Archives for category: Personal Bites

Let every step take you closer to where you would like to be, even the small steps…

It’s a beautiful day.
I am breathing. I am strong.  I am safe.  I am hopeful.
I raise my head high.

It’s a beautiful day.


His paintings adorn the walls of art collectors and galleries all over the world. His work is admired by statesmen and enthusiasts far and wide. On a perfect  day in August, I found myself  in the company of Gbolade Omidiran- artist of great talent and extraordinary success. Read the rest of this entry »

Much has been written about the sacred status of Ile -ife; “the cradle” of the Yoruba race.There are myths and legends, there is history and folklore, there is a cultural earnestness which permeates every day living in this ancient city.

I was drawn to  Akire Temple at Ilare compound. In the summer of 2017, the University of African Art  brought its GownTown initiative to Ile-Ife. Led by Prof Moyo Okediji and Dr Oluseyi Ogunjobi, Akire Temple became a location for a workshop on  art.

Images of men, women and children engaging with  traditional skills;   preparing indigo dye for adire textiles, using natural  pigments to paint and collaborate  on artwork was inspiring to see.

And so it was. I spent an afternoon at Akire Temple with Oba Akire and Olori Aderonke.

The conversations were lively. We spoke about the history of Orisha Akire and it’s relevance for the people of Ile-Ife and the descendants of Akire all over the world.

I was fascinated by the visual artistic display all around me. Beautifully bright traditional textiles:  Adire Eleko, Adire Kiko, Adire Alabere, painting on fabrics and the cosmic wall murals and sand paintings.

A temple dedicated to the practice of Yoruba traditional religion used as an artistic, social  and cultural space was a dynamic idea. It reinforced for me the view that Yoruba traditional religion and the expression of Yoruba culture are often inseparable.  I scrutinized  the murals on the shrine walls.

These are sacred paintings.  They reflect the deep observational nature of the Yoruba people and the importance of symbolic motifs. Traditionally done by a guild of women shrine painters of Akire shrine, these small and large symbols, shapes, and geometric designs filled the outer walls of Akire shrine.

Ile Ife is a spiritual place.  Everywhere you look, from the palace to the ancient groves, Yoruba culture is profuse. You see it in the festivals, the monuments dotted around the town and the symbolic objects which resonate with meaning and reverence.

However, through reclaiming sacred spaces like Akire temple for artistic and cultural activities, we create opportunities for even more awareness of the richness of Yoruba heritage and indigenous knowledge.

It is important to value what we have.

Opportunities which knit together indigenous artistic knowledge and traditional religion acts like culture conduits. They connect women, men and entire families to their Yoruba lineage, ancestry, heritage and identity.

 

Everyday there are worlds waiting to be found. If you are persistent and with a bit of luck, you may find a few exceptional ones. In a quiet corner of Ibadan, I found Tunde Odunlade.

Criss-crossing the sprawling city, It took a while to find  him, but we did. We were swept into the hands of an artist totally involved with the idea of ” art with a purpose in nation building”.

He welcomed us like old friends and we wandered into his world without walls.

Warm, witty, intelligent, creative and erudite, Odunlade is an exceptional artist and a charming host. An Ife prince, Odunlade moved from Ile-Ife to Ibadan in the 70’s.



With over 42 years as a successful textile and fiber art specialist, his style is engaging and diverse.  Floatographs. Bartiking, marbling caligraphy and Adire. Beading on textiles and beaded appliqués. But there is more.

Intricate and intriguing, Odunlade wants you to enjoy the beauty and creativity in his soul but not without thinking about yours.

We talked about “Oju Inu, agba oye” , Odunlade’s upcoming exhibition at University of Ibadan’s Institute of African Studies on the end of August 2017.

This exhibition takes as its premise the Yoruba proverb : “Oye lagba wo, iriri sagba ohun gbogbo” which means the elderly seeks first to understand while experience supersedes all things.

Hence, ” Oju inu, agba Oye” takes us on a journey. It examines the indigenous  knowledge of the Yoruba people passed down through the generations in proverbs, idioms, folklore and traditional skills such as Adire . This knowledge is enriching, the basis for the understanding and value of self.

With pieces like “Oya goddess of the wind” and “Oduduwa”, the examination of Yoruba mythology and heritage is inherent in many of the pieces.

When you consume Odunlade’s  art, you must engage with your social, and political consciousness- your place and purpose in society. Each piece evoked particular ideas.  The failure of the Nigerian state. Underdevelopment in Africa. The colonial legacy. Yoruba history and Heritage. Karma and consciousness.

Very quickly, I realised that I would have to keep up with the dexterity of Odunlade’s intellect and prolific creativity.

This  art has travelled the world. Odunlade  had shared his vision with audiences at  the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, the  Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Jordan museum of Art and many more.

His work  resonates.

It draws attention by its range of techniques, its beauty and its embedded narratives. For a few hours, I was driven into a world of absolute synergy between artist and his art.

Beyond aesthetics, Odunlade wants you affected. This is not art for the fun of it. This is art that speaks to you about your intentions, motivations  and your everyday interactions with the world in which you live.

I am glad Tunde Odunlade invited me to his home and allowed me to travel with him into his visionary world.

 

 

I couldnt take my eyes off the horizon.
Blue and magnificent, the Atlantic stretched leisurely in the distance. Fishing boats rested, quiet and aloof under the coconut trees.

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Blue skies. Jet skies. Coconuts and fishermen floating down the Volta. Barbecues. Boat rides and buffets. A day of perfect memories at  the Aqua Safari Resort , Ada.
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Gbemisola street in Ikeja is  very much like any residential street in Lagos. Left and right, houses stand loosely together, interrupted here and there by wooden shops selling a multitude of wares. Then you arrive.
Kalakuta Museum.

Home to the legendary Fela Anikulapo for 31 years,  now a museum, kalakuta shares with the public carefully curated snippets of Fela’s personal life, music and politics.

Today, I am a guest in Fela’s home.I  was excited.  I didn’t know quite what to expect.

Like many of my generation, Fela’s voice, lyrics and roguishness was the draw.

I followed his antics, feverishly read the sensational stories in the newspapers; arrests and re-arrests, rebellion and political activism.

I wandered inside. Cool open spaces. Shadowy walls lit beautifully, covered with pictures of a life lived with such exuberance and much intensity.

Fela’s stairs, bedroom, flamboyant shirts, glamorous shoes, outlandish fur coat,  life on stage and the beautiful people who made his life complete.

The sunlight poured down the high ceiling. I was transfixed. Family portraits carefully lined the walls. I followed the narratives up the elegant spiral stairs.

Like many of my university friends in the 80s, I gyrated to Fela’s pulsing music and shouted out his provocative lyrics. I was fascinated by his lifestyle and intrigued by his outlandish exterior.


Pelumi who showed me around was far too young to even visualise my memories but we both agreed on one thing:
” Fela get message pass today’s musicians”

Importantly, these messages continue to thump off these walls on Wednesdays when Seun Kuti rehearses with his band in Kalakuta.
That almost brought tears welling up. The spirit of Kalakuta is alive and well.

Perhaps it was the light flooding down from the ceiling.

Perhaps it was the life beaming back from the walls, kalakuta didn’t feel dead and dusty.

For a few hours, I was transported completely. Each piece, each picture, each newsprint felt lovingly curated, placed exactly in its place so I could find it today.

In many ways, wether you knew Fela or not, this house must be on your bucket list of places to visit in Lagos.

It tells a story of not just one man and his life but a story of life and living it.

Under the hexagon headstone rests the remains of the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A poignant resting place underneath the balcony where he would have looked outside onto Gbemisola street everyday.

I am always impressed with New York City.

In Manhatten, everything seems larger than life. The buildings loom gigantic in the sky, the billboards create a fairytale sidewalk and the shops spill open with the most wondrous wares. Read the rest of this entry »

 

It`s 7.am.
The strains of music are close enough for me to make out the shrill voice of the soprano and the strident choir cutting through the greyness of dawn. Its Sunday morning . Read the rest of this entry »

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