Friday, August 31, 2007

News Desk Friday, August 31, 2007

House of Reps Crisis: Madam Speaker's Moves to Douse Tension

With the resumption of the House of Representatives next week, Speaker Patricia Olubunmi Etteh is set to confront her accusers and explain herself to members of the House. Since returning from abroad, she has made useful attempts to douse the tension already generated. This report examines the issues and concludes that whereas she may have being a victim of her own indiscretion, the opposition would not hold water. MORE>>>

GSM at Six: The Good and Ugly Side

That the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) can bark and bite was demonstrated by its recent order to the Global System of Mobile (GSM) communications companies to stop all sales promos until they had expanded their networks to accommodate the expected traffic from such activities. MORE>>>

Obasanjo Should be Probed - Ojukwu

ENUGU—PRESIDENTIAL candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, yesterday, accused former President, Chief Olusegun Oba-sanjo of ruinning the nation’s economy saying he must be made to face prosecution if the Federal Government was serious with its fight against corruption. MORE>>>

No Emergency Rule in Rivers, says Yar'Adua

President Umaru Yar’Adua on Thursday said he had no intention of declaring emergency rule in Rivers State. Yar’Adua, who spoke when an 11-member delegation of the state’s representatives in the National Assembly visited him, also vowed that the government would deal with criminal elements in the Niger Delta. MORE>>>

NLC Threatens Nationwide Strike

PRESIDENT of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, on Thursday warned that the congress would lead workers on a nationwide strike over the planned deduction of five per cent from their salaries under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). MORE>>>

In Ghana, New Cedi is Fun

When Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced his plans to redenominate the naira, Nosike Ogbuenyi travelled to Accra, Ghana, to feel the pulse of Ghanaians as their country transits from the old cedi, which exchanged 10,000 cedis to US$1, to the new cedi which is at par with the dollar. He saw a country that is gradually adjusting to the new reality. MORE>>>

The 22nd Annual African Marketplace & Cultural Faire (5)

The School of Scientology brought its business to the 22nd Annual African Marketplace & Cultural Faire perhaps to sell its ideas of a controversial stuff that was developed by L. Ron Hubbard, based on a person being an immortal spiritual being clearing itself of past painful experiences through self knowledge and spiritual fulfillment. Hard to believe as it sounds too good to be true. Nevertheless, tourists and curious-minded folks still checked it out.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Orans Black Museum

I was able to take a complete tour of one of the intellectual hubs of Black African art which is almost hidden in the Santa Barbara Plaza on Marlton Avenue in Mid-City, Los Angeles. Oranz Black Museum is a world of its own and one needs to take a thorough tour of this museum of black culture in order to give props for this great idea.

It has all you can think of in the world of art, ancient history, anthropology, millions of pictures and prints rarely seen elsewhere. I was amazed and what I saw was incredible. The library of rare books, the stones collected from the Pyramid sites in Egypt, the stage, the lightings, the magnificent gallery and collections of great Black American legends who changed our lives over time.

The picture above is a BaSuka Mask with origins from Massai's of Kenya and South African Zulus. I will be taking a second tour in the coming weeks and should be chatting one-on-one with OZ as he is known by his admirers. Stick around!

News Desk Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yar'Adua Scraps NNPC

ABUJA—THE Federal Government adopted, yesterday, the Oil and Gas Industry Committee (OGIC) report recommending the restructuring of the Energy Ministry and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as currently constituted into five agencies. The creation of the new institutional structures is aimed at creating operational autonomy and minimising undue interference. MORE>>>

Naira Redenomination: I'll Maintain Sealed Lips - Soludo

Ilorin—Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Charles Soludo yesterday said henceforth he has decided to maintain sealed lips over the controversies that surrounded the suspended CBN’s Naira re-denomination policy. MORE>>>

AG: No Court Order Can Remove Gov.

Attorney-General of the Federation and the Min-ister of Justice, Mr. Mi-chael Kasse Aondoakaa, yesterday frowned at the use of judges to get hurried court injunctions to remove governors.He said the Federal Government would not tolerate such resorts to abuse of court processes any longer. MORE>>>

Nigeria Accounts for 80% Wild Polio Virus in Africa

Nigeria accounts for 80 per cent cases of wild polio virus in Africa and 42 per cent of the global wild polio virus cases, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report. The WHO report stated that though the rate of wild polio virus cases has dropped in the country, the rate of elimination is slow, compared to other countries. MORE>>>

Police Nab Port Harcourt Cultist

Detectives investigating a fraud case at the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi, Lagos have blown the cover of a 28-year-old Port Harcourt-based suspected cultist, who built a multi-million naira mansion that serves as his hideout in the Ojodu area of Lagos State. MORE>>>

Group B is Toughest with United States, Sweden, North Korea and Nigeria

BEIJING: Hands down, Group B figures to be the toughest in the women's World Cup.Three of the sport's five top-ranked teams are in the group — the Untied States (No. 1), Sweden (No. 3) and North Korea (No. 5). Defending African champion Nigeria is ranked only 24, which belies its strength. MORE>>>

Nigeria's Women Football Team to Play Five Warm-Ups in Germany

The Nigerian women's soccer team, the Super Falcons, will play five friendlies during its one-week tour of Germany ahead of next month's FIFA Women's World Cup in China. An official of the team said Sunday that the tour will enable the coach Ntiero Effiom-led technical crew to select players for next month's World Cup. MORE>>>

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The 22nd Annual African Marketplace & Cultural Faire (4)

How about some West African dishes? Yes, a West African Restaurant popped up at the 22nd Annual African Marketplace & Cultural Faire where lots of West African dishes were served. Fried plantain, baked beans, moi-moi, tuwo sinkafa, dokunu and many other varieties of West African dishes had customers and tourists indulge in finger-licking. Delicious and cool!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

IPI NTOMBI, THE MUSICAL

I wasn't even sure if it was music or a group of villagers telling some kind of story in a language not familiar. I had taken the bus from Eastside heading to Lagos when busriding was fun and easy without much ado. I reached Lagos and got stuck at Ido Motor Park where buses from the Eastside called the last bus stop, that is, if you travelled afar, beyond Imo River. Sweet journey, as it was, and reaching the city, life would change dramatically. Still a hippy, and still feeling like bursting loose, the Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers way, it was indeed a long journey by bus.

Reaching my destination off Ojo Road, a two record set sitting on a table was playing on a turntable. It was Bertha Egnos "controversial musical Ipi N'Tombi" meaning where are the girls, playing and my mood twisted all of a sudden from the funk era. I wasn't really sure if that was my kind of music, but learning for the fact the Apartheid regime has caused too much pain to the black population in South Africa, I began to pay attention. I played the music over and over again and got a clue of what pain and suffering was all about.

The South African musical about a marriage ceremony for a young couple, a witchdoctor, a Boer settler and Zulu warrior "once engaged in bloody battles" led by lead singer Margaret Singana had no parallel to any musical of the day.

The album, produced by a mother/daughter team (Bertha Egnos and Gail Lakier), from the opening track of a well-rehearsed lyrical stage perfomance to the drumbeats of The Warrior, no doubt, you will be moved by the time you are done listening to every track, which of course are all masterpieces.

I have taken time to listen to all the tracks over and over again, and it's just amazing. For the record, Osibisa, remade "The Warrior" during the groups PYE years in London.

The Tracks:

1. Ipi Ntombi
2. Narration; Sesiya Hamba; Drinking Song; Thando Le Phe
3. Korbosha (Down By The River)
4. Andy's Song
5. Moriva
6. Hakelejeje
7. Narration; The Batism; Roll Up Yonder
8. Bona Noga
9. The Witchdoctor; Mother Mary
10.Narration; Nadia
11.Egoli
12.Serantebhule; Pennywhistle
13.Emdudeni; Uhlele
14.The Click
15.Narration; The Child
16.Narration; Mama Tembu's Wedding
17.Baby, Baby; Soweto By Night
18.Wishing
19.Ndoba Sathini Nina; Zimbaba
20.Baby Baby
21.Shosholoza
22.The Digger
23.Narration; Lashoni Langa
24.The Warrior
25.Bayete
26.Ipi Ntombi

Monday, August 27, 2007

The 22nd Annual African Marketplace & Cultural Faire (3)

It has been business as usual at the ongoing 22nd Annual African Marketplace & Cultural Faire. Traders, vendors and tourists had fun checking out each special event around the grassless field of Dorsey High School where the expo was really taking place. Even though vendors have complained of low turnout in sales, I still couldn't resist the all drum session that entertained the audience under a tree where they assembled beating the drums the African way. Call it "drums of passion" if you like and who cares whether you habla Espanol or not, folks from all walks of life trooped in to watch an under the tree drum session which had a snatch of Latin American congas beats with some salsa flavor.

News Desk Monday, August 27, 2007

U.S. Court Hears $50m Bribery Case Against NNPC in Sept

The United States Court of Appeal will on September 6, 2007 sit on a nine-year legal battle between the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation and Gulf-Petro Trading Company Inc/Petrec International Inc on breach of contract. MORE>>

P - Harcourt: Army Alleges Fresh Terror Plot

PORT HARCOURT— THE Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta alleged, yesterday, a fresh plot by cult groups led by the trio of Ateke Tom, Soboma George and Farah Dagogo to wreak havoc in the state. He said the groups planned to kit their members with military uniform to mislead the public. MORE>>

Presidency Orders Probe into N628m Reps Contract

ABUJA — THE Presidency may have ordered an investigation into the N628.8 million contract allegedly awarded for the renovation of the official residences of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, and her deputy, Mr. Babangida Nguroje, as well as the purchase of new units of vehicles. MORE>>

Mark, Senate Deny Awarding N450m Contract

At a time the House of Representatives is engulfed in controversy over a N628 million contract, the Senate has denied awarding any contract for the renovation of its president’s official residence, describing as spurious the claims that Senate President, David Mark, was a signatory to a contract to renovate his official residence to the tune of N450 million. MORE>>

ICPC to Revisit Cases of Freed ex-Govs

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has said it will retrieve files sent to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on former governors investigated for corrupt practices. MORE>>

Nigeria Arrests Man Smuggling Cocaine to Israel

LAGOS, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Nigerian police have arrested a 31-year-old man trying to smuggle 6 kg of cocaine to Israel, Nigeria's anti-narcotics agency said on Monday. MORE>>

Nigeria Oil City in Slum Clean-Up

All waterfront buildings and shacks in Nigeria's oil capital, Port Harcourt are to be demolished, officials say. Rivers State government says the shacks have become hideouts for the armed militants who are behind the violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta. MORE>>

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Oriental Brothers International Band

A lot had already been written about the Oriental Brothers International Band, a Highlife musical group that exploded on the Eastside entertaining guests at local pubs and playing gigs at notable events and other related ceremonies immediately after the catastrophic Biafran war.

I have paid attention to the classic tunes, especially Anam Ele Chi when one had begun to grow up, and rewinding that back, I have come to accept the fact Oriental Brothers this Eastside-based group should have been given more credit supposedly to have earned them some kind of international recognition with series of awards like the Grammy.

The band, originally founded by Godwin "Kabaka" Opara, Ferdinand "Dan Satch" Emeka Opara, Christogonous "Warrior" Ezebuiro Obinna, Nathaniel "Mangala" Ejiogu and the rest, all Owerre area boys except Warrior who hailed from Mbaise but had been needed to be part of the group because of his powerful lyrics echoing in Owerre dialect.

Tracks like Nwa Ada Di Nma, Chi Awu Otu, Iheoma, Nwanyi Di Ya Bu Eze blowed up overnight and was recited at every home in the Esatside during the so-called "reconstruction era." But sad though, as this elite group began to shake the foundations of showbiz, personal animosities and record deal failures as a result of normal internal problems that comes along with any recording group, the band split and most parted ways. With the split, Godwin "kabaka" Opara formed Kabaka International Guitar Band leaving the original Oriental Brothers with Dan Satch and Warrior.

The highlife music was king at the time and Oriental Brothers before the bitter split had brought life to every home in the Eastside with their refined music snatching Congolese beats and Owerre dialectic folklore. "Anam Ele Chi" is still my favorite and I do play it over and over again whenever in the mood for egwu Owerre.

News & Views Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Naira Rigime: Soludo Erred, Presidency Insists

THE Presidency, yesterday, offered more explanation on why it suspended the new naira policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, saying Soludo acted in error in initiating the currency redenomination.

We Are Already Under Partial Emergency Rule; Why Not Perfect It? - Alabo Graham Douglas

POLITICIANS are allergic to state of emergency and some of them can disown their grandfathers for calling for emergency rule in their domain. In fact state of emergency means making political office holders jobless for the period of the “military” rule.

Etteh Under Pressure To Quit

There were indications that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs Patricia Olubunmi Etteh, was under pressure to resign over the allegations that she spent N628 million to renovate her official residence at the Apo Legislative Quarters in Abuja and spent public funds to organise a birthday bash in the United States, US.

You Must Monitor Ohakim, Ali Tells Imo Speaker

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Ahmadu Ali, has urged the majority leader of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mrs. Ukachi Amechi, to be vigilant in the performance of her legislative responsibilities with the Governor of the state, Chief Ikedi Ohakim.

Exposed! The Untold Story of Third Term

Fresh facts have emerged to effectively throw light on the roles played by some politicians and their soul mates in the business community, in the failed tenure elongation gambit of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ikejiani: Remembering His Tribute to Zik

News of the passing of one of the titans of modern Nigeria, Okechukwu Ikejiani, MD brought back memories of our first meeting over 12 years ago. That had been at the Lincoln University in Pennsylvania , as preparation for the return of the Great Zik, then almost 90 years old, to his alma mater, got under way. The late Vice Chancellor Prof. Chimere Ikoku called me from Enugu to know if I knew who Ikejiani was and whether I could reach him to start getting ready because for sure, Zik was coming, and after the US, he would be visiting with him in Nova Scotia.

Obasanjo and the CCB: Beyond Asset Declaration

By making public details of his assets and liabilities as deposited with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), President Yar’Adua has won considerable public admiration. Perhaps this is one benefit that a nation derives from having an aristocrat in office, as opposed to a candidate who hails from a line of paupers and who has to deal with the novelty of wealth when dazzled by the trappings and temptations of high office.

Nigeria: FG Solicits U.S. Congress Support On Economic Matters

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, has enlisted the support of the Congress of the United States of America (USA) over Nigeria's economy, saying the President Umaru Yar'Adua government is determined to provide conducive environment for business.

Okiro Orders Fresh Investigation Into Enugu Election

Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, has ordered the Zone 9 headquarters in Umuahia, Abia State to take over the case of complaints against the police in Enugu State over alleged untidy investigation of rigging in the last gubernatorial elections.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The 22nd Annual African Marketplace and Cultural Faire (2)

The 22nd Annual African Marketplace and Cultural Faire enters its second week, and here I am not figuring out if it's worth my time or just keep checking it out for the heck of it. The faire which runs from every weekend until Labor Day weekend has not been the best since the festival started about twenty-two years ago. Most vendors have complained that the slow economy dramatically affected sales and patrons and tourists alike due to the waning economy lost interest. Regardless, the show, in my own view, hasn't lost much of its touch and people from all over are trooping in and having fun to mark the end of a burning summer. Stay tuned for more updates.

Leimert Park, California

Not too many are associated to Leimert Park located by the Crenshaw Boulevard thoroughfare that rises from the Wilshire District all the way down to Rolling Hills Estate in Southern California's South Bay. Leimert Park and its environs now booms with African businesses from the 4300 block of Degnan Boulevard to Martin Luther King Boulevard where the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza Mall sits. Leimert Park is about 15 minutes to Downtown Los Angeles.

The above piucture showing Leimert Park Gardens and African drums jam sessions where women particularly gets therapy by dancing to the drums all day long. It's amazing how this theurapetic formula works since most women I spoke to say the drum sessions heals their body spiritually and emotionally. Good thing stuff like that keeps the body and soul of women together.

I have been taking a trip to this beautiful park lately. It has been overwhelmed with a whole lot of activities. On August 19, 2007, while crusing down Crenhshaw Boulevard from church, (I haven't been to a church and a friend talked me into it perhaps to save my soul even though nothing much has changed from the last time I thought I was missing something) I popped up just like that at the park, and guess what? Marcus Garvey's birthday was being observed and food was served free to all. Folks were lining up to get some bit of original African cooking with all kinds of vibes from the background.

I took a tour of Degnan Blvd. and the line up was unbelievable. Obi Onyeador's African Treasures, Kumasi Gift Shop, World Stage Performance Gallery, Papa West Breakfast Club, Jamaican Restaurant and series of eateries, gift shops, barber shops, discount stores, hangouts and things like that were scenes that keeps the park alive. Nevertheless, the bad cop image LAPD patrols the entire area 24/7 making this beautiful neigborhood that is now the hub of "Black Township," clear and safe.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Breaking News: Nigeria Halts Move by Central Bank Governor to Re-Denominate Currency

ABUJA, Nigeria: Nigeria said Friday it was halting a plan to manage inflation better by dropping two decimal places from the national currency, claiming the initiative by the country's central bank had not received the approval of President Umaru Yar'Adua. The attorney general, Michael Aondoaka, said that "by embarking on the agenda without the approval of the president," the central bank governor Chukwuma Soludo violated the law guiding the existence of the reserve bank. View Details>>

Thursday, August 23, 2007

News Desk Thursday, August 23, 2007

Uwais Heads 22-man Electoral Reform Committee

ABUJA—IN fulfilment of his promise to reform the electoral process, President Umaru Yar’Adua yesterday announced the names of 22 eminent Nigerians as members of the Electoral Reforms Committee with the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais, as chairman. MORE>>

Why Electoral Reform Will Fail - Nwodo

A stalwart of the Action Congress, Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo, on Wednesday said the planned electoral reform by President Umaru Yar‘Adua would not succeed as long as former President Olusegun Obasanjo retained his stranglehold on the administration. MORE>>

Nigerians Want Death of Abia ex-Accountant-General Investigated

SHOCK, disbelief and lamentation have trailed the death of the former Abia State’s Accountant-General (AG), Chief Gerald Anyanwoke, even as some prominent Nigerians have called on the security agencies to unravel the "circumstances surrounding his death". MORE>>

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tabu Ley - "Babeti Soukous"

In my quest to flush out African musical heritage from every aspect, I picked up Tabu Ley's 1989 release at Amoeba Records and paid attention to a music well composed by way of its rhythmical sense. An excellent vibe.

Meanwhile, I will always appreciate Steve Ntwiga Mugiri whose site inspired me to pick interest in Soukous and Rumba music, driving me to the extent of being a scholar in that category. That guy has a whole lot going on when it comes to music and it's out there at his site for everyone to see.

I have listened attentively to Ley's "Babeti Soukous" which was recorded live at New World Studios in England on January 30, 1989, and following the trend in understanding the beats, I couldn't but conclude that Ley mastered his art and left a legacy in the world of Soukous music.

Born in 1940 in Zaire of the Bayanzi tribe, he kicked off his career as a teenager joining Joseph Kabasele's African Jazz Band and parting ways with Kabasele and guitarist Dr. Nico years later, he regrouped and formed his own band called African Fiesta National Band releasing the classic "Africa Mokili Mobimba."

However, the tracks selected from this album was a mixture of Zairean and East African popular music with "snatches" of rock, R&B and jazzy tunes for over 20 years earning him series of honorary awards and political appointments in his native country.

There are 13 tracks in this very album and besides the introduction/presentation, the music is great. "Mosolo," meaning money and "Linga Ngai" meaning love me in Zairean language is a classic refined in Zaire, back in the day. Brilliant stuff and listen to it!

Port Harcourt Mayhem: Guns! Guns! Guns!



Security Operatives display firearms recovered from cultists. (Sylver Ejike, Niger Delta Standard)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

News Desk Sunday, August 19, 2007


Residents flee Port Harcourt. Photo by Sylver Ejike (Niger Delta Standard)


Photo journalist Sylver Ejike captures this shot of an unidentified corpse in front of Civic Center, Moscow Road, Port Harcourt in the ongoing civil disturbance that has left scores dead and many others missing.

Soldiers Won't Leave P-Harcourt For Six Months

As the search for peace in Port Harcourt continues, with over 45,000 residents displaced, chief of the defence staff, General Andrew Azazi; army chief, Lt. Gen. Luka Yusuf; flag officer commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Bodurin Raji and inspector general of police, Mr. Mike Okiro, flew into the Rivers State capital, yesterday, the second time in one week, vowing to restore peace at all costs. MORE>>

Security Chiefs Promise to Crush Killer Gangs

The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, vowed on Saturday that security agencies were determined to flush out killer gangs in Rivers State who had been killing and destroying public property in the last two weeks. He made the promise after a meeting with top military and police officers in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Saturday. MORE>>

EFCC Probes Ebonyi Afresh, Invites Nine Officers

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun a fresh investigation of the Ebonyi State Government. Already, the commission has invited nine officers of the state to Lagos to shed light on the activities of the government in recent times. MORE>>

Port Harcourt Mayhem Will Not Be Over Soon - MEND

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has associated the crisis in Port Harcourt with the struggle by cult groups to gain government's patronage, adding that the problem will not be over soon. MORE>>

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The 22nd Annual African Marketplace and Cultural Faire

Yes, I got there on time to witness the opening ceremony of the 22nd Annual African Marketplace and Cultural Faire on the playgrounds of Rancho La Cienega Park by Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. The venue which was moved last year from the historical Exposition Park was full of fanfare reminding me of the Orie Amigwes in my native land.

Sponsored by Los Angeles Metropolitan Authority, The Walt Disney Company, Western Union, Time Warner Cable, Whole Foods Market, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, 93.5 KDAY, 94.7 The vWave, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and several other related sponsors, I couldn't but give kudos to the organizers who have kept this cultural thing going for twenty-two years.

I took a tour of all the booths and you would not believe how our cultural heritage has grown over the years. I watched jazz singer Dawn Norfleet entertain the audience with her powerful lyrics. Stay tuned for updates.

PHOTO OP: Vieux Farka Toure's Magic Night @ Skirball



It was a night of magic at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles as Vieux Farka Toure entertained the audience to a spellbinding performance on August 9, 2007. For sure, it's a lasting memory.

News Desk Saturday, August 18, 2007

Port Harcourt: Rivers Govt Slams Dusk To Dawn Curfew

PORT HARCOURT — A dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed in Rivers State. In a statement yesterday the Commissioner for Information, Mr Ema Okah said the development was to enable the state consolidate on the peace arising from the deployment of soldiers to the streets. MORE>>

Robbers Kill Policeman, 5 Others in Bank Raid

LAGOS — There was bloodbath yesterday at Ketu in Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos, after a 15-man robbery gang stormed a first generation bank and shot six persons including a mobile policeman to death. MORE>>

Garden City of Mayhem

Port Harcourt was a city of dreams. The Garden City, as it has been known for many years, was a place of big dreams. Peaceful environment, well-planned streets, chubby oil executives, big cars, abundant oil and gas reserves, good business environment, quick money. Those were the hallmarks of the Rivers State capital until the wave of militant insurgency infected the city. On Monday August 6, 2007, the city of dreams again erupted in a nightmare of booming guns, violence, death, fire, grief, fear. Militants. Soldiers. Riot policemen. Panic-stricken residents. In between them, trouble stalked the land like a predator. MORE>>

EFCC Should Arrest IBB, OBJ, Anenih to Fight Corruption - CD Boss

The spokesperson of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSO), Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, has said that for the anti-corruption war to be properly waged, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida; and former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, should be arrested. MORE>>

Imo to Ban Okada Riders

Imo State governor, Ikedi Ohakim has said his government would soon ban commuter motorcycle operators in the state, pointing out that plans for the establishment of a job center where unemployed graduates would be retrained in specialized skills is almost concluded. MORE>>

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hear Music @ Starbucks

Now you can browse music and compile your own CD at Starbucks Coffeehouse. The Hear Music at Starbucks' Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, california, is quite thrilling and fun. You can choose from many music categories and name your own compilation with its own label. The question now is: would record stores go out of business with newer technology and stuff like this? Who wants to listen to a track in a bunch of CD one has no interest in? The record sales business may be going bananas. I hope not, though!

Stephanie Okereke's Directing Debut

Recently, actress Stephanie Okereke was in Los Angeles directing a movie. The movie about a guy who doesn't want any committment and wants to keep playing should be released here in the U.S. this fall. Okereke poses here with Dozie Obiaga at the movie set in Inglewood, California.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Malian Guitarist Vieux Farka Toure Rocks Los Angeles

In my native Amazano, where I partly grew up, Abu Owu, folklore of a cultural festival was a unique tradition. We sang the blues of life's amazing journey and tragedies. It ended there and nothing practically came out of it for the fact no one committed to its cause, and today, abu owu has almost disappeared.

Mike Ejeagha in his hey days of story telling sang the blues when "Ome Ka Agu" violated every rule losing his moral grounds and defying the traditional norms of a people meant by culture to keep afloat and keeping intact and viable a cultural heritage prescribed from time. Ejeagha's music did not go that far in that regard. It was only local, within his enclave, and no major breakthrough for universal recognition due to lack of exposure.

On August 8, I saw for my self something extraordinary ever since I have been attending concerts since childhood. Amoeba Records, now a record label in Hollywood, California, hosted world music rising star, Niafunke, Mali-born folklorist Vieux Farka Toure. Farka Toure who was promoting his self titled debut CD hit the stage for six performances in front of packed audiences, and patrons who're regulars at Amoeba's "low-key-in-store jam" experienced the young Farka Toure's magic.

Like father, like son, and following the footsteps of dad, Vieux delivered. He did not disappoint. The folklorist had the packed audience at Amoeba dancing, clapping and reflecting his father, Ali Farka Toure's vibes.

Farka Toure rocks, rocks and rocks. Farka Toure just rocks.

In jazz, I would compare him to Wes Montgomery and George Benson whent it comes to using the thumbs to make the guitar talk. In blues, I would compare him to the legendary B.B. King and Buddy Guy combining his rhythm and the blues as in "Palata Bluesio." In heavy metal, I would compare him to Eddie van Halen and AC/DC's Angus Young, the way his guitar talked to the audience. In soundtracks, I would compare him to Prince in "Purple Rain," still the biggest-selling soundtrack in history. In pure funk and all that funktified grooves, I would compare him to Rubber Band's Bootsy Collins as the baseline and bassist echoes on stage simultaneously.

Am I really missing something? Probably! How about the likes of Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynot and Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore who says he "could wipe the floor up with most guitarists." Now, beware, Blackmore, there's a new kid in town and the audience has begun to holler, "Toure, Toure, Toure bring the vibe on." Toure has wiped the floor and he can play the guitar in any music category.

Playing for about an hour and half, nonstop, at Amoeba, and beginning with tracks featuring Ali Farka Toure and his mentor Toumani Diabate, Vieux was awesome when the track "Ai Du" exploded reminding me of Joe Satriani and Carlos Santana on how the guitar really talks. A duo with santana or Satriani would, without a doubt, melt every concert goer.

Absolutely no horns.

The wind was gone.

The guy just rocks.

Though his father wanted him to join the army, Vieux took his destiny into his own hands enrolling in Bamako's National Arts Institute and meeting with Eric Herman, Vieux and Eric got to work and began recording in what would be Vieux' debut album to which Toumani contributed his "talent on two of the tracks." The rest is now history.

Enter the Skirball Cultural Center on Sepulveda Blvd. intersecting the 405 (Sacramento) Freeway on August 9, which created a bottleneck around the neighborhood for the coming of Africa's newest sensation in world music. In blues, I meant to say.

The amazing structure, the museum and Noah's Ark.

The tourists, the Jewish community, oneness and organizational effectiveness.

The crowd and Fela Anikulapo Kuti's memorabilia, and the signs that read "Fela Lives."

The music of Vieux indicating "culture is not parts." That "culture is a whole and an entity."

Vieux performed to a point this Jewish community bowed saluting a legend in the making. Once again, "Ai Du" was played and the audience couldn't believe how this kid took over from his dad that quick with a magnificent choral application and powerful lyrics. He delivered and it was a hell of a show.

Vieux would continue his message stretching down all the way to Santa Monica, California where every pub was full to capacity. The night life of this amazing city. Third Street Promenade. The bookstores, talkshows, craziness and all that stuff. The fanfare. The tourists. The eateries--French cuisine, Italian reataurants, Spanish bar and grill; the dazzling sidewalks, Wilshire Boulevard and all the attractions. The beautiful Santa Monica Beach and Vieux' invitation to play at the Temple Bar on the corner of Wilshire and 11Th Street. It was magic.

The two previous shows (Amoeba and Skirball Cultural Center), I took my camera with me. But on August 10, I had no camera, not even my cell phone. I was ready to party, and I knew it would be going down.

I arrived Temple Bar at about 10:15 pm and the night's opening act was an all drum session led by Leon Mobley and his Da Lion drums-percussion group who classified his band as the "original African-American" ensemble. Mobley performed well and the show was great.

During the intermission before Vieux would be introduced to stage, Chief Priest's masterpiece, "Alu Jon Jonki Jon" began to blast all over and just like that, the mood changed. Many other notable African recordings played before Vieux and his gang stormed the stage. At approximately 11:20 pm, Vieux stormed the stage and hell broke loose. The audience chanted aloud "Toure, Toure" as he spoke in French and then Okay, going back and forth to his French and okay. He played many tunes late into the night including getting the audience recite "Palato bluesio" while waving and connecting to his bassist. The track "Ana" came with some reggae vibrations. It was incredible and one of great performances I've seen in a long time by an African.

Vieux Farka Toure, you are now a superstar. Enjoy it!

Monday, August 06, 2007

What I'm Reading

Well, I'm not really a bookworm, but a friend had recommended I should purchase Randall Robinson's latest entry into bookstores. Ok., I did go to the bookstore and listened to my friend's humble advice. I had a problem though. A book 280 pages at the price of $26 before taxes probably means a whole lot in Latin American history.

Randal Robinson's An Unbroken Promise: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnappintg of a President appears to be spellbinding as I comb through. I am now in Chapter Three and I hope by next month I will be through with a book full of agony and human tragedy.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Prince Nico Mbarga: The Man And His Music

Without a doubt, "Sweet Mother" gets everybody on their feet whenever it's played at any African gathering, the old school kind of way. The super funky ikwokirikwo sound recorded and released at the Onitsha based recording studio of Rogers All Stars has been noted to be "probably the biggest-selling record in African history."

Mbarga was born in Abakaliki to a Nigerian mother and a Cameroonian father. Inspired by East African music and growing up in Cameroon, he returned to Nigeria after the civil war and formed what would be known as Prince Nico Mbarga & Rocafil Jazz. Recording Man Don Tire, a single with EMI Records which was poorly promoted, Mbarga and his group took three years to record another single I No Go Marry Papa, which also did not make it to the charts in African standard.

In 1975, Mbarga & Rocafil Jazz relocated and found a new record label, Rogers All Stars, remaking Man Don Tire with little impact in the music scene. In 1976, it was a major breakthrough. "Sweet Mother," recorded by Rogers All Stars, followed by Rounder Rcords in the United States; Decca in France; AIT Records in Nairobi; and Zebi Records in the United Kingdom became an anthem and a major hit all around the globe.

The Rocalfil Jazz had two female back-up singers called Tilda. One of the Tilda's remixed "Sweet Mother" as tribute to the Late Nico Mbarga who died in in a motorcycle accident on June 24, 1997.

For detailed analysis, see:

Discography of Prince Nico Mbarga

Wikipedia Entry on Mbarga

Daily Sun Article on Mbarga

Emmanuel Agu's Wrte-up

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Linus "Wayne" Ekene Sentenced to 29 Years

Judge John Fisher in Van Nuys Municipal Court at Dept N, 6th Floor, today sentenced Linus "Wayne" Ekene to 29 years in state prison for murdering Okon Nelson Offem on January 10, 1997 over an inexplicable business dispute.

When I spoke to Deputy District Attorney, Andre Maurice Holmes yesterday who prosecuted the case, he said Judge Fisher had rescheduled the sentencing for the next day to allow Detective Timothy Kirkpatrick who was handling the case the convenience to appear for the sentencing. However, Detective Kirkpatrick, due to conflicting schedules did not show up. Speaking with Kirkpatrick after the sentencing, he said "I couldn't make it."

Ekene who had been on the run for nearly a decade was arrested sometime last year in Utah on a misdeamenor battery charge for hitting a co-worker with a baseball bat. With series of crimes in Las Vegas and a rape charge filed against him by the Los Angeles Police Department, North Hollywood Division, his fingerprints matched the ones recovered from the North Hollywood murder scene. He was immediately repartriated to California and was found guilty on all charges on Monday, July 9, 2007.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dedication

I made up my mind that blogging this entire month will be dedicated to African musical commentaries with a little bit of political analysis. The reason is not far-fetched. I have learned a whole lot studying East African rumba music at Steve Ntwiga Mugiri's site and somehow I found interest in analizing West African Highlife which would be the focus of my desire going back to the roots - motherland Africa.

I will try as much as I can to dig out archives of African musicology and extracting all the way down East and Central Africa including fishing out the unknown in the South African coasts. West Africa, of course, will be the centerpiece of my analysis and views. I will from time to time add some political commentary coupled with news and views and other cultural-related issues from motherland.

It's going to be a whole lot of fun!

Like Father, Like Son

I must be honest, I was so impressed when I stopped by Amoeba Records last week and found out Ali Farka Toure's son Vieux Farka Toure will be playing at Amoeba on August 8th and several other dates thereafter in the Hollywood area, I couldn't but wonder how the late Grammy Award winner's son had taken shape following the footsteps of his father. His posters were everywhere, on doors, windows and you name it. The Bamako and Niafunke, Mali-raised kid tour in the Los Angeles area is now talk of town and every music freak in Hollywood wants some of his vibes--and it will be happening live, right here, in the City of Angels--and I should be shaking it with this lad whose African melodies jammed with classic rock and reggae beats.

He will perform also at Skirball's Cultural Center on August 9, at 8 p.m., and admission is free with no required reservations. The Skirball Cultural center is located at 2701 North Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90048.

Live, I said, and I will be reporting it! Stay tuned!