Tuesday, February 24, 2009


[Background: On Sunday when I got to church, I sat towards the windows, the sun shining through and unto the beautiful pews, I could see the age rings of the wood, and it struck me that these furniture have been around for over 50years, it was like I could actually see the trees they came from, and it tingled something inside me that prompted me to record the feelings.

The aforementioned revelation and other personal situations inspired this piece, hope it blesses you as much as it did me while writing it.]

From the smallest of seeds your journey begins,
Buried in the dirt of the earth, you overcome death
And spring to life. Time passes by,
Your roots taste the dirt, your foliage leaves break the dirt
And your upward sprout begins.
At first you "go by" unnoticed, next our heights are equal,
In a few years your girth increases and you tower over me.
I become just another object relative to your elegance, beauty and poise,
But how can I complain when your branches brood over me
Like guarding wings - They shelter me from the pouring rain,
They give me shade in the scorching sun.
And when I need to see farther than my height affords,
A piggy back from you is all I need.
You are there for me and all who care to reach for you
Oh... what a selfless friend you are.
You clean my fumes and give me life's air,
Your generosity far exceeds your size.
When the gentle winds come by you whisper sounds of
Serenity, Peace, Love.
I look at you and remember the beauty of the simple things,
Such a beauty to behold - Mahogany!


That fateful day I walk on by and notice the void,
I look to you and you are gone.
Like your brothers and sisters you've fallen victim to the felling fellow -
Your bold beauty cut down by the lumberjack's saw
Ironically so, you've been cut down for your strength.
Now your afterlife begins. Your first stop - the timber processing center.
Your strength is translated into powerful sculpture or magnificent furniture.
Should sculpture be your fate,
You submit yourself to the nips and chips of the chisels
Day by day you give of yourself,
And day by day your new beauty is a made evident.
They call your new beauty art, but when I look closer,
I see your old self, always giving,
And now giving the aesthetic satisfaction of art.
You may not know it, but that satisfaction goes a long way,
It could even help mend a broken heart.
And should furniture be your fate,
You lie down and submit to the cutting and filing of the carpenter,
You take in those nails that hold your joints together
As you patiently wait to be a resting place for a person's glass of milk,
As in a table,
A storage place, as in a shelf or cupboard (dresser),
Or a place for one to sit and relax their tired legs,
As in a chair, a stool, a bench.
In whatever form your new life turns out to be,
You are always giving, blessing every heart.
You are a seed, you are a tree, you are mahogany,
You are sculpture, table, chair, wood,
But above all, you are a giving gift.

NB: Good is deathless, we all just need to look closer and see that it is right there with us,
blessing us and all mankind.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Nigerian Music Versus ...

[This should have been up like 2 weeks ago -- Apologies to SolomonSydelle for the delay. This post is actually my response to a post on SolomonSydelle's Nigerian Curiousity blog about the state of the Nigerian music industry. Albeit 2 years late..lol...it is still a perspective I wanna share with you all. You might wanna read her post first (if you like) because I make some references to her arguments, although I think this post reads fine on its own. If you do read her post, please note that her point of view has definately changed.]

*** Sorry for any typos/error -- had to rush my way around this***

First off I see your point as to why you might think that our music lacks identity, but what you must realize is that of all the African artists you mentioned (Salif Keita, Cesaria Evora, or even Awilo Longomba or Djouna Mumbafu) few of them have English as their Lingua Franca. Language plays a great role in what you hear from these artists (Salif Keita for example). I love his music but if you take a close listen you will see that the music is constructed inevitably to support the language giving it its "unique" flavor, that is to say that if you remove his voice, it is not too far from something that Hans Zimmer, Klaus Badelt or even any renowned jazz artist could put together should they choose to use the instruments.

Language and message is the same reason King Sunny Ade, Sir Shina Peters and the likes could go on singing to the repeatitious (sometimes monotonous) melodies from their bands and we would love it. If you even listen to Onyeka Onwenu (take Bia Nulu for instance, the "Nigerianess" of that song comes from the language, besides that the music behind is jazz). The next thing would be to ask why our artists did not continue singing in this fashion (with their various languages and instrumentation). Well Nigeria is very diverse (probably the most diverse African Nation) and we communicate across the board in English, if you even look at our most popular artist export in Africa and the western world - FELA, you will notice that he sang most of his songs in English, well its derivative 'pidgin', and his pioneered Afro-beat has a big jazz influence hence his worldwide appeal. Needless to say we still have artists singing in our various languages, and they are doing well if I must mention.

As you might have noticed, Africa's greats have some element of jazz in their music, mixed with our wonderful sounding African drums and accompanying instruments, and where this is lacking, language takes over. That "jazzified" sound also comes with the age/maturity factor, in that it is mostly the older or more mature individuals that would truly enjoy the "jazz-ness", hence partly the reason our "greats" are of the older age bracket.

So moving along to the younger generation. In this category, I believe we own the show (we don't just steal it). Our musicality comes out clean, and yes it is somewhat hip-hop/R 'n' B oriented, that inevitably comes with the age category, but still you can differentiate it from it's Western counterparts. Take a listen to the instrumentals of P-Square's "No One Like You" we own that, I don't think I can fathom it coming from anywhere else. I even have Non-Nigerian African friends who can identity a tune as Nigerian just by the instrumentals. Initially I used to get taken aback by this (because if felt like they were labelling it as commonplace), but now I realize that it is because we have a uniqueness to our sound and that gives us presence. Even in our rap/hip-hop/Afro-pop we rule (no offense to my non-Nigerians). Take for example the hottest hip-hop album of 2008 in my opinion - M.I's "Talk About It" If you haven't heard it already you should try to get a copy, even if you do not enjoy rap, he still gets to you, and not with a Western flavor, but one that is uniquely Nigerian/African, in beat and delivery, the lyrics are just sweet like bananas...lol. If only the Western world (mainly America) can listen to and accept something that is different and not from them. They always wanna recycle you before they accept you, it is still the reason why they only wanna recognize our music as African only when it is not sang in English, and when/if they eventually recognize it, they would dub the artist as either American...sorry African-American, British or European with African heritage (aren't they all), as if to say the person is African is a crime. If at all they even take notice of an artist, they classify it as world music, not Jazz, Hip-hop or R 'n' B. Anyways we are making ourselves heard, and one day the world would be forced to listen.

PS: I'll like to mention that we have a new blogger in da house, Shantell (don't mind the name, she's 100% naija..lol). Please head over to her blog and give her some blogville love.