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For Stella Maris, Tubaba, Ycee light up Abuja

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
04 June 2016   |   3:00 am
Though, the euphoria and excitement generated by the 20th anniversary celebration of Stella Maris Schools, Abuja, might have died, many are sure to agree ...


Though, the euphoria and excitement generated by the 20th anniversary celebration of Stella Maris Schools, Abuja, might have died, many are sure to agree that it was really one week of fun, entertainment and razzmatazz.

The weeklong event began on Monday, May 23, at the School’s Life-Camp and Area 1 branches, and ended with a Thanksgiving Service on May 29. The highpoint of the event was a Gala Night, which held at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, on Friday, where Tubaba (Innocent Ujah Idibia) performed. The gala night attracted a lot of performances by the students to the admiration of guests, teachers and parents. On Thursday, an important aspect of the event was the homecoming of old students, who enjoyed an exclusive alumni cocktail.

During the fiesta, the ICC and the SMS outreaches in Life Camp and Area 1, were literally on fire with different kids and artistes showcasing their talents. Never mind that it was a school show or that children dominated performances, the gala, which held on Children’s Day, was a ‘bomb’. For four hours, children serenaded guests with sublime performances, which Tubaba’s five-star act capped. The show, undoubtedly, belonged to them, as they gave their parents reason to smile.

As early as 3.30 pm, a lot of parents were already trooping into the main auditorium for the show billed for 4pm. The children too were all set in their school uniforms and those who were billed to perform, about 400 of them, wore their costumes. Everybody was milling round the filled auditorium.

By 7pm, when the show actually started after refreshment at the foyer of the conference centre, it was no stopping the kids. Even when the Abuja skies opened to bless the day, everybody was swooning over the kids.

Employing words and visuals to gritty and poetic effect – cleverly eschewing blunt aggression, they showed a mastery of the performance ‘intercourse’ between lines and movement, until action reached crescendo. Their displays, which ranged from ballet to mob flash and tradition dances, provided a kaleidoscopic view. They serenaded guests with their angelic voices and innocent performances. They weathered the storm and endured the turbulence. In fact, when The Guardian visited the kids, as they had their dress and technical rehearsal, it was as if the show would not be ready. But the many hours of rehearsals, lining up at audition venues and struggling to be considered, was worth the while. A certain type of ingenuity had been on show and the kids gave a performance all with a minimum of guess. Tubaba act tells its own story, and it deserved great mention. It was awesome.

After what seemed like an endless wait by guests, having had their appetite already whetted by the kids and the magician brought in for a ‘moment of abracadabra’, the venue suddenly became electric with the appearance of Ycee (Oludemilade Martin Alejo) to set the stage aglow. He literally uprooted the young ones from their seats, while a sea of heads panned from left to right in pleasing fashion.

Refusing to allow any dull moment take over the excited guests, he dished out some of his tunes much to the excitement of the music throngs who wound and wriggled endlessly.

Apparently saving the best for the last, then entered the ‘big masquerade’ himself, Tubaba, Nigeria’s multi-award winning music maestro.

The venue erupted in ecstasy when he mounted the stage and got everybodycrooning and yelling along to his rave tunes such as, Iheneme, Africa Queen and My Love. It was a moment they sure would live to remember in a long while to come. He wowed guests into a wild moment. The crowd, which hardly held back, joined him in singing and dancing. Tunes after tunes, he held the crowd rocking back and forth as the night wore on.

The crowd was equally taken down memory lane with his performance. If anyone thought the kids of SMS were jaded by the toll exacted on them from the weeklong activities, the gyration on display this Friday night offered no such hint as they joined the dancing train, enjoying their 20th anniversary.

Based on his performance, personality and showmanship, it would be very tough not to rate Tubaba as one of the best around. The true cost of his performance will never shows up on a balance sheet, but Tubaba gave a five-star act.

Speaking at the event, Mrs. Afoma Onyeanusi, the chairman of the school’s board, said, “Celebration is being given the needed attention due to its importance to us as an institution for learning.”

Talking about the cultural celebrations, which held in the different arms of the school on May 24 and 25, she said culture should be taken more seriously in human affairs. She added, “we are from different backgrounds, which affect our dressing, greeting, feeding, marriage, dancing and other aspects of life.”

According to Onyeanusi, “culture has formed part of our class activities, as it is reflected positively in our teaching and learning processes. It is important, because it can bring people together and you can learn how other people in different cultures live their lives.”

The lady called on parents to inculcate values into these children to make them useful ambassadors of their fatherland.

She enjoined parents to teach their kids good cultural values. “Teach them your dialect for easy communication at home and identification, anywhere and anytime. Allow them to mingle with people from different cultures to make them complete Nigerians.”

Obviously, there was much to celebrate for a school, which started with 14 pupils and now has 2,250 pupils. It is currently rated Third-Best in Abuja; one of the Nigeria’s Top 50 for WASSCE Result in 2015; winner: Best Private School in FCT.

Recall that last year, the school emerged winner in the Junior Engineering Technicians and Scientists (JET) competition organised for private and public schools in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). The feat was won by the 2015 overall Best Graduating Student of the school, Master David Ibok-Essien, who, after contesting with other winners from the six local councils in the FCT, also won as the best student in the FCT. The management of the school had consequently awarded Ibok-Essien a six-year scholarship during the school’s 14th graduation ceremony.