Friday, 03 December 2021


Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture (186)

Are you an up-coming artiste - a rapper, DJ, singer, producer or all
of the above? If your answer is yes, then consider yourself very
fortunate to
be reading this article, because this will be your guiding map in
your journey to stardom.

Out of my own experience, I realised that many upcoming artistes in
Nigeria suffer a lot of challenges and tribulations in their quest of
becoming Super Stars. So I've decided to make an outline of seven (7)
basic tips that would lead you to the world of fame. So don't just
read, but make sure you apply them in your life.

1. BE YOURSELF: Many upcoming artistes are very good in being fake.
Most of them always try to impersonate others by trying to sound like
them. I know of a friend who is an upcoming rapper called Nifty. This
dude is very good. Not good in rapping, but good in impersonating Lil
Wayne. So tell me, how the hell is he gonna blow if he doesn't even
have confidence in himself? If you want to make it to stardom, then
you should endeavour to be real. Don't be a copy cat. If you act like
someone, then who is going to be you? You should believe in yourself
and be second to none.

2. CREATE YOUR OWN SOUND (BE UNIQUE): If you're a producer, please
don't try to make your beats sound like Don Jazzy's. If you're a
Yoruba rapper, please don't force yourself to rhyme like Olamide. If
you're an Igbo rapper, please don't sound like Phyno. And if you're a
Hausa rapper, please don't sound like Classiq. Be unique, exceptional
and outstanding. Try to make your own sound that is different from
others. Fans don't want to hear something that they are already use
to, they want something that has a different taste. Okay answer this
question, is it everyday you eat rice in your house? I'm sure your
answer is 'No' because you always have a variety of delicacies. That's
exactly the situation with music. If you keep repeating the same kind
of music that others do, then you can never outshine them. And if you
don't outshine them, then you can't be a Super Star.

3. GET A MENTOR OR ROLE MODEL: In my previous analysis, I mentioned
that you shouldn't imitate anyone. So I'm sure you might likely ask,
then why should I get a mentor? You need a mentor because you need a
dream, goal and a vision. Your mentor will serve as your dream and
long-term goal. Whenever you see your mentor on television, you should
say this to yourself; "One day I will be like him or even better".
Always vision yourself in his position and before you know it, you'll
be far ahead of him. But there's something you must note, please make
sure that the person you view as your role model is very good at what he does.

4. ALWAYS BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: You can't possibly make it to the
world of fame in this 21st Century where technology and digitalization
has taken over everything, without social media. You should open
accounts on different social media such as Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram, Skype and probably Whatsapp. In addition, don't just open
the account and leave it inactive. Make sure you're always online as
much as possible. Also, you should always endeavour to be uploading
your songs on the net as soon as you release them. You need Social
Media in order to increase your fan base.

blow, don't be releasing some stupid songs that have low level of
production simply because you're an upcoming artiste. The truth is
that your fans don't care and don't want to know that you're an
upcoming artiste. What they know is that you're an artiste. And if you
want to maintain them as your fans, then you must be ready in all
ramifications to be giving good and quality songs to them. You can
achieve this by working with professionals. Get professional producers
to be producing you. You should only feature good and talented artists
on your songs. You should always view yourself as a Super Star and not
just an upcoming artiste. After all it is said that "If you want to be
a king, then you must start acting, dressing,talking and eating like
a king even before you become one".

6. ALWAYS BE READY TO SPEND MONEY: Believe me guys, if you're an
upcoming artiste and you don't want to spend money to promote
yourself, then your chances of making it in the Nigerian Music
Industry is only 5% out of 100%.  If you want to blow, then you must
be ready and prepared to spend money on yourself and your songs.
Besides, Spending Money is the only general logic and motto that all
artists in the world, both upcoming and Super Stars agree with; "Spend
Money, Make Money". In simple sense, before you can make money in
music, you must spend it first. It's like an investment.

7. DON'T GIVE UP: If someone tells you that being a Super Star is
going to be easy, then that person is obviously lying. Being a Super
Star or Celebrity is not a day job. If you doubt me, then ask 2 Face
Idibia. When haters tell you that you can't, just take the 't' off and
show them you can. There are times you'll feel like giving up, but
please you should always bepersistent. Don't give up. Never say
never. Remember, Quiters never win and Winners never quit.
Posted On Sunday, 10 April 2016 21:09 Written by

*Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue will surrender more than $30m in assets
*These include mansion in Malibu, Ferrari and Michael Jackson memorabilia
*But he will able to keep singer’s famous crystal-encrusted ‘Bad Tour’ glove
*This is because item remains outside the U.S., alongside his ‘Thriller’ jacket
*Instead, 42-year-old must pay further $1million to cover value, say officials
*Most of 750,000 people in Equatorial Guinea are currently living in poverty

The Malibu-based playboy son of an African dictator is being forced to surrender more than $30million worth of his assets after allegedly stealing money from his own country.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the Equatorial Guinea president, must sell his mansion in California, his Ferrari and most of his Michael Jackson memorabilia under the settlement.
However, he will be able to keep the singer’s famous crystal-encrusted ‘Bad Tour’ glove, a jacket used during the ‘Thriller’ tour and a $38.5million Gulfstream jet, as they remain outside the U.S.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue

Playboy: Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (above), the son of Equatorial Guinea president, must sell his Malibu mansion, a Ferrari and his Michael Jackson memorabilia under a settlement with the U.S Government

Michael Jackson glove

Prized possession: However, he will be able to keep the singer’s famous crystal-encrusted ‘Bad Tour’ glove (above), a jacket used during the ‘Thriller’ tour and a Gulfstream jet, as they remain outside America

Michael Jackson & glove

Famous glove: Mangue reportedly paid $482,000 for Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad Tour’ glove – which is white and covered in crystals – in the late 1980s. The late singer (pictured) wore it during his first concert

Instead, the 42-year-old must pay a further $1million to cover the value of the memorabilia elsewhere, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, of the Department of Justice (DOJ), said.
In addition to this, if these items ever re-enter America, they will be subject to seizure by the U.S. Government, officials told ABC.
Mangue, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, reportedly forked out $482,000 for Michael Jackson’s glove – which is white and adorned with crystals – in the late 1980s.

The singer, who died in June 2009, wore it during his first ever concert, ‘Bad Tour’, which was launched in support of his seventh studio album of the same name.
For Mangue, the glove was a prized addition to his $3.2million collection of Jackson memorabilia, which he owned alongside his $30million mansion and $530,000 Ferrari.
The settlement, announced by the DOJ last Friday, will see Mangue turn over around $20million from the sale of his assets to a charitable organization for the benefit of the people of his country.


Mansion: The settlement, announced by the DOJ last Friday, will see Mangue turn over $20million from the sale of his assets (including his mansion – above – in Malibu, California) to a charitable organization

Inside Mansion

Interior: The son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema will also have to forfeit another $10.3 million to the U.S. Government, to be used to benefit Equatorial Guinea’s people. Above, the mansion’s interior


Life’s a beach: Despite recent oil and gas wealth in Equatorial Guinea, most of the 750,000 people in the coastal country live in poverty. However, American-educated Mangue lived in a luxurious mansion in Malibu

Equitorial Guinea

Contrast: Since the economic boom, U.S. officials said Mangue and others in Equatorial Guinea (pictured) have amassed a vast amount of wealth through extortion, embezzlement and other acts of corruption

He will also have to forfeit another $10.3 million to the U.S. Government, which will be used to benefit Equatorial Guinea’s people to the extent permitted by law.
Thomas Winkowski, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the settlement would be ‘gratifying’ for the many investigators and prosecutors who worked ‘tirelessly’ on the case.
But he added: ‘It is undoubtedly even more rewarding for the people of Equatorial Guinea, knowing that at least some of the money plundered from their country’s coffers is being returned to them.’


Michael Jackson's gove 1

Priceless purchase: Mangue (above) reportedly paid $482,000 for Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad Tour’ glove (above)

Mangue 4

Defense: Mangue (pictured), who is also Equatorial Guinea’s second vice president, said in a statement that he was pleased to put an end to the proceedings. But he claimed his property was acquired legally

Despite recent oil and gas wealth in Equatorial Guinea, most of the 750,000 people in the coastal country live in poverty.
Since the economic boom, U.S. authorities said Mangue and other officials have amassed a vast amount of wealth through extortion, embezzlement and other acts of corruption.
No-one was immediately available to comment on the settlement at the Equatorial Guinea Embassy.

Mangue 6


Life of luxury: In 2011, U.S. authorities filed civil-forfeiture cases alleging Mangue (above) spent $70million in looted profits on the mansion, the jet and Jackson memorabilia. Above, an inspector looks at his Ferrari

Gulfstream jet

Jet: In addition to Jackson’s glove and jacket, Mangue will be able to keep his Gulfstream jet (file picture)

Mangue, who is American-educated and also Equatorial Guinea’s second vice president, said in a statement that he was pleased to put an end to the proceedings.

However, he claimed his property ‘was acquired with funds earned in accordance with the laws of my country and through business dealings inside and outside Equatorial Guinea’.
He added that he hoped the settlement would help improve the relationship between his country and the United States.

Mangue 8

Search: Federal agents are pictured opening crates of art objects and collectibles at American-educated Mangue’s mansion in Malibu, California, in October 2011 during the execution of a search warrant

Obamas with Equitorial Guinea President

Meeting: President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his wife are seen with the Obamas in August this year

‘For the good of my country, it was important to resolve this matter and put the relationship back on firm footing,’ he said.
In 2011, U.S. authorities filed civil-forfeiture cases alleging Mangue spent $70million in looted profits on the mansion – which has a nine-hole golf course – the jet and the Jackson memorabilia.

Eve 89

Rapper: In 2010, it was reported that Mangue was dating the rapper and actress Eve, spending close to $700,000 to rent Paul Allen’s yacht to impress her

Authorities said his official government salary was less than $100,000, and he used his position and influence to garner more than $300 million through corruption and money laundering.

In 2010, it was reported that Mangue was dating the rapper and actress Eve, spending close to $700,000 to rent Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen’s 303-foot yacht Tatoosh to impress her, according to the New York Post.
A friend of Eve told the tabloid that he had been chasing her for a long time and that she finally gave in to his invitation.
The Grammy award winner was reportedly named in the ongoing investigation into Mangue and foreign corruption.
Eve used her Twitter account to deny the allegations and urged her fans not to believe everything they read.
Mangue still is the subject of lawsuits in France and Spain.
French financial prosecutors in March filed preliminary charges of alleged money-laundering connected to real estate, luxury cars, art and other property in France.
It is part of a larger suit involving properties owned by leaders of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Republic of Congo.
In 2009, prosecutors in Spain opened an official investigation into alleged money-laundering by President Nguema and his family into bank transfers and the purchase of luxury properties in Madrid, Gijon and the Canary Islands.


Equatorial Guinea was a relatively ignored place until American energy company Exxon Mobil discovered oil and gas there in 1994.

U.S. companies continue to dominate the industry there but face growing competition. Most oil from the country, which produces billions of dollars in annual revenue, is exported to America.
Despite its newfound wealth, life for the vast majority of the country’s 750,000 people remains a struggle.

The majority live below the poverty line with tens of thousands having no access to electricity or clean water.
It was listed by U.S. think tank Freedom House as among one of the world’s worst regimes along with North Korea, Burma and Somalia.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo seized power in 1979 from his uncle, who said he was a sorcerer and collected human skulls.
The President has created a one-party state in a country with Africa’s most notorious prison, Black Beach, which is known for its torture.

Equitorial Guinea 76

Equatorial Guinea (pictured) was a relatively ignored place until American energy company Exxon Mobil discovered oil and gas there in 1994. However, life for the vast majority of the country remains a struggle

Posted On Wednesday, 30 March 2016 01:10 Written by

Nollywood actress and President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, who is currently in detention on charges of manslaughter, has sought bail citing health reasons. This is coming after the embattled actress’ March 11 failed attempt to secure bail.

The three-man panel, presided over by Justice Ndukwe-Anyanwu, said that the appellant failed to attach copies of the judgment that was delivered by the court which affirmed the five years jail sentence imposed on her.

In a six paragraph affidavit of urgency deposed to by one Victor Eden, the deponent averred that a tumour was expelled from Ibinabo’s breast.

The trial magistrate had earlier given the appellant an option of N100, 000 fine for the offence. This judgment was, however, overturned by the high court, which replaced the option of fine with a five-year jail term.

The court of appeal has fixed April 7 to hear a bail application causing the actress and ex beauty queen to file an appeal through her lawyer, urging the court to set aside the five- year sentence.

Posted On Wednesday, 23 March 2016 00:29 Written by

THE seventh episode of TECNO Own the Stage, Africa’s first televised karaoke competition which held last Sunday, had all the excitement and fanfare associated with a Christmas edition.

The edition featured former BBA winner, Vimbai Mutinhiri co-hosting alongside another BBA winner and host of Jara, Uti Nwachukwu.

It turned out to be a surprise package, as none of the contestants was evicted. Thanks to the show’s judges; Bien, Yemi Alade and M.I who decided to make Christmas merry for them all.

But there was a warning signal; and that went to four of the contestants, including Nandy, Yubu, Ramar254 and Mary who were shortlisted for eviction but had to be pardoned by the judges.

They will have to up their game in the race for the $25,000 star prize.

Sikin’s performance of ‘Santa Baby’, a song originally sung by Eartha Kitt back in 1953 was thrilling, making an enthralled M.I. to describe the Kenyan’s performance as “smouldering hot and beautiful.”

This was followed by another fabulous performance by Pascal, who sang ‘Mistletoe’. At the end of the performance, Bien described Pascal’s rendition of Justin Bieber’s 2011 hit as the Kenyan’s “first true performance” of the contest.

Next up was Tosin, who performed ‘Drummer Boy’. And for the first time in a long while, she received plaudits from Yemi Alade who had over the past couple of episodes been unimpressed with the Nigerian.

For Mary and Yubu, it wasn’t much of a great night. The judges were left unimpressed by Mary’s rendition of ‘Silent Night’ and Yubu for the first time since the commencement of the karaoke contest failed to hit the bull’s eye with the judges.

Zooccu’s rendition of the classic White Christmas was nothing like the best she could give, but she still impressed the judges with the efforts. Shaapera stole the night with her rendition of ‘We Three Kings of Orient are’, a song written as far back ago as 1857 by Rev. John Henry Hopkins.

The Nigerian’s act was followed up by a somewhat suppressed performance by Ramar254, who attempted to own the stage with his rendition of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, a song first recorded by Judy Garland in 1944 and made popular 13 years later by the legendary Frank Sinatra.

The last contestant to take to the stage was Nandy, who nervously performed Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’. And just like her fellow Tanzanian, Zooccu, it was also Nandy’s first time of performing a Christmas song.

The conversation continues on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as next episode is broadcast this Sunday on the various Africa Magic channels and on Masha Magic East.

Posted On Saturday, 02 January 2016 22:15 Written by

2015 was obviously one of the most productive years for Nigerian musicians. However, 2016 can only get better with more songs due for release, events and happenstances on the offing. OLAITAN GANIU sets an agenda on musicians likely to grab the headlines in the New Year.


2015 was nothing short of a great year for the artiste fondly called ‘Olamide Badoo’ by his fans. At the later part of the year, he dropped his smoking album, Eyan Mayweather. Among Nigerian artistes, the Album had one of the highest downloads on the internet in 2015.

Metamorphosing from being an underground rapper into a prominent hip hop act, Olamide made his fans proud with the second edition of Olamide Live In Concert (OLIC2). The event which held at the Eko Hotel and Suites was a total success with sold out tickets. The line-up of performance was also top topnotch except for the absence of Davido and Wizkid who had been billed to perform at the concert. Davido came just after the show had ended.

He made his debut with a single, Eni Duro, in 2011. Since then, Olamide, who won his first major award as Rap Artiste of the Year at City People Awards in 2015, has five studio album to his credit. In November 2015, Olamide won the Best Male Artiste in Africa at the All Africa Music Awards for hiss song Bobo.

Olamide’s YBNL label also signed two upcoming artistes, Lil kesh and Viktoh, who are carving a niche for themselves with one getting nominated as the Next Rated artist in Headies award.

Aside being the first Nigerian celebrity to have an endorsement deal with Ciroc, Olamide’s status has also endeared him to brands.

Olamide’s baby mama gave birth to Maximilliano Batifeori Adedeji

Adekunle Gold

HE took the industry by storm in 2014 with his smashing hit single, Sade, which received massive airplay on various Nigerian radio stations. The Urban Highlife act followed up with another single, Orente, which also received positive reviews from music critics, before rounding off the year with another single, Pick Up.

Currently signed unto YBNL Nation, the fast-rising artiste, got nominated in the Most Promising Act of the Year category at the 2015 City People Entertainment Awards. He was also nominated in the “Best Alternative Song” category at The Headies 2015 for Sade.


AYODEJI Ibrahim Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, has tactically positioned himself to remain relevant on the scene by starving his fans of his third studio album.

The multi-talent act as our ever reel-out some hit singles including Ojuelegba, a song that highlights the struggles he endured in the early years of his recording career. The official remix to the song features Drake and Skepta; Expensive Shit. America RnB singer, R. Kelly featured Wizkid on his song, title, I Just Want To Thank You. Before the superstar released a club banger song, titled, Baba Nla.

The starboi recently showed his fans an appreciation during his performance at the special Industry Nite by giving out N250,000 each to four of his fans who could sing his songs without missing a line.

During the past year, Wizkid also collaborated with International artistes like Chris Brown on a song titled African Bad Girl which the duo performed at the latter’s concert in Durban, South Africa.


DAVID Adedeji Adeleke popularly known as Davido is the son of business mogul, Dej Adeleke. He got instant recognition in 2011 when he dropped his infectious single Back When featuring Naeto C, became a favorite among Radio and Club Disc Jockeys.

Davido, kicked off 2015 with a single titled Fans Mi featuring Mayback Music Artist Meek Mill with a love titled, Dodo.

Davido’s fans cannot wait for the release of his sophomore album, Baddest, which the Skelewu crooner has postponed twice. The album was earlier scheduled to be released on June 8, 2015 but it was postponed till August 10, 2015 and once again it’s been moved. With hit tracks such as Gobe, Skelewu, Aye and Tchelete in his kitty, Davido has featured artistes like Meek Mill, Don Jazzy, Runtown, Timaya, Trey Songz, Wale, P-Square and Akon on his impending album.

Critics already predict that Omo Baba Olowo (O.B.O) purposely delayed his album due to the rivalry between him and Wizkid. And it is an interesting coincidence that Davido has confirmed he will release his album in the same month as rival, Wizkid.

Korede Bello

SIGNED to Mavin Record, Korede Bello has turned his page around. He is best known for his hit single Godwin, a semi-gospel and pop song which topped many music charts in Nigeria.

In 2015, Korede got his hands on an endorsement deal with Glo and has been announced as the first Youth Ambassador for the Nigerian Police.

The young talented star, released a single titled, Romantic feature Tiwa Savage.

Also for the first time in the history of The Headies Award, duo artistes from the same record label – Korede Bello and Reekado Banks – both of Mavin Records, were nominated in the Next Rated category, alongside Cynthia Morgan, Lil Kesh, and Kiss Daniel.

Cynthia Morgan

CYNTHIA Ikponmwenosa Morgan, popularly known by her stage name Cynthia Morgan, has continued with an incredible string of success since her inception into the industry.

The German Juice crooner came into limelight following the release of her singles Don’t Break My Heart and Lead Me On, both of which received significant airplay. As a Nigerian born songwriter and singer, her music is a fusion of pop, hip hop, dancehall and rap.

She was nominated in Headies Award as Next Rated Act.

Reekado Banks

GETTING signed under a record label wasn’t part of his plan but his deal with Mavin Records came as a result of his brother submitting some of his songs to the label in an online talent search. And Reekado Banks got signed to Mavin Records after his entries were selected from over 5000 entries.

Since he got signed to Mavin Record, the artiste has been a force to reckon with in the music industry.

Integrated into the Mavin family, Reekado Banks featured alongside label mates – Don Jazzy, Korede Bello, Tiwa Savage, Di’Ja, Dr SID and D’Prince – on the critically acclaimed songs Dorobucci, Adaobi, Arise and Looku Looku.

Reekado, who is also a Glo Ambassador, in 2015 released Katapot, a song alleged to be a diss track towards D’banj and Wande Coal. He is definitely one of the artistes to watch out for in 2016.

Kiss Daniel

HE burst into the scene with his hit single Woju which spent 11 weeks on the MTV Base Official Naija Top Ten. Its remix with Davido and Tiwa Savage stayed at the number one spot for six weeks.

Since then, the G-Worldwide Entertainment artiste has not looked back. In May 2015, Daniel released a third follow-up single Laye on his birthday, along with a video. And the promising star, also featured his record label mate, Stoneboi in a song titled, Molue and rounded the year with mid-tempo single, Good Times.

As reward for his hard work, Kiss Daniel won the Nigeria Entertainment Awards (USA) / Best New Act of the Year, Africa Youth Choice Awards / Next Rated (2015), Peace Achievers Awards / Best New Act, AFRIMA Awards Most Promising Act in Africa, MTN4SYTE TV Music Video Awards (Ghana) /Best African Act Video (Woju Remix).

The promising act is still expecting to win some award in the upcoming events including Headies Awards for Song of the Year (Woju); Pop Single of the year (Woju) ; Nigerian Music Video Awards /Best Highlife Video (Laye); Nigerian Music Video Awards /Best Video By A New Artiste (Laye).

Daniel lost his father on May 9, 2015.

Tiwa Savage

MAVIN Music first lady Tiwa Savage gained her sexiness back after months of nursing her new baby boy. She hit the dance floor back in what most people considered as the most powerful comebacks.

Not resting on her oars, the Kele Kele Love crooner released her sophomore studio album titled RED. The album has 16 tracks and feature production credits from Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh with collaborations from 2face Idibia, Wizkid, and others. No doubt, Tiwa Savage remains relevant on the scene.


THOUGH at a snail’s pace, talented rapper, Femi Falana a.k.a Falz the Bahd guy, has courageously grazed his way into mainstream of rap music effectively. He has shot to fame since the release of his catchy song high class.

According to some rumour, Falz is dating Wizkid’s baby mama. However, when asked in an interview about the special woman in his life, he answered saying “I cannot announce one name now because my oga at the top might announce something different.”

The unique rapper surely is carving a niche for himself as he is currently cooking his second album and also working on a collaborative project with an affiliated rapper named Chyn.

Small Doctor

HIS style and lingo belongs to the streets and while he is not yet A-list on the Nigerian music scene, his appeal, especially by DJs is not questionable. With a nomination at the 2015 Headies, it means more recognition is on the way for Small Doctor, who prides himself on being the Mosquito Killer. However, he is to be watched for further exploits in 2016.

Posted On Saturday, 02 January 2016 22:11 Written by

Victoria Daropale, a final year student of Nutrition and Dietetics at Wesley University of Science and Technology, Ondo State, has been crowned the winner of the ninth season Isis Model Africa 2015 which held at the Lagos Oriental Hotel Lekki penultimate Saturday.

Thanking the organisers of the Isis Model Africa for giving her the opportunity to showcase herself at their platform; Daropale said; “I feel great and happy because I have been struggling for it by rehearsing, praying and watching runway videos for a while now. I have always wanted to be a model from childhood. I am so glad now that my dream has come through. I thank the woman behind the perfection of the modelling industry and CEO Isis Model Africa, Mrs Joan Okorodudu. I will forever be indebted to her because she helped me made it happen me made it happen and I believe by God’s I will make Isis model Africa and Nigeria proud.”

She also thanked Uchenna Ekwueme who discovered her at a show and persuaded her to go for the audition.

For emerging winner, Victoria won a brand new Kia Rio car, a modelling contract with Isis model Africa, and will represent Nigeria at Fresh Faces competition in Barcelona, Spain next year.

Posted On Thursday, 31 December 2015 01:10 Written by

Ahead of Monday’s Calabar Carnival, tagged ‘Biggest Street Party in Africa’, the Vai Vai Samba Band of Brazil on Saturday touched down at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport in Cross River State capital to participate in the event.

Numbering about 30 and dressed in yellow T-shirts with the inscription “Terra Da Garoa Sao Paulo Brazil”, the team on arrival at the airport, the team declared, “We have come to stay.”

This came just as the King and Queen Night for the five participating bands in the carnival ended at the U.J Esuene Stadium on Saturday.

Expressing optimism about this year’s edition of the carnival, the Vai Vai Samba Band team leader, Tobias Da Silva, alongside one of the queens, Leticia, said that they were proud to be part of the 2015 edition of the festival.

Da Silva said, “Brazil is back for 2015 biggest street party in the whole of Africa and we look forward to a wonderful carnival like never before. It is going to take a new dimension completely.”

The duo added that Vai Vai Samba Band was special and declared, “This time around, Brazil has come to stay”.

They lauded the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, for what they termed “his vision and effort to achieve all these”.

However, the Samba Queens gave a hint of what they would offer as they spent time dancing to the rhythm of a Brass band positioned to entertain and welcome them into the state.

The carnival, which is in its 11th year, has seen its content evolve with the addition of new events with over ten countries confirming participation in what is now an international carnival.

‘Climate change’ was chosen as the theme for this year’s carnival towards educating and informing people on the need to be green agents and to support the save-the- environment cause.

Posted On Sunday, 27 December 2015 23:41 Written by

YBNL front man and rap star, Olamide has released a new album, Eyan MayWeather.

The album, released on Monday 23 November, is Olamide’s fifth in five years and second this year. In April, Olamide and Phyno put out a collaborative album “2 Kings”.

‘Eyan MayWeather’ is a 21-track project containing his numerous hits including ‘Lagos Boy’, ‘Bobo’, ‘Melo Melo’, ‘Jega’, ‘Matter Arising’ and album cover title, ‘Eyan MayWeather’.

It was mainly produced by Mr Pheelz, with support from ID Cabasa, Young John and Major Banks.

Interestingly, the new album has received huge acceptance as it has climbed to number two on iTunes barely two hours after its release.

Unlike his previous albums, Olamide’s ‘Eyan MayWeather’ has no collaboration with any artiste including those on his label (Adekunle Gold and Lil Kesh).

‘Bobo’, a track in the new album fetched Olamide the Best Male Artiste in West Africa award at the 2015 All Africa Music Awards, AFRIMA, held penultimate Sunday in Lagos, Nigeria.

Last week, Olamide unveiled the artwork and track list of the anticipated album.

He has since then be receiving supports from fellow artistes and fans including international rapper, Wale who reposted the album art on Instagram with the caption: “My brother #baddo on his fifth album, plenty reasons to #behappy. Abi?. All my naija niggas wit me!”

Other albums by Olamide are Rapsodi (2011), YBNL (2012), Baddest Guy Ever Liveth (2013) and Street OT (2014).

Posted On Monday, 23 November 2015 13:13 Written by

In my inspiration seat this week, is a smart, intelligent, not-afraid-to-dream-big, entrepreneur that was my colleague many years ago. Bella Benson’s entrepreneurial journey is one that I have watched grow from an idea to a full running business. Bella is the CEO and Founder of Isabella Gemma, a retail jewelry brand that provides the finest and best quality collection of Designer fashion jewelry for clients.

Isabella Gemma 1

Tell me about Yourself.

My name is Bella Benson. I graduated from the University of Lagos with a BA in Theatre Arts, and stumbled into television production, as Production manager for Carrey’s Court Production. I also worked in an Administrative capacity on Nigerian Idol. I am the founder and co-owner of B&B Party Solutions, Founder and Co-Owner of B&B Online Bukka, Creative Director for Red Fair Lagos, and the Owner of Isabella Gemma. My hobbies are reading inspirational books and researching foods and natural health remedies.

Tell me about Isabella Gemma.

We are a growing fashion and designer jewelery brand. Our pieces come in Precious and semi-precious gems, Swarovski crystals, Diamante, Sterling silver jewelry and Austrian crystal. We stock standout neck pieces, 3 piece jewelry sets, cocktail rings, chandelier and stud earrings, bracelets, bangles, bridal jewelry and accessories, and other celeb worthy pieces that sparkle and shine. We also provide an on demand service for exclusive clients, offering 19 and 21 carat gold with diamond jewelry; this includes wedding bands and engagement rings, exquisite jewelry set, earrings, rings and bracelets. Our services include jewelry cleaning, stone setting, jewelry repairs and electroplating.

What was the first business you ever started?

The first business I ever started was B&B Party solutions in 2010. B&B Party solutions is an online party store, that specializes in themed parties for birthdays and bachelorette parties. Over the years, I have learned that a large part of running a successful business is precision and timing. Like everything else, business grows in stages – you have to know when to put what into the business. It’s like a growing child – you must know when and what to feed them at every stage.

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When did you start Isabella Gemma ? How did you come up with the name ? Why did you start the business?

I started Isabella Gemma in 2014. My name is Isabella, which in Italian means, ‘beautiful woman’, Gemma means jewelry in Italian, and I thought it was most befitting, as it captures the whole essence of the brand. Initially I didn’t want my name reflected in the business name, because I thought it would be too personal, so I picked this really difficult tongue twisting name. One day, while sharing my business plan with my sister, she read the document and said “please can you pronounce your company name?” (Lol). I spent about 5 minutes trying to teach her the right pronunciation, which she still couldn’t get right. After several attempts, she advised me to pick a brand name that is easy for people to pronounce. Her thought process was that if it’s easy to pronounce, then people would talk about it, but if it’s hard to pronounce,people would feel embarrassed when they can’t get the word right, and they will avoid mentioning the brand name. She asked why I didn’t use my name and I gave her a million reasons including how I thought using my name was way too personal, and was usually done by small business owners that don’t intend to expand. After my explanation, she said “Is this not personal to you? Do you sleep anymore? Doesn’t this keep you awake at night? Aren’t you out of the house first thing in the morning trying to make this a reality?”, She mentioned companies with the owners names that are now multinational companies. I gave it a long hard thought, and saw reasons why I should have my name in it. I knew this is a project I am extremely passionate about and hold dear to my heart, so it is personal. The rest was easy from there, Isabella means beautiful woman, Gemma means jewelry so there you have it, ‘Beautiful woman jewelry’.

Isabella Gemma started out of my love for elegant jewelry pieces and the great potential I saw in retailing them. I found out from research that most jewelry retail companies in Nigeria, have barely scratched the surface. I used to wonder why everyone was retailing the same kind of jewelry, same designs, and I could never understand it. There are so many levels to jewelry, from the cheapest plastic fashion jewelry to the almighty diamond, and other precious stones – Rhinestone, Swarovski, Glass crystals, Diamante, CZ stones, Austrian crystals, Semi-precious stones, Rhodium plated, Gold plated, Copper, Brass, 925 sterling silver Plangsten and Tungsten, Siledium silver and gold – these metals and stones have been used for years in jewelry manufacturing and design. I wanted to educate people; I wanted people to discover jewelry like they have never known before.

What are some of the primary challenges you face doing business in Nigeria and how have you been able to overcome them if at all?

The primary challenge I face is the unpredictability of the system in Nigeria – not being able to confidently make plans, as I have to worry about factors out of my control. For instance, last Christmas we planned to have a jewelry collection that was in line with the season, very glam stand out party pieces. In October, customs went on strike and we didn’t get our products until January. Another instance was valentine’s day this year. February 14th is a special day in the jewelry industry for countries that celebrate Valentines day, but we couldn’t plan anything since the Presidential Elections was set on the same day, only for the elections to be moved last minute. Also this year we planned a big May Day sales event, and that month, the country was hit with the worst fuel scarcity, and the people who planned to attend our event, were unable to make it.

One of the core requirements of your business is Customer service, how do you handle that ?

We have trained staff that handle questions and enquiries from customers. I also have my direct line on every media material so that customers and potential customers can reach me directly. Our in-store sales representative is trained to be courteous, polite and ready to help walk in clients their purchase .

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How do you publicize your business ?

As I mentioned earlier, a business grows in stages and we are at the stage where we are concentrating a lot of effort in promoting our brand. Our publicity strategy is 90% online marketing and campaigns, and 10% print. We also plan to participate in major fashion shows and exhibitions.

How do you measure progress in your business?

My business plan for Isabella Gemma is structured such that we accomplish our goals in stages. The fact that we have steadily achieved our goals at each stage, and even accomplished some before their due time, means progress.

The business is profitable. We have created a niche for ourselves as a multi-brand jewelry boutique, we provide a carefully curated assortment of jewelry brands to clients, as there is a rise in the growth of branded jewelry and us Nigerians are known for our love for fashion and the good things of life, so definitely a lot more people will catch up. For example, a few years ago I would go to a hair salon and get my hair done, nails done, pedicure, throw in a facial, but now I don’t even wax my brows where I get my hair done. I get my facial done at a med spa. We have seen this steady growth in the beauty industry, we have nail salons that are doing pretty well ,we have people that are professionals with the brows, we have people set up studios just for make-up. With time, we expect that people will start seeking professional help when it comes to jewelry.

What excites you the most about your business?

‘Jewelry has the power to be this one little thing that can make you feel unique’, this is absolutely true in every sense. I enjoy helping people find the perfect jewelry, either for themselves or as a gift for their loved ones. I remember an instance where this lady walked into our showroom looking like she had a rough day. It turned out that it was her birthday the next day, and her designer had not delivered her outfit at the expected time, so she was confused about picking jewelry for an outfit she wasn’t sure she would get. I asked if she had a backup plan for a dress, in the case her designer didn’t deliver in time for her party, and she confirmed that she did. I asked what colors both dresses were, and she said the designer was making a grey dress, but that she had a black dress as back up. Based on this information, I gave her a sparkly silver CZ studded jewelry set to try on. She looked heavenly and had a reassuring smile on her face that everything else would work out just fine. Jewelry and the right accessories can make an ordinary outfit extraordinary with a beautiful shine. Also, I get joy in knowing that the jewelry industry exists because of LOVE – love and romance are responsible for the sale of a wedding band, anniversary pendants/earring and “just because” gifts.

Do you engage in any Social Enterprise/Giving Back to the society/NGO Activity?

In the near future, we plan to partner with renowned artisans to develop a workshop for aspiring /practicing jewelry artisans in Lagos, where they will learn how to work with various metals and stones available at their disposal.

What does your family think about your business? Did they encourage you from the start? Do they encourage you now ?

Yes yes and yes. My sisters are my biggest supporters, always cheering me on, praying with me and for me, giving their honest opinions on each collection and design. I’ve found that it’s important to have a support system comprised of people who genuinely care about me and the growth of my business.

What’s your typical day?

As much as I would like my day to be in a particular order, it doesn’t always happen. On non-roller coaster days, I try to start my day with prayers and devotional reading, then do a little work out regime with my 7 minutes workout app, check my emails, respond to emails, read the daily news to find out what’s happening in the world, check if I still have a country to live in, then have breakfast. After that work on our online stores, I manage Isabella Gemma on 3 online platforms – Konga, Global wealth trade and our Official website, make sure everything is up and running, update product and prices, take orders, respond to questions and inquiries, forward all order request to store attendant to arrange package and delivery. I then head over to our show room where I multi task as owner, brand manager, accountant, sales person, marketer, social media marketer, and attend meetings in between. Some days can be real easy and some days I feel like I was thrown under a bus. On a typical day, I close at 7pm, head home, dinner with family, read a book, catch up on social media, and then hit the sack. On my very easy days, I catch up on my favorite shows.

What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years

Isabella Gemma is working towards being the most trusted jewelry brand in Nigeria. In 5 years the brand will be synonymous with jewelry. Our near future plan is for our show room to be the hub for both local and international jewelry designers. As the world is discovering Nigeria, big fashion brands are opening stores here, and the jewelry will not be an exemption. We are positioning Isabella Gemma to partner with international jewelry brands who want to test the Nigerian market, this way they don’t have to deal with the issues and logistics of opening and running a store. We will also have jewelry exclusively designed and branded for Isabella Gemma.

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What are your biggest strengths?

My biggest strengths are my drive, passion, and ability to find balance.

Do you believe in Collaboration?

Absolutely!! No man is an island. Whatever your business is, you need to network and collaborate with people in similar industries. If you notice even in the local market the woman selling palm oil sits near the woman that sells vegetables, the woman that blends pepper is not far from the tomato and pepper stall. Collaboration is very necessary, and it helps broaden ones prospective. I have had the pleasure of working with a stylist and a makeup artist on different occasions and they did things with my products that I never imagined. Collaborations work as long as the parties involved set out clear cut roles.

What are some of the things you do to ‘de-stress’?

I am big on spa treatments, I love to get pampered – foot massage, head massage, all the works.

If I checked out your playlist, tell me 3 songs that have the most Plays, and is there a reason why ?

I’m inspired by my morning devotion songs. My top 3 are: ‘Awesome God’ by Sinach, ‘He knows my name’ and ‘In Christ Alone’, recorded by maranatha music. They help me start the day on a right note.

Do you watch any TV series ? What’s your favorite one, and why ?

Game of Thrones, Power, Tyrant, Humans, Gang Related, How to get away with Murder and Devious maids in that order. I find them all very intriguing.

What was the last book or material you read? And what were your thoughts about it.

The last book I read was ‘Power thoughts’ by Joyce Mayer. Incredible read. It helped me realize as a Christian, how important it is to be aware of what I allow my mind to think and how I can purposefully focus my thoughts on Gods words and his promises.

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Give me one of your favorite quotes and what it means to you.

My favorite quote is ‘no one is going to give you anything, if you want something take it”. My former boss said that to me at a time when I was very dissatisfied with my job descriptions. I was always whining and complaining about the things I didn’t want to do, and the things I wanted to do more of. And she said, “Bella, who is holding you? If you know you’re good at something then do it. No one is going to give you anything, if you want something take it.” That simple comment changed my whole thought process. “Taking it” does not mean you need to go around and grab stuff off other people, for me it means, doing what needs to be done to get the results that I need.

Follow Bella’s Journey Here



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