National Theatre

Ambode: Of Art And Garbage
Whatever plaudits you may want to give Governor Ambode of Lagos, they certainly can’t include his delivery on environmental aesthetics or cultural programming. Since he took over two and half years ago, he has superintended the browning out of the city’s parks and gardens, which host sculptures of some of the country’s iconic personalities. These oases of greenery in an otherwise disorderly urban sprawl, were constructed by the administration that ran the affairs of Lagos before Ambode. They have been growing derelict, some taken over by the homeless, due to lack of care, in the governor’s 27 months in office. The Ambode government has spent over a billion naira on public sculpture and street art in the last eight months, increasing the presence of visual arts in the city. These works are of uneven quality and some of them have been alleged to be plagiarised, but this is by the way. Public art is a good idea, any day. However, the same period that has witnessed the installation of public art has heralded the resurgence of stubbornly large refuse dumps. Huge garbage sites have returned to different parts of town, and they seem to take Lagos back to what it was before the restoration that began in 1999.
Book Party, King Babu In Lagos Today; Saro

In London, Late August
The CORA-Nigerian Prize for Literature Book Party holds this afternoon at Terra Kulture arena on Victoria Island. It features readings and discussions around the 11 books longlisted for the N30.5 million Nigerian Prize for Literature, which is now in its 13th year. The party is the eighth since 2009. The event wraps up CORA’s two outreach events in August 2017, which started with Benson Idonije’s reading of Dis FelaSef, his memoir of his interactions with Fela Anikulapo Kuti, at the University of Lagos, last Thursday. Elsewhere in town, Oxzygen Koncepts opened its month long production o fWole Soyinka’s King Baabu at the Freedom Park from last Friday. The show runs from 7pm every day of the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) throughout August 2017. King Baabu is “a far reaching satire on the rule of General SanniAbacha in Nigeria”. It “chronicles the debauched rule of General Basha Bash who takes power in a coup and exchanges his general’s uniform for a robe and crown, re-christening himself King Babu”. In London, from August 24 to 29, the Bolanle Austen Peters Productions (BAAP) presents Saro The Musical at the Shaw Theatre, in the North West of the city. Show time for the six days of performances is 7pm.

Omotosho’sThe Woman Next Door Is Both Spare And Rich
At a reading at the Life House in Lagos in 2013, KoleOmotosho expressed the view that his daughter had just published a novel that was rather apolitical. “It’s a good book”, the professor said of Bom Boy, Yewande Omotosho’s debut effort, “but you can’t run away from politics in any writing, whether fiction or non-fiction.” Bom Boy is about Leke, born of a Nigerian father and coloured South African mother and adopted by a white South African middle class couple. He turns out to be a loner, a reclusive outsider type of Cape Town resident; an odd fellow who stalks people and steals small objects. Bom Boy is a very different kind of diaspora story than is the standard fare by a Nigerian writer crafting a story of Nigerians outside Nigeria. But it is diasporic in the sense that it connects the two countries through the Nigerian spirituality imbibed by a second generation immigrant living several thousand kilometres from the country of birth of his father. With her second novel, The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotosho declares that she is, unashamedly, South African. Having lived in the country for 25 of her 37 years, the writer feels entitled to write a full bodied South African story without shying away from the politics. The new book, also located around Cape Town, has a far more ambitious scope. Like Bom Boy, the characters in The Woman Next Door are few and they unravel slowly. The writing is spare, illuminating big issues through small nuggets of detail. None of the major characters is Nigerian, but the spirit of the country hovers around, playing a significant role in the life of Hortensia, the Barbados-born leading protagonist. Omotosho throws a lot into this pot: architecture, design, lifelong career choices determining financial stability in retirement, all of them carefully put together without spoiling the broth. The novel is clearly about racism, then and now, in Europe and in Africa. It’s about sharp differences between an unreformed white racist and a bitter black Caribbean immigrant, both of them in their 80s. But overall, it is a simple human story about difference. If you must look for Omotosho’s references without asking her, this spare writing in which extremely short sentences are laden with history recalls Nadine Gordimer’sJuly’s People and John Coetzee’s Disgrace. The intimate painting of black people’s harsh lives against white people’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the harshness references all of Andre Brink. In essence, Ms Omotosho sounds closer to white South African literary legends than black masters like Zakes Mda. But her voice is distinct. It is as eloquent as it is urgent.

In 10 Days, Akpos Gets The Girl Again, Except…
In the end, Akpos walks away with the pretty damsel. Unlike the earlier encounters, however, he has to fight tooth and nail, like James Bond, to keep the girl. And for the first time in the series, it is not the girl he meets during the adventure to the foreign land; it is the woman he travels with, whom he almost loses. 10 Days In Sun City is the most intelligent of all three of AY Makun’s Travel adventure films, which are, admittedly good entertainment, but are not known for their intelligence. It’s the only one with some depth and content. 30 Days in Atlanta was for laughs. A Trip to Jamaica was meant to be the same, except that there’s a police intervention, for a fuzzy crime escapade. 10 Days In Sun City is the first of the series not written by Makun and that may, perhaps be the reason for the breadth of fresh air. It pays homage to old fashioned filial love and declares that loyalty should not be only about N30 billion in your account. The South African input in the film is surprisingly subpar; Sun City does not come across in a tiny fraction of its well-advertised glory; the local actors are not exactly actors in the way we know South African actors to be and how do you have an investment conference in Sun City, in 2017, without a single white man in the audience?

• Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency

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