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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, September 26, 2008

Weekend Starter

Hello people!
FI is still dealing with the challenges of Monday’s incident.
However, I know that FI will be interested in the following.
Besides she is looking forward to the Obama v McCain debate today.
Have a lovely weekend!

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

By Tim Wise
For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while if you're black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), you are a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn't fit to safeguard American institutions.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives close to Russia--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because suddenly your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36 minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and then Harvard Business school, and yet, still be seen as just an average guy (George W. Bush) while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then to Harvard Law, makes you "uppity," and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.) and that's OK, and you're cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly twenty years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you ever sold drugs.

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you "dangerously naive and immature."

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because a lot of white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

How the Credit Crunch will affect Britain


Tunde Kelani’s latest movie to be screened at Silverbird Cinema and LTV 8 Hall

The much publicised Arugba, a new cultural inclined film by top Nigerian filmmaker, Tunde Kelani has been scheduled for screening at Silverbird Cinema and Lagos Television Channel 8 hall.

Apparently, the confidence built by his production outfit, Mainframe, is the buying power coupled with the fact that Arugba seeks to correct social disorder in line with UNESCO clamour for a rethink of local languages abandonment and cultural erosion.

The movie is written by Ade Adeniji and produced/directed by Tunde Kelani himself. The filmmaker explained that the collaboration is based on experiences got at the annual Osun Osogbo festival and the latter’s inspiration from his previous documentary about the festival.

Set against the backdrop of a corrupt society seeking cleansing, rebirth and nationhood, with all the attendant intrigues, Arugba must perform her annual traditional role of carrying the sacrifice in a procession to the river.

The line up for the public screening of Arugba begins at Silverbird from Friday 26th September through October 1, being Independence Day, while Lagos Television 8 hall is expected to begin showing from Saturday September 27th through 29th at 12noon, 3PM and 6PM daily.

You can watch the film’s interesting trailer here

With Love, From Friends

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Two ends of the emotional spectrum for me today, yesterday amidst all the confusion, I was told uncle Yinka (veteran, journalist/broadcaster and frontline media consultant) had died. I knew he was very ill but had hoped and prayed he would win the battle in his usually ever upbeat way. I don’t know what to feel really, you cannot describe was a cool, happy and supportive person he was. I still can see him beaming at me mischievously and saying; "Superstar! Come here and gimme a hug before enveloping me in his shake down bear hug. As I said I am a bit numb. Rest in peace uncle yinka.

On a brighter note, my beautiful, smart, funny and talented friend Chimamanda has won the Macarthur genius award, she and was told about it on her birthday but it was officially announced yesterday. It is of course just another of the many great things coming to her for there are few as deserving as herself. Her full potential is only just unfurling and one day will be unleashed on the world. We are kindred in our deep love for our country and even deeper wrangling with the realities of it and our role in that.

No words really

On Monday at the 22nd at 7. 50pm on Ikorodu road coming off the Eko Bridge at Alaka, 6 armed robbers shot my admin manager Funmi and my driver Kunle. They shot at my younger sister Tosin and snatched my car leaving them bleeding in a hail of bullets. The past two days has been spent breathing in the decay of our lives and systems. From the hospital to the police stations, I watch the desperately ill and hurt, the dying and the sometimes valiant, some times indifferent hospital personnel. I watch the resigned, petulant and exasperated policemen in a barrack out of hell and a police station from purgatory.

I watched our true reality in calm numbness.

I cannot blame the people, they are all operating in the way most humans will in such a hopeless situation but yet I blame the people, why do they not refuse to live like this? I blame myself, why do I not refuse to live like this?

Truth is I am right now too disorientated to do more than auto operate, I will get to the issues when I have clarity. Now I have two injured and hospitalized people to care for.

People often ask how we are able to take it all in our stride. This is one of the reasons: After the attack, a taxi driver who had witnessed it all came around and put my injured people in his taxi, drove them to the police station to get a report (you still cannot get treatment for gunshot wounds without police report even if you are bleeding your essence away) and then waited around to drive them to the hospital, ensure they were okay and then quietly left without asking for a dime. Only a Nigerian can understand the many risks he took. If any of the victims had died in his car, he would be in jail before he knew it and would need either a lot of money or a lot of years to get out.

It is because we recognize the potential in our people and ourselves for great acts of kindness and good that we keep going in this sometimes heroic, sometimes heinous existence. The question is, will we ever realize that potential and what will it take for us to do so?
Friday, September 19, 2008

The End Of The Dawn

So I was sitting on my red host chair, the New Dawn set envelops me in a comfortingly familiar cocoon, the area around my set is a jumble of wood, props and grime but the set from which I present New Dawn is serene, clean and orderly in the way I anally ensure that it should be.

I am doing my 8 year ritual, allowing the spirit of New Dawn infuse me as I centre my soul and spirit for the day’s show. It is an important ritual because I need calm and equanimity in case something goes wrong, usually a lot goes hilariously, painfully, frustratingly wrong. The one thing I swore to early on and a guiding principle of mine is that whatever the situation I am in, that part of the equation, which is in my control, will be done to my absolute brilliant best.

Thus when the set falls down, the generators pack up, the guests come late, storm off, get uncooperative or the whole days episode is lost in some idiotic production error I know that when that light blinks on my lead camera you will not see a sign of it on my face. For someone with my deeply felt, even deeper expressed emotions, this is a tough call but I do have my lights on war cry in my head which switches me back on. So you have times when I am so angry I could tear someone apart limb by limb or in so much pain I can barely stand or so hurt my spine shakes, I would swallow the tears, bite down the anger and stiffen my core to deliver a great performance. I have broken down and cried, I have spoken in deep anger and I have danced maniacally on TV but all in response to what is happening before the audience, never for any of the behind the scene drama (weeeell there was the bloody newsmagazine false story saga but that is another story) of which there were too numerous to mention.

I am very fond of my NTA years and I do admire, respect and love many of the people I worked with from management to crew but as an institution, NTA ..(trying to find a polite word here)… lets just say I have a future book to write called How Not To Do Television, My NTA years. I was warned of course, some of the best hands in the industry from Tunde Kelani to John Momoh, Abike Dabiri and Dejumo Lewis can write similar books.

I fear that I am beginning to bore you as you can sense there is some “beta gist” which I do not want to talk about for now, so quickly to what I can talk about.

I sat in the studio that morning in April, as usual, there is no electricity, the generator is not working, my guests are getting restless and my director is getting her pants in a twist because she fancies she can see a hint of a nipple through my NTA approved dress (no knees, no shoulders, no arms, no breasts) for the show. I keep supplies of body tape, shawls, legging, body suits and sewing kit for all such “emergencies” as we have had shot and approved (3 levels of censor verification) shows rejected at the network because of so called non complaint dress. Agatha Amata’s beautiful interview, the only one in which she spoke about her painful marriage break-up was rejected because the strap of her long dress was not wide enough. Agatha is a respected TV entrepreneur and host and a conservative dresser.

So I had gone backstage, taped my nipple into compliance and checked that I will not be leading any pious viewer astray when someone raised the issue of what we are allowed to talk to the guest about and not, this after getting approval to bring said guest on at all.

Usually I take it all in my stride, I did not win my success Digest award for tenacity and innovation for nothing. The whole of New Dawn’s experience with NTA, the frankly fraudulent advert agencies and clueless media owners has been one of the need to continually adapt, evolve and fight back. We were of course also guilty of naivety, poor negotiating skills and poverty although it is easy to forget that at the time we started there were no big sponsors (MTN’s second interview in Nigeria was on NEW DAWN) MNET had no Africa magic or interest in Nigerian content, no Silverbird, no independent productions on channels and so on.

Part of my love hate relationship with NTA, especially NTA 10 is a deep loyalty to the station for trusting a red haired, hot headed, quick tempered 29 year old to independently produce their flagship show, they gave me my voice. For that I will always love NTA 10. One of my driving desires is a need to get big enough to help some of the old retired hangs.

As the debate about whether we can have the guest or not died down and I am left alone in the studio, I sit in the darkness listening to one of my pep up songs on my ipod and suddenly I had clarity. The past 8 years slowly rolled along my minds eye, the first converted studio space, the years living in a guest house and driving from Festac at 5am, the wait for a proper studio, the battle to remain on air, the pregnancy, the birth, the people, the shows, the battles, the causes. I also saw the emerging media environment and how the challenges we keep battling with diminish the quality of work we do, I know I operate at 20% of my full talent capacity, I know the finished product has technical flaws but even its strength is watered down by the poor airing. I clearly saw that my warrior nature had fought so long, she did not realize the battle is won, the war is unimportant and it was time to let her creative medicine woman loose. Up until that moment I had failed to understand fully what people meant when they say, Funmi you can do so much more, you must do more. The truth was that somehow I had become afraid of success, I continued to fight a meaningless but familiar battle when there is a brand new territory to conquer.

Right there and then in that darkened studio and in that moment of clarity, I jumped, I shut down New Dawn and I stepped into my daytime. So when the studio light came on and that familiar red light on the camera, l winked conspiratorially at an old friend and announced to the shock of all that this will be the last quarter of New Dawn and I had eight more show to shoot.

When I made that announcement, we still had adverts running, we had opening for potential sponsor for the first time in eight years and our older shows were having a second life online plus I was getting a lot of recognition and accolades outside Nigeria in fields as diverse as gender, gaming, media and agriculture. There was the temptation to stick with the safe and fairly comfortable. However, I knew deep down it was time to grow, how it will happen, I didn’t know but I knew it was time to cut the bridge and face a new world.

The ongoing, sometimes painful, sometimes miraculous story of our transformation is something I may or not tell you in bits as we go on.

What I’d like to say though is this: I was done on the dawn, done with inspiring people (which I never set out to but honoured to have achieved), I am set now to ignite those who would like to come along with me to exciting new possibilities the beginning of which will be a brand new show.

The beauty of it all is that I am discovering that when your intentions are clear and unselfish and you are true to your DNA and journey, it is true that the universe does conspire to give to you that which you most deeply desire and richly deserve.

Hopefully, someone out there may recognise themselves in a situation similar to mine and jump but don’t worry, by Monday, I’ll stop this cloying internal haemorrhage on virtual paper and join you and the rest of the world in minding other people’s business.

Have a great weekend.

A little note

Just got a call from a distraught fan in Norway about the end of New Dawn, the latest in the daily stream of protests, concerns and prayer.

So let me state that NEW DAWN is still airing on NTA Network till the end of September after which more videos will be available on line. There is also the possibility of re runs on other networks in Nigeria and outside as well as streaming on line. The spirit of New Dawn lives on and will ignite a new day.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First an update

How am I holding up so far back at home, you sarcastic people, I know what you are thinking and yes, I have begun to rapidly wilt in the madness but it is madness with method. Take the traffic for instance, do not listen to all the oracles of transportation (everybody has a definite fool proof permutation of timing and routing) who tell you what the best times are to do the commute between the Mainland and the Island, the only thing you need is a lot of patience, mobile entertainment and toilet chikena The thing is, whether or whetherint, you will spend an average of one hour thirty minute getting from Maryland to Victoria Island. On a bad day you may do five hours.

We grumble as we must but deep down I think we are all invested in the believe that, the bridge repairs are a necessity and all of this will soon be over. Beyond all these my hope is that we are never in the sort of situation that caused the 30 year development stagnation, which saw that we did not have more roads, and bridges built in that period. How? By not standing by when someone admits he paid a hire assassin (aka juju man) N500m to dispose of a vexatious boss. This just reinforces my sneaky suspicion that most modern day juju men are having more con that magic. Why bother excise your dodgy juju powers when you can simply spend a minute fraction of your fees arranging a mysterious accident?

Bad leaders thrive usually because of all or any combination of ignorant, complacent, conspiring or conniving follower ship as well as a weak systems and processes of governance. No l won’t start.

Otherwise, I am hanging in there and you know what? I (please stress) know the best times and routes to do the great commute.

Now an explanation

I have been threatened, blackmailed emotionally, abused, questioned and prayed for concerning this by people from within Nigeria and without, extending to the most bizarre corners of the world. I was not ready to talk about it until now and I might not tell the entire story until I write that book or our environment is ready, whichever comes first.

So why did I shut down NEW DAWN when it is the highest rated, most watched talk show in Nigeria and in the top 5 overall best TV programme in Nigeria, beaten only by multi talent, big budget family soaps and comedies like the damn Mexican soaps, the addictive Fuji house of commotion and the favoured superstory series. Surely I must be mad…. Well hold that thought, I really must leave now to beat the traffic, I will tell you the truth tomorrow.
Monday, September 15, 2008

Return of the cat

Seven weeks later, I returned, a little rounder, a little calmer and a lot happier. My newly widened and lit up local highway with the new video billboard sitting at one end like a star on a Christmas tree solidified my sense of wellness and hopefulness. It won’t last, I know this but then it isn't supposed to last, I am wary of non questioning self satisfied, apparently contented bigots, they are the sort who turns around and shoot babies and mutilate dogs when your back is turned.

A lot happened in those seven weeks which I systematically intend to bore you with. It spanned four countries and three continents and before you start sneering about boastfulness and immodesty, quell your inner green monster and admit that as a 37 year old crabby bitch who has been working since age 16 and been in the harse klieg lights for the last 10 years I should be able to afford my insanities and excesses. I no be your mate o, just because I dey follow you wear knickers with leggings (yes I do, I intend to age disgracefully).

Talking about you young urns, why cannot a person go shopping or eating in peace without running into y'all moonlighting as waiters, sales assistants and attendants whilst going to universities around the world? I am so often accosted by ex new dawners (they've been watching me since they were in secondary school so what does that make me) who are focused on getting an education and coming back home that I began to feel a ridiculous sense of protectiveness and responsibility towards them. You know, some sad mother then need to prepare Nigeria for them so we don't loss their skills, energy and talents, as though I could.

These army of young people brightened my days, helped get bargains and also unwittingly spoiled show for me. Here is a typical scenario, I walked into Ann Summers (put your eyebrows down jo!) hunting for a special lubricant the child had told me to get as well as nipple tassels for my agent provocateur witch bra when a friendly assistant squealed, "oh you are aunty Funmi Iyanda aren't you, I love you, I love your show, we used to watch you back home, my mum likes you my grandpa……." Tell me how I am to face this bright faced young woman with my planned purchase, I respected myself and bought a nice saintly nightie.

I did make myself useful apart from the fun and games (the shrimp and co joined somewhere along the line) and excessive consumption and shopping (I found a pair of carries blue milanos in the sex and the city film, the one she forgot in the flat and a blood red patent version of Vivienne Westwood's iconic nurse's platforms on sale! Two urban legends!!). I finished my Tutu fellowship program at the fabulous Oxford Said business school (complete jist later) and volunteered time and skills at a young friends' start up NGO.

To maintain the momentum I shall after work hang out with my gorgeous friends including today's birthday girl (she will slay me) Chimamanda Adichie whom I find that a lot of uppity type psuedo literary oyinbos (white people to be non pc) like to lay ridiculous claim to in several corners of the world.

I am yet to read the news or get into the mad traffic so I know I will soon revert to my default angry Lagosians setting but you know what? I doubt if I'd have it any other way. I love my Nigerian existence and I cannot imagine anywhere else where I can experience the complex documented spectrum of human emotions as well as those still unknown to man, as I can in this city. Surely that is living but once I begin to lose my sense of humour, I step back again to regain perspective and for that l am grateful to God and thankful for the ability to.

E ku ile o, the cat is back. Miaow!
Tuesday, September 02, 2008

At Dawn

It was a great moment to be at the recording of the last episode of New Dawn with Funmi Iyanda. The show which features Denrele Edu of Soundcity fame, Odu Black, Solomon Meshack and the rave of the moment Timaya was great.

Enjoy the highlights