Monday, 27 March 2017

Notes from A Broke Nigerian Girl

Dear Anjali
Image by Bura-Bari

I would like to express my deep appreciations for inviting me to your wedding. You see throughout my life, I have only been to four weddings. Considering the fact that I am a Nigerian, a girl who will probably have suitors asking for her hand in marriage, four weddings is too small. 

 The first, when I was nine years old. The second one, where I nearly starved to death and vowed that I'll never attend any wedding in my life except my own. The third, where I had no idea who the bride and groom were and the fourth, yours. Thank you. 

 For some reason, no one has asked me to do the usual Nigerian aso-ebi (bride maids/ bridal train) for their weddings. I have married friends and recently married aunties but no one has selected me yet. You see, in Nigeria, that is bad. As a young lady getting to a "marriageable" age, you should do aso-ebi for at least three people but no one has picked me yet.
 I have cried out and announced my concerns but they fall on deaf ears. You see, I don't think the problem is my face or my body structure. I think my face and physique would steal their husbands away. Once, I cooked jollof rice for a friend and she said she wouldn't introduce me to her future husband before I snatch him away. I think the reason I've not been selected is my pocket. 

 You see, I am a broke student. Every penny I have is under a budget and in Nigerian weddings you cannot be broke and do aso-ebi. So you can imagine my joy when you asked I and Esther to serve as your bridesmaids. I was proud. The "gods" had finally made me a partaker of this aso-ebi thing and not just a normal one, an international one.

 Before your wedding, I had been broke- dead broke. No money. No food. In fact, I had a quarrel with the warden because I had not paid my rent. So when I got the invite, I saw your wedding as the light at the end of my "starvation" tunnel. I anticipated that day.

 On the day of your wedding. I packed small bowls and water bottles. I was going to be like the typical Nigerian parent. I cannot go to a wedding party and be dull. I had a big brown school bag that contained all my " weapons". It was going to be heaven for me. I would take rice, chicken and plenty drinks.

 So imagine my face when I got to the buffet table and saw chowmein (Indian spaghetti), Dosa, Macaroni, Indian fried rice and soup and all the vegetarian meals that I do not know their names because I don't eat them. I wanted to scream and cry. I held my Twinee for support. That one kept laughing.

 How did I come all the way with all those food flasks to see this? Now, not that I did not enjoy the meals, they were just not what I expected. You see, I and chicken are best friends. I do not enjoy a meal if an "animal" is not in it. I am very selective of the animals though. Chicken, Turkey, Fish. A classmate once called me Kentucky Faith Chicken (KFC).

 I looked around for the "minerals"(soft drinks), none too. Coffee, coffee was the drink we had to take and the coffee was served in small cups, I couldn't even steal some for my water bottles.

 Like the Nigerian girl that I am, I made the best out of the situation at hand. I ate the fried rice, went back for more countless times and I drank coffee like never before. I had to fill my stomach tank for the broke days ahead and make sure I didn't go to toilet so all would not be for nothing. 

 Dear Anjali, your wedding was beautiful.

Note written by Chioma Chukwunedu 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Apostheosis Art House releases 'Where the Road Leads' a poetry film by Echezona Nduka

The poet, Echezonachukwu Nduka has a new poetry film for the poem “Where the Road Leads”. This is the third visual representation for his poems from a forthcoming poetry album.  “Where the Road Leads” first appeared in BrittlePaper weeks ago in written form to a large audience, which probably inspired the visual. And as expected, the film, a collection of clips, fit in where words can’t necessary fit properly. It is worth your time.

So far, Mr Nduka, a musicologist and lecturer has explored the use of visuals for the adequate delivery of his poems and it is working magic. His debut was “We Wear Purple Robes” (2015) and “Listen” (2016) followed.

“Where the Road Leads” is a modern day elegy. The film opens with a beautiful view of a churchyard and cuts to the fine poet, seated, dishing out only what he could do best, juxtaposing fineness and death.

“Where the Road Leads” was released under Apostheosis Art House. You should watch and share.

Monday, 6 June 2016

New Twist to Muhammed Ali's Tributes

Edited image by Okeoghene Efeludu

Muhammed Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky died on Friday, June 3. His family spokesman, Bob Gunnell confirmed to the press that he died as a result of complications from Parkinson – a battle that has been on for three decades. While the world mourns a great boxer and rights activist, Nigerians mourn a man who was dear to them. His visit in 1964 would be treasured. And though the places he stood and made speeches did not have wreaths, a young Nigerian artist gave a fine twist to the tributes of the late legend. The historic photo of Ali boasting over a knocked out Liston was edited. Two dancing Eyo – a Yoruba masquerade primarily played as parts of rites of passage of a king or prominent chief and the ushering of a new one was placed on his right and left sides in the boxing ring, probably depicting that his greatness was divine, assisted by the gods –or that his opponent was due to transcend into a metaphysical realm.

Okeoghene Efeludu, the wonder artist who is from Warri, Delta State, lives in Lagos, Nigeria where he works.  

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Open Letter to Young People in Rivers State on the 2016 AMAA

                           To Young People in Rivers State; indigenes or not

I hope this letter meets you well. It is my desire that it does. There are obvious factors that may militate against such peace but we are conquerors. Let us win.

You have had a tumultuous period, from pre-elections violence to post elections slandering and hate-preaching. This has claimed lives – especially of youths, people who we are told are the future of tomorrow – our very own suns, those that should shine. We have buried them for political gains and maybe out of sheer inability for tolerance of our differences, which make us human. This rare act of having-sense, of understanding that there could be arguments, disagreements but then settlements, without the use of violence, wrenches the heart.

I grew up in Port Harcourt, spent my first 25 years on the streets of Port Harcourt. I attended a community secondary school, the Community Secondary School, Nkpolu-Oroworukwu, in Mile 3, Port Harcourt. I trekked in the sun and had worn-out sandals and torn uniforms so I may understand what it means to truly come from Port Harcourt.

Your life is yours, literally. You would have to use the seatbelt of self-control and drive carefully to wherever you want it driven to – this life, this state.

I am particularly writing you because of something good that is coming to town. The 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards would hold from June 11, 2016. Obviously, this programme is aimed at telling the world that Rivers State is safe for business and it would have African movie and music stars glow on the stage and share images on Instagram and Snapchat. However, I would love you, dear young people in Rivers State to seize this opportunity firmly and make something meaningful off it.

This is what I mean. The event is co-sponored by the Rivers State Government. Don’t attend it because you want to take a photograph with stars. That’s lame, sadly. Attend it because you wish to be spurred to make a meaning of your lives – to build contacts, to share your movies and to ask for the secret to selling your movies in the African market.

You may wish to know that AMAA has had several episodes of its show held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Luckily, I have attended some episodes. And during my attendance, sadly, I have not seen an indigenous Ijaw movie shown on the big screen. Does it mean that the people of the state are not dreamers or are not movie lovers? Sadly, despite the huge resources the Bayelsa State government has invested in AMAA over the years, there has not been a single indigenous workshop on screenwriting, filmmaking, acting for film held by the body to encourage budding filmmakers and to allow Bayelsans tell their story too. All I see on the days of the awards are local performances from the people and blind cheering without any thought of what the future holds. AMAA does not owe anyone an apology – or so I think. The government of Bayelsa State does. It has been too silly not to have thought that AMAA could at least facilitate workshop in South Africa or Tanzania for Bayelsans. Rivers young people should ask for this privilege.   

The Rivers State Governor should bargain for a pre-awards workshop for budding filmmakers based in the state. That way, the stars that would visit would share expertise with young Rivers based film enthusiasts, so someday, the Rivers man may tell the story of his many successes and failures using film.
This letter is to awaken you – it is to let you know that film is a great business – it is to let you know that you can be a Monalisa Chinda or Tonto Dikeh. It is not about the glitz but purpose and usefulness. It is about asking your government to allow AMAA to recognise indigenous filmmakers through any adhoc venture possible and proceed to organising a workshop and maybe invest in a small scale film school so your taxes that would be used to keep this show going can be meaningful to you.

God bless you and our dear state,

Bura-Bari Nwilo 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Lamili Engel: Dream Chasing

It is 2009. And a rainless evening at the Shell Residential Area, Port Harcourt, south of Nigeria. The Garden City, an oil hub, is home to incessant rainfall but today. It is holidays for the rain, perhaps. A small stage is set to have Lamili and her band perform varieties of songs – mainly western. It is a small band. There is Boma on the keyboard. He adjusts the microphone in front of him while a sultry lady walks in and he is distracted, not by the lady on fine heels but feedback from the speakers. I’d later find out the fair lady is a member of the band, a dancer. Her smile is warmer and resettling than the weather.

I am seated, a bit anxious but observant. The residential area is beautiful – the backdrop for the band is a mural – well spread. Steps away from the tables, a restaurant lets loose aroma from its kitchen and I am enwrapped in wants. But I’d be meeting Lamili for the first time in person so the anxiety returns. We’ve been friends on Facebook.

It is 2016, I’m somewhere in the eastern part of Nigeria, on YouTube. Lamili’s new music video for “Love Me Proper” has been replayed five times. She’s unchanged physically, still athletic, slender and passionate about music but her mind and scope of works have changed. These days, her audiences are no longer workers at Shell or their friends and family members. She is a model for afro-pop tunes, exporting sassiness and African-ness across Europe.

Currently in Spain, her new home, Lamili recalls one of her earliest songs entitled “Ndidi”, an Igbo term for ‘patience’ and ‘perseverance’

The song was dedicated to my late mum and grandma. It tells of me leaving home to pursue my dream, of a career in music and asking them to be patient with me.

Certainly not a dream chaser anymore, of the young woman who left home in Anambra State many years ago, Lamili has shared stages with some fine people from across the world. Among Nigerian star artistes, she has a song with Timaya and of course, an earlier song entitled "Crazy Love" has M' Trill, a Channel O Award winner.  Responding to the question whether it has been patience all this while for her growth, Lamili says:

“It is perseverance rather than patience. I don’t think I m a very patient person as friends and family will attest. I am constantly pushing to move forward and to see results.”
Lamili made music in Port Harcourt when it was a struggle to be received by radio houses. And when someone listened to you their gestures and words were asking for more than appreciation but sex or money.
“In the past, my focus has been on the reception of female musicians in Nigeria, who were not treated on a footing equal to their male colleagues, in fact, worse. Sexual harassment is widespread. Sexual favours are demanded or offered out of desperation in exchange for exposure or preferential treatments. I have always refused to play these games, as I believe hard work, quality materials, and perseverance will get me there.”

These days, there are more radio houses in Port Harcourt and more options. Younger people have created blogs to promote songs that radio houses won't play. And there are artistically creative music video directors too, complementing efforts by singers and performers.
There was a clear reason why a few years ago, I decided to move the focus of activities from Port Harcourt to Lagos and then Europe. PHC is not doing enough to support and further its local talents.

About her journey to exploring music beyond the shores of Africa, Lamili says

Travelling has exposed me to different cultures and their traditional music, for example, Flamenco style music here in Spain. In the past, my music style was focused on a Nigerian audience. These days, I am working towards songs for fans beyond Nigeria or Africa.

Artists are diversifying, especially in Nigeria where a musician does not make anything off a studio album, such that had to be put out for free so that it may be downloaded and cost would be covered from gigs and concerts, or brand endorsements. When asked if the uniqueness of her hairdo was geared towards setting up a brand such that would see maybe hair brands coming to her for endorsements, Lamili says

I have a passion for fashion; though I prefer not to follow trends but to make my own. My hairdo is unique, it makes me stand-out and instantly recognizable. At the moment my priorities are at establishing the brand LAMILI across Europe and Africa. Beyond this, I will be releasing additional music from time to time while touring.

The alluring mother of one, who would rather keep family life private, travels heavily. In her words she says:
I don’t travel with a single piece of luggage only. Driven by the demands on my appearance at media houses and stages, I have to pack a lot. I never travel light. Apart from this, my personal fashion brand is my hairdo.

Outside music, Lamili is passionate about raising awareness about breast cancer. She has appeared in a handful of materials about breast cancer awareness but she has not stopped advocating for at least, annual check-up for Nigerians, like it is done in Europe.  

Nigeria is way behind on the preventive side of medical care when compared to what I see in Europe. For example, annual screening for breast and other cancers is the absolute norm. We should have it in Nigeria too so we can save lives.”
Lamili Engel who shares her time between Africa and Europe is a lover of big cars and currently drives a Toyota Land Cruiser with a Toyota Auris by the side.

Note: Photographs were provided by Lamili Engel


Thursday, 3 December 2015

The One Who Comes and Goes


The One Who Comes and Goes

Last night
while the world rested
we were in bed, wrapped
by our all.
We locked eyes
and hearts
and giggled and tickled.

This morning,
your presence is gone
and your aura has no trail,
not even the echo
of expected laughter -
a carry-over from last night’s.

You’re the one who comes
and goes at will.
This door is yours.

(c) Bura-Bari Nwilo 2015

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Dear Sister,

It is with absolute goodwill and sheer concern for my own kith and kin that I have decided to write to you today. I mean well, even if my language may not be clear-cut and sexy as you are. Ah. I see your image in my head. In short, since yesterday, I have been dreaming about you; how you walk and the victory smile which rented your face when you were announced winner. *inserts smile and dies.

I hope you find time to read this letter and write back to me. *inserts a wink

You know, life has changed since last night when you won that prestigious crown as Miss Nigeria, 2015. Hmm. Some bad belle people have been comparing MBGN to Miss Nigeria. But don’t mind them. That’s all they are good at, analyzing. Ah. Life is sweet oh. I am sure you will be making shakara anyhow now. You’ll be like: mbok, I rep Cross River oh but I am Ogoni to the bone. Ah. To the bone, chai, that line is sweet, whalai.

You will drive around in that your new SUV and then travel to everywhere with that your plenty millions. Ah. In my next world ehn, I will come as a beautiful woman with fine legs, great height and envious nose. I think I will try and be intelligent too.

I know it doesn’t mean much, but just in case it is required, I will do my best to acquire a cute accent. Sister, please come closer let me share something about accent with you. See ehn, just go into any bank in Nigeria and use those thick dark glasses and cover your eyes and speak anything that would make you sound like a bird and there, everyone would respect you. They would say: “Hey. See that one oh. She is one of those people who have gone to oyinbo land and have returned with light skin and yeye accent. But don’t mind them. What would kill them is already in their faces. Accent is sweet oh.

I watched as you just knack book and dribble people like a proud Ogoni girl. Ah. You are fine, Leesi. Yes oh. That is what I will call you. You see that Pamela something? Me, I don’t buy it at all. You are a sweet Ogoni woman and your native name is what I’d hold on to.

Before I forget, please this is the reason I decided to write you this letter. It’s about boys; some yeye boys wey dey the Nigerian music industry only to give beauty queens belle. I am writing you to be careful of wolfs with microphone and cheap six packs that I can buy anywhere in Ariaria market.

You see, these boys just sit in front of their televisions during pageantry. They are not even concerned enough to buy tickets and watch you people appear in pants and high hilled shoes oh. No. They want to stay there and watch the winner then they would tell their yeye publicist to look for the winner’s phone number and call them that they want to wish them happy winning.

There are two famous people you have to avoid by all means if you want us, your kinsmen to remain behind you. One is yellow with dada and mumu six packs. Hmm. My sister, I know that you have been in Nigeria. In short, one bird whispered to me that you are in service, serving Nigeria, battling mosquitoes and bad toilet and bathroom wey dey camp but this guy bad well well.  Him bad pass everything bad. The day that our former MBGN was in Yenagoa shaking like fowl that had cold, trying to answer simple questions about wetin she go do when she win, this man was looking at yansh in South Africa in the name of shooting a music video. When the fine yellow girl come win, him no waste time. He dropped his magical rod inside the small innocent hole and chai, sister, a pikin was deposited. That is so wrong.

You must stay away from him. Any show he organises in this world must be avoided. If you did not know that he was in the show and you eventual found him there, abeg, tell the organisers that shit is hungering you, that you have to leave. You can go to Bodo too and recruit 15 local boys to guard you. I don’t want to hear stories.

There is another man who has announced to the world that he is now a repentant married man. Ah. Hot lie. Please, stay away from him too. Don’t buy his album. The image on that album has made someone pregnant before. I know the girl. She is still looking for a way to take care of the baby. This man has many faces although he has agreed that there are only two. Ah. He is bad. He is slim, and tall. You know what slim men carry between their legs shey? Avoid him. He can bring your holy land to disrepute in two minutes. He can enlarge the narrowest pathway by a single visit. When you see him on TV, please sprinkle the blood of Jesus and bind and cast any appearance that may come in the dream.

You have to be at alert. Put a small Gideon bible under your pillow before you sleep and if time permits, scream “chisos, chisos, chisos” seven times. Find a bottle of olive oil and drink it too.

It has also come to my notice that some ladies love other ladies. Ah. Don’t do what will make Bari have sleepless night. If any woman opens her breasts for you, cower and help them cover it. They are end time children. Don’t play that with them.

Sister Leesi, it is our pleasure that Chisos has chosen you to wipe our tears off our eyes. You remember the many oil spillages in your village, it has been Bari who has shielded you from drinking poisonous water so you would live and make him proud. Biko, make him proud.

Embrace all things that would add value to human life. In all you do, stay humble and motivated. Yours would be a beautifully eventful journey and do well to send me a Facebook request too.

Thank you.  
Bura-Bari Nwilo

Your Ogoni Brother in the Lord