June 14, 2024

Dancing with Dame Taiwo Ajai-Lycett @83

  • February 26, 2024
  • 4 min read
Dancing with Dame Taiwo Ajai-Lycett @83

By Ejiro Umukoro

I grew up watching Michael Crawford’s Some Mothers Do Have Them British TV Series alongside Mind Your Language. These well scripted, highly witty, super creative dialogue and comedic punchlines shaped my world view about the language called English. And then to see an outstanding female Nigerian acting with passion with the kind of sheer confidence and topnotch performance as I saw in Dame Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett execute in the TV series blew me away!

I always wanted to meet her anywhere I could find her: in Nigeria or overseas. Her brilliant performance in a very subtle, yet powerful way further stimulated and allowed me to expose myself to all things creative: drawing cartoons, painting, writing, scripting, long form journalism, storytelling, broadcasting, mentoring, and training the next generation of talents to become local talents with global impact gave rise to GE-Factor – the mentoring/training initiative that got me noticed by the British Council for which I was awarded the Young International Communications Entrepreneurs in 2009 and was interviewed at the BBC London, UK where I almost caused an international upset on the global platform, because I was about to reveal a story I had not quite vetted with them before uttering it!

That’s who I am: a silent provocateur. The year prior or so, Maikori had won the Young International Music Entrepreneurs Award by the British Council for what he did with Chocolate City and the Choco Boys: M.I…, same way as I had discovered and produced Timi Dakolo’s first hit single, etc.

Now, let’s get back to where this tori is going. While in the UK, I wanted to meet the dame herself. But I often missed her. However, I was lucky to meet Prof. Wole Soyinka at Kings Cross for a special literary event. Then as ‘fate’ would have it, Dame and I met years later when she gave me a powerful advise: You’ve got one of the most distinctive voices I’ve heard in a person, let alone a young woman as you. Don’t hide it. Maximise it. (I’m paraphrasing, of course).

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LadyE Ejiro Umukoro on the dance floor with her idol Dame Taiwo Ajai-Lycett at the soire in Ikeja, Lagos

Funny enough, I was in an industry circle that almost snuffed that voice out. I see Helen Paul, and I smile sheepishly for her being the first to hit the Child-Brand Voice into national consciousness and run with it. That’s how wide my voice range is, too. But that’s a story for another day.

Back to Dame Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett. So here I am today (Friday, February 23, 2024) in this picture dancing with her after she invited me to come to a soire put together by Sir Emma Ogosi and Felix Duke with Reginald Ofodile as master of ceremony, etc, with support from some of Nollywood’s legacy actors such as Ngozi Nwosu and several others who graced the occasion to honour my vibrant and beautiful Dame at 83 years! Sir Emma Ogosi at 80 here does not look it! Remember, he was the man behind the hit records of Evi Edna Ogholi such as ‘Hu-ye! I Wish You Happy Birthday’, and that powerful Isoko song titled ‘Riri ova ra no’.

We reconnected after 10 years. And it’s been such a joy seeing one woman whose expertise in her craft influenced my approach to creative expressions, untamed. I’m going to look as fabulous as she does and more when I turn 80, too!

Please everyone, kindly say a warm and super congratulations to our Dame Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett, Nigeria’s Living National Treasure.

And now I can’t wait for Evi Edna Ogholi to release her new album! Yes!

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