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Iké Udé’s Africa Magic and the Idealization of Nollywood, By Toni Kan

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Every age has its chronicles, every era its historians. Sometimes, what they capture is history told in a hurry, with events and defining moments captured in the gush.

Sometimes it is introspection, with the passage of time, providing both perspective and clarity.

No medium has the capacity to capture epochal moments and preserve them for posterity as much as photography does. It is both witness and participant, and this is exactly what artist and portraitist Iké Udé achieves with his body of work; an idealized portrayal of Nollywood icons—from established actors like Genevieve Nnaji and Stephanie Okereke to newbies like Kehinde Bankole and Linda Ejiofor and from Kunle Afolayan to Dame Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett; this is Nollywood history told powerfully in pictures with a generation defined by pretty faces, crow’s feet, varicose veins, pouts and piercing gazes.

In capturing these stars and star-makers who oil the engines of the second largest movie industry in the world, Iké Udé is establishing for posterity the pioneers and icons of Nollywood at a moment of transition but by the very act of documentation, Iké Udé is inserting himself into the frame as participant in this filmic universe called Nollywood.

In his portraits, you will find Nollywood in all its glory from crown princes to princelings, debutantes to doyennes, power brokers to power players—many of them captured at the dawn of their careers and some at the very apogee and twilight of theirs.

These are iconic portraits drawn at moments of superb clarity when these stars of Nollywood are making the transition from legend into immortality.

What is Nollywood? The history of Nollywood is as fantastic and hydra headed as the stories that propel its plots. Did it begin with Living in Bondage or is its provenance in another epoch?

The story that many love to tell is of a businessman who finding himself stuck with a stack of slow moving VHS video cassettes decided to record something in them and sell them as home videos.

That man is Ken Nnebue and his era and genre defining movie, Living in Bondage, opened a new vista in Nigerian entertainment, created an industry now ranked as second largest in the world and introduced Nigeria to celebrity culture as movie stars began to inhabit a rarefied firmament hitherto unknown in these climes.

Lagos, city of dreams and phantasmagoria, is the home of Nollywood. But Lagos is not really a city. Lagos is, in many ways, a garden, a fabulous tableau where we go to harvest dreams, sometimes plentiful, oftentimes lean.

This is the Lagos into which smart young men and women streamed in the early 1990s seeking fame and fortune and Nollywood provided answers to their quests turning nascent actors and actresses like Richard Mofe Damijo, Ramsey Noah, Segun Arinze, Omotola Jolade Ekeinde, Genevieve Nnaji and Rita Dominic into household names. Where the National Television Authority (NTA) had provided some measure of fame for actresses like Barbara Soky and Mildred Iweka, who both found success as soap opera stars, Nollywood expanded the scope and reach taking the emergent stars from regimented time-belts to video players in private homes stretching from Lagos to Lusaka.

It is therefore fitting that Iké Udé would choose Lagos as the locale for his Nollywood portraits; a project that saw the artist, universally acknowledged as a master of the self-portrait, producing over 60 studies of Nollywood actors, actresses and power brokers who sat for the artist over two visits to the city.

What do photographic portraits do? They capture a moment in time and in capturing moments, they assume a cryogenic effect by freezing time for posterity. Iké’s genius lies in achieving that freezing of time.

There is a sharp shift in portraits by Iké Udé that are, as earlier mentioned, usually full length and defined by a quirky dandification, an almost coloring in of the subject into his background—something Iké Udé has explained as coming from his past as a painter. “I was formerly a painter, hence, my photographs employ a painterly language and longer-time process in the making of the pictures.” The “making-ness” of the picture is the definitive word because the portraits that emerge are no longer just pictures showing a moment of time captured by exposed film; they become works of art realized over periods of time.

Iké’s subjects and the portraits that emerge are unique. Even though shot in Lagos, the environment is all his, a seemingly otherworldly tableau that evokes the phantasmagoria that is Lagos.

There is in Iké Udé’s portraits a unique synergy, an alchemy almost, in which image and background become one with the subject subsumed in the tableau while the tableau becomes a part of the subject. There is only one word for that—magic.

But then there is more; something quaint and quirky, expressed in his dandification of his subjects and the almost dreamlike background that accompanies his portraits.

The portraits produced by Iké Udé are studies in form and color compelling your gaze to linger and forcing you always to experience them as conversation pieces.

Nollywood has captured the African imagination not just on account of the vast DVD sales—often pirated—but largely on account of the dedicated Africa Magic channels on the panAfrican cable network, DSTV.

The term Africa Magic has come to embody the unique narratives that drive the movies and the directors’ constant resort to the deus ex machina of the fetish and fantastic in their resolution of the plots.

That term is uniquely suited to Iké Udé’s portraits with their exuberant colors, their other-worldly essence, the quirky poses and frequent insertion of a bottle or cat or dog into the tableau. All these add to the otherworldly-Africa-Magic feel of the portraits.

While Iké Udé’s wide-ranging and comprehensive work must be singled out for the singularity of its purpose, breath of vision and comprehensive girth, one must point out that he is not the first to document eras and epoch using the cyclopic eye of the lens.

The ultimate reference would be to a sixteenth century Renaissance artist, Raphael, whose famous large composition, The School of Athens, painted between 1509 and 1511, is the template for Iké Udé’s Nollywood masterpiece. Udé’s masterly 26 x 16 feet mural, The School of Nollywood— executed between 2014 and 2016—is the culmination of his Nollywood portraits.

Udé’s masterpiece is a historical document, a definitive snapshot of an era, a larger-than-life representation of an industry, a portrait that will provide bragging rights for those captured within its frame.

Nollywood sweetheart, Genevieve Nnaji is the centrepiece of the large composition, reclining on a royal-blue chaise longue and looking regal as befits the queen of Nollywood. She has taken the place of Plato and Aristotle, the main figures of the Athenian school of philosophy in Raphael’s fresco.

But it is Iké Udé’s cameo that will excite the keen observer because in keeping with the earlier observed role as observer and participant. Udé, like many artists of antiquity such as Raphael as well as Rembrandt and many contemporary cinema auteurs such as Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Spike Lee—has managed to insinuate his visage into The School of Nollywood frame in a beguiling case of peek-a-boo.

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ENTERTAINMENT

Primate Ayodele’s amazing prophecies for 2020 prophecy book due for release in July

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A prophet is not just a preacher. He supernaturally receives a message from the Lord for people and nations. Primate Elijah Babatunde Ayodele is among prophets who are sent again and again by God with specific messages at specific periods.

For many years, the servant of God at INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Lagos State, has been inspired by God to foretell with perfect accuracy events in nations and future situations of individuals before their occurrence. Ayodele’s major prophecies are released annually, precisely in the month of July.

On this note, the 2019/2020 version of the prophecies due for release next month is already causing apprehension within Africa and beyond. A sneak preview of the divine messages in the latest prophecy book called ‘Warnings to The Nations’ is presented below, including prophecies made in the past that have been fulfilled.

 

 

Impeachment of Assembly Speakers, Death of A Rep and Lagos Lawmaker

In Sunday June 9, 2019 prophetic declarations, Primate Ayodele warned, amongst other messages; “I foresee the death of a House of Representatives member and a Lagos House of Assembly member. I foresee 8 assembly speakers being impeached between October and December 2019 and February 2020.  ”

 

APC’s Ahmed Lawan Will Be Elected Senate President, But…

The servant of God prophesied accurately the election of former APC Majority Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan as the President of the 9th Senate. “Ahmed Lawan will be senate president. But he risks impeachment threat if the APC does not control its members in the senate.”

 

Donald Trump May Be Reelected American President

America needs to be careful. Donald Trump may get a second term and this is not good for the future of America. The only way Trump can be stopped is for Democrats to present the right candidate to challenge him.”

 

America Faces A Coalition Attack

“I foresee the current Venezuela president forming an alliance with some countries to attack America. And I foresee unrest in Nigeria and the world at large.”

 

Lagos New Gov. Sanwo-Olu Will Deliver

Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will deliver first on two major issues. He will return the monthly sanitation exercise and he will resolve the Apapa Road logjam. I see a cleaner Lagos. He will deliver on his promises. Though he will face challenges from the party, he will survive it. But his second term is unsure yet. It is still dicey.”

 

Petrol Price Will Be Increased

“I see petrol tanker explosion and a terrible accident along Lagos Ibadan expressway. I see a sudden increase in food prices and the death of a king or an Emir. Nigerian government is lying that it will not increase the price of petrol. There will be increase in petrol price.

 

APC Will Sack Adams Oshiomhole

Primate Ayodele who is the only prophet who foretold the defeat of the American-born Nigerian boxer, Anthony Joshua by a relatively unpopular Andy Ruiz jnr, also stated that government will increase the tax and VAT. “I see that tax and VAT will be raised. I foresee another recession. APC will sack Adms Oshiomhole before he finishes his tenure as Chairman. APC will split into three and some of its members will join PDP. There will be sustained attacks on churches in Jos, Adamawa, Kano and Kaduna.” Ayodele asked God for peace in these states.

 

Cultists Will Cause Unrest In LASU

“God revealed to me that MTN and Access Bank will retrench workers. Globacom and MTN will experience service disruption. Nigerian refineries will break down, all in this month. Let’s pray so that cultists would not cause bloodshed and serious unrest at the Lagos State University.”

 

Earlier, Primate Ayodele had foretold the victory of Enugu Rangers football club at the CAF Confederation Cup tournament in Agege, Lagos. While assuring the team of victory during a courtesy call at his church, the famous cleric had asked them to wear their green jersey during the match ‘for a divine favour’. The team won the match. On April 20, 2019, during a visit and award presentation by a delegation of the Nigeria Rope Skipping Federation, Ayodele prophesied that Nigeria’s Under-20 team would not win the world cup in Poland. The prophecy came to fulfillment.
Also, the attacks on Mali and Saudi Arabia were foretold by Primate Ayodele on pages 239, 254 and 255 of his prophecy book, ‘Warnings to The Nations’, 2018/2019 edition released in July of 2018.

Some of Primate Ayodele’s fulfilled past prophecies for which he has continued to be respected among other prophets are listed below. Discovery of missing money in NNPC; the reelection of Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari; Southern Kaduna killings; President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term victory in Kenya; death of former vice president of Nigeria; Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the loss of former vice president of Nigeria, Abubakar Atiku at the presidential poll on which Ayodele warned won’t be achieved if PDP failed to give the presidential ticket to former senate president, Bukola Saraki; fresh outbreaks of cholera and meningitis diseases; change of leadership in the ruling ANC in South Africa and returned attacks on foreigners in South Africa; the Nigerian judiciary crisis; the reelection of Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, and many more.

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ENTERTAINMENT

YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine’s Special All-Colour Edition to mark 8th Anniversary hits the stands

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In keeping with tradition, YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine, one of Nigeria’s most respected celebrity journals and owners of the premium website, www.theyesng.com, has wrapped up work on yet another all-colour, all-gloss special edition which will go on sale nationwide from Monday, June 17, 2019. The special edition is in commemoration of their 8th Anniversary.

Loaded with exclusive interviews and enchanting stories, among them are why most young people find it difficult to manage success, by the billionaire mogul behind Doyin Group, Samuel Adedoyin and Prima Garnet’s front man, Lolu Akinwunmi, who reminisced on life at 60 as well as how and why he fell in love with advertising. On the line up is also one of Nigeria’s most beautiful and best dressed women, Shade Okoya, who shared the story of her life as billionaire Rasaq Okoya’s wife and respected journalist and publisher of TheCable, Simon Kolawole, who laid bare the secrets and strategies needed to stand out in journalism, especially online. We also have showbiz sensations, Kate Henshaw and Bovi Ugboma, who opened up like never before on stardom and its allures while herbal slimming expert, Quincy Ayodele and Funke, wife of NB Plc top shot, Tayo Adelaja, permitted us front-row seats at their fantastic and talk-of-the-town birthday parties. The former took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the latter in Nigeria.

“There are equally other exciting and enthralling stories and interviews that will not only keep you glued to this 8th Anniversary special edition, but inspire and impact your life greatly. Again, to appreciate our darling readers for standing by us all through the years, a copy of the magazine will be sold at a give-away price of just N300”, said Azuh Arinze, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of the magazine.

On why they won’t be holding their annual lecture this year, Azuh, former Editor of Encomium Weekly and author of The CEO’s Bible, cited a logistics challenge.

“Our speaker had a major set back and that unfortunately changed our game plan. However, I would like to assure all our fans and lovers of YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine that we are going to make up for that during our 9th anniversary, which is in 2020”.

The YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Annual Lecture Series, it would be recalled, has so far attracted heavyweights like Mr. Udeme Ufot (of SO & U Advertising), Mr. Biodun Shobanjo (of Troyka Holdings), Prof. Pat Utomi (of Centre for Values and Leadership), Sir Steve Omojafor (of STB McCann), Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie (of Rainoil), Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh (of Zinox Computers), Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi (of Prima Garnet), Mrs. Nike Akande (former Minister of Industry), Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa (immediate past Secretary to the Ogun State Government), Apostle Anselm Madubuko (of Revival Assembly), among many others. The event holds every June 19.

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Benin Film Academy premieres ‘BFA Half Hour’ on TV

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In a first of its kind, Benin Film Academy, ( BFA) will be going live on-air with a TV program called ‘BFA Half Hour’.

The TV series which will be launched in July 2019 on different Television stations both local and terrestrial is a brain-child of African’s most consistent Filmmaker, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen.

The most unique thing about ‘BFA Half Hour’ is that, it will be produced, directed and packaged by graduants and students of the school which has been described as the gateway to the heart of Nollywood in Benin and other Niger-Deltan States.

Lancelot whose contribution to the human capital growth and development as well as advancement of Culture in the Niger/Delta region has attracted foreign interest said, “the aim of this new innovation is to show the capacity we instill on our students, the kind of training we give them and What they are capable of doing.

‘BFA Half Hour’ will debut in July ITV terrestrial channel 22 at 1pm on every Saturday and on satalite ITV o. GOTV channel 107 at 5pm.

BFA is situated on their permanent site at 69, Airport Road, GRA, Benin City and is in partnership with Igbinedion University, Benin City.

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