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By Toyin Akinosho
16 July 2017   |   7:11 pm
Niyi Osundare, has released a new collection of poems. If Only The Road Could Talk: Poetic Peregrinations in Africa, Asia, and Europe, has the added value of illustrated reflections by the painter, cartoonist/ art scholar Dele Jegede.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Idonije Reads His Fela Book at UNILAG
The music critic and retired radio presenter, Benson Idonije, will be reading excerpts of his biography of Fela Anikulapo Kuti at the University of Lagos on August 3. He is the guest of the Literary reading programme series coordinated by Hope Eghagha, professor and head of the English Language department at the University. Idonije will be reading from Dis Fela Sef, to students, faculty and literary enthusiasts. He will also respond to questions. Dis Fela Sef is Idonije’s own contribution to the wide pool of biographies of Fela. It benefits from his close relationship with the megastar who created an incredibly unique sound out of Africa’s encounter with globalizing forces. Idonije was Fela’s first manager and knew a lot more from personal experiences than most of Fela’s biographers could elicit from interviews with and about the subject. But Dis Fela Self has not been engaged in readings and public discussion since it was released in mid-2016. The August 3, 2017 reading, scheduled for 11am in the Boardroom of the Faculty of Arts on the Unilag campus, was initiated by the Committee for Relevant Art CORA and it serves as the first of several readings in the CORA Book Trek for 2017, which is an annual programme featuring authors’ visits to secondary and tertiary institutions, in the four months leading to the Lagos Book and Art Festival.

Wanderlust Brings Out A Teaser From SMO’s Coming Memoirs
The gallerist Sandra Mbanefo Obiago has expressed how the invitation to curate an exhibition about travel and migration has brought out memories of childhood displacement from home. SMO Galleries is presenting Wanderlust, a six man exhibition at the Wheatbaker Hotel until September 17. “My first recollection of “wandern” was as a child hiking through the Swiss mountains”, Obiago writes in the curatorial introduction to the 92 page catalogue. “We had become refugees from the Biafran war, and my brother and I spent a few months in a children’s home in the Bernese Oberland, waiting for my Swiss mother to join us while my father was involved in the war effort at home”. The four year old Sandra was dependent on her older brother “to interpret the world around us, holding tightly to his hand as we were part of thousands escaping and seeking refuge around the world”. She writes that “the children’s home was in Aeshi, a tiny Swiss village about 1000 meters above the picturesque Lake of Thun; we were made to go for long walks every afternoon, hiking through pastures and montane forests, experiencing first-hand the restorative powers of nature”. It is the closest that Mrs. Obiago, one of the busiest gallerists operating in Lagos today, would disclose in public about herself. “The re-awakening of all our senses and the calming beauty of the idyllic landscape left a lasting impression of the power of wandern in a deep reservoir of my childhood memory”, she notes. In what suggests, most strongly, that this might be her introduction to a coming biography, she declares: “Later in life, I continued the journey of exploration, this time as a photo-journalist and filmmaker, seeking new stories and lately, seeking fresh artistic talent”.

Etisalat, First Bank, NBPLC … Arts Sponsors In Retreat?
Less than two months after Etisalat, the telecommunications company, hosted what many feared was its last literary award in Africa, the novelist Chimamanda Adichie announced the temporary break in continuity of her Farafina Trust Writing Workshop. The Nigerian Breweries PLC (NB PLC), which had sponsored all of the nine annual editions of the event, “abruptly withdrew their sponsorship due to a need to streamline their expenditure”, Adichie, author of the winsome novel, Half Of A Yellow Sun, reported. “NB PLC has had a half-decade relationship with the workshop and I thank them for encouraging the development of literary talent in Nigeria and Africa”, she testified. The Farafina Trust Writing Workshop happens to be just one of the several cultural events that the country’s top beer brand has dropped from its sponsorship list in 2017. The company will not sponsor the National Arts Competition-organised by the African Artists Foundation- this year. The key reason for the fears expressed about the end of the Etisalat Prize for literature was the challenge that the company was having about its debt portfolio around the time of the awards. The problem has worsened since then; the parent company, headquartered in the Middle East, has decided to divest from Nigeria. The retreat of sponsors from the reading halls and artistic platforms has been happening for some time in the last 12 months. Last February, this column reported that the 2017 edition of the Lagos Theatre Festival had shrunk in size of performances, producing fifty shows, about half of the 2016 fare, because of funding shortfall inflicted by the reduction in the budget by First Arts, the First Bank initiative that is the main sponsor. What’s most crucial for the sustenance of these programmes are, however, not the sponsors, but the animating spirits behind the initiatives. In her announcement of the break in the programming of the writing workshop, Adichie spoke of her unwavering commitment “to the growth of our voices” and hinted at restructuring. “From the initial reaction of potential sponsors and partners”, she declared, “we are optimistic about the future”.

Osundare Releases A New Collection
Nigeria’s poet laureate, Niyi Osundare, has released a new collection of poems. If Only The Road Could Talk: Poetic Peregrinations in Africa, Asia, and Europe, has the added value of illustrated reflections by the painter, cartoonist/ art scholar Dele Jegede. The publishers, Africa World Press and the Red Sea Press, describe “the poet’s exploration of the ways places make people and people make places, and the primordial role of the road as agent of separation and connection”. Osundare’s peregrinations, according to the publisher’s “product description”, a rather cold, marketing term to use for a work of art, “take him through an astounding array of the world’s landscapes, historical landmarks, and cultural particularities, producing a multiplicity of ideas which demonstrate the essential similarities in the human experience. The local deepens the global, the global broadens the local as continents re-figure the oceans which wash their feet, even in the face of the politics which police socio-economic inequities in and across the nations. In this body of poems, some world cities tell their stories while the poet listens; the road walks ahead while the poet regards its footsteps.  Diverse, passionate, colorful, irresistibly lyrical, and deeply humane, these are new, engaging offerings from one of the world’s most significant contemporary poets”.

• Compiled by staff of Festac News Press Agency