Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Thirty

Thirty  

This is just a model I photographed at an event in PHC, Nigeria. 
On the morning of thirty, I woke up to my girlfriend by my side on a flat mattress in my apartment in Port Harcourt. There was no power, just a rechargeable lamp stood over us with its light, like it was something divine, seeing us bare. She had traveled six hours from Nsukka to Port Harcourt with personally baked birthday cake on her laps for me. It was what she did for a living; loving me and taking some decisions that I thought were too much for me. There were times that I was sick and she would spend days with me, helping with cleaning, cooking and loving. When I felt that I had no one out there when nothing worked out, the thoughts of her selflessness made me giggle and I’d flush the bad thoughts down by throat with a beer.

I was thirty and almost clueless but for her in my life and my addiction to beer, and maybe the occasional literary works I created. One of the things I thought about for the new journey was a postgraduate degree and a stable life so that Oluchi and my family would have something tangible to smile about. I make sacrifices for them but I think they make more for me. Being a first child had made me to think in the collective, to understand that I am not alone and whatever I carried out didn’t hurt those who shared the same parents with me. And of course, anyone who truly cared.

I had thought I would wake up differently – with some heaviness, of being thirty but what weighed me were more in my head, what I had done with my life and what I would do and how I would go about doing that so they’d come out good. I had published a book of my fears and appreciation on a mobile platform a day earlier and since it had a price tag of N500, I had just two downloads. Some friends said they had issues with payment on the site but I felt it was one of the things that happened to a thirty year old, expecting less and living, nonetheless.

For thirty, I was going to start being deliberate with whatever I wanted. I haven’t been less deliberate but this was coming with the realization that I was thirty and everything around me counted – like if I looked up at the petty trader by the street corner who sold noodles, what she pressed on her pocket calculator was not my bill but how much time I had left or hadn’t. If I did it well, I was going to be a successful man in his early thirties. If I did it wrong, I was going to make a bad example to the many great people who are quick to make anyone a role model and mentor.

There had been unrest in the south. The Nigerian Army had responded brutally to civil unrests by the Indigenous People of Biafra, a group that agitated for a sovereign state of Biafra in Igboland. She had to use the Owerri route and endured silly quarrel from a woman who sat next to her from Owerri to Port Harcourt. Oluchi and I met at the university. I was two years ahead of her in the department. She was the first and only relationship I got at the department – full of our little chaos but treasured. And it had been up and down but had survived. It had not started deliberately. She was a friend who stayed and whose life unfolded in very interesting ways as we stayed together. I discovered that there were a lot of roles to play and she had so much to teach me about living, women and love.

After I woke up and took a pen to plan the day, I realized that if I did not give out the major jobs of running around to folks that did not know how much the day meant to me and how I avoided failure, I would have a fine day. I made calls, reaffirmed collections and reached out to the venue for the birthday sit-out. When calls came through, they came heavily and had different messages. Songs and prayers came, teases and reminders, of the age and my gradual loss of boyhood. People who I had no ideas were there, sent messages on social media and as a tradition, I gave them attention and responded to as many as I could.

The birthday sit-out held and friends drank and teased and chatted and took pictures and while I cheered and almost ended up singing at the karaoke bar, I realized that no matter how serious one was and how greatly one achieved fame and riches, if one could place a call for an event and no one showed up, one has not succeeded as a leader of some sort. And I also learned that when the cheers are down, there are people who would be there, to tuck, to hug and kiss and tell you that all would go well. For what are lucks than partners who keep you aware that living is a great privilege.


Written in 2017 

  

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