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Meet the Zimbabwean designer who hopes to rival Gucci

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FASHION DESIGNER Yvonne Yvette wants to one day rival Gucci. She spoke to The Voice about quitting her day job to pursue her passion, Africa’s influence on her collection and why she wants to empower women through fashion…
The daughter of shopkeeper and a seamstress, some may say it’s no surprise that Yvonne Yvette became a successful fashion business owner. But despite her undeniable skills, she wasn’t initially sure that design was something she could make a living out of.
“Everything that I’m doing is self taught, I’ve never been to a fashion designing class, so I’m learning as I’m going,” she said.
The fashion designer’s passion for clothes stemmed from childhood and was clear to her loved ones later on it life too. “My partner always says to me I look good, and when he first met me he could tell I knew what to wear.
“When I was young I wanted to dress up and wanted to make sure whatever I wore would make sense. When I started it as a hobby I thought I was good at it why don’t I try to see where I am and then I just started making them and it came to me very easily. I started wearing them for myself and I got compliments from people, from my friends and family and they had make clothes for them.”
It wasn’t until Yvette began making clothes for other people that she realised she could make money from what started as a hobby. “I thought to myself I’m actually wasting time making stuff for free and I started charging and they were like you undercharge because you’re not confident.”
The accounting and information systems graduate and former banker juggled her side hustle with her full-time job but she has no complaints. “I even think that when I started I enjoyed it so much that I stopped going out, I was so excited.”
Eventually the time came when Yvette packed in her day job to pursue fashion design full-time. “I was working for someone and it’s one of those things where you’re going to work and keep doing the same things over and over again.
“Working for yourself, you have the freedom to do your own thing and I can work on a dress overnight and if I get an idea late at night I go into my work room and try and create it. I’m enjoying my work, so it doesn’t feel like I’m working.”
Yvette’s country of birth and the place where she grew up, Zimbabwe, and the country she now calls home, England, have both had a huge impact on her designs. “With my family we’ve always been a modern family…we were younger we could wear trousers, and I know some of my friends weren’t allowed.
“I think Africa is a bit behind on fashion compared to Europe, so moving from my home to here I realised there was a lot more you could do here.
“Coming here did make a big difference to my life.”
Since the birth of her eponymous company in 2014, the talented designer has received a number of awards for her work including North West UK Best Fashion Designer award and a BAWR award. She’s also been nominated for a Women4Africa award. She said the recognition “solidified” what she was doing.
Yvette’s clothes have also been worn by models and clients across the world but the reality of how well her creations have been received is still sinking in. “I still don’t believe it, I couldn’t believe that actually my work has gone to America and Australia…I’m hoping I can go even further and compete with Gucci, who knows. I don’t want to limit myself.”
Her latest work, “Kiss” ready-to-wear collection 2018, will be on sale from July and it’s a manifestation of her aim to “liberate” women through clothes. “I think in this day and age women should be allowed to decide what they want to wear and when, without being subject to cultural beliefs.
“Women face a lot of challenges because of social beliefs within our culture (African culture) whereby they can’t be themselves or wear what they want without being objectified. This collection is about encouraging women to stand for themselves, have a choice in society; about what they wear and above all self-love. I want women to feel good about themselves with this collection no matter, what size, colour and where they come from.”

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Real Housewife Of Atlanta’s star Porsha Williams announces pregnancy

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REAL HOUSEWIVES of Atlanta star Porsha Williams has announced that she is expecting her first child.
The Atlanta native shared the news with People magazine, and opened up about her previous miscarriage and experience with fibroids.
“When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited [but] I had mixed feelings. The other feeling that I had beside excitement was fear,” she told the magazine, noting she had a miscarriage six years ago.
She is having the baby with boyfriend Dennis McKinley. “It’s like a dream come true,” she told People.

Williams was previously married to NFL player Kordell Stewart but the couple divorced five years ago soon after she joined Real Housewives of Atlanta.
In the interview, Williams also opened up about her struggle with fibroids, revealing she underwent a myomectomy to remove her uterine fibroids.
The reality star and radio host also raved about her boyfriend Dennis. “The thought of me getting that blessing after praying for it for so long and getting that blessing with someone who is just as excited as me — it’s Dennis’ first child, just like me — and it’s something we’ve both always wanted … It’s like a dream come true,” she said
Williams is currently shooting the 11th season of Real Housewives of Atlanta.

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‘It’s Time to Decolonize Environmentalism’: An Interview with Zina Saro-Wiwa

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By Ismail Einashe

With a forthcoming solo show at Tiwani Contemporary, London, the artist discusses Niger-Delta food traditions, ‘disaster narratives’ and environmental challenges.

The final words of Zina Saro-Wiwa’s father before he was hanged by a Nigerian military government in 1995 were, ‘Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues.’ His death sent shockwaves around the world. Ken Saro-Wiwa was a writer and a human rights activist who fought against the degradation and exploitation of his native Ogoniland in Nigeria by multinational oil companies. He became an enduring symbol of environmental activism owing to his efforts to bring to attention the struggles of the Niger Delta’s more than 30 million inhabitants. Today, his daughter, based in New York, uses her art to explore the identity of this enigmatic region – one not premised on tragedy and devastation, but rather an openness and optimism. Saro-Wiwa’s bold work incorporates video, photography, sculpture and installation. Since 2014, she also runs the art space Boys’ Quarters Project Space in her father’s old offices in Port Hartcourt, Nigeria.

‘The Turquoise Meat Inside’ at Tiwani Contemporary, London, marks Saro-Wiwa’s first solo exhibition in Europe following two solo museum shows in the US in 2015 and 2016 at the Krannert Art Museum, Champaign and Blaffer Art Museum, Houston.

Ismail Einashe – You’ve worked as a journalist and a documentary filmmaker. Can you tell me about your decision to begin making visual art?

Zina Saro-Wiwa- I didn’t move into art consciously. It proved to be the only strategy that allowed me to deal with what had happened to me and my family and Nigeria. For 10 years after my father’s execution, I hadn’t really mourned him and chose to cut myself off from anything that surrounded his legacy, as there seemed to be no real space for me within it. He became an international symbol, rather than my father. When I was ready to deal with it I thought that making a documentary about him would be the way for me to reclaim some of his memory and to forge a connection with Nigeria. But every time I went to a pitching meeting at a production company I would break down sobbing. I eventually made a video that dealt directly with my inability to mourn my father’s death: Sarogua Morning (2011). It was a video performance where I shaved my head and forced myself to cry and mourn in front of the camera. That was the film I needed to make. Not a documentary. This work gave me agency, resilience. It made me research mourning cultures around the world and in Ogoniland. It made me think about the relationship between performance and catharsis; it commented on the gap between the public and private sphere when it came to mourning his death. It was also painful and very hard work. But I could reframe history and emotion and connect them any way I wanted to through this device. Art was and is a gift.

IE- Unsurprisingly, your name is often intertwined with your father’s. Can you describe the impact and legacy of his work on your own and compare your approach to his?

ZSW- My father was a writer of plays, TV shows, poems, short stories, essays, articles, novels. His topic was always ultimately the Nigerian condition, and he had a huge amount of love for the country despite his criticism of it. The direct activism came later; I don’t know what specifically tipped him into such direct advocacy. But the outrages in the region were egregious. Activism was not a job for him; it was something he couldn’t help but engage in. I have a more complex relationship with activism: I do not consider myself an activist and never will. I hope nothing happens to me that forces me to engage on a single issue. I find myself in a position where I am interested in what is happening in the Niger Delta but I want to use art to engage with broadening concepts of environmentalism. I want art to be used to excavate history and imagine futures. There is no future in an identity built on degradation. So I intend to remain expansive in the space of the Niger Delta and to connect whatever happens there with the rest of the world.

IE –  You say the Niger Delta has a ‘latent indigenous environmentalism’, which has been ignored by international onlookers and local communities. Can you explain what you mean by that?

ZSW – From my perspective, it seems as if the idea of ‘big E’ Environmentalism is shaped by a certain group of thinkers in the West. It is currently framed predominantly through the issue of carbon emissions, at least on an international level. Of course, there is also the issue of rising sea levels and climate change, all desperately important and overlapping issues; but Environmentalism is a broad church. The concerns of big environmental groups don’t necessarily speak to and for others in other parts of the world. When my father was killed, environmental groups used this as an opportunity to argue against Big Oil, which was directly implicated in his death. Oil is certainly part of our environmental puzzle in the Niger Delta but there is much more to consider. Another reason indigenous environmentalism is overshadowed I think is because of Pentecostal religion, which has altered Africa’s relationship with the natural world and dampened this connection. Animism, for all its faults as a belief system, described and forged strong relationships between humans and the natural world. For me a Niger Delta environmentalism has to implicate invisible ecosystems, such as spiritual and religious beliefs. We also have to face our own capitalistic desires and manage them. Niger Deltans aren’t anti-capitalist wood nymphs. For want of a better phrase, it’s time to decolonize Environmentalism, democratize the conversation and create a more nuanced approach to environmental challenges.

IE – You’re challenging ‘disaster narratives’ about Ogoniland. How have these narratives impacted the Ogoni people?

ZSW I think terrible things have happened to Ogoni people and other peoples in the Niger Delta. In fact, all over Africa we see instances of exploitation both internal and international. I think it’s important to understand what has happened, but I also see it as necessary to define yourself independently of loss and violence. It is not a healthy basis on which to build an identity. Violent oil extraction is a tragedy but not an identity. It is time to turn inward and think more deeply and honestly about our relationship with our environment. I think regions are strong when they maintain strong cultural ties to their past and thus a powerful sense of self. Cultural power leads to other forms of power. So for me culture comes first, and contemporary art is a tool and strategy to uncover the past and develop cultural capital.

IE- Can you tell me more about what the title of your forthcoming exhibition at Tiwani Contemporary, ‘The Turquoise Meat Inside’, refers to?

ZSM- ‘The Turquoise Meat Inside’ is the title of this show but also a poem, a sculpture, a tag, a mantra, a seduction. It refers to a sea snail indigenous to the Niger Delta, that has a hard, dark brown outer shell and turquoise flesh. The shells, called periwinkles, are sometimes used as building materials, and are sacred to some Niger Delta ethnic groups; they are also eaten in soups and stews.

IE- In your food interventions, like the 2012 New West African Kitchen project, you curated and cooked a West African feast for guests. In 2015, you mounted a ‘feast performance’ for 50 guests. In your film Phyllis (2010), the character eats garri (West African food made from cassava tubers) and egusi (another Nigerian staple) while watching Nollywood films. Can you talk more about the role of food and its consumption in your work?

ZSW- I’m glad you picked up on the food in Phyllis. That was one of my first ever artworks, and I think it’s interesting that food found its way into my work that early. When I was younger I saw a solemnity and sadness in consuming food. I loved food and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals as children, but watching someone eat made me feel a kind of pity. I don’t fully understand why. I think explaining can kill feeling, and the art work is a part of the explanation, a part of the puzzle. But I will say that food has proven a vehicle that delivers immediacy and complexity in whatever format I incorporate it, from a banquet to an eating video or a written recipe. Every time I relegate it to the periphery of my practice or forget to put it on my biography, it somehow works its way back in.

IE- In recent years, you’ve focused on Ogoni masquerade culture. Why did this interest come about and can you explain its significance in your various works?

ZSW In 2013, I was commissioned by Seattle Art Museum to create a work about masquerade, and it coincided with my move back to Nigeria. I arrived in Nigeria not knowing what exactly I was going to achieve, but having this mandate to produce work that responded to masquerade was fantastic. It was a reason to visit multiple villages all over Ogoniland (there are 111 in total) and to have them open up to me in ways that they would not have done normally. Observing masquerade creates that chaos inside me in the same way that Nollywood films do. I’ve been making work to respond to this internal chaos, to try to explain masquerade to myself. Masquerade is another tool to allow me to understand who Ogoni people are beyond being victims of industrial violence. Masquerade is both ostentatious and mysterious and contains a lot of hidden meaning. Petroleum geologists have a particular understanding of this region, and I think it is important that a cultural cartography exists as well, to expand the identity of this region as more than a site ripe for exploitation.

Zina Saro-Wiwa, ‘The Turquoise Meat Inside’, runs at Tiwani Contemporary, London, from 13 September – 27 October 2018.


Zina Saro-Wiwa
– Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed by the state in 1995 after protesting oil extraction in Ogoniland, his home region. Now his daughter, Zina, uses art to demonstrate how environmental destruction has informed Ogoni “emotional, social, and spiritual ecosystems.” She spent two years documenting the tribe’s rituals and aesthetics, culminating in her first solo exhibition, which ran through March in Houston. It included a video installation of Ogoni dancing around pipelines—the lively and powerful contrasted with the inorganic and inert—and the first-ever photographs of the Ogele, secretive performance groups that emerged in the 1980s wearing masks that celebrated opposition to the oil industry. Saro-Wiwa’s art, the Village Voice said, showcases “the gesture of masking, in all its eerie strength.” (Photo courtesy of Zina Saro-Wiwa)

Notable Facts:
Born in Ogoni­land, Saro-Wiwa grew up in the United Kingdom. She used to work for the BBC as a presenter on The Culture Show.
The title of her exhibition is Did You Know We Taught Them How to Dance?—a reference to a private conversation she had with her father; the phrase alludes to the idea of self-determination.

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Drake reportedly sues woman over pregnancy and rape claims

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DRAKE HAS reportedly filed a lawsuit against a woman who claimed he got her pregnant before accusing him of rape.
The I’m Upset rapper says that he met Layla Lace during his Boy Meets World Tour in Manchester, England, last year. Following the concert, he alleges that he and Layla had consensual sex in his hotel room.
However, it was when Drake sent Layla home after their encounter rather than taking her on tour with him that the issues allegedly began. In the lawsuit, filed by Drake’s lawyer Larry Stein and obtained by TMZ, the Canadian star submitted numerous text messages that Layla had sent him in the weeks after their evening together, which he says prove that she created a “fantasy relationship” with him.
Drake adds he didn’t have the “time or energy to respond”, and his silence led to Layla taking things to the next level.
She first claimed she was pregnant in April 2017, posting on Instagram: “So I guess still in this era this is the new thing that after you tell a dude you pregnant they stop answering they phone!!!”
According to TMZ, after threatening to leak her messages from Drake, she then went on radio station SiriusXM and repeated her claims that she was pregnant with Drake’s baby. According to the lawsuit, Layla refused to take a paternity test and then both she and her lawyer failed to respond to any requests for information.
“There is no credible evidence of pregnancy, nor any baby, which would have been born last Fall,” Drake says in the lawsuit.
It was at that point that Layla then went to the authorities in New York and accused Drake of raping her during their encounter in Manchester. She is said to have then hired a new legal team, and threatened to go public with the rape complaint unless he paid her.
The case was referred to police in Manchester who interviewed Drake and cleared him. However, the singer alleges that Layla then tried to extort him once again by asking for millions of dollars in return for her silence.
He is suing Layla for civil extortion, emotional distress, fraud, defamation, and abuse of process, and is asking for unspecified damages.

 

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Forget Milan. African Fashion Is Taking Over the World.

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Neither of the co-founders of the luxury African e-commerce company OXOSI came at it from a fashion background. They started the online retailer out of a shared appreciation for safeguarding culture — African culture. Defining “African fashion” is close to impossible, but Kolade Adeyemo and Akin Adebowale (both from Nigeria) are taking on the challenge with an almost manic conviction, so that the “art and design of Afromodernism can live forever,” according to the website. They both understand OXOSI is their opportunity to rewrite the African narrative — and they’re not holding back.
With a company name that means “God of Justice and Wilderness,” they are hoping to tame the wilds of fashion. Walk into their simply designed office in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood and you’ll see a team of millennials dedicated to the goal of showing the world that Africa is a force to be reckoned with — from art and music to design, literature and, especially, fashion.

 

 

 

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Nigeria World Cup kit nominated for fashion award

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The Super Eagles jersey has been shortlisted for ‘Design of the Year’ Beazley Designs Award

NIGERIA’S WORLD Cup jersey was certainly a hit among supporters.
The Nigerian Nike kit sold out within minutes, and was seen on celebrities from Michael B. Jordan to Wizkid – and now the in demand clothing has been nominated for the Beazley Designs of the Year 2018, an annual award and exhibition run by London’s Design Museum.
According to CNN, the 87 nominees – which includes the popular kit and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line – span a total of six categories including products, transport, graphics, fashion, digital and architecture.
In addition to the Fenty Beauty line and Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup kit, other Design of The Year nominees include bio-leather made from yeast, Sony’s Aibo robotic dog, the new Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, a video game that trains players to spot fake news, Palomo’s gender-bending men’s fashion line, the SpaceX Falcon rocket, and the world’s first plastic-free shopping aisle.
The Guardian reports that the nominees were whittled down from 560 submissions. The museum said it was the most international list of contenders in the prize’s history.
The overall award winner, which is described as “revealing the most innovative designs of the last year,” will be announced on November 15, along with a winner for each of the aforementioned categories.

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Andela appoints Omowale David-Ashiru as country director

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Andela has appointed Omowale David-Ashiru as its Nigeria country director.
She succeeded Seni Suleyman, who was appointed the vice president of Andela’s global operations in April.
As the country director, Omowale will be responsible for leading Andela Nigeria, a rapidly growing team of 500+ people, and ensuring that the organization continues to advance its objectives of developing Africa’s future technology leaders.

Before joining Andela, Omowale’s professional experience spanned almost two decades in management consulting and entrepreneurship. During her eleven years at Accenture, she grew to become a seasoned Management Consultant and Certified Project Manager.
Omowale then transitioned into entrepreneurship, launching a fashion retail company, which she managed for eight years. Her experience managing complex projects for global technology and financial services companies, combined with her entrepreneurial mindset, makes Omowale the right leader for Andela Nigeria.
“Everything I’ve done before now feels like a preparation for this role,” says Omowale, “and I’m excited to join this wonderful team of highly motivated individuals who are investing their skills and effort into advancing opportunity and potential in Nigeria and the continent at large.”
Seni Sulyman, Andela’s Vice President of Global Operations and previous Country Director, Nigeria, shared his excitement about Nigeria’s new Country Director: “Omowale has the right mix of relevant experiences in leadership, management and entrepreneurship to lead the next phase of Andela Nigeria’s growth,” he said, “and I’m particularly excited because she shares the same values and aspirations as Andelans.”
He continued, “Andela Nigeria, our first office in Africa, is rapidly growing, and I have complete confidence in Omowale’s ability to lead the team as we continue to scale.”
Omowale obtained a First Class B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ibadan. In her own words, she has a deep passion for people, is an avid reader and loves adventure. Omowale joined Andela on September 3rd, 2018.

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Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke announces first stage project

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BLOC PARTY frontman Kele Okereke has announced his theatre debut in Leave The Remain.
Okereke has announced his first stage project, which will see him scoring the new play, which is directed by Robby Graham, alongside Matt Jones.
The production, which opens in Hammersmith , UK in January, follows the story of a young gay couple suddenly faced with an uncertain future.
The story is “told through a mixture of music, drama and movement” and the Streets Been Talkin’ hitmaker drew from his own experiences while creating the soundtrack to the play.
He said: “Leave to Remain is the story of what happens when a marriage forces two very different families to come together.
“For the music for this project I took cues from the records that my parents would play in our house when I was growing up, West African high-life music, and I tried to combine those sounds with the electronic dance music I hear in clubs today.
“It was important to me to make something that represented the meeting of two very different worlds.”
The show will feature Olivier Award nominated actor Tyrone Huntley in the lead role of “Obi”, with the full cast to be announced shortly.
The musical features songs such as Not The Drugs Talking, which gives off a similar vibe to the electro-rock sound in Okereke’s debut solo album and Bloc Party’s Intimacy.
The musician and his boyfriend of almost 10 years became fathers to a daughter in 2016 and he knows that gay couples can provide as much love as a traditional family setup.
He said: said: “I don’t feel it’s my role to explain myself to people or explain how I live my life. There will be some people who don’t get it. There are always going to be people that will have a problem with you and you don’t have to go round appeasing them.
“You just have to do you in the best way you can. That’s what I’m going to instill in my daughter.”

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Genevieve Nnaji: “We should change the way we tell our stories”

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Once the highest-paid female actor in Nollywood, Genevieve Nnaji has a love-hate relationship with the Nigerian film industry, but is now doing things her way as a writer and producer

Genevieve Nnaji sweeps into her office in the Lekki Phase 1 development on Lagos Island, offers a diffident hello to the folks in the lobby, and skips up the stairs. After greeting her disappearing form, the occupants of the reception area return their gaze to a Nollywood film in Yoruba playing on a screen hanging on the wall. It is the type of melodrama that made Nnaji’s name in Nigeria and around the continent. But over the past few years, Nollywood’s lead actress has avoided this kind of script.

“When I was very prominent in the film industry, I played all sort of characters,” Nnaji says, seated with her manager in the small but comfy office. “Mum, daughter, deaf, dumb, blind, young, in school, wicked, kind – [I’ve] done it all. Even a mad woman. But how do you make things more interesting?” She pauses, then answers her own question: “It’s really by the twists and turns. People are going to tell the same Romeo and Juliet story but what angle do you tell it from? I think that is what Nollywood needs. We have to be more creative in the way we tell our stories.”

After a good five years in which she was frequently absent from Nollywood screens, the actress has moved into production in order to make the kinds of film she wants to see. Her first film as a producer – in which she also stars opposite Oris Erhuero, with Chioma Omeruah and Majid Michel in supporting roles – was Road to Yesterday. Released in November 2015, it follows a couple as they try to mend their marriage on a road trip to a relative’s funeral. It is a generic story about matrimony, but the film tells it differently and acquires a psychological edge by the denouement. Reactions were mixed, but critics picked out the cinematography – including sweeping drone-shots of Lagos – and an original twist in the plot as worthy of praise, commending Nnaji for daring to break out of the familiar Nollywood formula.

Road To Yesterday was directed by Ishaya Bako, a graduate of the London Film School who acquired some notoriety for his 2012 political documentary Fuelling Poverty, which was banned by the censorship board in Nigeria. Bako belongs to a newer set of filmmakers – mostly young and film-school-educated – who have caused some turbulence in the film industry, fuelling talk of New Nollywood and Old Nollywood. Nnaji says this is meaningless: “People come in, and we should expect to grow younger artists. Every industry should transcend to the next level. There is nothing like New Nollywood or Old Nollywood. There is only continuation.”
Nnaji’s decision to produce her own films comes after a career where she has been both the darling of Nollywood and a pariah.

“I have always been selective,” she says. “The reason it seems like I did more back then is because there were a lot more choices. That seems to have died in the past few years. We are changing the kind of stories we tell when we should be changing the way we tell them.”

It is hard not to see this as criticism of a section of newer filmmakers who have been raised on Hollywood flicks and now seek to recreate them in Nigeria. “I saw quite a lot of stories with James Bond wannabes,” she responds. “They were not authentic to who we are as Nigerians and Africans. I am not buying it, so I doubt [other] people will. And for me it gets to a point when it’s no longer about the money. It’s about craft. I would not be part of a production I don’t believe in my heart.”

PERPLEXED
Recently, eschewing Nollywood was her choice, but back in 2004 the Actors Guild of Nigeria banned her and several of her peers from working, claiming they were asking exorbitant fees. “When a group says ‘You are done for’ and pretty much pulls the rug from under your feet… it was at that point I knew I could survive without the industry for a bit,” she says.

She has made forays into music, a clothing line and product endorsement, earning a reported N20m ($63,000) as the face of Lux. These days she’s into real estate – “that’s my nine to five” – but beneath her graciousness, she seems perplexed by the banning experience. It was a long time ago but it wounded her. Nevertheless, she has now moved on.

Nnaji was a child actor, starring in the popular television soap Ripples, but her middle-class family expected her to study to become a lawyer. She was drawn back into acting when she ran into an old, now famous, friend who was part of Ripples and who recognised her almost a decade after she left the show. He invited her for an audition. “I lied about where I was going,” she says. “I think I did very well because I got the biggest cameor ole.”She laughs a short, self- deprecatory laugh.

Her days of cameos were over shortly after getting that role in Most Wanted, a 1998 Nollywood action flick with female heroines, modelled on the US’s Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith vehicle Set It Off. Fifteen years later, however, after star- ring in numerous films, Nnaji accepted to play a cameo role again – in the 2013, Biyi Bandele-directed adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun. While the film was in production, reports that British actress Thandie Newton and American Anika Noni Rose would be playing the twin sisters central to the story were met with a negative reaction in Nigeria. A Nigerian ought to play the lead role, Nnaji’s fans said, and who else but the queen of Nigerian cinema, who is Igbo to boot?

Upon release, foreign reviews ranged from harsh to middling while local critics were either forgiving or hostile. The Nigerian actor OC Ukeje complained that a film he had a bigger role in was ignored for his brief showing in Half of a Yellow Sun. Nnaji’s performance was pooh-poohed by the Nigerian public. What did she think of the response?

She sighs, and, for the first time during our talk, appears ruffled. “Yeah, I heard,” she says, subdued. “I took the role in Half of a Yellow Sun for a lot of personal reasons,” she explains. “The Biafra war involved my tribe. Plus, I am an actor: I don’t believe in small roles. It was a big movie, but most importantly I think I owed it to myself, my tribe and my industry to bring the story home. I took on the role and I had no regrets at the time. And I did my best as an actor which is what you do: you accept, you access and you move on. I completely understood people’s reservations. I probably shared the same. But it was a deeper agenda for me.”

NOT A COMPETITION
Part of the disappointment at Nnaji’s casting in Half of a Yellow Sun was that many Nollywood fans credited Nnaji as the one Nollywood star who would make it into Hollywood. Has the actress herself considered Tinseltown?

“Even African-Americans are still struggling to be accepted into the Hollywood circle, so what are the chances that Africans will be welcomed in?” she says. “This is not a competition with Hollywood. I hope that we take from Hollywood the necessary things that we need to be progressive. But it is not the benchmark for me, Genevieve Nnaji. The only place I’ve ever envisioned performing has been Nigeria.

What Nnaji has always wanted is to be is the best in her field, in her industry. “I want to be better than yesterday and I want to improve as the industry improves,” she says. “And the only way we’ll get there is to tell our stories in a quality format. There’s a reason we are successful – we can’t overlook that element that makes us unique. We are enough. We have the numbers. Not just in Nigeria but the whole of Africa.”

She continues: “I have done exactly what I wanted to do, which is perform and act and that is exactly what I will continue to do. Except now I’ve gone behind the scenes, and for me that’s a transition to the next level. There are other productions in the future where I wouldn’t even be in front of the camera. Being behind the scenes of Road to Yesterday was quite an experience, and I am looking forward to it again.”
How soon? “Pretty soon,” she replies.


Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

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Book Review – The Morning Sunset :The Nigerian author warns against migration

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Joy Chinwe Aguguo Duru

 

By Joy Chinwe Aguguo Duru

The Morning Sunset is a book written  to sensitize our people over the issue of engaging in a perilous journey to Europe via Libya. It is a story written for everyone: the youths; kids; fathers and mothers. The continuing migration of people into Europe across the Mediterranean is unnecessary. People are not born to waste their future that way.

The Morning Sunset is simply   passing  a message to people in Africa. Those that have not been opportuned to visit western world think that it is a bed of roses. In fact a paradise . Where as it is not like that. Many chose to come in search of greener pastures. They believe that Europe is the only place they will have the opportunity to get a better life for themselves and that of their families.

Joy Chinwe Aguguo Duru

My messages to Nigerians and Africans are that our people should not abandon any tangible thing they have or their education just to embark on this long and dangerous journey through road and desert because the life in Europe does not worth such risk . Also let some parents and relatives be aware especially those that are anxiously waiting for the day their beloved children will come back from Europe but they never knew that the bones of their children have been rotten in Sahara deserts and in the seas of foreign land.

 


Joy Chinwe Aguguo Duru  is originally from Nigeria but lived in Italy for several years before moving to Leicester , UK.

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Life & Style

President Buhari Congratulates Mama Elumelu At 90

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President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the matriarch of the Elumelu family, Suzanne Elumelu, on her 90th birthday.

President Buhari joined family and friends of the kind-hearted and loving mother of five, including chairman of heirs foundation, Tony Elumelu, in celebrating the milestone, which is an evidence of god’s favour and grace.
The president commended Suzanne Elumelu, who is fondly called mama, for her strength of character and entrepreneurial spirit in raising a strong and healthy family, and her advocacy for good education and investment skills for children and women particularly in the country.
President Buhari believes mama’s life story of succeeding against the odds of early widowhood served as an inspiration to many, while her virtues of the fear of god, discipline, integrity, dedication and hard work will continue to resonate among the communities of the less privileged that she supports and regularly encourages.
The president prays that god will grant mama Elumelu, the Adadioranma of Onicha Ugbo, Delta state, longer life, filled with joy and good health.

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If you have been having challenges getting your Anambra State Social Service number, here is what to do:
• send an email and ANSSID login details to: info@airs.an.gov.ng for immediate assistance.
• Visit the ANSSID HELPDESK or call HELPLINES: 07066727750 or 07033822851

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