Come, let us be silly! aka ‘The Wedding Party’

The best time to write a review is always while the taste is still in the mouth. This doesn’t refer to food alone. It covers the entire spectrum of the arts. It’s pretty much like saying, the best time to write an exam is when you have just finished reading.

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I thought I already missed my chance to review ‘The Wedding Party’ movie since I didn’t grab my keypad right after watching it. Plus, loads of glowing reviews have popped up on almost every Nigerian blog or website you can think of – even if more than half of them are sponsored. So why add my own mite to the already loud noise? Because it’s been over two weeks I saw the movie and I still find myself burst out in laughter when the scenes replay in my head. Truthfully guys, I just HAVE TO let this out.

Who rang the bell for foolishness? Mo Abudu and Kemi Adetiba have some explaining to do. Do you remember the opening lines of singer Faze‘s once famous ‘Kolomental’ song?

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Omo na mental case

Start to dey crase

Na who dey rock in this place

It’s Kolomental

That song must have been playing somewhere in the background of this movie when it was being shot or during auditions. I have never seen Ali Baba so ‘foolish’ (read, silly) all my life; not even at his annual January 1st comedy show. I always knew Ikechukwu had some foolishness (or goofiness) in him and I was so glad Kemi (the director) decided to hand him this script that provided the perfect opportunity to bare it all. Sola Sobowale was tastefully dramatic and this was such a brilliant outing for debutante actor, Banky W; as well as Features director debutante, Kemi Adetiba.

Between spilling blood in club fights and screaming, ‘my name is Ike-chukwu!’, I have always diagnosed martial art expert and rapper, Killz, to be a pleasant next-door guy with a high propensity and deep yearning to be foolish – if society wasn’t so patriarchal and condescending towards men like that. I’m glad he found that liberty in his role as Sola – the bestman. And oh! that Caucasian bridesmaid stole my heart – such a hopeless romantic overly flattered by the prospect of a Nigerian Prince.

Let me tell you about the Banky W we saw. It was the innocent-looking 2008 newly-relocated Banky that came to act in this movie.

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Back in the days: Ladies’ man Banky W

The singer channelled his Western loverboy personality – the one that endeared him to Nigerian ladies when he introduced the songs; ‘No regrets’ and ‘Don’t break my heart’ to us and stole our hearts. When he found and reconciled with his runaway bride at the beachside in this movie, I almost heard him break into singing:

You’re the only one for me

Why can’t you see

Girl, I knew it from the start

Don’t break what’s left of my heart

In fact, I will not be surprised to find out that he suggested singing this song but was overruled by the director (who is also his personal friend), while filming this scene.

This beach scene was the only Non-Nigerian element in ‘The Wedding Party‘. I mean, which runaway Nigerian bride escapes to be by herself at the beach with a bonfire in the background? Who helped her gather the sticks?

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Ali Baba (Mr Coker) dances with his wife – Sola Sobowale, in one of his ‘silly’ moments. Peep Sola’s manicure…

I could go on and on about this movie. Ultimately, I would say the casting director made excellent calls. Every role was correctly cast and the scripts, meticulously guided. The movie had every opportunity to derail but the director kept it steady on course. I think Ireti Doyle and Emma Oh My God had the best written scripts. Ireti was impeccable in delivery and Emma’s prayer points at the wedding reception was so carefully thought out. Who knew Madam planner, Zainab, could speak such brilliantly intoned Yoruba? And Beverly, she was the classiest bitter slut ever!

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The strongest and most important unit of society: family!

The Wedding Party is such a happy movie. I saw it twice in Asaba during the festive season and it put the ‘merry’ in my Christmas. I will see it again in Lagos, once the cinema crowd subsides and I can get a ticket. I hear the Lagos experience is the real deal.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts?

How ACOR unveiled in Abuja

We had a 10-day vacay in Abuja and it was such a tremendous time. One of the highlights of the trip, for me, was this book unveil I attended.

 

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Book cover of Othuke Ominiabohs’ new novel

 

I met Othuke Ominiabohs via his first book released earlier this year. ‘Odufa’ was so romantic and well written, I craved for more materials from this prolific first-time author and desired to meet him.

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Love at first read: Odufa

Now I’m not used to meeting authors whose books I enjoy as years of reading ‘strangers’ have taught me that you don’t meet writers. I mean they aren’t rockstars so they don’t reach out to fans like in a concert, press conference or red carpet events. Even when there’s a ‘meet and greet’ or ‘book signing’ (which is common for touring best-selling authors outside this clime), the venues are small and seldom packed full. But things are changing.

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A saxophonist entertains guests at ACOR unveil, Abuja

 

The book bug is catching on quite rapidly in Nigeria as more Nigerians are beginning to read and love Nigerian books and by extension, authors. Yes, local authors still have problems convincing some bookshops to stock their books but I’m glad we are making progress. Yes, we haven’t sorted our distribution problem as many authors still have to go bookshop to bookshop if they  are to have national circulation but we are moving. Yes our publishing houses are so few,  fledgling and struggling but we’re still sailing. One can authoritatively say Literary appreciation is on the rise and we have the likes of Othuke to thank- People writing Nigerian stories in our everyday language such that one can almost substitute the characters with a neighbour or high school friend’s name and the story would fit. So it was quite some excitement for me when about 190 people attended ACOR unveil.

 

A Conspiracy Of Ravens is a Nigerian thriller built around the oil struggle in the Niger Delta. It’s fast-paced and action-packed and I think Othuke did a really good job, so far. I’ll do a proper review when I’m done reading. I took a few pictures of the event with my Tecno L8 phone. Venue was Thought Art Pyramid, Wuse II, Abuja.

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Beautiful ladies at the book stand

 

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With Public Health advocate, Ijeoma Mba

 

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Readers queue for autographs and interaction with author

With man-of-the-moment, Othuke Ominiabohs and a mutual friend, Chia.

 

Meanwhile, before Lagos folks get all jealous, there will be a Lagos edition on Sunday, October 2nd. Venue is TerraKulture on Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island and you are invited.

 

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Editing ‘Guardians of The Seal'(GoTS)

It feels so good I can finally share this! Yaaay!

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GoTS cover

People, this is not just my first book; it is a GOOD book.

When I got the call to edit this manuscript, I was excited simply because I love to panel beat sentences, restructure grammar, replace tenses, condense phrases and just have fun with words and ideas generally. But when I got INTO the text proper, I was mesmerised! I mean, I LOVE Christian fiction. There was a time in my life that I would only read Frank Peretti, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury and anything in that league.

Then came Tunde Leye. When he sent me the book intro, I responded with this mail:

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It’s just amazing how he’s reconstructed Christian reality into something so relateable in these days of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. It’s interesting how he preaches without preaching and even though he’s opted for a neutral genre so as not to be boxed, the redemption power in this book cannot be suppressed.

The ‘realest’ character in the book, for me, has got to be Lucan. “It has to be Lucan. The way his life was interrupted is very practical to me. He was the most human. I love him for his weakness,” I told Tunde in a mail during editing.

And the most intense chapter for me is chapter 8. More precisely, pages 128 – 133. My heart was racing so fast I found myself praying for the character. That is what a good book does to you – make you feel like you can impact on a character’s outcome. I couldn’t resist another mail that March:

“Been one intense night. Don’t know where you were when you wrote these chapters but it looks like the job of a secret place. The battles are so intense. The rescue of Imani from that marble altar began it all. I was compulsively teleported myself and felt so involved in the battle, I caught myself praying in the spirit throughout the encounter.”

Here’s an excerpt of the warfare in chapter 8:

Light engulfed his body and in an instant, he was transformed. The light he emitted illuminated the room and the once dark room became as bright as the noonday. All around, the dark forms of demons huddled together to avoid his light. The five demon lords could have been stone where they stood. They looked in utter amazement. He swung his sword in one direction and white light shot in an arc in that direction. All the demons that fell under its light were consumed by it in an instant… He closed his eyes and issued the command, “Occupy, Euphrates.”

As soon as he did, the room began to fill up with flowing, liquid light. The demons struggled to escape it. Faster than any of them could react, the room had filled up to the brim. Lucan stood guard at the entrance, cutting down every demon that got away from the light-filled room. Not a single one escaped; he made sure of that. When the liquid light receded, only the bodies of the five demon lords and a wide-eyed Imani remained in the room. He approached the altar and removed her gag.

This book is for every lover of fiction – good fiction. This author did a good job!

Meanwhile I asked him a few questions about this book just before we rounded up editing. There was no way I would miss understanding the mind behind this book and the intents. I reproduced the Q & A here.

So, support your girl’s hustle o. The big launch is in September and we’ll try all we can to make sure it’s available in major physical and electronic bookshops. If you’d like to review the book before then, do buzz me. We’ll arrange a special delivery for you. Cheers!

Why I wrote ‘Guardians of The Seal’- Tunde Leye

I had the rare privilege of editing perhaps Nigeria’s first Christian fiction novel authored by Tunde Leye. The experience was so intense I couldn’t turn in the last chapters until he had answered my questions. I have reproduced the e-mail containing our exchange below. Do enjoy.
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Tunde Leye
I have nine plus one questions about where this book came from and your intentions as the writer. The impression is too strong to ward off easily. Take your time and answer as well as you can. If you’ll have more time over the weekend, I can wait.

1. What’s the purpose of this book? What’s your intention/desire for this book?
2. Is this your own pulpit?

3. Why is the seed of the woman female? It’s interesting how the crucifixion sacrifice is substituted. Is this for literary effect/suspense or something more?

4. I like the suggestion that Lucifer is defeated eternally. Is that you trying to tell the Christian congregation that the greater battle has been won already and what we are fighting now are only manifestations of his plantings in men’s hearts? Or again is it just literature?

5. Is ‘The Bringing’ to suggest that award shows are demonic? Do you loathe awards?
6. I read you associate drugs and technology with demons, you have strong reservations against them?
7. How did the idea come to you, did it make sense immediately and over what period of time did you develop it for?
8. Why Guardians of the Seals? Why Christian fiction? Why now?

This was his response:
I can answer the questions now actually, because I’ve thought about them many times over.

The easy ones first.
I came about the idea some ten/eleven years ago in a conversation with a friend about superheros and their source of power (I’m something of a cartoon buff) and we talked about some being able to go to heaven at will. Then I read about C.S Lewis and Tolkein being asked about if their books (Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of The Rings respectively) were about their faith (both were Christians) and they both gave similar answers (they were friends and both belonged to a literary group called the Inklings).
Their answer was that they had written about the world if it had the Christian salvation story, if magic and fantasy beings were permitted in the world. My book is essentially a similar thing – so many things in the book a allegories to multiple things (e.g the Wicket gate is an allegory of salvation and the seals themselves an allegory of the covenant with the Israelites and so on). It took 3 years to write, so seven years was basically the idea brewing in my head and growing, even as I wrote other things.
I don’t have anything against awards or technology. In fact, one of the most advanced technologies in the book (the Interfacers) was created by Tara, one of the protagonists and very beneficial to the world. I think tech is as good as the use it is put to, it is amoral.
I try not to make my writing a pulpit militantly pushing an agenda. But I made an exception with this one. So to a great degree, I told a story of how, if I had the creative license, I’d have written the creation, salvation, redemption and final defeat of the devil story. Stories are powerful and can reach people in ways nothing else (except perhaps music) can. Hopefully, it will cause someone to search for the real deal in the bible.
Why Guardians of the Seals? It’s the story I had, and the one I felt ready to tell. Why Christian fiction. It’s actually epic fantasy with the background world I created based on the Christian mythology. Why now? I’ve been away for 2 years (marrying and borning pikin) and I’m making a “comeback” with a bang. Plus the story is ready. Recall I said I did an almost total rewrite because I didn’t think it was ready before now.
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GoTS cover

On Brexit and Money Monster

 

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U.K Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigns.

Did you see David Cameron nearly break down at the end of his speech? I felt really sorry for him.

He had been the ‘Stay’ champion, touring schools in different states across the U.K trying to encourage young people on the merits of staying in the EU. Somehow he got across to this demography but some of the older folks feel differently – as the Brexit vote analysis shows. Such a narrow margin but democracy prevails. Sadly so.

Cameron said he doesn’t see a future for the UK on this path and he can’t lead without a vision (paraphrase).  Now there isn’t anything more astute and honourable than that. He resigned because he is no longer the right person to lead the U.K in this new direction. I was so awed I tweeted, “OMG David Cameron nearly broke down in the last sentences…awww. Where do they sell this ‘resignation pill’ make abroad pple buy come Naija”.

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Really the West make me think. Honour is more meaningful to them than virginity is to an Asian community. They are an inspiring lot sometimes, many times.

The Western environment allows individual development so that there can be a progressive challenge of the status quo. As a matter of fact new knowledge is very important so they will support researches in science and discoveries in art. You are groomed and nudged to always speak out – bare your mind. In fact the rarer your thought patterns the more likely you are sought for opinions and that is what has built their political landscape.

In the Brexit build up and many TV debates, it was not rare to find people from the same party having opposing views on the matter. I recall particularly the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, advocating that Britain remains in the EU while Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn felt differently. These are major figures from one party.

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Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan

In Nigeria, APC will say they have met and agreed on a position; so will PDP. Innocuous stands like this don’t allow for intellectual conversations and arguments in our media and extension country. People are not required to think unless you feel spurned enough. And God help you if you have a political affiliation, you will be promptly labeled a black sheep and disowned if DSS or EFCC don’t visit you first. Meanwhile these so-called party positions on any matter isn’t a result of collective thinking or vote of party members. Rather, it’s the position of party stalwarts and sponsors. Sigh. Nigeria.

I just feel the need to make a case for intellectual development and outspokenness in Nigeria. Look at how interesting presidential elections build up in the West. The arguments and conversations make radio and TV a joy to listen or watch (Trump is another topic, biko). We really need to start looking inwards and try to raise our children better-stimulate their minds early and let them bare it.

Yesterday I saw the ‘Money Monster’ movie featuring George Clooney.

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George Clooney in Money Monster

An aggrieved young man found his way into a TV studio while a live show was airing. He held the show host (George Clooney) at gunpoint, wore him a suicide vest and demanded to speak with the CEO of a company whose stocks crashed and rendered him bankrupt. He got his wish eventually and confronted the CEO so brazenly about his lost $60,000.

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Bankrupt gunman seizes TV anchor in Money Monster

Recast this scene in real life Nigeria. A poor ‘nobody’ meets Otedola, Dangote, Ambode or even his LG chairman. This average person CAN NOT have a conversation with any of these people even if one of their factory trucks just killed his only child! It is sad. The complex – under the stupid guise of humility, religion, culture or respect is EVIL!. We are a generation of YesMen. Forget the social media noise, half of us cannot confront in real life the people we spend day and night cursing on Twitter! Very very sad reality.

It’s time we began to speak up. But before then, let’s read up perhaps we’ll catch up. And remember, question EVERYTHING – in your head first, and don’t stop till you find answers.

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Yes, think. That’s what a brain’s for.

Use your mobile data wisely.

 

Hell or High Water: Time well spent

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It was date night again yesterday; it’s been a while. Husband said there was a private movie screening  and we were on the list. Boy was I delighted to dress up and get out of the house?! We got to The Palms, Lekki and I was surprised they had also started charging for parking like the Ikeja City Mall. Then we climb up to the cinema floor and the red carpet pleasantries begin – friends here, acquaintances there and about forty minutes later we were ushered into Screen 4. Drink in hand, popcorn on each seat; everyone settled in and the film began.

Now I had not (still haven’t) seen the movie trailer nor read any hype material about the movie so I was entirely clueless as to what to expect. It could as well have been a rich kid’s high school project but I couldn’t care less; I was just glad to be out of the house with the boo again. So when this cold movie started I was indifferent. Then things began to happen and I was transfixed: a young closet-gay married Pastor (Gbolahan) rekindles love with his divorced partner whose ex-wife (Hauwa) once secretly recorded their love-making session and distributed among both parties’ immediate families, before walking out of her marriage. I found the sex scene uncomfortable to watch and told my husband I wouldn’t have come to see the movie if I had watched the trailer. But after that ‘disgust’, something happened to me.

Hauwa bumped in on the ‘couple’ again and right after posted the six-year-old video on the internet. And everything ended for the pastor. His wife packed, father disowned him, church excommunicated him, was black-listed for jobs and the press hunted him everywhere… I sank into my seat. For the first time ever I saw gays as humans. I couldn’t believe how suddenly everything else Gbolahan had been and done didn’t matter – all his good deeds and good will ceased to exist the second his secret was exposed. He became a thing unfit for the gospel and undeserving of a society. I was speechless. As people in the theatre howled and laughed aloud at intervals, I couldn’t (We had a particularly noisy girl-trio in the row right in front of us). Long after the movie ended and the cast and crew came forward for introduction and Q & As, the cat still had my tongue.

Hell or High Water is not a gay advancement movie. It’s a call for us to be human first to one another. It’s a well told emotive story with brilliant acting. Enyinna Nwigwe who played Pastor Gbolahan delivered flawlessly and it felt good seeing Ashionye act again. This new crop of award-winning movie makers/actors are definitely writing the UrbanNolly(wood) story.

HHW was directed by Oluseyi Asurf of Asurf Films for The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS). I have seen a few gay-themed movies and read several gay-oriented materials but none has reached me ever like this one.

 

Why you should get the Tecno L8

If you have never owned a Tecno before, IT IS TIME! (In Mo Abudu’s voice)

 

I’ve never been big on gadgets. Yes I was once above-average ‘techy’ but the moment I got married, I ‘relinquished’ my ‘techiness’ to he who now is – my husband. He started by collecting the phones and tablets to charge every night, then updating software on both devices. Next I started seeing strange apps installed on my gadgets and before I knew it I had given up staying abreast with new technology, albeit unconsciously.  Anyway…

So whenever I replace a communication tool – phone, tablet or computer, it is my husband’s duty to mirror the old gadget into the new (for the life of me I don’t know how he does it). Then he would expect to see me fiddle with the device for maybe all of the next hours but I always disappoint him. I’m just hardly ever excited enough. So imagine his shock when I brought home my Tecno L8 that Friday evening and I unboxed it MYSELF! I even took pictures as I did. I couldn’t wait to transfer everything on my old phone just so I could start exploring. I managed to release it to my oga for mirroring. Then the shocker.

The SIM card slots. The L8 has room for one regular SIM card and a micro SIM card. My old phone used two micro SIM cards. I wanted to cry. My husband said not to worry, he’d set it up all the same with one line.The rest of the night and the next 72 hours all my bad phone habits didn’t exist. For once, my GSM phone was indeed a mobile phone cause everywhere I went, it went (still does). So what are the most exciting things about the Tecno L8?

1.The pouch – I love it, love it. Mine’s grey, don’t know if it exists in other colours. My toddler will have to put a sharp object to it, before a damage can occur.

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2. The screen – Gosh, it feels so smooth.

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3. The camera! – What’s a phone without a good camera, right ladies? The picture resolution is very good, perhaps better for most phones within this price range. I like to think I’m not a vain person (which is why I’m not on Instagram *insert eye roll*) but I’ve been taking pictures of my infant nearly everyday ’cause I just gat to use this L8! Its flash is mega impressive so there are no room for dark pictures.

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Goofing around with some effects…
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Harassing the model out of my infant…blame the L8

4. The overall feel – It felt heavy initially but a few minutes down the line, it began to feel normal. It’s comfy, fits right in my palm. I was actually scared it’d be so masculine initially. I love love the curved corners and the video function too. Maybe I’ll begin my v-logging career with this L8. What do you think?

Why you should read BOAT

If you like normal and conventions, you’ll like The Code. Not comparing plots yet, let me first say they (The Code and BOAT) are two VERY different books.

The Code follows the ‘how to write/ writing for beginners’ guide book. If you know these guide books, they are the template for safe writing and landing – not that any piece of art can be considered ‘easy’ especially not fiction-writing. With that caveat in place, I welcome you to The Code review

Basic formatting is followed – character and environment backgrounding upon introduction, and a gradual unfolding of scenes. It’s like a telenovella or any TV series; building gradually, cultivating your romance, trusting you’ll stay with it for the next thirteen weeks. But BOAT isn’t like that. Nathan jumps right into it.

Born On A Tuesday (BOAT) takes off right from the very first page starting like the opening scene of Sicario or any CSI installment. It’s mind-numbing, the casualness with which the author describes violence – I mean several times I had to reread paragraphs just to be sure the author just described a killing or near-death scene. No, not death from gun shots or poisoning. I’m referring to skull-opening matcheting, the type that pours blood and sheds flesh – yes, crude deaths.

Look at this example: “I strike behind his neck as he stumbles by me. He crashes to the ground. He groans. I strike again. The machete is sharp. Sharper than I expected. And light. I wonder where they got them from. Malam Junaidu’s machetes were so heavy, I hated it when we had to clear weeds in front of the mosque or his house or his maize farm.” – Dantala in Bayan Layi, Pg 16.

For crying out sake, kid, you just killed a man and the first thought is to compare the lightness of the weapon to the one used for menial chores??? That’s what you get with BOAT: unusual thinking only possible by a desensitised mind.

It’s annoying and amazing how a book that starts out playfully gets so serious suddenly, and ends very painfully and unexpectedly. BOAT is the closest many will come to living in the muslim-North of Nigeria. Perhaps its same in muslim countries, I cannot tell. The book is expository. I learnt a lot about the lifestyle of the average Muslim in the North, Arabic schools, mosques and how factions (or denominations) are formed, the connection between religion and politics – how they feed each other. It’s interesting also how he weaves in the subjects of homosexuality, masturbation and pornography especially in the hallowed chambers of the mosque. Do you know how the Muslims clean their dead? You’ll find out when you read how Ahmad washes Sheik’s headless corpse.

Rendered in the first-person narrative, this book, written by Elnathan John, is an award-winning eye-opener.

Yeah, about The Code, I’ll conclude its review when I finish reading.