Archive for the ‘art/entertainment’ Category

Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has named Accra, in Ghana as UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023, following the evaluation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.

After Guadalajara (Mexico) in 2022, the city of Accra was selected for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana.

Accra’s proposed programme seeks to use the power of books to engage these young people, as an effective way of skilling up the next generation.

The city proposed to the committee a broad programme that targets marginal groups with high levels of illiteracy including women, youth, migrants, street children and persons with disabilities. Measures to be implemented include the reinforcing of school and community infrastructure and institutional support for lifelong learning, in order to foster the culture of reading. By championing the publishing sector and other creative industries, the programme also aims to encourage professional skills development to stimulate the country’s socio-economic transformation.

Activities will include the introduction of mobile libraries to reach marginalized groups, the holding of workshops to promote reading and writing of books in different Ghanaian languages, the establishment of skills and training centres for unemployed youth and the organization of competitions to showcase Ghanaian arts and culture and promote inclusivity.

The application from Accra also includes a strong human rights dimension, which aims to raise public awareness about freedom of information and expression, building on its own promotion of these rights as well as its involvement in World Press Freedom Day.

The year of celebrations will start on 23 April 2023, on World Book and Copyright Day.

Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading for all ages and population groups, within and across national borders, and to organize a programme of activities for the year.

the new-look national theatre, iganmu, lagos

the new-look national theatre, iganmu, lagos

Lighting firm, Royal Philips has officially unveiled a stunning lighting makeover of the cultural landmark, the National Arts Theatre complex, Iganmu, Lagos as part of its fifth consecutive pan-African Cairo to Cape Town roadshow.

The lighting company installed its latest range of RGB (red, green, blue) LED luminaires around the National Theatre complex, emphasizing the beauty of the structure and cutting energy consumption by up to 80 per cent as compared to the existing conventional lighting.

Philips’ concept is focused on highlighting the significance of this iconic building as an architectural masterpiece and as a source of national pride to Nigeria, and in so doing assist with the buildings energy saving performance. The new Philips lighting will transform the theatre façade, while illuminating the distinctive, memorable and eye-catching mass and structure. The visual lighting concept will provide the building with an imposing look in the Lagos skyline.

“The spectacular lighting of Nigerian National Arts Theatre demonstrates the incredible advances that are being made in the efficiency and beauty of LED illumination”, says Abdallah Hussein, the Chief Executive Officer of Philips West Africa.

Continuing, Hussein said: “LED lighting innovations provide completely new opportunities to policy makers and governments to enhance city beautification and at the same time contribute to energy saving. We are extremely proud to see how Philips’ lighting solutions are contributing to improving the attractiveness of this stunning architectural marvel while reducing energy consumption in Nigeria”.

The iconic National Arts Theatre remains is the primary centre for the performing arts in Nigeria and, as such, is considered a monument and a celebrated icon within Lagos. Covering an area of about 23,000 square meters and standing well over 31 meters tall, the multipurpose National Theatre was established for the preservation, presentation and promotion of Arts and Culture in Nigeria. It is a sophisticated building which acts as a rallying point for both Nigerian and international artistes wishing to share experience with their Nigerian counterparts.

The complex is already a popular attraction in the city, with thousands of visitors annually. The spectacular Philips LED lighting is likely to further improve the tourism value of the monument.

Philips used a total of 48 LED luminaires, combining red, blue and green in each single luminaire, which provides an endless spectrum of colours to highlight the features of this architectural masterpiece. There are also 30 LED white light projectors, which highlight the pillars of the theatre.

Reacting, Mr. Kabir Yusuf, the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the National Theatre said: “We’re delighted with the project Philips has completed at the National Theatre of Arts here in Lagos. To think that such an iconic building in the Lagos skyline now has a state-of-the-art digital lighting technology for the façade is just wonderful. Now the world class and environmentally friendly look of the building ascetically from outside at night will complement the top class contribution of performers and artists inside the building, as well as the breathtaking renovations that have recently taken place in and around the big edifice.”

Lagos is the fifth stop on Philips’ annual flagship Cairo to Cape Town roadshow (from 14 April to 3 September 2014) which focuses on key challenges facing Africa today – the need for energy-efficient lighting and the revitalization of African healthcare infrastructure. Philips has committed to lighting up and illuminating iconic monuments in every city visited during the roadshow with the latest LED technology. As the number one LED lighting company in the world, Philips will now provide a stunning lighting makeover of historic, well-recognized monuments in African cities.

The Roadshow will make its way across seven countries and ten cities in Africa.

etisalat prize 2014 1Etisalat Nigeria, last Friday announced the judging panel for the second edition of its prestigious literary prize the Etisalat Prize for Literature.

Chaired by renowned Nigerian writer Sarah Ladipo Manyika, the distinguished panel consists of award winning British/Sudanese writer Jamal Mahjoub, prolific Francophone writer Alain Mabanckou and writer and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga.

Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher said the judges for this year’s prize are some of the most respected individuals in the literary world and they will bring in diverse experiences and expertise to the judging panel. “What is most exciting is that we have a very diverse panel that will bring in their individual perspectives to the judging process. They are an accomplished panel with vast amount of experience in the creative writing world”.

Chair Sarah Ladipo Manyika holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches literature at San Francisco State University. Her writing includes essays, academic papers, reviews and short stories. Sarah’s first novel, Independence, is published by Legend Press (London) and Cassava Republic Press (Abuja). Sarah was one of the inaugural Judges for Etisalat Prize for Literature 2013.

Jamal Mahjoub is an award winning writer of mixed British/Sudanese heritage. Born in London, he was raised in Khartoum where the family remained until 1990. He is also an award-winning novelist, translator and essayist. Jamal Mahjoub reflect on notions of ancient Egypt in modern life and art. He was awarded a scholarship to study in England and attended the University of Sheffield. He has lived in various countries including the UK, Denmark and currently, Spain. He writes in English and has published seven novels under his own name. In 2012, Mahjoub began writing a series of crime fiction novels under the pseudonym Parker Bilal.

Alain Mabanckou is considered to be one of the most talented and prolific writers in the French language today and the first francophone sub-Saharan African writer to be published by Gallimard in its prestigious “collection” called La Blanche. He is mostly known for his novels, notably Verre Cassé (BROKEN GLASS) which was unanimously praised by the press, critics and readers alike. In 2006 he published Memoires de porc-épic (Memoirs of a Porcupine) which garnered him the Prix RENAUDOT, one of the highest distinctions in literature written in French. His novels are published in more than fifteen languages.

Tsitsi Dangarembga is a contemporary African feminist. She published a short story in Sweden entitled “The Letter” and in 1987, she published a play in Harare entitled “She No Longer Weeps.” Her real success came at age twenty-five with the publication of her novel Nervous Conditions. This novel was the first to be published in English by a black Zimbabwean woman. In 1989, Nervous Conditions won her the African section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She had made many film productions, including a documentary for German television. She made the film entitled Everyone’s Child in 1996. It was shown worldwide at various festivals including the Dublin Film Festival. In 2006, she published The Book of Not: A Sequel to Nervous Conditions.

Now in its second year, the Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first Pan-African prize for debut fiction writers of African citizenship. The Prize was launched in June 2013 and has become one of Africa’s most prestigious literary prizes for fiction.

Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo was the winner of the maiden edition with her debut Fiction novel Bom Boy. She received £15,000 in Prize money and a fellowship at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom which she gifted to runner-up Yewande Omotoso.

The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever pan-African prize to applaud first time writers of published fiction. The winner of the prize receives £15,000 and an Etisalat sponsored Fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia.

After over three months of stand-off and suspense arising from non-classification and certification by the Nigerian film and movie regulatory body, the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) over content, the producer and marketers of the film Half of a Yellow Sun have announced August 1 as a new date for the nationwide premiere of the film.

This development follows the eventual classification and subsequent grading of the film by the NFVCB which had slapped an ‘18’ viewer classification on the much-awaited, multi-award winning film that stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Genevieve Nnaji, Onyeka Onwenu, Thandie Newton, Zack Orji, and OC Ukeje

According to Shareman Media, the Nigerian producers, and FilmOne Distribution, the Nigerian distributors of the feature film, in a release made available to M2A, the film will be available at major cinemas across the country from August 1, just as they thanked Nigerians ‘for their patience and support’ all through the course of the waiting period.

The film Half of a Yellow Sun film’s nationwide premiere was originally slated for last April 25 and later shifted to May 2 after which followed an indefinite postponement.

Directed by critically acclaimed novelist and playwright Biyi Bandele and produced by British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards winning producer, Andrea Calderwood, Half of a Yellow Sun is based on the novel of the same name written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

It was shot in Calabar, the Cross River State capital at the Tinapa Studios.

The film’s marketers and distributors in the country had on the eve of the its initial premiere issued a statement reportedly rescheduling the event on grounds of non-certification of the highly-acclaimed film adaptation of the award-winning book of the same title written by Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie, by the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).

“The highly anticipated release of Half of a Yellow Sun in Nigeria has been postponed due to delays in obtaining certification from the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board for the public release of the film. Subject to obtaining the certification of the Board, the film is now rescheduled for release on 2nd May 2014,” read the statement issued jointly by the Shareman Media, the Nigerian producers, and FilmOne Distribution, the Nigerian distributors of the feature film.

On the eve of the rescheduled date, again the Half of a Yellow Sun marketer came up with another release this time postponing the film’s nationwide premiere indefinitely.

“The public release of Half of a Yellow Sun in Nigeria remains postponed due to the fact that the National Film and Video Censors Board has not yet certified the film. The release date will be announced once the Board has certified the film for release to the public.

“The producers and distributors of the film regret this continuing delay. We are deeply appreciative of the overwhelming interest shown in the film by Nigerians everywhere. Please be assured that we are doing everything within our means to achieve certification and release as soon as possible.”

The long stand-off between the film producers and the regulatory authorities also threw up questions of reluctance by film producers in the country to seek certification and copyrighting of their intellectual properties before marketing their works with the NFVCB at the same time decrying the negligence which it had described as unhealthy for the industry.

The cancellation indeed had cost millions of naira in losses to the marketing firms in terms of pre-arranged venues and events that had been lined up as pre/post-event programmes.

Head of Operations of the NFVCB, Mr Cornel Agim, had noted that many film marketers in the movie business were not equipped with the right knowledge of film production and distribution, adding that some of the film marketers went into marketing of foreign movies without obtaining the relevant information and permission from constituted government authorities.

“When you negotiate for a right, you go to the Copyright Commission and authenticate it, then come to NFVCB and we give you the licence to sell it,” he said.

Agbi who also expressed concern about the rising trend of unlicensed marketers in the film business, said that the unpleasant movies in the market were made possible by the activities of some of the illegal marketers, who evaded the certification process of the NFVCB.

“Why not take a licence and do the right thing? Why should you just go and shoot a film and put it into the market? Do you know whether the film is going to cause a riot? If we don’t check them, it might bring a lot of chaos. So, these films have to come to us for proper censoring and rating. There are films that are supposed to be shown only in the night but people don’t know. So, our advice is for them (marketers) to do the right thing. If they don’t know how to do it, we will teach them how to do it,” he said.

While the Half of a Yellow Sun producers have continued to maintain innocence over their role in the whole episode with the NFVCB, the fact remains that the huge costs incurred by them would not have been an issue if a certification had been obtained prior to embarking on a world press conference to announce a nationwide release date and even organizing private screenings of the film in various cinemas in the country.

Etisalat Nigeria, leading contributor to the promotion of the nation’s cultural heritage, has announced its partnership with the 5th edition of the annual LagosPhoto Festival, themed “Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction”. This announcement was made at a press conference, recently held at the African Artist Foundation, Ikoyi, Lagos, to kick off the 2014 LagosPhoto Festival.

Speaking at the event, Director, Brands & Communications at Etisalat Nigeria, Enitan Denloye said that the company is committed to supporting the Arts, promoting excellence, nurturing talent and providing a platform for people to express themselves and communicate their ideas.

According to Denloye, the LagosPhoto is the first photography festival in Nigeria that uses the power of photography to bring stories that capture individual experiences and identities from all over the world.

In his words: “We are delighted to have another opportunity to support creativity in Nigeria. Etisalat sees this platform as an identification of the growing Arts and Culture industry in Nigeria, and our partnership with LagosPhoto reinforces our commitment to celebrating our culture and creative talents. We are reiterating our commitment to keeping our customers connected to unique experiences that connect with their lifestyle,” he said.

Director LagosPhoto Foundation, Wunika Mukan, in her address disclosed that the 2014 LagosPhoto Festival will examine contemporary photographers working in Africa who toe the line between photography and truth, by incorporating conceptual practices that expand traditional photographic approaches and techniques. The 2014 theme “Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction” according to Mukan, will also explore how photographers imagine different futures and charter fictive worlds using photography as a catalyst to explore the changing realities of Africa today.

To celebrate and kick off the fifth edition of LagosPhoto Festival, Etisalat recently announced the 2014 edition of the Etisalat Photography Competition themed: ‘Mastering the Selfie.’ Photographers are expected to submit “selfies” based on monthly themes; Fashion, Nightlife, Architecture and Celebrity via the website Submitted images will be uploaded to the Official LagosPhoto Mobile App, powered by Etisalat, where the public can view and vote on the competition.

At this year’s edition of the LagosPhoto Festival, Etisalat will also be hosting the most prestigious exhibition of documentary photography worldwide WorldPress Photo. This exhibition will be bringing together award-winning photographs from around the world, and it will create an opportunity to exhibit previous years’ best press photography in the world as well as provide capacity building opportunities for local photographers.

Mrs Yewande Amusan, Ogun State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism (left); Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa; and Mrs Bolanle Austen Peters, CEO of Terra Kulture during the press conference.

Mrs Yewande Amusan, Ogun State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism (left); Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa; and Mrs Bolanle Austen Peters, CEO of Terra Kulture during the press conference.

Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ogun State, Mrs. Yewande Amusan, has described Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka as an example and a shining light of what a true patriot is. This is just as producers of the five-year running Open Door Series Project WS unveiled programmes geared towards celebrating the 80th birthday of the literalist.

Amusan who made the statement in Abeokuta, last Wednesday, during a World Press Conference by the Ogun State government and the producers of the 2014 Open Door Series Project WS to commemorate the 80th birthday of the Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, said the writer has remained ’an untiring fighter for social justice and democracy.’

“Of a truth, we are gathered not because he is Kongi, but because he continues to be an example and a shining light of what a true patriot is. People’s perception of him varies. To academics and literary scholars, he is a playwright, poet and novelist; to his family, a dedicated family man. But to us, he has been an untiring fighter for social justice and democracy. Little wonder the name of Kongi would be at the top when heroes of the present democratic dispensation are mentioned due to his relentless struggles and continuous advocacy for the good of the common man,” Amusan stressed.

“We are not marking this day merely because it is the birthday of an illustrious son of Ogun State, Nigeria and Africa, rather we have resolved to partner with these companies because, for us all, it symbolizes a continuation of the life of an inspirational man who has fought and is still fighting for the dignity of man, the rights of individuals, unity and security of his country,” she continued.

The Open Door Series Project WS is an International Cultural Exchange Programme designed for the purpose of using the platforms of literature, arts and culture to affirm and uphold the dignity of man. Focusing on the youths as the future of humanity, the ICE seeks to foster unity among mankind regardless of nationality, ethnicity and religion.

The project is a partnership between the ZMirage Multimedia Company and GlobalNewHaven led by Prof. Segun Ojewuyi of the Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, United States, who is co-Executive Producer of the WS/ICE project.

WS/ICE project premiered July 13, occasion for the 2010 on the 76th birthday of Professor Wole Soyinka and had 76 star actors of stage and screen walk the red carpet at MUSON centre in his honour.

prof Wole Soyinka 2 copyAccording to producer of the WS/ICE project, Lillian Amah-Aluko, the 2013 was the start of the countdown to the 80th year mark – the highlight of which was the grandiose dream to stage 80 performances featuring Poetry/Spoken Word artistes from all over Nigeria, parts of Africa, United States and the United Kingdom, for Soyinka’s 80th birthday.

“The youth hold the key to change and prosperity in Nigeria and the world. It is our duty to engage them and ensure their mindset and priorities are in the direction of progress for the motherland and humanity,” she said.

On his part, Mr Jahman Anikulapo, Project Consultant and Advisor for Open Door Series Project WS, said: “It has been exciting not just because of the weight and nature of the persona at the centre of this yearly ritual but because of what the project symbolizes for the perennial struggle of the Artiste and the Creative types to get his/her voice heard, and earn deserved recognition in a society that is truly philistine.

“WS for many of us is the Quintessential Artiste, whose career trajectory and contribution to public intellection in our complex society, has remained a source of inspiration and contentment on the potential role of the Artiste and thinker (philosopher-Artiste) in the Society.”

The 80-day Countdown programme line up for the WS @ 80 celebrations which started from Abeokuta from April 25 ends in the city on July 14. The train moves to Osogbo from July 13-14; Port Harcourt from June 27 to 29; Lagos from July 1– 7 at the Freedom Park; Lagos – July 9 at the Terra Kulture (Exhibition and Spoken Word); Ibadan from July 15 to August 15; Jos on July 19; Igbale Aiye, Republic of Benin from August 17 to September 17.

Drama presentations include: Alapata of Apata directed by Tunde Awosanmi oand showing n July 9 at the Akin Olugbade Centre, Abeokuta; Death & the King’s Horseman on July 10 at the University of Lagos; Lanke Omu by Tunde Kelani/Tunde Awosanmi from July 11 to June 12 at the Cultural Centre, Abeokuta; Oba Koso by Duro Ladipo Company from July 12 to June 12 at the Cultural Centre; Spoken Word from July 13 to June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta; Dance of the Forest directed by Tunde Awosanmi and showing July 14 in Ijegba; and lastly Mad men and Specialists directed by Patrick Jude Oteh at the Jos Repertory Theatre on July 19.

July 10 activities lines up 25 delegates keynote speakers, 80 student essayist from around the country for 80 Spoken Word performers. Theme: The Soyinka Impulse and Education – Path to Freedom and the Future and featuring Mutabaruka from Jamaica, Javon Johnson from USA, Efe Paul Azino and Jumoke Verissiomo from Nigeria and many more.

July 11 to 12 will feature the beginning of a conference with the topic: The Soyinka Impulse (Art, Humanity, transition and permanence: calibrating Soyinka at 80) with 2000 participants and an opening performance of the play; Death and the King’s Horseman, as directed by Femi Osofisan and assisted by Bisi Adigun. There will also be a Mentoring session and workshop for students, as well as sightseeing and travel for students.

July 13: Essay writing (Morning): Topic: Education: Path to Freedom and the Future; the‘Do Your Own Thing’ (Afternoon); Conference ends with 80 Spoken word performances. Theme: The Soyinka Impulse and Education – Path to Freedom and the Future

On July 14: Visit to Ogun Governor and announcement of results; Visit to Soyinka at Ijegba; Dialogue through spoken words– (Evening); 80 Essayists and Guests join 80 performers for Spoken Word; 80 Essayists and invited guest witness presentation Dance of the Forest at Ijegba; Closing ceremony; and further cultural exchange among delegates.



ws prize 1The fifth edition of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature holding next month will be graced by at least three heads of state and other high profile local and international guests.
The three heads of state who have given commitment to be at the presentation of a book in honour of the Nobel Laureate three days after the announcement of the Prize winner are Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana.
The book presentation is slated for Accra, Ghana on July 8, 2014, three days after the presentation to the Prize winner on July 5 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Other distinguished individuals expected at the activities include Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and renowned Ghanaian author and former Education Minister in the Ghana government, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo.
The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature is a biennial event staged to recognise the best literary work produced by an African. It was established by the Lumina Foundation in 2005 to promote literary excellence in Africa and has since become the African equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
The organisers of the award have announced a longlist of 10 African authors from a total of 163 entries submitted from 17 African countries in the genre of Drama, which is the focus of the 2014 edition.
A shortlist of candidates for the prize is expected to be announced shortly, while the ultimate winner is expected to emerge on July 5.
As part of the activities to make the event colourful, Globacom has concluded plans to invite some of its subscribers as guests of honour. To stand a chance to be invited, the subscribers are encouraged to increase the usage of airtime on the Glo network by 50 percent before June 24. Subscribers chosen will receive special perks from the operator in addition to being celebrated on the special night.
For this edition of the prize, entries were invited from authors of any published play or collection of plays by the same author of African descent, published within the last two years (that is, a play published between 2012 and 2013). Globacom was also the main sponsor at the last edition.


etisalat prize winnerTelecommunications firm in the country, Etisalat has announced the call to entry for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature, the second edition of the much celebrated innovative literature prize launched in 2013.

The Etisalat Prize for Literature which is the first Pan African Literary Award to celebrate African fiction writers seeks to recognise, celebrate and reward debut fiction writers of African descent whose works are published in the last 24 months.

According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, “the Etisalat Prize for Literature serves as a platform for the discovery of new creative writing talent out of the African continent and is the first prize with the novel concept of also promoting the growing publishing industry in Africa. The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 in addition to a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia. The winner and shortlisted writers receive a sponsored two city tour promoting their books.”

The acting CEO further highlighted that following the success of the maiden edition last year, the literary community is now eagerly awaiting this second edition.

It would be recalled that Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo won the maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature with her highly celebrated debut novel We Need New Names.

According to the Etisala Prize, submitted works which must be a writer’s first work of fiction over 30,000 words must have been published in the last 24 months.

The Etisalat Prize also announced plans to launch the online based flash fiction prize later in the year to engage the rising stars of fiction.

Entries close August 8, 2014.

achebe and mandelaThe African continent and the Diaspora, in recent time, have been confronted with numerous socio-economic and political challenges. Despite decades of experimentation with different economic policies and programmes, the world’s absolute poor still live on the continent.

Furthermore, with only a few exceptions, most countries on the continent are caught in the poverty trap, with more than half of the population living below the poverty line and on less than $1 per day. Poverty is so severe in Africa that about 22 out of the 25 poorest countries in the World are in Africa. The problem of poverty has been compounded by needless political crises that often resulted in violent conflicts on the continent.

Unfortunately, like the African continent, the African Diaspora is also faced with its own challenges as they are also plagued with the problems of socio-political and economic exclusion. Despite constituting significant segments of their countries’ population, most Diaspora Africans are condemned to the lowest socio-economic rung of the ladder in their own societies and are almost excluded from political participation. Added to these, Diaspora Africans face the challenges of domination, inequality, poverty, disease and racial discrimination.

Against this backdrop therefore, the International Conference organized annually by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) positioned itself effectively to articulate and aggregate views and opinions aimed at frontally tackling these challenges so as to ultimate improve the lot of the Diaspora as well as Africans at home.

The conference organized in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus Kingston, Jamaica, the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ), the Pan African Strategic and Policy Research Group, (PANAFSTRAG), the High Commission of South Africa Jamaica, and the Nigeria High Commission in Jamaica held its 9th Global African Colloquium on the theme: Toward a New Pan-Africanism: Deploying Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Philosophy in the Service of Africa and the Diaspora at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingston, Jamaica from April 23 through to 25.

The conference which set out to create the desirable space and forum for African and African Diaspora experts, students, scholars and researchers to meet, debate, exchange ideas and present their work particularly the humanistic and social science disciplines of history, the arts, philosophy, anthropology and archaeology; also sought to foster understanding of the relationship between Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Philosophy and identity politics in Africa and the Diaspora.

It further aimed at examining the extent to which Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Philosophy have promoted or hindered development in Africa and the Diaspora; as well as to enhance the understanding of Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Philosophy and how they could be explored and utilized to advance the frontiers of Pan-Africanism.

Rising from deliberations therefore, experts affirmed that Africanism as an ideological framework provided a guide and direction for the course of decolonization and could be a basis for the development of Africa and the Diaspora in a globalized world.

They also observed that the disciplines of Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Philosophy could be deployed in defining and constructing a new Pan Africanist agenda for development in Africa and the Diaspora, just as they believed that the educational programmes are not sufficiently structured or developed to decolonize the African mind and are still generally Eurocentric in curricular and methodologies.

“There is a destruction of the sense of self, alienation from African cultural identities and adoption of white supremacist ontologies by Africans and Africans in the Diaspora; including those in the academia. There is a lack of correlation between economic growth and the quality of life of Africans in Africa and the Diaspora.

“There is need to re-define the relations of power in knowledge production and utilization between the West on one hand and Africa on the other,” read the recommendations in part.

Earlier in his address, Minister of Tourism Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, who described the theme of the conference as relevant given the challenges and prospects of Africa’s and Africa’s Diaspora development, however, noted that African countries shared a common vision to attain economic growth, sustainable development and an improved living standard for our peoples.

“As a matter of importance and urgency, we must deploy and utilize these areas of knowledge in our mutual quest for development. The theme of CBAAC’s international conference is therefore relevant and timely,” he stressed.

On his part, Chairman, Governing Board of CBAAC, Senator Brimmo Yusuf, explained that the choice for theme of the conference was informed by the urgent need to reflect on developmental challenges Africa and its Diaspora continue to face and fashion out strategic responses to these problems.

“In the last two decades, it is sad to note (despite independence) that only a few African and African Diaspora countries have recorded significant socio-economic progress. Most of our peers at independence have since left our countries behind. While they continue to make progress, Africa and her Diaspora are befuddled and enmeshed in needless socio-economic and political crises. Consequently, the convocation of this conference by the Centre and her partners is a timely response to these challenges,” Yusuf noted.

For Director General of CBAAC, Prof Tunde Babawale, the problem of poverty on the continent of Africa has been compounded by needless political crises that often resulted in violent conflicts on the continent.

“Unfortunately, like the motherland, Africa’s Diaspora is also faced with its own challenges as well. The continent’s diaspora is plagued with the problems of socio-political and economic exclusion. Despite constituting significant segments of their countries’ population, most Diaspora Africans are condemned to the lowest socio-economic rung of the ladder in their own society and are excluded from political participation.

“Added to these, Diaspora Africans face the challenges of racism, inequality, poverty, disease and racial discrimination. In the face of these challenges confronting Africans on the continent and the Diaspora, concerted action is required on the part of people of African descent deploying these disciplines in order to frontally tackle the challenges.

“Before now, humanistic disciplines like Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Philosophy were believed by Western knowledge enterprise to be their preserve and beyond the comprehension of Africans and their descendants. To their establishment, Africans and their descendants have no knowledge system on history and philosophy. Consequently, claims of the existence of African history and philosophy are not tenable. Western establishment also tenuously believes that anthropology and archaeology were areas of knowledge founded by them. This conference challenges such beliefs and corrects those impressions. This conference will also explore ways these forms of knowledge can be used to advance Africa’s and Diaspora’s developmental strides,” Prof Babawale stressed.

On the choice of Jamaica, as host for the 2014 edition of its annual international conference, Babawale explained that it was borne out the multitude of similarities shared by both countries, adding further that the conference was also aimed at strengthening relations between both countries.

“The choice of Jamaica for this conference is good one. Nigeria and Jamaica enjoy cordial relationship. Our countries shares have cultural affinity. Jamaica’s biggest cultural export to Nigeria is music and fashion. Nigeria’s Nollywood enjoys great patronage from Jamaicans. Consequently, organizing a conference of this magnitude here in Kingston will surely strengthen bilateral relationship between our countries,” Prof Babawale said.

While noting that pan-Africanism marked a significant watershed in which people of African descent forge a common front at confronting impediments global Africans development, the CBAAC director stated that the ideology also represents an attempt by African and its Diaspora at destroying the leviathan and vestiges of slavery, colonization, racism, neo-colonialism and all negative identity syndrome that have become characteristic of places inhabited by people of African descent.

“I share in the belief that we can overcome the challenges we face today using Pan-Africanism and by deploying those disciplines. It is capable of creating enabling environment for viable and sustainable economic growth and development. This way we can reduce poverty, re-engineer our social development and end various mindless wars and conflicts that continue to plague our continent.

“The ideology is capable, if employed objectively, of providing us avenues for peace-building which can help in promoting democratic governance and respect for human rights. Pan-Africanism can also aid our quest at fostering continental integration and seeking beneficial partnership with the industrialized world,” he summed up.

fela 2Starting Friday, April 25 and through to Sunday, April 27, the European Premiere of the much-hyped film Finding Fela opens first at the Sundance Film Festival Hub at Brooklyn Bowl.

This will be in addition to the Sundance London’s hosting of a free performance by Dele Sosimi, one of the original members of Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80 (1979-1986) on the last day Sunday at the same venue, in conjunction with the film producers.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti created the musical movement Afrobeat and used it as a political forum to oppose the Nigerian dictatorship and advocate the rights of oppressed people. The film is the story of his life, music, and political importance.

Many believe that no single individual better embodies African music of the 1970s and ’80s, and its pivotal role in postcolonial political activism, than Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

After quickly taking Nigeria storm, the pioneering musician’s confrontational Afrobeat sound soon spread throughout the continent and beyond, even as it made determined enemies of the repressive military regime. As a result of continued persecution, increasingly unorthodox behaviour, and, eventually, complications due to HIV, Fela’s final years saw his musical output and influence wane.

Within the past decade, however, a resurgence of interest in his work has posthumously repopularized Fela, culminating in the massively successful Broadway show Fela!,On Broadway written by Jim Lewis and directed by Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones.

This new effort Finding Fela by Academy Award–winning director Alex Gibney interweaves that show’s skillful staging with a treasure trove of period interviews and hypnotic performances to recapture the essence of the man, his music, and his enduring cultural and political relevance.

The director, Academy award winner Alex Gibney, known for his gripping, deeply insightful documentaries, is one of the most accomplished nonfiction filmmakers working today.

His earlier film, Taxi to the Dark Side, received the 2008 Academy Award for best feature-length documentary. Gibney had previously earned an Academy Award nomination in 2006 for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and received an Independent Spirit Award. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks screened at the Festival last year

The music and fame of the Afrobeat pioneer and rights’ activist, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is no doubt experiencing a revival in the United States’ market.

The rising popularity of Fela, the Nigerian artist who created the Afrobeat genre and invigorated the world music scene with his blend of jazz, funk and Yoruba music, exemplifies how a great thing can go relatively unnoticed by a wide audience.

From the late 1960s until his death in 1997, Fela was slowly building a name for himself not only as a musical innovator but as a political activist. His critically-praised music often integrated his anti-colonial and anti-corruption ideals. There was a lot to admire about Fela. But unfortunately, unlike his peer Bob Marley, Fela’s message and music never really caught on in the United States or Europe let alone Asia and South America, until recently that is. In 2009, the musical Fela! hit Broadway and ignited major interest in the life and music of the man who was known as the “James Brown of Africa.”

“The Broadway show is such a watershed,” said Maurice Bernstein, co-founder and CEO of Giant Step, a marketing and promotion company which has worked on marketing efforts for Kuti’s music for over a decade. He describes his popularity in terms of BC and AD (before the play and after the play).

According to Bernstein, before the play, those who were familiar with Fela’s music were world music fans and deep house fans who were part of the underground dance clubs. “You had select celebs like Flea who really knew who Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was. Outside of that, you said his name, and it would just be a blank,” he said. “You’re talking about one of the greatest musicians and one of the greatest body of works and you’d literally draw a blank from people.”

Fela’s 8-minute-plus long songs certainly did not help him get airplay. The length of the songs rendered him unfriendly to radio deejays so his popularity essentially flourished amongst niches of music enthusiasts. “His music and message have been passed on through word of mouth from friend to friend, brother to sister, teacher to student,” said Manuel Pila, a co-host of world music radio show Global Gumbo. “Fela has become part of The Essentials. As such, he has been prominent in that culturally aware crowd for at least a couple of decades. Folks in the know will always know. The world’s musicians, dancers, artists, activists, writers, and students will always seek out the Great Ones, the Ellas and Billies and, yes, the Felas.”

In April of 2011 at the New Expo Hall of the Eko Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos, the Broadway hit show Fela! was performed before a sell-out Nigerian audience, thus making it the first Broadway show to be performed in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Concurrently with the Broadway production, Fela! opened and triumphed at London’s Royal National Theater for a three-month sold-out run. That production was nominated for three Olivier Awards, London theatre’s highest honour, including Best Musical, Best Actor (Sahr Ngaujah) and Best Choreography (Bill T. Jones). This Nigerian engagement was the first since the closing of the Broadway and London productions and the NTLive performance which was broadcast to in 370 cinemas worldwide.

According to the organizers, the aim of Fela! in Lagos was to unite and connect Africans in spirit and unity, to serve as a catalyst for cultural revival in Nigeria, and to celebrate Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, for the contribution he has made to Nigeria and the world.

Recall also that top African-American Rhythm and Blues singer and former member of the defunct music group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé Knowles, had also claimed that her album titled; 4 was strongly influenced by late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

“I recorded more than 60 songs: everything I ever wanted to try, I just did it. I started off being inspired by Fela Kuti. I actually worked with the band from Fela! (the Broadway musical based on his life) for a couple of days … what I learned most from Fela was artistic freedom: he just felt spirit.”

Incidentally, Beyoncé’s husband, Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter, was a co-producer of the Fela! musical.