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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Friday, March 12, 2010

TWF Diaries Long Road To Shonga

Episode 6
Tuesday June 2 2009

Trouble, the show plans for Kwara fell through so we all gathered in the morning to plot alternate scenarios, we toyed with going to Ibadan but the consensus was to continue as planned to Ilorin.

We shot Idanre again on our way out of town.

The drive was long but interesting, l like driving through the forest.

Idanre is a seductress lying languidly on the windy road, coyly emerging and dipping out of sight, teasing your senses as the mysterious arms of the forest envelop the road.

In nature, everything is perfectly balanced, in perfect harmony. Idanre is regal, beckoning yet aloof. She is majestic, beautiful, remote, the clouds behind her moving in a hypnotic rhythmic dance of honour. She welcomes you or so you think into her bosom and suck you into her belly. You are ecstatic, yet fearful, will she hug or crush you. Her skin is smooth and silky but for the raised jagged lesions that do not disfigure, but mark her as exceptional.

We arrived Ilorin and our hotel was like something out of a horror movie, like a perfect scene from the shinning. Some of the guys took one look, packed their bags and left. I tried to brave it but the dirt, the life-strangulating stench; the desolation all eventually drove me out. We relocated some people but could not find space for others that night so they got drunk and survived the place in a drunken stupor. We moved them all to other hotels in town the next day.

Highlight of a long tedious day was finding amala, abula and goat meat at 10pm.

Wednesday June 3rd
We had a lucky break. I had badly wanted us to do the story of the Zimbabwean farmers but we were mislead regarding location and distance and I was by then sick and tired of the sharp suit wearing, fake phonetics speaking lau-lau spending crowd at my hotel so we decided to return to Lagos, take a break and finish the Lagos stories.

However one of the guys from SA stumbled on one of the farmers at lunch and got talking, it turned out that the information we got was wrong and we were back on track. Was run down by now so spent the day in the hotel talking with all sorts of people whilst the guys did the Reece and put the logistics together to shoot the Kwara stories. I was struck by the disconnect of the majority of the skirt chasing, contract seekers in my hotel from the reality of the environment. Driving here I had noticed the subsistent farmers eking a living from their little farms whilst hectares of arable land laid fallow and wondered how much longer all the fat dudes in the sharp suits expect the skinny ragged old farmers to continue feeding them.


Thursday June 4THUp at 4am for hair and make up, the guys came late, we quarreled, they got me ready, I sulked, I’m sleep deprived and my allergies are riving me nuts. I studied my fungal toe as we drove through the rough terrain to the Fulani village led by a young guide perpetually chatting on him mobile phone as he rode his Okada ahead of us.

At the sight of the village, my anger vanished; it is so picturesque and clean.
I was charmed; the people are simply stunning to look at but reticent. It took a long while to gain their trust and confidence speaking through an old Yoruba retired nurse and widow who had lived amongst Hausas and Fulani’s up north for most of her life.

It had been tough to find just the right interpreter. The village head was young, alert and unwell, he kept asking for medication for his fever.

The same issues we’ve encountered everywhere are present; malaria, lack of access to water, clinics, schools and electricity. The peculiar concerns here are tsetse flies, which kill the cows and muscular skeletal pains and ailments due to the long treks of the herdsmen. I was pleasantly surprised to find them willing to leave the women and children behind in permanent settlements whilst they remain nomadic just so the children can be educated.

None of the children currently go to school although there are school in surrounding villages. The girls are married off too young and the children loved the jollof rice and chicken we gave them at lunch. They had never eaten jollof rice. We bought wara from the women, wrapped up the shoot and headed out just as it started to pour.

After the rain we drove to the pot making community on the outskirts of Ilorin and the people were the most surly, unresponsive and quarrelsome people ever. It was a bit sad and mercenary, as they kept demanding money. I was glad to be out of that mud and mire, as the shoot was quick and uninspiring.

The rest of the planned communities were just as unlovable and unviable, I was angry at the cynicism of the people even though I understand the cause. I can easily see the contemptuous relationship between the leaders and the lead and the vicious circle of mutual exploitation. We wrapped up an exhausting and mostly disappointing day of shoot and I went to bed a little dejected.

Friday June 5th
It’s my friend Remi’s birthday and we had been filming for 4 weeks, I was terribly home sick. I was up at 5 am and shit faced with exhaustion and malnutrition. The security man at the hotel tried to throw his weight around but by now I had had it with the place. The hotel is a pretentious little shit hole with the ego problems of an emotionally retarded alpha male. She has the pretension of grandiose of the Abuja Hilton without any of its pseudo affluence. She attracts odious political jobbers, laagers and perverts with distended stomach and retracted scrotum.

I pitied the poor new eager GM who was doing his best to reorganize the place. I hope he succeeds. I do admit that by now, I was a tired, frustrated, bloody minded, fire spitting, eye ball rolling, out and out bitch and a frigging diva, but hey it has been one hell of a journey and the place is the pits. I miss my daughter, my bed, my shower, my cook, my food, my friends….I gave myself a mental slap and got a grip.

We drove to Shonga and I had mixed feeling about the Zimbabwean farmers, to be honest I was a little skeptical about the project. I was inclined to see it as another example of our self-loathing and to resent the farmers.

By the end of the shoot, my perception had changed; I was humbled by the human story behind these old men and the loss of their farms in Zimbabwe and starting all over again in Nigeria. I was impressed by the farms and what they had achieved with little and the battles they are fighting. I found the state official Abubakar Kannike refreshingly drama free, knowledgeable, connected and open with information. I knew that this is just scratching the surface of a very important story.



The Shonga farm story had redeemed our Ilorin adventure and we left for Lagos very satisfied. Some of us flew back, others drove back in the convoy; we all arrive Lagos around about the same time to the embrace of my eight year old who had grown a few inches taller in my absence.



Long Road To Shonga airs on Africa Magic Sunday March 14th at 6pm Nigerian time 7pm CAT.

1 comments:

Gregbosa said...

is there anyway we can watch your show online? thanks, keep up the good work!