have always been unconstitutional as the FG was paying subsidy on behalf of itself and state and LGs without their approval.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi - CBN Governor
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Above still from 1961 technicolor film - Three Roads to Tomorrow. It traces the journeys of 3 Nigerian students to the university of Ibadan. The film shows scenes of their homes in the old country and how a modern network of communications - all dependent on oil and petrol - has opened up what was not so long ago inaccessible territory.'
The catalogue is history documentary crack. Be warned. For example, check out this historic parade of the first Nigerian women police force at the Southern Police ground in Ikeja, Lagos, from 26 April 1956:
This website holds detailed information on over 6000 films showing images of life in the British colonies. Over 150 films are available for viewing online. You can search or browse for films by country, date, topic, or keyword. Over 350 of the most important films in the catalogue are presented with extensive critical notes written by our academic research team. The Colonial Film project united universities (Birkbeck and University College London) and archives (British Film Institute, Imperial War Museum and the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum) to create a new catalogue of films relating to the British Empire. The ambition of this website is to allow both colonizers and colonized to understand better the truths of Empire.FSFF points out two freely accessible book chapters by those involved in the project: Lee Grieveson and Colin MacCabe (eds), Empire and Film (BFI/Palgrave, 2011) and 32 sample pages; and Lee Grieveson and Colin MacCabe (eds), Film and the End of Empire (BFI/Palgrave, 2011) and 25 sample pages.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Development economist Daniel Rogger has teamed up with one of Nigeria's foremost cartoonists, Albert Ohams, and is crowdsourcing funds for a graphic novel to tell the story of delivering public services in the developing world.
If you got past the video pitch, read the rest of the pitch @ Indie GoGo.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Reporter Seyi Rhodes and director Matt Haan travel to Lagos to reveal the Miracles, expensive cars, exorcisms, bodyguards and extraordinary world of the millionaire preachers. Embed below/Watch - here.
When often asked about Africa and pentecostal Christianity mania, my cynical response often was to rephrase the question: where would you rather have crosses -- on mass graves or on mega/ram-shackle churches? An excerpt from Daily Times Joachim MacEbong's piece from back in June on why churches should be taxed:
The proceeds from church business are second only to the benefits of being a government official in Nigeria. When congregations see their pastors display amazing wealth, they do anything to attain it as well. So when a preacher speaks out against corruption, moral decadence, and so on, the message is dead on arrival. Most don’t practice what they preach. The commercialisation of religion has been made possible by the proliferation of churches which concentrate authority in a single individual. He is the star of the show. In older denominations like the Catholic Anglican churches such displays of wealth are non existent because there are no stars, there is no special treatment and no one owns things like cars, houses, expensive suits and so on. For example, the Pope, head of a billion Catholics worldwide, flies Alitalia when he travels. They can do this because they have no wives or children to cater for, while Pentecostal pastors do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they should be poor, but since religion is now unquestionably a business, it should be handled as such. Churches should be taxed. (more)Additional BBC reporting paints the darker side of preacher power:
We met the reverend when we were following up the case of a widower called Therese. She lost her husband a few years ago. Soon after she was introduced to a new church run by a husband and wife pastor couple. At the end of her first visit to the church the pastors told Therese that her late husband had been a member of a devil worshipping cult and persuaded Therese that God wanted her to sell everything her husband owned. The car (a Mercedes), carpets, a gas cooker, dining table and chairs, clothes, cutlery, crockery and even the curtains were all taken to the church. Therese was told that if anyone found out what had happened God would kill her and her children. Therese ended up sleeping on the streets with her 2 teenage children. We were told it was a common story of how those in a position of power and respect had taken advantage of a vulnerable individual. Luckily Therese met Reverend Oluchi. For over a month she slept on the floor of the church without telling anyone what had happened to her before the reverend managed to get the story out of her. When we followed up this story during our filming we found the police just about to arrest the couple Therese accused. The police took us to the church in question. We watched as they stormed into the middle of Sunday service and arrested the couple. (more)(HT: Hamdi Abdi)
Thursday, September 22, 2011
A revealing piece over at the Daily Trust tells stories of Nigerians traveling to countries like Malaysia to sell off their kidneys for $10,000, which amounts to the capital many of them need to lift themselves and their loved ones out of poverty. Excerpt:
Mike, also from Edo, sold his kidney in Malaysia and returned back to the country recently. Like Eghosa, he says he was paid $10, 000.00 for his kidney. He says he was left with no choice because it was either he sells one of his kidneys or sits down to watch two of his younger sisters who just graduated from a sewing school become prostitutes because they have no money to set themselves up. He now feels a sense of justification for his action even though he now worries that he is still young and at any time in the future his remaining kidney might not be able to serve him if he falls sick. Mike says there were a lot of people in the queue in Malaysia, most of them Nigerians, who have gone to sell their kidneys. Like him, those who took the risk needed money desperately to start something that will turn their lives around. Back in the country, he now thinks of a suitable business that will keep him out of the reach of poverty forever.
Above, insightful scene from Stephen Frears' 2002 sleeper hit about organ trading, Dirty Pretty Things, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou. Below, scholar Nils Gilman's 2009 lecture on the "Global Illicit Economy" or "Deviant Globalization" - @ 2:19 mins in, he lays out the global economics of illicit organ trading:
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
"Come get it" from UK based SA female MC Noni Zondi, signed to Nigerian label Big Boyz Entertainment. Reminds us of Dama Do Bling rather than Lady Gaga.
Below, mash up of the year by Amerigo Gazaway combines Fela and De La Soul and comes up with "Fela Soul," or the definition of "Gummy Soul."
H/T: Just OK and Okay Player.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
First collaboration between the Tate Modern and an art institution based on the continent, in this case the Center of Contemporary Art, Lagos.
Above, Adolphus Opara (Nigeria) on his portraits of Nigerian diviners posed in the manner of classic Victorian portraiture and Michael MacGarry (South Africa) talks you through works investigating the ongoing ramifications of imperialism in Africa. Kader Attia (France) talks his images projected in "Open Your Eyes" and Sammy Baloji (DRC) walks you through archival photos about mineral extraction powerfully reconstituted around new realities of mineral extraction in the DRC.
BBC slideshow - here. Reviews by Africa Art in London - here & Africa is a Country - here.
Below Justice Albie Sachs, one of the first judges appointed to South Africa’s new Constitutional Court by Nelson Mandela in 1994, walks with curator Judy Hecker through the exhibition Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now, still showing @ MoMA:
More @ the show's blog.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Music critic Benson Idonije pens a tribute to mark the passing of Nigerian highlife guitarist Alaba Pedro, a proponent of the Ghanaian palm wine guitar style infused strain of Nigerian highlife music - Faaji. He was also a member of the "Faaji Agba" troupe, subjects of upcoming documentary, "Faaji Agba" from Kunle Tejuosho's Jazzhole Records. Excerpt:
...Pedro’s direction is essentially highlife and African-oriented fusion with other forms of music. His highlife music is not particularly steeped in the tradition of Roy Chicago, his mentor. Rather it reminds the listener of the vintage years of the music from the fifties to the sixties. His sources of inspiration are many and are mainly Ghanian-oriented, including E.T. Mensah, the pioneer of the music form himself through to the more progressive Stargazers and Uburu Professional Dance Band. He is however grateful to Roy Chicago, his former band leader, whose Rhythm Dandies prepared him for the challenges of band leadership. Working with Roy Chicago imbued in him a great sense of rhythm that draws from the various dimensions of African music. Says he: “I joined Roy Chicago in 1961 to replace Mike Enahoro a fine guitarist who left for England at the time. I was with the band up till the time of the civil war when it disbanded in 1969”. Pedro continues: “It was a highly disciplined band which offered me the opportunity to develop musically. Moreover, I was the youngest member of the band, and so I was willing to learn. The band was versatile and could play almost all types of music, but I benefited more from highlife, its specialty which relied more on Nigerian melodies with rhythms rooted in indigenous elements. I learnt a lot from the band.” Pedro’s guitar playing assumed an authoritative status in the eighties... (more)"Faaji Agba" trailer below. More on the Ghanaian Palmwine sound - here.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
About gone are the days when many African broadcasters simply ran old American TV shows. It was cheaper to buy foreign than risk local programming. Today, local programming is no longer money-losing content national broadcasters must run so as to satisfy the daily quota of local programming the government insists must be shown. Today, all across the continent, broadcasters are proving quality, innovative local programming can outsell foreign.
Above, CNN's Christian Purefroy checks in on the surging number of listeners and rising ad rates @ Wazobia FM, a "Pidgin English" radio station in Lagos, Nigeria.
Above, Wachira Waruru, CEO, Royal Media recently sat down with Balancing Act to talk about how Citizen TV rose from the number four to the number one TV station in Kenya by adopting a local programming strategy; the impact of these Swahili programs, the changing attitude of advertising agencies, and the success local programmes like Inspekta Mwala, Papa Shirandula and Tahidi High have had.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Ọbafemi Awolọwọ University's Niyi Okunoye talks with University of Birmingham's Karen Barber about the contemporary Yoruba poet as a local intellectual and abt the poetry of renowned Yoruba wordsmith, Lanrewaju Adepọju.
May 2011 paper on Lanrewaju Adepọju from the May issue of African Journal - here.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Reactions to Nneka's new video/single, "Soul is Heavy":
...The brightly-colored agit-prop makes a perfect visual complement to Nneka’s sound; somewhere between M.I.A. and the Kalakuta QueensSoulbounce:
...name checks some of [Nigeria's] important socio-political figures including Jaja of Opobo and Isaac Boro. Nowadays it seems that music with a meaning is a rarity, and even then it often only serves as a token gesture, so it's great to see an artist who sings about politics and social issues with the same aplomb as matters of the heartAgit-prop never looked this good.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Political crisis earlier in the year saw Nigerian emigre communities in Cote d'Ivoire returning home - many of them to the town of Ejigbo in Osun state.
According to the Ogiyan of Ejigbo, around 1960, there was census in Côte d’Ivoire where the estimated population of all Nigerian living there was put at about 1.2 million. In that figure, Ejigbo people alone were said to have accounted for about 800,000 inhabitants. They believed to be so established there to the extent that in each big city and town of Côte d’Ivoire, the Ejigbo people have a community leader they refer to as ‘Oba’ of that area....