Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 in retrospect: Art sector waxes stronger but needs govt attention

In this report, ADA DIKE writes on some major events that took place in the Art sector in 2015 and recommends that Nigerian government should invest more in it to boost the country’s economy.

The Art sector, the flagship for social and economic development of the society has been regarded by many as a sector yet to be tapped by the Nigerian government to boost her economy. Stakeholders of creative industry have severally beckoned on governments at all levels to invest in Art and culture in Nigeria. This year, some states including Osun State (which hosts annual Osun Osogbo Festival) and Kaduna State hearkened to the call. A couple of weeks ago, Kaduna State organized the maiden edition of Kaduna Music Festival, KADAMFEST with attracted high turnout of musicians, artistes and music lovers. President Muhammadu Buhari declared the Festival open and commended Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El Rufai, for using the music industry as an avenue for job creation in the state.

According to former Coordinating Minister of the Economy and former Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, “creative industry comes about 1.4 per cent of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and that comes about N1.2 trillion that this industry is contributing to this country.  The creative industry is contributing more than 200,000 jobs directly and one million jobs indirectly. We regard this industry as one of the viable ways for creating jobs and wealth in Nigeria.”
Speaking recently, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said: “the nation cannot afford to continue the inexcusable neglect of its vast tourism potentials especially now that Nigeria has started exploring other non-oil frontiers in its resolve to diversify its economy.”
A write-up written by a Nigerian journalist who was elected Senator for the Ekiti Central constituency of Ekiti State, Nigeria in the April 2011, Senator Ojudu Babafemi, corroborates the fact the Nigerian government needs to diversify and invest in the Art sector. Sharing his view titled: “Movie, Music and Fashion: Nigeria's New Soft Power,” he, narrated his recent experience during his visit to East Africa. In his words: “Across East Africa and particularly in Kenya, there is a wild admiration for Nigerian music and movies. A night at Mercury Club in Nairobi and the DJ played Olamide Shakiti Bobo, everyone went agog. Those outside rushed in to dance and from that moment on, it was Nigerian music all the way till the wee hours of the morning.”
He said the Nigerian movie and music are on offer for sale in the malls, on the streets and in the market places there and added that when he met a Kenyan, he or she is proud of his or her ‘Nigeriana’. “They exhibit the slangs they pick up in the music and movies. They tried to mimic the accents and attempted to converse in Nigeria pidgin. Turn out in your native attire, people begin to call you Igwe- they have seen many of those Igwes in the movies to think everyone in flowing gown or beaded is an Igwe.
“On their lips are the names of actors and actresses. They have mastered the dance steps too and everyone wants to do that and want you to do it for them. As poor and amateurish as I am in dancing, a white guy walked up to me and expressed his admiration of my dance steps. I offered to teach him some tricks and for a moment I became a star, my own few minutes in stardom,” Babafemi said.
He suggested that: “In this dire economic downturn, Nigeria must leverage on this soft power and provide the structure for our young folks to be more productive in this sector. America did it with Hollywood and Coca Cola. They planted their country in the minds and heart of the world with their music, movies, jeans, coke and McDonald.
“In selecting our new set of envoys to African countries, this should be taken into consideration: people who are interested in not just diplomacy but can market Nigeria’s culture are those who should be considered. We need to deepen the root of this sector and use it bring a lot of resources back home to further encourage our young ones to create. The oil is drying up and free money is going to be hard to come by. Solid minerals income takes time to come in. Our youths by their creativity are pointing the way out for us. Our brothers and sisters in other African countries are eager to consume our artistic productions. The foreign affairs department should show interest in this. It is as much cultural diplomacy as it is economic.”
Typically, the music industry in Nigeria opened with its usual style of events occurring one after the other. Many Nigerian artistes such as: P’Square, Davido, Patoranking, Olamide, Flavour, Wizkid, Kiss Daniel, BurnaBoy, tekno, Lil Kesh and Wande Coal made impact in the music scene in 2015, but the celebrated lord of rap, Olamide Adedeji, popularly known as Olamide, since last year has continued to lead and win audience’s admiration within and outside Nigeria by dropping powerful hits. According to reports, between September 2014 and October 2015, Olamide dominated with about seven nominations in different categories in an award, including Artiste of the year, Album of the year in the year and so on.
The founder of a record label, YBNL, dropped his fifth album titled ‘Eyan Mayweather’ in November this year. Shakiti Bobo, Falila Ketan, MeloMelo, Confam Ni, Matters Arising and Lagos Boys are some of his songs in Yoruba with slangs that his fans most use during conversation. A track in his new album that fetched him the Best Male Artiste in West Africa award at the 2015 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) is 'Bobo'. ‘Duro’ by Tekno is another song from a Nigerian artiste that has spread like wild fire within and outside Nigeria. Indeed, the Nigerian music industry has made a remarkable progress this year and the world expects it to do better next year.

Literary Art
Many activities occurred in the literary scene and these are: ANA elected National Executive Council Members.
At the Annual General Meeting of the 34th International Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), which held between 12 and15 November, 2015, national executive council was elected into office by the congress of the Association. The newly elected members who are leading the Association for the next two years are as follows: President -Denja Abdullahi; Vice President - Camillus Ukah; Gen. Secretary -  Ofonime Inyang; Ass. Secretary  –  Ekele Alaska; Treasurer – Hasiya Muhammed; Fin. Secretary  -  Ikhechi G Owabie; PRO North   -  Yusuf Dingyadi; PRO South  -  Olatunbosun Taofeek; Auditor   – Anele; Ihuoma; Legal Adviser  -  Isaac Attah Ogezi, among others.

Book Presentation
Elnathan John’s novel, “Baron of Broad Street” made its debut into the Nigerian literary space this year. It chronicles the polarized worlds of the Lagos impoverished and the affluent, living side-by-side, yet a world apart. It captures the limited prospect for mobility in an often negligent society, and the determination of a select crop of youths to take it upon themselves and change this seemingly rigid equation, by all means.
“STELLA – Her Journey and Legacy” (Biography Book on Late Chief Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, written by Antoinette-Rita) was presented in Abeokuta, Ogun State during the 10th year Memorial Service held in Stella’s honour on Saturday, October 24, 2015.
According to the author of the book, it relays the life of Mrs. Stella Obasanjo in light of the perspectives of those closest to her. The book contains a developed analysis and dialogue of those who loved Mrs. Stella Obasanjo and also contains comments from contributors on the life and legacy of Mrs. Obasanjo.
Other books include: “This House is not for Sale” by E.C Osondu and “For Sam, A collection of Contemporary Thoughts”, a book written by Jimi Disu and dedicated to Vanguard Publisher, Mr. Sam Amuka.
Visual Art
Many exhibitions took place this year and some of them are:
‘Lagos Open Range 1’
The opening of the maiden edition of photography exhibition, ‘Lagos Open Range 1’, took place on September 12, 2015 at Goethe-Institut Nigeria, City Hall Catholic Mission Street, Lagos Island.
Curated by a renowned Nigerian photographer Abraham Oghobase, video artist Jude Anogwih and supported by Goethe-Institut Nigeria, artists that participated in ‘Lagos Open Range 1’ include: Aderemi Adegbite, Enitan Adebowale, Tunji Lana, Charles Otuke Ologeh, Logor Oluwamuyiwa, Andrew Esiebo, Rahima Gambo and Jeremiah Ikongio. Newswatch Times learnt that the exhibition was primarily conceived to promote a new form of collaboration and presentation of photographs.
The first and only international arts festival of photography in Nigeria, LagosPhoto, showcased its sixth edition of exhibition, workshop, screening, artists’ presentation and discussion in Lagos. The Festival opened to the public on October 24, 2015 at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. Satellite exhibition venues in arts and cultural spaces throughout the city extended to Omenka Gallery, Africans Artists’ Foundation, Stranger Lagos, Goethe-Institut, Nimbus Gallery, Alara Concept Store, A White Space Gallery, Yaba College of Technology and Quintessence. Outdoor in public spaces in Lagos include Muri Okunola Park, Falomo Roundabout (Ikoyi), Awojobi Park (Onike) and Freedom Park. The festival ended on November 27, 2015. Special project and satellite exhibitions in conjunction with LagosPhoto were: LagosPhoto Summer School, Etisalat Photography Competition: I Love Nigeria, World Press Photo 2015, POPCAP ’15, Nigerian Music album covers and photography and LagosPhoto Arward.
Over 100 students gathered at Freedom Park on Saturday, November 21, 2015 for Youth Empowerment for Contemporary Art (YECA) programme organized by African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) and supported by The Ford Foundation.
According to a visual artist who works with African Artist Foundation as the Gallery Manager, Mr. Olayinka Stephen Sangotoye, YECA aims to empower the youth, giving skills to young students that love Art and teaching them contemporary art to earn a living and sustain them in the course of their studies.
The Coordinator of YECA also hinted that the programme began last year with Euba Secondary School, Mushin, Lagos for three months every Saturday. From there, they went to Community Senior Secondary School, Mushin, Lagos to train 20 students about contemporary art everyday for three months. From there, they moved to Senior Girls Academy, Lagos concurrently with Isale Eko Senior Grammar School, Lagos for three months as well, teaching them art and bringing in both local and international artists to teach them different topic such as craft, contemporary painting, print making and so on.

National Art Competition
After more than three months rigorous competition, the annual search for the winner of 8th National Art Competition came to an end on Thursday, November 26, 2015 when Sabastine Ugwuoke emerged as the winner.
Themed “Future Histories”, this year’s competition, organised by African Artists' Foundation (AAF) and sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc, opened on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 while deadline for submission of work was July 3, 2015. 
Following the deliberation by an artistic selection committee led by Prof El Anatsui, the following finalists were chosen: they are: Adetunwase Adenle, Funmi Akindejoye, Michael Enejison, Chinenye Emelogu, Maryam Kazzem, May Okafor and Stacey Okparavero.
Others are: Komi Olafimihan, Ngozi Omeje, Babatunde Oyeyemi, Folami Razaq and Sabastine Ugwuoke.
The competition which kicked off in earnest after the emergence of finalists in August had the 12 finalists at the grand finale contested for the prizes at the Freedom Park (Old Prison), Broad Street, Lagos. The winner, Ugwuoke, went home with the sum of N2 million while May Okafor and Ngozi Omeje won Outstanding Production and Outstanding Concept respectively and went home the sum of N1 million cash each.

Many Nollwood movies (mostly drama and romantic genres) were released this year, such as: Dazzling Mirage, Antique, The Duplex, Yes I Don’t, In The Music, So In Love, Gbomo Gbomo Express, Falling, The Visit, Lunch Time Heroes, Busted Life, Fifty, Road to Yesterday and so on. Omoni Oboli, Belinda Effah, Joseph Benjamin, Kalu Ikeagwu, OC Ukeje and Blossom Chukwujekwu are some of the actors that featured in many movies this year.

Comedy skits that rocked Nigeria in 2015
According to writer/actor and the author of Toxic Eucharist, Uzor Ngoladi, below are the comedy skits that shook Nigeria: “1. Francis Odega in 'Get out of Here': This three minutes skit caught global attention and took Francis Odega's career as a comic actor and standup comedian to another level. The skit cut off from a full length movie whose title has long been forgotten was posted on YouTube in May 2015. Odega creatively delivered several punch lines in a mixture of Igbo and American accents. Some of his lines instantly became popular street slogans used by Nigerian musicians. These lines include, get out of here, halla, wholup, EP (enemy of progress), you know what am saying, you don't know nothing, am gonna tell you something etc. The skit also broke into Hollywood with 50 Cent and Snoop Dog reposting the video on their instagram pages and joining the suddenly increased followers of Francis Odega. With this classic comic offering, fame and fortune smiled on Odega. He got endorsed by several companies including a mouth watering endorsement deal with telecoms giant Etisalat. His image adorned billboards and television commercials across Nigeria. In this hilarious video, Odega was seen clad in European warm clothing under the hot weather in Nigeria. A fellow walked up to him to show concern about the consequence of suffocation and sweat. Odega, angry with the fellow for not minding his business, spits those lines that catapulted him to sudden fame. With over five million views on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, 2015 was indeed a great year for the actor who has spent more than 20 years in Nollywood. 'Get out of here' stands as the most popular comedy skit to come out of Nollywood
“2. Patrick Onyeneke in 'Pop Champagne': Uploaded on YouTube on 15th May 2015, Pop Champagne was a masterpiece by all standards and was critically acclaimed by the social media community. Directed by Austin Nwaolie, edited by Robert Peters and staring Mr. Patrick, this comic skit pushed the boundaries of creativity, cracking the ribs of viewers and bringing tears to their eyes. In this short video, Mr. Patrick who has lots of skits to his credit such as 'Jalopy' and 'Super Star' under his sitcom enterprise Adventures of Mr. Patrick, tries to mimic the average Nigerian hip hop artiste braggadocio by shooting a mock musical video. As he swaggers and sings out of tune, bragging about popping champagne, doing champagne and bathing with champagne, one of the video vixens pop the champagne. His true financial status eventually emerges while he quarrels with his cast and crew for really popping an expensive champagne he could not afford. Punch lines from this skit gained entry into the street lexicon of Nigeria and the social media. With fantastic moves, meaningless rap, bling bling accessories and never seen facial expressions, the video captures the funny mood of any viewer in just few seconds with reoccurring laughter. Mr. Patrick has since clinched endorsement deals with big stage performances within and outside Nigeria as a standup comedian. Notably, Prize Check utilized his popularity for their TV commercials. He recently secured an exclusive marketing deal with Tjoe Investments LTD to distribute a compilation of Adventures of Mr Patrick in West Africa. He is also on the verge of closing another deal with a yet to be disclosed telecoms giant. He is regarded as the pioneer producer of comedy skits in Nollywood. The 'Pop champagne' two minutes video got over a million viewers laughing on the internet, DSTV and other television stations across Africa.
“3. Charles Okocha in 'Igwe 2Pac': This actor whose career has spanned more than 15 years in Nollywood has never been associated with comedy. But the short three minutes skit uploaded on YouTube in 2015 broke the internet with intense humour. The video elicited lots of laughter from viewers who wondered what a hip hop dude like Charles Okocha was doing as a traditional ruler. In the plot of the short skit, Okocha clad in traditional regalia with gangster swagger had arrived at a meeting with elders of the land who frowned at his arrogant posturing. Instead of appealing to the elders' patience and understanding, he began to rap at the elders in a sing song rhyme that blew the minds of viewers. And he sang, "why are you niggas snitching on my ass like crazy? Snitching on my ass like mad? Snitching on my ass like crazy? Niggas snitching on my ass like mad?" At the end of his rib cracking rap, he spoke about his long stay in the United States, how he disappointed his homeboys Puff Daddy, Dr Dre and Snoop Dog by returning to his bush village. The skit delivered all the elements of gangsterism, hip hop, royalty and ultimately spontaneous humour rolled into one. The American mannerism of a young rascally traditional ruler is truly uncommon in Igbo land. Charles Okocha has since transformed into a sought after actor with immense creative fortunes. He has also received patronage from advertisers who utilize his internet breaking skit to sell products and services.
“If there was to be an award for Best Comedy Skits in 2015, it probably must be clinched by Get out of Here, Pop Champagne and Igwe 2Pac. This three ruled the social media in 2015 with creative lines delivery, well crafted movements, spontaneous humour and didactic plot that cut across the social strata. The big three broke new grounds in the comedy industry with proof that long lasting laughter can be produced in just few minutes without necessarily watching a full length movie. Lots of comedy skits are still expected from the vibrant creative industry in 2016 as a new sector of entertainment has berthed with successful outing.”
50 films screened at 2015 iRep Film Festival
Conceived and organised by the iRepresent Documentary Film Forum, an affiliate of the West African Documentary Film Forum (WDFF), and the Documentary Network Africa (DNA), the 2015 edition of the yearly iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival began on Thursday, March 19 and ran through Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the Freedom Park, Lagos.
UK/Nigeria 2015–16 Partnership
History was made last on Friday, August 20, 2015 when people from all walks of life converged at the British Council premises, Ikoyi, Lagos for the launch of UK/Nigeria 2015–16 as a major season of arts in Nigeria.
Set up to foster cultural exchange as well as the flow of ideas and develop stronger relationships between people, institutions and governments across Nigeria and the UK, the UK/Nigeria 2015/16 is the biggest ever season of arts in Nigeria that will feature more than 30 projects and over 80 events comprising fashion design, theatre, literature, dance, music as well as showcasing Nigerian creative Arts in the UK. 

Lagos, the centre of excellence, came alive because of the annual Felabration which kicked off on 
Monday, October 12, 2015. The annual event held at the New Afrika Shrine, commenced with a set of scintillating performers who took the stage and thrilled audience with their performers. This year’s celebration paraded both Nigerian and international musicians including: Fela’s sons – Femi and Seun. Others are Isidore (Fela’s friend who changed Fela’s mindset and converted him to a pan-African that used his music to create change), a host of A list Nigerian musicians, Third World: An international reggae group and the Newen Afrobeat Band from Chile.

MUSON Festival
2015 Music Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Festival, a celebration which showcases all the arts’ excellent and aesthetic creativity began on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 with Musiquest/Youth Concert and Awards organised by the Faculty of the MUSON School of Music.
With the theme: “Celebrating the School of Music – the Arts through Young Nigerian Eyes,” the selection of that theme for this year’s Festival, according to its organizers, is designed to draw attention to the significant progress the school has made since its inception first as a Basic School in 1969 and more especially, since the Diploma School came on stream in 2005.

The 2015 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) has come and gone but guests who attended the event will not forget it in a hurry. It brought together some of the best talents from the different regions of the continent to the 2015 main award ceremony held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos, on November 15, 2015.

CORA’s Publishers’ Forum
The 6th (CORA) Publishers’ Forum kicked off from Thursday, November 12, 2015 at Goethe Institut, City Hall, Catholic Mission Street, Lagos Island, from 10.00pm – 4.00pm. Organized by CORA Art and Cultural Foundation in partnership with Cassava Republic Press and Goethe Institut, Lagos, the forum, according to Arigbabu was a pre-event of the 17th Lagos Book & Art Festival, which held from the 13th – 15th November 2015 at Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos Island. The theme for this year’s forum is: Publishing and Selling Genre Fiction in the Digital Age.
Lagos Book and Art Festival 2015
This year’s Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) organised by the Committee For Relevant Art (CORA), created a positive spirit in the minds of the audience after listening to discussants talked about the life and works of a writer and environmental activist, Kenule Beeson Saro- Wiwa.
On November 13, 2015, people from all walks of life converged at Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery, Freedom Park, Lagos and listened with keen interest when notable speakers at a panel discussion with theme: “Ken Saro-Wiwa & Nation Building” unmasked the great literary legend. And all the reviews were around Saro-Wiwa’s major non-fiction narratives focusing on the theme of self-determination and nation building.

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