Monday, November 02, 2009

'Saymama For Tae'

Check out the first ever 'Saymama for Tae' line - one of Nigeria's most hardworking and creative talent in the burgeoning world of fashion design in the country. This is a first attempt at a collaboration with a designer and I'm very proud of the outcome of our 'experiment'. I may be biased but the pieces are gorgeous! I'm in no way a designer, nor do I want to be. But it's nice to come up with some ideas and letting the pros do the designing. This all came together from a random conversation and voila! Guess which one's my favorite!

So if you are anywhere near Lagos, hit the store now! They are selling out fast! Stay tuned for more to come.
Tae: 15B Oduduwa Crecent, G.R.A., Ikeja - Lagos

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michelle and the 1 Train – NYC

Written 7th May 2009-06-28 at Dean & Deluca

I was on the ‘1’ train in NYC today, when I squeezed myself with my shopping bags to sit between two ladies. A couple of stops later, the slightly older Latino lady to my left says to me in a thick Spanish accent: “your face like Michelle Obama. You have face like Michelle Obama (as she’s gesturing with her hand in a circular motion around her face)”. Then she says again “she’s a very nice simple lady, you look like her. Anybody ever told you that before?” Other than me to myself, I think to myself, chuckling and I say, pretending to be modestly gracious, “no” I say. She raises her eyebrows in faint surprise, then she smiles and nods. Her stop is next at 59th Street. We greet each other warmly and she waves to me goodbye.

After an extremely wet and rainy day, pounding the pavement, shoes soaked through, that was a welcoming compliment. ‘Compliment’ you say? Yes. After all, I’ve only spent the last 18 months gawking at, collecting EVERY magazine with her (Michelle) on the cover, read the books written on her, about to purchase the lateste newly released book written about her; pleasurably following her every style move and have spent the last five and a half months trying to finish an article that I’ve been writing on her. So yes – compliment and a half it was J.

Till we meet someday soon; so that I can put myself out of my misery? Watch this space. The universe has a way of magically aligning the stars, so watch this space.

P.S. Did you see her at the Time 100 Gala dinner? Divine. Maybe I should start a ‘Saymama on Michelle Series’. Hmmm.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Michelle in March

I've been working on an opinion piece on my girl Michelle and I think it's time that I finish it up and post! It's a shame that there's nothing on this blog yet about Michelle, as much as I've been watching, following and studying her for the past 18 months and more. So must and WILL rectify in next few days.

I have been collecting all magazines I can find with her on the cover. Some covers make her look great while a few others don't do her enough justice. I'm yet to physically possess my copy of Vogue's March edition with Michelle on the cover, but as far as I can see, I expected waaaaay better! Oprah's O Magazine has the 'bazillionnaire' sharing cover vanity and glory with someone for the first time ever and guess with who! Again, I don't know what the cover artist/photographer/editor was thinking but they look like a camera shot caught them not quite ready to pose. They should have had them standing back to back in a Charlie's Angels-type pose or something :-). Again, not enough justice done to my girl. But I don't mind, I'll gawk and marvel anyway. But I decided to rectify the issue by adding a photo of her looking beyond gorgeous in this fantastic Peter Soronen number and that stunning necklace she had going with it at the Governor's Ball in February. Haute. This is a First Lady unlike no other. Talk about heating it up at the White House. Barack ti she kona. We now have a bonafide babe in the White House.
More to come. I promise.

M.i. Album Review

I don’t quite know who’s behind this album, nor do I know who M.I is or what his real name is (ok, I think I made it out to be Jude from one of his lyrics), or what his story is (I also made out that his parents are evangelists and he’s from Jos) or what his earlier claim to fame is. But I trust that more will unfold as we get to know him better. I’ll do more homework on that later. But he’s literally outta the blue and he’s a smash hit already. His entrance into the crowding Naija music scene reminds me of when Jill Scott first came out with ‘Who’s Jill Scott’ back in 2000 and I remember being in the HMV store on Walnut Street back in Philly with a group of friends pawing the album all over and were literally like “who “is” Jill Scott? And the rest as they say is history. The ENTIRE M.I. album rocks and is a perfect antidote for a ride through maddening Victoria Island traffic with your air-conditioner straining for relevance through the scorching Lagos heat. Turn up the volume in your car and you will find yourself bobbing your head from side to side with people in the car beside you wondering what the heck you’re so happy about. M.I. really does make it all ok, at least for that moment. I know I refer to traffic a lot in my music reviews, but that really is the best time to listen to music as you’re stuck in it and there’s nothing else to do!

His lyrics are political, serious and playful all at the same time. I will continue to say and advocate if I must, that in new Nigeria, the cup of talent runneth over. M.I. along with some of my other favorite Nigerian artistes continues to attest to this. Grab your copy from your nearest ‘streetpreneur’, that’s if they have any left from the slam-fest that is this album all across Nigeria and beyond.

Favorite tracks on repeat:
13. Money (this I literally have on repeat permanently); 15.Jehovah; 16.Hustle; 4.Short Black Boy; 5.Teaser (this is a brilliantly done track with a unique blend of raspy dancehall and hip hop); 6. Talk About It (this track is a real hoot. Listen to the words carefully.)
Saymama gives 5 ***** (out of 5) stars for great effort.

My Random Asa Encounter

In the midst of a harrowing, stressful and unbelievably hot day, I’m standing at the teller counter at GTBank when Asa walks in to stand beside me. I’m awe-struck, no, star-struck and wanted to say something but didn’t know if I should. In my mind I was like, gosh she’s tiny! Her mien was very calm, totally oblivious to everyone in the banking hall trying their hardest not to gawk at her. You know Nigerians are the best when trying to pretend that they aren’t star-struck nor do they care for celebrity when they REALLY do deep down.

So I finished my business at the bank and left. I got into my car and was about to drive off when I thought to myself, I’m going to stalk her. No, wait for her to come out and I’ll go up to her and say hello and ask her if she wouldn’t mind taking a picture with me. Her BIGGEST FAN! Emi ati Asa nikan sho sho. And as big a fan of hers as I am, I am ashamed to say that I’ve missed her in concert at the few given opportunities that have come my way. So you can understand why I had to capture this moment and couldn’t just let her go scot-free like that.
After about 20 minutes, she eventually came out and camera in hand, I burst out of my car and pretended to calmly walk up to her. I said to her, “Hi Asa. I’ve been waiting for you to come out. How are you?” “I’m good” she says with a smile. Then I asked her if she wouldn’t mind taking a picture with me and she’s like “sure”, in a nice and good natured manner. So I grabbed her companion and took my pictures with Asa live! And voila! I wasn’t looking my glammest as you can see from the picture, but ask me if I care. ‘Fi mi sile’!

Monday, March 02, 2009

..On Fashion and Animal Inspiration

So I’m leafing through the March editions of British/Europe fashion magazines (Elle, Vogue, etc) and I’m irritated. I’m irritated that whenever European runways do a play or interpretation on Africa, especially today’s’ Africa, it is replete with lions and tiger cubs sashaying down the runways alongside the models and all the prints are still of tiger, cheetah, or bloody zebra designs as a recurring theme. Why oh bloody heck why?! No sense of imagination? Dearth of ideas? Why is Africa still belittled, represented and viewed through the interpretation of wild animals? With all that Africa has to offer in its mere vastness, a continent so rich in diversity and beauty, surely there has to be more to Africa than thoughts that evoke fantasies of safaris, animals and jungles? And it’s positioning and accessibility in today’s global arena, it’s just shallow and disappointing.

Note to Alexander McQueen, Roberto Cavalli and John Galliano et al: repeating a decades-long practice of thinking that the use of wild animals and the Masai on prints and runways representing Africa is not sexy anymore. I’m sure one can find reptiles in the swamps of Europe if they swam in it long enough!

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Vlisco Fashion Show Review

(Written Feb 22nd 2009)
Celebs on the d.l. (down-low) in the house: Seffi Atta (in town for her new book tour and signings) and Asa (not sure what she’s in town for – love her to bits, but sister needs to hire a stylist to update her look and add some pep to her game! She looks ‘the same’ all the time. *Yawn*. Still love you for life Asa!
So back to the show! It was great! All Lagos fashionistas and recessionistas were in attendance in their JBL (Jewel By Lisa) and Odio Mimonet bests. There was so much weave and hair action going on in that tent, that if collectively monetized would be enough to save Darfur. From Brazilian to Indian to Egyptian hair..only Lord knows.
Now to the actual show. Other than the fact that it started late, as all fashion shows around the world must do, and that there was a bit of designer ‘mis-naming; drama on the part of the MC for which she was duly scolded for, it was very well done and organized. The MC, though slightly annoying in her repertoire (popular television personality Adesuwa Onyenokwe) and presentation style and commentary, she still made for good eye candy in her gorgeous JBL dress.

Seven up and coming designers showcased their talent using the Vlisco Ankara fabric as a recurring theme and I must say how proud I am of the budding – no, simmering raw talent abound in this country. I happened to be seated beside one of my favorite stylish people, Patrick Koshoni, and we were just talking about what a little bit or semblance of democracy has inspired in everyday young Nigerians finding the courage to nurture their talent and voila (see pictures above). My favorite of the lot was a young designer, still in design school at Nobel Afrique, Chineze Araka, who in my opinion should have won the first prize and not second, showcased some of the most beautiful designs of the evening. I met her after the show, had a quick nice chat, and it was evident to me that she wasn’t fully aware of her capacity and potential to become the next big buzz name in fashion in Nigeria. Hopefully she will and I’ll remind her of this someday down the line.
Then to the rest of the show, JBL showcased her lovely designs with her signature bling embellishments, even though I feel that the designer herself wore the best of all the pieces featured. Probably deliberate on her part. Of all the other main designers featured, I think Lisa’s designs were best positioned for the youthful, flirty, chic, social butterfly woman, who will be noticed and turn heads once she walks into a room. That’s the typical profile of the girl or woman that will wear JBL designs. Odio Mimonet’s designs, though she was the most seasoned and mature of the lot and been around the longest, were quite new to me. She’s one designer whose style I’ve never really placed, nor patronized, but I knew that she did have her following. Her designs tonight were the most polished , practical and wearable of them all; with a relational theme flowing through her entire showcase. They were beautiful and one could tell that she put a lot of thought into every piece. In a sense, each of her designs could be a wardrobe builder and essential for the same woman. From a play on a professional skirt suit to a dinner dress to a Sunday brunch outfit. Her display was in my opinion, the best.

Lanre DaSilva’s designs were very simply avant garde in every sense of the word and true to the designer’s style and signature. Her designs could easily have competed with the John Galliano’s of the world, in the sense that her designs have authentic runway and dramatic couture appeal with a style that’s almost difficult to interpret into everyday wear for the average woman. But I think that’s the point. LDA’s designs aren’t for the average woman. They are for the bold authentically-minded woman who is not afraid to be her most outrageous self. One you can’t help but admire as I’ve always done of this particular designer. Literally cut out of a page in Vogue where she really belongs. Her designs tonight though reminded me of an inspiration from Japanese geishas.
Tiffany Amber’s designs tonight were the least original. The showcase overall lacked authenticity and seemed to be suffering a bit of an identity crisis. There was a mix of bling embellishment, a tad of avant garde, though a sliver of the real Tiffany Amber shone through with one of the last pieces which had a mix of lycra with the Ankara.
Overall, great show and I think the beginnings of a LAGOS Fashion week tradition in a small form, may have been born today. Hopefully the industry will develop further with designers supporting each other more, embracing their niches while forming a coalition to make this a formidable reality. One to be reckoned with alongside the other fashion capitals of the world.

And as a total aside, I really must covet the new Nikon D90 that I’ve been salivating over since last year. It would really have been extremely handy on an occasion such as this to capture the multiple runway shots at lightning speed. I really missed not having one tonight :-(.

Saymama Back in the '09

I've been in the '09 sorting self and doing a lot of offline writing. Forgive me for depriving. Lots of posts coming on so please come back for regularly for a fill. Lots to follow.

Am I going to try to blog more regularly this year. Yes. Am I believeable? That just remains to be seen.

Cheers to bigger and better and in light of the new Obama era, I bet there is more change to come as the world continuees to turn in the '09. And plenty change coming to Saymama so stay tuned!


Friday, December 05, 2008

More Literary Happenings in Lagos Dec '08

Another event worth checking out (Sunday 13th December 2008) if you happen to be in the Lagos Metropolis area this December as presented by Farafina...

Toni Kan - Booking Reading and Signing Event..

If you happen to be in Abuja around this time, check out acclaimed Nigerian author at a reading for his new book - Nights of the Creaking Bed - at the lovely Salamander Cafe (I have a belated review of the place that I must post) on Tues, 9th December 2008 @ 5pm.

Also, check out Cassava Republic for more details on this author and his works. Attend and support the revival of the Nigerian literary scene and authors worth watching.

The Antipathy of Love..

What do you do when love leaves?
When love stops talking to you, it stops seeing who you really are, it stops looking into your eyes,
When love stops loving you?
What do you do while watching love fade, watching it lose its lustre, its shine,
When it starts to lose its meaning?
What do you do when your heart stops skipping and fluttering and that, leaving an empty hollow sound...faint..
What do you do when loves walks past you and doesn't even stop to look at you anymore?
What do you do when love is dead.

This thing called love, so pure, yet so hard to keep, so strong, yet so frail, ..
The love that once was, just sits here, in the quiet, gazing with a blank stare,
wondering and waiting..
directionless, floating....
Gentle, now gone.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An African View on the Sarah Palin Video

As featured on on Nov.3rd. Check out full article and commentary here.

An African View of the Palin Video
I just again watched the video clip of Sarah Palin being prayed for by the Kenyan preacher, Pastor Muthee, and for the sake of this article, paid special attention to what he said and his prayer points for her. I heard the following: prayer for favor; prayer for finances; righteousness; the breaking of yokes, prayer against hindrances of the enemy; and finally, the binding or rebuking of all forms of 'witchcraft' - words that have since sent America in a tail spin, wondering how Jesus and witchcraft can be mentioned or prayed for within the same sentence. I would like to try to explicate this from a couple of different perspectives.

First from an African perspective - Pentecostalism in Africa is quite mainstream. In the African tradition, even dating back to pre-colonial times, the average African s have always worn their spirituality on their person and have always been very closely linked to their spirituality, whether traditional, Christian or Islamic spirituality. It's never been hidden or considered something to be ashamed of. It is also not unusual in Africa to find a politician being closely affiliated to a religious leader, or to find him or her attending the service of a particular church on a regular basis, or being prayed for in a manner almost identical to that of this YouTube clip. Even if the politician is of a different religious affiliation such as Islam, it is not uncommon to find him calling on a Christian Pentecostal leader for prayer or guidance on a particular issue. Spirituality, on a very ordinary level, is a close part of the everyday African life.
Now, people in America see this clip of Sarah Palin and freak out and the incident literally becomes sensationalized in the media. But, you see in Africa, this is "normal". But Evangelicalism/Pentecostalism in the U.S. is not mainstream and many people here still consider them as something practiced by fringe elements. The interesting irony here also, is that as closely linked as America is to religion, for most intents and purposes, most Americans are still agnostic.

As seen from the clip, the notion of casting and binding evil spirits or rebuking every form of "witchcraft'' is very much in line with the principals of karma and the clearing or removal of negative spirits, negative forces or energy working against a person's ability to do or achieve good. It is not a literal reference to witches with wobbly pointed hats flying around on broomsticks waving a wand that turns a rabbit into a pigeon. Nor is it a direct reference implying that Sarah Palin or anybody else in such a congregation believes in witches and wizards per se.
Jesus himself can be found in the Bible casting out demons (see Mark 5:1-20).The clearing out of negative energy or spirits in a person to make room for good or better to take place is very much in line with the principles shared by ninety percent of many other religions. For example, Buddhist chanting as a form of prayer is an act of clearing away negativity around such a person in order to be able to receive good things or positive energy, is akin to a Christian prayer that says "to bind every negative hindrance working against you in Jesus Name". In the same vein, the principle of Jesus going up to a mountain to fast and pray (going without food or water) for 40 days to commune with God is very similar to Buddhist monks that shaved their heads, climbing to the top of a mountain to purify themselves by purging all negativity in order to enhance their ability to tune into the spiritual in an intense and as pure a manner as possible. The act of purging oneself of negativity has the same idea behind it, whether it is to affiliate it with God, if that is what is believed in, or to affiliate it to some other spiritual being or notion.

In Nigeria for example, the religious convictions of revered Christian (Pentecostal/Evangelical) leaders such as Pastor E.A. Adeboye of Redeemed Christian Church of God or Dr. D.K. Olukoya of MFM Ministries are not perceived as threatening by the general public because they generally stay within the confines of "religion" and do not try to spread their influences and beliefs into the political sphere. They have tended to keep their political views abstract and general -asking the government to help the people that they are governing or that the wealth of the land should be used for all people and not just a select few - thereby offending as few people as possible. But in the U.S., some people, Sarah Palin included, have political views that could be found detrimental to people in general. When one now associates all these different forms of intolerance with the practice of evangelicalism or Pentecostalism, then it now becomes understandable that Americans in general have a negative view of it or are troubled by it when they really shouldn't be. The spheres of extreme right wing politics and evangelicalism have co-mingled in such a way that one has now tainted the other when it shouldn't be that way.

I am a Nigerian-American, have grown up, lived and worked in both countries, and also a Christian of Pentecostal leanings. As a result I have the unique ability to be able to look at both sides of a coin and understand the sometimes-opposing standpoints. But that does not mean that

I believe in the political convictions of some American evangelicals that blatantly advocate for the assassination of America's perceived enemies, or the taking away of a woman's right to choose nor do I believe in aerial hunting, to mention a few.

As is popularly said in Nigerian Pentecostal churches, salvation is personal, not the law of the land.

Saymama's Best in City Series - Lagos v.1

Hi folks! I know, I know...
So! I’ve put together what will become one of many series based on my personal reviews and recommendations of certain things or places. This is my Lagos series highlighting where to find the best of certain things. These are my favorite things in Lagos that I can’t live without.

Best Cappuccinos in LagosCandies on Kofo Abayomi in Victoria Island; Orchid on Isaac John in GRA Ikeja

Best Croissants in LagosLa Saison - off Awolowo Road in Ikoyi (Tosan Cakes’ café); Chocolat Royale - Etim Inyang in Victoria Island

Best Breakfast in Lagos – (rankings 1-4 with 1 being the highest) Orchid on Isaac John in GRA Ikeja; 2. Candies - Kofo Abayomi in VI; 3.Chocolat Royale on Etim Inyang in VI; 4. Robert’s Café -Akin Olugbade Street, VI

Best Bread in Lagos – Hands down! And the award goes to Oasis Supermarket -Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way, Ikeja; 2. Agoyin Bread from the clay ovens of central Lagos -off Igbosere Street; 3. Chocolat Royale in VI

Best Ofada Rice Lunch in Lagos - And the award goes to Terra Kulture - Tiamiyu Savage Street, Off Bar Beach Road, Victoria Island. Check out their newly updated website above. This is an arts centre that comes with a restaurant, art gallery, book store, to name a few. The rustic ethnic theme of the restaurant sets a somewhat cosmopolitan tone for the authentic nigerian cuisine on the menu. When in the mood for a lunch of very good Ofada rice in particular, this is the place to go as they have managed to maintain a consistency in the quality of this item on the menu. This is a great place for lunch with the girls or business meeting and get this -they actually have reliable WiFi! - in the event that you want to lunch and cyberwork on your lappie by yourself. Ofada and the internet go very well together.

Best Bookstore - Quintessence - Falomo Shopping Centre, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi - This is a unique Oasis that meshes art, books of African and Nigerian origin, magazines, ethnic nick-nacks, music with mellow but rich ambience that makes you forget the bustling madness that is Lagos. This is a favorite haven of mine. Don't be surprised if you go in there just to look around and you end up spending all the money in your purse or pockets. Perfect place for unique book or gift items too for friends local and abroad. Trully worth it.

Best Unique Shopping Experience in Lagos -(if you just wanna get that dress and go and possibly wear the same day or night ‘prêt a porter’)- Tiffany Amber -Palms Mall, Victoria Island(I must say though, that for that unexpected pleasant surprise in an outfit is what one gets on the off chance that you find yourself in a Tiffany Amber store. It beats me though as to why the company still does not have a website, even after 10 years in business! Even if its just for general information with a nice picture of an outfit on the main page. It's almost 2009 people!); Tae in GRA Ikeja; Jewel By Lisa - Ikoyi

Best (favorite) Cafes in LagosOrchid Bistro (can the real Dr. Robert please stand up!)in GRA Ikeja; Chocolat Royal (best and most courteous service); Candies on Kofo Abayomi (best salads and sandwiches in town; the waiters are a bit grumpy, but once you smile they soften up and smile back – usually. Also, it has a decent window view if you want to look out on to bustling Victoria Island will you eat or sip.

Best Chin chin in Lagos – The mama with the big boobies and extended derrière on the corner of Moloney Street in Central Lagos. They have the franchise of the very best chin chin this side of the equator on lock.

Best Plantain chips in LagosLaide’s on Adeyemo Alakija Street, across from Citibank’s old offices (Commerce House), under a big faded Celtel umbrella. She’s got attitude though, so watch out. When your car is slowly moving in traffic as you approach her, she’s quick to tell you, “I can’t run o, I’m not a young girl”. Nor does she deliver (which is quite narrow-minded for a small/micro entrepreneur in Lagos, given the fact that these days, “everybody” delivers for the right price; even the guy selling telephone credit will be happy to deliver to your house if you so choose, since everybody has a mobile phone these days! But you can call her to place large orders and pick up yourself. BUT, her chips are THE BEST. Take my word for it.

Best Cosmopolitan in townOrchid Bistro in GRA. To my utter surprise, I finally found a place in Lagos where cosmos are made the way the gods initially intended and designed, and served in the martini glass that it deserves to be in. At other bars and spots, whom I shall have mercy upon and not mention, if you order for a cocktail drink, especially for something as simple as a cosmo or a spin of martini origin, it will come in a fugly drinking glass (big and unwelcoming), chock full of nastily shaped –looking ice cubes, all watery and nasty* with a big ol’ oversized straw crassly sticking out of the glass. SMH. So if you are ever thirsty for a real cosmo in Lagos, drive down (or up) to Orchid’s Bistro. They have it all figured out.

Stay tuned for new updates in theses series!


Saymama :-)