Lagos is sizzling as the Festive Season begins
Aunty Yetunde Pearce at her 70th birthday reception
Owambe is slang for jollification which is another slang for Lagosian past time - going to huge parties such as weddings, 50th, 60th, 70th, and 80th birthday parties attended by no less than 400 - 500 hundred people and for the really big parties attended by nothing less than 1000 people. These are private parties which take on the shade of festivals. I usually do my best to avoid them but there are some you just can't avoid such as when it is your aunty who is 70 years old.
Beautifully looking aunties wearing their aso-ebi
So a week after launching CCA, Lagos there is still no rest for the wicked as a week later I get into my native attire and head for my aunt's modest birthday party with 400 other people. This gives me an opportunity to wear my permanent smile, greet all my cousins, uncles, aunts and sundry relatives who i do and don't know or who i do or don't remember including those I may have been pretending not to avoid all year round.
Bisi and her cousin Buki, Dear cousin Ronke
At relatives parties you must be the first to arrive and the last to leave so i spent half the time plotting on how to slip out to attend the first artist talk at CCA,Lagos. When an opportune moment presented itself, I pretended I was talking one of the numerous gifts distributed at such parties to my car and slipped away thinking i hadn't be noticed. On arrival at CCA,Lagos 5 minutes late I quickly changed clothes from traditional native to contemporary native, from the colourful owambe jollificating to the serene, pristine environment of the gallery where a few people had gathered for the talk. I was obliged to start without the artist Ghariokwu Lemi who had fallen victim to the unbearable Lagos gridlock. Go-slow for which Lagos was famous is now a thing of the past and we live in a continuous gridlock that only the few can escape. Getting around is a nightmare.
Curator Bisi giving talk about the exhibition Fela, Ghariokwu Lemi and The Art of the Album Cover at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos
Visitors at the talk having a cool drink and discussing in the library
Even though saturday in December is an extremely busy day for social activities we had a small but very interested crowd and I welcome opportunity to interact with some of the visitors on a one on one basis. After talking about the genesis of CCA,Lagos and the development of the Democrazy project, we went to the library space for refreshment and continue the discussion. An hour later the artist arrived and we decide on the spur of the moment to hold another artist's talk for those who also arrived late or wanted to interact with the artist. In Lagos you have to be prepared for anything, no script and minimal planning - just go with the flow.
Lemi talking about his work. Lemi and participants at the talk
From there I dashed off to the opening of an exhibition at Mydrim gallery by the Universal Artists studio. Had a few drinks, went round the exhibition, talked with lots of people and then dashed off to the final appointment, pick up the artist Ndidi dike and head for dinner with Mary Lou Johnson who works at the US Embassy. Once in a while she invites a few people from the cultural sector to hang out. Then I crawled home. Luckily she lives behind my house. I think we share the same back garden wall.
Artist Kolade Oshinowo, Actress Joke Silva, Arts Journalist, Tajudeen Sowole and artist Bisi Fakeye at the opening of the exhibition by artists at the Universal Art Studios (USA)
Artists Segun Adejumo and Duke Asidere at the exhibition opening
Well I am off on my annual holidays for what I believe is a well deserved rest. But it is also a time for reflection on things past and on things to come. Will keep you informed.