Sunday, 3 June 2018

          LIGHT OF MY PEACE          

Light of my Peace refers to the energy - the "light" - that is the life force suffusing the universe, the true Light mentioned in St. John's gospel (John 1:9); the light that is the life of mankind (John 1:5); the prana of the Hindu; the chi of the Chinese; the wheels of light that are the seven chakra - which are vortexes of prana; the ultimate and truly desirable goal of comprehending and then balancing this life force, this Light, these seven chakra, gives rise to great peace in the whole being - the peace that the Lord Jesus left with us as he proclaimed " peace I give unto you..." (John 14:27)

Light of My Peace!

                 MY                        PEACE


Friday, 15 May 2015

- of women and politics in Nigeria

by Celestine Chukwu

It is a hard fact that most Nigerian women of vision balk at the challenge of engaging in politics and vying for elective positions, but would rather devote their considerable energies to business and corporate service.  It is also a crying shame, for since pre-colonial times, the input of women was always a vital factor in governing the geopolitical environment now known as Nigeria.  A female ruler like Zaria’s Queen Amina is famous in antiquity for military leadership; Ile-Ife’s Moremi and Idia of Benin were noted for displaying uncommon statecraft and political guile. 

The colonial experience was a retrogressive phase for women in politics and governance in Nigeria, as women played a much less prominent role in Britain than in Nigeria at the time. Traditional Nigeria society had developed a public role for women that was far in advance of their British counterparts.  Through instituting male–only native authorities and customary laws (formulated by male colonial officials in concert with indigenous male allies) that placed women at a disadvantage in terms of inheritance, marriage and social rights, the colonials effectively shut down what was until then a very progressive system of female participation in the governance of traditional Nigerian societies.  The natural patriarchal structures of these societies, now strengthened by the ‘female zero-tolerance’ mode of colonial authority, ensured that women thenceforth were perpetually on the backburner.  In addition, the shift in emphasis to western education for social mobility meant that girls were further disadvantaged, since families preferred to devote their, often meagre, resources to educating boys, who, unlike the girls, were guaranteed progress within the colonial structure.
The undeniably key role the modern Nigerian woman plays in ensuring the survival of the Nigeria family, especially in the face of tough economic challenges, has made her a particularly resourceful manager and decision-maker.  This combined with the innate feminine instinct for nurturing means our women are particularly responsive by default to our needs as a society and polity, and therefore represent a resource, which if deliberately harnessed could vitally boost the country’s political culture. 
But the obstacles to women flourishing in politics in a developing country like Nigeria are myriad.  Firstly, women are averse to violence.  Unfortunately, wanton political violence and thuggery are major features of politics and elections in Nigeria.  This alone is enough to make any right-thinking woman stay out of Nigerian politics.  She only has to remember the chilling story of Meimuna Joyce Katai, Commissioner for Women Affairs in Nassarawa State, who was murdered in cold blood by political thugs when she attempted to prevent them from seizing ballot boxes at a polling unit during the House of Assembly elections in May 2003.  Moreover, to succeed politically, a woman must canvass funds; and there she will face some cultural resistance, as some sections of the society, especially in Sharia-practicing Northern Nigeria, still find the connotations of a married woman asking other men for money unsavoury.
The modern epoch of women in Nigerian politics can be traced to the rise to prominence at the tail end of the colonial era of women like Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Hajia Gambo Sawaba and Margaret Ekpo.  They became notable elements in the emergent corps of political elite in early post-colonial Nigeria.  The political profile of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, one of the few women to be in the inner caucus of the regional government of Western Nigeria, and mother of Afrobeat originator, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, reached near legendary status as a result of her role during the succession palaver of the Alake of Egbaland in Southwest Nigeria during the 1960s.

The involvement of women in the politics of Nigeria since independence in 1960 has of course been hampered by twenty-nine years of military rule (or misrule - whichever way you may want to look at it!). The unstable polity of intervening years of quasi-democracy did not help in encouraging politically-minded women.  With the restoration of democratic governance in 1999, the irrepressible Nigerian woman has again bopped up like a jack-in-a-box.  A few of them now relieve the scene at the gentlemen clubs of federal and state legislatures and executives, but mere tokenism is still the status quo.  Florence Ita-Giwa and Daisy Danjuma were the female stars of the senate chamber in the early years of return to democratic rule, where they were outnumbered 25 to 1 by men, and in the Federal House of Representatives, former TV journalist, Abike Dabiri held it down for the women.  Significantly though, they, together with the sprinkling of other female federal and state legislators (and appointees in the executive who are women), bear an extra burden, for due to the exigencies of the feminine agenda in the suffocating environment from which they emanate, they must not only represent their constituencies but also every woman everywhere in Nigeria. 

Ever since India’s Indira Gandhi became the world’s first elected female ruler in 1966, there has been a slew of female presidents and prime ministers on every continent except (until 2005) Africa; the Philippines has had two female presidents since the 1980’s.  With the election in November 2005 of Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa finally has her first female leader.  Now, Nigeria, already renowned for being always on the African cutting edge, cannot be too far behind, and you just get the feeling that somewhere somehow, in some distinguished or obscure political caucus, like a pearl patiently being crafted by the sea, there’s a Nigerian female president-in-waiting!
– how world’s greatest taglines, slogans and payoffs were created
                                                                                                            By C. Celestine Chukwu

McDonald’s trills, “I’m loving it.” This ecstatic line was inspired by the big curvy “M” that is the McDonald’s logo. The “I’m” in the tagline resembles the logo’s “M” in pronunciation; so “I’m loving it” could well have read “M loving it.” Get it?
The greatest campaign taglines, claims, slogans, payoffs etc. in the world are produced by working with the brand name. Most creatives in this part of the world have not yet fully caught on to this. One cannot blame them though; the technique’s application is subliminal - its relevance might not be apparent on a SWOT test! Industry experts will vouch however that the most effective communications in marketing works subliminally. Creatives in the UK and America have, whether knowingly or unknowingly, been using the brand name-inspired model for decades in coming up with IMC signatures for products, services and organizations. It has as much to do with the rhythm of the syllables in the brand name – the way they would roll off the tongue and caress the ear – as with the actual letters (the consonants and vowels) in the name. For a tagline to work, one needs to appreciate the rhythm in words the way a poet weighs the rhythm underlying a line of poetry and measures it in iambic metres.
AT&T, the American telecoms colossus, once urged us to “Reach out & touch someone.” Now, this was quite clever. The “and” conjunction neatly divides the slogan into two parts - as it does the brand name. Then, and this is where it gets genius, the letter “t” ends the first part of the slogan and begins the second part, just as it does in the brand name! Amazing.
Electronics giant, Philips’ campaign signs off with the line “Sense and Simplicity.” Beyond the obvious nod to Jane Austen’s all-time classic novel Sense and Sensibility, the word “Simplicity” has the vowel “i” occurring four times, and it is the only vowel there. “Philips” has the same vowel occurring twice, and it is again the only vowel. The sound of that “i” makes the brand name to reverberate in the tagline.
One of the simplest and best examples currently of the above-outlined technique is the LG signature “Life’s Good.” “Life’s Good” directly translates the brand name LG from two initials to two words and conveys a brand promise. The previous LG payoff was “Digitally Yours.” The word “Digitally” has the “L” and “G” sounds embedded in it, so the word simultaneously projects the brand name as well as the brand’s proposition: digital technology. This helps brand recall - whether the audience is aware of the subtle use of language or not. Awareness of such subtlety makes one not overly surprised that leading mobile phone manufacturer Nokia is “Connecting People.” That phrase “Connecting People” simultaneously communicates a brand claim and reflects the brand name, Nokia. In the word “connecting,” the first syllabic sound “con...” is the reverse sound of “Nok...,” which is the first syllabic sound in the brand name. See?
So Skye Bank is “Saying YES to your needs”? The operative word in that claim is “YES.” Notice that the three letters Y-E-S are present in “Skye.” Examples abound on the local scene. The “BA” in UBA probably influenced that brand’s new positioning statement of “Africa’s global bank.” Who doesn’t know that the word “you” conjures the associative “me”? In fact, It is an association so compelling that Indomie, the leader in the instant noodles market, is signing off its current campaign with “Super taste. Super you.”
I will not even mention the obviously routine examples like Globacom’s “Glo. With pride,” i.e. “glow with (Nigerian) pride” or Close Up’s “The closer the better.” There, I’ve already mentioned them, haven’t I? Now, let me redeem myself with one that’s not so obvious – as a matter of fact, it is decidedly abstruse. The IT products company 3M (now Imation) once adopted the tagline “Innovation.” The word had three “n” letters in it. Now, “n” sounds a lot like “m” doesn’t it? “3M or 3N - well what’s it gonna be then?” That’s a little rhyme yours truly composed for the occasion. Neat, eh?
Now, where there is rhythm, rhyme is usually not far away. Consider Haig’s signoff to its premium Scotch whisky public, “Don’t be vague, Ask for Haig.” How about “My goodness, my Guinness”? FedEx used to roll with “Relax, it’s FedEx;” brand associations of promptness and guaranteed safety combine with the syllabic similarities between “FedEx” and “relax” at the heart of that construct.
And now for a personal favourite. KFC’s “finger-licking good” was a coup. It captured the brand promise and incorporated the “K,” “F” and “C” consonant sounds in a catchphrase that already enjoyed universal usage and acceptance. “Hello Moto.” Motorola’s payoff is heavy on the “o” sound - it occurs three times (as it does in the brand name) and the “...lo” reverses the “...ol...” in “Motorola.”
 “The best a man can get” for Gillette razors has the strategically placed “get” mimicking the brand name.  Did you enjoy “Heinz meanz beanz” with your baked beans back in the day?  Not only did they remind us that their business is beans, they made us know that they "mean business!" Perfect composition.
Television channel UPN used to urged Americans to “turn it up.” Note the “up” and “n” in the slogan subtly drawing you back to the brand name. Video games giant, Nintendo challenged us in the late 1990s to “Get N or Get out” – with “N,” of course, standing for “Nintendo.” The premise: if you are not playing with your Nintendo indoors, you had better seek your fun outdoors. The print and television ads were situational reflections of that premise.
Legendary investment bank Merrill Lynch once stated it was “bullish on America.” Note the similar sounding “Lynch” and “...lish” and also the double “l” that appears in both slogan and brand name. This tagline was used at a particularly bullish period in the economic cycle (circa 1990s). Merrill Lynch went bankrupt in 2008 as one of the high profile victims of the global financial meltdown - hard to imagine any American bank using that tagline anytime soon!
Naturally, we have saved the best for last. The masterful “It can only be Heineken” campaign that had the beer as the star in a series of implausible scenarios such as an empty highway in the middle of rush hour was built around the brand name. The three syllables “only be” match the three syllables in “Heineken,” with the first syllable in both ending in the consonant “n.” Notice how “can” sounds so much like “...ken.” Genius!
The purpose of a slogan, tagline, payoff, claim, strap line, strap, end line, signature, signoff - whichever term you wish to use - is to lend an advert or any other form of marketing communication the memorability that guarantees brand recall in the audience. It is not by accident that slogans occur next to the logo in print and audiovisual ads; slogans are like written logos: they are meant to stick! On radio, they are like vocalized logos, an aural pintsized “picture” for the listener to take away.
The author Anthony Foster succinctly described the goal of a slogan as “If you don’t get anything else, get this!” There lies the challenge; in the body of the advert, you had some latitude for expression, but at the payoff, you’re at the moment of truth; it is like a capsule of the entire message. They either get it or they totally don’t. You have very little time and space to communicate the brand’s values in a way that will resound in the consciousness of the audience until they are exposed to the advert or other material again, and on the strength of your slogan, your audience may decide if your message has a takeaway or if it is merely a “leave behind.”

C. Celestine Chukwu is the author of Nigeria’s first ever dictionary of colloquialisms, A Dictionary of Nigerian Pidgin & Slang.

Friday, 22 November 2013


He was a bold man who dared to step where others could not, and he died the way he had lived - in a blaze of controversy and mystery! On the second day of August 1997, the world woke to the news that the originator of the musical genre known as Afrobeat had passed on due to complications arising from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the self-styled Afrobeat king with an image and reputation that was larger than life itself, certainly lived life to the hilt. The man had a style and the manifest definition of that style was Afrobeat music. What is Afrobeat and who is Fela Anikulapo Kuti? Was he merely a corrupting influence on impressionable youth with his public consumption of marijuana or was he indeed a musical purist of the highest order? Could he have been the quasi-messiah who arose to liberate the African mind - long hampered, first by centuries of dehumanizing slavery and then by confusing shackles of colonialism? These questions, and more, we aim to answer in this book as we proceed to comprehensively explore the legacies of this human icon. Furthermore, they are questions that acquire amplified significance when we consider the sociological imperatives that gave rise to Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Fela rose to prominence at a critical era of transition in Africa: the transition from colonialism to political independence. It was a seminal period - perhaps the single most important period in the history of the continent. The emergence of a force like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti at such a juncture can therefore not be wished away as mere coincidence - because it was not! He was a product of the exigencies of his generation, a generation that needed to ask the questions that would be answered for all times. The urgency of that quest is what we can distil from his music. However history may ultimately judge him, one fact will always be patent: Fela Anikulapo-Kuti influenced and fathered a whole new breed of African musicians and he was at the forefront of pan-African thought in his time. It is no longer news that he was a musical prodigy in a class of his own. Indeed, he created the class that he alone would occupy throughout his lifetime. As an explorer of rhythmic themes, he created a musical textures that would be copied by thousands of musicians around Africa. He was a master of the musical game. Not for him the terse commercialism, he was always quick to point out that his music was spiritual. Fela favoured the slow build-up, the intricate rhythmic arrangements, drawing the listener more and more into his vision of the song, unleashing first instrumental orchestrations, before going into the main vocal passages. Listening to Fela’s music, you get the feeling that you have finally arrived in Africa - the real Africa; you are overpowered by the overwhelming Africanness of his orchestral voices. It happens to me every time. Yet, deep inside, I know that this is simple music - African music. And that is as music should be: simple, pure and African. Inevitably though, his music became a tool in his hands for persuading the world of the superiority of the African experience, and it eventually became a weapon for attacking authority, both civilian and military, whenever and wherever he perceived such as being insensitive, corrupt or inept. The man certainly influenced the music as much as the music influenced the man, but honestly, which was more important: man or music? In order to preserve a proper sense of intellectual honesty in our discourse on the Afrobeat genre, we must ask ourselves the following questions and faithfully seek answers to them. Was it the man’s persona that dictated the public reaction to his music? In other words, was he a con artiste deliberately courting public attention with his wanton exhibitionism? Were defects inherent in his music artfully smoothed over by an aggressive mien and the potent mystique it suggested? Indeed, was it this public perception of a musical mysticism flowing directly from Fela’s personal magnetism that helped to plant Afrobeat in the public’s consciousness as a potential tool for their empowerment? If the answer to the last question is yes, this may well account for the ecstatic, sometimes violent, response that more often than not attended his music. Was it stage-managed, a well-oiled con game to enhance the projection of the Afrobeat image or was there really something of an inscrutable power to it all? An observer once described Afrobeat as a ‘weapon for the future.’ Well, the creator of the sword certainly forged it to perfection, leaving one in no doubt that in the right hands it could have a devastatingly effective action. The common man is the target, the underlying and overriding subject and the supreme enjoyer of every Afrobeat song. Afrobeat is about Africa and its masses: the impoverishment of its masses, the resistance and resilience of its masses and the triumphs and ultimate salvation of its masses. It is the common man therefore that will directly benefit from any effort to position Afrobeat as a proud tool for his own evolution. As his country careered through the political challenges and economic muddle of the 1970s through 90s, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s Afrobeat consistently sounded the alarm bells that woke Nigerians to the reality of the day, even offering practical suggestions – served of course with a patina of wit and biting satire - on ways to overcome. Consequently, Afrobeat has become a barometer for social awareness in Nigeria. Its bustling urgency and the earthiness of its rhythms assures the people of its unchallengeable position as a natural national career of news and views, so that nothing of national significance would go by without passing through its creative mill for due testing and analysis. That is the essence of Afrobeat.

Monday, 9 September 2013


PIDGIN MAKES ITS BIG COMEBACK IN NIGERIAN MUSIC “...Nigerian Pidgin is a uniquely Nigerian brand that has catalysed the renaissance of Nigerian popular music,” writes Celestine Chukwu.
Nigerian music artistes are smiling more, complaining less and enjoying the positive effects of improved cash flow. There are more Nigerian hits on the radio now than at any other time in history; Naija Hip-hop rules the nightclubs in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. It’s a renaissance of sorts, and a certain word seems to be behind this renaissance: Pidgin. Fela Anikulapo Kuti exemplified the movement that popularized the use of Pidgin in Nigerian popular music, a trend going all the way back to the early Highlife artistes. However, it took a while for even Fela to arrive at his ‘Pidgin epiphany,’ as he had earlier in his career written and sung in either straight English or Yoruba, his native tongue. Eventually though, the songs that came to define his career, Lady, Suffering and Smiling, Zombie, Water No get Enemy, Shakara, ITT etc., were all rendered in Pidgin. One suspects that artistes in Fela’s generation consciously shied away from embracing Pidgin as their primary mode of expression and must have found it more acceptable to be regarded as singers in English or indigenous tongues. The reasons? To begin with, there was the notion that singing in Pidgin limited one’s audience to the uneducated, thereby immediately compromising such an artiste’s commercial appeal. This was a wrong notion - though forgivable, since Nigerians were, and still are, educated in English. The second reason for the apparent ‘Pidgin reticence’ of that generation’s artistes was the fear of being dubbed underachievers for deigning to communicate to a mass audience in an informal medium - a hangover of the British colonial experience the country had just emerged from. As if in collective tribute to the Afrobeat legend, the post-Fela generation resoundingly demonstrated that the above-stated reservations were unfounded, as Pidgin has now risen to become the most commercially viable medium of expression in Nigerian popular music. Fela’s son Femi Kuti has been successful in staying true to his father’s Pidgin credo, and artistes like Tuface, Faze, Eedris Abdul Kareem, D’Banj, P Square and Ruggedman amongst others have established stellar careers on the back of singing or rapping in Pidgin. Singers like the bespectacled guitarist Asa and the honey-voiced 9ice have espoused a rich blend of Pidgin and Yoruba idioms interlaced with English to produce an interesting musical style that is uniquely theirs. As this author wrote in the first ever compilation of Nigerian colloquialisms, A Dictionary of Nigerian Pidgin & Slang, Pidgin is “to all intents and purposes our colloquial lingua franca” and “ is a ‘broadstream’ medium boasting a catchment area anywhere from the loftiest mansion to the meanest hut.” As the only linguistic medium that cuts across all ethnic and socioeconomic divides in Nigeria, Pidgin’s use in social intercourse is widespread and it is immensely popular for conducting informal business. With such a huge and ready audience, is it any wonder the Pidgin platform is the most rewarding out there today? Every African country with a colonial past, Anglophone or otherwise, has its own Pidgin, which may bear some similarity to the Pidgin of other countries, thereby creating an avenue for cross-linkages between the popular music markets of Nigeria and Ghana, for example, and making it possible for a Tuface or a P Square to perform to sell-out crowds in South Africa and for Ghanaian Hip-hop ambassadors V.I.P. to do the same in Nigeria. Such market cross-linkages have expanded the possibilities of Nigerian artistes, some of whom go out to make their careers in other African countries. On a cautionary note, Pidgin was never, and will never be, a safe haven for artistes of questionable talent, nor is it a fail-safe medium for lazy expression. Artistes are required to put in as much hard work, if not more, to communicate effectively in the medium. The creative process of a musician depends as much on character as it does on the cultural environment that nurtures it. Nigerian artistes have learnt that to be successful, they need to be assiduous and true to the natural rhythms of their environment - as embodied in Nigerian Pidgin - and the market itself has proven to be hugely receptive to such creative sincerity. In conclusion, Nigerian Pidgin is a uniquely Nigerian brand that has catalysed the renaissance of Nigerian popular music. Creatively blending Pidgin and indigenous language idioms is at present the sure-fire recipe for market-savvy expression in Nigerian popular music. It is a recipe that has been market-tested and found to be to the market’s liking - a recipe that Nigerian artistes are not likely to abandon anytime soon! Celestine Chukwu is the author of the first ever dictionary of Nigerian colloquialism, A Dictionary of Nigerian Pidgin & Slang [published by Poets of Africa Resource (tel: 0806-350-1793)].

Sunday, 8 September 2013

                                                        THE HIGHLIFE OF PIDGIN

The Highlife music tradition was the first in Nigerian popular music to embrace Pidgin as a vehicle. Noted for its irresistible dance floor pull, Highlife continues to be a highly enjoyed music form in Nigeria. However, its glory days were in the decades before and just after Nigeria’s independence from Britain, whose colonizing influence anchored the development of Nigerian Pidgin, or ‘Broken,’ as it is more popularly known. Due to its roots in jazz and military marching bands, highlife compositions were usually very well structured, being lent that extra, unique, defining flavour by Nigerian artistes to make the music all their own. Whether as the big band or the smaller ‘guitar band’ combo variety, the legacy of highlife was to produce a generation of virtuosos whose professionalism and instrumental and vocal virtuosity has probably not been equalled since then. Captured on recordings, this generation gave us the classic evergreen songs of Highlife greats like Rex Lawson, Victor Olaiya and Eddie Okonta, which constitute the target of endless cover versions, remixes and sampling by present-day artistes. Pidgin songs like Lawson’s Sawa Sawa and Baby Pancake remain bonafide ‘earworms’ that are ever in loop in our collective musical subconscious. Realizing that people are wont to arrive at a much quicker appreciation of a new language when they are exposed to its songs, record labels should make it standard prctice to translate artistes' songs into Standard English on CD liner notes and websites as a promotional tool for their audiences, to introduce them to Nigerian Pidgin. No gainsaying as long as Pidgin lives, Highlife lives on. Celestine Chukwu is the author of the first ever dictionary of Nigerian colloquialism, A Dictionary of Nigerian Pidgin & Slang [published by Poets of Africa Resource (0806-350-1793)] Email: