How religion divides and under-develops Africa by Reno

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Reno Omokri
Reno Omokri

By Reno Omokri

Yesterday, I saw Nigerian Shiites demonstrating against the United States and President Donald Trump, and I groaned in my spirit. When will Africans become themselves and stop being remote controlled by foreign interests?

Most Africans think they chose their religions. Not true. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of Africans had their religions handed down to them by Europeans or Arabs. How do I mean?

Let us take Nigeria as a case study. Most Nigerians are either Christian, Muslims, or Catholics. Many of them will even die to defend their faiths. But how did they get these faiths?

Most Muslims in Northern Nigerian were born into Islam. Most Nigerian Muslims did not make a conscious decision to become Muslims. They just found themselves as Muslims and accepted it. But the historical fact is that most of their ancestors were CONQUERED into Islam, either by the Usman Dan Fodio jihad of 1804, or by the Kanem Bornu empire (one of the oldest empires on Earth), or by Arabs during the the Tran Saharan Slave Trade. This is a historical fact and I do not mean to upset my beloved Muslim followers.

At first they resisted. Then they were conquered. They were FORCED to accept Islam. Those who refused were killed, and the survivors, fearing a similar fate, accepted the new religion. Then they had children who knew nothing but Islam, and the rest is history.

Nigeria was colonised by Britain. Britain is OFFICIALLY a very staunch Protestant nation, with the Church of England (Anglican Church) as the OFFICIAL state church. Have Nigerians ever wondered why the British allowed Catholicism to flourish in Nigeria even when it was suppressed in Britain for centuries? Or why they did not allow Christian Missionaries into the North?

Other than the Binis and Itsekiri, who voluntarily accepted Catholicism in the 15th Century due to their trade with the Portuguese, Catholicism only gained ground in Nigeria, and especially amongst the Igbos of the East of Nigeria, in the 19th Century.

The British had a colonial policy of Divide and Rule. They did not allow Christian missionaries into Nigeria for love of Christianity or God, or Africans. It was a deliberate colonial policy to sow discord and division in Nigeria and their other colonial territories all over the world, and to keep nations, like Nigeria, ever subservient to Europe as a supplier of raw materials and human labour in times of war (Nigerians in their thousands fought for the British in both World Wars and were often used almost as cannon fodder) and in times of peace (Nigerians are a backbone of the health sector in both the UK and US. 77% of all Black doctors in America are Nigerian).

The British decided that Anglicanism snd other forms of Protestantism should thrive amongst the Yoruba and that Catholicism should thrive amongst the Igbo, and they refused to let Christian missionaries proselytise in the North to keep it Muslim, so that both the South and the North would be perpetually divided and check each other, and will never be able to unite against the colonialists.

Every missionary that came to Nigeria was licensed by the British. The Catholicism you see in Igboland today is the fruit of four Catholic missionaries who arrived Onitsha in 1885, as part of the Holy Ghost Fathers, led by a certain Reverend Father Lutz. In fact, the house where they first stayed was owned by the Royal Niger Company (which influenced the formation of the colonial Nigerian government, and even provided personnel for them. Lord Lugard was a staff of the Royal Niger Company).

Meanwhile, as they were promoting Catholicism in Eastern Nigeria, the British were promoting Protestantism in Western Nigeria, where Henry Townsend planted the first church in Badagry, in 1842. When the British rescued Samuel Ajayi Crowther from Fulani and Portuguese slavers, he was handed over to the Church Missionary Society (the proselytising mission of the Anglican Church), who educated him, and used him to extend Anglicanism amongst the Edekiri people. Ajayi Crowther eventually changed their name to Yoruba (a bastardisation of the Fulani word Yaribansa), because the British wanted a common identity for all Edekiri people.

That is how we come to have a Nigeria dominated by Muslims in the North, Anglicans and other Protestants in the West, and Catholicism in the East. It was not by chance. It was not by the choice of Nigerians. To the largest extent, with only very few exception, it is by design of external powers.

I urge Africans to think about their religions. Do not just accept your religion because of the accident of your birth. Your eternal soul is too valuable to be left to chance.

I use myself as an example. I was born to a Catholic mother and an Anglican father. While my mother schooled in Europe, I was anglicised by the rest of the family who were Anglican.

I remained an Anglican until I went to university. Free at last from my parents, I at first became a campus evangelist at the University of Benin in 1990 at the age of 16, until I left for another university and became an atheist at age 18, and began reading The Bible, and the Quran in other to know the true God.

May God bless my parents, they did not interfere. They did not force me to go to church. They left me to choose.

For one whole year, I did not believe in God, until after reading Scripture, the Quran and Dr. Yongi Cho’s (now David Yongi Cho) book, the Fourth Dimension, I found God by myself. Alone. Without the help of Arabs, or Europeans, or my parents. That is why today, NOTHING can shake my faith. I was not born as a Christ follower. I was CONVINCED into following Christ by Scripture and a personal experience with God and I was ordained as a pastor on January 15, 2012.

If all Africans can free their minds and choose their religion by themselves, Africans will stop being divided and fighting each other on the basis of religion and region, and we will no longer by the patsies of European and Arab nations, and Africa will be truly free to become the greatest continent on Planet Earth.

Reno Omokri

Gospeller. Deep Thinker. #1 Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years. Avid traveller. Hollywood Magazine Film Festival Humanitarian of the Year, 2019.

The post How religion divides and under-develops Africa by Reno appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Ex-NNPC staff hacked to death by own worker

Adekunle Jimoh, Ilorin

A 65- year-old ex-staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ibrahim Ajayi Allah has been gruesomely murdered by his ex-worker.

The late Allah who retired from the finance department of the NNPC was allegedly hacked to death on December 13 by one of the workers in his farm at Oke-Oyi, outskirts of Ilorin.

It was learnt that the alleged culprit identified simply as Waheed has been arrested by the police.

Police spokesman said: “The suspect in a had confessed to the commission of the crime. He is helping the police in their investigations and bid to close in on other accomplices.”

Speaking with The Nation, younger brother of the deceased, Yakub Abejide Allah said: “My elder brother was murdered on December 13th on his farm site in Oke-Oyi area of Ilorin East local government area of the state.”
“Three years ago, he retired and chose to pursue agriculture which has always been his passion. He bought hectares of land in Ogidi, Kabba/Bunu local government area of Kogi State and poured all his passion into it. However, because of so many unanticipated factors, the returns were not as expected.

“About six months ago, he decided to gradually move out of Ogidi. So he bought about eight hectares of land at Oke-Oyi near Ilorin and restarted his farming there.

“The suspect picked up by the police is a man from that community with whom he had developed a close relationship. He was always going in and out with the man. In fact, on the day of the murder, they were said to be together and had lunch together before he was savagely axed to death at about 5pm.

“When the police searched the suspect’s house, they found my brother’s phone and other personal effects. He is said to have confessed to having killed my brother.”

READ ALSO: NNPC records trading surplus of N5.20b

Yakub added: “I felt so bad when I heard the news of my brother’s gruesome killing. It was the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Oke-Oyi Police Station that narrated how my brother was hacked to death.
“Subsequently, I called his wife and our other family members and broke the sad news to them. The police said they have arrested the alleged perpetrator of the heinous crime. According to them, he was initially detained at the Oke-Oyi police station before being transferred to the state Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Ilorin.

“We learnt that during a search in his house the late Ibrahim’s phones, personal effects as well as other dangerous items the perpetrator used to kill my brother were found there. I know the name of the alleged murderer as Waheed and he is in his 40s. “My appeal to the police and other security agents is to help us find out the real killer (s) of my brother, because the person that was killed has a lot of responsibilities that I cannot shoulder. We also want to know why he carried out the dastardly act. They should let us know if the killers were sent to kill him or they did it intentionally. That is what we need.

“The wife of the deceased, who is based in Abuja also came down to Ilorin and I took her to the police station; recovered the corpse for burial in Ogidi, our country home.”

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Court orders Army to pay N50m for beating man to death in Warri – Daily Post Nigeria

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The Federal High Court sitting in Warri, Delta State, has awarded N60m as damages against the Nigerian Army for the murder of one Otunba Ajayi Oladele.

The Court presided over by Hon. Justice Emeka Nwite, delivered its judgement in a case with Suit No.HHC/WR/CS/93/2017.

The case is between Mrs. Esther Oladele&Ors. V. The Nigerian Army & Ors.

The Plaintiffs, who are the widow and the infant children of late Otunba Ajayi were represented pro bono by Kunle Edun Esq, National Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Bar Association.

The Plaintiffs’ case was that Officers of the Nigerian Army including Lt. Col T A Yakubu and Sgt. Hassan Hassan were contracted by businesses to recover debt allegedly owed by the late Otunba Ajayi.

The deceased was arrested in Warri by soldiers from the Army Brigade in Benin City.

He was seriously beaten and had his spinal chord broken by the soldiers during the beating.

The soldiers had to rush him to the military hospital in Benin and called his wife, the 1st Plaintiff, to make arrangement to take her husband home.

The late Otunba died few minutes after the soldiers dropped him on the floor of the emergency room of the Central Hospital, Warri.

Delivering Judgement, Hon. Justice Emeka Nwite, declared that, “The arrest and detention of late (Otunba) Ajayi between the 8th of May, 2017 and the 12th of May, 2017 was unlawful, unconstitutional and therefore, an act of gross violation of the fundamental right to life, personal liberty, human dignity and freedom of movement of Otunba Ajayi Oladele as enshrined in the Section 33(3), 34(1),35(1) and 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as Amended.

“A declaration that the 1st,2nd, 3rd and 4th plaintiff’s right to life and therefore, good and reasonable comfort of life have been violated by the acts of the defendants unlawful killing of Otunba Ajayi Oladele being that the deceased was the parent of the 2nd ,3rd and 4th plaintiffs and husband to the plaintiff and also the bread winner of the family.

” That an Order is hereby made awarding the sum of N50,000,000.00(fifty million naira) as general and exemplary damages joint and severally against the defendants in favour of the plaintiffs as a result of the unlawful death of Otunba Ajayi Oladele and for loss of consort, fatherly love/care, comfort and disruption of the family life of the plaintiffs.

“Cost is assessed at N100,000(One hundred thousand naira) against the defendants and in favour of the plaintiffs.)

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12 Nollywood Celebrities from the decades you must know | P.M. News

Chief Hubert Ogunde

By Funmilola Olukomaiya

The Nigerian movie industry has evolved, but this didn’t come cheap as it was achieved through a lot of hard work, dedication and persistence through the efforts of the pioneers of the industry.

Most millennials know little or nothing about how Nollywood came to be and the truth is, they really careless.

Below are 12 of Nigeria’s movie industry (both English and Yoruba) celebrities and pioneers from the decades you must know.

1.) Hubert Ogunde

The late Hubert Ogunde in one of his films

Hubert Ogunde was a Nigerian playwright, actor, theatre manager, and musician. He was a pioneer in the field of Nigerian folk opera (a type of drama in which music and dancing played a significant role). He was the founder of the Ogunde Concert Party (1945), the first professional theatrical company in Nigeria. Ogunde who was often regarded as the father of Nigerian theatre sought to reawaken interest in his country’s indigenous culture. He died on April 4, 1990, in London, England.

2.) Duro Ladipo

Duro Ladipo

Duro Ladipọ was one of the best known and critically acclaimed Yoruba dramatists who emerged from post-colonial Africa. Writing solely in the Yoruba language, he captivated the symbolic spirit of Yoruba mythologies in his plays, which were later adapted to other media such as photography, television and cinema. As a teacher in a church school at Oshogbo in 1960, Ladipo scandalized church members by including bata drums in the Easter cantata that he had composed for the church and was thereafter obliged to seek a secular outlet for his musical interests. In 1962 he founded the Mbari Mbayo Club, and for its inauguration, his new theatre company performed his first opera, Oba Moro (“Ghost-Catcher King”). He premiered Oba Koso (“The King Did Not Hang”) at the club’s first anniversary in 1963 and a year later introduced Oba Waja (“The King is Dead”). All three operas are based on the history of the Oyo kingdom and are available in English in Three Yoruba Plays (1964). He died Mar. 11, 1978, in Oshogbo.

3.) Ola Balogun

Ola Balogun

Born 1st of August 1945, Ola Balogun is a unique figure in Nigerian cinema. In the 1970s and 1980s, he influenced the film industry in Nigeria like no other person and paved the way for the Nollywood boom that began in the early 1990s. The fact that he is virtually forgotten outside of Nigeria nowadays is also a function of the fact that many copies of his films have disappeared. He also ventured into the Nigerian music industry in 2001. Balogun studied cinematography at Institut des hautes études cinématographiques.

4.) Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade Love)

Adeyemi Afolayan aka Ade Love

Adeyemi Afolayan also known as Ade Love was a Nigerian film actor, director and producer. He brother to actress Toyin Afolayan and father to film actors, Kunle Afolayan, Gabriel Afolayan, Moji Afolayan and Aremu Afolayan. In 1966, Afolayan joined Moses Olaiya’s drama troupe, and in 1971, he left to establish his own drama group which went on to stage comedic plays. He appeared in Ola Balogun’s Ajani Ogun in 1976, and later produced and starred Ija Ominira, also directed by Balogun. Kadara, ‘Destiny’ in English was the first movie he wrote, produced and also starred as the leading actor. The movie was shown at the ninth Tashkent film festival for African and Asian cinema. Afolayan went on to produce and star in other productions such as Ija Orogun, Taxi Driver and Iya ni Wura. He died in 1996.

5.) Sam Loco Efe

Sam Loco Efe

Sam Loco Efe was a popular comic actor who was born in Enugu. His first experience with acting was at his school when a theatre group came to stage a play called ‘The Doctor In Spite of Himself’, afterwards, he discussed with members of the group about the theatre and performance arts. In elementary school, he was a member various groups including a drama society that performed a rendition of Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ at an Eastern regional arts festival in Abakaliki,[8] the play came last in the drama competition but Efe was noted as the best actor which earned him a scholarship to complete elementary school. After finishing elementary school, he attended various secondary schools and was active in the drama society, organizing a performance of ‘The Doctor in Spite of Himself’ and a play called ‘Vendetta’. After secondary school, he was a member of a travelling theatre group and played soccer earning the moniker locomotive later shortened as loco. He died 7th August 2011.

6.) Oyin Adejobi

Oyin Adejobi

Chief Oyin Adejobi was a very popular dramatist and seasoned actor in South-Western Nigeria. He wrote and performed in a variety of Yoruba productions on the stage, television and movies. He was especially well known for his autobiographical movie ‘Orogun Adedigba’. He also had a weekly television show, ‘Kootu Asipa’ meaning “Ashipa’s Court” on Nigerian Television Authority, Ibadan. The Oyin Adejobi Popular Theatre Company is named for him. He died in the year 2000.

7.) Professor Peller

Professor Peller

Professor Moshood Abiola Peller was a Nigerian magician and one of Africa’s most renowned magicians. He was born in 1941 at Iseyin, Oyo State and he was named Moshood Folorunsho Abiola. He later picked the stage name of ‘Professor Peller’, an appellation that has stuck to him like a second skin. He started performing illusion tricks in 1954 travelling to Ibadan, Lagos and Oyo for performances. In 1959, he changed occupation and began work as a representative of G.B.O. and later moved into trading. His interest in illusion continued and in 1964, he attended a school of magical arts in India, he spent 18 months at the school and after completion, settled in Liberia. In 1966, he had his first post-training show at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos. He was later assassinated in 1997.

8.) Alade Aromire

Alade Aromire

Muyideen Alade Aromire was a popular actor and producer who was also the owner and creator of Yotomi Television, a cross-cultural broadcasting station with bias for Yoruba-based programmes. Alade was believed to have produced the first home video in Nigeria as he was the pioneer of Yoruba home video industry. He died 4 July, 2008 in an auto crash along the Lagos/Ibadan expressway.

9.) Moses Olaiya

Late Moses Adejumo, aka Baba Sala

Moses Olaiya, better known by his stage name “Baba Sala”, was a Nigerian comedian, dramatist and actor. Baba Sala, regarded as the father of modern Nigerian comedy, alongside other dramatists like Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola, Oyin Adejobi and Duro Ladipo popularized theatre and television acting in Nigeria. He was a prolific filmmaker. He started his career in show business as a Highlife musician, fronting in 1964 a group known as the Federal Rhythm Dandies where he tutored and guided the jùjú music maestro King Sunny Adé who was his lead guitar player. As a young boy, Olaiya played the class clown and sometimes dressed outlandishly to please people. While he chose to develop a career in entertainment his parents wanted a path that will lead to a professional career such as medicine or law. Baba Sala died in October 2018.

10.) Lere Paimo

Lere Paimo

Born November 1939, Pa Lere Paimo, OFR is an ace Nigerian film actor, film-maker, producer and director. He began his acting career in 1960 after he joined the Oyin Adejobi theatre group, founded by Pa Oyinade Adejobi before he later joined Duro Ladipo’s Theatre Group where he featured in a stage play titled ‘Obamoro’ with the role of “Chief Basa”. He became popular following a lead role as Soun Ogunola played in an epic Yoruba film titled ‘Ogbori Elemosho’ which brought him into the limelight. He has featured, produced and directed several Nigerian films since he began acting in 1963. In 2005, in recognition of his immense contributions to the Nigerian film industry, he was bestowed with a National award of Member of the Federal Republic alongside Zeb Ejiro by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. On May 2013, it was reported that he had a partial stroke, an attack he survived.

11.) Funmi Martins

Funmi Martins

The legendary Funmi Martins was a shining star of the Yoruba movie industry in the ’90s. She was shot into limelight in 1993 when she starred in her first movie called ‘Nemesis’ directed by Fidelis Duker. Funmi Martins before her death starred in dozens of movies. Some of her most notable works include Eto Mi, Pelumi, Ija Omode, Eru Eleru. She died on May 6, 2002.

12.) Bukky Ajayi

Bukky Ajayi

Zainab Bukky Ajayi was a Nigerian actress who was born and bred in Nigeria but completed her higher education in England, United Kingdom courtesy of a federal government scholarship. In 1965, she left England for Nigeria where her career began as a presenter and newscaster for Nigerian Television Authority in 1966. Bukky made her film debut in the television series ‘Village Headmaster’ during the ’70s before she went on to feature in ‘Checkmate’, a Nigeria television series that aired during the late 1980s to the early 1990s. During her acting career, she featured in several films and soaps including ‘Critical Assignment’, ‘Diamond Ring’, ‘Witches’ among others. In 2016, her contributions to the Nigerian film industry was recognized after she and Sadiq Daba were awarded the Industry Merit Award at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. Bukky Ajayi died at her residence in Lagos State on 6 July 2016 at the age of 82.

NOTE: This list is not exhaustive, do share the names of others who didn’t make our list in the comment session.

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OPINION: Death and the legacy of Fela Kuti – Vanguard Allure

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Death, many people say, can be the biggest career move and for proof they point to Michael Jackson who was mired in debt at the time of his death but whose estate is now worth millions and millions more than he made while alive.

Death has always fascinated pop culture, especially when the dead is famous or infamous and young to boot. Think Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Jean-Michel Basquiat. These rock stars captured the popular imagination, blazed bright like a meteor then fizzled out like shooting stars.

The phenomenon of dying young has been so analysed that someone came up with the 27 Club – a constellation of famous people who died at the age of 27 from drug overdose, alcohol addiction, car or plane crashes as well as suicide or homicide.

Most of them are white (Hendrix and Basquiat no), most of them American. But has death ever boosted the career or renown of an African celebrity? The answer is yes and the most famous must be Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the iconic musician, jazz aficionado and fiery activist who was a thorn in the flesh of successive military regimes.

Fela died 22 years ago at age 59. He was nowhere near 27 and by that time had adult children – Yeni, Femi and Shola (who died young). He was world-renowned and celebrated and hounded at home. His residence was famously known as Kalakuta Republic (named after the prison cell he occupied while incarcerated at Kirikiri prisons). His cell was called Calcutta but Fela corrupted it to Kalakuta.

His residence so named was raided on February 18, 1977 by what reports say were over 1,000 soldiers. Denizens of the commune including some of his wives were beaten and raped and the building burnt down but not before his aged mother was thrown out of the window. She died from her injuries.

But the loss of his mother and his republic did not diminish Fela’s stridency. He remained militant to the very end dying from complications arising from HIV/AIDs just four months after he left prison.

He was as well known for his music as he was for his activism and today when a musician or celebrity of whatever stripe is conscious people liken him or her to Fela.

But how did death boost Fela’s career? Alive, Fela was mercurial and tempestuous. His albums were mostly one-song albums that sometimes lasted for over 20 minutes. His intros were famous for featuring call and response choruses and then long jazz pieces that seemed to go along for interminable moments. Radio stations found him a nightmare and attempts by music labels to re-master and cut short his songs for the new CD technology were rebuffed. The only close examples in contemporary western music would be ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the Queen song from the 1975 album A Night at the Opera which clocks in at 6 minutes and then Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield’s 1973 studio album which extends to 49 minutes.

Fela was, therefore, a peculiar kind of musical artist with an oeuvre that was as potent musically as it was politically. For Fela, music was a weapon and one he wielded in many ways as if it was the lasso of truth with which he whipped the military and autocrats and kleptocrats into line.

His music was critical of soldiers whom he called zombies but soldiers loved to listen to his music because it was also critical of the government and often plumbed the depths of the pervasive social malaise and political morass.

Fela’s music was a leveller and had an uncanny ability for transcending class and gender, moving fluidly between the mainland and island and breaching class strictures. Visitors to the Africa Shrine in what is now Computer Village in Ikeja, where Fela played live sets every Friday when he was not on tour would find bank CEOs and messengers dancing and smoking as they listened to Fela’s music. The shrine was a democratic locale where music was a unifying factor.

It is also important to note how Fela’s music is at home in the mouths of the rich as well as the poor with men from different sides of the track laying equal claim to the man, musician and prophet.

Fela’s death was devastating but in dying, Fela seemed to step across the threshold from legend into myth. His death many say made his children instant millionaires and then his music re-mastered and available widely on CD spawned a whole new generation of fans, many of them not yet born or mere toddlers when Fela transited from this realm.

Today, Afrobeat, the musical genre he pioneered, is played across the world from Portugal to the UK, the US to Spain. Books have been written about him, documentaries shot and a Broadway show has travelled the world presenting Fela as maverick musician, activist and prophet.

But Fela’s reputation has been cemented and augmented more by a hybrid sound, a derivative christened afrobeat and made popular by young African musical artists who have evolved a whole new sound described by the poet and music Dami Ajayi as having begun with the Kennis music group, D Remedies.

According to Dr. Ajayi – “Afrobeats is perhaps the biggest cultural export from West Africa to the rest of Africa and the world. There is little doubt that this music of both Nigerian and Ghanaian origins will continue to enjoy mainstream global prominence.

Afrobeats went mainstream in Nigeria about two decades ago when D Remedies, released their hit song, Shako Mo, under Kennis Music label. The song sampled instrumentals from MC Lyte’s Keep On Keeping On, which also, interestingly, sampled Michael Jackson’s Liberian Girl. With that connection, one can easily link Afrobeat auspiciously to the late King of Pop.

Today, Afrobeats, a fusion of Hip-Hop and African rhythms, has since eschewed overt Western influences in favour of African idioms and musical traditions. Highlife, Juju, Fuji, Apala, Makossa, Sokous and Afrobeats have become cannon fodder for this music and the benefits are multidirectional. Ultimately, one can argue that Afrobeats is making the old new.”

But what has become clear is that many of the biggest Afrobeats stars have adopted Fela Kuti as both muse and creative forge. This year again as we celebrate the life and times and legacy of Fela Kuti during the weeklong Felabration at Freedom Park and beyond, we will be reminded that his death has made him more relevant than he ever was alive and a bigger musical brand to boot.

The list is long but Uzoma Ihejirika writing in thelagosreview attempts to put it all in perspective – “Founded 21 years ago by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, Felabration presents an opportunity to acknowledge Fela Kuti’s contribution through Afrobeat, the genre of music he pioneered. His jazz-inspired, robust sound continues to spark a creative flame in the hearts of Nigerians—both admirers and detractors— who no matter what cannot ignore Fela, the man and the musical icon.

That creative flame continues to burn in contemporary Nigeria even amongst artistes who were not born or were mere children when Fela became an ancestor. These artistes have made the Afrobeat genre a foundation upon which to speak about their fears, their frustrations, and their joys.”

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Angry reactions, as death toll rises in Onitsha tragedy

3 more dead bodies found in Ochanja market

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu & Omeiza Ajayi

THREE more dead bodies were recovered, yesterday, at the Ochanja Market in Onitsha, which got burnt when a tanker filled with fuel caught fire at the Upper Iweka area of the commercial city.

This came as Governor Willie Obiano invited the affected traders to assemble at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka on Monday for documentation and possible assistance from the state government.

Two of the dead bodies were suspected to be salesgirls in one of the burnt  shops, while the other male body was found in another shop close to the scene of the fire incident.

Yesterday, the traders constituted themselves into rescue groups and were packing the debris, only to discover the three dead bodies.

Some of the traders almost threatened to cause riot when they were informed that Governor Obiano was coming to sympathize with them.

The governor, who visited the scene at about 9.20am for on the spot assessment of the disaster, could however not enter the burnt market.

Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. Don Adinuba, in a statement said Governor Obiano and the entire people of Anambra State regret the unfortunate situation, adding that the state government had taken steps to address the concerns of those affected.

He said: “ Government therefore requests owners of properties affected by the tragic accident, shop owners and family members of deceased victims to assemble at Ekwueme  Square, Awka on Monday October 21 2019 at 11am for documentation and to see how the Anambra State government can assist them.

“ A panel headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke has been set up by the governor to immediately determine the cause of the accident, why the firemen could not put out the fire and how the condition of the victims can be ameliorated.

“Governor Obiano and all citizens of Anambra State identify with victims of this unfortunate fire incident and the general inhabitants of Onitsha over this sad inferno. The Anambra State government will do it’s best to stand by those affected.

“Government therefore calls on all citizens to remain calm in the face of this disaster and be reassured of government’s commitment to the well- being of all and sundry.”

He explained that security agencies in the state had been directed to ensure that law and order were maintained within and around  the affected areas.

Former member of House of Representatives, Dr. Tony Nwoye said it was a sad day for Anambra State, regretting the enormous loss of lives and property.

He added: “I empathise with the families of the dead victims and  those who lost properties to the inferno. I urge them to show courage and utmost faith in the Creator. The sun will still shine on them all

“This accident has become too recurring in Anambra and should worry everyone. The collaboration of the government, relevant stakeholders and the citizens, is needed to develop a proactive strategy that will forestall any further occurrence of this nature. Never again shall we witness anything such as this.

“This is a time for us to show faith in our state and rally around the victims of the carnage. I call on Anambra people to come to the aid of the victims and collectively give them support to rebuild their businesses and overcome their grief. It is indeed a troubling time and we must have to show that brotherly spirit and love that make us Ndi Anambra at this time.”

In his reaction, the Director General of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief George Moghalu, called on the state government and other influential people in the state to come to the aid of the victims.

He added: ”I am saddened at the loss of lives and we never wish for incidents like these in our dear state.

“I urge the Anambra State government to do what it is supposed to do to ensure that the traders continue to earn a living.”

One of the victims, Mr. Chukwuka Okeke, a neighbour to the woman who died with her baby in the fire incident, described the tragedy as unfortunate but avoidable.

According to him, it was not up to twenty minutes he chatted with the woman before she was consumed in the inferno.

In an emotion-laden voice, he said: “We were in our shops when I got the call that there was fire incident at  Iweka. Though we saw smoke going up from a distance, nobody could believe it would extend to this place.

“For over three hours, we were perceiving the smell of fuel mixed with gas from the tanker as it flowed through the drainage until the whole thing went up in flames.

“The woman had already rushed out of the shop with her baby when she suddenly went back. But she slipped and fell inside the gutter, which was already in flames.”

Okeke said the woman whose husband also owns a shop in the city, had the baby early this year after 16 years of marriage.

“She got married in 2003 but had her first baby early this year. It’s really a tragedy,” Okeke said.

Efforts to speak with some landlords whose houses were burnt along Upper Iweka Road proved abortive as some, who were around were still in deep shock and their children could not speak for them.

One of them, who managed to speak but did not give his name, said he is devastated and cannot able to quantify what he had lost.

He said: “I cannot even do any quantification of my losses and you know my tenants also lost greately in goods and house hold items.

“Today is not the time to speak. We are still in great shock. This incident is not because we are careless, but something that happened in far away Upper Iweka and here we are counting loss on Iweka Road.”

Other affected traders in the incident along Menax, Iweka Road and Zik Avenue by Ochanja Market Roundabout also declined to speak with Vanguard, saying they are still counting losses and will not be able to give account of what they have lost.

When Vanguard visited the Ochanja Market and Zik Avenue, angry traders were seen salvaging, in pains and bitterness, some goods they felt could still be useful while others whose wares and shops were burnt completely, were bemoaning their losses and raining insults on all the relevant authorities that could not come to their rescue.

Speaking with Vanguard, Chairman of Ochanja Central Market, Mr. Nelson Ojukwu confirmed that five shops inside Ochanja Market were burnt, adding that but for his traders and the leadership of the market who mobilised water tankers, the whole market and the surrounding buildings would have burnt to ashes.

Ojukwu called on the Anambra State government to provide the markets with fire-fighting trucks to alleviate the sufferings and losses the traders and individual house owners incure during fire incidents.

How mob stopped firefighters

Meanwhile, the Federal Fire Service, FFS, has expressed sadness over the loss of lives and properties during the fire outbreak, saying its men were stopped by a mob, who pelted its officials with stones and equally blocked the road.

Controller-General of the Federal Fire Service, Liman Ibrahim, who disclosed this in a statement by Service Public Relations Officer, DSF Ugo Huan, said the nearest fire station to the scene is in Asaba, Delta State.

His words: “The Federal Fire Service received a call about the fire outbreak at about 2p.m. The control room at the headquarters in Abuja immediately turned out the nearest Federal Fire Service Station at Asaba, Delta State, to attend to the fire.

“Our men immediately headed to the scene, but it was not possible to contend with the traffic at the head bridge and the behaviour of angry mob who pelted stones at them.”

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