Wednesday, 12 October 2011


I had a baby. She’s the cutest little thing in the world and I do not say this because she is my daughter. She really is cute. Of course she has my genes.
I made a movie: OkonLagos which was financed by my brother. It is only family and friends who will take the risk of investing in your first work. I set out to make a commercial movie and I succeeded. It’s done very well, particularly in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states for obvious reasons. My feeling is that of gratitude because it could easily have gone wrong. Despite putting what I considered the elements for a successful Nollywood movie, there are simply no guarantees. As one of my friends would say, Nollywood is spiritual. You can’t explain why one person would rise to become an A-lister in one year and some others will remain D-listers for a lifetime despite being better actors. 
I celebrated 5 years in marriage. Who would have thought. Even my husband is surprised I haven’t yet cooked him for dinner. Yes, he has plenty wahala but so do I.
I visited home: Ikot Ekpene. I couldn’t believe how much it’d changed. Expanded roads, street/traffic lights, more companies etc. PHCN remains a problem. One day maybe. was born. Unfortunately I am anti-pidgin so that one would be passing over me. I do not listen to Wazobia or any of those stations.  I think that there is already a huge divide between the upper/middle class and lower class and pidgin just makes it worse. You know, like we’re saying, we’ll speak Queens English and teach our children same, you guys stay down there and speak your pidgin. Everyone in my opinion should have a chance of getting to the top and language is key.
Steve Jobs died. I didn’t know him much while he lived but in death we seem to be getting close, I know, that sounds spooky,right. I read his Stay hungry, stay foolish speech and what popped out at me was not that he dropped out of school but that he dropped in on some classes, one of which was calligraphy which laid the foundation for the gadgets he would later create. In Nigeria, we’re quick to mention that some of the world’s geniuses were school drop outs but we quickly forget that they never stopped learning.  Something we seem to be averse to in Nigeria. Everyone wants a university degree but no one wants to read and actually learn. Your certificate may get you the job, but it’s your knowledge/skill that will keep it.
I’m making the blog more personal, we’ll still talk Nollywood and Arts but we’ll talk me too.
Enjoy the rest of the week.

 PS. Congratulations to Adeleke Adeyemi who just won the NLNG prize for literature for his children’s book: The missing clock. Adeleke and I attended the first Fidelity bank sponsored Chimamada Adichie’s workshop.  Yes, I’m famzing.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Uche Jombo;The D in Determination

Uche Jombo , a multi award winning actress came into Nollywood in 1999 in the movie: Visa to Hell. I have followed Uche Jombo’s career closely for many years and happened to be on set the day she nearly got fired on the set of ‘Girls in the Hood’ Uche did not impress the director nor the producer and was going to be decast. She asked for a second chance and got it. That second chance redefined her career. Uche returned to set the next day on fire. Her acting skills had drastically improved overnight to the shock of the entire cast and crew. I suspect that she didn’t sleep that night but rehearsed and rehearsed till she could rehearse no more.

When I speak to upcoming actresses, Uche is a name  I am quick to mention. She  is a clear example that hard work, determination and passion pays. She’s climbed to the top of the ladder by sheer hard work and a strong determination to succeed. Just when you think she’s about to slow down, she comes up with something new.  In 2010 she funded and co-produced Nollywood Hustlers. And on Sunday the 31st of July, 2011, Jombo will be premiering her first solo production: DAMAGE at Silverbird Galleria.

Nollyarts congratulates her and wishes her a successful career as a producer.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Domestic Violence. Aren’t we all guilty?

Akolade Lukeman Arowolo allegedly beat his wife and the woman died. Titilayo Oyakhire was a beautiful hardworking mother. Now she’s dead. Her three year old daughter will grow up without a mother and a father.

Domestic violence in Nigeria didn’t start with this family unfortunate lady and sadly won’t end with them. But it is not only Akolade that should be tried for Titilayo’s murder but the entire Nigerian society. From the mother who insists there will be no divorce in her family to the church who constantly harps on submission to the journalist whose only question to celebrities is the date of their marriage.

It’s easy for us to all play sanctimonious now and rebuke the late Titilayo for not leaving her husband while she could. But could she really? Had she gone to her family or any of her friends, would they have taken her in?

An acquaintance of mine was being battered by her husband, one day her brother walked in on them, gave the guy the beating of his life and took his sister out but as soon as he returned to his abode in Canada, the mother took her right back, claiming there was no room for divorce in their family.

When Monalisa Chinda walked out on her marriage, the media went crazy. She was labelled names that I cannot type here. Nobody wanted to know the reason, because the reason didn’t matter, in Nigeria you are supposed to marry and stay married. Period. The name calling even extended to the friend who took her in.

I just read excerpts from a Genevieve Nnaji’s interview in Tell Magazine. You would think that with all the lady’s achievements, the interview would centre on her works, but it doesn’t, it’s the same old marriage questions.

We have made marriage more important than life, than happiness, than the fulfilment of dreams.

We’ve lost Titilayo but we don’t have to lose another woman at least not by the hands of her husband. We die from too many things already in Nigeria, accidents caused by bad roads, during childbirth due to poor hospital infrastructures, and very recently bombings and more.

Several women have been wounded, maimed, killed in marriages. We can help stop or reduce this by reducing the pressure on women to marry. It would be nice if the media were not so interested in the marital status of our celebrities, if our parents were not so eager to marry us off and hear the cries of their grandchildren, and the church, oh, the church did not make the man feel so superior and the woman the greatest sinner for not attending to his whim.

As Akolade gets charged to court, let us each charge our conscience.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Youths are not smiling.

And the president said, let there be food, and there was. And he saw that the food was good, so he made it better by adding money.

Social media has been agog with news of the Lunch with the president. Was it right? Was it not right? Gloria Edozien, who attended the lunch but left before money was shared has an interesting piece on Bella Naija. Most of the comments do not condemn the lunch in itself, but the distribution of money to youths. The money is rumoured to have ranged from 50,000 to 150,000. Some group leaders may have received up to 500,000, it is said. A commenter asked why it was clouded in silence? I wonder too. Most of the invited youths blog and tweet every few minutes but apart from Tolu Ogunlesi who was several miles away, I did not see it mentioned until after the lunch. It sounds awfully suspicious, like they knew there would be more than just lunch. But twitter or no twitter, we still heard.

It is said that you cannot claim to be a thief until you have been in a position to steal and you didn’t steal. So since I was not at the lunch, was not offered any bribe, sorry, transport money. I will not point accusing fingers at anybody. I am however concerned that it is these same people who chewed D’banj and spat him out for accepting to interview the president. They said he was paid to do so, said he was not a true representative of the Nigerian youths. And I asked, who is the better representative? The bloggers, the twitterers, the ones who sit in the comfort of their homes and claim to be youth activists? While I am not undermining the impact of social media or anybody’s effort at change, it bothers me when these people feel superior to others. When they think that university degrees place them higher than the youth on the street. In my opinion D’banj is the better representative; he is hustler and has achieved much success in spite of.

I am extremely concerned about how our president is doling out money. There have been several gatherings of such in recent times and each time money was shared. 500 people were invited for the lunch, let’s say 400 got the minimum amount shared, that would be 400x50,000=NGN20,000,000. Imagine what this would do in equipping one General Hospital in the country? Could the youths not have said no, we don’t want money, use the money to buy ultrasound machines for hospitals etc and used their activism experience to ensure this is done? But in true Nigerian style, we collected the money, thereby justifying Government’s spending, tomorrow we ask that they be probed.

These youths may have smiled home with money in their pockets but there are several youths on the streets, homeless ,jobless, powerless and these youths are not smiling.

To be a youth activist, you must first be an altruist. Are there any still standing?

Thursday, 24 March 2011


In Nigeria today, women are expected to marry, never mind if they have to drag the man screaming to the altar, they are also expected to stay married, never mind if the man is beating here everyday and may soon send her to her grave. And should you decide to go against these traditional beliefs and remain single or get a divorce, then all hell will break loose. You’d think it’s a criminal offence in Nigeria to be 35 and above and still single and worse to be divorced. Our society seems to hate it when women succeed without men beside or over them as the case may be.

But in spite of this, some single women have continued to rise in their chosen careers.

From Funmi Iyanda who was recently honoured by the World Economic Forum as a 2011 Young Global Leader.

To Peace Anyiam Asigwe who runs one of the biggest African movie Awards.

To Emem Isong who is one of Nigeria’s most successful producers.

To Evelyn Oputa, the managing director of Bank of Industry, to mention but a few.

Monalisa Chinda is one of these women, having gone through a messy divorce where her ex husband granted interviews to as many press people as he could, she’s still come out with her head held high.
When asked why she didn’t respond to any her ex-husband’s allegations, she very simply replies that she has a daughter to protect and that the truth was very boldly written between the lines of his allegations, if anybody had cared enough to look.

Catwalq is one of the biggest things I have done professionally; it’s not a comeback as I never went anywhere in the first place. When you’re divorced or sometimes even widowed in Nigeria, people always find ways to make it the woman’s fault. You’re expected to cower in shame and fear for the rest of your life. But for God, good friends, fans and family who have been with me through all the pain and hurt, I, too, like other broken women, may never have been able to hold my head high.’

Catwalq tells the story of three ladies who run a fashion magazine. It follows their work, passions and travails. Lisa plays the role of a single mother in the movie but insists it’s not the story of her life. ‘I wasn’t even part of the story writing’ she says.

Catwalq has something for everyone, it was important to me that we didn’t leave anyone out.
Asked why she chose to invest in a soap as against a movie, she responds that the soap opera ,Heaven’s Gate brought her to fame and it was only natural to produce one, perhaps as a way of giving back to the society that had given her so much.

‘I also wanted to discover new talents to whom I can one day pass the baton. In soaps, you don’t necessarily need to use stars, the entire cast of Catwalq were newcomers to the industry.’
On her last words to the newcomers in Nollywood, she says: ‘Hard work, hard prayer, hard faith.’

Catwalq will hit TV screens in the 2nd quarter of 2011.

Enjoy some pictures from the set of Catwalq below.