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.
Unveiling Emiife Jadesola, a fast rising Nigerian super model
When it comes to modeling and pageantry in Nigeria, a new star seems to have emerged and ready to shine bright like a diamond in years to come.
Oshibote Emiife Jadesola, a fast rising Nigerian Super model is a beautiful face on an intelligent head whose exquisite figure pans every sight her way.
Her shinning black beauty and outstanding body structure earned her the prestigious “Miss Ojuloge personality Nigeria”, 2018/2019 edition where she announced herself as a force to reckon with.
Oshibote Emiife Jadesola, an indigene of Ogun State is model who makes photographer’s shutters shoot for joy. Her ability to combine her natural gift with education define her as an aspiring young Nigerian whose vision is sharp and wide.
She currently studies Business Administration at the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN and have graced thousands of lenses in photo shoots and walkways. She is also a brand ambassador for Jumade Entertainment.
You can follow Emiife on instagram @i_am_emiife
Reuben Okoya: The new dawn in Bayelsa politics
One man that is making a grand entry into the political turf of Bayelasastate is Reuben Okoya; and his antecedents are speaking volumes for him in the firmament of the volatile politics of his state. His entry into the gubernatorial contest has just suddenly altered the political calculations in the state of “glory of all land.” And like an eagerly-awaited breath of fresh air, Architect Reuben Okoya, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Commissioner for Special Duties and Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC,) is stealing the political show, as he is now the toast of all who matter in the politics of Bayelsa State.
For one, Okoya has an edge over others who are similarly jostling for the throne. And that is his ability to combine the wisdom of the elders with the dynamism of the youths, which is obviously lacking in most of those parading themselves to take a shot at the Bayelsa government house. Yet others who share his political philosophy believe that Okoya if given the chance will bring into the state’s governance; creativity, innovation, style, patience and commitment, the qualities for which he has been credited with while superintending over political offices in the past.
A deft manager of human and material resources, the architect and scion of the late monarch HRM Ezekiel Okoya of Ekpetiama is today canvassing a new approach to addressing issues of under-development and injustice in the Niger Delta, which his people have been subjected to over the years but which when tackled in a number new ways would spur growth in the oil-rich region and bring about better life for the people. Speaking at the recent 2019 Isaac Boro Day anniversary and wreath-laying ceremony for the late icon of struggle, at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa, Okoya, a popular philanthropist, said the time had come for fresh perspectives to be adopted in tackling youth restiveness and related issues in the region, while he urgingthe Ijaws, especially the youths, to acquire more education in order to deepen the struggle for fairness and equity.
Okoya, a leading contender for the PDP governorship ticket in the state, said through proper communication and display of intellectualism the Ijaw people could get the understanding of others and attract attention to their sufferings and general under- development of their land. Commending Boro for his sacrifice for the Ijaw nation, he said that people had at some point resorted to armed struggle, but it was important and more effective to fight with the brain using the tool of communication and engagement, noting that every war has always ended on the round table through superior arguments. The PDP stalwart said Nigeria’s well-being has and is still depended on the crude oil in the Niger Delta, and called for dialogue and education in order to convince other ethnic groups that the indigenes of the region should get more benefits. Arc. Rueben Okoya is a 1978 alumnus of University of Oklahoma, USA, where he bagged a bachelor’s of science in Environmental Design (BSED), and a master of Architecture (M. Arch) from Florida A and M University, Tallahassee, Florida, USAin 1984.
He is a member of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and American Institute of Architects (AIA). He comes from the illustrious family of Late His Royal Majesty Ezekiel Pappah Okoya of Bumoundi in Ekpetiama Clan, the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama kingdom and late Mrs. Sussanah Okoya of the eminent family of Chief Michael EnguleSoba of Igbedi, both of Bayelsa State. He is a devout Christian with true greatness wrapped in humility, simplicity and strong unshakable faith in the will of God. Arc., Okoya is happily married to Natalie, who is also a technocrat, they are blessed with lovely children. With his ‘’ROK” Foundation, he has always been given to the less-privileged in the society. In his benevolence, hundreds of people (individuals and families) across the nation have received sundry cash and material donations since 2003. His passion is to reach out to a greater number of people, who are in dare need for assistance, and that has been the fore focuses on meeting the various needs of the people in Nigeria beginning with Bayelsa State.
Reuben Okoya (ROK) Foundation strives to ensure a better quality of life for the people by organizing valuable outreach programs that positively impact and contribute to their economic well-being.
Ojude Oba Festival 2019, proudly sponsored by FCMB
It was a rich showcase of colours, culture and tradition at this year’s Ojude Oba Festival which held in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State on August 13, 2019.
The Ojude Oba, (which in Ijebu dialect means, “the king’s forecourt or frontage”, is a major festival in Nigeria that began over 100 years ago. It brings together all sons and daughters of Ijebuland in Nigeria and diaspora for a carnival-like celebration of the traditional, cultural, spiritual accomplishments and other values of the Ijebu nation. During the Festival, various age groups (popularly known as the Regberegbes), indigenes, their friends and associates from far and near – all in their colourful costumes and riding on horses, thronged the palace of the Awujale of Ijebuland to pay homage to him amidst prayers and other fun-filled activities.
Sponsors of the Ojude Oba Festival and foremost Nigerian financial institution First City Monument Bank (FCMB) congratulated the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona, chiefs, age groups, all indigenes, friends and well-wishers of Ijebuland on this year’s festival.
The Bank reiterated its commitment to support activities that promote and add value to Nigeria’s culture and heritage which are also capable of boosting tourism, trade and the hospitality sector. FCMB’s participation was as usual grand, exciting and rewarding for the thousands of people within and outside the country that graced the fiesta.
In a goodwill message to the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Adetona, the Founder of FCMB Group, who is also the Olori Omo-Oba Akile Ijebu, Otunba (Dr) Olasubomi Balogun, CON, expressed his gratitude to the paramount ruler for his selflessness, distinguished and exemplary leadership for the 59 years he has been the paramount ruler of Ijebuland, which makes him one of the longest reigning monarchs in Nigeria.
In the same vein, the Group Chief Executive of FCMB Group Plc, Mr. Ladi Balogun, congratulated the monarch for upholding the values of Ijebuland and raising the status of the event over the years. He stated that, ‘’the Ojude Oba Festival is a rallying point to promote the sustainable growth and development of our community. We recognise that celebrating our heritage is an important part of our national identity, a means of educating visitors and future generations about our history and an opportunity to measure our growth, development and sustainability. Hence, for us at FCMB, the Ojude Oba Festival is not just another event. It is a pride to us; being a major platform through which we reaffirm our commitment to the community and promote our nation’s cultural diversity. We will continue to support all activities of the State with focus on the economic and social development. We are committed to the longevity of the Ojude Oba Festival and are proud to be associated with its grandeur’’.
For more information about FCMB, please visit www.fcmb.com
Some pictures from Ojude Oba 2019 are shown below:
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