Posted in living with atg with tags , , , , on February 19, 2010 by ayenithegreat

When Funmi Iyanda’s new show TWF debuted on February 7, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.

On the surface, you’d think I had no reason to: I had never met the lady, not to talk of being friends with her.

But I had known her for years – first through Tempo, where she became one of my favourite columnists; and later through her Breakfast TV show New Dawn. Fun mi is my kind of woman: Bold and brave; fierce and fearless; intelligent and independent-minded; restless and roaring; deep and devout. You’ll see it in her eyes; in her movement; her dressing. You’ll see it in the way she asks her questions, the way she agrees and disagrees; the way she fights and loves. This, is one passionate wo-man.

And it’s no make-believe, as you’ll find when you meet her in person.

The first time I ever saw her up close, was on Oxford Street in London. I had just stepped out of MacDonald’s when I spot a young lady I suspect is Ms Iyanda. I walk up close to confirm she’s the one, then spend the next 30 seconds debating if to walk up and introduce myself or not. I’ve been trying to interview this woman for years. Now here she is, in a strange land, alone.

The pedestrian light turns green and she crosses the road. I follow, keeping a small distance. Then she heads straight into Primark, and within seconds, is lost in the shopping crowd. I stand there, for what looked like an hour, scolding myself and imagining what the different editors I’ve worked with would have said, if I told them I saw Fun mi Iyanda alone in London, and let her ‘escape’.

‘‘Ol’ Boy you no serious now. You no know say na cover be that?’’ Azuh Arinze, my editor at Encomium would have said, while insisting I search the whole of Primark and ‘fish’ her out. If I fail to find her or get the interview, Azuh’ll suggest I ‘‘capture’’ what I saw, in ‘‘beautiful prose’’. He liked ‘‘beautiful prose’’.

‘‘Mr Man, o je je k’ori e pe (you better get your act together). You better don’t come back here if you don’t do that interview. K’o ya maa gbe London’’, Encomium publisher Kunle Bakare would have told me over the phone. According to Bakare’s law of celebrity journalism, when you see a target, ask for an interview there and then; not a later appointment – it might never happen! Standing in front of Primark, I remembered how Bakare would never forgive me for failing to interview Kokoro and KWAM 1; and how he scolded me for fixing an interview appointment with Lagbaja, when I could have done the interview right there at his album launch in 2006.

I remembered Gabriella Osamor, my editor at THISDAY, and my heart nearly missed a beat. She wouldn’t even give you a choice. With you faraway in London, she’d tell the team at the Monday meeting: ‘‘Ayeni said he saw Funmi Iyanda in London. Can we use her for cover this Sunday’’? If everyone) especially Shaka Momodu and Nseobong Okon-Ekong) agrees, then you’re in trouble – God help you if the interview doesn’t happen.

As I left Primark and headed for the underground, I warned myself not to ‘mistakenly’ tell anyone I had just let Funmi Iyanda ‘escape’.

I soon forgot the incident; I soon forgot about her. Until I saw the promo materials for the new show Talk With Funmi. First I saw pictures of her trip across Nigeria, and then I saw videos : the eye-opening conversation with the Hunter in Ondo; taking soccer lessons from Fashola in Lagos; riding through the Okada phenomenon with Charly Boy; getting initiated to Galala and Suo, in Ajegunle; amongst many others.

This is the right time to finally interview this woman, I say to myself, as I crawl through Youtube and Google, searching for the TWF trailer and other info. Finally, the real talk show queen is going all the way to put a beautiful, proudly Nigerian show together. Finally, we’ll have the one woman who understands the A to Z of presenting, interviewing and guest-examination take over and save us from pretenders masquerading as the real McCoy.

Finally, I resorted to blackmail to get to talk with Funmi Iyanda.

‘‘Ayeni, Talk With Funmi is debuting on February 7. Please I want to send you a story to help us use’’, the caller said.

So I answer: ‘‘No problem boss. But first, get me that interview I’ve been asking for. It’s almost four years now, remember?’’.

The interview happened on Tuesday.

‘‘So what do you think of Oprah?’’

‘‘I’ve never wanted to be Oprah. Chief Olusola, who should know, gave me one of the best advice of my life when I was starting out. As a 25 year-old, I went to interview him, and he said that what are you r plans? I said I wanted to be the Barbara Walters of Nigeria. And he looked me in the eyes and said you, with your longish self, and your longish name, will never be the Barbara Walters of Africa. He said you’re going to be the Funmi Iyanda of Africa…’’

I was a fan before the interview; a fan for years. When I left after over two hours, I was no longer a fan. I had become an AC.

A split unit, actually – not a window unit.



Posted in living with atg with tags , , on December 20, 2009 by ayenithegreat

Wow! It’s been more than a minute!

Can’t believe i’ve been away from here for sooooooooooooooo long!

The past few months have been work work work work and work.

Question i’ve been asking since is : who invented work sef? Can’t we all just rock and roll and bump and grind and play and play and play and play and play and play…..?


And now the whole year has flown by again. 12 full months!

I’d like to say i’d take sometime off, elope with the Mrs, embark on some naughty adventures, and enter the new year all renewed and rejuvenated. But i know it’s all a wish – a silly wish. Cos i’m gon be working my ass off – writing and editing and proof-reading and strategising and plotting for the coming year.

Yeah, i know you pity me. I pity me too!

But It’s not all hopeless o.

I manage to rock while i work; especially since i’ve discovered my ‘drink of the year’ – Red Muscadel. Talking of Muscadel, since Gbemi introduced me to the sweet, wicked liquid, i’m proud to say i’ve converted everyone of my friends (sad i can’t name names!). Those that are yet to be converted, are those yet to kiss the bottle.  Yes, all it takes to fall in lust with the Muscadel is a kiss!

On a rather serious note, i’m winning new converts elsewhere too! It’s at – the online entertainment news centre founded by my new company BlackHouse Media. is the official website for NIGERIAN ENTERTAINMENT TODAY (NET) – the  journal that’s re-inventing entertainment reporting in Nigeria.

Since we launched on November 23, the comments have been awesome; and i’d like to invite you to please stop by; go through what’s on offer, and leave us your honest comments.

I’m happy i’m keeping my promise – if you check back, i told you earlier this year i was converting this site to a more personal blog; cos we were working on something major. So now, i’ll leave you to check out every day for your daily dose of entertainment news, reviews, gossip, analyses, features, events and pictures. While i embark on a mission to engage you with bits and pieces of happenings in my work and life.

Merry Christmas folks! And a very rewarding 2010 in advance!



Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on July 31, 2009 by ayenithegreat

wunmi Obe  (3)Showbiz couple Tunde and Wunmi Obe will host very close friends and family members to a private dinner and dance party today in Lagos, in celebration of Wunmi’s 40th birthday anniversary.

 Wunmi, a writer, singer, actor and entrepreneur clocks 40 today.

 She was born at the Lagos University Teaching hospital, LUTH on July 31, 1969.

 ‘‘It felt like it was so far away. I remember back then in the eighties, I used to imagine what it’ll look like in year 2009 when I clock 40. But now, it’s all happening so soon’’, the celebrant told Ayenithegreat on phone early this week.

 Born Omowunmi Valerie Adedoyin Aboderin to the late Chief Olu Aboderin and his wife Florence Jadesola, she attended Grange school, Queens College and studied Philosophy at the University of Lagos.

 It was while an undergraduate at UNILAG, that she met Tunde Obe, a co-aspiring singer and co-member at the popular Turning Point band. They got married on June 26, 1998, and are now blessed with three kids: Modesayo (8), Riccardo (7) and Andre (5).

 From club rounds to private gigs and regular slots at Jazville and the old Coliseum, Wunmi proved she’s got talent, and earned industry respect, at a time when many of her contemporaries were still struggling with acceptance. And she took it to an entirely new level, when she debuted on the Charly Boy show as Miss Snowbottom. She acted the part not just well; but excellently. Just as she did the short hilarious drama sketches with Tunde.

 She won more fans doing the Charly Boy show, and reached large audiences across the nation. But she has spent the better part of a brilliant career as a recording artiste (with T.W.O.) and performing artiste (with the band DeJavu).

 ‘‘Apart from a few holiday jobs back then, I think the only job I’ve ever kept outside entertainment, was as a copy writer with LTC advertising. Entertainment is it for me. And it’s the same for my husband Tunde’’, she says, insisting that she has not ‘‘really’’ abandoned TV. ‘‘I’ve done a couple of stuff on TV in recent times; even a soap. But maybe it’s about time I give it the same attention I give music?’’

wunmi Obe  (2)


Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on July 10, 2009 by ayenithegreat

weep not, child

weep not, child

For years, her father hid her from all of us. But when she’ll eventually make her ‘debut’, it was before billions of people, spread across different continents.

 Even her father didn’t have that kind of audience when he started out over four decades ago.

 Paris Katherine Michael Jackson: We were hearing her voice for the first time.

 ‘‘I just want to say ever since I was born daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine’’. And that was all, before the 11 year-old broke down in tears.


Yes! She had a right to weep. Michael was her father! And she was not the only one that shed tears at MJ’s funeral at the Staples centre last Tuesday. Jermaine- who has been in tears since Jackson passed – wept too. Same for Usher, Janet (who hid behind dark shades), and millions of fans across the world who watched the event live on TV.

So, how come some section of the media are speculating about the possibility of Paris’ breaking down – one of the most heart breaking moments of the service-being pre-planned?

 And, how come, video footage of Michael Jackson’s ‘ghost’ lurking around Neverland, during a Larry King live broadcast from the ranch, is becoming increasingly widespread on YouTube?

Because it’s difficult for us to associate anything ‘normal’ with MJ. It looks unbelievable that he’d just die like that and be gone forever; that his daughter will break down and cry while trying to give a speech at his memorial service. Normal stuff. Michael Jackson doesn’t do ‘normal’!

Some sceptics swore his corpse was not in the coffin. How about that?

 Others imagined he would just open the coffin, get up, smile, do a moon walk, and tell us all it was all just a joke- Paris and her siblings would have really found that funny.


Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on July 10, 2009 by ayenithegreat


Kellz digging it in 9ja

Kellz digging it in 9ja

There’s no denying that the 42 year old R&B star has a huge following across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

Since his 1993 solo debut, the singer-songwriter has been a hit with Nigerian fans. And many, up to this day, continue to cherish his greatest hits; unanimously agreeing that there’s no contesting the fact that he’s the ‘R’ in RnB.


But following repeated allegations of child pornography and minors’ abuse, especially the 2002 leaked video tape allegedly showing Kelly and a 14 year-old engaging in sex, many followers renounced their fan-ship, apparently disgusted by the purported act, and convinced by the weight of the evidence against him. Radio stations in Lagos yanked him off their playlist. Writers condemned him, and many publicly expressed their disappointment.

But for six years, Kelly insisted he was not the man in the video. And not for a minute did he allow the tribulations to diminish his art. He was eventually declared not guilty on June 13, 2008.

But it was until a year later, before one could say for sure, if Nigerian fans still thought him guilty or not.

When he set foot on Lagos for the first time last week, one thing was clear: Mr. Kelly was keen about leaving a good impression. Before, during and after his gigs in Lagos and Abuja, he went ‘out of his way’’ to bond with fans, reporters and crew members. He asked to be snapped with the most unlikely people, exchanging banters with pleasantly surprised fans, and generally carrying on like a ‘’regular guy’’.

Many who came across the singer were easily reminded of Wyclef Jean, the Haitian who will go down in history as the most friendly, most unassuming and most supportive foreign act to ever visit Nigeria.

‘‘He’s so so simple, I can’t believe it!’’ a fan who attended the show told e-Punch.

‘‘He walked up to me and said, when are we taking our picture?’’, Lily, and industry insider who worked on the concerts, told friends excitedly.

He autographed her call card.

Another guest, who saw the star singer use a fan’s handkerchief to wipe his face, could not stop marvelling at ‘his himility’.

For someone who rarely tours or travel far, it’s interesting how well the singer has mastered public relations; how he manages to sweep fans off their feet even when there’s no mic in his hands – especially fans who did not have the best of opinions of him, prior to his visiting.

How did he do it, that fans who – just a few years ago were burning his CDs and calling him names, were suddenly scrambling to cough out alarming figures to see him rock the stage? How did he do it that, after just a few nights in the country, they’re now the ones spreading his gospel like they’re paid to do so?

Kelly... swept Nigerian fans of thier feet!

Kelly... swept Nigerian fans of thier feet!

He gave a good account of himself in Lagos and Abuja, drawing from a rich repertoire of fresh and old materials. But visiting acts are usually known to give a good account of themselves. What they fail to do most times, is leave a proper impression of their personae; what they fail to do is pull ‘PR stunts’, that can cause a whole nation to pronounce a ‘not guilty’ verdict.

Didn’t Kelly just do that?


Posted in living with atg on July 3, 2009 by ayenithegreat


MJ pic

The slideshow of the life and times of pop star Michael Jackson is still playing, even as friends, fans and family members continue to pay glowing tributes to the man who provided the redefinition of modern pop music.


It is expected that the late singer’s body will go on public view in a matter of days ahead of a funeral reportedly slated for next week.


Jackson, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest on Thursday June 25, was the most iconic pop star since Elvis Presley, and his rare talent and career achievements – in spite of myriad personal troubles and an eccentric public-private life- have stamped his name in the hearts of millions of fans around the world.


Just like James Brown, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Fela Kuti, Jackson had remarkable personal failings, amazing contradictions and a huge potential to self-destruct.  With a blessing of the gift, and the burden of a curse, it was inevitable that he’ll live a life dominated by magic on one hand; and absolute madness on the other.


So, he broke chart records, sold millions of albums, got ladies weak in the knees, recruited fans all over planet earth, dined with presidents, married Elvis Presley’s daughter, and won awards like they were going out of fashion. But, for every fine move, there were-unfortunately- a bundle of mishaps, waiting to rear their ugly heads.


The mishaps of many ramifications, and a media desperate to feed the public with endless jackson-mania –expectedly- connived to steal attention from Jackson’s art; making sure that when we pictured Michael, the man we saw was not a successful singer-songwriter-performer. What we saw, instead, was a weirdo, a freak, a paedophile, a liar. What we saw, was the image of an addict, a spendaholic, and a man-trying-to-be-a-boy.


If the media conspired against Michael, it could be said that he himself was part of the conspiracy. He fed lies to the press, pulled poorly-thought-out PR stunts that eventually backfired, and lived a very very bizzarre private life; one whose content is staple food for the tabloids. He got a nose job. Talked of buying the bones of ‘Elephant Man’. Cooked up the story of the oxygen chamber, saying he was going to ‘‘live forever’’, like ‘Peter pan’. He even got sperm donors and surrogate mothers when he wanted to have kids…


With increasing damaging coverage and post-surgery repercussions, Michael became a sad story and a sorry sight. And many wished he would just die, before his demystification reached full cycle.


And death- that’s what it took to remind us all; including the media, of how much we still adored the boy-man. It took Michael dying for us to celebrate him again. He may have failed to make the much anticipated comeback, he may have been on the bottom calibration on the barometer of media opinion, and he may have stopped being the ‘king of pop’ long before even he realised it.


But, when Michael’s heart stopped pumping blood last Thursday, no one could have predicted the outpour of love and emotion that followed – even from the media!


Did we really love Michael that much?




Michael’s death, last week, has brought up a plethora of interesting debates. Among them: who was greater in life and in death? Michael Joseph Jackson? Or the equally legendary Elvis Aaron Presley who died at 42 in 1977?

 I’d like to know what you think!


Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 26, 2009 by ayenithegreat
peace and love... from peter pan

peace and love... from peter pan


the story is still unfolding: ongoing autopsy; cops interrogating his resident doctor; allegations that his death was caused by an overdose of prescription drugs; uncertainty over who takes custody of his three kids; panic in the camp of AEG- the organisers of the 50-date ‘this is it’ mj concerts….


the world continues to watch; with absolute attention, as global media unravel the biggest story of this era…

and, as a mark of respect for mr. jackson, we’ve taken time off our work on project ‘bhm’, to bring you some interesting stuff on the life, journey, times and death of the greatest entertainer that ever lived.

it’s personally touching for me; because i so looked forward to attending the O2 concerts. and it’s sad that, in spite of how much i prepared, i’ll never see the ‘king’ perform live. maybe it’ll happen in another world?

i plead guilty: i’d always joked to close friends about how important it is to me; for mj to die while i’m still on the beat. i’ve been gathering materials on him for years and i’ve so studied him, i could write a mini bio from the top of my head.

but – when i first heard the news, the feeling that swept through me told me -even i wasn’t so prepared for his passing after all.

and it has taken the past hours for me to realise the kind of grip he had on me; the kind of attraction he held for me; and the enormity of his influence on an entire generation.

i still haven’t been able to put myself together. i can even believe i can’t string my words properly. and in spite of how much i’ve followed his career; i still can’t sit down to put together a proper tribute; the kind of tribute i would adjudge a ‘masterpiece’

i dont know when i’ll be able to do a proper mj article. and i don’t know when i’ll stop hoping it’s all another stunt – or a joke-gone-too-far..

maybe he’s get up and smile and moon walk out of the morgue?


(in the mean time, pls enjoy what myself and my colleagues ‘nike fabule and ‘biodun ogundairo have tried to put together…)

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