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Abati Confirms: “I Am Writing The Book”
Reuben Abati, former Presidential spokesman (Goodluck Jonathan Presidency 2011 to 2015), has responded to calls that he write a book on his years in Aso Rock. “Regarding Nigeria’s recent history. I take your suggestion”, Abati wrote in an emailed message to this column. “I have been conducting interviews”, he explained “I have mapped out the work plan and I am on it”. Pressure on Abati, a widely read newspaper columnist, mounted after the release of Segun Adeniyi’s Against The Run of Play last April.

The book is about President Jonathan’s famous concession of victory to Mr. Buhari. “Mr. Adeniyi is an outsider to the Jonathan presidency”, this column had noted at the time. “Abati is the man to write the book. His main claim to fame is his clear eyed analysis of the Nigerian polity”. In his response last week, Abati warned: “You know, the book has to be good, otherwise it would be a meaningless effort, and the publication has to be properly timed”.  There have been two other books on the Jonathan years since the launching of The Run. There is Reno Omokri’s Facts Versus Fiction and Bolaji Abdulahi’s On A Platter Of Gold.

None of these authors has anything close to Abati’s considerable talent for observation and analysis and none has his wide followership, some of whom were actually disappointed that he took the job of speaking for Jonathan in 2011, and so want to “hear“ about his experience. Mr. Abati is aware of the urgency: “The main task is to complete the script, of course, and I will”.

Njideka Defies The Age Limit
In compiling the Nigerian Art Market Report 2017, due to be released any moment from now, Jess Castellote investigates nine African art auctions which involve artworks by Nigerian artists. 323 Nigerian pieces fell under the hammer at these auctions, with prices ranging from as high as $940,088 (El Anatsui’s Earth Developing More Roots, Sotheby’s, May 2017) to as low as $1,513 (Kelani Abass’ Iferan 1, Arthouse Contemporary, May 2017) .

There is, however, a curious matter of age limit in determining high price in 2017. Of the published creators of the top 100 art works with the highest prices, only one living artist is below middle age. That artist is 33 year old Njideka Akunyili-Crosby. Otherwise the youngest artists on this prestigious list are Rom Isichei, 52, Nnenna Okore, 43 and Peju Alatishe, 43.

Akunyili-Crosby is an outlying figure for one other significant reason. While she is Nigerian, “it could be argued that she is not part of the Nigerian–or even, the African- art market, though she may play important roles in the development and internationalization of Nigerian art”, notes Castellote, a Spanish-Nigerian culture vulture who has compiled the Nigerian Art Market report since 2013. “In 2017, her works appeared and obtained better results than any other Nigerian artist, but none of them was included in African Auctions in Nigeria or outside her native country. They featured in international auctions”.

In 2017, Akunyili -Crosby sold seven artworks at Christie’s auctions for a total combined price of $8,634,774, according to Castellote’s report, sponsored by Diamond Bank. “This amount represents more than one and a half times the total value of works sold by the 140 Nigerian Artists present at African Art auctions in 2017 ($5,539,648). Her work titled The Beautyful ones was the most expensive artwork ever sold by a Nigerian-born artist: $ 3,075,774”.

Ipadeola: The Extended Non Fiction Is Important, But…
The poet Tade Ipadeola has revisited the one undebated challenge of Nigerian writing; the biographical memoir. “Recent Nigerian memoirs that aren’t at the same time hackneyed hagiographies are very hard to come by” he says. So the pleasure of encountering Deji Haastrup’s Little Birds and Ordinary People, “a work straddling the nexus between the written meditation and the compte rendu was therefore welcome relief from the monuments of literary dross littering the landscape”, the poet writes, in a review of the book, published in 2016. Haastrup was, until his retirement two years ago, the General Manager of Public Affairs at Chevron, the American oil giant, in Nigeria.

“There is a high-mindedness to this book which separates it from the muster of tired resolve to ‘write a book’ at the end of active careers – the apparent motivation for most of these other painful texts in the market”, Ipadeola notes. “There is, also, a certain grit to the telling of this fardel of many stories that gives fresh perspectives to the reader regarding the intractable problems of Nigeria, the Niger Delta and the oil and gas industry”. Ipadeola, a lawyer, compulsive book reader and keen literary enthusiast, argues that….at times, Mr. Haastrup’s work “reads like an audi alteram partem brief for the demonized oil and gas industry”.

The compromise that he (the reviewer) worked out, however, “is to see this book as an oriel into realities we may not ordinarily access except through specialist documents of no aesthetic value whatsoever”. Little Birds and Ordinary People is published by Bookcraft.

Calendar: Lolo’s Guyn Man, Ugbede’s Minister, Ushbebe’s Comedy, Terry G’s And Koko’s Seki
Guyn Man: A romantic-comedy movie by Lolo Eremie, is screening at Cafe Neo, in Lekki Phase 1, every day at 3pm from February 2 to 11, 2018. …The BEETA Universal Arts Foundation presents Paul Ugbede’s Our Son the Minister, at TerraKulture Arena on February 9, 10 and 11 at 3pm and 5pm daily.

This is the winning play from the maiden edition of BEETA Playwright Competition, founded by the actress Bikiya Graham-Douglas…. Red Valentine Comedy on February 14, 2018 at 5pm, with Mc Sweetmouth, featuring: Koffi, Chudy K, Gandoki, MC Shakara and others, at the Upstream Lounge, Ajah, Lekki Penninsula…. Terry G & Friends (Live in Concert), featuring: Iyanya, Skibi, Josh2funny, KCee, Duncan Mighty & Many more comes up at 5pm February 17, at the Eagle Hall, Ikeja….

The Chronicles of Ushbebe Live featuring AY, Gordons, Akpororo, Falz, Simi and Rudeboy , on February 25, at 6pm: Eko Hotel & Suites …3some’, a stage play about a mother struggling to save the marriage of her daughter at 7pm on February 28, at the Freedom Park, Lagos…Yibo Koko will present Seki, a pantomimic dance drama, tracing the American Tap Dance to the Lower Niger Delta Area, Terra Kulture Arena on March 23, 24 and 25.

• Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency


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