My favorite things Nigeria

by on December 28, 2016 at 12:36 am in Books, Film, Food and Drink, Music, Sports, The Arts, Travel, Uncategorized | Permalink

Yup, I’m here.  I made this list before setting off:

1. Popular music: Few from any country come close to Fela Kuti, the main question is how many you should buy, not which ones.  Most of them!  On the CD medium, that old series of “two albums on one CD” was the best way to consume Fela.  On streaming, you can probably just let it rip.  And rip.  And rip.  Other favorites are King Sunny Ade and I.K. Dairo, I don’t love Fema Kuti.  You also might try Nigerian psychedelic funk rock from the late 60s and early 70s, for instance found here.  Most of all, there are thousands of wonderful local performers in Nigeria, you can watch a few of them on the Netflix documentary on the Nigerian music scene, titled Konkombe, recommended and only an hour long.

There is now a good deal of hit Nigerian and Nigerian-American music, such as Wizkid.  It is enjoyable but does not compare to Fela in terms of staying power.

2. Basketball player: The Dream is one of my three or four favorite players of all time.  My favorite Hakeem was watching him pick apart David Robinson play after play after play…see the final clip on the immediately preceding link.

3. Novel: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.  Honorable mentions go to Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri, and my colleague Helon Habila.  There are also the Nigerian-American writers, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Teju Cole is worth reading, including his non-fiction.

4. Movie: Well, I’ve seen parts of some of them, and you should at least sample some Nollywood if you haven’t already.  It’s kinetic.  The documentary “Nollywood Babylon” (Netflix) gives you some background.  As for “Movie, set in,” I draw a blank.  “Album, set in and recorded in” would be Band on the Run, Paul McCartney and Wings.

5. Actor: Chiwetal Ejiofor, he starred in “Twelve Years a Slave,” and is from a Nigerian family in Britain.

6. Presidential name: Goodluck Jonathan.

7. Artist: Prince Twins Seven Seven, or more formally Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Wyewale-Toyeje Oyekale Osuntoki.  He received his nickname because he was the only surviving child from seven distinct sets of twins.

prince_twins_seven-seven_1

8. Food dish: At least for now I have to say jollof rice, a precursor dish to jambalaya, further reports to come however!

The bottom line: Lots of talent here, plenty more on the way.

1 Ian December 28, 2016 at 12:48 am

Typo correction: the actor’s first name is “Chiwetel”

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2 So Much For Subtlety December 28, 2016 at 1:01 am

Artist: Prince Twins Seven Seven, or more formally Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Wyewale-Toyeje Oyekale Osuntoki. He received his nickname because he was the only surviving child from seven distinct sets of twins

There is supposed to be a tribal group in Nigeria who regard twins as extremely lucky. Holy even. So they tend to do better than other babies. To the point that twins are much more common in this ethnic group – proving there is a genetic component to twins.

But to be one of seven sets of twins seems unusual.

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3 Careless December 28, 2016 at 7:39 am

proving there is a genetic component to twins.

Well, yes,but the fact that humans typically have one and dogs have a half dozen might have tipped you off before this

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4 g3 December 28, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Igbo traditionally view twins as cursed while Yoruba people have a distinct set of names for twins.

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5 Anonymous December 28, 2016 at 1:22 am

Why is it that the number of comments is always off by one?

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6 dux.ie December 28, 2016 at 1:39 am

From IAB dataset. Except for those to European countries fronting Africa,
Nigerian emigrants are usually educated.

2010 Nigeria emigrants with degree or higher

% NDeg Nemi

69.44 256265 369071 Total

90.72 14266 15726 CA

83.37 1424 1708 AU

82.41 136769 165963 US

72.28 79647 110189 UK

60.98 5975 9798 IE

59.22 1484 2506 SE

34.39 1308 3803 FR

25.90 3623 13986 DE

25.51 1360 5331 NL

25.42 6904 27156 ES

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7 So Much For Subtlety December 28, 2016 at 2:01 am

Having a degree from a Nigerian university is not the same as being educated.

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8 Nigerian Nationalist December 28, 2016 at 4:36 am

And yet so many with degrees from Nigerian Universities go for their masters across the world and crush students from your “educated” schools handily. Positively baffling.

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9 So Much For Subtlety December 28, 2016 at 5:30 am

It is so cute you think that. Yes, I am sure Nigerian students are making the Chinese cry by pushing them out of all those post-graduate STEM courses. Despite the fact that the most popular course for African students is ….. social work.

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10 Nigerian Nationalist December 28, 2016 at 7:29 am

Its cute that you can’t tell the difference between a continent and a country.

11 Ali Choudhury December 28, 2016 at 3:29 pm

The Igbo in particular have some impressive high achievers amongst their ranks.

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12 dux.ie December 28, 2016 at 8:06 pm

There is the question of which degrees are recognized in US, but many of them obtained their degrees in US or UK.

http://www.chron.com/news/article/Data-show-Nigerians-the-most-educated-in-the-U-S-1600808.php

Nigerian immigrants have the highest levels of education in this city and the nation, surpassing whites and Asians, according to Census data bolstered by an analysis of 13 annual Houston-area surveys conducted by Rice University.

Although they make up a tiny portion of the U.S. population, a whopping 17 percent of all Nigerians in this country held master’s degrees while 4 percent had a doctorate, according to the 2006 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 37 percent had bachelor’s degrees.

To put those numbers in perspective, 8 percent of the white population in the U.S. had master’s degrees, according to the Census survey. And 1 percent held doctorates. About 19 percent of white residents had bachelor’s degrees. Asians come closer to the Nigerians with 12 percent holding master’s degrees and 3 percent having doctorates.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_United_States_by_household_income#By_ancestry

50 Nigerian American : $62,086[3]

51 Scotch-Irish American : $62,055[3]

53 Dutch American : $61,508[3]

55 French American : $61,262[3]

61 Korean American : $58,573[2]

74 American : $51,122[3]

75 Pennsylvania German American : $51,061[3]

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13 carlospln December 28, 2016 at 1:50 am

Your Nigerian Psychedelic Rock link is dead.

Try this: https://soundwayrecords.bandcamp.com/album/nigeria-rock-special-psychedelic-afro-rock-jazz-funk-in-1970s-nigeria

Fela, huh? Pretty transgressive for half the readers @ MR.

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14 bill benzon December 28, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Wonderful!!!

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15 JJ December 28, 2016 at 2:01 am

Favorite Basketball Player- Hakeem Olajuwon

Favorite Movie- Coming to America

Favorite Musician- Wale

Favorite Actor- Idris Elba

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16 N.K Anton December 28, 2016 at 10:32 am

Elba is Ghanian. As a shorthand, Nigerians tend to have longer names, I think.

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17 Tom T. December 28, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Able was I ere I saw Elba.

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18 Massimo Heitor December 29, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Idris Elba was born in London, England. I believe that makes him a Brit of African descent. His parents immigrated to England from Sierra Leone. According to Wikipedia, his mother was Ghanaian.

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19 Massimo Heitor December 29, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Coming To America. ok, this post is a joke

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20 Saheed December 28, 2016 at 2:54 am

Surely, you know Goodluck Jonathan was defeated in last year’s election? Other than that, can’t fault anything you recommended 😁

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21 JC December 28, 2016 at 4:39 am

I think Tyler was just making reference to his interesting name, regardless of being in office or not.

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22 Careless December 28, 2016 at 7:45 am

You can’t have a favorite from a pool of one. Obviously he was selecting from the history of the group

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23 Sam Haysom December 28, 2016 at 3:56 pm

In fairness Cowen did pick a favorite Nigerian movie from a pool of zero movies actually watched all the way through.

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24 Nigerian Nationalist December 28, 2016 at 4:30 am

Barron Trump is more Slovenian than “Chinwetel” is Nigerian, atleast Barron speaks Slovenian. Please we dash him to the British.

Check out Cyprian Ekwensi’s work, Jagua Nana and its sequel are personal favourites. As for food, Jollof is a mediocre import given undue cultural influence by its ease of preparation and millennials exaggerating its taste due to their Ghanaian fetish. Boring meal.

If you want something more authentic, ask around for Abacha or pounded yam and ofe oha, Agidi and goat meat pepper soup, Tuwo with a blend of kwunu to wash it down. Cap the night of with a helping of prepared goat head (Ngwo ngwo) and a helping of fresh palm-wine.

Welcome to Nigeria.

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25 tobi lawson December 28, 2016 at 5:09 am

Welcome to Nigeria Tyler. I hope you have a good time. You can read Kaye Whitman’s Lagos to get a good feel of the history. It’s quite easy to get a superficial experience of Lagos. Do check out some of the slums. Most of the enjoyable local dishes might be too spicy for your palette, so thread with care.

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26 JC December 28, 2016 at 5:15 am

1. Fela is probably Nigeria’s greatest pop artist ever. Wizkid, 2Face, P-Square and Davido run the show today. I like P-Square, they took Africa by storm few years ago and even today they’re quite popular here in Angola.

2. Olajuwon is probably the best center I’ve seen play the game (I was born in 1984 so Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabar, Moses Malone and co. only via YouTube). The Dream’s savage treatment of legends like David Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal are proofs of his greatness … talking about greatness, Olajuwon’s Rockets were the best major beneficiaries of Michael Jordan’s first retirement, banking two NBA titles in style.

3. Both “Things Fall Apart” (Chinua Achebe) and “Americanah” (Chimamanda Ngozie-Adichie) are among the best novels I’ve ever read. “Americanah” partly reminds me my own story, an African middle-class kid “forced” to live abroad mostly due to bad governance and warfare that destroyed basic tools of a healthy society, from the book I learned that Nigeria and Angola share many of the social issues and both countries are poorly managed, failing to make the best of the talents of their own people. Honorable mention: “Beats of No Nation” (Uzodinma Iweala), there’s a Netflix film based on the book stared by Idris Elba.

4. I’m not a fan o Nollywood so I’d recommend “NAIJ – A history of Nigeria” by Jide Olanrewaju. NAIJ is an independent documentary lacking some professional touches but very rich in content and is a very good way to navigate the past and understand the present of Nigeria.

6. Presidencial name: Sani Abacha

I think you’re not into soccer because Nigeria has “an army” of very good players who deserved to be mentioned, from past and present. When younger, Jay-Jay Okocha was my favorite player and still ranks among my top 15 all time. Other notable names are Yekini, Amokachi, Oliseh, Kanu, Finidi, Taribo West, Bababyaro and Amunike.

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27 Mike Sandifer December 28, 2016 at 8:48 am

I personally think Olajuwon was the second-best player of his era, after Michael Jordan. There was no weakness in the game of either. Both were good at pretty much everything.

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28 Todd December 28, 2016 at 9:51 am

Film set in: ‘Mister Johnson’ directed by Bruce Beresford, with Pierce Brosnan and Edward Woodward. Criterion released it a year or two ago in America.

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29 Lanigram December 28, 2016 at 10:47 am

#1 Nigerian music – I have had the album “Afrobeat No Go Die”, an anthology of Afrobeat artists released 3 yrs (?) after the passing of Fela Kuti, for more than 10 years and I still can’t stop dancing. I LOVE that music!!!!

I went to a King Sunny Ade concert in a small venue in our little California coastal city, with many Nigerian residents, and it was a rocking cultural experience! Fantastic!

There is something special about the Nigerians.

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30 Ray Lopez December 28, 2016 at 11:22 am

I’d like to visit Nigeria’s central market, and see a “video joker” live in Nollywood. Those are on my bucket list.

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31 Ray Lopez December 28, 2016 at 11:28 am

@myself – I think the term ‘video joker’ is the guy in the cinema who shouts to the audience, during B-film action films, that more action is coming and generally keeps the crown engaged. But I could not find an internet link to this term.

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32 Gregory Johnson December 28, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Any Chiwetel Ejiofor fans must watch Red Belt. He’s awesome in it.

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33 Ali Choudhury December 28, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Red Belt is very good. Fans of professional wrestling may be aware of Power Uti, the saxophone-playing Hulk Hogan equivalent of the local wrestling scene which has a very passionate following.

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34 Ed December 28, 2016 at 7:31 pm

8. Food Dish: Chicken Suya. Commonly found in Abuja and muslim areas of the North. Delightful, spicy check chopped up with tomatoes and cabbage.

Nigeria Newflash: The airport of Abua, the capital, will be closed down for 6 weeks starting this February for repairs.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38392003

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35 Percussionist December 28, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi (in the Roman Catholic Church, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi) should be mentioned here. By the way, poor Fela Kuti would not have lived such a miserable life if he had spent ten or so minutes listening to what Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi had to say about things that poor Fela Kuti was so foolish about – that God created Man and Woman in his Image, that we should not go straying after false Gods; yes I realize many people think well Fela Kuti was born in Nigeria (albeit to relatively rich parents), and he suffered for his opinions, so who am I, a person with access to the internet, to criticize him? Well Curly and Larry, at their best moments, tried to make Moe a better man. By the way, I know quite a few Nigerians – some of the best moments of my life have been spent listening to them talk about their dreams and their love for God. I would be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nigerians, but maybe the same can be said about every single person in this world. Just saying.

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36 Percussionist translating December 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm

For the record, it appears that Curly and Larry succeeded, eventually, which is why it is not as sad as it was in the day to know that the way they were seen then and now was just or always in black and white. Moe is no longer “Moe”; “Curly” is no longer “Curly”, “Larry” is no longer “Larry”. Their best moments, their good hearted moments, abide, but their failures can no longer be seen as failures. Their rhythm, good as it was, has been either transfigured, or not. I vote for transfigured (this is funnier … better … not as slow!!!…in Igbo)…

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37 Percussionist translating December 28, 2016 at 11:06 pm

Chi Bu Uzo – that is good news – Onye Afuro Na Enuiwge si Aguya Na – that is, actually, if not strictly good news, at least is is not the worst news – Dikgange (better – Dikgkange) Tse Di Molemo – well that is the news most of us care about, for now, the rest will be taken care of as a hoped for and predictable result (Chi Bu Uzo)…. Chi Bu Uzo” roughly, God is great: Onye Afuro Na Enulgwe si Aguya Na (that is a quote from Cyprian Michale Iwene Tansi) – God loves us and we are in his hands – or count nobody saved until that person, no longer a nobody, is in heaven… Tse Di Molemo — Well, it was Tse di Molemo, vaguely remembered, that got me to hoping that Curly and Larry really did want “Moe” to no longer be the “Moe” that we all knew back in the day, but to be a better “Moe”, a Moe that, as his humble friends would want, enjoys life to its full = Tse di Molemo….

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38 Massimo Heitor December 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm

When I read about Fela Kuti, he quite loudly and publicly blames the problems of Nigeria on white Europeans, and is obsessed with various forms of black racial nationalism and pan-africanism. His music may be great music, but shouldn’t a normal white person find that loud, public racial hostility off putting? Why does TC not even mention this loud form of public racism?

I know race is a sore issue, but this seems over the top.

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