Showing posts from January, 2017

The car in your hand is an aeroplane' - Niyi Osundare's (1986) Song of the Nigerian Driver

The other day I found another poem that fits the subject of my current project, i.e. lorry decorations. To pay respect where it is due, I acknowledge my debt to Christiane Fioupou (1994) who mentioned this poem in her study of representations of the road in Wole Soyinka's works. I may have found it eventually – I am currently still flicking through issues of the weekly West Africa in which it has been published. However, it would have taken me a long time.

On 'Portraits' of Usman dan Fodio again

Last year I mentioned here a number of alleged photographs of Usman dan Fodio and drawings that purportedly portrayed the Shehu that I had encountered as illustrations in newspapers and elsewhere. I wondered whether such a portrait – either a photograph taken in dan Fodio's lifetime or a portrait at least sketched after meeting the man himself – could actually exist. 

I suppose, I found it hard to imagine that any of the sheikh's contemporary disciples would have produced such a drawing, let alone had access to a camera to take a photograph. I still do. Just consider his admonition of the customs of the Hausa-dynasties that his jihad dethroned.

'One of the ways of their governments is their … wearing whatever clothes they wish, whether religiously permitted or forbidden […], and living in decorated palaces, whether religiously permitted or forbidden and spreading soft (decorated) carpets as they wish, whether religiously permitted or forbidden …'

Ben Osaghae (1962-2017): Jess Castellote's Obituary

Sometimes I don't quite know whether it is appropriate for me to blog about something or the other. This is one of these cases. And, this time it is because I don't know what I could possibly add and when that's the case I find it so much easier to just 'share' somebody else's ideas on Facebook, Twitter, whatnot. So, before I make this entirely and inappropriately about myself or delay this any further, let me just drop the news.

Ben Osaghae died on Tuesday.

Lagos Street Art: Picturing Donald Trump

I was on fieldwork in Nigeria in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected and I remember that his inauguration was highly anticipated. Many people I spoke to hoped that as the son of a Kenyan man he would take a special interest in Africa while others feared that he might be assassinated before officially taking office. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the recent elections were once again followed closely in Nigeria and that Donald Trump – as potential saviour or threat, depending on one's political leanings featured prominently in recent public imaginations. There were pro-Trump rallies in the Southeast by those once again asking for the independence of Biafra, while the Daily Trust warned that relations with the US would be unstable for the period of Trump's presidency … and, then, there are Nigeria's artists, of course, who reflect on contemporary developments in the US.

So, I just leave you with this photograph of an artist in Lagos producing a portrait of Donald Trump that I stumbled across on Twitter this morning. I'll refrain from further commentary. Except, let me highlight that Trump here is shown wearing military uniform rather than the suits that he is more commonly seen in. Any significance to that? I don't know. You tell me.

Lorry Art Snippets: Biblical Scene 2007

Haven't posted any for a while, so here's another lovely photograph of the tailgate of a painted lorry. I found this one on a blog, Stardust's Shadow. The photo was taken on travels through West Africa in 2007, apparently on the road between Benin City and Ile-Ife. 

Martin Bennett (1999): Mammy-Wagons, Kaduna-Lagos Road

The other day I stumbled across this beautiful little poem by Martin Bennet, a British poet and translator who is, if I am not mistaken, now based in Rome, Italy (link leads to another of his poems but with a short bio). This poem comes from a collection that is informed by his time in Nigeria and was published in 1999 by Wasafiri. 

CfP: ACASA Deadline for Panel Proposals and Individual Papers Extended

This is a bit late but there is still time to submit proposals for panels and individual papers to  triennial conference of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association which is going to take place in Ghana this year. The deadline has just been extended to 31 January 2017. The Deadline for fully formed panels is 28 February 2017. You can find lists of the panels seeking participants here (as of December 2016).

Random Thoughts: Music

This last week Nigerian newspapers (I read it in the Daily Trust and in the Premium Times) reported that in Sokoto State the Hisbah intervened at the wedding of the daughter of that state's governor, Aminu Tawal, because the music that was played purportedly contravened Islamic law. Here's what the Premium Times reported (which conveniently quotes the Daily Trust).

Life Magazine (1963) provides glimpses on 'movie culture' in Nigeria

An hour ago the postman rang and delivered my first acquisition of the new year – a 1963 edition of the US-American magazine Life that I have been unable to locate at the local libraries. So, thanks to Abebooks and a Canadian trader here was my first good surprise of the year (after hearing that another of my heroes, John Berger died yesterday).

Why do I tell you about an old edition of an American lifestyle magazine, you ask?

Well, this is a special edition devoted to the movies - 'A Moving Mirror of Modern Times,' as the editorial has it – and its scope extends beyond the usual suspects in North America and Europe. Some of the reporting about the movies and their reception in the 'rest' of the world may feel patronising to contemporary readers but it provides some glimpses nevertheless. And, some of them on cinema culture and in particular the role of the United States Information Agency in Nigeria. I'll get back to this issue of Life Magazine at some point in more detail, but for now I'll leave you with two photographs that I quickly (and therefore badly, i.e. forgive the quality) reproduce here (I'll get better scans next time I go to the library).