Category: A page from my thoughts

You are not entitled

You are not entitled

Dear Artist,

You are not entitled

You are not entitled to anything on the mere basis of talent. Your natural gifts do not afford you the pleasures of life without hardwork, passion and commitment, as well as a good attitude.

It’s sad to see how talented artists in Nigeria waste away because they lack one or all of these things.

Now let’s start by acknowledging a few things that serve as a point of justification and defense. Yes, we know that pursuing a career in the arts is tough and takes forever to pay, yes we know you need the money because times are hard and of course, it is understood that perfomers are not given their true worth but guess what; this happens everywhere in the world, movies have sold you gloss but the truth is, the struggle is real every where.

This doesn’t give you right of passage because you have it tough. Everything good in life comes with huge sacrifices that have to be paid. Those that excel are the ones that understand this, your gift is to be honed, shared and given freely before you can receive. Like a seed sown into the soil, you must wrestle with the sand to bloom like a flower.

Sadly, many an artist want to just become the flower without going through process. ‘Hian!’

If that were the case, everyone ought to have ‘hammered’ by now. But let’s not digress.

Talent is not enough, this can’t be overly emphasized . All talent gives you is a head start, you have to put in the work, go the extra mile to make something of it and succeed. If you claim to have passion for the talent God has freely given to you, then you have to have the discipline to train and hone it to perfection, the humility to learn from others and serve and the patience and commitment towards becoming the best version  of you.

No one can motivate you but you and the people you choose to look up to. Age is not a factor to consider when looking for a teacher or a mentor, experience and expertise is.

You must learn to maximize your strengths and daily grow and learn by outsourcing your weaknesses. Chei! Grammar!

Here’s what I mean: So you think you can dance right, baddest Naija lyrical hiphop dancer ever liveth etc etc but you suck at Naija styles and you know you need to learn. Pick the closest person to you with that skill, swallow a huge drop of humility and learn. Learn till you are as badass as your teacher or good enough to continue on your own. If you believe in value exchange, when you’re done learning, offer to teach your baddest hiphop too. Win, win for all.

Your attitude to work and opportunities determine how far you go as an artist. But first you need to have your priorities in check, if money is your inspiration then this isn’t particularly for you, but if your goal is artistry, mastering your craft, teaching it to people and creating a body of work exportable to any country in the world, then listen up.

You have to pay in time, service and your own funds to grow. Pay for training, volunteer to perform at platforms that will give you the kind of visibility you want and work with people who can move you forward.

READ! Artists seem to hate this word, not all but quite alot. You have to do research to grow, you can’t just rely on what you know. The internet is your friend but are you using it to your advantage?

Attitude. Every human being has an ego. Artists seem to blessed with robes of ego laced with pride and a crown of rudeness. *pauses for effect*

It’s the hard cold truth but we forget that these things do not help us and when displayed, only belittle us and what we have to offer.

People do not patronise pride, it doesn’t pay the bills and it is a bad investment but if that is what comes with your art then you will deprive yourself of greatness. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow but we must see it for what it is, the truth.

As artists we are too sensitive, too quick to take offence or be on the defensive. Too quick to judge but we hate criticism. Creating ‘beef’ that can feed a nation because you don’t want to be told what to do. Here’s my question, ‘ Who E EPP?’ At the end of the day, work is work and play is play, if you can’t tell the difference then, it’s your problem to deal with and nobody else’s.

On a lighter yet serious note, in order to be taken seriously in an industry of this nature, you must respect yourself and work ten times harder than anyone else. Throw your heart and soul into it, fight for what you love. It’s a harsh environment to live in, Nigeria that is, and it isn’t as conducive or structured enough for the arts industry yet but let that not become the excuse to do a sloppy job. Work your butt off and become the best, you may have been unappreciated and treated wrongly but never let it break you but build you.

Your response to your situation determines how far you go in life. So don’t give up, this art will pay if you put in the work and you will never regret pursuing your passion.

This comes from a place of truth, we would never grow without it

Yours,

An artist

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Do not blame Nigeria

Do not blame Nigeria

http:/isysdrain.wordpress.com/nigeria
Nigeria

Do not blame Nigeria, it is nothing but a name forced upon a people yet to find their identity. The name was created as a collective noun, we accepted as a people without embracing it’s true purpose but why blame the white man for naming a country out of convenience?

Before he arrived did we not all co-exist within different regions, aware of each others existence maintaining peaceful harmony? Did we not spar as is normal human nature without his interference but still live together on the same piece of land with no borders? 

The white man saw us as a resource to use to his advantage as we sow seeds that we may reap, why then can we not use ourselves to our own advantage in his absence and learn to build on the things we already had?

I know everyone will jump to defend us as a nation but how many of you truly defend the nation? How many of you see a Nigerian as a nigerian and not a tribal man? We wail about racism but are as bad as the racists we race after for acceptance and acknowledgement but I digress.

Before the white man we had our farms, he came and turned them into plantations, he left and we abandoned our farms to search for the white man and not for growth of the resources he sought that fed us. He came to educate, divide and conquer us, we chose the religion and abandoned the knowledge that could have made us a great entity. We understood trade by barter but exchanged it with hunger for money while the resources it could buy died, leaving us with nothing but greed to survive.

He saw the value in our art and culture and harvested it for exhibitions while we abandoned our pride to become who he was. And we wonder why we are where we are.

 

The road to success is not a straight one, you have to take the stairs but we focused on the results of the white man and not on the work he put in.

We need to look back and ask ourselves ‘what did we have that the white man wanted and how can use it to our advantage?’

Our farms must feed us again, our culture must entertain us once more, our value lies in appreciating who we are. So what if we’re stuck with a word that defines our boundaries and gives us an identity.

Don’t blame Nigeria, it is nothing but a name forced upon a people, yet to understand that their strength lies within .

By Ife Adediran

Editor: Isys Drain

Cheers to the New Year

Cheers to the New Year

OK, so 2017 is here and ‘My2016’ series continues because deadlines are like African time to Nigerians, consistent. Not that I’m complaining, I love my contributors.

That said, let’s get the New year motivational speech out of the way real quick. Yeah, the year is new; No ,you haven’t changed from black to white (unless you’re bobrisky) fat to thin or stupid to smart. You did however, make it into the New Year so, be thankful.

I would advise you to bury the ‘New year resolution’ idea, it is the longest lasting ponzi scheme ever liveth. All talk, no action, kinda like MMM. *dodges mmm bullets from the freshly scorned*

Bottom line, resolutions are never realistic and end, as quickly as spoken. Goals however, along with a plan to achieve them, are way more feasible. If you’ve never tried setting goals before then you may just end up stumbling through the year but here’s how I’d go about it, if I were you

– Identify the things that you want out the year

– Separate your wants from your needs ; now this is usually where the power tussle begins, but stay true to yourself no matter how depriving it might seem

– List your needs based on how achievable they are

– Set goals

– Then create plans to achieve them


Trust me, all the grammar above is easier said than done but you have to believe you can get through it and be downright stubborn about it, no matter what. It’s easy to blame people, the universe, the weather and even God for your failures but until you realise that the only obstacle between you and your goals is you, you will remain completely stagnant.


Oya, I’m done preaching. Here’s to the New Year and hope for great things to come. Amoshine!!! ( urgh I hope that guy doesn’t drop another ‘hit’ )

Discovering Fura De Nunu

It has been months since I blogged and to be quite honest I feel I have lost my ability to express myself creatively or perhaps the need to.
Over the weekend though, I was asked to write a piece rather than edit it and found that the words came easily even though I was not in the least bit inspired.
I guess what’s yours never truly leaves you.
Anyway, after reading a post called ‘My first time’ , I’ve decided to do a 30 day writing challenge  smack in the middle of October, for me and hopefully what’s left of my audience.
This challenge has no theme, pattern or rules. Every post will be spontaneous, let the spirit lead and hopefully the words come forth.
Day 1: Discovering Fura De Nunu
First off, let me say that the word ‘Fura’ for some reason just sounds like it ought to be a bad word, at least to me. Thankfully, it is not.
For a long time I had no idea what on earth Fura De Nunu was and even after living in Abuja for almost ten years, I remained clueless.
However, on Saturday the 8th of October , the mystery of Fura was revealed to me! (embrace the dramatics, lol)
I was privileged to be at the launch of Northern life.ng , an online platform celebrating the culture and lifestyle of Northern Nigeria, as part of the team for the event. Now, unlike most events where it’s all about the passion and the pay, I was only in this for one thing, the food.
Feel free to judge, I am a bonafide foodie and pictures of northern food beautifully plated had reached us prior to the event. I had to try hard not to visibly drool at the sight of the food in those pictures even though my stomach did do a back flip. Bottom line, expectations were at an all time high.
 Anyway Saffron, the company responsible for the pre- chowing drool, arrived right on schedule and brought the food to life before my very before.
But magic didn’t happen until the food was served. Tofu salad, kwakwa-something in mini-pancakes, suya and skewered Masa, virgin mohito, the list was endless and  I , of course, was having multiple foodgasms. Then, I was handed this creamy looking drink  with a strawberry eyeing me from the edge of the glass and I thought, what could this be?  I tasted it and the untold secrets of my palate were revealed to me in an instant. Three things came to mind: yogurt, coconut and joy but alas this delicious thing had no name.
I rushed outside to find Madam Saffron herself and asked what this nameless concoction was called and she said to me with the wisdom of the Food gods, Isys this is Fura De Nunu.
*sigh*
My life, stomach and tongue found a new meaning that day. I had discovered the milky brew of the northern deities. Fura De Nunu, unraveling belle mysteries since pre-independence.

If we could live forever…

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‘She’s gone’

The words take a second to sink in and then the world stops.

Someone screams, others begin to talk all at once and I… I just stare at the person talking to me but can’t hear a word.

I feel a hand tug at me and follow blindly

As the words, she’s gone , replays over and over in my head.

She can’t be gone, I haven’t told her how much I love her yet. I promised her I’d make her proud but I’m still working on it. What about the vacations and the grandchildren she talked so fondly about, they’re not here yet. I haven’t said i’m sorry for missing her birthday.

I turn to go back, I have to see for myself. I have to see her face and hold her hand and tell her she can go home with us, Mummy has to go home with us.

I fall to my knees and the tears take over.

Everything is a blur after that.

All I see are faces, family, friends, neighbors, everyone is here but her. Why are they here? Why won’t they leave me alone? Where were they when she was alive and well? She’s mine to mourn not theirs. But i say nothing, as I force a smile for an aunt or two.

I am now the parent to my siblings everyone says, I don’t want to be. I can never be my Mother, how dare they ask me to replace her? She was perfect, she was… She was. 

It’s funeral day and the morgue is five minutes away. I’m panicking, I don’t want to go in there. I want her to be alive, I don’t want to see her body. I just want her to be alive. Maybe if they show her to me she will wake up, smile and take me home.

I sight the coffin and stop in my tracks, my brother takes my hand and we walk up to it. Then, a man opens it and I close my eyes begging for her to say my name. I wait but there is only silence interrupted by my sister’s tears. I open my eyes and there she is, lying still. Mama, my dear Mama. My rock, my love, my heart and soul, my super hero so full of life is there motionless in a box.

Days have gone by and it still hurts.  I still wake up at 5am to wait for your call. I miss the prayers you say to me over the phone, I miss telling you about my day. I miss you. My sister asked me yesterday how she would get married without her mother, I had been thinking about that too. You won’t see us get married, you won’t see us become millionaires, we won’t even get the chance to give you the life you always wanted. This isn’t what you wanted, heck this isn’t what we wanted.

If only you could live forever, then we would never have to say goodbye.

… To everyone who has lost a mother…