Category: Features

Meet: Arit Okpo

Arit Okpo is one of Africa’s fastest rising media personalities. She takes risks and sheds light on issues that are mostly ignored in Nigeria. Unafraid to express herself, Arit is definitely worth meeting. Enjoy.

Arit-Okpo

 

– Who is Arit Okpo?

Career wise, Arit is a media entrepreneur. I provide media services ranging from production, event hosting, voice overs to writing for a wide variety of contexts and formats. Personally, Arit is a traveler, walking through life and building a life brighter and more colourful than I have ever dreamed

 

– How would you say your early life has shaped you?

I grew up with a mother who did everything doable. She was an extremely hard worker and from an early age, I learned that hard work wasn’t something to run away from or be afraid of. I was also a very imaginative child, and I think that this freedom to lose myself in my imagination has carried over to a life in the media and as a writer

 

– What’s one of your most memorable experiences from childhood?

Gosh I have so many…hmmm…ok, my nursery school featured in one of those NTA exchange programs. I got to present an episode for NTA IMO, wearing traditional gear. It’s funny that over 2 decades later, I ended up doing it as a career

–  Take us on a brief journey through your professional life

Hmmm, where do I start? Ok, I started my professional career as the assistant to a school owner, in about 6 months, she promoted me to assistant administrator. I left after a couple of years and moved to Lagos where I worked as an artiste manager for a while. Back to Abuja, I did some work in PR, Production and then back to education. It was during my second stint in Education that the opportunity at Ebonylife came about

– *  From working at Tender years to producing for Ebonylife TV, how did this happen and why?

Ok, I had been working at Ebonylife for a year or so when I started to feel that I wanted to explore my horizons further. I sat down and wrote a 25 year plan, starting with registering my educational consultancy and ending with me as Minister of Education (no jokes!) 2 months after that, I got a call from Mo Abudu. She had remembered me from The Debaters (a reality show that she executive produced) and wanted me to come host a news show on the Channel. I quietly folded up my life plan, threw a side eye to Heaven and took the job

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– We have been major fans of EL Reports and the Crunch, please share what your aims were for both shows.

For both shows, the aim was to make news a conversation that the everyday person could relate to. We end up in a lot of bad situations as citizens because we don’t know what is going on in the country or we don’t think that we need to know or care. I wanted to make news mainstream. I wanted to raise topics and have people say “Oh wow, I didn’t know that was happening”. And I wanted to do it in easily digestible fashion, so that people didn’t get overwhelmed. I think I succeeded

– In an ever changing entertainment industry, what would you say are the challenges faced by creatives in Nigeria?

Creatives need to learn the business of their craft. So many creatives don’t understand the market value of their work, and this is fine if you don’t need your craft to feed you. But if you expect a career from your craft, you must learn the naira and kobo of it. Many creatives in Nigeria keep getting cheated and eventually disillusioned, because they get into business partnerships with people who aren’t looking out for their interests. I think we also operate in a culture that doesn’t really understand the value of a creative in an enterprise, so we are often unappreciated or under-represented

– Quality Content is King yet it is struggling to see the light of day , what are your views on this?

I think that Quality Control is an evolving process and it is happening little by little. The viewer is becoming more discerning and so the industry must evolve to meet that. We also cannot get lazy with the fact that the public doesn’t know better. Even if people don’t know that they should expect better, the industry needs to constantly raise its standards to compete with the best around the world

– What are your interests and given the opportunity, what issues would like to address within your industry?

My interests are the media as a platform, not as an end in itself. I’m not interested in being on TV for publicity or popularity sake. I want to be able to utilize the media to talk about things that matter, to highlight underreported issues and to celebrate people flying under the radar.

– We noticed you’re natural and proud, have you always been and why?

I haven’t o! I have beautiful permed hair for a long time, then hair damage and general peer pressure made me contemplate the big C. After mulling over it for a year, I finally chopped off two thirds of the permed length, transitioned for 8 months and then chopped off the rest of the perm. It hasn’t always been an easy journey, I was sure I was going to perm it at the end of the 1st year. 2 and a half years later though, we’re still here this hair and I

– If you could travel the world in a day, where would you go first?

Ah…maybe to Oron, to spend some time with my grandma. I miss her

– From producer’s perspective, what kind of content would you create to add value to the Nigerian society?

I love the Nigerian culture – its variety and fluidity. How we celebrate, where we come from, why we believe and do the things we do…these are the things I would love to share. Let’s go back to being crazy about our origins

– If you could have a soundtrack for where you are in your life right now, what would it be?

Unwritten – Natasha Beddingfield

 

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Meet: Andy Madaki

Andy Madaki is the friendly techie and PR expert. He is a Principal partner at iBlend and is the Curator of Abuja Global Shapers. Friendly, kind and extremely smart, Andy is that person with more layers than you could imagine, Meet him and enjoy.

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  1. Who is Andy Madaki?

 

Ans: Andy is a not so young man from Benue State, who loves life, music, tech, business, politics and food

 

  1. Take us through your formative

 

I grew up in Makurdi, Benue State. Went to 3 secondary schools pretty much because I was failing from one to another. Finally got into university at 16 and studied Sociology. After my NYSC I left Nigeria to the UK for a Masters in Computer Forensics. Now I have always been interested in Business and registered my first company at the age of 18. It was a modelling agency in Benue State. I started working during my summer breaks since i was about 9 years old.

 

  1. When did you discover your love for technology?

 

At the age of 9 my dad registered my brother Eddie and I for at a computer training school. So that was when I fell in love with technology. Went on to work at a computer centre for a while then also at a phone store between the ages of 12 to 16. I was generally drawn to gadgets and technology.

 

  1. Did you ever find the tag ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ offensive?

 

 

Not at all. I think it is funny because it is an unnecessary tag to be honest. Geeks have goon from being the rejected to being the cool kids. Who knows, some day society will decide to  make geeks uncool and what happens. I am not a fan of tags

 

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  1. What are your interests outside work?

 

Music

Food

Exercise

Travelling

 

  1. What do you do? ( please ignore this question if you answered it in question 1)

 

I am an Information Security Consultant and a Communications Strategist

 

  1. From a ‘tech perspective, what would you say are the challenges faced by SME’s in Nigeria and how would you address them?

 

Two major things: Access to funds and Regulation. As a startup or entrepreneur it is easy to have an idea and maybe even start the concept into a product or solution. The problem now becomes government regulations which may block your services or cost to much for you to implement. This could lead to SMEs folding up.

 

High interest rates in for loans are not favourable as well and this poses a major challenge to new businesses and SMEs

 

 

  1. Last year, you had NIITEX, a tech exhibition, in Abuja. Please tell us about it.

 

Most tech events hold in Lagos as it is seen to be the commercial capital of the nation and this in my opinion is not the true reflection of the tech ecosystem. NIITEX is the Nigerian Innovation and Information Technology Expo. This event aims to create a platform for entrepreneurs and innovators in the technology space especially in the North and Central region in Nigeria. Last year was our first event and we had a lot of support from several organisations from government to private sector and telecommunications.

 

 

  1. What going trends do you think we are yet to fully tap into in Nigeria?

 

To be honest, the world is now a global village and so I can say we are tapping into every trend however we do not have the capacity to sustain most. I will say we are catching up pretty okay. What we need is infrastructure such as internet access

 

 

 

  1. Lagos is light years ahead of Abuja in business and entertainment, why do you think this is so?

 

Do not let the packaging fool you. Most lagosians in the enterainment industry make the bulk of their money when they come to Abuja or other states for work or events. Lagos has the record labels, distribution companies, sponsors and all that but at some point “see finish” happens and so they need to stretch beyond their coasts. What Abuja needs is a confidence boost and to support talent from within. And so, i don’t think Lagos is light years ahead of Abuja.

 

 

 

  1. What challenges do you think Abuja businesses face, other than funding?

 

I think in Abuja we are quite laid back because it is the seat of government which means majority of the workforce are government workers. So there is a level of contentment or maybe laziness. This also affects us because the decision makers for a lot of private owned corporations like the the Telcos are based in Lagos. So it is easier for Lagosians to build and use a network of decision makers than those of us here in Abuja who need to get to Lagos in order to get the right signatures or support.

 

  1. Tell us about your role in iBlend?

 

I am head of research, analytics, innovation and talent management. I am big on changing ideas into marketable services or brands. I work with the team on conceptualisation and efficient service delivery as well as best strategies to reach any client’s target audience.

 

  1. How do think appreciation for quality content outside mainstream entertainment can be achieved in Abuja?

 

We need to develop mainstream content before we even go outside. Research is important in everything. We need to understand why people in Lagos do certain things and succeed while others fail. Most people surround themselves with fanatics who are not objective about the work they put out and this leads to mediocre outputs. We need to first of all put out good content and market it properly

 

 

  1. What is your take on #iStandwithNigeria

For me, I believe in Nigeria. Regardless of political affiliation, tribe or religion, we must hold our government accountable. We saw Inflation rise in 15 months, we saw living conditions worsen. it became important to tell the government to sit up. I don’t care if some people were paid for the protest or sponsored, for me it is all about holding our leaders accountable.

 

  1. What inspires you?

 

Problems… I love solutions, I can’t see a problem and not fix it.

 

 

  1. What would be the soundtrack for where you are in your life right now?

 

I lived – One Republic

 

  1. What 3 countries would you choose as roles models for Nigeria.

 

Switzerland

Canada

United Kingdom

 

  1. If you had the chance to fix Nigeria, what three sectors would you address first?

 

Electricity

Healthcare

Education

 

  1. What would be the top three things on your bucket list?

 

Sky Diving

Visiting every continent

Consulting for a world leader

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Meet: Ibrahim Suleiman

Ibrahim Suleiman is a multi-talented creative and one of the newest additions to the cast of Tinsel. An artist in various forms of expression varying from dance to writing to architecture and more by night, he is your bespectacled, bearded Captain Quest

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Who is Ibrahim Suleiman?

Firstborn of Aisha Edna Suleiman.

Child of God.

Creative, Multitalented, Chill.

– Tell us what it was like growing up in Kaduna

Wow…growing up in Croc City was simple. I miss that the most, the simplicity of life. School, lunchboxes, mother’s baking, Voltron super ted and sesame street. Friends who were like extended family. And the beautiful weather. And kaduna was SO safe!!! Like we didn’t have a fence until I was in Uni!!!

– What are your major influences in life?

My Mother. She was my everything.

Creatively, my influences are diverse. From the cartoons I saw as a child, to Michael Jackson, to Robert Ludlum, Ted Dekker, The Wachowski brothers, Guy Ritchie, etc. The list is endless, as you can imagine seeing as I am very interested in different forms of artistic expression.

– How did you develop your sense of humor?

Hahaha. Mahn…it would just HAVE to be hanging with my mom and sibs. My family is ridiculously funny. I am the least humorous in my home. That should tell you something.

– As a multi-creative, list your talents in order of preference.

Dude. This one no possible o. Hahaha.

I’d say artistically, I have seasons.

Sometimes Digital Art has all my attention.

Few weeks later, I get a dance project and I breathe dance. Then it could be Acting, or Writing or Architecture and so on. It just depends on the season really.

– Is there anything you can’t do that you wish you could?

I honestly wish I could play the piano.

Or rap! Yes, I wish I could rap. Lol

– Define ‘Dream Catching’ as a creative entrepreneur

Hmmm…if it harnesses your creative energies and it can make a difference in yours and the lives of a bunch of folk, chase it down, catch it and work it until it blows up

– What’s your dance story in summary?

Wow…That’s a whole book’s worth of story telling you’re poking at o.

I picked up dance on the campus of ABU zaria at the age of 17/18. Then I got saved, joined YWAP and was made the head of the dance department (SOULDQUEST) we went on to put up over 100 dance based concerts on almost every federal university campus in Nigeria and a number on campuses in Ghana, Benin Rep etc. Then we went on to win The Malta Guinness Street Dance Africa 2008.

After that, I became a brand ambassador for the brand, did tvcs for them, GTBANK, MTN, interswitch, etc.

– What would you say was your first big break in entertainment?

Winning Malta Guinness Street Dance Africa

– At the time, what did you like about it the most and the least?

I loved the fact that we had a access to a larger audience.

Didn’t dig the impression people had that if you’re an entertainer, you’re a heathen.

– What valuable lessons have you learnt from the Nigerian entertainment scene?

Everyone has an angle.

Talent is never enough.

Maintain your day ones, they’ll help keep you grounded.

Call your mother daily.

The brands don’t care about your values.

Never burn bridges.

Help as many people as you can, but remember to keep climbing.

Save up.

– As a creative what do you prefer, working behind the scenes or in the limelight?

Working behind the scenes.

There’s more money there. Lol.

– What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?

To be honest…I don’t think I’ve achieved much as an entertainer.

As a person, now that’s a whole different story.

– Having worked with a lot of young talent over the years, what are the major challenges they face?

They are in such a hurry, it is heartbreaking. So instead of being a steady flame for 2 decades or more, They’re just a firecracker for a festive season.

– So Captain Quest, if you could have a super power other than dance, what would it be?

The thought process of the human mind fascinates me. So I’d love to read minds.

– Tell us about SeekYou Art

SeekYouArt started off with me attempting to find myself creatively every day.

Basically take what I learned yesterday, apply it in different ways today and see what I learn from the process which I’d use tomorrow.

It then inevitably evolved into a series of pretty dope pieces of art and a couple of people started placing orders for wall art. Then t-shirts. Then mouse pads, dogtags, tote bags, etc.

Lol, it has been quite an experience of learning and growing and making money hallelujah

– If asked to describe the last 12 months in 3 words, what would they be?

Loss. Recuperation. Growth.

– If you had to travel what would be the two things you would not do without?

Besides personal hygiene stuff?

My digital work device and bank cards.

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

Falling by Fati Baita

Falling by Fati Baita

http:/isysdrain.wordpress.com/fallingaliciakeysFalling by Fati Baita

You don’t want to fall

You don’t want to let me in, he said

Why are you so guarded, why put up a wall?

Let me in, so I can love you

Love you from the inside out, love your broken peices back together

Love away every hurt and pain

Love away the memories of those lovers who hurt you.
You have never been loved wholly 

You have never been loved completely 

You have never been the one Woman a man has truely loved 

That’s why you have this wall, that is why you are afraid.

I’m different he told her.
My word is my bond
Let me love you, I promise it won’t hurt.

Let me love you, I swear it’s nothing like you’ve ever felt before.

Let me love you and all your flaws.

Fall for me….. 

I swear I’ll catch you

Fall hard for me, I won’t drop your heart.
……….. and I fell.