Monday, April 30, 2007

Ms Moss or elections, Naij premiere, Caine Prize shortlist etc

A fairly uneventful weekend, the sun’s out again and even though it is still April, it’s beginning to feel as if summer is here. Attended my first garden lunch, I expect there’ll be barbecue invitations going out soon as Londoners with gardens rush to justify the extra premium they paid for houses with gardens by throwing the obligatory round of summer barbecues and garden parties.

Everywhere you turn there seems to be news about Kate Moss’s collection which she has designed for the high street chain, TopShop. With local council elections in many parts of England and the devolved nations of Scotland and Wales due in a few days, it’s amazing that the airwaves and media here are filled with news of Ms Moss’s forthcoming collection and predictions about how many people will spend the night outside TopShop tonight in order to bag bargains when the collection goes on sale tomorrow….

The aftermath of the Nigerian elections still swirls uncertainly in a middling place that is neither here nor there. Many are dissatisfied with the conduct of the elections and yet, for all the call for mass action, the sense is that most Nigerians are keen to just get on with their lives, wretched as they might be. I can see where they are coming from- who wants to risk their lives for Atiku or Buhari? This is actually where Yar’adua could display statesmanship by reaching out and building real consensus across the various parties and trying to bring everyone together, but will the crude triumphalism of the PDP let him? Obasanjo’s daughter Iyabo, recently featured in passing in an FT story on Yar’adua see quote below:

“Visitors, supplicants and dealmakers dropping by Mr Yar'Adua's headquarters included the daughter of Mr Obasanjo, said by oil executives to be an influential political conduit in the energy sector, and one of Mr Yar'Adua's top campaign financiers: a state governor who has long been under investigation by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”

is on course for the Senate and I presume for the Senate Presidency which her father has prepared for her….

For the full FT story see here and for more tales of Naija politicians' dodginess see here

To the salubrious streets of South Kensington yesterday for the premiere of Naij the documentary. The team behind the project certainly managed to maintain an air of mystery about the whole project. Walking into the foyer I saw the largest collection of young upwardly mobile Nigerians in London that I have ever seen. There was an informal dress code- the boys in jeans and colourful Thomas Pink/TM Lewin/Charles Tyrwhit shirts, the girls in heels and flouncy flirty summery skirts and dresses- and a humongous buzz. We were handed little paper bags which each had a canned soft drink, a meatpie, a slice of cake and a cookie emblazoned with Naij the documentary on it. I spotted a few familiar faces and searched in vain for Bitchy and Chameleon fellow Nigerian bloggers who had also said they were attending, but there were too many people to make any sort of informed guess…

A few words from Jide Olanrewaju, the investment banker behind the project and then the sonorous voice of Veno Marioghae singing “Even if dem drink de oil o! Nigeria go survive” came wafting through the theatre. It’s an amazing project- a collection of clips with a voiceover by Jide tracing Nigeria’s political history and overlaid with highly relevant music tracks. The technical quality in terms of editing isn’t fantastic and there are some missing significant incidents but these only underline the poignancy of what the project is – one young man’s attempt to understand the history of his beloved country. Bitchy has a more comprehensive review of the event here

On the literary front, Nigeria has had more cheering news with three Nigerians making the shortlist of five for the Caine Prize for African Writing this year

The three are artist and writer Ada Udechukwu for her short story Night Bus, published in The Atlantic Monthly. The story is only available to subscribers but here’s an interview with the author and excerpts

Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest for his story My parent’s bedroom published in the New Yorker

And writer E C Osondu for his story Jimmy Carter’s Eyes published in Agni

The other shortlisted authors are Monica Arac de Nyeko of Uganda for her story ‘Jambula Tree’ from ‘African Love Stories’ See a review here

and Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa) ‘Bad Places’, New Contrast vol 31 no4 Spring 2003. Henrietta Rose-Innes just last week beat Petina Gappah who has visited us often on this blog to second place in the HSBC PEN South African literary awards. See pix here

Congratulations PG…and to the Caine Prize shortlisted trio, I say “Go Naija!”


Wordsbody said...

Naijaman-the Caine shortlist will not be officially announced until next month (starting tomorrow!), hence the reason some of us have been reticent... But the news seems to have leaked out like water from a basket this year. Even the AGNI website is already triumphantly announcing that E.C Osondu's "Jimmy Carter's Eyes" has been shortlisted!

It's all good though. And it's wonderful news, re Petina's performance in the SA PEN.


uknaija said...

@mw, a friend forwarded a press release from the Caine Prize people to me...stable doors and bolting horses spring to mind...

Bitchy said...

I've heard from a few Lagosians that they will be indoors today. No one is going to take up this call to arms except the personal area-boy bodyguards of the opposition. All they're doing is spoiling a public holiday for people really.

I went past Top Shop last night and saw a very long queue forming. My friend refused to believe the desperate teens intended to wait all night, but your post has indeed confirmed what I thought. Young people need to get lives. What is going on?

And you should've worn a sign on Sunday! Lol Xxx

internationalhome said...

what is it they say about people being sheep? I can't still understand why ANYONE would want to look like kate moss????
I still insist that Nigeria and indeed the African continent in its entirety is currently witnessing the beginnings of a renassaince of sorts...we should watch out!!
What are the naij documentry people doing to further publicise it? Or is it a London Big boy/girl thing a la city people??

uknaija said...
@Bitchy -You could have worn the sign and saved me the trouble:-)
@I don't think it's a big boy/big girl thing- they want feedback to determine where they go next

Unknown said...

I hopr this Topshop furore passes over. They actually queued from yesterday afternoon until 8pm when the shops opened till midnight when they closed and then they reopened at 7am on the 1st again.

I personally dont think the designs are that unique and most designers agree with me too calling kate moss a copycat. (Am I jealous or what?) LOL!!

Best Wishes to the nominees for the Caine Shortlist. Thanks UK Naija for the links. The short stories are quite lovely.

Idemili said...

Awwwww! I WANT to be on the list!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the shout out. Well done Nigeria, not one, but three writers on the Caine short list. You will understand of course if I root for my friend Henrietta!

By the way, be warned: I am definitely going to hunt you down and dine with you if it is the last thing I do this year. I will be in London in June - and I hope to persuade our Mutual Freind over at Wordsbody to give me your contacts....


Wordsbody said...


How now? And you will understand if we root for ours, abi? Give you UKnaija's contacts ke? He has not told me who he is o, although I'm pretty sure who...

London in June. Let's all do the Orange together, if you're around by then.


chika unigwe said...

Was there to support Monica and my Naija people. I was disappointed Nigeria didn't clinch it, but I was thrilled MOnica won. She is afterall my son's godmother and therefore family. And the one I ws rooting for (-:
Wonderfully told story, Jambula Tree, btw.