Archives for posts with tag: osupa creatives


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 »

 

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.

 

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 »

Traditional architecture is an integral part of how people construct a sense of interrelatedness with their physical environment.  These buildings tell of the history,  culture, customs and religious beliefs which are intrinsic to a community`s sense of identity. Read the rest of this entry »

 

 Today`s scenario was an exciting one.  A road trip from Lagos  to Accra.

With an early start, a distance of 600km by road in a comfortable bus should take 9 hours I thought

However, as I set up to depart for the bus park, my friend reminded me of the folly of my plan. Who  travels by road on a most uncertain route  when you can  fly to Accra from Lagos and be there in an hour ? But my reasoning  was far from crazy.

As the largest and second-largest economies in West Africa respectively,  Nigeria and Ghana have strong economic ties with bustling ports which see imports from all over the world. Thousands of Nigerians and Ghanaians travel to and from Seme border into Benin Republic and onward to Togo and Ghana every day along this route. I was determined to see all this action myself.

Sitting in the lounge of the Cross Country  bus park in Yaba, I had to admit  it was all going well. Apart from the early shuffle out of bed,  so far it had  been a pleasant experience. My senses  were fully awake as I took in my surroundings.

The waiting area was  clean and ventilated. A small cafeteria  served a range of travel food while a television  beamed soundlessly in the background. It was a busy morning.  As travellers lugged their bulging bags into the waiting area, many seemed relieved to have made it this far. They arranged themselves in most of the chairs dotted around the room.

All in all, everything seemed perfectly normal except for one tiny detail.  I did not know when we would depart. Like everybody else around me, we all  just waited for the  bus to “be ready”.

Finally, just before 10.am, we were off. The bus lurched forward ponderously out of the car park.  Voices were  raised in prayers all around me and I joined a chorus of many “amens” several times in unison.

A smallish man in a shiny brown conductor suit, seemed to be in charge. He prayed  vigorously and  rendered passages from the bible  with such ease that he gave off a air of deep seriousness.  I wondered if  he was  a  passenger who decided to lead a bus full of strangers  in prayer.  Or  a paid  staff of  Cross Country performing a service for their customers?  Whichever way, we were all in it together and he certainly captured the imagination of  this congregation.

As if  to answer my questions, more gospel songs filled the air.  Men, women and children sang joyously in their loudest voices.

Then the epiphany. I understood completely.

We were Nigerians. It didn’t matter that we started this day as complete strangers. It didn’t matter that no one could predict for certain when we  were going to arrive in Accra or how long we would wait at the various border checkpoints along the way. Ambiance was everything- eagerly expected, passionately sustained and completely welcomed by all.  This faith, this philosophy, this attitude was what  we  needed to get through the next 24 hours. And it all began with the prayers.

What mattered most on that bus, on that  journey, was establishing and preserving a rapport of expectancy, of  blind optimism and faith that all would indeed be well. The pastor, the singing, the banter, the prayers, the  comedy skits, were  essential ingredients to ensure that  our sanity was preserved and our faith restored.

That God is present everywhere and that all prayer, all heartfelt songs of gratitude and thanksgiving wherever shared, must be shared by all, is a faith lived by many Nigerians. And this faith was needed now more than ever.

There was enough drama going on that bus that nobody would have too much time left to wonder about their personal concerns: what to do if you desperately needed the toilet or why the roads  intermittently disappeared into the bushes and came out on the other side of somewhere…

Even though we all  shared these anxieties, we  responded resolutely with a brave face full of  laughter, loud noise and new found camaraderie.

Across 4 countries with some terrain best described as as unnavigable, we eventualy pulled into accra just past midnight.  It had been a fantastic journey. I had learnt a lot. I made some new friends who I would probably never see again  But that didn’t matter. Together we had made this trip. That memory  I will keep forever.

Despite all the delays, the apprehension, the doubts which crept up intermittently, we made it.  We all shared a deep thankfulness  for this fact.

OSUPA – lightness & brightness

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