Thursday, November 18, 2010

My prophetic SMVA diary

It took Tywo’s arrival in Lagos during the last week in the month of July 2009 for me to be conscious of the Lagos I had been for a while and the many events going on simultaneously around the mega city. My conscience tells me I deserve to be pardoned for that nonchalance; it wasn’t like I totally lost my sense of socializing but for a very long while I had totally switched from television to books and the internet, and I mean internet with less time for facebook so I just didn’t know one of the biggest events in the Nigerian entertainment industry which I had so anticipated was happening in 2 days! What a boring life he has lived, yea say it.

Grabbing the invite
Friday July 31st in the afternoon, the pre-awards was happening by 10pm and I wasn’t going to miss it; I wanted that break so much, having been in the academia for a while. I put a call across to my friend at Soundcity.
“Hey Denrele how far?”
“pre-awards is tonight you’re asking how far, aren’t you coming?”
The ever happy, jovial and energetic guy is one of those who believe we’ve stayed away from the Nigerian scene for too long and rightly thought too. I wanted to be sure where the venue was but it would be embarrassing to give him the impression that I did not even know that much as I understood many were scrambling for those entry passes. Well we made a plan to meet at the pre-awards, and then we would pick up our Invite for the awards. Perfect plan.

Pre Awards party or concert?
That I missed the Nigerian entertainment mainstream is an understatement; this was our first public appearance in Nigeria in two years since being on stage to model Zizi Cardow’s designs at the “Stars on the runway 2007” a charity event initiated by UK based model and TV host Ronke Apampa and organized by R70 world UK. I had expected to see the typical Nigerian pre-awards party; a night club with loads of young girls in skimpy dresses, funny make-up and hip looking guys with plenty of alcohol, smoke and loud music to go with it. There were a lot of these and even more daring were the skimpy dresses the girls wore here but the unusual was the gigantic stage, heavy lights and sound equipments, large crowd of enthusiastic music lovers and the choice of an open garden to host the event which meant the event could only be called a pre-awards concert and not the pre-awards party or nominees’ party as always been the case. I thought it was a nice idea breaking away from business as usual.

Making our way by the large crowd into backstage where other artistes were and hundreds of shouts, handshakes, backslapping and the shoulder grinding hip-hop hugs came in droves. Finding our ex manager as the event manager also made the night an exciting return to Lagos night life. It was almost 4a.m when I realized I had not sat down all night as we talked the night away with friends, journalists and colleagues like Ajasa, Rooftop MCs, Jimmy Jatt, Artquake, Mamuzee, K-solo and Dr Frabz (both producers we have worked with). The stage remained constantly busy as different acts entertained the appreciative crowd but oh I loved watching MI and enjoyed the funny Alanta performance by Artquake. It took the arrival of Dr Pat the Kondo Olopa man, our good friend and host in New-York for us to finally pull some chairs to relax as the early morning dew fell on us all.

The Awards
Saturday 1st of August 2009, stepping on to the red carpet at the awards, I couldn’t have asked for more than the love shown to Tywo and me by all. I can’t remember how many times we had to answer the questions “What have you been up to”? “What’s new”? And “When did you come?” it was a sort of reunion with special people who had been there for us in the past and some new wave making acts who had looked up to us while building their acts and were glad to finally meet us, and I must admit I missed the hook ups, the lights and cameras, the appreciative ladies, the sometime funny make-up, the artiste craze, the creative ambience and so much more. The organizing from the entrance to the large red carpet that gave enough space to the numerous media organizations to have their interviews and guests to socialize while we took our turns for a share in the limelight made me feel I was at the BET awards, unlike when red carpets would be like walking in between choked pews in an old Anglican church. The grey area was the insufficient seats for guests at the main awards and the chaos at the entrance which made gaining entry difficult even with your IV. All thanks to Nigerians’ impatience and the equally aggressive bouncers.

After waiting a while for sanity to resurface at the door, thanks to Mr Dele Olukoju who led us back stage for the time being, we made our way into the show without missing any part of the kick off, and again, thanks to our never dying African time syndrome which impressively was not more than a one (1) hour delay on the night. I was not expecting the miracle of two vacant seats and I thought we would spend just a few minutes and go home, but right ahead of us was a good friend and big brother, Frank Edoho who was by the way ready to enjoy the show on his feet, so I thought “this place (a place at the back) may not be bad after all”. The show went on seamlessly with Dare the compeer on top of it as usual as the awards were given out most to the approval of the guests. The performances were spot on, evident of good rehearsals and sound check. At least we did not see men running on and off the stage with hammers in their hands.

Wande Coal’s Bumper to bumper brought some craziness out of the people at the back, then I realized that many of us who were supposed to be sitting among the front row seats, I mean even some of the nominees deliberately came to the back for the liberty of doing the kind of dance Dr Frabz and my brother did. Am sure Oga Frank wouldn’t have had the space to dance and tease like he did if he sat in one of those reserved seats up front, especially knowing he didn’t have all the night to spend; why not enjoy the brief stay with D’banj’s lovely but crazy stage act during WC’s performance, Mo hits award “speech” on behalf of Don Jazzy who was by the way with them on stage, the MI/El dee stage medley, Tu-face live band jamming and Jozi’s effortless performance and many other moments I really enjoyed.

The prophecy
My highlight of the night was the joy of watching Bigiano pick up two awards within two (2) hours while the memories of some of his years of struggle which I witnessed a bit played back in my memory. He was obviously too overwhelmed during his speeches to remember that the awards date was 1st of August as he rightly predicted in the song that did all the magic for him. I hope right now he does not think it was just a coincidence that it happened that way. Call those lyrics a prophecy and I will gladly agree with you. How the things we say in our music matter!

“First of August na the date o,
na so me and my friends siddon we relate o
Say make we gather people come jubilate o
Cos na my success I dey try celebrate o…”

I asked my brother if already painted in that song "Shayo" wasn’t a picture of his possible activity right now as he and his crowd of supporters had gone back to their seats after the second award, he simply smiled and said to me “except God says no or not yet, you can achieve whatever you believe and confidently confess concerning your destiny”. The power of positive confessions can not be over emphasized and I honestly think it goes a long way in shaping our route in life. Even in the midst of our shayo, shepe and omoge songs we can always ensure we confess positive to ourselves, our people and equally importantly our country. The heavens have a way of tuning to the words of our mouth to shape dealings with us, though we all say things at times that we would rather are kept off records in heaven, as I would prefer to be ignored over there when I sing fokasibe; but the question I ask myself is shouldn’t we be willing to make it easy for the almighty to work and walk with us to shape our destiny as we desire in our hearts?

I do not want to start naming artistes in the past who had recorded songs about death only to die not long after, but in my words to Klever J that same night, life is a journey and sometimes it could be a long walk to destiny, in our world of entertainment, it’s a peculiar set up and sometimes when creativity fails to help talent or they both refuse to form an alliance to yield your desired results, there is a power somewhere in heaven that makes all the difference and the way to link up with this is through our seeds of faith, positive thinking, confession, humility and hard-work.

To the winners at the awards I say congratulations and to the other nominees I say congratulations as well. I look forward to the awards next year 2010 and hopefully it will be better than this year’s edition. Well-done Soundcity, 001 Events, GA production! Y’all did a good job. I look forward to the NMVA holding on the 1st of November 2009. I just can not wait. God bless Nigerian music, the artistes – Nigeria’s true ambassadors. Ire o.

NB: This article was written in August 2009, but it is sad that Late Hiphop star Dagrin had to join the list of artistes that sang about their own death and went on to depart not long after. May His creative soul continue to find rest.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MMI holds second workshop

Though the premises of the university had lost its usual buzz of students due to the commencement of a strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, yet the Debb and Isaac Media technical crew moved in their computers, sound gadgets, printers, banners and other equipments, the few lecturers around moved up and down the stairs to make sure all was well, while facilitators walked in to set up training facilities, and the few chosen students walked in with high expectations, given the testimonies of their colleagues who were beneficiaries of the first edition of the workshop. Friday, September 24 2010 was the day and it was the opening day of the second edition of the Funke-Treasure Media Mentoring Initiative workshop series at the Lagos State University.

The short opening ceremony started with the MC introducing the initiator of the project Mrs Funke Treasure Durodola an international broadcast journalist and top News reader, presenter/producer with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; in her speech she stated her drive for giving back to the society that gave to her and highlighted the vision of the Initiative for mentoring Mass Communication students in Nigerian universities in the next 3 years. Supported by the initiator’s colleagues who are renowned media professionals in TV and Radio, the quarterly workshops held its first edition in June 2010 with a four day workshop in News feature reporting for both radio and TV students of the university, the September edition however was a 2 day workshop for TV students on Creativity in Production/story telling skills.

Targeted at final year students, the obviously excited undergraduates didn’t have to wait too long as work started immediately and true to the standards of its debut, it was as practical, thorough and learner centered as can ever be imagined. They tried out media skills missing in most Nigerian tertiary institution’s communication degree syllabus and which they never thought they could acquire in their four to five academic year experience, these include scripting for TV, video editing, camera use and shot composition, understanding storyboards, fundamental formats in broadcasting…etc.

With personalities like international producer Lloyd Weaver as Chief facilitator, Ify Onyegbule (Presenter – Woman of Substance on TVC), Bunmi Davies (Producer – Stand Up Nigeria), Keni Akintoye (media/creative consultant and member of the pop group Twin-X) with other thoroughbred media practitioners as guest facilitators and the Host facilitator Funke Treasure bringing their wealth of industry experience and international exposure to train the student and of course somehow their celebrity status to inspire them. The initiator’s dream was obvious in the general training approach as the focus was rather on the students’ status and needs to develop practical workplace productivity to make them employable and build their capacity for self employment.

With funding for the project coming from her personal savings, supported by friends and her immediate family and the facilitators having offered their services for free, the next workshop is in December 2010 with another set of student beneficiaries and she intends to continue and expand to other institutions for as long as there are younger people studying Mass communication and truly interested in the media business. Having enjoyed all of the training sessions, tea break and lunch, handouts free of charge; how far this beautiful initiative can survive without corporate sponsorship leaves the faculty and students of the Lagos State University with something to worry about.