Monday, 2nd October 2023


By Toyin Akinosho
19 February 2017   |   2:51 am
The gallerist Ejiro Onobrakpeya is so enamoured of the opportunity. “The government is giving us a platform,” he repeats several times.

National Arts Theatre

Eko: An Art Fair in Four Days, Why the Hurry?
The gallerist Ejiro Onobrakpeya is so enamoured of the opportunity. “The government is giving us a platform,” he repeats several times. Sandra Mbanefo, documentary filmmaker now actively organising pop up exhibitions all over the city, thinks it’s “a good idea”. The painter Kolade Oshinowo approves, but he pleads for sustainability: “Put it in the gazette”, he urges Steve Ayorinde, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, who is apparently the brain behind the three day Eko Art Expo, “so that it can be an annual affair.”
Not everyone is convinced of the genuineness of the show that lasted at the Eko Hotel from January 27 to 29, 2017. Oliver Enwonwu, owner of Omenka Gallery and President of Society of Nigerian Artists, pulled out of participation. Several others grumbled in private what they couldn’t say in public: the notice was too short and the Lagos art scene has evolved far better than this. The expo, named after Rasheed Gbadamosi, the late art collector and playwright, had the feel of a set of stalls in a corner of a shopping mall displaying bric a brac, with paintings and sculptures thrown in as an afterthought. Unlike in conventional art fairs, where great art shows up in your face, you have to consciously look out here for a significant work of art. It is shoddy. There’s no sense of consciously arranged, designed or choreographed arrangements of pieces. The galleries, which took up stalls, resemble those shops in markets set up in front of police barracks all over Lagos. And when you ask anyone, the response is “This was put together in four days”. Some even chuckle: “The Governor himself was at our stall; he stayed around long hours into the evening”. This is low expectation at its sorriest.

Why The Wedding Party Works
Why are people still streaming in to watch The Wedding Party, two months into its release date in Nigerian cinemas and a full six weeks after the end of year holidays? The short answer is, there must be a lot of word of mouth advertisement about this romantic comedy. Kemi Adetiba’s The Wedding Party is absorbing; a viewer feels s/he is in the movie itself. Sitting alone in the dark room, you can completely ignore the full house (the venues are always filled to the brim), and privately enjoy the mockery of every Nigerian social habit. It’s a movie full of clichés. There’s a lot of gesticulation, (Sola Sobowale, Ali Baba) the type that western critics like to dismiss about Nollywood. But there’s also superb, restrained delivery (Mofe Damijo, Ireti Doyle). The Nigerian audience loves its actors’ wild gestures; we like to overstate our case. Which explains why Sobowale is the crowd’s favourite. The producers could have done a little more in ensuring that the Igbo show their dance steps at the party, the way they went out full blast to show the Yoruba’s extravagant moves. It’s not enough excuse that the Onwukas are an upper class breed. If so, why was Doyle (who played Obianuju Owuka), trying so hard to get it? All said, The Wedding Party is the cinema-going equivalent of sitting down with a glass of stout and a bowl of suya and watching Arsenal Versus Liverpool in a bar.

An Afternoon of Tributes For Buchi Emecheta
The novelist Ike Oguine is working with the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) to deliver an afternoon of readings and discussions around the works of Buchi Emecheta, the Nigerian author of The Bride Price and several other novels, who lived in the U.K. since 1960 and died in late January 2017. With Second Class Citizen, Ms. Emecheta had broached a subject that would later be generally described as Diaspora literature. Oguine has contacted Emecheta’s son, Sylvester Onwordi, who published a very moving tribute to her in the New Statesman and he says he will like to attend and that while a memorial event is planned for her later in the year in London, nothing is currently planned for Nigeria. CORA and Oguine are flagging March 25 as the date for the event, as Onwordi has indicated that this date would work for him and the family. The organisers have reserved 1 to 6 pm for the event at Terra Kulture and for March 25. Oguine has contacted Sefi Atta, Chika Unigwe and Sarah Ladipo Manyika. Manyika is already due to be in Lagos for the Etisalat Prize for Literature awards and has confirmed she will attend.  Both Atta and Unigwe have also indicated they’ll attend. Margaret Busby, who was Buchi’s publisher, is also due to be in town for the Etisalat awards and has confirmed she’ll attend. The organisers are now focused on getting more female writers from various generations, in order to have a lively discussion. “The working subject of the conversation is that, even if she has passed, her work continues in the works of several Nigerian female writers, who have taken her concerns even farther – Chimamanda, Adimora Ezeigbo, Sefi Atta, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Promise Ogochukwu, Molara Ogundipe, etc, etc,” says Jahman Anikulapo, CORA’s Programme Chair.

A Cinema Culture That Deepens Democracy
The filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi, is canvassing for a cinema culture that offers support for nation building. “We need a cinema culture that deepens democracy; we need a cinema culture that advocates responsibility, elevates accountability, defends human rights and freedoms and exposes the vestiges of disease, poverty and illiteracy”. Odugbemi, co-founder of the seven year old, annual, i-Represent (IREP) Documentary Festival, contends that “Documentary cinema must be at the centre of these conversations”. Wondering what is the average Nigerian filmmaker’s “artistic response to the stagnation of development in the country,” he argues that he and his colleagues “cannot continue to abdicate The Space for the public intellectual to silly online bloggers and compromised newspaper columnists”. The country needs more than a cinema that entertains. “Whilst we must continue to celebrate the emergence and growth of our Nollywood industry as an artistic and economic engine, projecting globally the realities of our culture in fictional cinema, non-fiction day-to-day realities of institutional corruption, poor governance, gender inequality, ethnic divisions and economic paralysis of our country challenge our sense of responsibility as artists”.

Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency