Sunday, 29 July 2007

Stephanie Okereke/ Kene Mpkaru

While going through old pictures on my lap top, I stumbled on this one taken on the 23rd of September 2006 at the Lee Valley Odeon Cinema, London. This picture was actually the high light of the day.
I had been given the opportunity to do a comedy set prior to the screening of a movie titled The Successor starring Stephanie Okereke and Olu Jacobs amongst others. The film producer was Kene Mpkaru of Film Africa.
That day saw the worst traffic ever. I almost cried in the car. Blackwell tunnel was solid, turning the two hour drive from Birmingham to London into a 5 and a half hour ordeal.
I had a few frantic calls on my mobile phone, ‘where are you?’
I arrived towards the end of the movie and still managed to perform an abridged version of my set when the film finished. This was about 1.45am! I had to rush though as people were tired.
I think my version of sweet mother did alright. Its called BITTER FADA

Bitter Fada
I no go forget you
For di Bulala
Wey you bulala me for my nyarsh o!
When I tief fish
My Fada go punish me
E go say my pickin
Make you no tief ye ye
Stop stop
Stop stop
Stop stop
Make you no tief again o!
When I tief milk
My Fada go scold me
He go lie me well well for bed o
E serve me cane, say make I chop
Chop, chop , my pickin o!
When I dey naughty
My Fada go run up and down
He go find me guud cane wey go blast my nyarsh o!
Bitter Fada, I no go forget the cane wey I suffer for you hand oh, o!
When I fail test
My Fada go cry, cry, cry
E go say instead make I disgrace am, make I die o
E go beg God
God help me
God help me cane, my pickin o!
If I no cry
My Fada no go stop
If I no weep
My Fada no go chop
E no dey tire o
Bitter Fada, I no go forget the bulala wey you blast my nyarsh o o!
You fit get anoda Gism
You fit get anoda sim
But you fit get anoda Fada?
Fada! No.
And if I forget you, I forget my life and the air that I breathe.
And then unto you all men, forget not your Fada
For if you forget your Fada, you’ve lost your life.

Some Lyrics lifted from ‘Sweet mother’ - Prince Nico Mbarga and the Rocafil Jazz Band - 1976

Friday, 27 July 2007

Take Heart

Take heart

Take heart my brother
When things fall apart
when it rains just on you
And your dreams don’t come true
One day my sister
things will come together
The sun will smile on you
And your enemies will scatter
Your heart’s desires
are yours to take
And the walls before you
are yours to brake
So go forth in courage
Go forth in might
Take hold of darkness
And turn it to light

Dr Wilson Orhiunu

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Amazing Grace Ad

Saw this in my 23-7-07 copy of Voice Newspaper (UK). A few have criticed my lighted heartd article on this film for heaping too much praise on it. All I can say is- I no know book o! And I have never seen any other Nollywood film advertised in the UK press before.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Tribal Stereotypes in Nigerian Comedy. 2

Tribal Stereotypes in Nigerian Comedy; the Calabar example. Part Two

Personal experience.
As a young boy growing up in Lagos (70s) I first noticed the lampooning of ‘Calabar people’ through a character in the now defunct soap opera on NTA Lagos ‘The Village Headmaster’. There was a shop owner Bassey Okon played by Jab Adu. He was a somewhat volatile man, who always reached for his cutlass or wooden cane to ‘settle’ heated disputes. He had a daughter, Ikate, and a relative, Boniface, who worked as his shop assistant. Boniface was particularly dim (I write from memory) and I remember ‘Calabar people’ at school being called Boniface or Ete (Man in Efik).
Then in the 80s there was the popular Masquerade soap staring Zebrudaya as the main character. He had two house boys, Gringory Acabot of Ikot Epkeme, and Clarus Igbojikwe of the one eyed mama.
Gringory was particularly stupid, as was Clarus, and because the acting of Gringory was very good, a stereotype was born; that was of a stupid Calabar man. Like all stereotypes, the premise was wrong, as the actor playing Gringory was highly educated and articulate.
I also remember the late stand up comedian and DJ John Chukwu doing a routine during which he did perfect impressions of the Calabar accent in the late 70s.
The above shows could be said to be the fore runners of today’s stand up comedy routines. A recent explosion in Nigerian comedy can be attributed to the VCD series, ‘A Nite of a Thousand Laughs’ by Opa Williams. For the first time various stand comedians were introduced to Nigerian audiences through touring and VCD. Going through these VCDs is the easiest way to ascertain the level of tribal stereotypes as it exists today. I opted to study the Abuja-Benin 2004-2005 VCD, as I felt that this was the best of the whole series (A biased view, but I had to watch something I could tolerate to the end!).
Below is a brief review of Opa Williams Nite of a Thousand laughs. Abuja-Benin 2004-2005. Ahbu Ventures Ltd.
Note that the theme tune for this show is ‘Who let the dogs out’ by the Bahamen which is played between and during comedy performances.
I list the comedians in order of appearance and a brief description of their performance.
Okey Bakkassi. 5 comical stories covering marriage/infidelity/squints/robbery and a man and a monkey. The monkey handler offers a prize for getting his monkey to laugh, cry or go into the cage. A Calabar man performs this feat by first telling the monkey his work, his pay and lastly inviting the monkey to apply for a vacancy at the Nigerian Railway cooperation. This last joke was done in a Calabar accent, bringing down the house. There was no mention of any other tribal group in his routine.
I go Die- Dressed in a bright red suit gave, what I consider to be, his best performance ever. Told about 13 jokes. He made no mention of any particular tribe, although he did mention a Warri boy acting aggressively. Routinely mainly about breasts and mobile phones
Mike Ogbolosinger – told 8 jokes. Mentioned Akwa Ibom thrice. Once during his routine when the theme tune-‘who let the dogs out’ was played suddenly, he joked about eating dog meat. During a classroom story he inferred an Akwa Ibom pupil was stupid by for answering ‘the ten commandments’ when asked to name something breakable especially as the two previous pupils asked the same question had answered Eggs and Glass.
Lastly he joked about a stupid and violent Akwa Ibom man who refused to give him directions when he was lost; (done with accent). He briefly mentioned a stupid Aso Rock Photographer who he lampooned in a mock Hausa accent.
Clint the Drunk. Three tribal jokes about singers- Hausa: singers useless; Yoruba singers: loud; and Igbo music unscripted and composed on the spot to praise rich people in attendance. No mention of Calabar!
I go die- 3 jokes. No tribal insults
Okey Bakkassi – 4 jokes . No trial jokes
Un named comedian- described how different tribes prayed- Yorubas shout, Igbos give God their shop addresses, Benin people speak Good English (Note that the show was in Benin), Warri people yarn (discuss) with God like friends and Esan people shout excessively.
I go save- Mainly insulted the ex President of Nigeria by inferring he looked like a primate.
From the above it is obvious that a disproportionate amount of jokes are heaped on the ‘Calabar people’.
A particular comedian- Basket mouth (the singer, not Bright Opkocha of similar stage name) did not appear in the above show but his routine consists of singing in the style of old-skool reggae dance hall about Calabar, Edo and Yoruba girls. His act is the most derogatory comedy act against Calabar people that I have seen to date, and I have written below (printable) excerpts from his act on ‘A Nite of a Thousand Laughs’. Volume 2. Obaino Music
Calabar girls
I too dey like their style
Because they really know how to take care of man
Dem go cook for you
Dem go wash your cloth
Dem go make your belle
Make e extra sweet
Na inside bedroom dem dey get their power
Bleep, bleep, bleep. (Offensive to Christians)
Dem get degree for sexology
Dem be professors for knackiology
E reach bedmatics dem no dey taya
Because Calabar girls they are ever ready
Maybe na the dog meat wey dem dey chop
Maybe na dat one dey give dem extra power
Etc etc etc
The audience at this time was falling over themselves with laughter. I would however doubt he would have gotten a good response to that song had it been performed at Tinapa (Calabar)!
If summary, Calabar is an iconic town with a huge reputation. It inspires creative people and deserves to be made the subject of films, plays and musicals, as has been demonstrated by Fred Amata’s Amazing Grace.
Creative people should try to concentrate on getting creative works out that can inspire rather than constantly insult a tribe. Insults are cheap and will definitely get the performer an easy laugh but merely dispensing insults represents a lazy approach to comedy writing.
While I am not a great fan of political correctness or censorship, I think the Calabar jokes have been pushed too far.
Perhaps I should start the ball rolling by deleting the Calabar comedy audio track I have on my web site!

Tribal Stereotypes in Nigeria Comedy 1

Tribal stereotypes in Nigeria Comedy; the Calabar example. Part One

The comedy industry in Nigeria is experiencing steady growth. Tribal stereotyping features prominently in Nigerian comedy in instances ranging from stand up routines, to drama or film.
Comedians play to the gallery, so one might suggest that there is a demand for these sorts of jokes. The question however is why? Not an easy question to answer but I will try.
Gelotology is the study of laughter. Many researchers have undertaken to study laughter in formal situations and produced interesting findings. To date, I am unaware of any such studies being conducted in Nigeria thus I have relied heavily on anecdotal evidence in the writing of this article, and thus bias and inaccuracies might occur.
Eliciting laughter is the ultimate a goal in the performance of a comedy routine.
We laugh when we find a situation funny. In many instances a situation is perceived as funny when the end of a series of events results in a different outcome to what we had anticipated at the beginning. Hence the first job of the stand up comedian is usually to make his audience anticipate something. That is only possible by sharing a situation that is familiar to the audience. And since most comedy routines are basically stories about people, the easiest way to manipulate the audiences’ collective expectation is to use stereotypes.
In the Nigeria, all the major ethnic groups have their stereotypical characteristics, which is usually based on erroneous premises. The accent is the easiest one to do. An impression of a Hausa man speaking tends to get the audience laughing in anticipation of a stereotypical story such as security guard or Suya seller with low educational attainment involved in a common scenario for that audience.
Other examples of tribal stereotypes are the Igbos love for money, Edo girls in Italy involved in prostitution, and Yorubas who love to lavish huge monetary gifts while dancing at parties. The major tribes feature prominently in comedy routines, as these characters with their regional accents are easily recognisable by audiences.
Apart from absurd or incongruous ends to stories, there is the feeling of superiority, which good comedians evoke in their audiences when talking about the stupidity or undesirable qualities of other tribal groups or individuals.
That may explain the ready success comedians have enjoyed from telling jokes about poor or ‘wowo’ (ulgy) people. Everybody tends to laugh at these jokes; ironic in a country where poverty, real or relative, is rife.
Any that may explain why comedy shows staged in a town will tend to have comedians telling jokes at the expense of other towns or the minority groups within that town- a sort of bullying.
Comedy affords an opportunity to laugh at events and problems that are not funny in any way. The pent up frustrations are given a release through laughter, and this helps to reduce tension.
Of all the tribal stereotypes on offer in Nigerian comedy, the most politically incorrect and vicious lampooning seems to be reserved for the Calabar people. Why?
Calabar People
This widely used term in Nigeria - Calabar people is somewhat inaccurate. Calabar is the Capital of Cross River State, which was created in February 1976 out of the former South Eastern State (created May 27, 1967 out of the former Eastern region).
The three major language groups in Cross River State are; Efik, Bekwara and Ejagham.
Akwa Ibom State was created in September 23, 1987 and was craved out of the Old Cross River State. The major ethnic groups in Akwa Ibom are Ibibio, Anang and Oron.
To the average Nigerian the two states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River are simply called Calabar, partly due to ignorance and also due to the fact that till date many Nigerians have not gotten a hang of the current map of Nigeria!
The various languages in these two states are also loosely called Calabar or Efik.
History, Myths and Icons.
Like I have alluded to before, comedy requires the audience to ‘get’ the story as it starts so that the ‘punch line’, usually an unexpected outcome, achieves maximum impact.
The people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River have a distinctive accent known to most audiences in Nigeria. This lends itself to comedy very readily.
I also suspect that their rich history and culture which features strong iconoclastic characters makes them exotic or perhaps enigmatic, thus making stories about them appear much more interesting.
These people of the South Eastern part of Nigeria are not known for rioting, so perhaps the Nigerian comedians and script-writers feel confident that there will be no back lashes from the ‘polite and dignfied’ Calabar when they are mercilessly lampooned in the name of entertainment.
The most Dramatic things in Nigeria as a whole seem to happen to the ‘Calabar people’ and here I begin my list.
Mary Slessor (1848-1915), the Queen of Calabar, was a Scottish missionary who lived and worked with the people of Okoyong for many years. She learnt the Efik language and died in those parts. Her grave stands there till date. She is credited with stopping the killing of twins in these parts and stopping the trial of witches by the Calabar Ordeal Bean.
A Dr W F Daniel first reported the use of this bean; Physiostigma Venenosum, a woody vine and known to all students of Physiology world wide, in 1846.
People suspected of Witchcraft were forced to eat some of the beans, which contained Physiostigmine. There were three out comes possible.
Firstly, if the beans are vomited and the patient survives then they were acquitted. Secondly, if they had abdominal symptoms and survived they were sold into slavery. Finally, if they died, they were deemed guilty.
Missionaries at the time learnt to swallow the beans when captured by the ‘natives’ and put through the ordeal. They then regurgitated the beans up and survived. They had learnt that the deadly Physiostigmine was only released after chewing the bean (Na Beans!).
John Newton (1725 to 1807), the author of the world famous hymn Amazing Grace was said to have been inspired to write this hymn after hearing traditional songs in Old Calabar when he was a Captain on a Slave ship. This story has been the subject of numerous writings, documentaries and films, including Fred Amata’s Amazing Grace released in 2006. These three stories have given Calabar a place in world history and folklore.
Throughout Nigeria’s recent history, a subject of discussion among men for many years is the traditional fattening rooms of Calabar have been. These are rooms where young girls are feed to obese proportions for months and also taught how to satisfy a man ie sexually, through coking, home management skills, respect for in laws etc. This has given rise to the myth that Calabar girls know how to take care of a man. And since comedy is a male dominated profession, this image of beautiful girls with insatiable sexual appetites, the stuff male fantasy, gains expression during stand up routines.
Another myth is that Dog meat is eaten regularly in Calabar and its environs and this meat somehow confers a sexual stamina on the women who eat it.
Then there is the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star whose leader is Olumba Olumba Obu, who claims to be God. He is a well-known ‘Calaber man’.
In more recent times the dispute over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsular between Nigeria and Cameroun has brought the area into the limelight. The International Court of Justice in 2002 awarded the peninsular to the Cameroun to the consternation of many Nigerians. The word Bakkassi was used as a jocular slang for female buttocks and also serves as a name for the vigilante group, Bakkassi boys.
This South Eastern area is on its way to becoming a major tourist attraction with the opening of Tinapa; a business and leisure development. The Obudu cattle ranch is also a much talked about destination boasting of a cool climate due to its high altitude (1,542m) and affording visitors to embark on horse riding, hiking and the like.
In London, there is a well known restaurant called Mama Calabar.; a place where nutritional needs are meet.

Pure Water

Pure Water
Pure water ,pure water
The little boy said
Will quench all your thirst
And cool down your head
It is good for madam
Perfect for Oga
Pure water pure water
The little boy said

Dr W Orhiunu
My Time 2005


Once knew a happy tailor
Whose shop was on his head
He played with his big scissors
As he sought his daily bread
I will patch up all your trousers
And stitch up all your shirts
And if your girl is growing tall
I will loosen up her skirts
Sat down by the big tree trunk
A busy man was he
Had piles of clothes on each side
Was as happy as can be
He sang of friends and soldiers
who died during the war.
And when the clothes were finished,
he eat some cold paw-paw
Dr W Orhiunu
My Time. 2005.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Little Man

Now Man

Young Man

My Time

Copy of my book containing over 100 'library bangers'. Looking for a forward thinking Nigerian publisher or any other publisher for that matter to take it on.
Strange thing is my self published and internet published poems are better lknown than most of the works being published (Sebi I will blow my own mouth organ now).
Soon and very soon.....

Lagba-Wilson 07

YMSFAD Book signing. Ldn06

Bupa Great North Run- 2005