Neo-traditional African Architecture at NAFEST 2012 (interiors)

To wrap up 2012 we have delightful pictures of modern design traditional African architecture as displayed at the 2012 National Festival (NAFEST) in Nigeria. All photos taken by Africa Ukoh.

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Akwa Ibom state

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Akwa Ibom state

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Rivers state

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Rivers state

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Rivers state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Niger state

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Niger state

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Niger state

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Niger state

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Kano state

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Kano state

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Kano state

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Kano state

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Nasarrawa state

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Nasarrawa state

Neo-traditional African Architecture at NAFEST 2012 (exteriors)

To wrap up 2012 we have delightful pictures of modern design traditional African architecture as displayed at the 2012 National Festival (NAFEST) in Nigeria. All photos taken by Africa Ukoh.

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Niger State: the Power state

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Bayelsa State

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Rivers State: Treasure Base of the Nation

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Kebbi State: Land of Equity

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Kebbi State

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Benue State: Food Basket of the Nation

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Benue State

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Ogun State: Gateway State

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Ogun state

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Ogun state

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Nasarawa State: Home of Solid Minerals

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Nasarawa State

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Kano State: Centre of Commerce

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Kano State

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Akwa Ibom State: Land of Promise

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Akwa Ibom State

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Niger State: the Power State

It happened in December…

written by Cuba Ukoh (@CubaUkoh)

Tis the season that always trails me back to the December holidays of my childhood. Now even though we were a happy close knit family, loneliness can still become an inevitable trait when you are growing up the only girl in a house with two boys.

I was the doll house, plastic kitchen appliance fanatic who could spend an eon alone with my toys playing school, and of course acting drama and frying plastic carrots and aubergines on my faux cooker with a serving of sand (for rice) or hibiscus leaves plucked from the front yard if a Nigerian soup was the delicacy for the day. Such realism!

Let the boys be boys. I was content to be the rebel against becoming a Tom. There was simply no room for if you can’t beat em, join em. Monotony eventually created a new tactics though; if you can’t beat them, lure them! So I would loiter around with my dolls exaggerating the glee in girly play to unconcerned ears, laughing a tad louder than necessary until I was in all truth lost to the bliss of that world.

They were nevertheless determined to be boys as I was to stay feminine. And this was always our holiday conflict. But then we discovered the love of art, and this was where the lines came to be blurred.

Gender roles fizzled as though it was not yesterday that unity had settled, as dawn travelled into dusk each day to meet us lost in magic markers, glitter and crayola. Drawing, painting, fixing mammoth jigsaws, playing board games (with sore losers) and reading more story books upon story books. The thrill of exploring imagination with the delight of togetherness; in creative arts we found a bond that let us discover more of each other and ourselves.

The sound of dice rolling over the cardboard games we had later invented would trail deep into the echo of candle lit quiet evenings, when NEPA knew to hug the power supply so we could bond a while longer without the distraction of television.

It soon came to be that when one sibling wanted to play the rest of the team was first fished out, for what was the point in that drawing of daffy duck if the others were not there to watch? And the puzzles would lie frozen on the centre table until the other sibling had recovered from illness so we could continue together.

The more we bonded, the more some days did come where you could find the two boys of all that was masculine and boyish indeed playing a game of suwe with their sister, and so came the days the sister would hobble about a ball, though breaking all the rules of soccer until she shoved it in the imaginary post (most times with hands.)

This was the gift Art brought to my childhood holidays; togetherness.

 

Seasons greetings…

 

Me and Father Christmas

written by Cuba Ukoh (@CubaUkoh)

 

 

Though I was almost seven and felt too old for the Father Christmas party at NTA, I still pestered our help to take me there so I could experience it in person, if only once.

It wasn’t really a religious occasion as it was a week long party for children to simply be children and the Network to boost its ratings with hours long footage of hysterical toddlers who were excited yet terrified of Nigerian Santa, but never forgot to snatch their gifts from his silver gloved palms in a deserving sulk, before tottering away.

Christmas season in Jos wasn’t about Santa climbing down the chimney, not many cared for the South-Pole monologue, all that was reserved for holiday movies on Saturday mornings when you tuned to PRTVC. In real life, what excited us was getting to receive gifts at the Father Christmas Party, all the while basking in our minute long stint on the live broadcast.

I had never been lost in the fantasy of Santa’s existence. For one thing, Jos Santa was brown skinned and came across with an exaggerated nasal Italian-like accent in his committed effort to sound American. Secondly, one could usually see how the strings that held his synthetic white beard went about his ears. Also, there was another Santa down at PRTVC.

At NTA, Santa’s abode was a pretty green tent with glittering lights and ornaments hung around it. The tent had been placed on a little slope-top in the distant end of the compound. It was all very beautiful. With my palm in Aunty Uche’s hand, I trotted up the slope in excitement. I wasn’t the least afraid when I saw him but I found I was at once shy. I froze when I noticed the Camera focused on me.

Some people in the queue behind were already mumbling. Aunty Uche chuckled nudging me further in. I had barely spent a moment with him when he brought out my gift from his giant red sack then sent me on my way.

It happened all so fast that I didn’t get to wave to the camera and say hello to my family at home. Bereft of satisfaction, I continued to plead with Aunty Uche to take me back, but it wasn’t until we were done with other party activities that she agreed. By this time, the festivities were already closing for the day.

I had burst in to find Father Christmas chatting in fluent Hausa with the camera man who was packing up his equipments. It was a second after I appeared that a startled Santa adjusted his bread and reverted to that nasal Italian accent.

He asked my name and I answered somewhat disappointed at finding him in such a human state even though I had come to NTA fully aware of the charade. He began to laugh, this Santa, and said with a chuckle to the camera man how in his land my name was the word for tree bark.

What sort of Father Christmas is this? I winced at his banter at my expense, then I felt it equally fair to tell him at this point that I knew he was not the real Father Christmas to which he insisted he was!

“But you’re not,” I said beginning to enjoy our argument.

“I am Father Chris-”

“It’s a lie! Your beard is fake and I saw you pull it up, and the real Father Christmas is white even though there is even nothing like Father Christmas.” I giggled wagging my legs all the while seated on his lap.

“You do not talk to elders like that.” He scolded in his true accent, nudging me off his thigh. And it was then I noticed he was quite upset. I felt sorry, but I decided I deserved to also be upset. Hadn’t he just called me tree bark after all?

Aunty Uche moved closer apologizing on my behalf. Then she scolded me all the way to the bus stop. It took a long time waiting for a bus that I grew sleepy by twilight. There came a loud horn at last. I felt her lift me up and stroke my head.

On our way home, in the quite congested bus tucked mostly with the children, parents and traders that had also left NTA, I noticed a chubby man with sulky eyes and a petite bulge for a belly staring at me. I often wonder now if he was Father Christmas.

 

 

 

Theatre Support Program (TSP)

African Renaissance Theatre (A.R.T) is proud to officially announce the Theatre Support Program (TSP). The TSP is an initiative designed by A.R.T to provide professional artistic and technical support for organizations whom are not directly involved in Theatre Arts but have a department dedicated it. Or have a need for or interest in theatre arts. These could include churches, hospitals, parks, and many others.

In the past A.R.T has worked with the drama groups of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) and Family Worship Centre, as well as with the Jolatsen Drama Initiative, providing needed support for all three Abuja based institutions.

This year A.R.T is excited to once again be working with the drama group of Family Worship Centre, Abuja, for their Christmas command performance.

We look forward to a new and inspiring theatrical experience. Meantime, feast your eyes on beautiful pictures from the Easter command performance earlier in the year, the set of which was designed by A.R.T administrator and technical director Egbuche Pope.

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A humble African home, styled as a house in a modern-African hamlet. Titled “The Return” the performance is a re-telling of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in a modern-African context. Set design by Egbuche Pope. Lighting design by Michael Okoro. Directed by Patrick Otoro.

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Nanchim Mohammed (L) as Mary with Iffy Deborah (R) playing her mother.

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Nanchim Mohammed being carried by Ugochukwu Mohammed as the Husband who has to leave his wife to be.

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The husband returns. Ugochukwu Onwukeme and Nanchim Mohammed (L) as husband and wife, with Iffy Deborah (R)

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It’s always lovely to see theatre, an awe-inspiring art that it is, being used to spread a message of love, peace and unity.

The Truth About Change

 

written by Cuba Ukoh @CubaUkoh

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Change is inevitable (photo by GollyGForce)

When the morning comes that the adrenaline of enthusiasm thrashes to a dwindle, this is the truth about change: it is more than often that we end up lazy, again. Laziness usually spurred by the innocence of endless planning, procrastination, and day dreaming about the end result of our achievements to come; until, in slow quakes of daily life, we drift again from the essence – the journey.

The end of the world! – December 21st, 2012 – is only a day away! Now let’s suppose that the simmer of our foreboding (or lack of, to be sincere) gives way to the ominous morning of December 21st and alas! The sun still remembers to shine and the Harmattan winds still waft in as dusty and arid as ever; you still have to show up for work, or take your younger brother to the dentist, or that hall you had booked for your birthday party is not a waste after all.

And as is with all morning afters, we realize the priceless enchantment of life and the secret treasures that lie in the living of it. And then we reflect with fervour on how we must change and live this life to its fullest! But then, after a while, it is often more than often, that we are reminded again, of the truth about change.

However, that initial feeling, that thirst for MORE is not preserved for apocalyptic no-shows alone. Most times it comes with the events of everyday life: that refreshed vigour after you are healed from that darn malaria that took three weeks to fade, the annoying flu you have writhed with for what seemed a decade – until freedom came to your nostrils, that course you have finally passed with a surprising C after two carry-overs, the news of your unexpected pregnancy, that tragic accident which you have narrated over and over again the way you came to find yourself without a scratch even though you were in the passenger seat.

The list could be infinite, the lessons sublime. But if we are renewed after these experiences why then do we ever so often drift back to that pre-epiphany state, watching fresh starts come and go, begin, re-begin, and end? Why do we so frequently fail to simply stay gingered?

Could it be the intuitive fear of; what if I do not succeed? What if this dream is indeed bigger than me? Is it all, this ill-fated solution to pessimism, a subconscious coping mechanism to soothe our predictions of failure?

Whatever the answer may be there is only one way to break free. It is called perseverance. It will always be a continuous effort. Because one thing is for sure, and this is another truth about change, with or without our consent change will always be. It’s only up to us to define our renaissance. Our change. What’s your’s?

Short film trailer

What makes a man hit a woman? What drives him to that raging point where the only way he can communicate with her is through a clenched fist pounding her face? Continuously. Can a man ever be justified in taking such action?

Why doesn’t she leave him? Despite the black eyes and blue-bruised skin, why does she choose to stay? Love? Fear? Shame? She knows this won’t be the last time. She knows he will hit her again. Then why doesn’t she leave him?

Lagos based Nigerian film-maker Soji Ogunnaike presents “When Fishes Drown” an exploration of domestic violence through film.