October in Lagos by Ebukah Emmanuel Nzeji
It was a busy and exciting October for me—from the Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival 2016 to the Lagos International Poetry Festival 2016, and the Falana Uncover’d Pop-Up Concert Series Finale. The experience was worth the effort, as I got to meet and network with people whose talents and body of work I had long admired from the fringes.
with Onyeka Nwelues
The Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival 2016 was one event to remember. Its sixth iteration had Ugoma Adegoke reprising her role as chief organizer. The festival was held from September 30th to October 2nd, at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos. I chose to attend on the second day which was October 1st (Nigeria’s Independence Day). My friend Onyeka Nwelue, an author, assistant visiting Professor, and filmmaker, was having his documentary “The House of Nwapa” screened at the Festival on that day. I arrived just in time to witness the commencement of proceedings.
“The House of Nwapa” is an experimental documentary which chronicles the life and times of Flora Nwapa, who was arguably Africa’s first female author to be published.
Some of the interviews conducted by Onyeka, had the audience and the panelists reeling with laughter. And others gave them something to think about. I liked the fact that the documentary also gave an exposé into the culture and people of the great town of Oguta. A town which fascinates me so much.
From the interviews Onyeka had with Flora’s brother, Christopher “Cfine” Nwapa, to the interview with renowned author, Mabel Segun, to the interview with Mitterand Okorie (Onyeka’s buddy, who is also an author and a lecturer), it was frankness, bluntness, hindsight, and humour all the way. The interviews with Flora Nwapa’s first daughter, Ejine Nzeribe, her son Uzoma Nwakuche, and her younger sister, Weruche, were insightful and thought-provoking.
A cross-section of the audience during the Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival 2016
For me, the highlight of the documentary was the insinuation by Onyeka, that Flora Nwapa and Chinua Achebe could have been romantically involved…. When asked what she thought about this, Sabine Jell-Bahlsen (the author of The Water Goddess in Igbo Cosmology: Ogbuide of Oguta Lake), shied away from a direct answer, which left me wondering and believing that she actually knows something about some romantic connection between Flora and Achebe. That’s something worth pondering on, if you ask me.
The screening ended with a ‘question and answer’ session, anchored by the highly rated Nollywood thespian, Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju. And Onyeka was put on the spot, when asked if he thought Flora Nwapa was a Feminist, and what his thoughts were on Feminism. He went on to say he was himself a Feminist….
Soon, the ‘meet and greet’ cum networking segment commenced and I went straight to meet with Onyeka. He was quite surprised to see me: we had never seen each other in person before, but have been Facebook friends for a while. It was really a great experience, meeting him.
Everyone was given a wine treat, at the in-hall bar. After I had my own glass of wine, I walked straight up to Mitterand Okorie and traded pleasantries, and barbs over each other’s appearance.
with Tope Oshin-Ogun
* * *
My next port of call, was the Lagos International Poetry Festival 2016. Which took place at the Freedom Park, for 5 days (26th-30th October). The House of Nwapa was to be screened on the third day of the event. And though I had already seen the documentary; I still wanted see it again. This time, I went with my friend and wingwoman, Chioma Akeru, who is also a freelance writer. Incidentally, she is from Oguta, the town where Flora Nwapa was born. A town which features predominantly in The House of Nwapa.
Since we hadn’t been to Freedom Park before, Chioma and I spent a while on the streets of Onikan, in a tiresome rigmarole, trying to locate the park. Thanks to a Keke-NAPEP driver, we eventually arrived at the venue, albeit a bit late for the start of the screening. We got our tickets at the gate, and headed to the screening hall.
And as we entered the hall, I sighted the one and only Wana Udobong a.k.a Miss Wanawana. She was quite busy, so we couldn’t go to say “hi” to her. We joined the audience while Onyeka interviewed Mitterand Okorie onstage. Before we could even take our seats, the audience was already reeling with laughter, because of some of the somewhat risqué things Mitterand was saying onscreen. Mitterand’s sense of humour is something else. I couldn’t help laughter.
- with Falana at the Falana Uncover’d Pop-Up Concert Series Finale
Onyeka’s insightful and riveting documentary elicited virtually the same emotions from the audience and panelists, as it had at the Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival 2016. The screening was followed by a brief question and answer session.
To cap it up; the Lagos International Poetry Festival 2016 was a success, thanks to the efforts of renowned poet, Efe Paul Azino, as well as the volunteers, in organizing this great event.
* * *
Fast-forward to Sunday night (30th October). I was already at the Lagos City Hall Onikan by 7pm, for the Falana Uncover’d Pop-Up Concert Series Finale.
The concert was billed to start by 7.30pm. However, there was a bit of delay. The show eventually began by 8.20pm. The backup singers arrived onstage first, and in a couple of minutes, Falana graced the stage with her charming presence.
She was quite interactive. She communicated jovially with the audience during her performance. She opened the show on the night, with a number (I can’t remember the title) by the Lijadu Sisters. She went on to perform covers of various songs by world renowned artistes, before switching to her original songs. It was really a night to remember, for me.
A brief introduction for the unaware: Falana is a Soul Fusion artiste who has been in the music scene for a while now, gradually working her way up, and worming her way into the hearts of lovers of great music. A polyglot and multi-instrumentalist (she plays the Cajon Drum), Falana had her first performance in Nigeria, during the 2014 Afropolitan Vibes held at Freedom Park Lagos, where she shared the stage alongside Yemi Alade and General Pype. She has also opened for Asa. Her most popular original song has to be “To Bernard,” A song that has been featured on MTN’s caller tunez. Her music was influenced by her one-year sojourn in Cuba.
Back to the concert: Falana brought the show to a crescendo with an enthralling performance of Fela’s classic hit “Lady”. She also conducted her instrumentalists through a solo instrumental freestyle session. It was simply breathtaking and phenomenal. Virtually everyone was wowed on the night. At the end of the show I was able to meet and greet Falana, and also Bez Idakula.