May 31, 2007

The Nigerian Proclamation

For those who have been consistent on my blog, you'll notice that one major thing I stand for is the hope for a Nigeria with better living conditions, a better economy and very importantly a better international image. A few days before the presidential handover, Solomon Sydelle, a Nigerian blogger resident in Maryland USA thought of a great idea. What if Nigerian bloggers all over the world would make an effort to change the status quo by blogging what he called "The Nigerian Proclamation"? I didn't get to hear about this before the handover date (thanks to these bloggers who refused to inform me - Ugo, Babs, Omodudu, CalabarGal, Mimi, etc - I get beef with all of una!) and actually saw it on the BBC website. I was pleasantly surprised, and I pray and believe there really will be a change. Without further ado, I say that "I support The Nigerian Proclamation!". Read it below.





You can read more on Solomon's blog (here), and please brace yourself ... because a change is coming. A change for the better, and it shall come sooner than you expect.
God bless Nigeria.

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May 27, 2007

The Grand Finale. How Timi Won!

It was the day many West Africans had been waiting for. The Grand Finale of Idols West Africa was taking place. Maryland, Lagos was a beehive of activities as fans and supporters trooped into Planet One as early as 3:30 pm. Guests were let in at about 5:30 pm and took their seats (and their stands). While the presenters were doing the final sound checks just before the show, all the previous performances of Timi and Omawumi were played back. It began with the playback of Timi's "Stuck on you" performance drawing instant applause from the audience. Omawumi's "Ekwe" and "I will survive" also drew cheers from the crowd. Both good and bad performances were played and the mood was set. The show finally began with an official asking everyone to switch off their phones and turn off the flashlights from their cameras as it would interfere with the recording equipment (That's why the pictures were not clear o! I couldn't use flash, please forgive).

The show was kicked off by Basket Mouth - a popular Nigerian Stand up comedian. He made the place burst into life with his jokes and picky "Yabs". Next to get on stage was the host of the show Mike Majic. For all those who don't like Mike's presentation style, I'll tell you he really is doing a good job. Everything he says is read from a screen displayed to him. He has to read everything and still make it sound natural, and I must say he did a good job. He intimated us on what awaited us during the performances of the night and got us all expectant.

The first event of the night was a group song by six of the top 10. Omodele, Joan, Uche, Mercy, Jerrilyn and Temitayo gave a wonderful group performance with each taking individual solos in the song. It was a great performance. Never before had viewers seen a group song in the Idols West Africa competition, and they were not disappointed.

Mike then announced that each of the Top 2 would be doing 3 songs each. There was a recap of each contestant's journey through Idols. We all laughed when we saw their first pictures at the audition. They looked so innocent compared the their present states - especially Omawumi. Timi was first on stage with a remake of his "How am I supposed to live without you" performance. As usual he delivered excellently, capturing hearts with his stage presence and the applause was great. Omawumi was next with a remake of her "I will survive" performance. Exhibiting her unique strength and vigor, she made her fans wild. Up next again was Timi with his "Stuck on you" performance and like before, he blew the minds of the audience. Omawumi then came up with a rendition of her "Ekwe" performance to end the first segment of the show.

Up next was a very spectacular segment. Each of the two would be doing self-composed songs. Timi was first with a song he wrote titled "I love you". He delivered it with the great style that only Timi knew how. The lyrics and structure of the song were great. It was a very melodious mid tempo song and the audience easily learnt the words well enough to join in the chorus. Soon, everyone was singing together. Omawumi was next. Dressed in a see through black attire and thigh length black stockings to match, she immediately drove her (male) fans crazy. She sang her self-composed song "You got me", an old school style with an old school beat that reminded one of the early 90s.

Up next was another surprise. Singing Rod Stewart's "You are everything" were Uche and Jodie in a duet. In Jodie's words, this was a dream come true because Uche was her choice amongst the top 10 to perform a duet with. The hall was alive with cheers for Jodie and Uche. Jodie's fans especially went crazy with excitement at this chance to see her perform one more time on the Idols West Africa stage. Their performance was a good highlight of the night's events, partly because everyone had been expecting this duet when they were both absent from the group song, and also because Uche is the favorite evicted male contestant while Jodie is the favorite evicted female contestant. The cheers were great and people screamed, talk about "Medicine after death", it was too late.

Finally, the great moment had come. The results were about to be announced. Timi and Omawumi came on stage for the final time. First, they got some words of advice from the judges after which the results were brought to the stage. Dede quoted Guest Judge Reggie Rockstone as saying, "I wish Omawumi will win, but if she doesn't win, I will adopt her". At this time, there was pin drop silence. Mike Majic didn't help matters as he created what he knew best how to. Tension! I could swear that if someone had a gun in that hall, they would have gladly threatened Mike with it so he could speed up the announcement. Finally, the golden words, "The winner of the Idols West Africa Title is ... [pause] ... [pause] ... Timi! There was a great uproar in the hall. People screamed, jumped up and down, embraced each other in emotional bursts, shed tears and there was insanity in the hall for a few minutes. Linda (my blogger friend whom I met at the show) jumped up and down like a mad woman (her own words) and Foluso Aloko (my friend who help me get the entry ticket) lost her voice totally from screaming so much. Timi himself was overwhelmed. He jumped, laughed, danced, cried, knelt, screamed while the soundtrack to his self-composed song "I love you" was played. It was a wonderful period as all the other contestants in the top 10 came on stage to cheer him, and there were cheers, and laughing, and crying, and hugging ... and the show ended on that note.

After the show, the judges and the guest judge Reggie Rockstone were bombarded with autograph requests. I never knew Nigerians were that crazy about autographs. People were quarreling and almost snatching autographs from one another. The judges' table was so tightly surrounded that Dan, Nana and Dede were barely visible and security operatives had to barge in and restore some order, after which I managed to get some good pictures of the judges.

Timi has really come a long way, and he really deserved to win. Anyone who was at the finale will realise that though Omawumi was very good and quite versatile, she was really no match for Timi in terms of stage presence and connection with people's minds ... and these are the major qualities which make a platinum record sale. I'm happy my votes did not go to waste (you don't want to know how many votes I cast for this guy) and I know Timi will not dissapoint Nigeria and we will be proud of him. And so he went home with the grand prize of a recording contract from Sony/BMG Africa International, a Kia Picanto from Nigeria’s Dana Group, $10000 cash from Ecobank, and an ultimate viewing experience of a 26-inch LCD TV and an I-Pod from the show’s headline sponsor Celtel. And so ended a journey which has been ongoing for about 4 months. A journey which saw great and little singers drop by the way side. People say this has really changed the music industry and no "yeye" artist will dare to release "any kind yeye" song again. Personally, I await Timi's CD and I know I won't be disappointed.

More Pictures

Mike Majic

The Judges

Guest Judge Reggie Rockstone (far left) and VIPs

The Duet - Uche and Jodie

The group performance: L-R, Omodele, Eric, Jerrilyn, Temitayo, Joan and Mercy.

The Duet - Uche and Jodie

Omawumi - Ekwe

Omawumi - You got me

Timi - How am I supposed to live without you

Timi and Omawumi exchange final words before the results

Under Tension !!!

The top 10 cheer Timi

After the Show

Me and Mike Majic

Me and Friends (From Right: Foluso Aloko, Tayo, Kenny, Yomi and Me)

Me and Linda Ikeji

Dan Foster

Nana Abrewa

Dede Mabiaku

The Production Crew

The Planet One Stage - Where it all started and ended!

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May 26, 2007

Idols West Africa Winner!

Idols West Africa Grand Finale took place this evening at Planet One, Maryland, Lagos. Yours truly was there to cover the event and I have enough pictures and exhibits to make a truly remarkable article. Trust me, the grand finale beat every previous spectacular. A group song, a duet and self composed songs are just some of the attractions of the event. The show ended with Mike Majic saying, "The winner of the first West African Idol title is ... (pause) ... (pause) ... Timi!!!"

So there you have it, Timi Dakolo is the first West African Idol! I'll post full details of the show tomorrow. I just had to broadcast the good news! So watch out for the full details of the show live on by 12:00 Central African Time tomorrow.

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May 23, 2007

Idols West Africa - Temitayo Takes a Bow

So close to the Idols West Africa finals you could feel the tension, the top 3 stood with blank expressions as they awaited their fate on the stage of Planet One during the eviction session. Mike Majic did not help matters as he decided to announce the results backwards giving an impression of Timi's eviction while Temitayo and Omawumi appeared safe. All around West Africa, viewers held their breaths and fans' hearts stopped briefly as the final verdict was awaited. Alas, Timi was safe and Mike Majic brought Temitayo and Omawumi back on stage. In the end, Temitayo was declared to have had the least votes and was evicted, leaving Timi and Omawumi to contest for the West African Idol Title.

Temitayo George has indeed come a long way. The last Lagosian left in the competition, the pretty 25 year old has had many things working for her in the competition. She's pretty, moves her body well on stage, exhibits confidence, has an excellent diction and a large fan base that comes with being the daughter of the owner of a famous orphanage. The only thing that worked against her was her voice. She didn't handle high notes too well, and her dynamics were far from smooth. There was no real spark or "goose bump" moments in her performances, save for her confidence and style. Her last words on stage were "I believe God’s will for me was to reach the third place and this is just the beginning of great things to come. You’ll see me again very soon, performing with all my heart and soul just for you". We hope she'll train that voice of hers, and bounce back stronger.

This week was spectacular indeed. With just 3 people singing, there was less to look out for and more to see. There was less to listen to and more to hear. It was the most crucial of the spectaculars so far, and you could see anxiety on the contestants faces as they tried their best to impress while staying within safe limits. Overall, the performances were not as good as previous weeks.

Timi opened the floor with Lemar's "If there's any justice". Dressed like a journey man, he delivered the way only Timi could. From the first note, he created magic in the audience, with his facial expressions matching the message of the song. It was a good performance, although he got into a little strain on the high notes. For me, this was the best performance of the night. His second song was Brian Adams' "Everything I do". The starting key was a little too high, but this did not deter him and he impressed both Judges and fans, receiving favorable responses from both. He almost missed the cue for the last chorus, but it was barely noticeable and he quickly corrected himself.

Temitayo started her her performances with "I'll be there" from Mariah Carey. Although her performance was OK, she wasn't really up to the set standard. Her high notes were not smooth and were quite squeaky. She might have done better if she had stayed more within range. Her second rendition was of Diana Ross' "He lives in you". Delivering with an airy voice, it was quite a good performance. She did better with the highs and lows although it was nothing near the original. She introduced a little bridge towards the end which she did with some free style. This performance was OK but relative to the other contestants was just average.

For Omawumi, I'm convinced that she can mimic any singer she wants and usually succeeds in sounding like them. Sometimes it works for her (e.g. Natasha's "I bruise easily") and sometimes it doesn't (e.g. Mary J's "Can't live without you). This week, she surprised listeners and proved her versality in her song choices. Her first song was a Bob Marley song - "I don't want to wait in vain". It was not too spectacular, until she introduced the freestyle rap and got the audience wild. For her second song she chose "Ain't no other man" by Christina Aguilera. She achieved the "Christina" sound but due to the nature of the song, she got breathless and her voice became less and less audible as the performance progressed. She still managed to end it all gracefully.

These performances were their last chances at impression due to a change in the voting pattern. The voting lines were opened from Monday and will remain so until Saturday. Thus, voting ends before the grand finale on Sunday and as such the final performances won't count. You are advised to vote now either on the Idols West Africa website (here) or by text to your country code. Please make sure you vote as this is your last chance to decide who gets to be the first West African Idol. The grand prize is a recording contract from Sony/BMG Africa International, a Kia Picanto from Nigeria’s Dana Group, $10000 cash from Ecobank, and an ultimate viewing experience of a 26-inch LCD TV and an I-Pod from the show’s headline sponsor Celtel. I believe there'll be consolation prizes for other contestants but this has not been announced.

It's no coincidence that the final two both came from Group 1 in the Top 24. Group 1 had great voices in persons of Ibitoru, Lara George, Ekanem and Uche who made it into the top 10 but was dropped along the way, and I knew the West African Idol would come from this group. So who gets the crown? The passionate and show-stopping Timi Dakolo or the versatile and energetic Omawumi Magbele? It's your choice. Don't wait, Vote Now!

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May 22, 2007

Begging - The Lucrative Profession

A profession seems to have recently gained a lot of prevalence in Lagos. It's not Engineering or Law, neither is it Banking or Medicine. It's called begging! Yes, you heard right, Begging ... and it seems to be a very noble and lucrative profession indeed. Gone are the days when beggars were just the group of people who approach your car at traffic lights singing your praises and raining curses on your enemies. Today, there seems to be a new breed of professional beggars who have graduated from the streets. These people dress well in good clothes, speak good English and look like the average respectable Nigerian. Some of them even have cars. They carefully select prospective "Clients", approach them and tell some sad and moving story which are so cleverly cooked up it's difficult to tell if they're true or not. I've had several encounters with these professionals, and they have all put my mind in a state of ponder. I'll capture a few below.

I was at the car park of The Palms Shopping Mall where I had gone to shop for a few things. As I started my car and was about to drive off, I heard a knock on my window. I looked out and saw a young man presumably in his early 30s dressed in a good looking native attire. My first impression was that he recognized me from somewhere and wanted to rekindle our acquaintance. I let down my windshield and the conversation went thus -
Man: Good afternoon, I'm sorry to bother you.
Me: [Now thinking he had a car problem and needed to borrow a tool] No problem
Man: I can see you are a corporate guy. I'm also a corporate guy. I work for so and so bank. [A new generation bank]
Me: Ok?
Man: I'm sorry to bother you, actually I have a daughter in the hospital ... [he then proceeded to tell me a very touching story] ... please I need your help. Nothing is too small.
Now I was not in the best of moods. I had come all the way from Ikeja to Lekki without getting what I came for and I was running late for work. So I just discarded of him as gently as I could. I wondered if he really worked for the bank he mentioned, if he did he should have lots of colleagues and friends who could help him out in his financial situation. He wouldn't need to beg from an unknown stranger. He was obviously telling lies - an essential skill in the begging profession.

The next incident happened within an estate where I had gone to see a friend. While driving by, I saw a middle aged lady standing by a car waving at me. I could see her car was empty and it looked like she was having car trouble. The time was about 6:30 pm. The conversation went thus.
Lady: Good evening sir
Me: Good evening. How can I help you?
Lady: I've run out of fuel. [I was now thinking she needed an empty gallon or a lift to the filling station - how wrong i was!]
Lady: Please can you help me with fuel money? Any amount will do.
Me: [now suspicious] Do you have an empty Keg?
Lady: Someone collected it and went to help me look for fuel and the person has not come back.
Me: Is he someone you know?
Lady: No
Me: Ah, maybe he has run away with your money?
Lady: No I didn't give him money
At this point, I was like why on earth would you give a stranger your keg and send him to look for fuel without giving him money? It was obvious she was lying. Some minutes later when I drove past the same road, both Car and Woman had disappeared. Where she got fuel to move the car, I don't know. I'm also curious to about how much she made during that brief period.

Another incident happened in front of a fast foods outlet. I had just got into my car when a bespectacled and respectable looking middle aged man approached me. He had earlier been standing by a post casually reading a newspaper and looked like he was waiting for someone. The conversation went thus -
Man: Sorry to disturb you. I lecture at so and so university. (a popular university). My wife is in the hospital. I need money to ... [ and the usual yada yada ].
I didn't even bother replying. I just drove off. Since that day I've seen the same man a couple of times at the same post still holding a newspaper and pretending to be waiting for someone. It's obviously a favorite pastime of his.

The next incident occured at a filling station where I had just joined the fuel queue. A man came to my windscreen.
Man: Oga, do you want to fill up your tank or just buy a fixed amount?
Me: (thinking he was an official of the station) I want to fill up.
Man: (switching to Yoruba). E de jo e help me pelu owo die ki emi na ra epo die. (please spare me some money so I can buy some fuel)
I was like what? Who on earth is this guy? When I didn't reply him, he went to the next car and tried the same gimmick. He got no favorable replies, so he just walked away. I watched him. He didn't walk towards any car. I don't think he was at the station to buy fuel. He was just engaging in his part-time profession. Begging.

The last incident I'll mention happened a few days ago. I was leaving church with some of my friends when a young man came to meet me.
Man: Please I'm going to Sango Otta. (we were in Ilupeju which was very far from Sango-Otta) Please help me.
Me: I'm not going towards Sango Otta. I'm going to Ikeja.
Man: Please can you help me with money for transport?
I was like damn! where do you all get your stories from? My friend started laughing and said "They usually are going to Sango Otta and they usually don't have transport money". Apparently, he had been approached by a couple of people peddling the same story.

All these events have really set me thinking. I could talk on about those who parade places like Mr Biggs and Sweet Sensation, sit at your table pretending to be customers and suddenly start asking you for money. I could go on and on recounting experiences with people who sit beside you in buses and beg you for money. Some of these people might really be in a fix, but a good number are just liars looking for a way to swindle you out of your hard earned money. This reminds me of a comment made by a friend, "It does not matter if they look good and speak well or if they are just normal beggars on the street. They beg because they have a need they are trying to fulfill" But then, what really is a need? I mean we all need money, don't we? But we don't go out to the streets to beg for it, do we? So what really drives these people to begging? Granted, the economy is not favorable. The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. But is that enough reason?

I will appreciate it if you can share your experiences and your views on this issue. It's a fast growing menace getting bigger by the day. Our country is too rich for so many people to stoop so low. May God bless and keep Nigeria. Amen.

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May 19, 2007

Naija Bloggers - The Book

I became active in Naija BlogLand (Blogsville, BloNGville, Blogvilla, Blogosphere, etc) some months back, precisely 20th January 2007. About that time, contrary to my previous assumptions, I discovered that lots and lots of Nigerians were blogging. I found a few blogs, followed a few "Blogs I read" links and discovered an amazing number of Naija blogs, each with it's own unique theme, style and presentation. Nothing however has struck me more than the great talents exhibited by these Naija Bloggers. Many of the articles are world class. Some can make you laugh, some can make you shed tears, some can make you think hard and ponder and some will keep you informed. Laspapi, one of these great Naija Bloggers has embarked on a project to bring some of our blogposts together into a book titled "Naija bloggers Vol 1", which will be "An anthology of the greatest works of Nigerian Bloggers". Click here to visit his site for more info. If you're a Nigerian Blogger, I ask that you be a part of this. I definitely will!
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May 16, 2007

Idols West Africa - Eric Bows Out

Idols West Africa is fast approaching its climax. This week, 4 became 3 as the ladies' toast of the top 10 and the 2nd surviving male contestant Eric Arubayi was voted out. Dubbed "Fine Boy" by fellow contestants, the 24 year old has been reported to have more looks than voice talents. Indeed he has come a long way - outsmarting 2 outstanding male performers in his group within the top 24, and scaling through 6 evictions in the top 10. He has a good voice and the highest pitch for a guy in the top 10, however he never really used his voice to it's full potential. His final words were "I'm happy that I’ve come this far and thankful, very thankful. I believe it’s not over, it’s just the beginning.Thank you to Africa, thank you to Warri. And to the contestants, keep the dream alive, okay? And thank you Majic." I agree that it's not over for him, and I hope he keeps and actualizes his dream.

This week, Eric was the second performer of the night with Westlife's "Uptown Girl". He came on stage dressed the part and started off with some confidence. He also threw in some performance extras which included some Mic Stand swaying stunts. If only he had let go of his voice, his performance would have been excellent. Overall, he was just a little above average. His second performance was slightly better. Singing Boys II Men's "I'll make love to you", he started off well and did a couple of nice improvisations with the melody. It was the right kind of song for his voice, but he didn't really hit home. His usual modulation extra did not work too well for him this time and he went a bit off balance just before and after modulating. However, he made it up by exhibiting a dynamic voice range when he briefly broke into an ultra-high soprano pitch drawing applause from the audience. It was an OK performance, but not OK enough to keep him in. His hours were numbered and he was voted out.

In previous weeks, the contestants chose their songs. This week however, the songs were chosen by the producers of the contest. The best performances of the night were Timi's and Omawumi's first performances. Omawumi gave a rendition of Natasha Beddingfield's "I Bruise Easily", showing a unique stage creativity as she started off lying down on her back! She slowly came up after the verse and then proceeded to deliver a blend of voice and performance excellence. Looking dashing in a blue attire, she was caught up in the spirit of the song, without compromising her facial expressions. Her performance was excellent, and at the end she drew a standing ovation from the judges and audience. Her second song was Sheryl Crow's "First cut is the deepest". She delivered well, although not as excellent as her first performance. The best part was an oscillation of several notes in one sustained stretch ... which she pulled off quite well. Now that Jodie's gone, it's easy to see Omawumi's talent, and it's obvious she has improved greatly from her first performance.

Temitayo was first on stage this week with Madonna's "Like a prayer". Coincidentally and ironically, Ibitoru Green of Group 1 in the top 24 sang this same song making it the very first song to be sang at the Idols performances. Thus, there already existed a set standard, which Temitayo failed to meet. Her vocal talents fell way short and her stage presence loomed in the shadow of Ibitoru's performance. Her performance was just average and she introduced no extras. Her second performance was "True Colors" by Cindy Lauper. It was obviously not the best song for her voice and a couple of times she found it difficult to keep up with the flow. Towards the end, she attempted a sustained pitch which came out not too well and drove her voice into a strain. She managed to end it all gracefully without any fumbles. Her performance was relatively below average.

Timi was the last on stage during both performances. The producers had apparently studied his song choices and discovered they were all slow ballads and so they gave him two fast songs which were not exactly his style. Notwithstanding, he was outstanding in his first performance - a rendition of "Faith" by George Michael. He was all over the hall dancing and singing and he did a dance interlude right in front of the judges table! This was arguably the best performance of the night, and Timi showed he was not just about slow songs. Needless to say, the crowd was ecstatic at the end of this performance ... and it was this performance that actually saved his skin in the end. His second performance was George Benson's "Give Me The Night". Now, the producers must have been mean to give him such a song. George Benson is an accomplished musician, and he exhibits a skill built up from years of Jazz Guitar soloing. Asking Timi (who probably cannot play a musical instrument) to sing this song was just mean. He failed the test woefully, started off weakly, missed a note here, missed a few lines there and generally did not "get" it, in short this performance was just woeful. I was glad when the performance was over, but Timi apparently was far from glad. He knew he had messed up and he was quite remorseful as he waited for his judgment from the judges.

It seems the Idols performances have taken another turn for surprises. Last week, it was Mike Majic who surprised his long standing girlfriend with a proposal, this week it was Dede's turn to be surprised as the 4 contestants performed a brief quartet to mark his birthday, which took place on the 12th of May. After the performances, the contestants suddenly began singing a "Happy Birthday" song and they each took different lines of the song. The Fela protege, who has earned himself the title of "Judge Dredd" was awestruck and visibly moved by the gesture. He however refused to divulge his age and thanked Mike Majic "on behalf of his generation". The full gist can be found here.

So ended the Top 4 spectacular of the Idols West Africa Competition. If you would like to view the performances, you can download or play them from the website here. The final laps are about to begin. Someone else will go home next week leaving two people to fight for the crown. Now is the time to really vote, as many people will be desperate. I'd like to appeal to you to please watch the performances next week, observe well and vote for the best overall package. You can vote by SMS (instructions here) or on the site (here). Let's all put hands together and produce the first West African Idol. See you all next week.

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May 8, 2007

Idols West Africa - Jerilyn Says Goodbye

The Idols West Africa Top Ten's only Non-Nigerian contestant, Jerrilyn Mulbah is out of the competition. Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, she has successfully evaded eviction several times in a row, unfortunately, this time she did not receive enough votes and had to say goodbye. The 23 year old Liberian singer has come a long way. From the auditions where she won the sympathy of the viewers and judges; through the top 24 to the top 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and finally the top 5 spectacular, she has managed to keep hanging on despite criticisms and receiving the highest number of "Unsafe" declarations.

This week she sang two songs. She was the first performer on stage with "Never too Much" by Mary J Blige, a song which she rendered kind of averagely, going flat a couple of times. Her second performance (Christina Aguilera's "The voice within) was much better than her first and she actually reminded people of her voice qualities. She started impressively, performed a few stunts and hit a few highs. She maintained this feel up till the modulation, after which she went a little flat. She ended with some flat notes although barely noticeable. Her final words were "Eviction is like injection. It hurts for a while and later you'll get better." Jerrilyn has really come a long way, and we hope she'll continue going, and not stop.

This week was different from other weeks. For the first time, each contestant had more than one chance to impress the judges, audience and voters as they each chose and sang two songs. Top performances for me were Timi's second performance, Timi's first performance and Omawumi's second performance - in that order. Timi started out with "Flying without wings" by Westlife. He exhibited the unique voice and style for which he has become known for. A natural performer, he had the crowd cheering and singing along with him early in the first verse, and carried them along through the song. Towards the end however, he had to struggle a little and it seemed the key was a bit high, but it was hardly apparent. His second performance was "How am I supposed to live without you" by Michael Bolton. When he started the first verse, I was actually afraid he wouldn't be able to maintain the pitch when he got to the chorus but I was pleasantly surprised. He pulled it off quite well. He strained a little but hey, even Michael Bolton strains with his songs!

Omawumi closed the first half of the performances with Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You". Initially thinking we were in for a treat with Omawumi taking that song, I was greatly dissapointed and I can say that this is her worst performance so far. She started wrongly, missed a couple of notes and the texture she gave her voice was totally wrong for the song. Also she went flat a few times. In my opinion, she either did not study the song well enough or she tried too much to make it hers. In short, it was woeful. Her second performance was much better. She rendered the old classic "I will survive" by Gloria Gaynor. I was on the edge throughout, really hoping she would pull it through without going off or messing up. The song has a lot of dynamics. However, she did very well and introduced enough stunts to regain the glory she lost in her first performance. I was willing to forget her past blunders after hearing this rendition.

"Fine Boy" Eric was not at his best this week. His first performance was of Seal's "Kiss from a rose". He actually started well and hit Seal's high notes but he did not use his voice well. The song's numerous dynamics and key changes would have come out so well if he had pushed a bit more. In addition, he left too many blank spots within the song, and he didn't hit the best parts with the spirit the song required. I'll rate this performance as slightly above average. His second performance was quite better though. He rendered "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie, a much less demanding song than his first choice. He created some kind of commotion towards the end of his performance when he suddenly jumped into the crowd and danced around before getting back on stage to finish up. However, he still left some blank spots within the song which would have could have been filled in better. Eric needs to start using his voice better if he hopes to remain in the competition.

Temitayo started with "I'm Your Baby Tonight" by Whitney Houston. She actually reminded me of her vocal abilities with this song. However, she was still quite distant from Whitney. She maintained a good pitch throughout the song and did a good job. Towards the end, she struggled a bit with the high notes and almost went flat, and there the song lost it's magic, but then, it's a Whitney Houston song - and nobody can do it like Whitney. Her second performance was Gloria Estefan's "Reach". She started quite well and pulled off some smooth flows. It was quite better than her first performance and she was great up till the modulation after which she struggled a bit and couldn't hit the high notes well enough. Her performance was just OK and had no "Wow" moments. She'll do well to stay within range and not exceed her voice limits.

The "two song" choices seem to have treated the performers quite well. They all did better during their second performances. They also seem to have got relatively better in terms of voice and performance abilities. PMAN's 2nd Vice President, Gloria Ibru, who was a guest judge at the event was impressed with at least one of each performer's songs. Her words to them were "It's Anybody's game right now". She however declined to name a favorite performer.

A remarkable event took place before it was all over. After the five performances, the audience was told to wait for something extra. Everyone wondered what was going on as a young lady was chosen to join Timi and Eric on stage. Suddenly, a message appeared on the screen, "A message from Mike Majic, Malia, Will you Marry Me?" The crowd was ecstatic and Malia (for that's who it was) was awestruck. What else could she say apart from "Yes"? Eric and Jodie then gave a rendition of Tosin Martyns' "Olomi" as Mike presented the engagement ring. Now was that romantic or not? The rest of the story is available here.

The Idols West Africa competition is getting tougher and hotter. If you missed out on the performances, the clips are available for streaming and downloading on the Idols West Africa website [here]. Also the week 7 performances which were previously unavailable on the website are now available. View them here. Now we are down to 4! The competition gets tougher. My fingers are crossed as we get closer to the end. Who goes home with the crown? Only you can decide!
NB: I received a very nice and encouraging mail from Dinah & Mary from SA. Thanks a lot for your message of encouragement. I tried replying but the mail bounced. Hope to see you around.

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May 5, 2007

Acceptance Speech of the President Elect

I received an e-mail on the above subject from a friend a few days ago and I've been bursting with laughter ever since. Before you read, please note that this is just a joke and that no such speech took place anywhere. Make nobody sue me o! I wonder who thought this up, and what he was thinking in his mind. Some people no get job ... he tried sha. Read on...

Sank you, sank you, my pellow Naijurians por ze goodwill messages.

I want to sank you por not boting por me as fresident of ze Pederal Refublic of Naijuria. But I received ze most imfortant botes prom Fresident Obasanjo and INEC. Zis is why I have now been declared ze winner of ze elections and ze fresident-elect of ze Pederal Refublic of Naijuria. Nagode to Obasanjo and nagode to INEC, for zia beri beri imfortant suffort.

Ze pirst task of my new gwament is to fray por feace and stability in Naijuria. I will now ask all ze depeated fresidential candidates to join me in a gwament of national unity. So I will bring back my priends like Atiku, General Babangida and Buhari into my new gwament.

I sink Atiku will be good as ze new head of ze EFCC. Fresident Obasanjo should not worry about my gwament frobing him, gaskiya, at least until apter May 29. Babangida will be ze new minister por pinance, and Buhari will be in charge of ze ministry of War Against Indiscifline.

My fipul, ze task bepore us is a great one, walahi talahi. I don't know where to start, but I want to ashuwa you zat I will act in consultation with all ze emirs and imams.

I am now going to Germany por treatment por exhaustion prom making zis sfeech. I shall be back por ze swearing in ceremony, inshallah.

One Nigeria, one Fee-Di-Fee, Fower to ze fipul.

Umaru Yar'Adua


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May 1, 2007

Idols West Africa - Jodie Exits!

The greatest shocker so far awaited viewers of Idols West Africa this week as 23 year old Jodie Odiete received the least votes and thus her exit. Believed by many to be the strongest contender for the West African Idols title, Jodie really had a lot going for her. She had the strongest and most dynamic female voice in the top 10, and she could take her songs to limits others couldn't. From her performance in the top 24 to her very last performance, she has always captivated the audience. She was the first contestant to bring the judges (and the audience) to a standing ovation and she did this during two consecutive performances. (the only other person to do this is Timi). It's safe to say she had no rival in the top 10 in terms of voice quality and dynamism and it's really sad that she has to go.

This week, she performed Angelique Kidjo's song "Adouma", a typical Angelique Kidjo upbeat song. Her performance was great from beginning to end. She threw in a couple of extras which included some sustained high and low pitches, an interlude during which she performed some vibrant dancing and a short call and response session. She was able to combine both dancing and singing without compromising one for the other. Her performance was "Wow" and her vocals were great. Unfortunately, the ecstatic crowd apparently couldn't make their votes count and Jodie had to go. Her words when she heard the result of the votes were "It's over now, it's over now, I feel like I can make it, the storm is over now" which she delivered through Kirk Franklin's song "It's over now". I know it's not over for her, and I know with all certainty, we shall be hearing more from her very soon.

This week, the performers had to sing around the theme "Home grown African tracks". Top performances for me were Jodie and Omawumi. Omawumi performed Onyeka Onwenu's "Ekwe". She came on stage dressed the part of a native Igbo maid and started off her performance with some Igbo greetings. The energy of her performance matched the feel of the song and it was little wonder the crowd was screaming when she ended. Unlike previous weeks, she made good connection with the audience. However, she went off key a couple of times and her only savior was her good come-back abilities. She needs to really work on her key change imperfections.

I was not too impressed by Timi and Eric's performances this week. Timi sang "Oruka" by Sunny Nneji and he started off well, but apparently not used to Yoruba songs, he got some pronunciations wrong and messed up totally by going off beat. He was able to recover after some time and managed to end well. This he did by stylishly introducing his own lines towards the end of the song and thereafter synchronizing with the soundtrack. Eric who performed "Olomi" by Tosin Martyns did an average job with the song. There was not much strength and vigour in his performance. In addition, he did not connect with the audience the way the song demanded. However, he pulled his usual stunt of modulating before the final chorus and this geared up his performance a little.

Temitayo performed "Agolo" by Angelique Kidjo and she came in elegantly dressed sporting an "African" hairstyle. Her performance was OK but she focused too much on dancing and shaking and didn't use her voice to it's full potential. She exhibited a good attitude and put some energy into her dance steps, which was good for the song. Overall delivery was average. Jerilyn also performed an Angelique Kidjo song - "Wombolombo" which she delivered in an average kind of way. Her confidence level was way below average, and she didn't put enough energy into the song. She didn't use her voice well, she's capable of doing better. There were no tricks, no dynamics, she sang like she was waiting for the song to end.

There was a guest in the house in person of Asa, a Nigerian singing sensation who recently won the award for "Best New Artist" at the RFI France and Hip-Hop World Awards. She had this to say about the competition "I never knew we had people who could be packaged internationally, it’s been wonderful, they have been very original." Her favorite performer in the top 6 was Jodie whom she described as being wonderful.

I appeal to West Africans to use the power of their votes wisely. Remember that whoever wins this competition will be presented to the world as the best we have to offer. Please remember this and vote wisely. In my opinion, Jodie is way better than most of the other contestants, and shouldn't have been out. You can vote online at the Idols West Africa website available here, and in case you missed out on the performances, you can also download the clips or watch online here. Right now we are down from 6 performers to 5. Sunday will be another day.

This post might have been written with some bias. Kindly pardon me, Jodie was my favorite performer! I had to wait a day before writing, so the dissapointment could wear off.

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