Sunday, 1 December 2019

What You Probably Don't Know About Benin Republic

By Ganiyu Ayanniyi M.

The republic of Benin is a francophone country that borders Nigeria at the southwestern part of the Nigerian territory. It was formerly known as "Dan-ho-mé" which means "built on the snake's (Dan) belly" in Fon, a local Beninese language. The French colonialists had difficulties in the pronunciation of ''Dan-ho-mé", so they called it "Dahomey". In 1975, President Mathieu Kerekou influenced the change of the country's name from Dahomey to Benin (La République du Bénin) because the former name was regional in which many citizens didn't show signs of belonging since the name was in Fon language. She gained her independence on the 1st of August 1960, before Nigeria got hers.

The country is the first and only nation where three presidents ruled in the same tenure at a time. The names of those presidents are: Sourou Migan Apithy, Justin Ahomadégbé Tomêtin and Tahirou Congacou. They were from different tribes (Yoruba/Nango, Fon...) and different zones (North, central and South parts of Benin). The trio left office in 1965. The country later had other trio presidents after the first set. Now, the country's presidential mandate is quinquennial which is renewable once.

The name of the current president is Patrice Talon. He assumed office in 2016. He resides  at the presidential palace located in Porto-Novo, the political capital. The name "Porto-Novo" which means "New port", has its influence from the Portuguese explorers who came through the coasts of the Beninese capital. Cotonou is the economic capital of the nation.

Some artifacts from the Ethnographic Museum Alexandre Senou Adande

Personal Travelogue to Benin Republic
At Porto-novo, I visited a Museum named "Ethnographic Museum Alexandre Senou Adande" which is controlled by the Beninese ministry of Culture.

In the Museum, different ancestral masquerades were seen of which some are pertinent to the Yoruba culture and tradition as well as to the Egun. More so, different calabashes were sighted with some African drums, clothes, cowries, etc.

The ethnographic map which shows all tribes in Benin republic were seen too; The Yoruba and Egun are dominant in Southern part of Benin, the Fon at North/central...

From Porto-Novo, the bus took its way for Cotonou. Cotonou, the economic city which is more developed than Porto-Novo in terms of business, good roads, infrastructures, basic social amenities etc. I got to a popular bookshop in Cotonou named "Sté Le Bon Berger Sarl Librairie",  where many people bought French books.

My next destination was the Cotonou central market.

Observations from the Trip
1. I observed that the two Beninese dominant cities, Porto-Novo and Cotonou, have good roads though the latter has better roads.

2. I noticed that most administrative buildings found in Porto-Novo, the capital city, were built by the colonial masters though they under maintenance.

3. I observed that Benin republic has constant electricity for 24 hrs/7.

4. I saw that the use of motorbikes is the Beninese major means of transportation.

5. I noticed that in Porto-Novo, one could hardly see a filling station. And that, in Benin republic, Roadside sale of petroleum is common.

6. I was informed that the main operating banks in Porto-Novo are: Bank of Africa & Banque internationale du Bénin.

7. I observed that the new Beninese senate building which has been under construction since more than 8 years is still under construction.

8. At the Cotonou central market, we discovered that Yoruba or Nango (Yoruba from Benin) and Igbos are the ones dominating the commercial arena. The Yorubas or Nangos sell food stuffs there while the Ibos sell deported clothing materials, shoes, bags, belts etc. The Hausas there are very few and some of them engage in wheelbarrowing goods of customers.

9. I noted that Beninese actually love Nigerians, especially Yoruba people.

10. Benin republic is very peaceful country though she is the mother of 'voodoo', witchcrafts or traditional religious.

11. At Cotonou, we discovered some toilets were channeled with funnels where men could pee.

12. I discovered that Benin republic is a very small country and that its resources are not be comparable to that of Nigeria. But, what surprises us is the constant electricity she has. Most francophone countries in West Africa enjoy constant power supply 24 hrs/7.

13. I discovered that imported food and other things as car, cloth, etc. were cheaper to those ones in Nigeria.

14. The most popular primary and secondary school dressing in Benin republic is identifiable by  khaki clothes. Male primary school pupils wear shirts with shorts while female pupils wear garment or robe, all in khaki. Male secondary school students wear shirts with trousers while the female ones wear shirt with skirt. Almost all the students wear khaki except few whose parents couldn't afford to buy school uniform (khaki).

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The Dilemma of Moral Instructions: Exploring the Fela Falana Construct

Thoughts on Falz's Moral Instruction Album by 'Joba Ojelabi

If a need to rank art forms ever arose, it might not be entirely foolish to bet that music would clinch the top ranks. With the diverse genres and musical subclassifications that exist, it remains perhaps the most relatable form of art. While a person might find it difficult to see the beauty of a painting, or appreciate the imperfections of a sculpture, it’s safer to assume that there’s a song for every man or at least every mood. Whether it’s the solemn sound of Yaani or the aggressive vibrations that characterizes the metallic genre of music, there’s someone that vibrates on the same frequency. This is why music, as a form of art, has over time been used when there’s a need to communicate with the public.

By hiding their message in the lyrics of a song, brands have been able to sell their products, politicians have able to get their names on the lips of the masses, and activists have been able to spread their ideals; hence the essence of protestant music. And of course, if protest and music occur in the same sentence, you can be sure there’s a “Fela” hanging somewhere, so much that even dear Uncle Folarin couldn’t pull one off without inviting Anikulapo from the grave.

For some of us 90s kids, “Moral Instruction” might not sound so strange. It was a compulsory subject in the Primary school curriculum at the time. I remember that I had the same notebook for Current Affairs and Moral Instruction and once in Moral instruction class, the teacher asked me to pronounce “Conscience” and I did, as “Con” and “Science” and was the joke of the class for a while. Moral Instruction class was the one class that sought to teach moral virtues, to show us, even as little boys, the concept of right and wrong and push us in the “right” direction. Looking back now, I cannot say the Moral instruction classes did not have any effects. I am unsure if the motivation for Falz’s latest album was from one of those classes but there’s no disagreeing with the fact that only a few names would have more aptly described his latest album like “Moral Instruction”.

The album which is only nine track long features several other artistes both living and dead as Falz does a lot of sampling of vocals and beats from the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti. So much that you could refer to the work as a Falz-Fela Mixtape. However, apart from beats and vocals, another thing that links to Fela is its Social consciousness. Over the nine tracks, Falz manages to explore a number of trending societal issues. This of course is the highlight of the album as, as expected, it goes on to spike varying reactions, some of which places Falz and his seemingly controversial album in the social media spotlight for a while. However, with a father like Femi Falana, it might not be too surprising that dear uncle Folarin treads the path of conscious music.

The album opens with “Johnny” which is a play on the popular Nigerian clause “Johnny just come” which is more commonly used to describe newbies in street slangs. Falz however adds a twist to the clause, using “Johnny just drop” and using the track to highlight the several avoidable killings around the country. “Follow Follow” comes on with blaring trumpets and the unmissable voice of Fela himself. A voice we would still come to hear later on in the album. However, in delivering a number of tracks, Falz gets help from some names we’ve heard before. The sonorous voice of Demmie Vee in “Hypocrite”, Sess, the alleged problem kid, in “Brother’s Keeper” and Chillz in “Paper”.

Interestingly, somehow the dead Fela still manages to outdo the living in Moral Instruction.
Something that makes the album quite beautiful, if that is the word to use, is the completeness of its content. Such that from even within the songs, Falz tries to predict the reaction of listeners to the content of his lyrics and addresses them. This he does successfully in “Amen” which address religious bigotry and fraudulence and is more deeply entrenched in the last track on the album which is nothing but a vocal acceptance of the fallibility of the thoughts expressed in the album.

For the reality of morality is no one can be absolute about right and wrong. And whether it’s a Primary school teacher trying to make ends meet, a rebel trying to sing his country into the light or the son of an activist igniting the first fires of his activism, no one really is perfect when it comes to moral instructions. In the words of Falz, “After all said and done, I do not have the right to direct the finger of guilt or look of contempt at my guy, for even I can barely see through the speck in my eye…”. But then again, perhaps it is this imperfection, or rather the acceptance of it, that makes “Moral Instruction” a beautiful piece of art. And of course, its social consciousness makes it timeless, such that when posterity look back at political landmarks of 2019, they’d remember that Nigeria had elections and just maybe that Falz dropped an album.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Surrounded By Wizards, What Does One Become?

Surrounded By Wizards, What Does One Become?

 By 'Joba Ojelabi 
 Related image
A review of Olawale “Brymo” Asimi’s Oso Album

“Depth is a function of a listener’s individual interpretation” The half true words of the one of the many friends with whom I have had a conversation over the depth of Brymo’s latest piece of art. Interestingly, my friend belongs to the school of thought that believes that Brymo is not as deep as he sounds. Trying to quote him, “Brymo only takes advantage of the slow typical rhythm that by default gives any listener the first impression that embedded within such rhythm is quality”.

Certainly my friend is not the only peddler of this perspective to Brymo’s art and interestingly, Oso is an album that tempts any true fan of the Carpenter’s son to explore this opinion. The album which is about 38 minutes long like others before it contains 11 tracks and although the similarity in tempo and rhythm make it all seem like one very long song, the dissimilarities in themes allows a listener a means to distinguish each track from others and even some previous of his previous work. The album explores a number of themes; from the basic characteristics of the human nature to the usual Brymo’s style of preaching virtues and sending messages to past, present and posterity.

Oso is the Yoruba word for “Wizard” and while the controversy continues to exist on the depth of Brymo’s lyrics, Oso might just have certified the Band; The Lagos Touts, as wizards of their craft. Good enough lyrics or not, the acclaimed touts manage to give every track a vehicle that by itself gives the average listener goosebumps, gaining enough attention to allow Brymo wow (or not) such listener. Of course, Brymo also gracefully takes full advantage his natural Baritone to even further hold that attention, and indeed, while this might be good enough for some, especially first timers, for fans who have followed the albums of Brymo, appreciating the improving depth of the artist and his art over the years, there is that tendency to expect more from Oso.

Another interesting thing about Oso is its nomenclature. At the mention of a “Wizard”, magic is expected and while this nomenclature might be Brymo’s way of declaring his latest work as magic, the only seeming relationship between the name of the album and its content comes in “Olumo”, the tenth track of the album. In Olumo, Brymo sings fondly of the literary icon Wole Soyinka, whose surname translates to “Surrounded By Wizards” and just might be the source of the name of the album. Even though Brymo goes on in the song to pay homage to former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo; the acclaimed gnome of Owu and in the final moments of the song; the Royal father of the home of the famous Olumo rock. In anyway, the mystery of the name “Oso” is certainly one of the selling points of the album.

The album opens with “No Be Me”, a song that reminds us of the limitations of man in the control of his circumstances and perhaps the frustration that might accompany these limitations. The beauty of “No Be Me” lies in the way Brymo is able to relate sub-themes like love and corruption amongst others to sell the larger theme of the song. “Mama” comes immediately after and lasts for about 1 minute within which Brymo quickly sneaks a message to his mother on how things have really not changed since his birth. “Heya”, which as at the time of this review is the only song with a video comes in third on the album and as much as the video of the song did cause controversy, the song is a testament to the above average songwriting abilities of Brymo. The words embedded in Heya, like its video send a message that requires some mental effort from an interested listener to discern. And it only gets better in “Patience and Goodluck” as the artist plays with the names of the former first couple of the country but yet manages to make serious music from his pun.  

“God Is In Your Mind” takes the listener on a journey that is certainly deeper than the superficial. Somehow, the track puts the magic in your mind and allows you to find it. “Time is so kind” and “Entropy” then give way to “Money Launderers and Heart Breakers” which does its best to remind us of our immediate society and our roles in bringing it to its current state. The last three tracks of the album; “Olanrewaju”, “Olumo” and “Ba’nuso”, which unsurprisingly seem to rank as most listeners favorite come in Yoruba language with “Olanrewaju” seemingly preaching virtues to posterity, “Olumo” praising the past (the ones closest to the past) and Ba’nuso advising the present.

Oso, due to its unique brevity, is the kind of album that is conveniently put on repeat. Although some of the songs on the album share similar themes and delivery methods that came on the Klitoris album, the less content of the Oso album which is becoming a trademark of Brymo prevents the overload that often gives a listener an excuse to not fully absorb one song before moving onto another. And as much the argument of depth exists, I believe that the major basis of comparing the depth of Brymo’s art is Brymo’s art. To say Oso is not deep is to say Merchants, Dealers and Slaves or Klitoris or Tabula Rasa is deeper. For indeed, only a few other Nigerian musicians peddle art at that depth!

Exploring the alternative postulation of the nomenclature of the album, perhaps the album did get its name from the sage: “Oso yinka”. Or in another adventurous attempt at seeing where the name comes from, perhaps it’s a testimony of the wizardry of the Lagos touts: Brymo’s acknowledgement of the wizardry that surrounds him and its effects on him because really, when surrounded by wizards, what else can one become?

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Fashion For The Season

Fashion For The Season

By Hassan Pelumi

Good day everyone!
It is no news that the Sun has decided to be harsh ouch, ouch... it's so scorching you feel! So,  considering that heat plus examination is a very bad combination - surviving in this weather would be hard unless you wear the appropriate outfit. So, by popular demand and the fierce unmercifully pinching sun, this is the ways I have posited to dress in this weather.

  Please, for the love of comfort, stick to light colours. You should keep your black clothes far away from you this weather. Black clothes absorb heat, it would cause the weather to be more unbearable than it already used to do. Remember my job is to make you survive in this weather, as your school mama alright?

  These materials are very breathable, that even in hot weather, one doesn't sweat in them. So... in this weather, clothes made from cotton should be in your wardrobe.

  Unlike the first set of fabrics, These ones are not breathable and cause one to sweat. Wearing outfits made from these fabrics in this weather would cause make you uncomfortable and smelly because they retain sweat. These fabrics may look nice, but they are not for this weather.

     As much as you always want to hot in skin tight outfits, in this weather, your result would be to look sweaty and very uncomfortable. I would advise you wear loose dresses to breathe well and let air flow well.

    Ladies, this weather is perfect for you to rock that cropped top, they don't hug your torso so air would happily wrap around you. Plus they are very fashionable.
   For the love of comfort, wear skirts over trousers in this weather. They do not cover the legs so it reduces the generation of heat. But if you must wear trousers, wear those made out of linen and cotton.

    Nope, I didn't forget the guys. Guys should opt for jerseys over shirt and shorts over trousers. After all comfort is survival. Guys, I am your momma too, you good?

    Clothes that allow breathing is the best for this weather and short sleeves or sleeveless are very breathable.

  Jackets?!!! In this weather?! Uh?! Ah! Please, avoid these to live longer.

  These are the best accessories for hot weather. They protect the face from the rays of sun.

   Avoid rubber or leather shoes these weather. Opt for scandals or palm slippers. Luckily, they are fashionable too.

   Very important for this weather. It protects the skin against UV rays, also against the risk of skin cancer.

  If you follow these, this weather may not be much of a problem. Fashion is survival, survival can be fashioned and my job is to make sure you survive this weather and still slay!  Stay safe and good luck with the exams.

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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Why You Should Opt For Carpooling

By Osinjowo Tomisin

The current petrol scarcity in many parts of the country has plunged many people into confusion. This situation is further worsened by the announced temporary halt in train operations which has been a strong consolation for people who frequently travel long distances even in this time. Many are seeking ways to cushion the effect of these on their finances, health and work performances. Carpooling is an effective measure.

Carpooling is an arrangement whereby several people travel together in the same car in order to save costs, reduce polluton etc. This can be of much help to especially workers who travel long distances daily. Carpooling is well practiced in many foreign countries.

The advantages of carpooling are numerous ranging from economic to health, environmental advantages.

Carpooling can help to save transportation costs of the participants as all it takes is a participant's car and cost of fuel( which will be contributed by the participants). This, on the large scale reduces demand for fuel. It can also do a lot in reducing congestion on roads and in vehicles used for public transport which will in turn reduce air pollution by the exhaust fumes of motor vehicles.

Besides so many financial advantages, carpooling has also health benefits as it reduces for participants the stress of struggling for a seat in public vehicles. This can reduce the risk of many diseases such as hypertension.

Try carpooling today!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Because There Is No Attendance In Heaven

By ‘Joba Ojelabi

It is no longer news that the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities embarked on what was supposed to be a nationwide strike. Unsurprisingly, the protest and strike action has been most intense at the University of Ibadan and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife. The reason for the action was said to be the sharing formula of the Earned allowances areas as stipulated by the Federal Government. From sources online, the formula seemed grossly unfair to the union as about 89% was said to be for the Academic Staff whilst the remaining 11% was for the other three unions; NAAT, NASU and SSANU. As unfair as the sharing formula might sound, I doubt that I am in any position to comment on the correctness of the formula as I do not have all the details surrounding the sharing. However, one thing that concerns me is how the actions and the seeming brawl between the academic and non-academic staff of the Obafemi Awolowo University affect me, for obvious reasons of course.

The past few working days have been hectic for most students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, as although it is quite apparent that the Non-academic are taking their threats seriously, at least to some reasonable extent, the academic staff might not really be taking them too seriously as classes, tests and other activities still seem to be going on even when it is very uncomfortable for students. For the most of last week, students who reside off campus who regularly pay around ₦60 to transport themselves to campus started to pay as high as ₦200, coupled with the inconvenience of walking all the way from the banking area to wherever their destination was on campus. Certainly, the transport workers too must certainly bear some chastisement as they only saw the circumstance as a means to make money and nothing more. After all, when elephants fight, the grass suffers and the wise gardener makes more money.
Of course, any reasonable advocacy might have come easier when we had a Student’s Union, hopefully events like this are enough to remind the passionate dreamers who go around with all that “you are the union” mumbo jumbo of the harsh reality of not having a Union, or perhaps they keep pretending.

I had planned to start this article with a narrative of my experience from last week’s events and already this is no longer achievable but it just might be a good closer as well:
“So sometime last week, I’m on my way to class amidst the NASU brouhaha, I get to the campus gate only to meet it barricaded- most probably with both physical and spiritual fortifications. But as often is, I assume that the barricade is for automated vehicles so I make an effort to jump over the simple wooden hindrance, only for me to hear a voice yelling from a distance that I should only jump over the barricade if I was ready to die. Well I wasn’t. As a matter of fact, at the time only one thought flashed through my mind; “What did we bring to this world gan gan?”__ So like my father’s son, I dusted my shoes and walked in the opposite direction, keeping in mind that a seeming similar scene had occurred at the Faculty of Pharmacy about a day prior. Now every time my class representative comes on the class Whatsapp page to remind us of how the last lecturer gave an impromptu test or the next lecturer might take attendance in class, I just ask myself in the corner of my mind, that place where one is truly alone with himself; Life or Degree?