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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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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Getting AMAAed

Yes I am enjoying my balcony experience, just watching the world go by or should I say watching the news, stories, events and issues go by. Yes I do feel pregnant with thought, opinions, ideas and stories but I do tend to suffer from inertia being in truth a glutton for tranquility (shamelessly stolen from Kongi) roused only by the realization of the inevitability of involvement and intervention.

Yes I don come with my gibberish. Someone who has done well in my absence is Mutiu who has been valiantly putting up the posts in my absence. Mutiu, the quiet and stable suddenly announces that he is getting married in June, meanwhile my longest serving, most loyal, most versatile, most practical team member Abigail (called Abiboy for her no nonsense, hands-on, nothing too challenging, one of the boys approach to work, I wont get into the gender politics of that) had shocked me with an announcement that she was getting married in May, in fact the wedding is on Saturday. I have suddenly discovered my bride monster (mother) instincts.
I have really cool people working with me, the pint sized bulldozing Seki, the deceptively unobtrusive but witty and mischievous Funmi and the rest of the band. We are a lean, mean multi tasking, multi functioning team and we are set now for really exciting times.

Last weekend Seki and Funmi attended the AMAA awards on invitation from the organizers. We always pay the fare, board and feeding for all assignments as with Seki's trip to cover Aishat Babangida's wedding the week before but they were invited on this trip as media guests of AMAA. This is their story.

I was startled awake by the annoying ringing sound of my phone at 5am, it none other than my colleague, the witch a.k.a Sekinat on the phone.
'Funmi, did you get the text message I sent to you?"
Not even a good morning,

"What text, Seki?"

"Funmi get up, get up, Tope just called me now, he says we should be should be at the airport before 7am, that he has tickets for both of us"
Wondering why Tope did not call the night before, I grudgingly answered "Okay".
"Please hurry, you know today is environmental sanitation Saturday, please pick up the cameras at the office on your way to the airport'

I was tired and feeling unwell, I just completed a malaria dose the night before and I really had thought we would not be going for the AMAA awards anymore, because two days earlier, Sekinat had gone to get the tickets for the trip but had been told to return on Friday; as at Friday evening when we were leaving the office and still hadn't received the tickets, we had concluded that we were not going for the trip.
We should have stuck with our conclusion.

At the Airport
At 6.20am, I am marching into the international airport lobby, struggling with my travel bag and the two camera bags slung on my right shoulder. Sekinat, and a few other journalist are already at the airports, I drop my bags and ask Sekinat, if she had collected our tickets and what flight we are on? , she has no idea, as the man with the details of the trip, had not arrived. I was puzzled, I thought he would have been waiting at the airport, handing us our tickets as we walked in.

I notice also at the airport, a few Nigerian actors and actresses, (Any need to mention the names?) all waiting with their travel bags and boxes. An hour later, he strolls in smiling.
What was amusing him?
I'll save you the long story and drama that ensued, at 8.30am he finally presented us with tickets, but it wasn't our names that were on the tickets. I brought this to his notice assuming that it was a mistake and then he nodded that he knew, but that "we should go like that."

'Excuse me," I snapped. "I can always return home; why should you give us tickets with somebody else's name?

'Isn't there a list?" Seki asked.

He slithers off to meet some other guy, with Sekinat behind him, monitoring and directing him, we finally get our tickets, with our names on it but we cannot be checked in for the 9am flight, the checking in time had closed

We were seated at the airport lounge for 2 hours, when Virgin Nigeria announced that the flight for 11.40am had been delayed for another one hour. I became weak and too angry to speak and looked at Sekinat; we consoled ourselves and had a lousy breakfast of watery tea and meat pie at the snack bar at the lounge.

Finally at 1.30pm, the boarding announcement was made, we boarded the plane. It was not a Virgin Nigeria aircraft; it was an aircraft belonging to Blueline, with white French speaking cabin crew. We joked about the plane and prayed that we will land safe at our destination, a joke that Sekinat took seriously and prayed over four times. Who can blame her, when she had a near death experience flight with aero contractors, two weeks before?
The flight was not good.

The congress hall
By 7pm, we were all dressed up for the event; we arrived at the congress hall of the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, the venue of the African Movie Awards 2008.
Paparazzi were already on the red carpet, snapping away at our gorgeous and not –so-gorgeous celebrities.

The two hosts on the red carpet? It will be unkind to say how poor their work was but perhaps less unkind to say one had on a good outfit which showed off proudly her non pregnant bump!
When we got into the hall, everyone had been ushered out of the hall, to have cocktail, and we had drinks and went into hall.

I was so glad we did, because we wouldn't have gotten seats, not because the hall was full already but because, they had given the ushers instructions on where the press and journalists were suppose to seat.(Please what is the difference between press and journalists?).

The boxing ring at the entrance
The guests started coming into the venue, I was close to the entrance to take pictures as the guests came in, and then all hell broke lose, I started hearing raised voices and saw exchange of blows, between the bouncers at the door of the hall and some of the guests.
The fight started because some people did not have IVs and press tags, and some actors were trying to bring their friends and relations in without Amaa Invitation cards, many unsuspecting guests were caught up the in boxing match and had to fight their way in. It was a pathetic scene.

The Event
It started with national anthem, played on a local xylophone, followed by a traditional performance about Baylesa state. The first hosts for the day were introduced; Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme(Aki and paw paw) and then the second hosts Ramsey Noah and Stephanie Okereke came in with their nasal Americanized Nigerian English.

Highlights of the event
Basorge Tariah Jnr. He thrilled the guests with his great sense of humour.
Timaya- He gave a sterling performance and danced his heart out
P-square gave a good performance too.
Ms.Angela Basset, Holly wood star actress, who I doubt was interviewed by any journalists at the event or even interacted with any Nigerian actress at all.
Timi of West Africa idol

In Sekinat words, there no organization, no content, no glitz, no glamour, no razzmatazz!" and I totally agree.

The Sunday after
We were left stranded. It took a major tantrum to get our return ticket as well as get accommodation for the night but we were lucky, some journalists did not leave Hilton till about 10pm and were lodged in a seedy hotel, they were fed by 11pm and given some money which was not enough to even get them to the airport and buy a ticket. They had to travel back to Lagos by road.

We were thoroughly hammered by AMAA.
Monday, April 21, 2008

Week starter

Hello People!
How was your weekend? It wasn't okay at my own end here, because NEPA or PHCN never allow the electricity to last for even 2 hours. It was a season of "flashing" 4 hours in between; so also the Lagos traffic this morning was hectic as usual and the transport fare was increased by 30%. Don't really know when our Lagos will be free of traffic jam. Please share your experience here about the traffic situation/experience on your route.

These news stories might interest you.
A pregnant Spanish defence minister, Carme Chacon visits Afghanistan unannounced. According to reports the minister has no military background. She must be very brave woman to visit her country’s soldiers in Afghanistan.

An Ex-California Mayor and wife (Jim Nehmens and Kelly Nehmens) were sentenced to 6 months in jail for the theft of more than $20,000 from Little League coffers. The couples pleaded quilt for the offence. In Nigeria, our politicians run away in order to avoid been interrogated by the anti-graft agencies.

FI will back with you later this week

Have a great week ahead!!!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The facts

On going conversations involve the probe on power sector which revealed that about $16billion was spent on reforms since 1997 to 2007 and Nigerians still have no hope of constant power supply. A company Pivot Engineering like all the other companies who were issued the reforms contract wanted to clear their name from the scandals and they came up with this Facts Document. We just hope the money “spent” so far will be recovered and channel to the power sector to be betterment of Nigeria’s economy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What’s your take?

Reading through Ayodeji Omotade’s ordeal in the hands of the British Airways and police makes my heart bleeds. What’s your take on this?
Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Flash back

FI is still away at the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Programme (ATLP).
In the meantime, this is the interview she had with Mrs. Bolanle Ogunmola, a molue female conductor. Enjoy!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Desert Man

I call him the desert man. I met chief Newton Jibunoh 8 years ago; it was in the age of innocence. 6.30 am and I tore my battered Suzuki sidekick into the huge compound of NTA 10 in a cloud of sand and smoke to start the show. New Dawn at the time was a madcap multi segmented 2-hour daily breakfast show and I was the chief crasewoman in charge. As I crash packed the car and bounded off towards the studio, looking like last nights dinner and clutching my notes and bowl of pineapples, I saw a calm, fit looking older man in denim, sleeves rolled up smiling at me. Questions tore through my sugar-deprived brain rapidly, is this my guest? Why is he here so early, didn't they say he was 62, the man looks 42 and why the hell is he smiling so contently so early in the morning? All these as I welcomed him and ushered him into the guest room whilst I attempted to transform myself into a resemblance of TV worthiness (these were the humble days before Bayo). I had a blast with him and he is one of the screen to life friends I have made in my career so much so that I wrote a couple of chapters of his book Me, My Desert and I.

Chief Jibunoh is an unusual man in our environment. The story of his life, and famed drive from London to Lagos in a VW beetle in the 60s, the repeat journey 8 years ago and now a third journey taking along an eclectic group of young talented people inspires. In an environment where the average 70 year old blocks the street to celebrate the birthday, Jibunoh takes to the desert for a cause complete with a new generation he hopes to pass the baton to. I have interacted with him, his lovely, equally ageless wife and children and I can tell you that his is a fertile, untiring, unaging mind.

I hear that he and his crew are in Rabat now having crossed the Sahara desert and the Atlas Mountain to raise awareness on desertification. You can keep tabs with them on Ebun Olatoye's blog but here is the video of his new dawn appearance as well as images and details of the journey.
Thursday, April 03, 2008

Stepping out

FI, as we all call her, is on her way to Cape Town to participate in the workshop for young leaders awarded the Desmond Tutu African Leadership Institute's Fellowship. Meanwhile here is a brilliant article by Chimamanda Adichie in the UK guardian which also mentions Funmi. Even more interesting are the comments of readers.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rock On

Having ducked out of events for some six months, I began to slowly resurface since the ovation carol on Christmas and by last weekend I had done the rounds. The reason? Funmi's Favourites is coming ;-). For the City people awards, Bayo and I toyed with wearing flats on a short canary yellow evening gown in cheeky rebellion and nod to smart gal fashion but then we thought nah, too risky, people might not get it.

Truly, beautifully, creatively mad fashion is so endangered in a safe conformist world. As a lover of British eccentricity, Asian kitsch, French insouciance and the 60s Yoruba fashion, I am often appalled at the colonization of the world by safe, glossy American inspired fashion.

This is why at this season, I terribly miss Emmy Collins who only spends a few months a year in Nigeria. I would have walked onto that carpet with that dress and those flats if I had the dandy meets rock star arms of Emmy to lean on. I once had lunch in Soho with Emmy and the entire street stood to attention, no one was looking at me.

A lot of people do not seem to get Emmy here, which is a shame because he is one of the bright lights in an otherwise bland male fashion landscape. The man who wears Emmy clothes is a born star whatever his profession. You need bags of confidence and panache to pull off those cuts, colours and textures, not to mention a nice tight butt. No long thing!

As it happens the stars get him, just look at Phil Collen of Deff Leppard performing in an Emmy shirt and then sporting his jacket on a promotional poster. Emmy my brother you rock, come home soon, it's lonely on the bloody red carpet without you.

That picture was taken at my last birthday party, as usual I am in admiration of Emmy's Style.

Hired, Tired or Fired?

I am yet to see Apprentice Africa with Biodun Sobanjo so l don't know what to make of this scathing review. Is this true?