Shining light on Surulere, the Silent Entertainment Hub in Nigeria

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Surulere, one of the major areas in Lagos, Nigeria sits 18.1Km away from the State’s Capital Ikeja. Surulere translates to “Patience is Virtue” in Yoruba language, one of major languages spoken in the country. Beyond the existence of a lifestyle reflecting patience, hard work as a lifestyle is evident in this region. Surulere as a residential and commercial Local Government Area stands as one of the most vibrant areas in the Lagos mainland, mostly known for being a boiling point for the city’s Sports and athletic affairs. The region houses two international sport venues and this spirit is evident in its resident’s energetic display. Sports accounts for one of the Nigerian major source of entertainment and this has Surulere boiling over constantly with activities surrounding Sports. It’s easy to see culture reflected in the lives of the region’s residents, as most inhabitants of the area and its surroundings are wake early to jog, cycle or run along the road close to and around the National Stadium. Rich and overflowing with businesses, Surulere has a large number of the most prominent Clothing stores, Interior Design boutiques, car dealer shops and sports shops popular on the mainland area. Asides staying bubbly all day, there is no sleep in Surulere too; numerous bars, lounges, clubs and pubs, gives enormous life to the area’s effervescent night life.

Considering these realities, it’s no surprise that region today is giving birth to an increasing number of bright stars, covering sports, music and movies. One of these stars is the very iconic Afropop star, Wizkid aka Starboy. Wizkid the young artiste who is redefining Afropop across the world has paid homage to his humble roots, Ojuelegba in Surulere in a track titled “Ojuelegba”. On the single, he sang and recounted the huge influence his birth place played in shaping and forming him into the star he is today “Ni ojuelegba - in Ojuelegba / they know my story / From Mo'Dogg studio/ I be hustle to work…” Wizkid today might be named as the most successful and most iconic Afropop artiste in Contemporary Nigerian Music scene. The 27 year old is going places many before and after him can only dream of. With numerous enviable awards, international features, international tours and a number of world billboard charts tops tied to his name, this young star is putting not just Nigeria but Africa on the global map with his artistry like no other African Artiste of his time. Among his numerous endorsements is one with the international beverage giant, Pepsi reportedly worth 350,000 U.S dollars! Time and time again Wizkid has named his Surulere root as one of his biggest influence.

An interesting element of influence to Wizkid’s success story is the late, legendry Music producer and artiste OJB Jezreel. OJB, another Surulere born and bred icon played a key role in laying Wizkid’s career foundation. OJB was a strong pillar in building the bubbling Music industry both as a Producer and as an artiste. He released unforgettable singles like ‘Searching’ and ‘Pretete’ amongst others.  At the peak of his career, he worked with 2face Idibia, single handedly producing 'Face 2 Face' album; the album which had the singles “African Queen” and “Ole”. African Queen brought home to Nigeria for the first time the MTV Best African Act award (2005) and was used as an original soundtrack for the film Phat Girlz, an applaud worthy feat at the time. Beyond 2face, OJB worked with Bennie Man, Faze, Iyanya, D'banj, Durella, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Jazzman Olofin, Weird MC, Paul Ik Dairo, Daddy Showkey, Sir Shina Peters, Olu Maintain to mention a few.

 

I can’t say for sure if it’s something in air or in the water at Surulere but another fast rising star has sprouted out from this same area and has mentioned her participation in Her local church Choir perhaps back in her Surulere place of birth as a strong foundation to the start of her career. Simi, the new Nigerian music sweetheart is stealing the heart of the country and the continent at a rate no one expected. In the highly competitive Nigerian Music industry, one notably ruthless to women, Simi stands out and has kept her success pace rising through the years. She’s set to release her second studio album titled after her, “Simisola”. Simi was born back in 1988 in Ojuelegba, Surulere just like Wizkid. Today she has a number of hit singles, features, quite a load of nominations and awards to her name in a rather short period of time.

 

The Surulere light shines beyond the music industry, into the local Movie industry so much so that it has been named by some the entertainment capital of Nigeria mostly for the role it played and still plays in producing fresh crop of Actors and Movie producers. Surulere has been recognised by many as the official birthplace of Nollywood. Though in recent times due to the high cost of production in Lagos, Film production has since moved to other cities down the South East, especially Asaba, an otherwise sleepy and calm town, Surulere still plays a role in housing many production houses and studios. Nollywood resonates across Africa into distant continents telling authentic Nigerian and African stories in the most Original ways. During the early stages of the industry back in Surulere, movies were popularized at first through video cassettes which traded locally and across Africa, today the industry has a number of channels on satellite and cable television channels, as well as on streaming services like iRokoTV. Though most Nollywood movies are delivered in English and local Nigerian languages, Francophone African countries now tune into the buzzing industry through, a satellite channel called Nollywood which offers viewers round-the-clock movies dubbed into French.

A number of active Nollywood actors like Ramsey Noah, Desmond Elliot, Damiola Adegbite, Linda Ejiofor amongst others have mentioned Surulere as their birthplace, root and center of influence into stardom.

EbiraLand: Nowhere else is Arsenal so celebrated

"AS AN ARSENAL FAN YOU LEARN HOW TO TOLERATE."- ARSENAL FAN CLUB EBIRALAND

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It has been discovered that for a decade and one,  five local government areas in Kogi state, Nigeria gather to celebrate amidst fanfare arsenal Day, a two-day celebration of Arsenal football club EbiraLand.

According to Ilyas Abdulsalam, the helms man of Arsenal fans club Ebiraland, "Our reason to mark Arsenal Day is to celebrate the English club and its players."

Despite the trophy Premier League Trophy drought that the Gunners have been experiencing since 2004, these group of fans has not ceased to hold this celebratory event on a yearly basis since then. Organisers of the event revealed that Arsenal Day was inspired by the Gunners record breaking unbeaten run in the 2004 season. 

The EbiraLand fan club, which was founded 12 years ago, has 16,000 registered members made up of 22 subgroups, of which three are specifically for women. Each event witnesses thousands of fans in their red and white jerseys singing songs, dancing and eating together, capped with slices of Arsenal themed cake.

Abdulsalam confesses his difficulty in calculating the exact number of last year's Arsenal Day attendance with 9,000 seats filled and so many standing. He went on to say that despite the fact the London-based club has not won a Premier League trophy since 2004, it has taught all of them an important lesson which is the value of tolerance. 

"We've been expecting a trophy from the team and we've not been getting it but we're very patient and our patience had cropped up a proverb in our area which goes thus; "If you're an Arsenal fan you can never divorce your wife and if you can stick with Arsenal with no trophy you can learn how to tolerate."

 

Pads from sugarcane

A UGANDAN START-UP IS PRODUCING AFFORDABLE SANITARY PADS FROM SUGARCANE

First, I don't exactly sugarcane, but after reading this story up and now writing it, i'm sure I've had my last taste of it.

Many girls cannot afford the sanitary pads on the market. When you go to schools you will be surprised to know that some will miss school because they are going through their menstrual periods, the four days of their menstrual periods, they do not have the right materials to use, they are so embarrassed in public because they will stain their dressed and everyone will laugh at them so they choose to stay at home.
— CO-FOUNDER, ECO SMART PADS

Following the recent price hike, one thing that no female took kindly to, was the increased purchase value attached to sanitary pads. Like it is not hard enough that I have to bleed for about week because once again I chose to not get pregnant, but now i'd pay a lot more money to go through unwanted pain. Fix it mother-nature. Fortunately for me I can still grudgingly pay for it, but what of the million other teenage girls with barely enough money to get by, having this one extra worry added  to their cart? It is on this premise that a Ugandan start-up company opted for a cheaper method of production for sanitary pads. 

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 Eco Smart pads is a startup working to create a more affordable alternative brand of pads from sugarcane to help girls stay in school. Sugarcane fibers, are a low-cost, absorbent alternative. They boil the sugarcane residue to remove the sugar content and to soften it, the dried fiber is then used to fashion out sanitary pads. Eco Smart pads are reusable for up to 12 months, and they last up to 9 hours before they need changing. These pads are biodegradable, and hence safe for the environment. 

Team ECO Smart Pad are trying to keep girls in school by producing cheap Pads made from recycling sugarcane residues. #UpAccelerate

The UN estimates that one in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa do not attend school during menstruation. This causes them to lag behind in their education, and even drop out of school entirely, creating negative long-term consequences. In the advent of this innovation, the Eco Smart company recently won a grant of 10,000 US dollars in a competition that supports entrepreneurs seeking to address sexual reproductive health challenges.

 

Tuesday Special: My Personal Travel Story - Exploring Kano II

MONDAY SPECIAL: EXPLORING KANO II

After my adventures the previous day, I woke up early, pumped and completely eager to see more of the town. I had missed my sister’s calls that morning. I returned her call and before I could even say “Good morning”, I was greeted with heated questions.

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Friday Special: My Personal Travel Experience - Exploring Kano 1

Friday Special: My Personal Travel Experience - Exploring Kano 1

 Escape is an action, but on some days, Escape becomes a place. When escape is an action, itis one that moves away from danger, from trouble, from life threatening situations like an angry lion, a bear, fire, an explosion or a place like Lagos. I have written earlier on how Lagos with its endless bustle and hustle can be suffocating, so I won’t go on about that on this post.

When Escape is a Place, it goes to the most to the most unexpected places. Last week I took a break from Lagos and went on a visit to the Heart of the Northern Part of Nigeria, Kano — The Centre of Commerce and I haven’t gotten the taste of the town out of my mouth (literally, I brought home more than enough treats).

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