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.

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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Finally, Pidgin English Goes Digital!

Finally, Pidgin English Goes Digital!

British media powerhouse, BBC yesterday launched an online portal that will deliver its expressions in Pidgin English. The new media expression will disperse content through text news, features and podcasts. This is an exciting news for many across Africa and this is why.

Pidgin English, the now popular informal lingua franca of Nigeria has grown into a strong and highly accepted medium of communication across Nigeria into west and central Africa. The language originated from Portuguese speakers who came into West Africa during the colonial era.  Since its birth, Pidgin English has evolved, from being a medium of communication for uneducated, impoverished and lower class communicators who were not literate enough to express themselves in proper English Language to a popular and accepted language. Though still informal, Pidgin English cuts across class, age, tribe, borders and cultures.

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Olamide’s “Wo”: Another win for the streets

Olamide’s “Wo”: Another win for the streets

2017 has indeed been a good year for good music in the Nigerian music industry. With the steady and gradual redefinition of sound in the industry away from the older upbeat, fast tempo tunes to more laid back, chilled tunes. A fresh sound that is being celebrated by many as a breath of fresh air. Alternative sounds like those of the Nonso Amadis, the Odunsi’s, the Teknos, the Runtowns and the Mr Eazis have worked their way into mainstream. Following increasing pressure on the Nigerian music industry by international demands to “go global”, artistes are clearly working on writing better lyrics, reinventing the old “Kpangolo” afropop sound and adapting more international sounds, of trap, R&B and new school Hip Hop.

Generally, the Nigerian music industry this year has proven to be more tolerant for newer and more experimental sounds away from the usual street-hop and club anthems. In this new wave of sound, Olamide who thrived massively in the 2014 – 2016 reign of Street hop sounds has been found struggling since the release of his sixth solo studio album title “The Glory”.

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A wedding made in Technology

THIS IS GOOD NEWS FOR TECH ENTHUSIASTS! THERE IS NOW POOF THAT YOU CAN MAKE YOUR WEDDING TECH THEMED. JESSICA NAZIRI-SABET, A TECH BLOGGER PLANNED HER ENTIRE WEDDING AROUND TECHNOLOGY EVEN TO THE BOUQUET.

 Courtesy: thefeministbride.com

Courtesy: thefeministbride.com

Jessica Naziri, who works as a tech blogger at TechSesh.co wanted to create a synthesis of old-fashioned wedding customs along with aspects of modern life in 2017. She confessed that she had always wanted to plug into new technologies and make her wedding a modern-day experience, yet with age-old traditions.  She and her husband Michael Sabet, a real estate entrepreneur chose a tech theme for their Los Angeles wedding, from the invitations to the bouquet, to pictures, to souvenirs for guests who attended their wedding. 

"As I made choices like creating a custom app for my wedding, supplying charging stations at the reception, and wearing a 3D-printed headpiece, the tech theme came together organically," says Naziri. She said that as the world introduces more and more gadgets and tech into our everyday lives, weddings are beginning to do the same. She wanted to be a part of that. 

The couple created an app and website for their wedding using so their guests could share photos and chat to one another. As if that was not enough, Naziri also made bouquets for herself and her bridesmaids using Belkin lightning cables as an alternative to flowers. 

 IMAGE: MHER HAGOPIAN, M.T.H PRODUCTION

IMAGE: MHER HAGOPIAN, M.T.H PRODUCTION

Jessica said that when she started planning, she realized that she was less interested in flowers and dresses than in finding ways to incorporate what she loved most as she started a new chapter in her life.

“I always wanted to plug into new technologies and make my wedding a modern-day experience, yet with age-old traditions. The tech theme just came about naturally because technology is such a large part of who I am. I wanted to bring technology down the aisle with me." This she took to another level by wearing a 3D-printed headpiece.

The social media savvy wedding just wouldn’t be complete without four Snapchat filters specially designed for the day as there were three custom Snapchat filters stamped with photos of themselves which were geofenced to the wedding venue.  

When it came to the guests, the happy couple wanted to make things as easy as possible for their friends to take photos during the day. "We encouraged everyone to keep taking photos and even provided charging stations, so you can say we definitely did not impose social media restrictions," says Naziri. According to Naziri, special charging stations are a "must-have" at weddings, so no one stresses about saving their phone battery when taking pics and posting on social media. 

Photography which is an important part of the wedding had a touch of technology as an enlisted photographer who used drones to get some extra-special 360 footage of the wedding that only drones could provide was used.

The couple really wanted the day to be "very social" and to keep the photos of the party from "a guest's perspective" thus guests were encouraged to use their wedding hashtag #SabetterTogether with the W-Fi password that was provided at the venue so everyone could be connected and social. Just so no one complains of low battery, charging points were provided at the ceremony. To cap it all, the wedding party were given portable charging packs engraved with the wedding hashtag. She chose this gift so her party would "always remember this day and keep a piece of the tech theme on hand." 

Take a full look at the complete pictures below.