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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, November 24, 2006


Okay I’m writing this article in my head. I’m in the shower peering through the mirror at the angry rash on my face and body, benign chastisement from my body for the excesses of South Africa. The hot water lashes at my back even as hot sunlight streaks in through the parted curtains and the last bars of the Phantom of the Opera soprano screams a surround (read that to mean five antiquated speakers wired into my bedroom, bathroom, study and micro gym enclave, my friends warn me that l shall expire of electrocution if l don’t get rid of the contraptions and get one of those cute itsy wireless surround sound things but l love my eccentric assemblage) crescendo to my delight and my neighbours dismay. Fortunately my nearest neighbour is the equally eccentric Yemi whose guitar playing and drumming from his eclectic compound has exasperated and delighted me in turns since l moved here four years ago.
As my smart play list (love Apple, will marry Steve Jobs one day) strikes up the cords to Weird MC’s IJO YA, l jump out of the shower and begin prancing in front of my full length mirror shaking my poor specimen of an African backside in imitation of the animated women in the track’s lovable video and the lovely bootylicious women of South Africa. If l can sum my trip to Cape Town in four words, they will be arse, films, food and wine. Now boys, boys don’t get excited yet, the explanation is less colourful than it sounds.

I woke up the day after my arrival to a raging flu, my body having succumbed to the pressure I’d been on recently and the incredible winds of our first day in Cape Town. Me, l no de gree so l wear black footless tights, bodysuit, wrap dress and scarf (in the height of summer o) eliciting a few weird Osofia in London (Nigerian new arrival in London comedy character) looks from people. I do not take note as l focussed on going to Robben Island with Tunde Kelani (TK), Makin Soyinka, Onoshe Nwabuikwu and Sekinat. It all started to go wrong when Makin suggested we stop at his place for breakfast. He had fried up a heartbreakingly (also heart attack worthy) sinful English breakfast and of course excellent wine and champagne to go. I beseech Makin to start a food and wine magazine, thus exceptional is his talent. By the time we polished the lot, it was midday and TK insisted that there was a great African movie being screened in the Township as part of the festival, a must see. We postponed Robben Island and got in a taxi l had hired for the day driven by a toothless Methuselah with the instinct of a Lagos area boy. After getting lost once and being taken through the longest most convoluted route we arrive at the makeshift hall in a place bearing close resemblance to Amukoko. The technical hitches were reminiscence of an NTA live broadcast of a PDP rally but when the film started, nobody moved from the first scene to the closing credit, not a few hands were surreptuosly wiping away tears, my face was unabashedly wet. TK was right, what a wonderful film, a thriller about an asylum seeking family from the Congo who just wanted to settle into a new life in Dublin leaving the demons of their past behind. Problem is the demons will not be so easily rested and nothing is actually what it seems with this family. The acting was superb including Hakeem Kae Kazim from Hotel Rwanda and Lost and the lead actor France based Cameroonian star Eric Ebouaney who was in the audience and took the question and answer session. Eric is classy, urbane, debonair and connected to his roots. The film, low budget, simply but creatively shot. I recommend it strongly. Oh yes, it is called FRONTLINE by David Gleeson

By the time we got to the city and called the Robben lsland Tour booker, we found out that the tour is booked solid through summer, we in our usual unconscious 9ja (Nigerian) way had assumed that no planning was required, you just get there and go.

Well since l had a cold and l could not go to robben lsland or do much running around l decided to located myself at the mall on the water front where l can watch the movies on the screening list, eat and drink and watch the women go by.
Now before you start getting ideas, l am heterosexual (as though that calls for a medal) but l am fully able to admire other women without envy, a personality flaw that l thoroughly enjoy.
Now somebody please tell me what the women eat in South Africa. I had noticed it on previous trips but never as much as now perhaps because of the unashamed amount of food and wine fuelled time l devoted to it. All the women have backsides to die for, from the cutesy little five year olds to the big mamas, regardless of colour, station, creed or race. I saw Caucasians with arse, Indians with arse; heck l even saw a Chinese woman with arse. Even the skinny gals got arse. I am not talking about any old cellulity, runny eggs hippy arse o. These are big, flesh and muscle arses wide on the hip and high on the rear, proudly holding up such tinsy waist and often full chest. The women are a delight to watch, their arses often irreverently encased in custom made in SA (the thin obsessed west cannot be designing for this beauties) jeans regardless of age as they walk on by with their often curiously puny men. Makin, Tk, Onoshe and l spent a few lazy afternoons in serious intellectual contemplation of this observation as we sample the insanely cheap and ridiculously excellent cuisine and wine.
I had a three course meal with the freshest mussels, queen and king prawns, calamari, oysters and a lobster some cooked in a gorgeous herby wine sauce and the rest grilled to juice dripping perfection with baby potatoes and the most crisp red sauvignon all for about $35! Yes seriously. I am forever frustrated by the pretentious restaurants in Lagos charging a fortune to serve marinated saw dust and otokoto wine and l will never understand people who step of out Nigeria and begin to demand Eba and Apu especially when they are going back home in four days. I have two Akwa lbom ladies in my house so l do not lack gourmet Nigerian food and l have stopped trying to find a great restaurant in Lagos (there are a few so so ones) but the best eating out experience in Lagos as agreed by Makin a connoisseur of film, food, wine and…ok l promised him l wont say, are the mama put joints. God bless Iya Eba in Onikan and nobody can beat the mama put joints in Cotonou, Lome and Togo, se bon! Okay as you can see food excites me. Aside the women, food and wine. The other things we did as l said was watch the movies at the festival and there was a rich selection covering different themes. My favourites were the afore mentioned Frontline, Tunde Kelani’s Abeni, excellent acting, simple love story and excellent photography and cinematography on a low budget. There was also A Good Year starring the bad but wonderfully gifted Russell Crowe, flawless acting, and beautiful scenery, cutting edge, brilliant dialogue in a sensuous French setting. Finally there was the inimitable Pedro Almodavar’s Volver which l had seen earlier in London’s sexy ritzy cinema in Brixton. Penelope Cruz at her best in her native tongue, a simultaneously dark and sensual tragicomedy about family, superstitions, secrets, incest, murder and sacrifice. A real visual treat.
There were of course the usual meetings and discussions, the most intense being on whether Nollywood needs standards or not, l didn’t attend. Like everything else Nollywood has immense potentials, every waiter that attended to me whether white or black asked after AKI and PAWPAW but Nollywood will never be taken seriously or make the kind of money it should unless we apply a little literature to the film making. Anyone can use a pen, not many can write a poem. That aside from issues of distribution, marketing, and so on but make dem just dey go on soun (keep at it) eventually the boys will be separated from the men. That of course was what happened as we all departed one after the other, makin and l sharing a last bowl of chips and glass of wine as we flew to Johannesburg, he onward to Kenya, myself and Seki to Lagos. I ate my last heavy meal and drank a glass of wine and reclined my Virgin Nigeria seat into a bed to sleep before Lagos slaps me in the face and my lactose, wheat and alcohol intolerant body completes her revolt, the first rashes are already visible. Fours hours later we land and the pilot apologetically announces that the tow truck has over heated so we are going to wait for it to cool down before the plane is towed to the hanger for us to disembark. I smiled and relaxed in my seat, l am home.


cleo.kelvin said...

well aunt funmi dont know wat to say cos many tings are going thru,my mind and i tink i need to release dem lik why do same old people keep picking tikets even if dey are as old as my greatgrapa rather dan leave de younger generatin to run .
somtims i wonder wat inec and our youths are tinking cos de seem to do much of tuking rather dan action u know iosee many young apirants frusrated out of der race not cos of no money or sponsor but cos of de old use their friends and youths against dem
or tell mi why does one who ruled wende world as in dark dat military want to achie4ve now dat he couldn do b4 if not for de certificate. rather dan giv way for der sons since its der famly dynasty com to tink of it wat givs uem de morale if not crazedateveryone is a foo lik in umuahia i ve not seen inec officials and yet after election de number u hear is mor dan de registered.
do u know dat inimo state de stud. are on strike and all de gover.cud tink of is his campaign tell i u dont win ur state how do u win outsiders and do u know why its an increase in skool fes to8000 for state skools were other states are free tdou de students pay thru handwork and other levies and non payment of teahers salaryor is it abia stae wer a whole chief of staff 6billion was found in his wifes accont and she went intohiding has de corage to canmpaign u know he either steals de state or i dont know.he bought plates as usual. watdo utink happen to our generation cos if des crooks rule agai we hav notin but debts which is de one ting dat neva finishes u know i know honest rich people want to com out but de dirt sends dem packing an den de start telling of stuffs dat after deir first tenure stoops working and secobnd tenure for money whil e poor masses suffer

cleo.kelvin said...

u might wonder whos dis is it de same ell am a kid torn between reality and my experiences u know searchin for souls to save and feeling helpless cos many stil suffer my faith.then de girl who weeps for her conty which is blessed but due to our overlook and waiting on de gov. 4 evertin spoils all. tell me wats dere in keepin de promises u made b4 being voted in its not lik de forced u to tuk if u do dat is u community not good .den de gov does ders will anytin happen to us, rather we wait 4 gover.
u know wealth is not all cos u dont know abut tommorrow so live today wisely .
still de same cleoterria

Naijadude said...

"I smiled and relaxed in my seat, l am home."....Was that supposed to be a sarcasm? In retrospect about the flying coffins in Nigeria, I bet that sentence could be identified the Nigerian airline business.
Seems like you had your fair share of food and wine in South Africa, makes me want some wine right now!
Good blog as ever, Miss Funmi

Anonymous said...

Hello fummi , the issue I would like to talk about is - Nollywood
help me please I really want to know if all the Igbo guys I see around town driving hummers and things are all ritualist I thought movies were suppose to be a reflection of what happens in our societies ? Well I think we are actually selling rubbish and kanyo .o . kanayo and nollywood directors should be held responsible
Is Sir Tunde Kelani part of Nollywood . I hope not !

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ cleo.kelvin, the question is what are YOU going to do?
Nigeria needs new leaders young, old, male, female. Just good leaders period! We wont get them until we institute a system that allows them emerge, supports them and defends the process. To do that requires de-emoting, engagement and cooperation.

Toni Payne said...

"marinated saw dust and otokoto wine" ok. that had me laughing my ass off. I keep saying most things including food is over priced in naija especially in these so called posh areas.

I am officially a hater, how do you eat sooo much and stay slim. Gosh!:(. If I tried it, I'd be shopping for a new wardrobe before you can say cheesecake.

cleo.kelvin said...

hiwelcome back

cleo.kelvin said...

well aunt funmi wasnt referring to de old cos de old are belived to bewise but wende cheat de society andyouthj of der future oalso cant just help telling u wat happened last week in imo uknow de primaries wer conducted and gunshots was heard everywer plus de cult bopys de are using so tell how does such a candidate win after all fis cos do u tink we are full including god knows wat inec has upder sleeves cos it makes people forget de good de are doing.
abutde movie industry de stil hav a lot of work to do tel me how do u watch a movie wen all the script writers dois copy a foreign movie and change de names sometimes de dont such as forever yours,unfaithful,breakup and even go ahead to copy demselves or is it de noof parts and disgusting nams repititions lik games angels play123,games men play123, games women play123, love boat,tiangle,samadora,angel,beautiful angel.
or is it de oral english or fixing of finger nails wen acting village girl role maks u wonder if de are nigerians cos de fake a lot dat u cant even place de english,abi de weavon even if na ten years its stilsame hair and nailsplus accident wen no approaching cab and glass being broken but blood is on de victims facecaused by abrasionso na from wer it tak com.
pls lots hav to be done otherwise after watching movie u no go fit chop o and worse is u can summarise it in 3 sentences.
so thank god ur journey was cool despite de flying caskets ofour country and wat of de pics iasked for abi u no snap.

Nkem said...

I went to school with some South African girls, and I also always wondered about their backsides. It's quite amazing, because it does indeed cut across all strata. Unbelievable.

Unknown said...

Your description of naija cuisine at some of these glorified joints chuckles me. I have often wondered how come we hike the prices of our food when comparably, they cost less outside of 9ja. And it's not like the quality is so great afterall.

How amazing that going on hols in SA for me is also about the food, wine and movies. I do note that the women are exactly as you described though, and I have wondered how come. My first 3 trips was to Jo'burg so I though it was a Jo'burg thing....until I went to Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban. It's a South african phenomenon...perhaps something to inquire further?

On the note of naija food and its costs, did yu notice that our meals/restuarants are the dearest in comparison to other cultural cuisines when you're abroad? London, Jo'burg, Houston, Paris etc etc... the average cost of naija cuisine is about 30% more than indian, chinese, Thai, french and others. I have often asked, and the answer (from the 9ja perspective) is that groceries are often scarce and sometimes imported....

Sounds very much like a normal 9ja man's response to me; home or abroad!

Anonymous said...

Goodness! Phew! Had to come up for a breather to make this quik comment! Reading u is like standing in the eye of a raging wind (don't know if there is anything like that!) and hanging on to something to for dear life! are u for real? I started watching your show some time back and initially I couldn't stand most of your jokes which I found lousy and in bad taste, but I continued to watch and slowly I began to see a new dawn emerge! I must say that u have the touch and I see u as leaving many behind at the top (dont go getting ideas about climbing a mountain, or something equally crazy!) and go sailing in the stars(not like being with the angels or anything about dying o!) and then I got curious when I saw your blogsite and wanted to see what it was about and I started to read, I am so full of I don't know what (and I am heterosexual too!)that u could knock me with a feather! the truth is that u write even better and I think that quality that makes the viewer and indeed the person being interviewed that he or she is the center of your universe is the most amazing thing about your show, and your writing... its simply Art!I am a writer myself and one who is critical, values creativity even when they don't conform to or go in line with my values, and when I see a truly great personality I am humbled. See u at the top girl!(Don't think I am going to leave you there to eat up all the cherries!)(Sorry for the long comment... got carried away!)- Summayyah