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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

D'Banj,Michael Blackson, I Go Die and more at NRC Reunion

I was invited to speak at the recently completed 11th Annual Nigerian Reunion Convention[NRC Reunion] 2007. The event was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel located in the prestigious North Dallas Business District on Midway Road in Addison, Texas. Addison is a neat place because it has a small town ambience but screams big city diversity, at least with shopping! By the way, only walking distance from the hotel was the Addison Restaurant Row, with over 120 restaurants and entertainment venues. Also, should you visit Dallas, the Dallas Galleria Mall is a must do. It has, easily, over 200 shops including high end ones like Gucci and the retail shops and restaurants surround an ice skating rink.
Back to the NRC Reuinon. My presentation addressed, from a legal perspective, the "419" stigmatization of Nigerians, especially in light of recent features on CNN. I also addressed how to use media and public relation tools to rebrand the image of Nigerians in the West. I was thrilled the organizers of NRC Reunion took this topic very seriously and invited myself and other panelist members to address these issues. Very impressive were those who attended the session. They were young, energetic, knowledgeable, smart, creative and eager to learn and share tools on how to effectively brand the Nigerian community; as well as liason with African and non-African communities to put Nigeria in a better light. The diversity present was also impressive. On one spectrum, there were persons like comedian Yibo Koko who was born and bred in Nigeria and on the other spectrum, persons like New Jersey based rapper Real Eyez Mystic aka Young Naija who was born and bred in the USA but sought to connect with his Nigerian roots. Attendees came from all over Europe, USA and Nigeria.

[Model at NRC Reunion Fashion event]

Beyond the panel session, the weekend was full of numerous activities and events. There was something for everyone: Leadership forums, Nollywood Moviethon showcasing Nollywood movies including the premier of Nollywood's "The Missing Goat Meat," networking social mixers, opportunities to find romance via "Speed Dating," picnic, parties, vendors selling their products--mostly t-shirts, fashion show and Sunday church service. You could also renew your Nigerian passport or if you are not a citizen and plan to visit soon, obtain a visa to the country. The highly anticipated event for the weekend, however, was the "Night of a 1001 Laughs" featuring performances from Nigeria's top comedians, Yibo Koko [one of the inventors of the Night of 1001 laughs], Ernest Essien aka "Basketmouth," Francis Agoda aka "I Go Die" and Michael Blackson.

[Yibo Koko, Yours Truly and Michael Blackson--these two guys consistently promote African fashions, especially on stage]

All Comedians were humorous and for the most part succeeded in delivering some hysterically funny jokes. The funniest of the Comedians, however, had to be Michael Blackson aka "The African King of Comedy." Blackson with his jokes and signature "Moda Sucka!" after every joke, made famous with his appearances on BET's Comic view series, kept the audience erupting in rib cracking laughters. He was succint, got straight to the point and was consistently and wickedly humorous with his jokes; never leaving his audience with a dull moment. One joke he shared was how great it was for him to be "so black." He was "so black he got into night clubs for free." All he had to do was "close [his] eyes" and he blended with the blackness of the club--this allowed him free access to dance to his heart's content. In response, the audience erupted in laughter especially with his giraffe like humpty dumpty dance moves accompanied with his joke. Blackson narrated to the audience a time when he made a mistake at one nightclub. His mistake? He opened his eyes! He immediately spotted security headed straight towards him. Blackson quickly closed his eyes falling back into the safety of his blackness as he continued his giraffe humpty dumpty moves. His audience laughed their hearts out.

[Francis Agoda aka I Go Die ]

Following closely in being the "African King of Comedy" was "I go Die." I go Die is from Nigeria's oil producing Delta State and grew up in one of the state's largest city, Warri. He joked that Warri people are not afraid of anything. If an armed robber attacked a Warri man, for example, the Warri man's response, without breaking a sweat would be, "Take everything but leave my cell phone. I am expecting an international call." The audience responded with Blackson style rib cracking laughters. I go Die continued that when it came to Yoruba men [The Yorubas are from the Southern part of Nigeria], they were super fearful. He pointed to his microphone, and said, "if you take this mic, go to Lagos [former capital of Nigeria which is also Yoruba land] and just even [speak] into the mic, the Yoruba man will start running." I go Die, with his at best 5ft 5in frame, proceeded to take gigantic steps emulating how fast a Yoruba man would run and in the best Yoruba accent he could come up with, feigned a Yoruba man saying "I don't understand why they are running" as the Yoruba man continued running his eyes bulging in fear. The audience loved his jokes and responded with more hysterical laughters.

Ultimately, the jokes gave way to the performance of Nigeria's and currently one of Africa's leading singer and songwriter D'Banj aka "Koko Master"--his birth name is Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo. D'Banj is famous for his use of the harmonica in his performances and has been compared to internationally acclaimed and Africa/Nigeria's legendary musician, Fela Kuti. D'Banj performed his own hit songs like "Koko'" and "Why Me?" "Kokolets" and "Koko Masters" rushed forward dancing, throwing their hands in the air and singing along.

I later had the privilege of interviewing most of these acts including rapper Ikechukwu who is signed with Storm records [one of the biggest record labels in Nigeria--Ikechukwu did not perform but was there to enjoy and support his colleagues]. I will keep you all posted once the interviews are published. Meanwhile, check out some few pictures from the event and have a brilliant day!

Next time you hear P. Diddy's hit song "Come To Me" featuring Nicole Scherzinger of the "Pussy Cat Dolls," think "Oh! That's the song the Nigerian up and coming super-producer,Yakubu [Jai] Izuagbe, made the beats to for Diddy." I got a chance to meet and spend some time with Jai's mother as well as his brother Suleman [Sule] who is an aspiring rapper at the NRC event. His mother is truly a phenomenal woman and if Jai keeps up with his cool beats, he might be the next Timberland.

[L-R, Chibueze Akukwe and Chuck Amaefule] These fellas are business partners operating "Sun Mortgage Corporation" out of Memphis, Tennessee. I won't spill on their age but suffice it to say they are young and super accomplished. Keep an eye on them! [L-R, Yours Truly, Obiageliaku ["Oby"] & Kelly] Oby is a Model/Actress/Singer and Dancer. She owns and operates an international beverage business and is currently working on an exciting innovative business she plans to launch in late 2008/early 2009. Keep an eye on her!
Dallas based Engineer Nosike owns his own consulting business and has worked with NASA on various projects. He was one of the numerous interesting personalities I met. Chibueze was one of the few men that for the most part was consistently seen in African attire at the event. I was digging his buba[top] and Sokoto [pants].
Olaide, a Public Health graduate, makes looking good so effortless. Tyeing the gele [head gear] can be so much drama but the way she has it on, it looks super easy. We also like her lace blouse and skirt.
Ronke is another smart dynamic woman I met who is pursuing her MBA degree. Like Olaide, she is wearing a blouse and skirt made out of lace. Her accessories including her blue gele spices her lace ensemble.This Naija "fashionista" was fun, friendly, smart, beautiful and energetic. Everytime I saw her, she had on some fun stylish clothes and a great smile! This is her fun take on the colors of the Nigerian flag [green/white/green].
NRC Reunion's fashion show was held at the pool side. The "fashionista" below was not a part of it. But, we liked how she took her colorful ankara skirt, paired it with layered yellow and purple tank tops and finished it off with her bright yellow belt! The simplicity of her accessories matched Dallas' hot weather. Too cute!


That's it folks. Have a brilliant day!

5 comments:

Chibueze A. said...

What a brilliant article. It captured the communal and lively feel of the event. Great work.

Lady A said...

Good for you and congrats! You seem very confident in speaking. I may need to take notes from since it has been a while.
I'm loving the red hand bag you have, it's poppin *wink*

Ladybrille said...

@Chibueze, thanks for stopping by.
@Lady A, thanks. Holla, I'll give you pointers.lol!

Anonymous said...

r u sure ernest essien is "basketmouth"? cos the real basketmouth's name is Bright Okpocha and i do not thnk he was at the event you blogged about

Chi said...

You have to give it up to Mr. Blackman for ALWAYS promoting African traditional outfits.

Yet another great coverage, Ladybrille.

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