Today is the birthday of the foremost Nigerian playwright and poet, Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Babatunde Soyinka.
Born on July 13, 1934 Wole Soyinka was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first African to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.
He studied in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, before working with Royal Court Theatre in London.His first major play, The Swamp Dwellers (1958), was followed a year later by The Lion and the Jewel (1962), a comedy that attracted interest from several members of London’s Royal Court Theatre. Others are Death and the King’s Horseman (1975), A Dance of the Forests (1963), Kongi’s Harvest (1967), Madmen and Specialists (1971), A Play of Giants (1984) and so on.
An organisation, under the auspices of Progressives Leaders Association (PILA), which opened and inaugurated an Igbo Language School in the United States of America (US), has opened similar school in South Africa.
PILA is an organization sponsoring an Igbo Language School in the U.S., but has decided to extend its scope to South Africa in its bid to preserve the Igbo language, which was predicted by UNESCO to be one of the languages that would go into extinction.
The Coordinator, PILA, South Africa, Chima Umealo, said at a dinner in Johannesburg that 16 children had started lesson in the school.
He said the group’s aim was to secure the Igbo language and ensure it would not be extinct.
“Pila’s aim is to secure the Igbo language because UNESCO had predicted that the language was among those that will go out of fashion in no distant time. We decided to come out with a programme to secure our language because a people without a language are no people,” he said.
According to Umealo, who also is the President, Abia Union, South Africa, one way of sustaining Igbo culture was to secure the language.
“We therefore, resolved to establish an Igbo school in South Africa to affiliate with the one in the U.S to promote our culture and language,” he said.
The coordinator explained that the essence of the school was to enable Igbo children born in South Africa, who are not opportune to communicate with others when they go home, would be taught the language while in South Africa.
The time-table for the school would be run during weekends and vacations, adding that arrangements had been concluded to teach them at weekends during school session.
According to the Coordinator, in no distant time, the school would be offering and teaching the students mathematics and science in Igbo to make them put to practice what they do daily in school and at home.
The traditional head, Abia indigenes in South Africa, Eze Sidney Ihediwa, said the establishment of the school was a step in the right direction adding that it was important because Igbos should ensure that their heritage and culture does not go into extinction.
According to the traditional ruler, some Igbo children born abroad were losing touch with their language, stressing that such schools would assist them to preserve their culture.
However, Chairman, Ikwuano and Umuahia Communities, South Africa, Ikechi Otuonye, said the school would make children to speak their native language while abroad.
“Even when they travel to other countries, they can communicate in the language with other brethren there,” he said.
The Queen of Wealth Worldwide (Obabinrin Aje Agbaye), Ajetoke Oyekan, is the custodian of the spirit of wealth in Ogun State. Ajetoke was the owner of African Fashion and Cultural Festival, Ankara Fashion Festival and Ewurede Celebration in Igbore in Abeokuta, Ogun State, before she had an encounter with the spirit of wealth (Aje) a few years ago, who asked her to bring back his lost glory by serving him.
She hosted the World Aje Festival in February this year and has been in the forefront in promoting Africa’s rich culture.
In this interview with ADA DIKE, she speaks on how she uses Aje Festival to promote art, culture and tourism in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Can you tell us ways Aje Festival can help in promoting culture and tourism of Nigeria?
There are many ways we are using Aje Festival to promote culture and tourism. If you look at my mode of dressing, I used cowries (the first money in Africa) to adorn my hair. We Africans are beautiful and we have a very rich culture that we must not allow the borrowed culture to take away from us.
Look at what is happening now, our boys and girls sag on the streets which is not part of our lifestyle. It is shameful. It is sad seeing a queen mother going to the market putting on jeans trouser. It is not part of mode of dressing. There is an adage that says, “When you see a prince, you surely see the sign of royalty on him. What royalty sign are we going to boast of with sagging attitude? I implore my people to return home. We have a very rich culture in this country; we must not let it die. Let us teach the young ones the values of our culture. Many parents have taught their children the English way of life which will not help us.
I implore the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to do their best. We have many tourist centres that can be developed. For instance, we celebrate Lisabi Day in Egbaland. How many of us know where Lisabi is. His house in those days has become a dust. Let us raise a structure that will attract tourists so that when the young ones grow, they will know what the monument is meant for.
If we develop our tourist centres, apart from the revenue the government will generate from it, it will serve as archives for the unborn ones. I know that five centuries to come, people will talk about me, that when Ajetoke was alive, she used to adorn her hair with cowries and shells. It is going to be part of our history but if we don’t develop this historical values, how do we maintain them?
I thank God for using me to bring back the glory of Aje which has been attracting many tourists from outside Nigeria.
I humbly beg the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Federal Government to help us develop tourist centres. It is not everything that you put inside museums, but we have to keep them in archives to ensure that the story will be there for many generations to come.
Congratulations on the success of the maiden edition of World Aje Festival. What informed your decision to hold the Festival?
I am Her Spiritual Majesty (HSM), Oba Ajetoke Oyekan, Obabinrin Aje Agbaye (Queen of Wealth Worldwide).
The maiden edition of World Aje Festival was held at Igbore, Abeokuta, Ogun State from February 8th to 11th 2017. It was not my intention, but a spiritual intervention in the sense that when I met the spirit of wealth, that is, Aje himself few years ago, he came to me with a proposal and told me that he has been neglected for a very long time. He said other deities are being celebrated, but he is the one that is giving them wealth to do all sorts of things, but he has never been given recognition.
I then asked him what he wanted me to do and he said I should bring him out and let the world know that he exists. I asked him, “In what way?” He told me to be celebrating the World Aje Festival and gave me the World Aje festival calabash, that is, the calabash of wealth. Since then, he has been visiting, telling me one or two things to do concerning him. I told myself maybe, that is how my own destiny would be. So I decided to carry the cross and then made a trip to Igbore in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Where were you before you made a trip to Abeokuta?
I came for a traditional festival from Lagos, so when I moved to my hotel room in the night, the spirit came. Later on, we made some spiritual consultations and it was revealed that truly, I am one of his descendants he wanted to bring back his glory.
I then moved back to Igbore because through history, we were made to understand that the calabash of wealth was moved from Ile-Ife in Osun State to Igbore by the descendants of Aje in those days. This is because, when Aje came from heaven to this modern earth, he descended at Ile-Ife, being a very good businessman that used to move from one community to another, one day, he made a business trip from Ile-Ife to Igboore (The Forest of Wealth), which we now call Igbore. Since then, he has never returned to Ile-Ife. That is where he ended the journey of his life. He changed and turned to stones. That is what we call ‘Ota’. He made a covenant with an Iroko and told the Iroko to transfer his virtue to any of his descendants that visits the Iroko.
Fortunately for me, that oracle asked me to go and make a sacrifice to the Iroko. The Iroko I am talking about has been in existence for over 300 or 400 years. After I made the sacrifice to the Iroko with the permission from the Oluwo Igbore, some precious stones came out of the Iroko tree. I summoned courage and picked them up. I told my elder brother, Lisa of Igbore-Abeokuta/Baale of Eerin, High Chief Akeem Oladeinde, and also called a ‘Babalawo’ (Native Doctor), to make a consultation on the stone. So the oracle later revealed that Aje turned to stone in those days with a covenant that any day he sees his descendant, it should be transferred to him or her.
So I collected the stone and took it to my house in Lagos and started making atonement and sacrifices to it. And on that day, the Iroko sang a song for me and told me to always sing that song for him anytime I want to call him. It is a song of wealth that Aje used like a password to the Iroko tree. That each time I sing the song, the spirit of wealth will appear. Aje made me to understand that he has a spiritual name, which, when I call him with that name and ask anything I want, he will do it. I then asked him why he decided to choose me when other people are better than me. He said, it is because, there have been some cases of money making rituals in which people made blood and human blood sacrifices in search of wealth, which is contrary to his view.
He told me what I should use in making sacrifices to him, that he would appear and tell me some things after the sacrifices were made. So I have been on this for almost three years and Aje has never disappointed me in any way, though, there are ups and downs and jealousy from different people. I thank my creator, ‘Eledumare’, the spirit of wealth and the deities in general for being there for me and for their divine protection upon my life, despite the fact that the road has been a very rough one.
I am giving glory to him because, today in the history of Egba land, we, including my forefathers in Igbore are the people that brought the calabash of wealth. So the whole town is in jubilation.
I hereby thank my ancestors, the Oluwo of Igbore and my elder brother, High Chief Anthony Oluyide, who has been a good father to me for encouraging me. When I told him the story I had, he said that, when our forefathers left Ile-Ife, they moved to Igbore, which collaborates with the story Aje told me. I also thank the Baale of Lisa, High Chief Oladele Odugbemi, who has always been there for me. I also want to appreciate the effort of Amona Lisa who is also the Publisher of African Tourist Magazine, Hon. Adeyinka Adefunmiloye, for bringing out this festival in a colourful way.
I hereby thank my people in Egbaland, from the Alake of Egba land, HRM Oba Adedotun Gbadebo. I also thank Olori Parakoyi of Egbaland, Chief Kashimawo Laloko. I hereby appreciate the effort of our father in Ile-Ife, Ojaja 11 Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi. Many thanks to Obatala Agbaye, Almighty Adalakun for being there for me. I also appreciate my husband and my family for giving me the opportunity to display my talent.
Why are you called the Oba Aje?
I was made to understand that the title Aje has given me is ‘Oba Aje’. He took me on a journey of eleven days to Ile-Ife. It was when I came back that I was given a crown and Aje told me that the crown is not transferable to any community and added that it belongs to our family (Lisa Community) in general.
What were you doing before you accepted to serve Aje?
I have had a lot. In the first place, I was a Director of Modern Concept. I write concepts, organise concerts and package events. I am the proud owner of African Fashion and Cultural Festival, Ankara Fashion Festival and Ewurede Celebration in Igbore, among others. I also had a multi-million boutique in Lagos, but when Aje came to my life, he asked me to drop everything and return to him. I cry each time I remember this. But at the end of the day, I have accepted my fate and I always remember that he has put me in a place that is higher than anybody in this world.
Can you tell us some of the major challenges you are facing in your current responsibility?
After I was made Oba and also received a crown, I have been very popular. People hail me wherever I go. Also, my mode of dressing has been so unique. Aje made me different from every other person all over the world. So I have challenges among my mates in the ‘Orisa’ kingdom.
The jealousy, bad mind, backbite and so on, are appalling. They defame me and try to taint my personality, but each time they come with one thing or the other, my ancestors and deity are always there to deliver me from shame and their evil plans.
Sometimes, they cause accidents for me but I narrowly escape them. There has been a case of hired assassins but I escaped it. Even the festival we did, they were not happy about it, so they ganged up against me, but Aje always tells me to remain my humble self and not retaliate.
How do you intend to sustain this festival to ensure that it outlives you?
As a matter of fact, I came from a traditional home. My mother was an Olorisa and my father was an herbalist. So I am not new in this system. They used the Orisa money to send me to university. We are pure traditional people. I thank God that my children are always in the temple anytime I travel. They know how to appease the deities, and at times, they do see Aje himself. I believe that the deity will not die in my family because my ancestors are now raising people to succeed me.
Let’s talk about my compound, that is, Lisa compound in Igbore and Lisa community in general. We are pure traditional people. The younger ones are picking so much interest and sometimes, suggest to me how we will do things.
I marvelled during our gala night, even less than four years old children came to the hall to dance and praise Eledumare (Our Creator), Alale Ilu Igbore, Alale Lisa and Alale Egba.
Do you have any other information?
There is an adage that says, “A three-legged pot is what carries soup and make it cooked”. What our government is doing towards the ‘Onisise’ (traditional people) is not good. They have not really given us attention or carried us along. I know their fear and threat because in this traditional set up, you don’t backbite. We follow the instructions of the oracle. We follow the guidelines of the deities and must not deviate because there is an instant judgement when you deviate. Maybe, they believe it would affect them if they introduce it into the system of governance due to their selfish interest.
I want to remind them that traditional set up is the first system that was created by Eledumare. This is where Eledumare kept 99.9 per cent of the secret of his power.
Look at the economic situation in Nigeria presently. The economic recession is caused by lack of knowledge. There is a way we can appease to the gods of the land. They are not happy with the government because they don’t carry them along. When they come to us, we will make sacrifices and atonement for sins.
Take for instance, we are celebrating the spirit of wealth where we pray that the spirit of our deity should restore the wealth of this country. This country supposed to be flowing with milk and honey because God endowed us with resources to enjoy. We have been begging the spirit of wealth to have mercy on our people, government and restore the wealth of people so that Nigerians will stop living in hardship and penury. Anywhere Aje is absent is a total blackout and collapse of the system, but Aje has promised that he will hear the cry of Nigerians.
A traditionalist woman, Ajetoke Oyekan, known as queen of Wealth Worldwide (Obabinrin Aje Agbaye), in her community in Ogun state, has called on governments at all levels to consult traditionalists for atonement and sacrifices towards restoration of the nation’s wealth.
The woman who made the call recently in Ogun State, stressed that the economy was in comatose, just as she attributed present economic recession to lack of knowledge.
“Look at the economic situation in Nigeria presently. The economic recession is caused by lack of knowledge. There is a way we (traditionalists) can appease to the gods of the land if the government invites us. The gods are not happy with the government because they don’t carry them along. When they come to us, we will make sacrifices and atonement for sins,” she explained.
Oyekan emphasised the need for governments to consult tradistionalists for prayers, backing up position on fact that the ignored tradition has been in place before other religions.
She implored the government to carry traditionalist along for the betterment of the country, saying that, the system held 99.9 per cent of secret of God’s power.
“There is an adage that says, “A three-legged pot is what carries soup and make it cooked”. What our government is doing towards the ‘Onisise’ (traditional people) is not good. They have not really given us attention or carried us along. I know their fear and threat because in this traditional set up, you don’t backbite. We follow the instructions of the oracle. We follow the guidelines of the deities and must not deviate because there is an instant judgement when you deviate. Maybe, they believe it would affect them if they introduce it into the system of governance due to their selfish interest,” Ajetoke said.
Ajetoke was owner of African Fashion and Cultural Festival, Ankara Fashion Festival and Ewurede Celebration at Igbore in Abeokuta axis of Ogun State, before she became traditional spiritual consultant.
Both Federal Government and Lagos State Government have disclosed plan to assist over 15 million Nigerians in diaspora to trace their roots back home through the Badagry Diaspora Festival scheduled to hold in August.
The plan, according to the governments, aimed at helping the diasporans to know their roots as well as enriching them with their roots’ cultural heritage.
They also said the festival, which would be a replica of the 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture otherwise known as FESTAC 77, was designed to assist Africans in diaspora to reunite with their ancestral roots.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said that the initiative of the government was also to promote tourism.
Speaking at a news conference held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa on yesterday, Dabiri said apart from putting issues of Africans in diaspora on the front burner, the festival, would also provide platform to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Lagos State and Nigeria to the world and also promote tourism potentials of the country.
The presidential aide, who commended Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for throwing his weight behind the festival, said the event would host the largest gathering of Africans in the world, and that it was a thing of joy that many Africans in diaspora had already indicated interest in tracing their roots back home.
“For the first time, we have been having a festival in Badagry that brings people in the diaspora together, but when we attended this festival few years ago, we sat together and said this would be the biggest cultural event to come out of Africa and so after years of planning, we have been able to come out with this programme this year coming up on August 23 to 25,” she said.
She recalled that the United Nations had declared ten years as decade for Africa, and so within the said decade, Nigeria in particular, and Lagos would be putting up one of the biggest gatherings of diaspora all over the world that would gather in Badagry later this year.
“One of the unique events of the festival is the ‘Door of Return’. A lot of people and things were taken out of Africa and Badagry in particular, and so our people in diaspora would be coming back through that door that we are calling the Door of Return, which is the opposite of ‘Point of no Return. Beyond that, we will be showcasing the beauty and culture of Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general through the festival,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
Reacting to questions on number of people in the diaspora expected to grace the festival, Dabiri-Erewa said many Nigerians in the diaspora had already indicated interest to be part of it, adding that they didn’t have an accurate database but they were working on 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and a lot of them were already coming.”
In the same vein, the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Oversees Affairs and Investment, Professor Ademola Abass, said the State Government was delighted to partner with the Federal Government and other promoters of the festival, as the event was in sync with the cardinal objective of the present administration in the State to use tourism, hospitality, entertainment and sport to promote excellence.
He said apart from the fact that the festival was coming at a time the State was celebrating the 50 years of its existence, the festival would be utilized to showcase the giant strides of Governor Ambode’s administration in transforming Badagry to the next tourism hub in Africa.
“This festival is going to be utilized to promote the huge efforts that the present administration in Lagos State has been putting into turning Badagry around in terms of infrastructure, in terms of tourism and so many other things and so this forthcoming celebration falls squarely within our government agenda to promote tourism and also to promote investment.
“As you know, we are developing a Sea Port in Badagry among so many other things and so the festival will be a win-win for everybody especially for us in Lagos State,” Abass said.
On his part,President of African Renaissance Foundation, Babatunde Mese-Waku, one of the promoters of the festival, said a Brazilian, Baye De Santos, whose root has been traced to Ketu in Benin Republic, would be honoured at the festival for his contribution towards promoting issues relating to Africans in diaspora.
Also, Managing Director of Agile Communications, Rufai Ladipo,the marketing firm for the festival, said series of activities have been lined up for the festival including carnival procession, boat regatta, fishing competition, dark era procession, diaspora dinner, beauty pageant, cultural displays, heritage site visits, heritage night, festival market, international music concert and international symposium, among others.
In the past, there was a belief that women should only be seen, not heard, but a stage play, The Prowess of Erelu Kuti (The Mother Queen), held on Sunday, May 21, 2017, debunked the mirth.
Organised as part of the activities for the celebration of Lagos State 50th anniversary, the play which took place at MUSON Centre, Lagos, was adopted in fulfillment of 6th edition of Royal Star Entertainment Production (ROSEP) Nigerian Women of Excellence and Achievement Award.
The event was made possible ROSEP in conjunction with Ramont Entertainment Production and supported by the Lagos State Government.
Interestingly, the stage play and the awards focused on the celebration of womenfolk in the appraisal of the role of mothers and wives.
‘The Prowess of Erelu Kuti’ is a total theatre presentation involving music, dance, songs and acting.
It is pertinent to note that Erelu Kuti is an important royal title in Lagos, which has been held by strong women of substance. The first Erelu of Lagos was Erelu Kuti, a Princess of Lagos and the only daughter of King Ado, the first king of Lagos.
Erelu Kuti was one of the predominant originators of Lagos hospitality and laid the legacy of honour for peaceful resolution of conflict, and yet little attention is paid to the woman who gave them the opportunity to embrace Obaship in Lagos.
In the play, the story of Erelu Kuti was re-enacted.
“We all were not born when the story happened in the 17th century. Whatever the historical sources of this prominent character called Erelu Kuti that was presented was our own accomplished research which we put together for today’s special performance,” says the Creative Director of ROSEP, Femi Tade.
“Erelu Kuti is an enigma, her character and attributes are not just pleasant but also a proud and amiable woman whose charisma cannot be challenged.
She was also an enterprising woman, wealthy in her own modest way, very humble and sincere person with other outstanding qualities that cannot be faulted,” the actor said.
“Erelu Kuti in her capacity is the head of the womenfolk. She was dutiful, powerful and highly courageous. Her influence on the traditional and social political development of Lagos is worthy of note. She was very influential mostly during the reign of Oba Akinsemoyin, when she played a commendable and prominent role,” he explained.
“She strengthened our cultural influence with her inspiration and vision, pragmatism and restlessness in the introduction of women whose sons became kings in Lagos and it has since continued till this day.”
Over the years, it was rare for women lineages to become kings but Erelu Kuti created a legacy in the Obaship of Lagos. Other lands have since followed suit and it has gone beyond Yoruba land as other lands across the world adopted it to this present time.
Erelu Kuti’s genuine commitments and enthusiasm in the upliftment of Lagos is a manifestation of the remarkable success recorded within a short period.
In a bid to pursue cultural heritage and the recognition of women in our society, the distinctive effort has been highly embraced in Nigeria in particular and the African nation in general.
This has silenced the idea that women should be seen and not heard; but now women are not only seen but are loudly heard.
The Purpose of this theatre performance, Tade stressed, is to communicate the physical, emotional and psychological suffering of women.
“We desire to build Nigerian free from violence against women wish which includes threat to life, rape, wife battery, sexual harassment, forced prostitution and maltreatment of widows
ROSEP uses this artistic approach to showcase the dilemma of the Nigerian women.
According to the convener, ROSEP is a multi-dimensional arts company engaged in the business of drama and film production, adding that they believe strongly in the sustenance of the stage medium and boast of being one of the few organizations that have kept the performing theatre alive in spite of all odds.
“In the last ten years, ROSEP has embarked on a campaign on women which talks about the Protection and their important roles in our Society,” the playwright said.
He noted that Nigeria is a country blessed with vast rich cultural endowments and one of the foremost countries of the world where arts and culture constitute major attractions, but unfortunately, these potentials have been grossly under-utilized.
He reiterated the need for research and documentation cannot be over-emphasized, noting that if nothing was learnt from the past histories, nothing of benefit could be learnt from the present; and that makes a nation ill-equipped to face the future.
“To guard against this occurrence ROSEP now plans to document some of the history of Lagos between 17th and 18th century through this play,” he enthused.
Tade stressed further that ROSEP is committed to the betterment of Nigeria, especially this generation and the incoming ones.
“We also belong to the creative circle and our interest is to build the society through art, we could act as a catalyst for positive change in our community.
Our pet project, Nigerian Women of Excellence and Achievement Award is devised and hosted by ROSEP with the sole purpose of celebrating women for their monumental contributions to the development in various spheres of life. It is a special moment when attention is paid to women,” he added.
Wife of Lagos State Governor, Bolanle Ambode, was presented with an award of Distinguished Culture Personality at the event. Other personalities that graced the event among others included: Erelu Abiola Dosunmu and Acting Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Adebimpe Akinshola.
Tade said he planned to use the award as a special project that focuses on the celebration of the womenfolk, in the appraisal of the roles of mothers and wives, women in politics, women in leadership and most importantly women of legendary stature and accomplishment who deserve their commendation and emulation.
He maintained that the noble initiative aimed to promote Nigerian culture and tradition as well as celebrating the importance of women in national development.
“In Nigeria, women suffer many forms of violence; they experience inequalities in their social life, Political, economic and cultural life, violence against women takes place often privately, within the household as well as publicly. It cuts across all cultures and traditions; across class, ethnic and religious barriers and the struggle to completely eradicate these ugly acts against women is still on-going.”
Nigerian Women of Excellence and Achievement Award, according the culture activist, is deliberately designed to increase awareness on problems and proffering solutions in Nigeria.
The Lagos State Government has commenced remodeling of Late MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi sculptures at Ojo park, the development which was said to be part of measures toward retaining contributions and preserving memory of great duo to Lagos.
However, the remodeling being part of ongoing face-lift of the parks, it was gathered that the work entails the erection of bigger sculptures of the two prominent Nigerians.
The Acting Commissioner, Lagos Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Adebimpe Akinshola, said that the on going development was the state Govenor, Akinwumi Ambode, called and that he approved and recommended that the project should be more pleasing and more aesthetic.
Speaking on Tuesday in Lagos, Akinshola disclosed that a group of artistes were assigned for the remodeling of the entire park including erection of the new aesthetic sculptures, adding that, the government was set to complete the that of the MKO statue at of the Ojota Garden.
According to her, the remodeling that was meant for both statue and water fountain to enhance the aesthetic value of the park for better appreciation and commemoration of June 12 presidential election.
“The remodeling work on Chief MKO Abiola statue commenced late January 2017 and is currently about 70 per cent completed and the project also included additional facilities such as a water fountain and a designated mini park.
“That of Chief Gani Fawehinmi also at Ojota was about 60 per cent completed, while the park was being enhanced with another work of art called The Possibility.””
Akinsola reiterated Ambode’s administration commitment to change face of Lagos with ongoing erection of 29 artistic sculptures and monuments at strategic locations across the State.
The commissioner hinted that six of the projects were completed and officially unveiled, including the statues of the first settler in Lagos, Prince Olofin (erected at Ijora), the first King of Lagos, Prince Ado (erected at Moloney Junction, Lagos), and Ojuloge (erected opposite the National Theatre).
She explained that Ojuloge was designed to celebrate and convey sense of beauty, grace, style and passion for fashion of Lagos Women.
The other completed monuments were the drummer (erected at Ipakodo, Ikorodu), which depicts the Yoruba music culture; youth empowerment (erected at Sabo Yaba), which depicts situations and resources the youths deploy to improve quality of life; as well as the fisherman (erected at Badagry junction) which depicts one of the occupations and heritage of the people of Badagry.
The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has traced greatness of the State to its ability to be the melting pot for all cultures from all over the country.
Ambode made the observation at the Lagos History Lecture held at Eko Hotels and Suits with the theme: “Lagos: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” as part of activities marking Golden Jubilee anniversary of the State.
According to Governor Ambode, the people of the State over the years have distinguished themselves in making others feel at home away from home.
The Governor recalled that since inception, Lagos had effectively transited from an administrative entity to become the melting point of cultures and the socio-political and economic state of global significance, adding that the state was being rated today, as the fifth largest economy in Africa.
According to him, the lecture was an opportunity to have an introspection into the past, engage in an objective appraisal of the present and a realistic prognosis of the future of another 50 years.
It’s on this background, Ambode said that attracted the assemblage of knowledgeable royal fathers, elder statesmen, jurists of distinction and Lagos indigenes of repute to trace the history of the State and proffer insights as to the areas to concentrate on for the future.
“It is important for us at this epochal gathering to refresh our memory about the beginning; the journey of how the AWORI played an important role in the evolution of what we call Lagos today,” Ambode said.
“The same applies to the evolution of the EKO Royalty with the coming of the Bini from present day Edo State and even the momentous role played by the TAPPA in the making of our dear State.
“Our greatness is in our ability to be the melting pot for all cultures and as at today, there is no tribe in Nigeria that is not represented in Lagos. From the Hausa/Fulani to the Igbo to the Kanuri to the Ibibio, the Nupe, the Berom, the Igala and so on and so forth all have spaces to live and live well in our dear State.
“Lagos is not just national in outlook. It is international. The Americans are here; the British are here; South Africans are in their thousands; the Chinese are not in short supply; and the Indians even have a community in Lagos”. According to the Governor, there was no other State like Lagos in Nigeria. He said that some other tribes may claim to ‘own’ Lagos because the state used to be a Federal Capital Territory.
“But I really do not think so. While that may have contributed to our greatness, we are also a unique people ready to make fellow human-beings from other lands feel home away from home,” the Governor said.
While acknowledging the progress which Lagos had witnessed politically, socially and economically, Ambode said he was certain that the ancestors of the State would be giggling in their graves with the tremendous progress in all spheres of governance that have elatedly become the lots of the State.
The Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Professor Hakeem Danmole while in his keynote lecture, traced the history of Lagos since the inception, adding that it was commendable that the legacy of achievement has been sustained in the state.
Danmole said the state must strictly adhere to rules and regulations, adding that for Lagos to reach greater heights, developmental plan must be followed.
While calling on the Federal Government to collaborate with the state government to fast-track development in Lagos, Danmole urged the state government to fully utilize its God’s given environment especially in area of water transportation.
Responding to a call by Governor Ambode for the notion of ‘Lagos being a no man’s land’, the first Town Clark of the Lagos City Council, Senator Habib Fasinro and former Minister of Works, Femi Okunnu (SAN), said those behind such claim were ignorant.
Both guests said such claims need to be readdressed and were not only misleading but confrontational, adding that such claims were an abuse to history of indigenous people of Lagos such as; the Aworis, Egbas, Binis, Ijeshas, Nupes, Brazilian returnees, among others.
Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, adding voice to such claims, corroborated Fasinro and Okunnu, and urged the National Assembly to reconsider the motion to grant special status to Lagos, saying doing so would be in best interest of Nigeria.
The Canadian Government has invited Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi as a special guest to grace the country’s 150th Independence Anniversary celebrations in July this year.
Canadian Member of Parliament (MP), Ramesh Sangha, conveyed the special invitation to the Ife monarch in his palace on Sunday.
According to the Canadian MP, the invitation was aimed at forging stronger ties between Canada and Nigeria.
Sangha, representing Brampton Central in the Canadian Parliament, said he would collaborate with Federal Government in the areas of economy, youth empowerment, health services, agriculture, science and technology while in Nigeria.The MP described the Ife monarch as a “reference point in Nigeria in view of the enviable position he has carved for himself since mounting the throne of his forebears.
“We Canadians are very happy with Your Highness for the great work you are doing. On behalf of Canadian Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Justin Pierre James Trudeau, we are inviting you to the 150th Independence Anniversary Celebration of Canada coming up in July,” said the Canadian MP.
Oba Ogunwusi while responding to the MP’s comment said he would continue to promote Yoruba tradition and cultural heritage as well as propagate peace and unity across the world.
The Ife monarch said he would grace the occasion in Canada and also promised to contribute his quota to the success of the programme.
The Canadian delegation included President, Nigerian-Canadian Association in Ottawa, John Adeyefa, , President, Nigerian-Canadian Association in Ontario ,Chidi Nwanyanwu and, Leader, Nigerian Young-Adult Association in Canada,Sola Agboola.
Nollywood family who were terribly shock at the death of one of their rear gem, Moji Olaiya, have been expressing their heart felt grief over the death of the actor.
Olaiya, 42, died on Thursday in Canada of cardiac arrest. She was said to have given birth in Canada two months ago.
Those close to her said before her death, Olaiya made some comments on her Instagram wall.
Just two days ago, she wrote on her Instagram page: “Allhamdulilahi to you Allah. I give all the glory for all you have done. I will forever praise and worship you. It’s not by power but the Grace of Allah. Thank you for the gift of life. Thanks also to all my friends and family my fans for your supports and prayers. Love you all.”
In another post, she made after, she announced to her fans that OkikiApp is now available on all App Store, read watch she posts; “watch movies from me and other great actors for free.”
When her Instagram account page–@mojisolaabikeade, with 240,000 followers, was searched, the page turned out to be full of lamentations and condolences, from her fans
Veteran actor, Yinka Quadri, reeked that her death has robbed Nollywood family and the entire entertainment industry of a talented actor and expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased.
For Director of Public Relations and Media Affairs of the Theatre Arts and Motion Picture Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Yomi Fash-Lanso confirming the death of Olaiya in a statement said:
“It is with a heavy heart and sad disposition to hear about the sudden death of our colleague; friend and sister, Moji Olaiya, whose death occurred few hours ago in Canada, few days after giving birth. According to reports that we gathered, we learnt she had heart seizure and couldn’t make it,’’ he prayed.
“We pray, that her soul finds eternal rest with her creator and pray to Almighty Allah to comfort the family she left behind and give them the fortitude to bear this great irreparable loss’’.
He charged all members of TAMPAN and friends to be calm as the association awaits further reports.
President of Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Emeka Ibeh, was among the earlier mourners who expressed their condolences. Ibeh prayed God to grant the family that Moji Olaiya left behind and begged God to give them the fortitude to bear the loss.
Ibeh said that the artiste would continue to live in the memories of her fans because of her contributions to the development of Nollywood.
“In her little way, she contributed to the development of Nollywood and she will be greatly missed by her fans. I pray that God grants her family members the strength to bear this loss at a time like this,’’ he said.
Ibeh urged other actors in the country to continue to impact positively on the entertainment industry saying that their good works would definitely live-on after them.
Also, the founder, Different Aesthetics, Arts and Culture Management based at the National Theatre, Lagos State, Tope Babayemi condoled with the family of the deceased.
Babayemi said that the entertainment industry has lost another bright talent that had contributed greatly to the popularity of the local movies.
Actor Femi Branch said: “We were just mere colleagues until the day we had a certain discussion in Sagamu with Aunty `Fali Werepe` and you rose in my defence.
“I have recounted this tale to more people than I can recall and in every instance, the mention of your sincere intervention was the highlight of my tale. That day, I knew the good hearted Moji Olaiya and for as long as I have the gift of memory, Mojisola Olaiya will remain embedded in my heart,” he added.
“Sleep well `Mj’. May God erect a canopy of protection over your children and the family you left behind. Lord, please take away this hand of death moving over our industry and please open our eyes to know that life belongs to you and only you can give it in abundance”.
To Funke Adesiyan, it’s still a tale-tale story. Here her. “Days like today should not exist. I refuse to believe the news of your untimely demise. I still don’t get why good people don’t last. You were a true soul”, she lamented.
“Beautiful in and out with absolutely no space in your heart to hate or pretend to love. You were so genuine. May Allah rest your soul and give your family the fortitude to bear this loss. It’s a sad day,’’ she said.
Ask Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Okiki Films Sunday Esan, how he feels, he would tell you that he is in shock.
“I’m currently in a state of grief and shock. Is it true that Moji Olaiya is gone? My good friend is no more; I will miss her personality, talent and humility.’’
The late queen of the screen, Moji Olaiya was said to be the daughter of a popular highlife musician, Victor Olaiya.
Her journey to Nollywood began her with Wale Adenuga Production (WAP), starring in the popular family TV drama series of Super Story, where she played the role of Ireti in “No Pains, No Gains”.
She also featured in other movies such as: “Agunbaniro”, “Sade Blade”, “and Nkan Adun ’’and“Omo Iya meta leyi”.
Moji received awards for her diligence in Nigeria and abroad. She was nominated as the Best Supporting Actor of the Year 2003 for the Reel Award.
She also won the Best New Actress award and she said then that such awards were always motivating her to put in her best in any roles assigned her during movie productions.