IN spite of the obvious challenges facing Nigeria’s cultural space, particularly a lack of government’s assistance in setting up the right structures and a shrinking economy that has challenged corporate sponsorship of the arts, the sector has been the most resilient with practitioners doing the impossible to produce results that reverberate globally. As always in its usual way of celebrating the sheer creative ingenuity of the men and women conjuring magic to keep Nigeria’s culture flag aloft, organisers of the 24th Lagos Art and Book Festival (LABAF 2022) have lined up an impressive array of culture icons in the stage and screen sub-sectors who have attained milestones in their birth calendars.
This new club of ‘Elders’ will be celebrated in the week-long festival of ideas, literacy and cultural entertainment, as a reminder of what they mean for the culture sector, the lessons that can be gleaned from their artistry and the mentoring that their life and art continuing to foster for the young ones coming behind them.
OLUDOTUN Baiyewu Jacobs (born 11 July 1942), known professionally as Olu Jacobs, is a Nigerian actor and film executive. He has starred in several British television series and international films. Olu Jacobs has been hailed by many as one of the greatest and most widely respected African actors of his generation
An icon born to Egba, Abeokuta parents, Jacobs spent his early childhood in Kano and attended Holy Trinity School where he was a member of the debating and dramatic societies. He was inspired to take a chance in acting when he attended one of Chief Hubert Ogunde’s annual concert party at Colonial Hotel in Kano. Afterwards, he secured a visa and travelled to England to study acting.
Jacobs has made his mark in Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood. With more than 40 years of acting experience, he is seen as a bridge between the old and the new breed of actors. Trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, England, he worked with various repertoire theatres in Britain and starred in some international movies.
In 2007, he won the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Jacobs has distinguished himself as a godfather in Nollywood, paving a path for many emerging actors and actresses in the industry. He has been described as “one of Nollywood‘s finest actors, best role interpreters and manipulators of words.” For his dedication to his acting career spanning over five decades, he was honoured with the Industry Merit Award for Outstanding Achievements in Acting at the 2013 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA). AMAA also conferred its Lifetime Achievement Award on him in 2016.
Some of the films has acted in include 1979 – Ashanti, 1980 – The Dogs of War, 1985 – Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, 1986 – Pirates, 2012 – Adesuwa, 2013 – Potomanto, 2014 – Dry, 2015 – Oloibiri, and 2017 – The Royal Hibiscus Hotel. His television series credits include 1971 – The Goodies, 1974 – Till Death Us Do Part, 1975 – The Venturers, 1975 – The Tomorrow People, 1976 – Angels, 1978 – 1990, 1979 – The Proffesionals, 1982 – Squadron, 1983 – The Witches and the Grinnygog, 1983 – Rumpole of the Bailey, 1984 – Play for Today, 1990 – The Third Eye.
Tam Fiofori @80
TAM Fiofori (born 1942), also known as “Uncle Tam”, is a Nigerian documentary photographer. Notable for his albums’ chronicling of Nigeria’s history, Fiofori is also a filmmaker, writer, critic and media consultant. The subjects of his films include the Nigerian artists Biodun Olaku, J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere and Olu Amoda. Much travelled, Fiofori lived in Harlem, New York, in the 1960s, becoming Sun Ra’s manager, and producing writing that is considered “a founding connection between Ra and the movement that would be known as Afrofuturism.
Travelling extensively since the 1960s, Fiofori became an associate in America of Sun Ra. According to the Pan African Space Station, “Uncle Tam later invited Sun Ra to Lagos for FESTAC ‘77, took him to the Kalakuta Republic . . . and wrote about it all in the pioneering Nigerian journal. Among honours Fiofori has received are awards from the Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA), iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival and Music in Africa.
Fiofori has been described as “one of the pioneers of the lens profession, a fascinating sort of artist/journalist and a veteran, who has written about art, music and culture with utmost attention and passion.
Jimi Solanke @80
A folk singer, film actor, poet and playwright, Jimi Solanke was born in July 1942 and easily regarded as a father, icon and legend of performance art. Solanke obtained a diploma certificate in drama upon graduating from the prestigious University of Ibadan. He took his passion far across the African shores to the United States, where he established a drama group called The African Review with a focus on African Culture, and performed in black African schools decked in African, but specifically Yoruba costumes.
Solanke established himself in Los Angeles, California, where he kicked started his storytelling career and was described as a “Master Story Teller” by CNN. His works and reputation earned him the lead role in most of Ola Balogun’s films after he returned to Nigeria with three members of the African Review Group to work with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in 1986. He was also part of the team that made the film Kongi’s Harvest (1975) by Wole Soyinka. Solanke had appeared in films like Kongi’s Harvest, Sango – 1997, Shadow Parties – 2020.
Esther Idowu Phillips@80
IDOWU Philips (born 16 October 1942), popularly known as Iya Rainbow, is a Nigerian veteran actress. Philips was born on 16 October 1942 at Ijebu Ode, a city in Ogun State, Southwestern Nigeria. She attended African Methodist School and Anglican Modern School for her primary and secondary education. Her stage name “Iya Rainbow” stems from “Osumare” (meaning “rainbow” in British English), the name of the theatre group of Sir Hubert Ogunde, who died in 1990. Philips worked as a healthcare assistant in general hospitals in Nigeria for several years and occasionally acted in theatre. Idowu ventured into full-time acting after the death of her husband – Augustine Ayanfemi Phillips (who worked closely with the late patriarch of Nigerian film industry, Ogunde. She has featured in several Nigerian films, including Apaadi, Eru, and Aje ni iya mi, among others. Phillips has five children.
Phillips has been a recipient of the City People Life Time Achievement Award.
Some of her film credits include 1990 – Yemi my Love, 1997 – Back to Africa, 2000 – Lagidigba, 2002 – Jesu Mushin, 2002 – Irepodun, 2002 – Eyin Ogongo, 2003 – N150 Million, 2003 – Ìfé Otító, 2003 – Fila Daddy, 2003 – Arewa Okunrin, 2003 – Omo Oku Orun, 2003 – Okun Ife, 2004 – Okun Ife 2, 2004 – Okan Soso, 2004 – Okan Soso 2, 2004 – Ògìdán, 2004 – Ògìdán 2, 2006 – Abeni, 2006 – Odun Baku, 2006 – Mewa n Sele, 2006 – Èebúdolá Tèmi, 2006 – Agbefo, 2006 – Agbefo 2, 2007 – Orita Ipinya, 2007 – Olugbare, 2007 – Olóri, 2007 – Maku, 2007 – Kootu Olohun, 2007 – Kilebi Olorun, 2008 – Taiwo Taiwo, 2008 – Taiwo Taiwo 2, 2008 – Itakun Ola, 2008 – Ìkúnlè Kèsán, 2008 – Ikilo Agba, 2008 – Igba Ewa, 2008 – Aje Metta, 2008 – Aje Metta 2, 2009 – Ìpèsè, 2009 – Ìdàmu Eléwòn, 2009 – Elewon, 2009 – Akoto Olokada, 2009 – Akoto Olokada, 2018 – Oga Bolaji, 2019 – Sugar Rush, and 2021 – Becoming Abi.
Bongos Ikwe @80
BONGOS Ikwe, a music legend, born in Otukpo, Benue State, Nigeria on 16 June 1942, made waves in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Ikwue attended St. Paus Secondary School, Zaria and Okene Comprehensive Secondary School where he formed his first band called (The Cubana Boys). He also attended Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna, where he studied Business Administration.
While in Zaria, he created his own Band called Unibello Brothers. In the midst of composing great songs, he founded and headed the Groovies Band in 1967. One Mr. Ikwue’s song ‘Cocks Crow at Dawn,’ which was used as soundtrack for Inale, a 2010 Nigerian musical drama film, was produced by Keke Bongos and directed by Jeta Amata. His finely horned voice promoted Africa and African values by his continuous use of his native language (Idoma) in his songs.
The amount of discipline in his music shows each time he performs live, with the energy being heard in every note. Cockcrow at Dawn, Still Searching, Amen, Ota Ckpokpo are some of his most popular music filled with soul and folksy songs. He has some quality albums to his name and he has a fan base both at home and abroad. Ikwe’s music genre is unique and has its own aura which made him break barriers across tribes despite his use of language. His originality, especially on stage distinguishes him from other artists. He’s mostly decked on stage in jeans, a shirt and a cool trainers to match to keep his audience engaged and paint unforgettable memories of his sterling performances.
Bukar Usman @80
BUKAR Usman was born in Biu, Borno State on 10 December, 1942. A self-effacing man, not many Nigerians have a richer resume than the retired Biu-born bureaucrat and current President of Nigerian Folklore Society (NFS), who rose from a modest beginning as a clerical officer in the Federal Civil Service after his university education in 1969 to retire as a Permanent Secretary in the Presidency in 1999. But rather than luxuriate in his retirement, he has turned his retirement into a creative adventure, producing dozens of literature and sponsoring research in folklore, as well as adorning the toga of a public intellectual with perfect aplomb.
He is an administrative historian, an expert on Nigerian folktales and an author of over 30 books. In 2013, he received a Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN) award for his services to Hausa language and literature. In 2014, he received an international award by the Nigerian Indigenous Language Writers Association (NILWA) and its counterpart in Niger Republic, Association des Auteurs Nigeriens en Langues Nationales (ASAUNIL) for his contribution to the revival of Hausa literature
“Well, nothing really other than the thought I have been having that men like him, who have touched lives and have built incredible legacies, without pomp and spectacular hullaballoo, but a silent dedication to the task ahead, need to know what some people think of them while they are alive and well to hear it,” words from a journalist and author, Abubakar Adams Ibrahim.
In 1999 when he retired from the civil service, Usman was in his mid 50s. By that time, he wasn’t known in the literary world. Two decades later, he has become one of Nigeria’s most prolific writers. Recalling how it all started in his memoir, My Literary Journey, Usman admits that he wasn’t among those anointed to be a writer from birth, for he was a late bloomer who discovered writing fortuitously.
According to him, “A language which is not spoken, written and studied will surely die. It is a matter of time. Nigeria boasts of about 250 ethnic groups or languages. However, officially, primacy is given to the study of only the three main languages: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Our census policy does not allow enumeration on basis of ethnicity and language. As such, with time, some languages may gradually go into extinction without the language speakers knowing. It is up to the language speakers to jealously guard their language through transmission from generation to generation. It is therefore necessary to encourage the young ones to speak their mother tongue. Speaking a language is what primarily keeps it alive. Literary works play supportive role; after all, it is those who speak an indigenous language who can read works written in that indigenous language.”
Usman believes art should be at the service of society. Perhaps his background as a public servant and one who supervised the conduct of other civil servants had helped in nurturing this point of view. Usman is good at sourcing stories from oral tradition and retelling them for today’s audience. In his books, The Bride without Scars and other Stories, The Stick of Fortune, and Girls in Search of Husbands (26 stories in all), he ensures the stories are detailed than the original versions in terms of plot, characterisation and dialogue, though he doesn’t change the traditional qualities or tendencies of any of the characters, as well as the setting.
“As someone who has come to this world and has played his own part; they said the world is a stage, like Shakespeare said, you go and you perform your role and leave the stage. After 70, I thank God for keeping me in good health, and as people would say, ones prayer is to have a balance sheet where the good outweighs the bad, but we have to wait until we get to the next world for the great judgment where they say your good in this world will be put against the bad,” he admits.
Bayo Awala @80
VETERAN filmmaker, Bayo Awala, one of Nigeria’s most fulfilled thespians that has ever lived both home and abroad, always tasks Nigerian dramatists to produce advocacy works as a way of ensuring the growth of the nation. He is the producer of ‘Shijuwomi’, a post-colonial cinematic adaptation of the late Rasheed Gbadamosi’s book.
Recalling his beginning, Awala said, “After my secondary school education, I came to Lagos in 1962 and I immediately joined the boys that were romping round the town. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that I was not a Lagosian and I needed to be serious with my life. So, I changed course. I then enrolled in Rapid Results College, which was a foreign body that prepared students for GCE/A Levels. I took the examination in October 1964 and the result was released in January 1965. I didn’t do too badly. I had two papers, and I was determined to make my three papers in the following year. I bought books and cut out all distractions, so I was fully focused on passing the exam. However, shortly before the exam in October 1965, I took ill and I couldn’t sit for the exam. The sickness, rheumatoid arthritis, actually lingered for over six months and I even had to walk with crutches for some time after I was discharged from the hospital.
“In March 1966, a friend came to visit me in my house at Bamgbose Street in Lagos, and suggested that we should go and see one of our friends who had become a stage actor. Apparently, the Federal Ministry of Education was organising a drama course for Lagos teachers at the time and that our friend had enrolled. When we got there, they were on break and the principal, Chief Olude, was coming out of the class at the time and he saw me walking with crutches. He immediately turned to me and said, ‘You should be in this school; you should be a dramatist.’ For the life of me, I didn’t know what he saw because I had never participated in things like that beyond school debates. I had no idea of what I was expected to do. My friend, who was attending the school then, came to me and said I should abide by what the principal said by joining the school. Though I was working then at the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), I decided to enroll at the school and that was how I picked up interest in drama.” This was he said in an interview with Punch newspaper
“If you look at The Village Headmaster, you have to ask yourself what is it that was important about it, because we had many other programmes as well. You must understand that at that time, there was a tradition in NTA of a certain model for storytelling. There was a foundational philosophical understanding that storytelling is medicine. It can be poison, or it can heal. The difference between what we are doing today, and what we were doing then is ignorance. The truth of the matter is that everybody that worked at NTA back then had the benefit of training. They were not only trained as actors, but they were also trained to understand storytelling.”
Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon@70
YEMISI Adedoyin Shyllon is a prince of Ake in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. He hails from the Sogbulu and Ogunfayo lineage of the Laarun ruling house of Ake in Egbaland. He studied Engineering at the University of Ibadan, Law at the University of Lagos, the Nigeria Law School and earned his MBA from University of Ife. He also holds an honorary Doctor of Letters degree (DliH), of the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
He was appointed into the board of Nigerite Limited as the marketing director but started as sales engineer after graduating from the University, and became the marketing manager with Tractor and Equipment (9 division of UACN). He also served as legal adviser to the company during his years as executive director of Nigerite Ltd. He served as Chairman of Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation that owns the radio and television stations, where he left some significant landmarks at establishing Nigeria’s first state-owned FM radio station (OGBC FM Stereo). Notably as Chairman of Gateway Tourism Corporation, his board facilitated the redevelopment of the Olumo Rock into its current state as a major tourism site in Nigeria.
He financed the establishment of the first privately funded University Museum of Art in Nigeria, and gave a grant of one thousand (1,000) of his artworks to the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art at the Pan-Atlantis University in Lagos.
The Omooba is Nigeria’s largest private art collector, with over 7,000 artworks of sculptures, paintings and other media as well as over 55,000 photographic shots of Nigeria’s cultural festivals. His interest in art and culture dates back to his days as an undergraduate in the late 1970s at the University of Ibadan as he revealed to CNN.
“It goes from interest to passion and passion to obsession until you are buying artwork at every auction and you have to build new storage spaces just to house your art collection,” he said.
OYASEF is his a non-profit organization established in 2007 to promote the appreciation and study of Nigerian arts and artist, both in Nigeria and internationally. The foundation has two book publications to its credit titled Yoruba Traditional Art published in 2008. He has received numerous and notable awards that include At Expo award for Collector of the Year by Art Gallery Owners Association of Nigeria and Peace and Dialogue Award in 2014 by UFUK Dialogue Foundation.
Adebayo Salami @70
ADEBAYO Salami, a veteran Nigerian actor, filmmaker, movie producer and director, popularly known by his stage name as Oga Bello, was born 9 May 1952 in Lagos although he is of Kwara decent. He had both his primary and secondary education in Lagos State before he began his acting career in 1964, with a group called Young Concert Part, under the leadership of Ojo Ladipo, best known as Baba Mero who changed Ojo Ladipo Theatre Group to Awada Kerkeri Theatre Group.
Following the demise of Ladipo in 1978, Salami took the mantle of leadership of the group, which brought him into limelight. Salami first featured in a Yoruba film titled Ajani Ogun, where the late Adeyemi Afolayan plays the lead role. He also featured in a movie titled Kadara by Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade Love), followed by a Nigerian comedy series ‘Comedy Half Hour, with the stage name ‘Oga Bello.’
1985 was the year he produced his first movie titled Ogun Aye from the stable of Awada Kerikeri and ever since, Salami has produced, directed and featured in several Yoruba movies. Salami won Best of Nollywood Awards in 2014 and was a pioneer member of National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) and also served as a president of the association.
Onyeka Onwenu @70
ONYEKA Onwenu (born 31 January 1951) is a Nigerian singer/song writer, actress, human right activist, Social activist, journalist, politician and former X-Factor series Judge. Arondizuogu, a small town in Ideato North, Imo State, is where she hails and was raised in Port Harcourt. Onwenu was appointed the Executive Director/ Chief Executive Officer of National Centre for Women Development and also as former Chairperson of Imo State Council for Arts and Culture.
She worked for the United Nations as tour guide before returning to Nigeria in 1980 to complete her mandatory one-year national service with the NTA. Onwenu possess a BA. in International Relations and Communication from Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and an MA in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research, New York. Her career in broadcasting as an employee of NTA had projected her as a TV presenter, who hosted The Shows Contact (1988) and Who’s On? (1993), both on NTA Network.
She also made impact as a news reader and reporter in 1984, wrote and presented the internationally acclaimed BBC/NTA documentary Nigeria, A Squandering of Riches, which became a definitive film about corruption in Nigeria as well as the intractable Niger Delta agitation for resource control and campaign against environment degradation in the oil rich region of Nigeria.
Her music career began in 1981 while still working at NTA, and released the album ‘For the Love of You,’ a pop album which featured an orchestral cover of Johnny Nash’s ‘Hold Me Tight,’ and her second album ‘Endless Life,’ was produced by Sonny Okosun. Both records were released on the EMI Label.
Originally a secular artist before making a transition to gospel music in the 1990’s, Onwenu wrote most of her songs on major issues such as health (HIV/AIDS), peace and mutual coexistence, respect for women’s rights, and the plight of children. Onwenu’s first album with Polygram ‘In the Morning Light’ was released in 1984, up till her fourth release, 1986’s ‘One Love’ which contained an updated version of the song. She collaborated with veteran juju artist Sunny Ade on the track ‘Madawonlohun’ [Let them Say] which appeared in the 1988’ Dancing in The Sun’ album.
‘Choices’ and ‘Wait for Me’ centred on family planning, and were endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria which used ‘Choices’ in its PSA. Her final release on Polygram was dedicated to Winnie Mandela. Onwenu diverted to Benson and Hedges Music in 1992 and released the self-titled Onyeka!, her only album with the label, after which she made the transition to Christian/gospel music. Her latest collection, ‘Inspiration for Change,’ focuses on the need for an attitudinal change in Nigeria.
She is in partnership with Paris-based La Cave Musik, and they are set to release her collection titled ‘Rebirth of a Legend’ in recognition of her contribution to music and arts in Nigeria. Onyeka has been celebrated by professionals like Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Laolu Akins, Charles O’Tudor and former PMAN President Tony Okoroji, among others, in the arts industry in Nigeria.
Onwenu in 2006 won the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in the movie, Widow’s Cot. She was also nominated for African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actress in a Leading Role in the movie, Rising Moon in 2014. She was in the movie Half of a Yellow Sun, with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandiwe Newton and in Lion Heart in 2018. Her first movie role was as Joke, a childless woman who adopts an abandoned baby in Zik Zulu Okafor’s Nightmare.
Onwenu has a series of appearance in movies like Nightmare, Not Your Wealth, Conspiracy (1996), Chain Reaction, (2004), The Tyrant, Omalinze, Every Single Day (2005), Different World, To Love an Angel, The Trinity (2007), and Muna (2019). Onwenu recently published her memoir, My Father’s Daughter.
Duro Oni @70
DURO Oni (born December 15, 1952) in Minna, is from Oriade in Osun state. He has been on the staff of the University of Lagos since 1976, where he rose to professorial rank and has held various positions including that of Deputy Vice Chancellor (2013-2017), Dean, Faculty of Arts (2009-2013), and Head, Department of Creative Arts (2006-2009). He was also the Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies from 1992-1997. In a career spanning over 40 years at UNILAG, Oni initiated and developed two degree programmes – Creative Arts (comprising of Theatre Arts, Music & Visual Arts) and Chinese Studies (Confucius Institute, University of Lagos).
He was also the Director General/CEO of Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) from 2000–2006. He holds a Ph.D. in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan. Oni has 10 books and over 60 articles in reputable journals and chapters in books in the areas of Theatre Arts Design and Aesthetics, Dramatic Literature and Criticism, Cultural Studies and Nollywood/Nigerian films.
Soni Irabor @70
SONI Irabor (born 23 March 1952) is an award-winning star broadcaster, media manager, speech trainer, communications consultants, talk show host and toast master of international repute. He’s popularly known for his radio and TV talk show ‘Soni Irabor Live (SIL). Irabor studied Mass Communication at the University of Lagos and trained as a speech trainer with the Radio Deutsche Weller (Voice of Germany), Koln, Germany. He has over 30 years’ experience in radio, TV broadcast and film
Irabor is a versatile media practitioner involved in various PR and media relations assignments. He possess a certificate in Leadership and Governance in Media and Communications from the School of Media and Communications, Pan Atlantic University, among others. He has hosted numerous national and international events, including, OAU and ECOWAS Heads of Government Conferences and corporate events even as a toast master.
SUNDAY (Sunnie) Enessi Ododo is a poet, dramatist, stage designer and scriptwriter who speaks Ebira,Yoruba, Hausa and English. Born in Maiduguri, Nigeria, in 1962, he studied Performing Arts and Theatre Arts at the Universities of Ilorin and Ibadan respectively and has a PhD in Performing Arts from the University of Ilorin. A senior lecturer in the Department of Creative Arts at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, he has designed and produced many stage plays. His versatile writing include The Revelation (TV drama screened by NTA Yola, Nigeria) in 1987, To Return from the Void (opera) in 1998, Vanishing Vapour (dance libretto) in 2006, and Hard Choice (drama), 2008. His poems have appeared in anthologies such as Rising Voices: An Anthology of New Nigerian Poetry in 1991 and Camouflage: Best of Contemporary Writing from Nigeria in 2006.
His scholarly works have gained considerable attention, especially his ‘Facekuerade theory’, which derives from the maskless transformational practices of traditional Ebira masquerades (eku). He has also edited journals like Alore: Ilorin Journal of the Humanities and The Performer: Ilorin Journal of the Performing Arts and his essays have been published in journals in the USA, the UK and Nigeria, including Womanhood and Virgo Intacta: Form and Aesthetic Reconstruction in Ovia-Osese Performance and Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies 30 (2/3) in 2004, and ‘Facekuerade’: The Transformational Duality in Ebira-Ekuechi Festival Performance,’ Cultural Studies 22 (2) 2008. With Oni, Ododo has co-edited Technical Theatre Practice in Nigeria: Trends and Issues (Lagos: Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization – CBAAC, 2006). He is on the editorial board of The Perfformio, a University of Wales online journal for the performing arts.
A member of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), he has been chief judge of ANA literary prizes. He currently serves as vice-president of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA) and the CEO of National Theatre, Lagos. Ebira is one of three largest of the Nupoid languages, with an estimated one million speakers (1989). Spoken in the region north and west of the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, the language is used in administration, commerce and religious services, and is taught in schools and at colleges of education.
Aduke Gomez @60
ADUKE Gomez, lawyer, writer and poet, she utilises her legal and advisory skills to assist in business and creative development. Commencing legal practice with Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, she later worked for many years in various leadership roles in the banking sector. Gomez was appointed to the Governor Fashola Administration of Lagos State as Senior Special Assistant/Secretary to Lagos State Hotel Licensing Authority in 2011. She was also appointed to serve on the Lagos State History Committee and Lagos Carnival Committee.
Her poetry was featured at LABAF and Ake Festival in 2017. Her children’s book, Lost & Found in Lagos, a collaboration with Biola Alabi Media, was selected as one of Channels TV Book Club Top Twenty Books for 2019. She is currently the Chair of the Steering Committee of Art4Life – an initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Health established to introduce the practice of art into the healthcare process.
Gomez was called to the Nigerian bar in 1987 and began her career in legal practice, commencing with Akin Delano and Co. before moving to work with Udo Udoma and Belo Osagie for several years where she specialised in commercial law practice and also headed the Company Secretarial Division. She began working in the Legal Department at Ecobank Nigeria Plc in 1993. After spending several years there, she moved to head the General Internal Services Department with responsibility for purchasing, maintaining, transporting needs and other ancillary logistics support required by the bank’s operations. She was subsequently appointed to head the Customer Care Unit where she developed various staff training programmes and created awareness for the importance of service delivery across the bank. She participated in four international Customer Service Audits across the Ecobank affiliates in the West Africa region and was appointed to lead the Customer Service Audit for Ecobank Niger. She was subsequently recruited and appointed the pioneer head of Customer Services in Leadway-Pensure Pension Fund Administrator where she devised the company’s service strategy and set up as well as provided the training for the customer services department and its call centre.
Upon leaving the bank in 2009, she established A.B. Gomez Consultants to provide clients with access to varied aspects of staff training requirements. She was also privileged to be appointed in 2009 to serve on the Lagos Carnival Committee where she held the post of Chairman of Junior Carnival for all the editions of the Lagos Carnival up to 2015 with particular emphasis on ensuring the successful participation of over 1,500 secondary school children from schools drawn from all the educational districts of Lagos State.
Gomez was charged with the responsibility of registration, licensing, grading and classification of hotels and other hospitality establishments. She notably attained compliance with Lagos State Hotel Licensing Law by major hospitality establishments thus commencing the registration of the various establishments, issuing licences and establishing a reliable database. She was also instrumental in implementing the first industry accepted grading and classification exercise of hotel establishments within the State. During this time she also contributed to the editorial production of the ministry’s publication, Lagos – A Visitors’ Guide. She was also appointed to serve as a member of Lagos State History Committee and was a contributor to the committee’s publication on History of Lagos from the earliest times.
Gomez has now returned to private practice where amongst other advisory and legal services, she propagates the use of Customer Service Skills as a tool to grow business. In addition, she has always been a cultural enthusiast and, over the years, has often utilised her professional skills to assist in artist development within the creative sectors. She has published an anthology of her own poems.
Ayo Bankole @60
THEOPHILUS Ayoola Bankole, one of Nigeria’s foremost classical pianist and composers, is an icon whose “method of teaching and analyzing works is superb”, a comment made by one of the attendees of his 60th birthday held at MUSON Centre, Lagos, on May 25, 2022, an event where a few icons attended, including one of the living forces and veteran actresses, Joke Silva, who moderated the session. The classical and African music icon, the celebrator and son of the iconic Ayo Bankole, has also contributed to the uniqueness in Nigerian screen music compositions, jingles, soundtracks and good music at it best.
The symposium which had as theme ‘Music as a Creative and Economic Tool for the 21st Century in Nigerian Film Industry’ came after ‘The Past, Present and Future of Nigerian Art Music’ celebrating Theophilus Ayoola Bankole through Ayo Bankole Jr., at 60. The one-of-a-kind event also had in attendance filmmakers, musicians and foremost critic/culture journalist Tunde Kelani, Femi Odugbemi, Sani Muazu, Dr. Bayo Adepetun, Okechukwu Ogujiofor, Seun Owoaje, Steve Ayorinde and Bayo Omole.
Forty three years ago on November 6, 1976, precisely a day after he was publicly acknowledged in a concert at the Italian Embassy in Lagos, Ayo Bankole was murdered alongside his wife Toro, in their Surulere, Lagos residence. Today, the seed of good works and discipline nurtured by the late composer extraordinaire has remained strong. Apart from the contributions of his scion, Ayo Bankole jr., to the growth of the sector, his works have continued to enliven audiences wherever they are played.
While works of this illustrious son of African still dominate the airwaves, churches and concert halls abroad, they are almost lost to audiences in his fatherland but the community of art music continues to celebrate the memories of this distinguished art personality as shown in this year’s symposium, which turned out a day of momentous celebration.
Femi Akintunde-Johnson @60
FEMI Akintunde-Johnson, popularly known as FAJ (born 30 October 1962), is a prolific and engaging writer, public commentator, a man of many parts. He enlisted his name in Nigeria’s media industry with forays in editing entertainment pages of The Punch newspapers, Climax magazine between 1988 and 1991. He quickly rose to become Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Climax, Fame, National Encomium, Treasure and Treasure People and Life (the latter four he co-founded).
He is also credited as the master-mind behind the establishment of four of Nigeria’s best known awards: Fame Music Awards (FMA), The Music Award (THEMA), The Reel Awards and Awards for Musical Excellence in Nigeria (AMEN) between 1992 and 2001. He has also published three books Lifeless, A Slice of My Life, Foot Prints, Interventions in Nigerian Entertainment (2011), and Reflections: An Anthology of Thoughts on Nigerian Movie Industry.
Akintunde-Johnson, a 1987 graduate of English from University of Jos, is also a nominee and winner of the Nigerian Media Merit Award (NMMA, 1993), among other awards. He’s conscientious lover of social and ethical values in public and private conduct, a non-conforming believer in the entrenchment of merit and devotion to God and the family.
Femi Kuti @60
OLUFEMI Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti (born 16 June 1962), popularly known as Femi Kuti, is a Nigerian musician who was born in London and raised in Lagos. He is the eldest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and a grand child of political campaigner, woman’s rights activist and traditional aristocrat, Funmilayo Ransom Kuti. Kuti started his musical career playing in his father’s band, Egypt 80 in 1986, before starting his own band Positive Force, and established himself as an artist independent of his father’s legacy.
He studied at Baptist Academy and Igbobi College. Like his father, Kuti has made commitments to social and political causes throughout his career as he considers his mother, Remilekun Taylor, to be his greatest influence. Kuti’s international career began in 1988 when he was invited by the French Cultural Centre in Lagos and Christian Mousset to perform at the Festival d’ Angouleme (France), the New Morning Club Paris and the Moers Festival in Germany.
Kuti’s voice is featured in the videogame Grand Theft Auto iv, where he is the host of radio station IF 99 (International Funk 99), described as “playing a great selection of Classics from West Africa, the US and elsewhere.” Kuti’s has been nominated for Grammy Award four times in the World Music category in 2003, 2010, 2012 and 2013. On 5 February 2021, Kuti and his son, Made Kuti, released their two-album project which made it Kuti’s eleventh album ‘Stop the Hate’ and Made’s debut album ‘For(e)ward.’ On 22 November 2014, Kuti performed at the BMO event, where he shared the same stage with his new label M.I. (Jude Abaga). On 24 April 2015, he also performed in the 2 Kings Concerts alongside his brother Seun Kuti which was the first concert that the brothers have performed together.
He was referred to in the Guinness World Records under the catalogue of a single note held on a sax in a method called circular breathing he set at 51 minutes 35 seconds on 15 May 2017. Kuti’s album ‘Africa for Africa’ emphasized ‘Bad Government’ as a problem in Africa, when he added, “We could say we’re moving in the democratic process, and it’s probably better than going to war, but corruption is still very rampant. The people are hungry and sick and the government controls the media, so it can’t be critical.”
His second album ‘Make We Remember’ calls on people to remember the words of his father and “great black people,” who fought for the emancipation of Africa. For a very long time, Kuti has been using music to inspire, change and motivate African people to their historic destiny just like his father.
Joe Musa @60
JOSEPH Oregwere Musa, best known as Joe Musa, is a contemporary artist. The artist’s first piece to be offered at auction was “Untitled” at Arthouse Contemporary Limited in 2019. He had his training Benue Polytechnic, Ugbokolo (1983, HND), specializing in sculpture, Ahmadu Bello University (1987), specializing in painting. He attended German/Nigeria workshop conducted by Bern Wolf Dettalbach, Lagos (1989), UNESCO workshop, Federal Ministry of Health (1989), freelance artist, Lagos, from 1983, Director, Joe Musa Gallery, Lagos (1989), exhibitions extensively reviewed in Nigerian press.
He’s a member of Society of Nigerian Artists, and has held solo exhibitions at Benue State Art Council, Makurdi (1981, 1982), National Museum, Lagos, January 14-18, 1989, Franco-German Auditorium, Lagos, May 1990, Joe Musa Gallery, Lagos, 1989. Musa was the Director of National Gallery, Abuja.
Ejike Asiegbu @60
EJIKE Asiegbu (born on November 8, 1958] is a Nigerian actor and film director who once served as President of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and famous for the movie Silent Night. He was also previously appointed as personal assistant to former Biafran leader Odumegwu Ojukwu during the 1994 National Constitutional Conference in Abuja. He had his primary school education at Constitution Crescent Primary School in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, but completed his primary school education at St. Mary’s Primary School, Lokoja, Kogi state.
After completing his primary school education, Ejike Asiegbu proceeded to Abdul Azeez Attah Memorial College, Okene, Kogi state, but completed his secondary school education at Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, Anambra state in 1980. Asiegbu then proceeded to University of Port Harcourt, Rivers state, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts in 1993. Asiegbu has won several awards which include Best Actor of the Year at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA), Best Actor at the City People Entertainment Awards, Best Actor in Leading Role at Best of Nollywood Awards and Most Prominent Actor in Nigeria at Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).
He joined the Nigerian movie industry in 1996 and has so far starred in over 200 Nollywood movies including State of Emergency, Rituals, The Barons, Silent Whisper, End of Money, Squad Twenty-Three, Power Must Change Hands, The Oracle, A Time To Die, The Dirty Game, Kingdom Authority, The Wolves, The Wrong Money, Too Much Money, Abuja Boys, Be My Val, and Last Kiss, etc.