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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 26, 2010

TWF Diaries: Irrepressible AJ City

Saturday June 6TH 2009
Last night, after the final shoot in Ilorin and fractious flight to Lagos, l got dressed and went out with the girls for Remi’s birthday. I was still in the mental and physical space for filming so I looked somewhat incongruous amongst my dressed down friends. I had missed them. We saw a lousy movie and had a yeye meal at an Italian restaurant with a need to take its face out of its arse.
Went to bed restless at 2a.m and was up and cranky by 5am. Played cards in bed with the shrimp who suddenly seem grown up.

8am and Mr. B had not shown up, maybe bonding with his family too. Called in a stand in but got left behind by the crew. Fortunately I know my way around Ajegunle a little. I had spent a week filming a story here some 14 years ago.

We arrived Jahoha Studios, the spiritual home of most of the musical stars out of Ajegunle. Daddy Showkey is mentioned in reverential tones. He is the ghetto warrior who with that guttural cry led a new musical style and sense of worth out of AJ city. I find that I cannot describe this place I can only feel it. Ajegunle is a sensory overload of sounds, sights, markets and an amazingly diverse mix of faces, cultures and ethnicity. I must say that the place does not feel as threatening as it did during the Abacha days when I came to film earlier and the roads although still bad and incomprehensible appear a lot calmer, maybe because it’s a Saturday.

The one thing I do feel is little, this place makes everything else pale in comparison to her wild energy, colours and pace.
The over crowed houses built shoulder to shoulder, the electric and phone cables coming out of the ears and nose of each house into the ears and nose of the other in a continuous chain. I observed, nay felt all these as I waited for the guys to set up so I could start. It is boiling and my skin is itchy under the make up, which keeps running and needing reapplying. By this time Bayo had arrived and bullied the stand into a corner.

I was introduced to Marvellous Benjy who was soaring on his own high somewhere far far away; it was tough keeping him on track during the interview. I however found him charming, smart and a little delightfully bonkers. The interview was bizarre but revealing.

The whole shoot went well as the community turned out to watch and then dance including the little children. The AJ dancers were amazing and did very little talking, what is the point of talk when you can move like that. I felt like a flat footed duck beside the agile, mobile and flexible people but l do think l may have got the hang of Alanta which is the pride of the community. I learnt also learnt Swo, Kwonto and the still in development Warapa but Alanta is king.

Sunday June 7th

Final day of shoot for the entire series. I was up and ready by 5.30a.m. There are delays, there is trouble brewing, the scale of which didn’t become apparent until months later. One, which almost shut down the entire project.
We returned to Ajegunle and went to the famed Tolu football pitch where many of Nigeria’s ex super eagles has played. It is a sandy schoolyard behind one of the ports and adjacent to one of the denser parts of Ajegunle.

The place is drenched in testosterone and run by a council of elders you would be well advised not to cross. I interviewed the mama 7 boys food vendor who has been there for years and one of the council of elders but the highlight was a display of “balcrobatics” by Amata the star ball juggler with the proud people running continuous commentary.

Afterwards we conducted a street vox pop with young women on the street. We had noticed how well dressed and regal in bearing the women were. So Bayo started searching for best face, style and fashion right there on the street and I talked with them.

My feeling was that I had seen more character, cooler style and red hot attitude on the streets in Ajegunle over this weekend than all the fashion and style magazines on the newsstands. The average babe on the street seems to have more body confidence, personal style and bearing than many diamond draped, Brazilian hair wearing Lagos socialite.

Afterwards I interviewed the very talkative and very sweet old mama Ajegunle who has lived here since independence. She kept trying to give me a drink, they all keep trying to give us a drink or meal. This is the only community in the whole series where the people were offering to give us stuff rather than take stuff off us.

We left AJ city and stopped over at mainframe studios in Oshodi to film Tunde Kelani’s interview for the final part of the Nollywood edition. So it was that after 5 weeks of filming across 4 states, the shoot wrapped. I returned home to pack my bags for my trip to Aspen for a seminar tomorrow then I joined the guys at Tarzan to unwind. I like watching the characters at Tarzan, tonight there was the absolutely gorgeous dark girl with cropped hair and hoops and the wild snake hipped dancing boy. I wonder, what is their story?

Irrepressible AJ CITY airs on TWF this Sunday 28th March on Africa Magic 6pm local time 7pm central African time.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Next 50 years

Damn! What a bloody Monday. Just lost my original beautifully crafted intro which l wrote bright and early before my usual fire fighting dramatic day starts. Well here l am in the midst of shit and in no mood to be lyrical.

I will hopefully be able to rewrite those thoughts later in the week but it was to introduce my TEDxEuston talk video which l had refused to post till l found the original script l delivered it from.

So here is the script and then the video, self indulgent yes, indulge me ;).

Our inevitable hope

Re imagination of our stories to illuminate our future)

Let me tell you a shit story.

Tell the story

I was born poor although l did not know it at the time. We moved from one little room to the other, all ten of us. I didn’t feel poor as most people around us were like us besides I was never hungry, at least not in those early days, what I didn’t like was the toilets. About fifty people shared one bath and a pit lavatory. The bath was a discarded corrugated roofing sheet wrapped around three bamboo pillars, since it was out doors and exposed to the elements, its dirty maroon colour was broken by little holes through which neighbourhood perverts peeped at young girl bathing. The concrete floor was always green and slimy so maintaining bare foot balance was important. In all, the bath was better than the pit latrine, which was on a raised platform similarly protected by rusty roofing sheet. It was sort of like squatting on a throne of decay as quite a number of people do not get the aim right and yet some do not make it up there before discharging their contents.

However, we were better off than our neighbours who lived in a house without toilets. It was the last house on a street, which ends at a swamp that doubles as a refuse dump. The people in the next house thus did the most logical thing; they wrapped their wastes in polythene bags, which they threw across their backyard into the swamp. This swamp was also our playground, as we loved to throw stuff at the migrating flamingos. Once, when I was six, as I walked back from the swamp a neighbour miscalculated on her swing and the content of her bag landed squarely on my face. I can still smell my panic as I cried for my sisters. Yelling, breathing, moving all worsened the matter as I got it all into other orifices. It took an hour and the combined efforts of the contrite neighbour and my sisters to wash it all off.

What is the point of this story?

Well it always makes people laugh and it is just that a story, a way of brings situations to life. It’s about the stories…

Things did get a lot worse but we were poor not stupid. My father not only ensured we got an education, he taught me a love for books which painted pictures of life far removed from my reality. These fired my imagination and served as fuel for building the radically different future of my present reality.

Last year I had to shut down my very popular 8 year national talk show, I had become weary of the unending censorship, the failed infrasturure, the corporate corruption and deal making.

I had persevered through the years because, well I am a bit of an idiot and because of the stories.

People always seem to tell me stories, at airports, clubs, bars, and schools, everywhere.

The stories haunted me so I returned to TV this year having persuaded other crazy people like my friend and co producer Chris Dada who sits right there and a single angel investor to support an audacious plan to travel around Nigeria filming as people talk to me. Of course the project is killing us but what amazing stories.

Why do it?

Run still pictures

Because of them. The voiceless majority never allowed to speak for themselves and of themselves.

How do we interpret the stories?

Lord Lugard, the colonial governor general of Nigeria between 1914 and 1919 once said something about Nigeria which Nigerian curiously like to repeat. He said:

“In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person. Lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight. Naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery. His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future, or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic,…”

One must forgive him as he spoke the wisdom of his time, his interpretation no doubt coloured by an inflated sense of self-occasioned by the privilege of his life in Nigeria. Surprisingly, I find that many Nigerians think he is right, with the exception of course of themselves.

How will you interpret this video

The ignorant interpreter might call these residents of one of Nigeria’s most notorious urban slums grotesque, thoughtlessly fun loving and uncaring about their future. However the people and youth of AJ city are some of the most hard working, creative, ambitious, endlessly innovative and resilient people you can encounter. Their strong sense of self is at the genesis of the explosion of the new Nigerian hip-hop, rap and pop music which begun here at this house where the boys are dancing. The first generation of internationally successful Nigeria footballers emerged out of her heaving seething bosom. The dance is a poem about their reality. Ajegunle is a reclaimed swamp and mosquitoes are one of the biggest worries for the people so the body grabbing part of the alanta dance and face contortions depicts the war with mosquitoes whilst the moves are a mixture of the dance cultures of the Yoruba, ijaw and ibo settlers mixed with a bit of AJ madness.

The ability to interpret our stories with honour, hope and knowledge is a skill we must seek. This fosters understanding and removes the barriers, which alienates, feeds a festering self-loathing and encourage the sort of head grabbing self-flagellation that promotes devolution of responsibility and lead to anarchy. We should instead interpret ourselves in a way that fires our imagination and ignites our passions. It may yet be our salvation.

I am an idealist idiot yes but it is by choice for what is the alternative?

Play makoko video

When we arrived at makoko, area boys descended on us and threatened to beat us, kidnap the crew and destroy our equipments. Maybe it was fear but l just needed to pee so I asked to use the toilet. Taken aback, they led me through a maze of rooms on stilts to the toilet. This toilet was an exact replica of the slum dog millionaire shit scene but without the beautiful soft focusing of that film. I peed mater of factly and descended into the canoe that took us into the community of the people who live exclusively on the water. Now let me tell you about the water, it is the blackest, dankest, oiliest, smelliest water I ever felt in my life, yes felt, as it was so wrong it had a fetid life of its own. There were large and small pieces of feaces and other wastes flowing calming by as Dami my canoe man‘s paddle sliced through it all. You can smell it and once in a while you might taste it as bits fall off the paddle unto your skin. The people drink water piped through a hole dug into the shallow end of the water through broken pipes which letting in the shit water.

I wondered how they remain sane but slowly through the day as I talked with them and collected their stories of triumphs and failures, fears and measured success; I saw their strength, humanity and our commonality. There were many outstanding stories and some sad ones. But there is one really amazing one.

A one-story building houses the four classrooms that serves the whole community, it was built by some foreigner I was told. There are no seats, no tables, no books, and no teachers for the 130 children who are ferried there free by the community daily. No teachers but for two young boys, secondary school leavers who can barely speak English. They volunteer everyday to teach the children; they are unpaid, their own future uncertain. The other thing I noticed was how all the area boys have slowly shed their aggression on seeing our good intention. I saw these aggressors transform into the confused and sidelined youth they really are and I saw them, as they could have been if we did not have all those decades of ruinous leaders who have consistently thrown shit in the face of the people of this nation, how they maybe still could be.

Go back to the picture of the makoko girl

Perhaps I am an idiot in thinking that like my six year old shit in the face self, this girl who sits upright and bright on the canoe in the shit lagoon can transcend her circumstance, that it is our responsibility to build the systems and structures that will allow her do this.

Yes I am an idealistic fool but I ask again, what is the alternative?

I recently saw the film THIS IS IT having loved Michael Jackson’s music all my life. I was fixated on the part that described the making of the …video, how the six dancers are digitally recreated into a mass of matching warriors as the music climbs to a crescendo

All l want to say is that they don’t really care about us………

The area boys, the prostitutes, the 419ners, the militants, the kidnappers; the desperation is clear in the increasing audacity.

All l want to say is that they don’t really care about us…………………………..!!!!

Music stops. It is very important what stops it and what comes next after the silence. The choice of whether it is strides towards a good society or anarchy such as sub Saharan Africa has never seen lies in all our hands. To be hopeful is not to be blinded to the challenges or fatalistic about its solutions. It is to consciously choose a better vision of ourselves, a vision of what ought to be for our children and grandchildren. One that lights the fires within our bellies and illuminates our way into a brighter future. That is the challenge to our generation, our inevitable hope.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Thursday May 21st
The shoot of EKO 4 SHOW yesterday was achieved through sheer will power and determination. I was visibly unwell and everyone was on edge as we had so many logistic problems. The production manager was fired. We finished so exhausted and so late, Chris suggested I slept over at a friend’s home in Lekki so I don’t need to get up at 4am to beat the rush hour traffic into Victoria Island for today’s shoot. A smart decision as I woke up human again; Bayo, Segun and Lawunmi brought over my supplies from my home, everything from under wear to breakfast.

I was so relaxed I arrived late to Terrakulture where a very annoyed Charley Boy was waiting. Let me tell you about Charley. For my first interview with him 5 years ago at NTA, he came complete with a man mountain bodyguard. He was scary, magnetic, funny, nuanced and simply fabulous. We hit it off. Every subsequent interview and interaction has been just as impactful. He is one of my favourite people, deep, intuitive, intelligent, creative, self aware without being egotistical, seemly contradictory but his excesses even one another out. He is also sexy, his body is to die for and he must be the sexiest grandfather in Nigeria.

The one thing l didn’t mention is that Charley is a consummate professional, he is no drama king and once the camera rolls, he is on point. I admit that I would not have his patience and affability if I had been left stranded at the airport, ended up in a mosquito infested hotel room and then kept waiting on location as he unfortunately was. We fired the person responsible for it.

Once we got started, the shoot went great. It was crazy, unpredictable, funny, revealing and good.

I was dressed in a biker’s gear with charley making fun of the “toy bike” we provided him, l simply hung on for dear life as the machine roared to life and down the road.

The plan was to ride down Ajose Adeogun with a few Okadas maybe 20 and film this before we start shooting the actual interviews. The cameras were all cleverly positioned but it didn’t work that way.

Once Charley started riding down the street and people saw him, hell broke loose. It is indescribably magical what happened as okada men started to converge behind him, I saw they drop off passengers half way and give money back just to follow charley. In 30 minutes, we had over 100 okada riders surrounding us. Traffic stalled and built up with the usually impatient Lagos motorists waving at Charley.

Even the traffic warden and policemen stopped to pump hands and chat. Two moments stand out for me. A machine gun wielding lead patrol Mopol who had come to the head of the crowd to disperse and terrorize all on seeing charley simply transformed, dropping all aggression, they pumped hands and then he politely asked Charley to help disperse the crowd. Also I remember the look of utter shock and confusion on the faces of Chris, Brian, Jeff and Mike when they saw the army of okada lead by charley boy with me hanging on to him riding down the street in clear breach of the shoot plan. The shoot was saved by

Demola the Nigerian second cameraman who swiftly jumped on one of the okadas and got most of the footages that saved the shoot. As usual we seem to function best in chaos.

Charley then took charge of the situation and led the okada riders to the huge clearing at Bar Beach, by now, there were over 200 okada riders in the convoy all excitedly hooting and displaying some mad acrobatics. At Bar Beach, the area boys joined us and it all became a huge public complaint commission with everyone trying to air their grievances.

After that hectic session, we shot an interview with three okada riders one of whom had graduated secondary school with 5 distinctions but unable to continue to higher education had taken to okada riding whilst pursuing a part time degree.
Another was a reggae gospel singer who had submitted his demo to his church overseer for prayers ahead of anticipated success.

Finally we shot my interview with Charley, it was one, which spoke to the heart of Nigeria’s challenges and revealed Charley heart and soul, he also told me about Linda.

TWF’s Okada airs on Africa magic this Sunday March 21st at 6pm local time 7pm central African time.
Since the shoot, I have had time to look at the footages over and over and try to understand why the people reacted to Charley Boy the way they did. It was not just the okada riders but the bus drivers and their passengers, the passengers who got bumped off by the okadas, the men and women driving to work in their cars, the pedestrians, everybody. The more I looked, the clearer it becomes that this is a revelation of Nigeria’s longstanding leadership vacuum. The people responded to Charley not as himself but as a symbol of touchable, people assigned leadership. A fact he is thankfully evolved enough to recognizes. Too often our leaders are forced on us by rigging, intimidation, manipulation or positioning. It is instructive that the okada riders complained about their once feared association being weakened by the impositions of leaders forced on them who had never rode an Okada and thus are unaware of the unique challenges they face. This comes up again and again in many communities we visited whilst filming TWF. It is replicated on all levels across the country, the real reasons for the displacement and lack of ownership of land, self or resources which is at the root of our stagnation and gradual descent into anarchy as occasioned by the Jos massacre and many other worrying developments.
Monday, March 15, 2010

Five Quick Questions For Funmi: Long way to Shonga

Do the Zimbabwe farmers employ graduates?
I am informed that the farmers have a lot of graduates in their employ. These graduates include professionals like agriculturists, vet surgeons, marketers, accountants, admin staffs etc. They also take youth corpers, some of whom are retained.

Were you able to talk to the agricultural interns been sponsored by the Kwara State government?
No, although l plan a follow up in depth project.

With the current reforms in the banking sector, has it affected the funding of the farms?
I hear that the 200 billion naira commercial agric intervention fund of the Federal Government is playing some role, as the farmers are processing access to the 10% interest loan.

The Shonga farm is a fantastic project, Nigeria needs more of this. Is there any similar project in other parts of the country?
I am told that Nassarawa State tried to benchmark the project and that they have a group of 20 Zimbabwean Farmers carrying out similar commercial farming activities.

Just like you played football with Governor Fashola, I thought you were going to till the land in Shonga?
Now that would not be very creative would it:)? Each show is clearly thought out, distinct and stand alone.
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.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010


What if this multitude matched to Abuja and

..... demand to see their president now?
..... demand that the culprits of the Jos massacre and all previous such massacre in the past decade be found, prosecuted and executed?
..... demand that power be fixed and all indicted in previous probes on power be treated as above?
..... insist that the president is unfit to rule on account of prolonged ill health.
..... demand electoral reforms and independence of INEC ahead of 2011?

what if?
Monday, March 08, 2010

Five Quick Questions For Funmi (FQQFF): Ebinpejo lane

Funmi, you interviewed the hunter Ogunjimi in Ondo and you looked like you are an actor and this week was on Nollywood. Are you planning to act soon?

Lol. No I don’t plan to act soon. I immerse myself in my subjects; it’s that ease you can see. I am going to interview farmers, pot makers, cattle headsmen, market women, university students, fishermen, pig farmers, okadas, area boys, kings etc in future editions so you will see me fit into each and every one of those worlds. It all looks so dramatic and cinematic because the producer/director Chris dada is a genius.

When are you going to interview the marketers from the Alaba international where most of the Nollywood works are also found?

We are planning season 2 already and stories are coming to us. Something will take us to Alaba market in the future, maybe not Nollywood marketers. I am intrigued by traders in places like Alaba international and Onisha market.

For those of us who want to be an actress, is it compulsory to bribe the producers at LTV as mentioned by the Ebinpejo marketer?
As the stars Kate and Bimbo said, you don’t have to bribe anybody or sleep with anybody if you have talent and are ready to put in the work, this is true for all professions.

What is your opinion about Nollywood?

I share Tunde Kelani’s opinion that it was a child of necessity that has done very well and is embraced by Nigerians and Africans but it is time for literature to meet commerce and skillful film making to create the next generation of Nollywood films.

How were you able to cover that journey from silverbird galleria, Idumota, Winnies and then to Oshodi? Or were they shot on different days?
You must read my TWF diaries; I did mention that it was a long, tough tedious shoot in hot uncomfortable locations and traffic. Kate and Desmond were really great coping with the pressure. We filmed all on the same day except the end bit with Tunde Kelani which was filmed weeks later.
Saturday, March 06, 2010

TWF diaries: Ebinpejo Lane

Monday May 18th 2009
Poor start. Everything fell apart at the back end so Kate (Henshaw-Nuttal) and Desmond (Elliot) waited over 3 hours before we started. Desmond in particular had left home 5am to arrive Silverbird at 6am for the 7am call time. We didn’t start shooting till 10am.

They were both understandably upset and once Kate got it off her chest, they were impressively professional about it all. In fact they were great as it was a long, tedious, multi venue shoot in stressful traffic and hot, uncomfortable locations. I was boiling in my tee shirt and jacket combo and had to insist that I be allowed to take off the jacket but hold on to it in the shoot for continuity.

The Silverbird shoot part was straightforward once we got started although we were time pressured, as we needed to finish before the movies start showing. Idumota was wild, the heat, the market, the reaction of the people to Kate and Desmond, just wild. Kush the famed video marketer’s office is beyond description and he was hilarious.

Kate was cracking us up in the car, she is just so funny and smart and Desmond is very keen and curious, always questioning the director and DOP about bits and pieces of technical stuff.

I had a tough time keeping them relaxed and calm through such a stressful shoot a well as keeping my wits about me to deliver a good job, we had been doing 14 hour work days non-stop for a few days and the strain was beginning to show. I felt dehydrated, slightly dizzy and tense but as I am not allowed to show any of these I had a vague feeling of suspension on numbness somewhere deep inside.

Winnies brought nostalgia as we ran into Jerry Onwordi, the original papa nothing spoil from NEW DAWN who was his usual mad bright slightly slushed self. It was also a reminder of how far I had come and why I must keep my chin up. The delectable and delightful Bimbo Akintola joined us at Winnies and she is as always a breath of fresh honest naughty air.

I couldn’t help but feel a kindred spirit with these talented actors whose journey of following your passions, working a tough terrain and multi tasking to grow something great just so you can find fulfillment mirror mine so much. At Winnies, the old watering hole of Nollywood practitioners, we felt a silent unspoken bond.

The last bit with Tunde Kelani was not shot until weeks later after we returned from the other states by which time heat, discomfort, disorientation and pain had become allies.

Ebinpejo airs on TALK WITH FUNMI tomorrow Sunday March 7th on Africa Magic 6pm Nigerian time 7pm central African time.
Monday, March 01, 2010

Five Quick Questions For Funmi (FQQFF): TWF edition 4 Lost In Time

You threatened to hold Governor Mimiko of Ondo accountable to one thing and he spoke about maternal health care, has he done anything about it?

Yes, I got a message from the first lady after the show aired yesterday that Gov Mimiko had built and commissioned a free maternal health care clinic in accordance to the promise he made to me and that they are replicating it all over the state. I confirmed from my medical doctor friend that this is in fact true. We will be doing a follow up show in Ondo. This fact gladdens my heart because this is the real reason I do television, to give voice to all sorts of people, bring important issues to the fore, to influence change and have a bloody good time doing it all.


Did you pay Godwin for his palm wine? Was it as good as you made it out to be?

Yes I paid Godwin, he ensured itJ. Yes the palm wine was fabulous, sweet, and lethal.

Did Ebenezer fly and was he part of the praying group in the village?

Unfortunately Ebenezer did not fly, I do wonder why someone who claims he can fly cannot fix the shot put shitting problems of the village. I don’t remember if he was part of the village prayer group but I am just as fascinated with the idea of getting our political leaders to swear on the gods of our lands instead of the bible and the Quran. The result may be very enlightening,


How can you go on TV in that mad costume and hair and without make up? What was that beautiful dress you wore at the state house?

I am propelled by the art of my profession not the artifice. I have no desire to look perfect, I desire to look authentic. I’ve also long lost the fear of what other people thought of my looks. That costume is one of my favourites from the entire series; it is mad and was great fun once I got into it. It was designed by model turned designer Alex Oni.

The hand painted caftan is a priceless, not for sale museum vintage piece by Deola Sagoe with the faces of some of Africa’s most transformational leaders lovingly painted on.


Are you sure the characters where not actors and the whole setting looked so beautiful like a cross between a Cuban documentary and an Ogunde film

Wait till you see the coming editions, it gets even better and stronger. That is the genius of Chris Dada who is painstaking about every little detail and has a passion for casting real people and filming Nigerians settings beautifully. The village, hills, towns and people are that beautiful, we just have never learnt to look upon our selves and our land with love and attention. Ogunjimi’s wife, Iya Tunde was particularly beautiful and her smile and teeth beautiful. The characters are all real people and credit must go to Ife Salako the assistant producer who found the village and the people. The village was not in our original show plan, I just had a brain wave based on nostalgia and the guys put the rest together. It is turning out to be one of our most well received editions.

Fear and the Female

Excellent piece Temitayo. Sure yet tentative, questing but clear minded. I really like it. The issues raise are universal and subliminal to the question of gender/human equality. In Nigeria particularly, the Nigerian woman, like the Nigerian person is complicit in her own powerlessness. The reasons are understandable but gets less and less forgivable especially amongst the formally well educated. Like the Nigerian state, the Nigerian woman is set up to fail, but the scale of failure is firmly her responsibility.

I suspect that you are spot on in identifying a visceral cloying but often-surmountable fear at the root of it. I hope you win the essay, tits up!
What am I talking about? Read this.

Now vote for her.